If you're looking for a new backpacking sleeping bag, you've come to the right place! After researching over 80 different options, we put the top 13 through our side-by-side testing regimen. We tested them in the field on backpacking trips through the Cascades and Sierras, going through various climates and conditions to assess their temperature regulation and versatility. We packed and unpacked them, zipped and unzipped them, and of course, slept in them all to evaluate their comfort and extra features. We also weighed them ourselves and measured their packed volume to give you direct comparisons for weight and size. Whether you're looking for overall performance, a budget pick, great options for cold or wet weather, or something for those who like to sleep on their tummies, we have some great recommendations for you. We also have a comprehensive women's-specific Sleeping Bag Review.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
The summer backpacking season is right around the corner, so we've updated our review to include some new options, including a Patagonia model and the updated REI Co-op Igneo 25. While this review focuses primarily on backpacking sleeping bags, many of these models are also great for car camping or summertime mountaineering. We have a variety of Top Pick and Best Buy recommendations below for various niche needs, and of course, please check out our best overall recommendation, the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, which continues to dominate the field and once again won our Editors' Choice award.
Best Overall Model
Western Mountaineering MegaLite
If we could only have one sleeping bag choice for backpacking and 3-season camping, it would be the Western Mountaineering MegaLite. The MegaLite was one of the lightest and most compressible models in our review (and on the market). Weighing in at half the weight of several bags we tested, it's still roomy enough to feel comfortable when car camping or for side and tummy sleepers to enjoy on extended outings. The materials are top notch and felt the best against our skin. This was one of the most versatile and compressible models and our favorite choice for most applications.
Spacious and comfortable cut
Made in the USA
Best feeling fabric in our review
Stuff sack doesn't compress well
At 1.5 pounds, it is slightly heavier than some other models in the 30F range. So, if weight savings is always your number one priority, check out some of our Top Picks below. The stuff sack was not very efficient either, and we could get it to pack down 30%-40% more with an aftermarket compression sack. Considering that this is one of the most expensive models that we tested ($470) it would have been nice to have something like that included. Part of the price tag no doubt comes from the fact that Western Mountaineering is a small California-based company that manufactures all of its sleeping bags and garments in the USA, which we appreciate. They make some fantastic sleeping bags, and the MegaLite is the best of the best.
Read review: Western Mountaineering MegaLite
Best Light and Cozy Design
Marmot Phase 20
When Marmot re-designed their sleeping bag line with the new Phase series, they did not hold anything back as far as quality was concerned. They now produce some of the highest performing bags currently on the market. Both the Marmot Phase 20 and Phase 30 (see below) are top-notch models. The Phase has high-quality down fill and some of the lightest weight shell fabrics you can find, which equates to one of the lightest and most compressible bags (for their warmth) currently available. A bonus is that the bag has an exceptionally well-designed hood and sports some of silkiest feeling internal fabrics we've tested.
Silky internal fabric
Side zipper catches
The Phase topped our rating metrics in almost every category, and was just a hair below our Editors' Choice winner. The only thing we didn't care too much for was the zipper, which is small and prone to catching, but we could say that about a lot of bags. The shoulder and hip girths (60" and 59" respectively) are in line with other performance models, but a little confining if you have broader dimensions. It's also on the expensive end of the spectrum, but it sure does deliver for the price, and it's the lightest 20F-rated model in our review.
Read review: Marmot Phase 20
Best Bang for the Buck
REI Co-op Igneo 25
The REI Co-op Igneo 25 wins our overall "Best Value" award, as it offers the best performance for the cost. It's a superb balance of quality, low weight, packability, and performance for a pretty unbeatable price. The Igneo isn't the cheapest option around (the $150 Kelty Cosmic Down wins in that category), but for $270, the Igneo came close to the performance of bags more than twice the price.
Fairly light and compact
Solid quality for the price
Descent hood design
Not super warm for its temperature rating
Tight around the legs
We didn't think the Igneo lived up to its stated temperature rating. While it felt warmer than most 30F, the 25F rating is pushing it in our estimation. The 60" shoulder width is about average, tapering to 55" at the hips, and the legs felt unnecessarily tight. We did love some of the little features though, like the durable shell and non-snagging zipper. Overall, this is a stand-out backpacking sleeping bag, with solid materials, specs, packed size, and a respectable 700 down-fill, all for a great price.
Read review: REI Co-op Igneo 25
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
Kelty Cosmic Down 20
The affordable, yet reasonably lightweight and compressible Kelty Cosmic Down 20, also won our Best Buy award for those on a tight budget. While hardly an overall top performer, this is the best down bag we've ever seen for $150. This bag is far more durable and compressible than its similarly priced synthetic insulated counterparts and offers beginning or budget-conscious backpackers an exceptional value.
