10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.
A backpacker sitting on a boulder in the REI Magma 30 sleeping bag while overlooking a mountain view at sunset
REI Magma 30 – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

We’ve collectively spent over 1,000 nights in the backcountry testing the best backpacking sleeping bags on the market. From frigid evenings at high altitude to hot nights in the Sonoran Desert – we’ve encountered it all. We look at warmth, comfort, weight and packability, user-friendliness, and durability. Our expertise comes from hands-on experience, and we’ll guide you to the best sleeping bag option for you in our reviews below.

There’s more to a great backcountry sleep system than just a bag – a well-insulated sleeping pad is just as important. Backpackers looking to keep pack weight down will also love our top backpacking quilts. Whichever direction you go, we recommend adding a lightweight backpacking pillow to your setup for maximum comfort.

Quick Picks for Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Check out this quick list of our favorite sleeping bags, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best Sleeping Bag for Backpacking Overall: Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20 Men’s ($529) & Egret YF 20 Women’s ($489)

Exceptionally High-Quality & Warm Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 ($620)

Warm Sleeping Bag with Inclusive Sizing: REI Magma 15 ($429) & REI Magma 30 ($379)

Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag: Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20 Men’s ($220) & Women’s ($260)

Best Ultralight Quilt / Sleeping Bag Hybrid: Zpacks Classic 20 Men’s ($220) & Women’s ($260)

Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag: Sea to Summit Spark 15 Men’s ($549) & Women’s ($549)

Best Extra Wide & Comfy Backpacking Sleeping Bag: NEMO Disco 15 Endless Promise Men’s ($320) & Women’s ($320)

Best Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Men’s ($169) & Women’s ($169)

Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Backpackers: Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 ($680)

Updated Insights for Backpacking Sleeping Bag Reviews

Numerous new sleeping bags have debuted in the 2024 backpacking season, prompting us to introduce fresh picks and update our favorites.

  • REI released new versions of the Magma 15 and Magma 30 so we’ve updated our review.

Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20 / Egret YF 20

Best Sleeping Bag for Backpacking Overall

Price: $529 / $509

Comfort Rating: N/A

Weight: 1 lb. 12.7 oz. / 1 lb. 13 oz.

Fill Power: 900+

Fill Weight: 16.8 oz. / 17.3 oz.


  • Ultralight for a mummy bag
  • Highly packable
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Large hood can accommodate a pillow
  • Snag-free zipper
  • RDS certified


  • Expensive

The Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20 and women’s Egret YF 20 are some of the highest quality down bags for backpacking on the market. CleverHiker Senior Gear Analyst, Casey Handley, has used the Egret YF in frigid conditions – including a string of 20-degree nights in Utah, a winter campout in Nevada’s Sheep Mountain Range, and a late-season hike on Broken Top Mountain in Oregon with snow on the ground. 

These models are very light, feel soft against the skin, and are filled with responsibly sourced 900+ fill-power goose down – which is about as nice as down comes. This is one of the few instances where we would actually trust a 20-degree bag to keep us warm when the temperature drops to 20 degrees (Feathered Friends doesn’t list EN temperature ratings, but we’ve found their ratings to be more conservative than most of the competition). 

One of the biggest features that makes them so warm is the very generous draft tube – a down-filled tube that blocks cool air from entering through the zipper. Many premium sleeping bags include a draft tube, but the one on the Swallow and Egret is more robust than others and really locks in the warmth. Other warmth-preserving features include a draft collar around the neck and hood and a fitted but comfortable cut that eliminates dead space inside the bags.

Certainly the high price is one of the first things you’ll notice about the Swallow YF and Egret YF, but we can assure you they’re worth every penny if you’ll use them often. Ounce-counting backpackers might even prefer the Swallow UL and Egret UL which cost a bit more but provide the same reliable warmth as their YF counterparts at an even lower weight.

Stock photo of the Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 sleeping bag with a white background

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20

Exceptionally High-Quality & Warm Sleeping Bag

Price: $620

Comfort Rating: 25°F

Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz.

