The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

Choosing the right sleeping bag can make or break your next backpacking trip
The Sea to Summit sits in a tent.

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Your backpacking sleeping bag is a crucial part of your sleep system, and usually the largest item in your pack. Selecting the right one depends on the temperature range and moisture levels where you hike, your backpacking style ranging from traditional to ultralight, your sleeping habits, and your budget. We tested all of the bags on this list in the field to give you a better idea of which backpacking sleeping bag is best for you.

How We Tested the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

OL staff writer Laura Lancaster and I tested the best backpacking sleeping bags in the field to determine which are best suited to varying conditions, sleeping habits, and backpacking kits. I also loaned these bags to friends with varying levels of backpacking experience and noted their feedback, as everyone sleeps differently and prioritizes different features.

If you’re new to backpacking, it’s hard to tell what you’ll want in a sleeping bag. We delve into the details of each bag to help you formulate an idea of what your perfect bag is. There are also some technical specs that should weigh heavily in your decision; find out more in the How to Choose section below.

Even veteran backpackers typically don’t get the chance to test out a sleeping bag before they buy it. Our descriptions should give you invaluable insight into the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular sleeping bags on the market. 

Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Down: Therm-a-Rest Parsec

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Small, regular, and long 
  • Temperature Ratings: 0, 20, and 32 degrees
  • Weight: 1 pound, 12 ounces (regular 20 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 7 x 8.5 inches in diameter
  • 800 fp Nikwax hydrophobic RDS-certified goose down 


  • Ultralight
  • High fill
  • Packs down small
  • Stash pocket
  • Included compression sack


  • Only unzips on one side
  • No vents
  • Not very roomy

This bag looks like a man-sized beehive thanks to its horizontal baffles and bright yellow hue. It’s also my favorite sleeping bag I’ve ever used. Therm-a-rest’s Parsec uses 800fp hydrophobic down to create an ultra puffy and warm sleeping bag that feels like crawling into a hug after a long day on trail. It’s also sub 2-pounds and disappears in my pack. I don’t use a compression sack for my sleeping bag; instead I stuff it in last or near last so that it takes up any empty space in my bag. The Parsec is particularly suited for this packing style as it simply disappears around all my other gear. It’s a wonder to behold.

One of the drawbacks to this bag is that it isn’t very roomy. But to me, this means no pockets of cold air for me to accidentally disturb in the middle of the night. If I sleep on my side, I simply rotate the bag with my body instead of trying to turn inside the bag. If this sounds similar to your sleeping style, you’ll love the Parsec. It only unzips on one side, but at 1 pound, 12 ounces, it’s hard to care. One place Therm-a-rest didn’t skimp for weight is the phone pocket on the right side, which is one of my must-haves. It’s like this bag was made for me, and it’s lightweight and high-fill makes it the best overall backpacking sleeping bag.

Best Budget Down: Kelty Cosmic Down

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Short, regular, and long in men’s and women’s
  • Temperature Ratings: 0, 20, and 40 degrees
  • Weight: 2 pounds, 8 ounces (men’s regular 20 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 13 x 7 inches in diameter
  • Uses 550 fp duck down


  • Affordable (especially for a down bag)


  • Mummy shape is less comfortable than other sleeping bag shapes
  • Bulky for a down sleeping bag
  • Heavy for a down sleeping bag

Down sleeping bags can get pretty pricey, especially if the bag in question is using a high-fill power down (thinking 700 fp or greater). The Kelty Cosmic Down is the exception. It uses a 550 fill power down that brings the cost down in line with synthetic sleeping bags, without sacrificing the insulation that you need to stay warm overnight. 

Of course, there are some tradeoffs. First: This bag is pretty heavy—too heavy for most backpackers. It’s also on the bulky side for a down bag, closer to what you would expect from a high-quality synthetic sleeping bag. Finally, the classic mummy shape is pretty constrictive. If you sleep directly on your back without moving, then you’ll be fine. Side sleepers, stomach sleepers, fidgeters—expect to wake up at least once feeling claustrophobic. —Laura Lancaster

Best Synthetic: Nemo Forte Endless Promise

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long in both men’s and women’s
  • Temperature Ratings: 20 and 35 degrees
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 7 ounces (men’s regular 20 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 18 x 9.5 inches in diameter
  • Uses synthetic insulation 


  • Fully recyclable at end of life
  • Very warm
  • Modified mummy shape is comfortable
  • Vents can be used for warmer conditions


  • Bulky packed size compared to down bags
  • Too heavy for most backpackers

While there has, naturally, always been interest in eco-friendly materials and manufacturing practices in the outdoor manufacturing space, Nemo has pushed things to the next level with their Forte Endless Promise Sleeping Bag. While other sleeping bags boast small percentages of the sleeping bag that are recyclable, this sleeping bag can actually be recycled. That means that at end of life you can send it in and it’ll be returned to its elemental parts and turned into new products in turn, rather than ending up in a landfill. (The liner and shell of the bag are also made from recycled materials, too, for good measure.)