Great value bag
Light and compact for its price range
Not super warm
It's about a pound heavier than other 20-degree bags in our review, so you'll have to ask yourself what's more important, a one-pound weight savings on the trail, or $300 more dollars in your wallet? And even though it's rated to 20F, it wasn't that warm, so if you are a cold sleeper or usually camp in lower temperatures, you'll want something warmer. Otherwise, everyone on a budget should consider the Cosmic Down 20 (and pocket the savings). If you are backpacking in warm summer conditions and want to shave a few more ounces, check out the Kelty Cosmic Down 40 as well.
Read review: Kelty Cosmic Down 20
Top Pick for Cold Temperatures
Western Mountaineering UltraLite
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite is an extremely toasty bag. By far the warmest model in our review, it was noticeably toastier than the other contenders we tested with a 20F rating. Even more impressive is that, despite being warmer than other similarly rated models, it was incredibly lightweight and compressible. It packs down pretty small in its stuff sack, but we were able to get it a third smaller with a good compression bag.
Warmest bag in our review
Great no-catch zipper design
Excellent compressed size
Very warm for mid-summer
Weak velcro closure on draft collar
Slightly tight dimensionally
In fact, it was so warm that you might find it too much for mid-summer backpacking. It's also cut a little narrow (59" shoulders and 51" hips), making it a little less comfortable than a roomier bag. But, if you get cold easily, or plan to adventure in colder than average conditions, the Western Mountaineering UltraLite is tough to beat.
Read review: Western Mountaineering Ultralite
Top Pick for Wet Conditions
The North Face Hyper Cat 20
The North Face Hyper Cat 20 is our Top Pick for wet conditions. During our water saturation testing, the Hyper Cat, like other synthetic-fill bags, dried in roughly 20% of the time as treated water-resistant down, making it a much more ideal bag for wet conditions. However, what truly sets the Hyper Cat apart from most other synthetic bags is how incredibly small it packs down and how lightweight it is for its temperature rating (1 lb 14 oz). It's lighter and more compressible than several down bags we tested, and it even has roomier than average dimensions. All of our testers loved its half-length center zipper that still allowed plenty of ventilation on warm nights; it was also just plain easier to use.
Small packed size
Light for a synthetic bag
Cozy interior fabric
Synthetic insulation isn't super long lasting
This wasn't a particularly warm-for-the-rating bag, and there is noticeably less insulation in the legs than in other models. That's fine though if you always use a pad underneath you, and it's probably how it achieves some of the additional weight savings and compressibility compared to other synthetic models. If you're looking for a synthetic bag, whether for wet conditions, animal rights concerns, or you have allergies to down and want one of the highest performing synthetic bags out there, the Hyper Cat is your bag. It is worth noting that the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark 35 is another fantastic option that, while not as warm, is more packable and slightly lighter (1 lb 12 oz).
Read review: The North Face Hyper Cat 20
Top Pick for Light and Fast Backpacking and Mountaineering
Marmot Phase 30
If you're on a trip where weight and pack space are your highest priority, but you need or want something more significant than an ultralight quilt, the Marmot Phase 30 is hard to beat. It weighs only 1.1 pounds, and compresses down to almost the size of a Nalgene, making it by far the lightest and most compressible model we tested. It's a half to a full pound lighter than most bags with a similar temperature rating.
Smallest packed size in our review
Nice interior fabric
Accommodates light down jackets
Slightly tight internal dimensions
While it's warm enough for most backpackers and summer-time mountaineering, it isn't a toasty 30° F bag. With that in mind, if you get cold easily or embark on outings with overnight temperatures regularly below 30-35° F, we'd recommend the Sea to Summit Spark III, which carries a legit OutdoorGearLab tested rating for 25° F. It's also on the expensive side ($400), but that extra expenditure might be worth it if you're attempting an ultralight mission and need to cut every ounce possible from your gear.
Read review: Marmot Phase 30
Top Pick for Exceptional Comfort
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700
Weight: 1.93 lbs | Fill Power: 700 Fill Power PFC-Free Dridown
The 3-season Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 bag has a unique design, creating one of the more comfortable and bed-like feels of any sleeping bag we have ever tested. This 35-degree contender does not have any zippers or Velcro flaps; instead, it has a huge U-shaped opening covered by a down flap, which acts as a quilt. This quilt/flap is a cozy way to close your bag, and it helps regulate temperature well, particularly on warmer nights. The best part is the unmatched freedom of movement for your upper extremities, making tummy or side sleepers, who may tuck their arms under a pillow or jacket, about as comfy as possible. There's also a lower opening for your feet, so if they need to "breathe" at night for you to sleep well, you can pop them out of the bag with ease. It also has a sleeve for your sleeping pad, which helps keep you on your pad if you toss and turn a lot. This bag has so many features that it's hard to list them all.
