Getting yourself one of the best sleeping bags available is a great idea for this summer. The holiday season is almost upon us and with overseas travel in limbo, many of us are turning to adventures closer to home. Some are seeing it as the ideal opportunity to get out on an epic expedition on our local coastlines, hills or mountains, while others are turning to camping for the first time, put off by the inflated price of traditional accommodation.
Whichever camp you belong to, you’re in for a treat as soon as you get your tent pitched and start living the outdoors life. When night falls, having the right sleeping bag for your chosen adventures will make your evenings all the comfier and your slumbers all the more sound. For summer, look for tents that are warm enough but also offer ventilation so that you won’t be cooked alive in your tent. It’s also essential to get yourself one of the best sleeping pads to ensure a comfy night’s sleep.
We’ve selected the best sleeping bags out there, placing those ideal for lightweight summer adventures at the top of our list. We love the weight to performance ratio of Haglof’s Unisex L.I.M +1, as well as the innovative design of Therm-A-Rest’s featherlight Verspar 32 Quilt, while North Face’s One Bag is ingeniously multipurpose for the whole year round.
The best sleeping bags for going light
Haglofs Unisex L.I.M +1 sleeping bag
Cut grams without cutting performance in Haglof’s lightweight two-season L.I.M bag
RRP: $487 (US) / £350 (UK) | Weight: 473g / 1lb 6oz | Style: Mummy | Length: 195cm / 77in | Max user height: 185cm/73in | Packsize: 18 x 15cm / 7 x 6in | Fill: Traceable 800 CUIN fillpower superior quality goose down (90% down/10% feather) | Comfort: 6°C/43°F | Limit: 1°C/34°F | Compatibility: Wild camping, fastpacking and mountain marathons in warm weather
Haglofs’ L.I.M collection stands for Less Is More – and it’s a pretty suitable name for their L.I.M +1 sleeping bag, which weighs just 473 grams (just over 1lb) but packs in plenty of warm goose down (Responsible Down Standard certified), keeping you cosy down to 6°C/43°F. To save grams, this bag does away with a zip – instead there’s a drawstring at both the top and the bottom of the bag, which open up to allow you to ventilate the temperature easily. The foot panel of the bag is also more tightly quilted than the rest of the bag, to trap in heat – if you find your feet regularly either freeze or overheat when camping, you might well love the versatility of this design. The open bottom also allows you to wear the bag when you’re getting ready for bed or around the campsite.
The Fluorocarbon-free DWR-treated surfaces help repel water and dirt. The L.I.M’s impressively light weight makes it ideal for trekkers, thru-hikers and fastpackers looking to keep their pack size and weight as small as possible for multi-day adventures in late spring, summer and early autumn, or people taking on mountain races.
Therm-A-Rest Vesper 32 Quilt
Lightweight camping quilt for multiday hikers, bikepackers, fastpackers and racers who like to move fast along the trails
RRP: Regular: $329 (US) / £285 (UK); Long: $349 (US) / £305 (UK) | Weight: Regular: 425g / 15 oz; Long: 490g / 1lb 1oz | Style: Quilt | Length: Regular: 191cm / 6ft 3in; Long: 201cm / 6ft 7in | Max user height: Regular: 183cm / 6ft; Long: 198cm / 6ft 6in | Packsize: 13 x 15cm / 5 x 6in | Fill: RDS-certified 900 Fill Goose Nikwax Hydrophobic Down | Comfort: 5°C / 41°F | Limit: 0°C / 32°F | Compatibility: Perfect for fastpacking, bikepacking and ultralight expeditions in warmer months
Made for backpacking and bike packing, Therm-A-Rest’s thermally efficient quilt uses box-baffled construction, so it’s like a sleeping bag without a full enclosure, so you can stick your feet out the bottom when they’re too warm. The resulting product provides almost as much warmth as a sleeping bag, for less weight. The quilt’s snap neck closure, perimeter side baffles, and insulated footbox (where you can tuck your feet away) keep the warmth-to-weight ratio high for backcountry adventures. So does the 900-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (humanely harvested), which stays drier and maintains loft 60 times longer than untreated down. Mesh walls in the bag maximize loft and minimize cold spots. And, to keep drafts out, the bag connects to a Therm-A-Rest mattress with the brand’s Synergy Link connectors.