Fill Power: 850+

Fill Weight: 16 oz.


  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Ultralight for a mummy bag
  • Very warm
  • Generous down collar & draft tube block chill well
  • No-snag zipper


  • Expensive
  • A bit narrower than some

Every detail on the Western Moutaineering UltraLite is dialed in – it has a no-snag zipper, a 360° draft collar, and a full-length draft tube that all come together to give it one of the best warmth-to-weight ratios available. Many manufacturers name their bags with the EN lower limit – the temperature at which the average warm sleeper can sleep for eight hours without waking (not necessarily comfortably). Western Mountaineering uses a more conservative number between the EN Lower Limit and EN Comfort Rating of their bags to better reflect the temperature that most users will find more comfortable.

To put it simply, most users will find the UltraLite to be comfortable enough for a good night’s rest all the way down to 20°F. During her fall thru-hike of the Arizona Trail, Senior Gear Analyst, Casey Handley (female, warm sleeper), even experienced a couple of evenings that dipped into the teens and she stayed warm and comfortable in the UltraLite.

The UltraLite comes with a sizable price tag, but it will last for decades if treated well. Though it’s our favorite Western Mountaineering sleeping bag in terms of warmth-to-weight and comfort, some members of the CleverHiker team find it a bit narrow. If you don’t mind carrying a couple of extra ounces in favor of a roomier bag, you’ll probably love the AlpinLite 20 which is just a wider UltraLite. Cold sleepers who need some extra insulation should also give the VersaLite 10 a look. This bag sits right in between the UltraLite and AlpinLite as far as width since the design is optimized for the best balance of comfort and warmth.

Stock photo of the REI Magma 15 Sleeping Bag with a white background

REI Magma 15 & 30

Warm Sleeping Bag with Inclusive Sizing

Price: $429 / $379

Comfort Rating: 21°F / 34°F

Weight: 2 lb. 3.6 oz. / 1 lb. 8.4 oz.

Fill Power: 850

Fill Weight: 23.3 oz. / 12.7 oz.


  • Large variety of size options
  • Generous draft collar blocks chill well
  • No upcharge for long/wide sizes
  • Good price for the warmth
  • Stash pocket
  • No snag zipper


  • Less spacious in the hood and leg area

The REI Magma 15 and Magma 30 have the most extensive size-run we’ve seen offered for sleeping bags, and we’re really excited about the move to provide inclusive sizing. These unisex bags are warmer than their predecessors and have a refined fit that is comfortable for a wide variety of body shapes.

The Magma 15 is comfort-rated to 21°F (as opposed to the 28°F comfort rating of the previous unisex version). A sleeping bag’s EN/ISO Comfort Rating is the temperature at which most cold sleepers will remain comfortable, so those who have a hard time staying warm should be cozy in this bag well below freezing. Warm sleepers can certainly take the Magma 15 into the teens (provided you’re using a well-insulated sleeping pad), so it’s a great winter bag for all.

The Magma 30 is now comfort-rated at 34°F – the previous unisex model was rated at 39°F – so it’s a bit more versatile than the past iteration. The average cold sleeper can expect to stay reasonably warm right down to freezing, and a warm sleeper should remain cozy even as temperatures approach 25°F. 

Part of what makes the Magma bags so warm is their trimmed-down design. The true mummy shape is highly efficient because it eliminates the dead space your body would otherwise have to warm up. Though there’s still some room to move in the Magma bags, the leg girth is a bit narrower than many similar models. Some hikers may find the space a bit tight, but there are wide models available for each length option (short, medium, long) for those who need a little more wiggle room.

These backpacking sleeping bag models are highly compressible for efficient packing. Both versions of the Magma regularly find their way into our backpacks depending on the season, but which temperature rating should you choose? If you’re a cold sleeper or you’re looking for a sleeping bag that’ll excel on high alpine and winter adventures, the Magma 15 is an excellent choice. Warm sleepers and those who do most of their backpacking in summer and shoulder seasons will be better off with the lighter-weight Magma 30.