Ideal for side and tummy sleepers
Excellent price for a down bag
Surprisingly low weight (sub-two pounds)
Non-traditional design is not for everyone
Inefficient stuff sack
On the downside, it's not a very warm bag. While it worked well at its 35F rating, on colder nights you'll want something warmer. It weighs just under 2 pounds, which is great, but not that light for a 35F bag. Finally, this bag doesn't compact that well. These points might all be mute if you dread "sleeping" in a sleeping bag. The Backcountry Bed gives you the feeling of home on the trail, and we loved how comfortable it was.
Read review: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700
Analysis and Test Results
Your backpacking sleeping bag is likely the most important insulating layer that you carry on any overnight wilderness excursion. Sleeping bags provide a better warmth-to-weight ratio than anything else in your pack.
Investing in a quality backpacking sleeping bag that is suited to your needs will help you get a more comfortable night's sleep, save weight and space in your pack, and keep you warm when the sun sets and the temperature starts to drop. Besides backpacking and mountaineering; sleeping bags are also the bed of choice for car campers, travelers, and couch surfers.
We rated each bag on its warmth, weight, packed size, features, and versatility. You can read our comparisons of each testing metric below. This year, we've updated our existing review to include several new, and innovative models and compared them to previous award winners.
If you're considering the price of your next bag before anything else, check out the table below. It shows you each model's overall score (on the X-axis), versus its retail price (on the Y-axis). Not surprisingly, there's a gradual upward curve, where score tends to increase with price. (This isn't always the case - we often come across overly-expensive outdoor items that don't live up to the hype, or price tag. Conversely, sometimes a "budget" pick works just as well as a more expensive counterpart.) With backpacking sleeping bags, a higher price tag usually comes from a higher-quality fill and lighter materials, which all drive up the cost. When looking for a good value pick check out the bags that lie to the right of the graph (higher score), but towards the bottom (lower price). This includes models like the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 ($250) and the REI Co-op Igneo 25 ($270), which won our Best Buy award.
Warmth is more-or-less directly related to the amount of loft (AKA insulation) a bag has, measured in the thickness of the insulation between you and the external environment. Except for loose fitting bags, more volume of insulation (not necessarily weight) equals more warmth in the majority of cases.
Fit or the cut of the bag is the next most important factor in determining warmth. Models that are too tight or too short won't allow the insulation to loft up properly, and as a result, you may feel colder when pressed against specific areas. Similarly, a bag that's too large will have drafty dead air spaces that are too far from you to properly heat up. These spots make the bag thermally inefficient even though it may have enough loft for the conditions.
Some bags tested in this review, such as the Western Mountaineering UltraLite, Marmot Phase 30, and the Sea to Summit Spark Spark III have tighter interior dimensions, resulting in slimmer feeling cuts. Not to fear, most broad-shouldered folks can still at least wear a lightweight jacket while sleeping inside these bags. The rest of the bags we reviewed are wider dimensionally speaking, and a majority of people could wear a mid-weight jacket or more to boost insulation on colder nights. It's worth noting that Western Mountaineering sleeping bags are available in multiple lengths and widths, which is a huge advantage because you can get a bag that fits your body well. Look at the foot, hip, and shoulder circumference to compare dimensions for unisex bags. We've included these measurements in the specification tables found in each review when available from the manufacturers.
The warmest contenders for their respective temperature rating were the high-quality down bags from Western Mountaineering, particularly the Western Mountaineering MegaLite and the Western Mountaineering Ultralite. The Marmot Phase 20 followed closely behind the Ultralite. All three of these bags have 850+ fill power down and plenty of it; 13, 14, and 16 ounces respectively. The MegaLite is a 30F bag and is roomier than the Ultralite, which is a 20F model.
The least warmest bags based on their given temperature ratings were the Marmot Phase 30, the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark 35 and the Patagonia 850 Down 30. The thinner insulation and sewn through design of the Patagonia 850 offers less protection from the elements. The lack of a draft tube allows more cold air inside the bag, leaving it less toasty than others. That said, both of these models will be excellent options when sleeping at 40°F and above.
