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Updated Mar 10, 2022 2:56 PM

Think about your first camping trip, your coldest or rainiest backpacking trip, or a hunt where you didn’t expect to have to stay an extra night. What makes or breaks moments like these is a warm, dry core—in other words, the best sleeping bag for the situation. A comfortable, quality sleep is ideal, and staying warm through the night is necessary. So, four Outdoor Life team members—from Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, and Alaska—compiled our top picks to keep you safe during (and help you enjoy) your next hunting, backpacking, or camping trip.

All of these picks have stood the test of time. So, figure out what trips you’re looking to take, and use this list to help you buy your first sleeping bag, or get a much-needed upgrade.

Down vs. Synthetic

The most important distinction between sleeping bags is whether they use synthetic or down fill. Most budget sleeping bags get their warmth from synthetic (typically polyester) fill—think of the bag you used for sleepovers as a kid. Synthetic-fill sleeping bags tend to be heavier, lower cost, and better able to retain heat when wet. Most high-end bags, however, are filled with soft, fluffy feathers, found under the tough exterior feathers of ducks or geese. Down-fill sleeping bags are often more expensive, lighter, and warmer.

If you look at a down feather (they tend to poke their way through sleeping bag fabric every so often), you’ll see that it’s made up of innumerable wisps connected to a short shaft. The lack of structure to these feathers creates small air pockets, which trap heat from your body and insulate it from the cold outside air. Down-feather quality is measured by fill power (fp), or how much down it takes to fill one cubic inch of space. For instance, one ounce of 550fp down will fill about 9 liters, while one ounce of 900fp will fill almost 15 liters. In sleeping bags, using down with high fill power can result in significant weight savings. The Achilles heel of down feathers has always been moisture—when down gets wet, the pockets of air disappear, eliminating virtually all of its insulating properties. In recent years, sleeping-bag manufacturers have started using down feathers treated with a water-resistant coating, sometimes referred to as DownTek, but there are several different names. While a soaking wet sleeping bag using DownTek is still going to make for an uncomfortable evening in the backcountry, water-resistant down does reduce the heat loss caused by overnight condensation inside your tent. When purchasing a down sleeping bag, we recommend looking for a bag that is RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified, which helps ensure that no geese or ducks were unnecessarily harmed (such as live plucking). 

While the sleeping bags of slumber parties are a good example of synthetic fill, high-end synthetic fill mimics the qualities of down, using short filaments that create pockets to trap your body heat. Further, synthetic fill retains heat while wet without the need for additional treatment. The highest quality synthetic fills can approach the insulation-to-weight ratio of 550fp down, but these synthetics also approach the cost of the lower quality down. In some instances, sleeping bags will incorporate both down AND synthetic fills to balance the pros and cons of both.

Best Sleeping Bag for Car Camping: Kelty Galactic 30 Sleeping Bag 

Key Features

  • Weight: 2.9 pounds 
  • Cinch cord at the top
  • 550 fill power duck down
  • Unzips into a quilt shape

Why It Made the Cut

The roomy rectangular shape and silky polyester taffeta kept us so comfortable it was hard to get out of the tent in the morning. 

Pros

  • Great for side sleepers
  • Comfortable
  • Can be zipped up with another bag

Cons

  • Not as warm as other 30-degree rated bags

Product Description 

The Galactic bag has the luxurious feel that we look for on lazy car camping trips. It’s rectangular shape made it easy to switch from side sleeping to stomach to back without feeling confined, and the lining felt good against the skin. The V-shaped baffling design kept the down from sinking down the sides. The down fill also meant it packed up small, so that it wasn’t competing for space in our sedan with the rest of our gear, and, at just under three pounds, it’s light enough to take it on casual backpacking trips when warm weather is a guarantee. 

While the bag is rated for 30 degrees, this one is best used on summer nights—when the temperature is unlikely to dip below 50—unless you are using a sleeping bag liner or are wearing your puffies to bed, which there is plenty of room for. —Laura Lancaster

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Best Sleeping Bag for Backcountry Hunting: Kifaru Slickbag

Kifaru

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Key Features

  • Weight: 2.8 pounds (Regular, 20 degree)
  • Synthetic Climashield APEX insulation
  • Zipper and collar baffles 
  • Center-zip
  • Regular, Regular Long, Wide, Wide Long
  • 20, 0, and -20 degree versions

Why It Made the Cut

The Slickbag is one of the most dependable sleeping bags on the market. It’s durable and will keep you warm even when you’re soaked.