The eco bonafides are impressive but how does this sleeping bag perform in the field? I’ve used this bag several times over the course of summertime car camping and, if anything, I found this bag to be too warm—even when the vents were pulled down. If you run warm, this is a great choice for shoulder season camping. I also shared this sleeping bag with a woman who runs cold (as part of a test-case scenario to see how important high R value pads are compared to higher temperature rated sleeping bags). She reported feeling very comfortable on a Memorial Day camping trip that saw temps drop down into the upper 40s. If you sleep cold and are looking for a warm and comfortable bag for your camping adventures, this is a great choice that is also great for the planet. —Laura Lancaster

Best Budget Synthetic: Marmot Trestles

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long in both men’s and women’s
  • Temperature Ratings: 15 and 30 degrees
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 7.7 ounces (women’s regular 30 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 19 x 9 inches in diameter
  • Uses synthetic insulation 


  • Wide footbox
  • Full length two-way zipper
  • Stash pocket
  • Included stuff sack


  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t pack down very small

I purchased this sleeping bag on sale for $90 for my first foray into backpacking. It’s been a trusty sidekick and source of comfort since… I’m getting misty eyed already. The reason this is the best budget synthetic bag is because it’s very cheap and not that heavy. Even not on sale, it’s always affordable. There’s a wide footbox that doesn’t feel constricting to new backpackers. It also has a partial one-way zipper on one side and a full length two-way zipper on the other (you get to pick which sides). This allows you to vent, relax, and reach out pretty freely. This is especially good for new hikers that should feel like their bag is a home away from home, not a straitjacket.

While you can wrestle it into the included stuff sack, it doesn’t pack down as small as others on this list. But most beginner backpackers looking for a budget synthetic sleeping bag will be able to fit it into their kit. The stash pocket and no-snag zippers are nice advantages and the synthetic fill will still keep you warm in damp conditions or if it gets wet. 

Most Durable: Mountain Hardwear Yawn Patrol

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long
  • Temperature Ratings: 15 and 30 degrees
  • Weight: 2 pounds, 12.3 ounces (regular 15 degrees)
  • Packed Size: Not available
  • Uses 650fp RDS-certified down


  • Durable
  • Roomy
  • Footbox opens completely
  • Two two-way zippers


  • Smells like down
  • No compression sack
  • Interior stash pocket is too small for a phone

This is a unique and highly functional backpacking sleeping bag. If the snug Parsec is overly filled with 850fp down, I’d say the very roomy curved rectangular Yawn Patrol is slightly underfilled with 650fp down. But this bag stays plenty warm thanks to the ample room for speedy lofting. And it’s great for side sleepers, though it doesn’t pack down very small. The 45 denier nylon ripstop bottom is highly durable. Compare that to the Parsec’s 20 denier recycled nylon shell. I wasn’t uneasy about dragging this bag out of my tent to look at the stars on a flat rock or field of dry grass. A lighter weight 30 denier nylon ripstop is used for the top shell fabric and the inside has a nice feel. This bag does smell like down, even after washing. 

Author wears Yawn Patrol sleeping bag.
You can walk around in the Yawn Patrol thanks to its dual two-way zippers. Ashley Thess

What’s really special about this bag is the dual two-way zippers and footbox zipper. The footbox opens completely, for venting purposes, but also if you want to wander out of your tent for breakfast still snug in your sleeping bag. The two-way zippers on both sides even enable you to stick your arms out or wear this bag like a cape or extra long parka. The hood is a little too small and the interior envelope pocket is half the size of a phone, but this is a fun and functional bag that weighs less than I would expect.