It's worth noting that warmth is also heavily influenced by conductive heat loss to the ground. Choosing an appropriate sleeping pad is essential, especially in colder conditions or when sleeping on snow. Our Best Sleeping Pad Review will point you in the right direction for a warm, comfortable pad. Choosing the right backpacking tent or ultralight shelter for your trip will also influence the perceived warmth of a sleeping bag. OutdoorGearLab also has an excellent Backpacking Tent Review and Ultralight Backpacking Shelter Review, where you can finish out your research on the best sleeping/shelter kit for your next trip.
The backpacking sleeping bags in the review were tested in single wall tents, under tarps and mids, and under the open sky during open bivies above tree-line. See the Buying Advice on how standardized testing has helped (or hurt!) companies decisions on what temperature rating to give a sleeping bag.
Weight is a function of insulation type and amount, shell material, and features.
In general, heavier bags use either synthetic insulation or lower fill-power down (500-700). Many of the highest performing bags we tested use the best down (800-850+ fill-power) and lightweight, expensive shell fabrics. A bag's cut and its overall dimensions also play a major factor in the weight, as a slimmer cut bag has less overall materials.
At 1 pound 1.6 ounces, the Marmot Phase 30 is the lightest bag in our review. While it wasn't the warmest 30F bag in the sleet, it's suitable for most backpacking and summertime mountaineering trips. If you run on the cold side or want something you can regularly use below 40F, consider the 1 pound 6 ounces Sea to Summit Spark III, which was the next lightest down bag we tested.
It's no surprise the Spark III features high quality 850+ fill power down, sports the tightest cut, lightest 10D shell fabric, and the shortest (1/3 length) zipper. What is impressive is both the Marmot Phase 20 and the Western Mountaineering MegaLite are less than two ounces heavier and are still warmer. The Marmot Phase 20 is unbelievably light for its temperature rating (20F), featuring top quality 850+ down and a similar 10D shell. The MegaLite (1 lb 8 oz) offers a full-length zipper, is comparable warmth to the Spark III but is much more spacious (but still efficient) dimensions.
While the Marmot Phase 20 was light, it's worth noting that the Western Mountaineering UltraLite was warmer and among the lightest in our review (at 1 lb 13 oz). In addition to being incredibly lightweight, all of these models also scored a 10 out of 10 for warmth.
Among synthetic bags we tested, our testers were very impressed with The North Face Hyper Cat. While it's super warm for its temperature rating, at 1 pound 14 ounces, it was warm enough to be used to 20-25°F while wearing a layer or two. It's an exceptionally light synthetic option and is a pound+ lighter than a majority of synthetic models - it was also lighter than several 30°F down bags.
Comfort is a subjective category that primarily depends on internal dimensions, sleeping style, and interior fabric. Increasing the size of the bag's internal dimensions (to a point) allows for a "more comfortable" bag for most, as the user has more room to move around within a bag. This becomes even more important for users that sleep on their side, tummy, and/or with their knee slightly out to the side.
A disadvantage of making the bag bigger is not necessarily worth it, as the manufacturer will need to add more material and insulation to maintain the same warmth; this often comes with a weight and packability penalty.
In addition to having the space for sprawling and thrashing, our ratings focus on which features will contribute to or detract from comfort. Insulation type influences comfort; all of our testers agreed that sleeping in a high-quality down bag is like floating on a super light cloud while zipping into a synthetic model is okay, but less heavenly.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 was the most comfortable bag in our review, with the Western Mountaineering MegaLite being a very close second. What makes the MegaLite unique is it's significantly lighter and more packable than the two contenders above, but nearly as comfortable.
Because we all vary on what makes something comfortable, we chose a handful of bags that all tested enjoyed logging the most time in. Cue the Sierra Backcountry Bed 700, which offers a unique design. So unique, in fact, that we felt like we were sleeping in a bed. It's without zippers or Velcro flaps of any kind, instead offering a large "U"-shaped opening. That opening is covered by a down flap that acts (and feels) like a quilt. This not only helps regulate temperature exceptionally well but also offers unmatched freedom of movement in the user's upper extremities. Best of all, this model weighs a respectable 1 pound 15 ounces. While we loved the Backcountry Bed 700 and founds that it offers a mega comfort-oriented design, its lower dimensions were average and not as spacious as the WM MegaLite. The inner fabric of the Backcountry Bed was also not quite as comfortable as those found on the Megalite.
Lastly, it's worth noting that it is important to consider total comfort throughout a trip, not just when you're inside your sleeping bag at night. A bag that's slightly more comfortable to sleep in may be far heavier and bulkier, and therefore less comfortable to carry. Weigh both factors and keep them in mind when searching for a new bag.