Pros

  • Synthetic insulation stays warm when wet
  • Wicks moisture from your clothes and body
  • Center zip is easy access
  • Passive baffle system eliminates cold spots

Cons

  • Heavier and less compressible than down bags

Product Description

The Slickbag from Kifaru is made in Colorado, and is one of the best hunting bags on the market. It uses Climashield Apex insulation with a passive baffle system to reduce or eliminate cold spots. The insulation is resilient and compresses well for a synthetic bag. The “RhinoSkin” shell is extremely lightweight and durable, and the bag features a wide footbox for those who get claustrophobic in a normal mummy bag.

The combination of dependability of the synthetic insulation and packability make this one of the very best bags for hunting the backcountry. Even when wet, the bag insulates well, and your body heat can dry out your clothes by wearing them inside it. Even in the worst weather and conditions, it’s absolutely dependable and I’ve used both the 20-degree and 0-degree slickbags across Alaska for years. —Tyler Freel

Best Sleeping Bag for Backpacking: REI Co-op Magma Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op

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Key Features

  • Regular and Long (men’s and women’s
  • Tested comfort: 29 degrees, tested lower limit: 18 degrees
  • Weight: 1 pound, 3.8 ounces (Regular)
  • Compresses down to 2.6 liters
  • Comes in 30 and 15 degrees
  • Trapezoidal footbox
  • Super insulated around head, neck, and shoulders

Why It Made the Cut

The REI Co-op Magma is a lightweight backpacking sleeping bag with an insulated design that’s ideal for summer backpacking trips.

Pros

  • Extremely light and packable for how warm it is
  • Comfortable, roomy, and insulated footbox 

Cons

  • If you’re backpacking below the tested comfort temperature, expect to get chilly—best slightly above temperature grade if you are a cold sleeper like I am  
  • Fits narrow

Product Description

Everything about backpacking with the REI Co-op Magma is easy. It’s super light, packs down tightly to fit in the small gap next to my bear canister at the bottom of my pack, and the zippers are reliable. My favorite part about this sleeping bag is that it couldn’t be more of a “mummy.” Taking the 30-degree version backpacking for the first time (with a low of about 40 degrees) was a dream for being a cold sleeper who tosses and turns throughout the night. The hood is adjustable to fit snugly around your head, and the neck and shoulders kept me extremely comfortable. 

While it’s by no means a cheap sleeping bag, it is less expensive and of a similar quality to a lot of top-tier backpacking sleeping bags on the market, making it ideal for summer trips. —Samantha Silverman

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Best Quilt for Backpacking: Enlightened Equipment Revelation  

Enlightened Equipment

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Key Features

  • Comes in 0-, 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-degree versions
  • Comes in Short, Regular, Long, and Wide combinations 
  • Weight: Regular/Regular 850: 19.18 ounces 
  • Choice between 850fp duck down and 950fp goose down
  • Snap and drawcord neck closure
  • Comes with elastic straps that attach to your sleeping pad

Why It Made the Cut

The thoughtful design of the Revelation quilt maximizes both weight savings and comfort. It uses higher quality materials than other brands at a competitive price point.   

Pros

  • Ultralight nylon is comfortable against the skin
  • Durable enough for multiple thru-hikes
  • Keeps out drafts as well as a traditional sleeping bag
  • Works well for side sleepers

Cons 

  • Bag needs to be shaken periodically to keep the down evenly distributed
  • Limited moisture resistance (DWR treated) can make condensation an issue 

Product Description 

Quilts have long been a go-to for thru-hikers looking to cut weight and are catching on with the rest of the backpacking community. The high fill power of the Revelation means that less down, and thus weight, is needed to achieve the same temperature ratings—perfect for when you’re cutting ounces out of your kit. The Revelation is also unique in its thoughtful approach to keeping the bag in place overnight. When it’s chilly, a series of adjustable straps go underneath your sleeping pad, connecting to the sides of the quilt, while the toe box cinches up with a short zipper and drawstring. On warmer nights, it’s easy to loosen the straps or drawstring to let in a little more air so you don’t overheat. I’ve been equally comfortable in this bag in August in Northern California and early fall in the North Cascades. The quilt also stuffs down small at the bottom of your pack when it’s time to roll out in the morning.