A reassuringly snug sleeping bag designed for climbers tackling fast-and-light mountain missions – also the perfect three-season camping cocoon
RRP: £355 (UK) | Weight: 819g/1lb 13oz | Length: 190cm/75in (regular), 205cm/81in (long) | Max user height: 185cm/6ft 1in (regular), 200cm/6ft 6.5in (long) | Pack size: 36x19cm/14-7.5in | Fill: Ethically sourced/certified European Goose Down | Comfort limit: -1°C/30°F | Limit: -7°C/14°F | Compatibility: 3-season
Rab’s most recent marketing tagline trumpets the brand as ‘masters of insulation’. That’s a pretty bold claim, but the Neutrino Pro 400 backs it up, seamlessly blending functionality and performance. The high-quality 800 fill power goose down offers impressive warmth for weight as well as packability, reflecting its intended use as a specialist mountaineering piece, where every gram and cubic inch counts. However, it’s too good a sleeping bag to be reserved solely for elite climbers, particularly since so many of the features that enable the Pro to excel in high alpine environments mean it is also brilliant for backpackers and wild campers too. Firstly, the hydrophobic fill and water-resistant shell makes it far more resistant to moisture than most down bags. Generous length and extra room for the upper torso tapering to a contoured footbox means this is a comfortable bag to lie in, whether you’re perched on a rock ledge or not. And even the little details are great, like the handy internal stash pocket or the ‘noctilucent’ zip puller – which means it glows in the dark to you and me. So, we’ll forgive the verbiage and marketing spiel, because this is a bag that delivers on all counts.
The best multi-purpose sleeping bag
North Face One Bag
The multitool of the sleeping bag universe
RRP: $300 (US) / £315 (UK) | Weight: 1kg 700g / 3 lbs, 12oz | Style: Multiuse Mummy | Length: Regular: 198cm / 6ft 6in; Long: 216cm / 7ft 1in | Max user height: Regular: 173cm / 5ft 8in; Long: 190cm / 6ft 3in | Packsize: 28cm x 36cm / 11 x 14in | Fill: Synthetic outer layer, 800-Fill Goose Down inner layer | Comfort: -1.7°C to 7.8°C / 29°F to 46°F | Limit: -15°C/5°F | Compatibility: Suitable for a wide range of outdoor adventures across 4 seasons (depending on configuration selected)
Like a 3-in-1 jacket, North Face’s One Bag sleeping system has interchangeable layers to configure it for 4°C/40°F, -6°C/20°F or -15°C/5°F temps. When you’re road-tripping, camping, or backpacking, whatever the season, the One Bag’s multiple layers combine to keep you warm. Use the lightweight synthetic outer layer solo on warm summer nights. Add the 800-fill down mid-layer when temps dip. Want to take this bag winter camping? No problem. Use all the layers and the bag will keep you toasty even when it’s down to -15°C/5°F outside. The zippers are color-coded and user-friendly, so it’s easy to add a layer without getting in a tangle. And when you don’t need full insulation, the rolled-up bottom layer makes a great pillow, and the midlayer converts to a shawl for hanging out before it’s time to tuck in.
The best sleeping bags for comfort
Big Agnes Torchlight 20
One of the best sleeping bags where the clever construction delivers customized comfort
RRP: $300 (US) / £375 (UK) | Weight: Regular 2lb 11oz / 1.22kg Long 3lb / 1.36kg | Sizes: Regular / Long | Max user height: Regular 6ft/183cm Long 6ft 6in/198cm | Pack size: Regular 8.5 x 7.5in / 22 x 19cm Long 8.5 x 8in / 22 x 20cm | Fill: 600 Fill DownTek | Shape: Classic mummy | Temperature rating: Comfort 27°F/-3°C Limit 15°F/-9°C extreme -19°F/-28°C | Compatibility: 3–4 season
Do you sleep on your back or your side? Do you move around, or sleep soundly? No matter what sort of sleeping style you have, the Torchlight 20 offers a warm and highly customizable mummy bag that’s light enough for taking backpacking.