Best for Side Sleepers: Nemo Disco

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long in men’s and women’s
  • Temperature Ratings: 15 and 30 degrees
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 1 ounce (women’s regular 15 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 12.5 x 8.5 inches in diameter
  • Uses 650fp PFAS-free hydrophobic, RDS-certified down


  • Venting gills
  • Included compression sack
  • Spacious spoon shape


  • Tiny stash pocket
  • Heavy

The Nemo Disco has a unique spoon shaped design to allow for more room near your elbows and knees. If you struggle with mummy bags but are looking for more weight savings than a rectangular bag, this (or one of the best backpacking quilts) is your answer. While roomy in these areas, you will not appreciate this shape if, like me, you tend to raise your knees to sleep. This is the thinnest part of the bag, and doesn’t allow you to curl into a ball very well. This bag is plush and soft, with snag-free zippers and a cozy oversized draft collar.

The Nemo Disco's Thermo Gill vents are open in this photo.
The Nemo Disco’s Thermo Gill vents are open in this photo. Ashley Thess

If you do get hot, there are Thermo Gill vents, 19-inch zippers on the chest that expose a section of un-insulated fabric for increased breathability. The pillow pocket might be too small for most inflatable backpacking pillows, but if you plan to just ball up your puffy or have a foam pillow, it’s great. There’s also a zippered stash pocket on the exterior that’s pretty tiny. The downside of all that extra elbow room, is some extra weight. If you don’t mind the weight, it’s plush and comfortable with the padding side sleepers crave.

Best Lightweight: Sea to Summit Spark/Flame Ultralight

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long in men’s (Spark) and women’s (Flame)
  • Temperature Ratings: 15, 25, 35, and 48 degrees (women’s)
  • Weight: 1 pound, 7.5 ounces (women’s)
  • Packed Size: 2.5 liters
  • Uses Ultra-Dry 850fp down


  • Small packed size
  • Lightweight


  • Expensive
  • Hood is not especially useful

The Sea to Summit Spark (men’s) and Flame (women’s) are ultralight at sub-2 pounds for even the warmest women’s bag. I used these two successive nights in July along the Colorado River and found that the temperature rating was very accurate. In fact, if anything, I was a little too warm in my 25-degree bag when the temps only dipped down to 50 degrees at night. 

The 850 fill power down meant that this sleeping bag packed down quite small when it was time to get going in the morning and it added a negligible amount of weight to my kit. I also appreciated that the down was treated for water resistance, which helps to fend off overnight condensation. The size of the hood on the Sea to Summit Flame can hold a pillow in place, but most people that toss and turn in the night are likely to find it slipping off. In my experience, the down in this sleeping bag does tend to shift around, so be sure to give it a few shakes before laying down to help redistribute. —Laura Lancaster

Best for Cold Weather: Marmot Helium

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Short, regular, and long
  • Temperature Ratings: 15 degrees
  • Weight: 2 pounds, 2.7 ounces (regular)
  • Packed Size: 14.2 x 7.1 inches in diameter
  • Uses 800 fp goose down with eco-friendly ExpeDRY water-repellent finish


  • Tested comfort rating of 27 degrees
  • Includes stuff sack
  • Interior phone pocket


  • Tight
The Marmot Helium packed next to a nalgene.
The Helium packs down small using the stuff sack. Ashley Thess

Marmot’s Helium 15 is very warm, and relatively lightweight. They achieve this with a very tight silhouette. This also lends itself to being extra warm though, with less space to heat. Its 800fp down makes it feel plush and overstuffed. It also packs down pretty small in just the stuff sack. The interior phone pocket is convenient, but annoying that it doesn’t have a zipper. It lofts quickly and feels soft. I also appreciate the dual two-way zippers for venting and mobility.

Big Agnes Roxy Ann 3N1

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Regular and long (both sizes available in women’s too)
  • Temperature Ratings: 15 and 30 degrees
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 5 ounces (women’s regular 15 degrees)
  • Packed Size: 10.5 x 9.5 inches in diameter
  • Uses 650fp DownTek 


  • Three bags in one: 50, 30, and 15 degrees
  • Pad cinch system
  • So warm


  • Bulky when used all together for 15 degrees
The Big Agnes Roxy's attached sheet (bottom) cinches to your sleeping pad. It's works a little different than other popular quilts (top).
The Big Agnes Roxy’s attached sheet (bottom) cinches to your sleeping pad. It’s works a little different than other popular quilts (top). Ashley Thess

The Big Agnes Roxy Ann 3N1 has a 50-degree, roomy rectangular quilt with an attached sheet. The bottom of the sheet cinches onto your sleeping pad. This keeps you on your sleeping pad and you don’t have to be directly touching the pad; plus there’s a pocket to hold your pillow. Then, there’s a snug, hooded mummy bag rated for 30 degrees that fits inbetween the sheet and quilt. This 3N1 system kept me on top of my pad and it was very warm with the right R-value pad.