Full Review: REI Magma 15 & 30

Stock photo of the Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20 sleeping bag with a white background

Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20 & Women’s Cosmic Ultra 20

Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Price: $220 / $260

Comfort Rating: 31°F / 25°F

Weight: 2 lb. 5.6 oz. / 2 lb. 14 oz.

Fill Power: 800

Fill Weight: 15.2 oz.


  • Less expensive
  • Above-average durability
  • Stash pocket
  • Draft collar & draft tube block chill well


  • Heavier/bulkier than others
  • Zipper can snag

This year’s Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20 (men’s / women’s) model utilizes 800-fill-power Dridown, whereas the Cosmic Down 20 model is filled with 550-fill-power down. Consequently, the Cosmic Ultra is significantly lighter and more compact than its predecessor. Dridown is treated with a water-resistant coating, reducing the likelihood of soaking through in wet conditions, and it also dries quickly if the bag does become wet.

Though the Cosmic Ultra is still among the heaviest and bulkiest sleeping bags on our list, you won’t find a better down sleeping bag at a better price. If you’re concerned about weight but really need to stay within a specific budget, we recommend investing in a lightweight sleeping pad to make up the difference.

The Cosmic Ultra is more durable than many other bags thanks to its thicker shell fabric. The outer is made with 20-denier nylon as opposed to the more common 10 or 15-denier shells used to construct the majority of the bags on this list. Kelty also includes premium features – like a stash pocket, draft collar, and draft tube – and this plush bag is plenty warm for temperatures down to freezing.

Stock image of Zpacks Classic 20

Zpacks Classic 20

Best Ultralight Quilt / Sleeping Bag Hybrid

Price: $459

Comfort Rating: N/A

Weight: 1 lb. 2.8 oz.

Fill Power: 900

Fill Weight: 12.7 oz.


  • Ultralight
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Highly packable
  • Overstuffed baffles prevent cold spots
  • RDS certified


  • Expensive
  • Not warm enough for sub-freezing trips
  • No hood

Zpacks is a leader in ultralight gear and the Classic Sleeping Bag is one of the most impressive pieces from its lineup. This sleep sack combines the best elements of a quilt and a sleeping bag to create a light but luxuriously warm hybrid. 

The Classic omits a hood and is designed with an opening at the back. On warm nights, the zipper can be left open to use the Classic like a backless quilt.

Similar to ultralight sleeping bags, the Classic has a ¾ length zipper and a fully-sewn footbox to maximize heat retention. The vertical baffles on the torso prevent the down-fill from shifting to the sides away from where you really need it.

The Classic is a common pick for thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers covering long distances. CleverHiker Senior Gear Analyst, Casey, has taken the Classic on her thru-hikes of the John Muir Trail and Colorado Trail – as well as several smaller trips. This featherlight bag is still going strong after over 1,000 miles of backcountry nights.

There’s no better choice than the Zpacks Classic Sleeping Bag if saving weight is your top priority.

Full Review: Zpacks Classic

Stock image of Sea to Summit Spark 15

Sea to Summit Spark 15

Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag

Price: $549

Comfort Rating: 29°F

Weight: 1 lb. 9.7 oz. / 2 lb. 0.8 oz.

Fill Power: 850

Fill Weight: 16.9 oz. / 24.2 oz.


  • Ultralight
  • Highly packable
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight
  • Compression sack included
  • Draft collar blocks chill well
  • RDS certified


  • Expensive
  • Thin material
  • Zipper can snag

The Sea to Summit Spark 15 (men’s / women’s) are the pinnacle of mummy-style ultralight bags. These impressively lightweight sleeping bags feature draft tubes on the zippers, 360° down collars, and box baffles that make them exceptionally warm for their weight.

Baffles are sewn parts of a sleeping bag that hold feathers in place – they can be arranged in a wide variety of patterns. The Spark has vertical box baffles on the torso which prevent down from shifting away from your core where you really need the warmth. This style is especially useful for sleepers who roll over from side to side since movement can cause down displacement inside bags with continuous baffles.