While Enlightened Equipment used to sell only custom-made quilts, which could result in a wait of up to a month for your bag, they now stock some of their most popular products, including the Revelation, so they can ship them out in a matter of days.  —Laura Lancaster 

Best Sleeping Bag for Kids: Morrison Outdoors Big Mo 20° Down Kids Sleeping Bag 

Morrison Outdoors

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Key Features

  • Temperature range: 20-60 degree
  • Weight: 13.1 ounces 
  • Fitted neck opening
  • Lightweight 
  • Keeps kids 2-4 warm enough for shoulder season or alpine adventures

Why It Made the Cut

Safe sleep standards with the bonafides to handle serious backpacking conditions put the Morrison Outdoors bags in a class of their own. A must-have for adventuring parents of young children. 

Pros

  • Packs down small
  • Stays in place on wiggly kids who “aren’t tired”
  • Two-way zipper for middle-of-the-night diaper changes

Cons 

  • High price point for only a year or two of use (there is an optional trade-in program)
  • Closed sleeves mean older toddlers need help getting a drink of water
  • Can be too hot for midday naps
A toddler in a green sleeping bag with arms
The Big Mo stays in place on wiggly kids with its arms and wide foot box. Laura Lancaster

Product Description 

The Big Mo sleeping bag is designed to create a safe sleep environment for your mini adventurer in rugged outdoor environments. The fitted neck ensures their head won’t slip in the bag, and there are no drawstrings for them to get tangled up in. The two-way zipper stays in place all night, even when they fling themselves over your legs at the bottom of the tent. The closed sleeves leave kids with enough mobility to shift themselves into a comfortable position while they sleep, but not enough to get into trouble with the rest of the gear in your tent.

After multiple nights of alpine testing on Mount Rainier with a toddler that runs cold, we’re confident in the 20 degree rating (if your child runs hot, consider the 40 degree bag instead). Since this bag uses the same fill power (650fp) as most adult backpacking bags, it’s both lightweight and packs down enough to stuff in with your full-size sleeping bag, reducing the space it takes up in your packs. —Laura Lancaster

Best Eco-Friendly Sleeping Bag: Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag

Marmot

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Key Features

  • Regular, Long, and X-Wide (men’s and women’s)
  • Tested comfort: 20.3 degrees, tested lower limit: 7.9 degrees
  • Weight: 2 pounds, 10.8 ounces (Regular)
  • 100% recycled polyester fabric
  • Recycled synthetic fill 
  • Trestles Elite Eco also available in 30 and 0 degrees 
  • Come with a storage bag and a compression stuff sack
  • Backed by lifetime warranty

Why It Made the Cut

The Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag proves that sustainable gear doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. It’s a sweet spot sleeping bag you can take car camping or backpacking and comes in three temperatures for most conditions. 

Pros

  • Great for backpacking and car camping
  • Super warm footbox
  • Six size options between gender and length/width

Cons

  • Jack of all trades, master of none: heavier than some backpacking options, you may not prefer a narrower mummy for car camping

Product Description

Made with recycled synthetic fibers, the Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag is my pick for the best eco-friendly bag on the market (at an ultra-competitive price). It comes in Regular, Long, and X-Wide sizes, and is a strong 3-season bag at 20 degrees, with a 30- or 0-degree option. I originally bought the Trestles Elite Eco 20 when I was living in northwest Wyoming, looking for a sustainable bag that was going to check all my boxes during fluctuating night temperatures. 

I’ve taken this sleeping bag backpacking and car camping for three years now, and like it because it’s roomy for a backpacking sleeping bag (multiple size options), has a warm footbox, and has a smaller impact than gear made of new materials. It packs down enough to store at the bottom of my backpack, although it’s not my number one choice if weight is my priority. This sleeping bag also comes with a storage bag that doesn’t compress the internal fibers.

If you’re looking to just buy one sleeping bag that can take you from backpacking to a family camping trip, I’d suggest this one. Not only does it have a smaller footprint than something made from all new materials, owning a versatile bag means you can buy less stuff, too. —Samantha Silverman

Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather: Wiggy’s Antarctic

Wiggy’s

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Key Features

  • Minus 60-degree temperature rating
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Regular/Wide, Long/Wide sizes
  • Black and multicam color options
  • Synthetic Insulation
  • Optional waterproof poncho

Why It Made the Cut

This Wiggy’s bag is probably the coldest-rated sleeping bag on the market and will keep you toasty in almost any winter camping condition.

