Best Sleeping Bags for Backpackers

If you have spent a night in a cold area where no heating is available especially while camping or backpacking, then you will fully understand how important a good quality sleeping bag is. It won’t just keep you warm but also help you sleep peacefully and comfortably. Without a doubt, it is one of the most important items to consider for any backpacking trip.

To help you choose the best sleeping bag, we have put together a mini guide and recommended some top-notch sleeping bags, so your body can get the rest it needs.

Here are some things that you must consider before buying a sleeping bag for backpacking:

1. EN Ratings

EN stands for European Norm, which are the ratings that are set consistent across the sleeping bag industry. These can also be referred to as comfort ratings or temperature ratings. The lower the limit, the higher the risks there will be.

  • Comfort Range

Upper limit: 30°F

Lower limit: 0°F

  • Transition Range

Upper limit: 20°F

Lower limit: -6°F

  • Extreme Range (Risk Range)

Upper limit: -12°F

Lower limit: -24°F

Sleeping bags having EN lower limits between 10°F and 30°F are normally considered as standard ones and good for 3 seasons: spring, summer, and fall. Make sure you choose a bag according to the place you are backpacking for.

2. Price

A sleeping bag will probably be one of the most expensive accessories in your backpack. If you can’t afford one, you can borrow it from someone or consider the backpacking rental services.  But if you are a regular backpacker who wants to enjoy your own things then you should invest in a high-quality sleeping bag.

High-end sleeping bags start at $500 depending on the quality but you can also go for budget sleeping bags that get down around $150 or below.

3. Weight

One of the heaviest things in your backpack would surely be a sleeping bag, and you have to make sure that you inspect the comfort and warmth level of a sleeping bag before getting one. No doubt, it will be quite tough to carry a heavy backpack on a hike but you do not want to compromise on warmth either.

Consider the EN ratings of a bag; the lower the ratings, the heavier the sleeping bag will be.

4. Storage

It is recommended that you never store your sleeping bag compressed for long periods of time because it can damage the insulation and its ability to keep you warm. Upon reaching the destination, you should take the sleeping bag out of your backpack and hang or spread it out straight.

5. Type of design

  • Mummy

As the name implies, mummy sleeping bags have a close fitting and usually a hood to keep you warm in cold areas.

  • Rectangle

Rectangle sleeping bags are cheaper than other types and are a good option to be used in warm temperatures. They have more room to move around. However, these bags should not be your first preference to use in frosty conditions.

  • Hybrid

These are a combination of mummy and rectangle sleeping bags. They are shaped rectangular with a mummy design hood so you can stay warmer and have enough room to move around. This is less common than the two designs mentioned above.

  • Quilt

If you want comfort like home, then you should get a quilt sleeping bag that is similar to a quilt at your home but made of sleeping bag material.

Here is a list of 6 best sleeping bags for backpackers:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
Nemo Men's Disco 15-Degree Insulated Down Sleeping Bag
Sea to Summit Spark SP I Sleeping Bag
Semoo Envelope Sleeping Bag
Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame 20 Sleeping Bag
The North Face Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag

1. Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering is one of the biggest names when it comes to backpacking. They excel at making extremely lightweight sleeping bags that do not just keep you warm but also enable you to sleep with comfort. The UltraLite sleeping bag is their best high-end lightweight sleeping bag that is made with exceptional materials and has a no-snag zipper, draft color with cinch cord, and everything you want in a sleeping bag.

Its interlocking draft tubes and a full down collar help keep the heat-sealed in. Its material is breathable and water-resistant that protects the shell from condensation. Its EN rating is 20°F and it is available in both left zip and right zip designs.

Pros:

  • Has many features
  • Amazing design
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable and water-resistant material
  • Highly compressible fill

Cons:

  • Expensive

2. Nemo Men’s Disco 15-Degree Insulated Down Sleeping Bag

If you want a roomier sleeping bag then the Nemo Disco 15 is what you should go for. It has a special spoon-shaped design rather than that typical congested mummy design. Its unique shape is wide from the shoulders and elbows so you can even take sides while sleeping.