Sleeping bags lay in the grass.
The Big Agnes Roxy (far right) has a separate light blue sleeping bag inside it’s dark blue quilt. Ashley Thess

But let’s break down the functionality of a 3N1 system. A 50-degree quilt is a risky decision to me. I’d likely never bring just that backpacking where I live. Whether it’s the mountains or the desert, nights are chilly regardless of the season. And since it’s attached to a sheet, it’s not a functional blanket either. The 30-degree bag is something I would bring backpacking, but this particular one is very snug; I certainly woke up in a claustrophobic panic a few times. Also, the off-center, but not quite to the side zipper was disorienting. I struggled to find it in the dark when I needed it and sometimes I found it unexpectedly and thought I was turned cattywhompus in the bag, ensuing more straitjacket panic. The zipper tends to get stuck a lot, which doesn’t help.

However, when this system is all together, it’s great: warm, cozy, and versatile. You can unzip the bag’s full length two-way zipper to vent while still retaining heat underneath the quilt. The only issue here is, there are other bags and quilts that are just as warm, for a similar price, that are much lighter and less bulky. So the versatility of this system really comes down to where you’re backpacking and your typical sleep temperature and habits.

Best for Babies and Toddlers: Morrison Outdoors Little Mo 20

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 6 months to 2 years (larger models available for older tots)
  • Temperature Ratings: 20 and 40 degrees
  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • RDS-certified down fill (20-degree bag), synthetic fill (40-degree bag)


  • Designed with safe sleep practices in mind
  • Your child stays warm no matter where they throw themselves in the tent
  • Available in limited colors including red, green, blue, and purple
  • Lightweight


  • Expensive

Before Morrison Outdoors came along, a lot of parents of babies and toddlers were stuck co-sleeping if they wanted to make sure their kiddo was warm in the backcountry. There just weren’t real options out there for the under 3 set. 

Nap time in the Morrison Outdoors Little Mo.
Nap time in the Morrison Outdoors Little Mo. Laura Lancaster

The Morrison Outdoors Little Mo changed that. The first time we used this while camping with our kid she slept straight through the night; I woke up to her throwing herself gleefully onto my chest at dawn with a wide smile on her face. She was delighted. I was delighted. We used that sleeping bag for the next two years, upgrading her to the Big Mo as we went along.

At one point, we even took her on a 30-mile trek in Mount Rainier National Park where she slept at elevation. The 20-degree version of this bag kept her plenty warm. When she finally outgrew hers (word to the wise: the arms can end up being too short before the actual length), we were all devastated. Fortunately, you don’t have to be: Morrison Outdoors has since come out with an even larger size: the Mighty Mo. (And a parent bag to match, the Mega Mo.) 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Three of the best sleeping bags lay on a rock.
There are a number of technical specifications to take into account before buying the best backpacking sleeping bag. Ashley Thess

Sleeping Pad

Reviews of sleeping bags are littered with complaints that they weren’t warm enough or didn’t live up to the temperature rating, but unfortunately these reviews mean nothing if you don’t know what R-value sleeping pad they were using. That’s because sleeping bags will not perform up to their temperature rating unless they are paired with a sleeping pad that has an R-value of 4 or higher. An R (for resistance) rating measures how well a sleeping pad prevents (or resists) the cold of the ground from creeping through to the side you are sleeping on. Low R values provide little to no resistance while high R values resist even subfreezing temperatures. 

Read Next: What is R Value? It’s Why Your Sleeping Bag Doesn’t Keep You Warm

Temperature Rating

The first thing you need to know about a sleeping bag’s temperature rating is that there isn’t going to be just one number: There is a “comfort” temperature, a “lower limit” or “transition” temperature, and a “risk” or “extreme” temperature. The comfort number is what it sounds like—this is the temperature at which you’re the most likely to actually be comfortable. The “limit” or “transition” temperature is when you will start to feel uncomfortable—you’re not shivering necessarily, but you’re not sleeping well either. The “risk” temperature is the temperature at which you are in danger of hypothermia.

The tricky part is that the advertised temperature rating for a sleeping bag is sometimes the comfort temperature and sometimes the transition or lower limit rating. Women’s bags are more likely to list the comfort temperature rating, as opposed to the limit rating (manufacturers generally assume that women run colder than men), but this varies by brand: Always check the fine print before committing to a purchase. 