The Spark is on the pricey side due to their premium construction and 850 fill goose down, but that’s also what makes them so light and packable for how warm they are. You can’t get much lighter than the Sea to Summit Spark unless you choose a quilt, but you’ll sacrifice some heat efficiency in doing so. The Spark is the best option for ultralight backpackers wanting to save every gram possible without giving up the warmth of a full mummy bag.

Stock photo of the NEMO Disco 15 sleeping bag with a white background

NEMO Disco 15 Endless Promise

Best Extra Wide & Comfy Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Price: $320

Comfort Rating: 25°F

Weight: 2 lb. 11 oz.

Fill Power: 650

Fill Weight: 23 oz.


  • Roomier fit than other bags
  • Above-average durability
  • Generous down collar & draft tube block chill well
  • Waterproof footbox
  • Fully recyclable design
  • Pillow pocket
  • Stash pocket
  • Compression sack included
  • RDS certified


  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Not as heat efficient as some

The NEMO Disco 15 Endless Promise (men’s / women’s) has a unique shape that’s roomier than typical mummy bags, so it’s one of the comfiest options available for side sleepers. The fit also makes it a viable option for car camping where comfort tends to be a bigger priority than weight savings and technical performance. 

On the flip side, roomy bags like the Disco are less heat efficient because your body has to warm up the extra space. This shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re mostly using the Disco in temperatures that are above freezing, but it’s something to consider before purchasing if extra wiggle room isn’t your main priority.

The spacious spoon shape isn’t the only thing that sets the Disco apart. This bag has several unique features, like a pocket to hold your pillow in place and NEMO’s signature “Thermo Gills” that help vent heat on warm nights.

One of the most exciting things about the newest Disco is its inclusion in NEMO’s new Endless Promise program. Recognizing the large impact that their products can have on the environment, NEMO’s Endless Promise gear is designed to be durable, easily repairable, and fully recyclable. To follow through on that promise, NEMO provides a free return label to users when their bag is ready to be recycled into something new, they’ll send it to the appropriate recycling facilities and then they’ll send you a gift card as a thanks for helping keep waste out of the landfill.

We view the Disco as more of a crossover bag than strictly a backpacking sleep sack. But its reasonable price and roomy comfort make it a good investment for those looking for a single bag that’s practical for both car camping and backpacking.

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20

Best Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Price: $169

Comfort Rating: 32°F

Weight: 2 lb. 6 oz.

Fill Power: N/A

Fill Weight: 25 oz.


  • Affordable
  • Above-average durability
  • Stash pocket
  • Synthetic fill retains insulative properties when damp
  • Compression sack included


  • Heavier/bulkier than others
  • A little tight in the leg

Synthetic sleeping bags are an awesome option for hikers on a budget and for those who aren’t down with down fill. The Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 (men’s / women’s) has some surprisingly cool features for how little it costs, and it’s also lighter than many other synthetic options.

Though it won’t quite match up to an 850+ fill-power down bag, the Trestles packs down decently small and is pretty light despite its recycled synthetic fill. Still, it’s one of the heavier and bulkier sleeping bags on our list, so you’ll have to choose between saving weight and bulk or saving money.

One of the biggest reasons to go with a synthetic-fill sleeping bag is that it will keep you warmer than a down bag when wet and it’ll also dry out quicker. Lead tester, Casey, used the Marmot Trestles on her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, and the synthetic fill was a real lifesaver through the soggier sections of the Great Smoky Mountains and Virginia.

One pretty unique feature that makes the Trestles special is its blanket-fold zipper. This ¼ length zipper allows you to flip the top of the sleeping bag down – much like you would your comforter at home – when you want warmth at your feet but ventilation up top. Other features, like the internal stash pocket for keeping important items safe in freezing temperatures and the included compression sack, make the Trestles a truly great buy.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0

Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Backpackers

Price: $680

Comfort Rating: 13°F

Weight: 2 lb. 10.6 oz.

Fill Power: 850

Fill Weight: 29.6 oz.