To help vent the heat on warm nights, the bag has ThermoGill zippers. They have designed this sleeping bag just like a comforter but with some extra material around your face that helps regulate the temperature. Its EN ratings are -9°F to 15°F and it weighs 2 lbs.

Pros:

  • Unique spoon shape to provide some extra room
  • Good EN rating
  • Lightweight
  • Made with breathable and water-resistant material

Cons:

  • A user stated that its zipper needs improving

3. Sea to Summit Spark SP I Sleeping Bag

It is a dream of every backpacker to pack ultra-lightweight gear that won’t strain the shoulders. We know that a sleeping bag is a heavy backpacking gear, but this isn’t the case with the Spark I by Sea to Summit. It is one of the most lightweight sleeping bags in the market that only weighs 12.3oz.

If you want to travel with extremely limited space and weight then getting the Spark I is the best option. It compresses smaller than a softball or a jacket. The only thing that won’t suit many people’s requirements is its temperature rating that is 54°F, which means it isn’t the best choice if you want to use it in cold areas. However, you can opt for its big brother Spark III that has a lower limit of 25°F.

Pros:

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Requires a little space for storage
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent choice for warm weather

Cons:

  • High EN rating means it can’t be used in cold weather

4. Semoo Envelope Sleeping Bag

If you do not plan to go backpacking in frost conditions and are looking for something that is ideal for casual weekend backpacking then the Semoo Envelope sleeping bag is a great choice. It is shaped like an envelope or a rectangle with an upper limit of 23°F, which makes it a good 3-season bag.

It packs down to a smaller size and is extremely lightweight that won’t be a burden on your shoulders. It has double zippers so that you can open it up fully and use it as a blanket or something to lie on while eating food or watching beautiful stars in the night. It comes with a travel-friendly compression sack to pack the bag into and carry it with you wherever you go.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • High price-to-value ratio
  • Excellent choice for weekend trips in normal weather conditions
  • Lightweight and comes with a storage sack
  • Water-resistant shell fabric

Cons:

  • Not suitable to use in cold weather

5. Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame 20 Sleeping Bag

The HyperLamina Flame 20 sleeping bag by Mountain Hardwear is made of nylon with the addition of welded lamina construction that enhances the overall comfort level and eliminates possible cold spots. The bag has thermal-Q insulation that makes it easy-to-store as you can conveniently compress pack it.

It has a mummy design, which means it won’t have any extra room to provide optimum warmth. It weighs about 1.18kg making it convenient enough to be carried easily. It has a lower limit of 20°F.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Dries faster
  • Good insulation
  • Can be compressed easily

Cons:

  • Its half-length center zip might make it harder to get out of

6. The North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag

This nylon sleeping bag by the North Face with optimized fill help you compress it to a smaller size. It has the cut-staple Heatseeker Pro insulation that will keep you warm even in the mid-November at 9,000ft above the ground.

It also has a shaped hood to increase the comfort level and seal the heat inside. It is an excellent choice for anyone, especially women. It has an upper limit of 22°F that falls under comfort range.

Pros:

  • Can stay warm even when wet
  • Affordable
  • Good synthetic insulation
  • Can compress to a smaller size

Cons:

  • A user stated that machine-washing it caused large holes

Final Verdict

A sleeping bag isn’t just an extra accessory but actually a necessity especially when it comes to sleeping comfortably in colder areas. You must inspect your requirements before investing in a sleeping bag because this investment isn’t going to be cheap at all. If you are going to sleep in a warm place then a budget-friendly sleeping bag such as Semoo Envelope Sleeping Bag would be a great choice. However, if you are planning to sleep in frosty conditions then you should consider investing in a high-end one such as Western Mountaineering UltraLite Sleeping Bag.