Offered in a regular and a long size (a women's option is also available), the Torchlight boasts two expanded panels running from shoulder to footbed, which can increase the sleeping space available for your body by 10 inches. When the panels are open, folks with wide hips, wide shoulders and preference for side sleeping will find a warm comfortable sleep system. The bag uses DownTek water repellent down with a baffle construction style to deliver more efficient heat distribution. When temperatures drop, the insulated hood contours to the shape of your face. A stuff sack and off-season storage bag are included.
A cocoon of colorful comfort and cosiness
RRP: $350 (US) / £300 (UK) / €420 (EU) | Weight: 2lb 13oz / 1276g | Sizes: 1 size | Length: 82in / 208cm | Pack size: 9 x 17in/ 23 x 43cm | Fill: 800-fill RDS-certified duck down | Shape: Mummy | Temperature rating: limit: 15°F/-9°C | Compatibility: 3 season
Using a traditional mummy shape with a tall footbox to keep toes warm on chilling nights, the Sueño is well-suited for both car camping or backpacking. A two-way zipper on the right side and a half-length zipper left side let the user dial in comfort to match the temperatures outside. A draft collar keeps your head warm, and a unique ‘Eyelok’ hood adjustment means you can control how much heat is locked in (or let out). There is an integrated pillow pocket in the hood, and an insulated media pocket keeps your smartphone battery from draining quickly in colder temperatures.
The 800 fill duck down provides comfort in a wide range of temperatures. The Sueño comes with an integrated stuff sack and a loose storage sack. For some buyers, Cotopaxi’s dedication to sustainability is an important feature, and 1% of revenue from purchases made goes to support the Cotopaxi Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to poverty alleviation in the poorest regions of the world.
Technically advanced two-season bag that delivers welcome warmth however high you camp
RRP: $450 (US)/£360 (UK) | Weight : 560g/1lb 4oz (regular), 600g/1lb 5oz (long) | Length: 190cm/75in (regular), 205cm/81in (long) | Max user height: 185cm/6ft 1in (regular), 200cm/6ft 6.5in (long) | Pack size: 25x19cm/9.8x7.5in | Fill: 800FP goose down (93/7) | Comfort limit: 2°C/36°F | Limit: -3°C/27°F | Compatibility: 2-season
This meticulously engineered sleeping bag is about as light as it gets without venturing into extreme ultralight territory – which typically comes with compromises in both durability and functionality. The Firefly needs to make no such concessions, offering plenty of features in a fairly robust package while still only tipping the scales at 560g. Compared to the highly tapered and restrictive design of many ultralight bags, the Firefly is very comfortable, thanks to a contoured shark’s-fin footbox and a multiple-panelled hood that cradle the feet and head snugly. It also has a long, two-way zip for easy entry and exit, which lets you vent heat on warmer nights. If the temperature drops, however, it’ll keep you toasty down to -3°c (27°F), thanks to 800 fill power goose down housed in a box-wall construction for maximum thermal efficiency. Warmth is further boosted by the EXL Alpine fit, which uses elasticated inner chambers to bring the down fill closer to your body and eliminate dead space inside the bag. Like all down bags, The Firefly’s Achilles heel is wet weather performance – though the DWR-treated face fabric does help to prevent damp seeping in.
Hard-wearing and versatile synthetic bag that makes a practical camp companion whether you’re sleeping out in high summer or the chilly shoulder seasons
RRP: $200 (US)/£200 (UK) | Weight : 1kg 440g/oz (regular), 1kg 670g (large) | Length: 203cm/80in (regular), 216cm/85in (large) | Max user height: 183cm/6ft (regular), 198cm/6ft 6in (large) | Pack size: 36x23cm/14x9in | Fill: Synthetic WaveLoft | Comfort limit: -4°C/26°F | Limit: -10°C/14°F | Compatibility: 3- to 4-season
As far as we’re concerned, Aussie brand Sea to Summit don’t make a bad sleeping bag – but the Traverse Tv III is one of their best. It’s the ideal choice for campers who are equally happy to venture out in early spring, late autumn or high summer, as you can zip everything up tight for maximum warmth, but also open all the vents – or even spread the bag out as a full quilt – in milder weather. That versatility makes this an eminently practical bag for varied conditions as well as a good value pick, since you can genuinely use it comfortably throughout all three seasons. The Traverse Tv III’s supreme adaptability is down to a well-thought-out design that incorporates dual side zips and a foot vent, so you can easily stick out an arm or a foot if you start to overheat. It is cut fairly generously too, with a relaxed rectangular mummy shape that will be appreciated by restless sleepers or by those who don’t like the confined feel of a more tapered mummy-style bag. Inevitably, that accommodating fit adds a little weight and bulk when packed, but it is still a practical size for camping and backpacking.