Pros

  • Warm in extremely cold weather
  • High quality insulation and construction
  • Affordable compared to high-end down bags

Cons

  • This bag is huge and heavy

Product Description

Wiggy’s is known for producing quality sleeping bags and “colorful” customer service. Their bags have long been popular here in Alaska, and if you’re looking for a cold-weather winter camping bag, the Antarctic bag is hard to beat. I don’t know anyone who’s tested it at its 60-below temperature rating, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a warmer bag. 

This bag is advertised at 6.5-pounds, but some of their weight ratings aren’t completely accurate. It’s a heavy bag with an average of 10-inches of loft, so it’s not for backpacking. For winter camping in warmer areas, this might not be the bag for you, but in northern territory, there’s nothing wrong with overkill when it comes to sleeping bags. —Tyler Freel

Best Budget Sleeping Bag: REI Co-op Trailbreak 20 Sleeping Bag 

REI Co-op

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Key Features

  • Weight: Regular: 4 pounds, 13 ounces 
  • Long and Regular sizes (men’s and women’s)
  • Tested comfort: 18 degrees, tested lower limit: 5 degrees 
  • Water-resistant polyester fill
  • Fully adjustable hood and face muffler

Why It Made the Cut

For beginner backpackers and first-time car campers looking to get out without breaking the bank, the Trailbreak 20 will keep you warm in a variety of conditions.

Pros

  • Warm on cold nights
  • Affordable price

Cons 

  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t pack down well 

Product Description 

Purchasing everything for your first backpacking or car camping kit can easily run into four figures, so we appreciate that the Trailbreak does what it’s designed to do—keep you warm at night—at an approachable price. It accomplishes this through a mix of water-resistant polyester fill and a traditional mummy-bag design that has a hood and drawstring closure. At 20L, the stuff sack volume is on the larger size, so pay attention to how much room you have in your backpacking backpack before purchasing. 

Experienced backpackers may find that the weight and size of this bag is unworkable with the rest of their setup, while car campers may want more room to move around in. But if you’re new to the outdoors, the Trailbreak is a great option that will leave you with more money for the rest of your setup. —Laura Lancaster

Best Sleeping Bag For Summer Camping: Big Agnes V Notch UL 40

Big Agnes

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Key Features

  • Weight: Regular: 1 pound 6 ounces
  • Long and Regular sizes
  • 40-degree temperature rating
  • Water-repellent nylon 
  • Highly compressible

Why It Made the Cut

On a warm summer night you don’t need, or want, a heavy sleeping bag. The Big Agnes V Notch is ideal for ultralight backpacking or car camping in hot weather.

Pros

  • Super light and compressible 
  • Will keep you comfy on warm summer nights

Cons 

  • Not ideal for cold weather
  • Not suited for hardcore mountain trips
A headlamp, pocket knife, sleeping bag, and bugspray
The V Notch UL 40 is extremely compact in its stuff sack. Alex Robinson

Product Description

I run hot. Climbing into a bulky down sleeping bag on a warm summer night after sweating in the sun all day sounds like my idea of hell on Earth. So when nightime temperatures run between 70 and 50 degrees, I’ll opt for the minimalist Big Agnes V Notch. It’s made from water-resistant rip-stop nylon and is stuffed with 70 percent recycled PrimaLoft insulation, which makes it warm enough, but definitely not too warm. It also has a full-length zipper for better temperature regulation. The hood, which isn’t really shaped like a hood, is fitted with a simple draw cord and doesn’t carry much bulk. The sleeping bag also comes with a storage sack so you don’t have to keep it crammed in the tiny stuff sack all winter. Besides being the best summer sleeping bag, this would also be a good option for ultralight backpackers (in compresses down to about the size of a massive sub sandwich) who know they’re not going to get into inclement weather. I would not take this bag deep into the mountains and expect it to keep me alive during a pop-up blizzard. —Alex Robinson

Best Sleeping Bag for Deer Camp: Coleman All-Weather Multi-Layer Sleeping Bag

Coleman

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Key Features

  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Rated for 0-60 degrees
  • Three removable layers for variable temperatures

Why It Made the Cut

This is the perfect bag for a cabin, hunting camp, or fish shack because its layering system makes it comfortable at a variety of temperatures.