  • Very warm
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Generous down collar & draft tube block chill well
  • Well-priced for a 0° bag
  • No-snag zipper
  • Compression sack included
  • RDS certified


  • Expensive
  • Fit is a bit narrow

The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 is lighter and priced lower than a lot of the leading winter sleeping bag competition, so it’s a no-brainer for all-season adventurers and those who have a hard time staying warm at night.

Two important things to look at when deciding if a sleeping bag is going to be as warm as its temperature rating suggests are fill power and fill weight. The Phantom is stuffed with 30 ounces of 850-fp down – anything above 800-fp is generally considered very high-quality down. The Phantom also has a full-length draft tube and a wraparound draft collar that really seals in the heat on chilly nights.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Phantom’s comfort rating is 13°F, so most people probably won’t stay comfortable all the way down to 0°F, but that’s not what most people need most of the time. Hikers heading into the backcountry in sub-freezing conditions, or those that aren’t staying warm with a higher temperature bag on a decently insulated sleeping pad, will love this exceptional winter sleeping bag.

Looking out the doorway of a backpacking tent over the foot of a sleeping bag with a river and mountains in the background
Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)

Product Comparison Table

Product Price Comfort Rating Weight Fill Power Fill Weight
Feathered Friends Swallow YF 20 / Egret YF 20
View Swallow YF 20 View Egret YF 20
Editor's Pick
$529 / $509 N/A 1 lb. 12.7 oz. / 1 lb. 13 oz. 900+ 16.8 oz. / 17.3 oz.
Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20
View at Amazon View at Backcountry
Editor's Pick
$620 25°F 1 lb. 13 oz. 850+ 16 oz.
REI Magma 15 & 30
View Magma 15 at REI View Magma 30 at REI
$429 / $379 21°F / 34°F 2 lb. 3.6 oz. / 1 lb. 8.4 oz. 850 23.3 oz. / 12.7 oz.
Cosmic Ultra 20 & Women’s Cosmic Ultra 20
View at Amazon View at Kelty
Budget Buy
$220 / $260 31°F / 25°F 2 lb. 5.6 oz. / 2 lb. 14 oz. 800 15.2 oz.
Zpacks Classic 20
View at Zpacks
$459 N/A 1 lb. 2.8 oz. 900 12.7 oz.
Sea to Summit Spark 15
View Men's View Women's
$549 29°F 1 lb. 9.7 oz. / 2 lb. 0.8 oz. 850 16.9 oz. / 24.2 oz.
NEMO Disco 15 Endless Promise
View at REI View at Amazon
$320 25°F 2 lb. 11 oz. 650 23 oz.
Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20
View at REI View at Moosejaw
Budget Buy
$169 32°F 2 lb. 6 oz. N/A 25 oz.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0
View at Mountain Hardware View at Backcountry
$680 13°F 2 lb. 10.6 oz. 850 29.6 oz.

How We Tested & Methodology

We tested the warmth, packability, comfort, features, and durability of more than 35 models to create this list of the best backpacking sleeping bags. Most of the models on this list have traveled hundreds – or even thousands – of miles with us on thru-hikes. Here’s what we look for and the guidelines we use to rank the bags:


We spent at least five nights in each sleeping bag (but typically many, many more) in various temperature conditions to find their comfort range for the average user with a reasonably insulated sleeping pad (R-value between 3.5 and 5). Our in-field testing reveals which bags are prone to cold spots and which ones have the most effective baffle designs that trap in  heat. We also analyzed fill weight against the fill power to rank the warmth-to-weight ratio of each bag. From winter nights below freezing along Oregon’s White River to spicy spring evenings in the low desert of Arizona, we assessed the practical upper and lower limits of each bag.


To evaluate the packability of the sleeping bags in our testing pool, we cinched each one into a compression sack and compared the sizes side-by-side. All of the gear we review also takes a turn on our scale to verify the claimed weight.