If you spend more time carrying the bag than you do inside of it, we suggest prioritizing weight and bulk (comfort while in your pack) over comfort while sleeping. The Marmot Phase, Patagonia 850, REI Co-op Igneo 25, and Kelty Cosmic Down were also top scorers for the comfort metric. We especially enjoyed how both of the Marmot Phase models provided an excellent hood design, which allowed us to stay cozy without feeling claustrophobic.
Packed size is how compressible a given model is, which is heavily influenced by down fill power or type of synthetic insulation, shell fabrics, and features. Higher quality down, lighter fabrics, and simple features create the most compressible bags.
Everyone wants a more compressible bag, as it either gives us more room in our packs, or lets us take a smaller, lighter weight pack for a given objective.
The most compressible bag in our review is the Marmot Phase 30, closely followed by the Sea to Summit Spark III. Both are 10-15% smaller than the Western Mountaineering MegaLite, Western Mountaineering Ultralite, and Marmot Phase 20, which did compress impressively small for 20°F bags. The REI Co-op Igneo 25, Kelty Cosmic Down, The North Face Hyper Cat 20, and the Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Spark provide a budget-friendly option while remaining compressible.
Three-season models are meant to be used in a wide range of conditions. They must function on warm summer nights at lower elevations, as well as when the temperatures drop below freezing near treeline in the fall. Versatility across environments, elevations, seasons, and temperatures is an important consideration when assessing a bag's performance and value.
Some of the bags tested here, such as the Western Mountaineering Ultralight and WM MegaLite have continuous horizontal baffles that allow you to shift down from the top to the bottom of the bag, increasing comfort in warm conditions and warmth in cold conditions. We find these lightweight bags to be the most versatile in our test.
Other features that increase a bag's versatility is an ability to vent on warmer nights, meaning a longer zipper offers more versatility than a 1/3 length one. A little extra shoulder room to facilitate adding one (or more) layers can also be helpful on those colder adventures.
The Backcountry Bed 700 incorporates a built-in quilt that enables you to sleep as you would with a comforter. It also regulates temperature fantastically when compared with a traditional side zipper. The quilt can be tucked away wholly, engulfing its occupant when temperatures near the bag's comfort limit. Plus, there is ample room to layer up in both of these models, and you can open the bag up for warmer nights.
The North Face Cat's Meow is a budget-friendly bag that offers an exceptional amount of versatility.
It excels at shorter trips in the backcountry and is a great option for car camping, kayak or rafting trips, or any occasion in which versatility is essential.
Features and Design
We assessed the quality of each of the bag's features and attempted to quantify how well they contributed to the overall performance of the bag. This variable encompasses shell fabric, zippers, draft tubes, neck baffles, and stash pockets.
Traditional bags with snag-free zippers, easy-to-use hood adjustments, and hoods that don't come undone at night scored higher in this category, such as the Marmot Phase 20, the Western Mountaineering Ultralite, and the WM MegaLite. Like many things in the outdoor world, not all bells and whistles are in our best interest. They add weight, and in some cases, more features or more complicated features can reduce performance.
Besides adding weight, complexity, and the possibility of failing faster, they also often cost more. In the world of sleeping bags, we think that its drawbacks rarely offset any potential benefits that a given feature has on warmth, comfort, or convenience.
The Sea to Summit Spark III was a high scorer in the features and design metric; the hood, compression sack, and overall design were impressive, though this model does not necessarily come with many "extras." Back to its design, it is super light and was an honest 25F bag, unlike our Lightweight Top Pick winner, the Marmot Phase 30. While it is lighter and warm enough for most backpackers, it does not provide the most warmth in our fleet.
Take stash pockets on sleeping bags, for example. It can be helpful to keep your watch with an alarm in the pocket, but it can be hard to hear the alarm through the down. If you roll in your sleep, waking up on your watch isn't exactly comfortable. In general, when it comes to features, smart designs scored well, and generally, less is more.
Unfortunately, very few bags come with decent quality stuff sacks and many bags come with downright terrible stuff sacks. An exception is the Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Spark 35; in general, to maximize the compressibility of your bag, we highly recommend purchasing one separately. See our Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack Article for our recommendations for specific applications.
Other Sleeping Bag Reviews
We also offer an Ultralight Sleeping Bag Review, which compares hoodless options, weighing only 31 ounces or less. If you're looking for a lightweight bag that will primarily be used for overnight trips where weight is a concern, we highly encourage you to consider one of the models found in the Ultralight Bag Review. Lastly, we offer a general Camping Sleeping Bag Review that compares large and luxurious rectangular bags that are too heavy to carry backpacking. These offer much more comfort than any model tested here and cost as little as forty dollars!!
— Ian Nicholson
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.