The good news about these temperature ratings is that they aren’t based on the personal opinions of the manufacturers—there is an actual standard that the temperature of a sleeping bag is judged on (two, in fact). Sleeping bag temperature ratings are assessed using a heat-producing manikin with temperature sensors placed inside of a climate controlled room on top of a 4.8-R rated sleeping bag—I’m vastly paraphrasing here, but you get the idea of what an intense process this is. The upshot of all this effort on the part of the sleeping bag manufacturers is that if you know your ISO-rated or EN-rated 30-degree bag is the right temperature for you, you can be reasonably confident in purchasing a 30-degree bag from a different manufacturer. 

The downside is that the temperature ratings are just that: ratings. Human bodies are different, and only you know if you are cold, hot, or surface-of-the-sun hot. If you run cold, go with at least 10 degrees warmer than you think you need. —Laura Lancaster


Most of the time, the difference between a men’s sleeping bag and a women’s sleeping bag is just about the size and shape (and, too often, the color), but sometimes there are differences in where and how the bag’s insulation is concentrated to reflect the differences in how men and women dispel heat. The advertised temperature rating is also typically a comfort rating for women’s bags and a limit rating for men’s bags. —Laura Lancaster


High fill power down (850fp, used in the Sea to Summit Flame Fm, left) makes for a lighter, more compact sleeping bag than one using lower fill power (550fp, used in the Kelty Cosmic Down, right). The Nemo Forte, a best-in-class synthetic sleeping bag (center) runs about 10 degrees colder than either of the two down sleeping bags pictured here.
High fill power down (850fp, used in the Sea to Summit Flame Fm, left) makes for a lighter, more compact sleeping bag than one using lower fill power (550fp, used in the Kelty Cosmic Down, right). The Nemo Forte, a best-in-class synthetic sleeping bag (center) runs about 10 degrees colder than either of the two down sleeping bags pictured here. Laura Lancaster

I’ll be honest with you; backpackers can debate the down versus synthetic fill of sleeping bags until they’re blue in the face. If you’d like to get to know the intricacies of this valid debate, by all means, dive in: Down vs Synthetic Sleeping Bags. But I’m going to lay it out from a practical buyer’s standpoint. 

Down is superior in its warmth to weight ratio, but it’s also more expensive. Down detractors will say that it won’t perform when wet and there are environmental concerns about the treatment of the animals it comes from. In reality, most (be sure to check) down bags are treated to be hydrophobic. This treatment can wear off, not all treatments are created equal, and it will require a special detergent to preserve this hydrophobic quality. But it works. There is also a Responsible Down Standard certification that signifies responsibly sourced down. I highly encourage you to verify an RDS-certification before purchasing any down product.

Synthetic is cheaper and performs when wet, no treatment necessary. 

Read Next: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag


Q: Should I get women’s specific sleeping bags?

If you sleep cold, I would check out the women’s version of a sleeping bag. Sometimes the insulation is tailored to where women typically get cold and how they dispel heat. The advertised temperature rating of a women’s bag is also usually a comfort rating, rather than a limit rating for men’s bags. All of this to say, women’s bags are usually warmer. 

Another consideration is if you’d like the opportunity to zip your bag onto your partner’s bag to create a double. Some companies offer this possibility, but only in opposite gendered bags. Other times, the difference between a men’s sleeping bag and a women’s sleeping bag is just about the size and shape (and, too often, the color). So check the measurements and select whatever bag suits your needs, regardless of gender. 

Q: How much do sleeping bags usually cost?

The sleeping bags on this list range from $100 to $600. If you’d like to spend less, consider the budget options. Usually synthetic bags are cheaper, and also heavier. The ultralight bags will typically be the most expensive.

Q: What temperature should a backpacking sleeping bag be?

That depends on how hot or cold you sleep, location, and season. If you sleep cold, go with a rating 10 degrees colder than you think you’ll need. Take into account comfort and limit ratings. Base your selection off the comfort rating and the average nighttime temperatures you’ll be using it in. Also, be sure to have a properly rated sleeping pad to take advantage of the full temperature rating.

Final Thoughts

The best backpacking sleeping bag is a big investment and a vitally important piece of gear. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it’ll make hiking the next day much less enjoyable. And if your bag isn’t up to the conditions, it can be downright dangerous. After backpacking with all of these bags, we’ve noted their best use cases, advantages, and disadvantages to inform your decision.

Ashley Thess Avatar

Ashley Thess

Assistant Gear Editor

Ashley Thess is the Assistant Gear Editor for Outdoor Life, where she edits and writes gear reviews. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she keeps an unruly gear closet.