For this parameter, we looked at the hip, foot, and shoulder girth of each bag; the fit of the hood; the softness of the shell material; and the adjustment points. Using these criteria, we established which type of sleeper would find each bag most comfortable (e.g. bags that are wider at the shoulders are generally more comfortable for our testers who side-sleep, our testers who sleep cold are more comfortable in sleeping bags with a snug fit and hoods that cinched tight, etc.)


To find the most user-friendly bags, we made sure the zippers were easy to operate and didn’t regularly snag on the shell fabric. We also looked at the cinch cords to confirm that they’re easy to reach while inside the bag and that the cord locks stay put once cinched. Finally, we assessed internal pockets for keeping small important items – like a phone and water filter – safe from freezing temperatures.


There’s no better way to test durability than using each bag on trail. We took our top-performing sleeping bags on rugged trails all over the country – such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Colorado Trail, and Appalachian Trail – to see how they hold up to hard use.

How to Choose a Backpacking Sleeping Bag


Sleeping bags don’t create warmth, your body does. Your sleeping bag keeps you warm by trapping body heat in an enclosed space. Sleeping bags with more insulation trap heat better, so they’re warmer. Sleeping bags with lots of interior space are less efficient because they create a larger area for your body to warm up.

Your sleeping bag will be one of the four heaviest items in your backpack (tent, backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad), so it’s critical to strike a good balance between warmth and weight. Ideally, you’d own 2-3 sleeping bags for different seasons (but that’s expensive!). Most backpackers start out by choosing one bag that will keep them warm at the lowest temperatures they plan to hike in.

Many hikers opt for a sleeping bag with a lower limit in the 20s because that’ll be versatile enough for use in most seasons – from high elevation summer trips to chilly shoulder seasons. If you know you’ll do most of your hiking in warmer summer months, a sleeping bag rated down to 30 will likely work just fine and will save some weight and bulk in your pack.

Temperature Rating Systems

European Norm (EN) and ISO are standardized temperature rating systems that keep ratings consistent across the industry. The number listed with most backpacking sleeping bags (example: Magma 15) is the EN Lower Limit which is usually 10-15 degrees lower than the EN Comfort Rating. We find that the EN Comfort Rating gives a much more realistic idea of how a bag will perform. If no comfort rating is listed, we usually estimate an extra 10-15° to the lower limit for sleeping bags and 20-25° for quilts.

Choosing the right temperature rating isn’t an exact science. Many factors contribute to warmth, like sleeping pad insulation, clothinghydration, nutrition, and altitude. For this list, we chose sleeping bags with temperature ratings that we felt would be a good fit for most 3-season trips. Most of the backpacking sleeping bags on this list will keep the average user comfortable when temperatures dip to freezing or a few degrees below. If you know you’re a hot or cold sleeper, you’ll want to adjust your temperature rating choice accordingly.

WM Versalite & Feathered Friends Egret – Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)



Down insulation is more expensive but has a better warmth-to-weight ratio and packs down smaller. Down sleeping bags also last longer than synthetic bags if taken care of properly. We prefer the weight savings and packability of down bags so they make up the majority of our recommendations.


Though synthetic sleeping bags are often heavier and bulkier than down bags, they tend to cost less and retain heat better when wet. However, it’s important to remember that no backpacking sleeping bag will be comfortable when wet. If you end up having to spend the night in a wet sleeping bag, you’re probably going to be miserable any way you slice it. We recommend packing your sleeping bag in a waterproof stuff sack to keep it from getting wet while backpacking.

A woman unfurling the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 backpacking sleeping bag over a tent with a beautiful mountain view behind her.
Photo credit: Casey handley (CleverHiker.com)

Down Fill Power & Fill Weight

The fill power (fp) of a down sleeping bag measures the quality of the down insulation it’s filled with. Higher fill power down weighs less and has more loft – but also compresses more when packed – than lower fill power down. As you might imagine, higher fill power down is also more expensive. In general, 800 fill power and up is considered high-quality down. Anything lower than that will be more cost effective, but won’t have as good warmth-to-weight.

Fill weight is the amount of down (regardless of fill power) in a sleeping bag. A higher fill weight typically translates to a warmer bag, all else equal.