An innovative and versatile zipperless sleeping bag that offers luxurious comfort and delivers excellent warmth for weight
RRP: $300-320 (US)/£260 (UK) | Weight: 660g/1lb 7oz (regular), 710kg/1lb 9oz (long) | Length: 198cm/78in (regular), 213cm/84in (long) | Max user height: 183cm/6ft (regular), 198cm/6ft 6in (long) | Pack size: 33x18cm/13x7in (regular), 33x18cm/13x7in (long) | Fill: 800FP DriDown duck down | Comfort limit: 2°C/36°F | Limit: -3°C/26°F | Compatibility: 2-season
Zippers are the chink in every sleeping bag’s armour. They add weight and bulk to a bag’s design, have a nasty habit of letting in draughts, and often jam at the worst possible moment. Zips can also be uncomfortable, especially if you get your bag twisted around you. Those drawbacks partly account for the increasing popularity of backpacking quilts, especially in the states. US brand Sierra Designs’ unusual Cloud 800 offers the best of both worlds – the enveloping warmth of a proper footbox and a mummy-style hood in a zipperless design that utilises a quilted flap. It’s a bit like the corner of a duvet but with a shaped shoulder pocket. The result is a luxurious bag with high thermal efficiency, thanks to box-wall baffles filled with 800 fill power duck down. The half-pad sleeve is also a great innovation, allowing you to secure your sleeping mat in place. The Cloud offers warmth down to -3°C/26°F, but if you do start to overheat, you can kick your feet through a bottom vent to cool down. The bag’s fill is positioned on the top and sides, with a rear sleeve for a sleeping mat. This improves overall warmth for weight and creates a bed-like structure. If you sleep on your back, you’ll love it, though it’s maybe not such a good option for side sleepers.
The best sleeping bag for winter expeditions
A seriously warm four-season bag that can only be bested by specialist brands producing kit for polar expeditions and high-altitude mountaineers
RRP: $760 (US)/£570 (UK) | Weight: 1kg 208g/2lb 10.6 oz | Length: 218cm/86in (regular), 234cm/92in (long) | Max user height: 205cm/6ft 5in (regular), 220cm/7ft+ (large) | Pack size: 21x42cm/8.25x16.5in | Fill: 850-fill goose down | Comfort limit: -7°C/19.4°F | Limit: -18°C/0.4°F | Compatibility: 4-season
If you’re a serious winter camper, you might consider this tried-and-tested four-season down bag for your next adventure. The flagship sleeping bag in the Mountain Hardwear line, this performance-orientated bag can really only be bettered by niche manufacturers specialising in ultra-premium down kit, which typically come with long lead times and even more eye-watering price tags to match. Given the warmth it offers (down to a bone-chilling -18°c), this bag is lightweight and compact, with an impressively small pack size that ranks among the best in this class. It is filled with a hefty 850g of 850 fill power down, housed in either a Pertex Quantum or Gore-Tex Windstopper fabric shell. Given its performance-driven design, the fit is highly tapered, maximising thermal efficiency. As such some might find it a little restrictive, though they would never find it too cold. It has a great neck baffle to lock in warmth along with vertical chest baffles to counter down migration, which could otherwise cause cold spots. The footbox and panelled hood are similarly well-designed. The one rather surprising omission is that the down fill has no hydrophobic treatment, though arguably the highly water-resistant outer would render this unnecessary.
Choosing the best sleeping bag for you
When considering the purchase of a sleeping bag, there are many factors that will dictate which is the best option for you. Your budget, you intended use and the environment you'll be exploring all have to be taken into account.
If you're going to be spending part of the summer in a family tent with the little ones, you may not need to dive too deep into the wallet. However, if you're spending a week on expedition across wild country, you'll need something both warm and lightweight.