Pros

  • Big and comfortable 
  • Add layers when it gets cold and strip them when it’s hot

Cons 

  • Super heavy
  • Not waterproof
  • Not for serious outdoor camping

Product Description

Welcome to deer camp. Your bunk is in the back, above old uncle Larry. And yeah, he snores. We’re going to stoke the wood stove so hot that you’ll be sweating by the time you turn in for bed. But sometime around 1 a.m. those frigid temperatures outside are going to seep into this old shack. By the time your alarm goes off in the morning, you’ll be able to see your breath. Hopefully, you brought your Coleman All-Weather sleeping bag with you. This bag has three layers that all fit together through a simple loop/anchor system. On the very inside is a fleece blanket, then a light inner bag, and finally a heavier blue outer bag. Mix and match these layers for maximum comfort depending on the temp. If it’s really warm, just lay on top of the bag and pull the fleece over you. If it’s chilly, snuggle in beneath all three layers. 

Coleman says this sleeping bag system is rated to 0 degrees, but do not bring this bag camping in 0-degree conditions. You will be cold. The only other downside to this bag is its colossal size and weight. It’s comparable to 10 of the Big Agnes V Notch sleeping bags. But hey, you’re just hauling it from your truck into the cabin, so who cares about weight. The bag is so hefty that it comes with a carrying case, which is about the size of a large soft-sided cooler. Throw some earplugs in the case (to muffle uncle Larry’s snoring) and you’ll be ready for deer camp. —Alex Robinson

FAQs

Q: How do I choose a sleeping bag?

There are three factors to consider when choosing a sleeping bag: warmth, sleep style, and activity. We recommend choosing a bag that is warm enough to handle the most extreme colds you expect to encounter, as it is always a safer bet to unzip a bag than to pile on extra clothing. Next is sleep style. Back sleepers may appreciate the profile of a mummy bag, while side sleepers would fare better with a quilt. Finally, if you are planning a backpacking trip, carefully consider the tradeoffs of weight and packed size before purchasing a sleeping bag.

Q: What temperature rating should I look for in a sleeping bag?

The temperature ratings provided by sleeping bag manufacturers can be imperfect, and it would be unwise to expect a 30-degree bag to keep you warm when temperatures dip below freezing. If you only plan to use your bag during the summer, a 30-degree bag is a good bet, while a 20-degree bag is appropriate for most shoulder-season activities. If you plan to do winter camping, or live in a more extreme temperate zone, consider a 10- or 0-degree bag (or check out our cold-weather pick). Keep your own preferences in mind—a bag that is warm enough for another person might be too cold for you—and be sure to pick a sleeping pad with an appropriate R rating. 

Q: Should I choose a sleeping bag with synthetic or down fill?

The biggest difference between sleeping bags is often down versus synthetic fill. Both synthetic and down fill can keep you warm in extreme conditions—where they vary is in how much insulation is needed to reach the same temperature rating, and how much space they take up when packed. Less expensive synthetic fills can make affordable sleeping bags that are suitable for car camping. The highest fill power down (800fp and up) is used for ultralight sleeping bags that are typically fairly expensive and used for multi-night backpacking trips or thru-hikes. High quality synthetic fill and lower fill power down tend to meet in the middle, and are suitable for overnights and basecamps.

How We Picked the Best Sleeping Bags

The Outdoor Life team covers most regions of the U.S. and has decades of experience sleeping outside in the snow, on backcountry hunts, or at frontcountry campgrounds with their families. So, all of the sleeping bags on this list have been put through the wringer and proved to stand out in the above situations. Each of our four OL writers/editors picked the sleeping bags they go to the most based on their location and sports of choice, from hunting in Alaska to backpacking in the Cascades. If we don’t use it, we don’t recommend it. 

Final Thoughts

The best sleeping bags on the market will keep you warm and dry no matter what conditions you’re camping in. The flipside, of course, is that these bags are expensive. If you’re planning true backcountry adventures, an expensive bag is worth it. Typically have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio which will save ounces from your pack, and could also save your life if you’re caught in treacherous weather. If you’re planning more frontcountry outings in warmer weather, look for bargain bags that will be comfortable. But even for frontcountry campers, bigger (and bulkier) isn’t always better. We get accustomed to giant beds, fluffy pillows, and plush comforters in our everyday lives, but I’ve had my best night’s sleep ever curled up in a mummy bag using a rolled up jacket as a pillow. Even on family car camping trips, practice getting comfortable with lighter gear and less of it. That goes for your sleeping bags, pads, and pillows as well. 

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