ZPacks Classic Sleeping Bag 20 – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)


Mummy sleeping bags are better in cold conditions because they conform more closely to the body, reducing the amount of dead space. Quilts provide a better warmth-to-weight ratio compared to sleeping bags. They achieve this by cutting out the material and insulation that’s normally compressed under your body in a mummy bag. If a quilt sounds more like your style, you’ll love our Best Backpacking Quilts guide.

We usually prefer the flexibility, weight, and comfort of quilts when nighttime temperatures are above freezing (32°F) and mummy bags when temperatures dip below freezing.

Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Sleeping Bag
Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)


Check with the manufacturer to find the correct length sleeping bag to fit your height. If you’re on the edge, the longer size will usually be a better fit. With a quilt, consider bumping up one size for the ability to pull it over your head on really chilly nights. Mummy sleeping bags usually don’t have width options, so you’ll probably need to choose a different model if the cut is too slim. Most quilts come with the option of choosing a width, and we find that wider quilts are much more comfy if you side sleep or shift around at night.

Zpacks Classic – Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)


Down is the fluffy, small plumage found underneath the outer feather layer on waterfowl birds – mostly ducks and geese. These tiny filament fibers insulate the birds and keep them warm even in frigid conditions. Most down is a byproduct of the meat industry: 70% of it comes from China.


Sometimes affordable sleeping bags are stuffed with materials other than down or contain only a small amount of down that’s blended with feathers or filler. For the best insulating value and warmth-to-weight ratio, look for backpacking sleeping bags that are made with 100% duck or goose down. If the fill power isn’t advertised, it’s likely the bag isn’t top quality and won’t compress very well. Inexpensive down bags are also sometimes made with materials that are unethically sourced. To be sure you aren’t supporting bad practices, like force feeding or live plucking, check whether a company uses traceable down or complies with the Responsible Down Standard. Companies that use good practices are generally proud of it and clearly state it for their customers to see. It’s worth paying a bit more for the peace of mind.

Feathered Friends Flicker (Right) – Photo credit: Dave Collins (CleverHiker.com)


Down is a durable material, but it loses some of its efficiency when it gets oily or dirty over time. A good wash will refresh your backpacking sleeping bag and make it like new. Use a special soap like Nikwax Down Wash or a gentle non-detergent like Woolite to wash your down bag by hand or in a front-loading washing machine. After it’s washed, take your time tumble-drying it on low heat in the dryer. Adding a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer will help break up clumps in the down and redistribute it evenly. You can also hang your down bag if you prefer to let it air dry, carefully shaking it to fluff it up several times throughout the process. Properly maintaining your down bag takes time, but you’ll likely only need to wash it once or twice per year. For more details on down care, visit How to Repair, Wash, Store, & Care For Your Sleeping Bag.

Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)


The following sleeping bags didn’t make our final list, but they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these backpacking sleeping bags might be perfect for you:

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20

The Hyperion is a highly compressible ultralight sleeping bag from one of the biggest names in backcountry slumber. 

It’s stuffed with some of the highest quality down available – 900-fp goose down – which gives it an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. It also has a narrow cut that eliminates dead spots where cold air could linger, but the lack of space inside can make the Hyperion uncomfortable for hikers who side-sleep or toss and turn.

This bag has a lot to love if you don’t mind a tight fit, but its hefty price tag and narrow cut make it a tough sell compared to our other top-rated sleeping bags.

Patagonia Fitz Roy 20

The Patagonia Fitz Roy is unique because it has a center zip instead of a side zipper like most other mummy sleeping bags. 

The center zip is a big plus for side sleepers because the zipper won’t end up underneath you causing discomfort. The center zip also makes the Fitz Roy versatile through a range of temperatures since the zipper can be left open up top to dump heat near your core while holding in warmth by your feet.

The Fitz Roy is high-quality, but it’s pretty pricey. If you’re not looking at the Fitz Roy specifically for its center zip feature, we would recommend the REI Magma 15 over this bag since the Magma is lighter, costs less, and has more down with a higher fill-power.