Everyone's ambitions are different, so there's a different best sleeping bag for everyone. In general, however, it’s worth considering the following:
Most sleeping bags are given a season rating: a three-season bag is suitable for spring, summer and autumn use, for example. They also have a temperature range typically including an upper limit, a comfort limit, a lower limit and an extreme limit. The comfort and lower limits are the best indicators of a bag’s realistic temperature range, but they should only be used as a guide. If you have wild camping ambitions, or are planning to sleep in a hammock, it is best to go for a sleeping bag with a low comfort limit.
As with the best down jackets, the major factor affecting warmth is the fill, which will be either synthetic insulation or natural down. Generally, down sleeping bags offer superior warmth-to-weight, but down’s performance declines markedly if it gets wet. Synthetic bags continue to insulate even when damp, and they’re more hard-wearing, easier to care for, and cheaper.
2. Features and fabrics
Most premium bags use a box wall construction, which traps the fill inside brick-shaped baffles. Larger baffles give more space for insulation to loft but can be prone to down migration (when the fill shifts around, causing cold spots). Smaller baffles stop this. Simpler bags generally use a stitch-through construction, which isn’t as thermally efficient, but does save weight. Some synthetic bags use a baffle-free construction that instead employs a single sheet of insulation, which minimises stitching for improved durability and helps to reduce cold spots.
A well-insulated, close-fitting and adjustable hood really helps lock in heat. Hood drawcords enable you to cinch in and customise the fit around your face, but ensure they’re comfortably placed and easy to use. A chunky neck or shoulder baffle helps to prevent warm air from escaping too.
Shells and linings are usually made from ripstop nylon, though cheaper bags use polyester. Both are soft on the skin, but nylon is generally more durable as it is a stronger fibre for its weight.
3. Zips and vents
A long zipper makes for easier entry and exit, and also provides ventilation in warmer weather, especially if it has two-way zip pullers. However, a shorter zipper saves weight and reduces bulk, so is often a feature of ultralight bags. Many of the best sleeping bags are available with either left- or right-hand zips. If you’re a side sleeper, think about which side you usually sleep on, as having a zip underneath you can be uncomfortable and impractical. Zippers are notorious for letting in chills, so ensure they’re backed with padded baffles.
In some situations you can overheat, which is almost as unpleasant as being cold. To mitigate this, many bags have vents or gills – usually at the foot end, but occasionally at the sides too.
4. Size and comfort
Many of the best sleeping bags are available in different lengths or even widths, as well as women-specific fits. Check the specs of a bag to find out which is right for your height and body shape. Technical or ‘performance mummy’ bags are slim fitting and highly tapered for maximum thermal efficiency. Some people find them restrictive and may prefer a more relaxed shape, which gives extra wriggle room. Some bags are also elasticated to give you more room to move around, without reducing their effective warmth.
5. Weight and pack size
Depending on your intended use, weight and pack size may be absolutely critical or less important. But a lightweight sleeping bag with a small pack size is obviously easier to carry, which you'll thank yourself for if thru-hiking for any considerable distance. Most bags are supplied with a stuff sack, but these vary in quality. A stuff sack that is fitted with compression straps will really help to cinch down the pack size. Remember – you can always buy a compression sack for your sleeping bag if necessary.
In addition to a stuff sack, many of the best sleeping bags now come with a larger cotton storage sack that allows the bag to loft and breathe when not in use. This prevents musty odours and damage to the fill caused by long-term compression.
As a rule of thumb, a good two-season sleeping bag should weigh under a kilo (2.2lbs). You can find lightweight down three-season bags that deliver additional warmth for similar weight, but others may tip the scales at up to 2kg (4.4lbs).
Considered in terms of lifetime use, a high-quality down bag can offer very good value, provided you look after it. Down tends to suffer less from long-term compression compared to synthetic fills. Synthetic bags are generally cheaper and can still offer good overall performance, and in some cases come with only a minor increase in weight and bulk.
Sleeping bag prices vary widely. The cheapest bags start at around $35/£25, the most expensive might be $500/£500+. You can expect to pay more for better insulation, but you’ll also pay more for sleeping bags that offer exceptional warmth to weight. Invariably, these will use down with an extremely high fill power (800FP or more). Lower grade down bags are cheaper, but usually still more expensive than a synthetic alternative. As always, shop around – you can almost always pick up sleeping bags for far less than the RRP.
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