Your sleeping bag is one of the most important pieces of gear for any overnight backpacking trip. Sleeping bags are capable of keeping you cozy and warm when the temperature drops at night and as your body temperature drops as you sleep. That warmth is essential at the end of a long day on the trail, allow you to get a good night’s rest and recover for the next day of hiking rather than spend the whole night awake and shivering.
It’s important to keep in mind that while any sleeping bag or even heavy blankets might work for car camping, a lightweight sleeping bag is essential for backpacking. The difference between the best lightweight sleeping bag and a heavy sleeping bag or blankets is more than a few ounces – in many cases, it can be as much as a few pounds. That’s a huge difference in the weight you’re carrying on your back and can lead to fatigue in your legs well before you make it to your camp. Your body will thank you for buying a lightweight sleeping bag designed specifically for backpacking and you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor experience without being crushed by weight.
In order to help you choose the best lightweight sleeping bag for your next adventure, we’ll take a closer look at the features you need to consider in a backpacking sleeping bag. Then, we’ll review 12 of the best lightweight sleeping bags of 2019 to help you find the optimal sleeping system for any trip.
How To Choose The Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag
There are a lot of factors to think about when choosing a lightweight sleeping bag. Almost every sleeping represents a trade-off between weight, warmth, and cost – warmer bags tend to either be heavier or more costly. When choosing a lightweight sleeping bag, though, it’s important to remember not to skimp on warmth. It’s better to carry a few extra ounces and be warm throughout the night than to find out you aren’t warm enough after you arrive at camp.
With that, let’s take a look at some of the most important things to consider when choosing a lightweight sleeping bag.
- How Light is Lightweight?
There’s no single weight limit that defines a sleeping bag as “lightweight,” so it’s essential to know what the possible range of sleeping bag weights are and where your potential sleeping bag falls within that spectrum.
In general, sleeping bags weighing less than about three pounds are considered lightweight, while high-end mountaineering bags can get down to under two pounds for bags rated to 20°F. For the weight fanatics, it’s possible to reduce weight even further, to less than one and a half pounds, by opting for a sleeping quilt design that doesn’t cover your entire body. Keep in mind that sleeping bags rated for colder temperatures will almost always be heavier, given the same fill material and shape.
- Fill Material
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when choosing a lightweight sleeping bag is whether you want a bag filled with natural goose down or a synthetic insulation material like Primaloft. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages, although you’ll find that most experienced backpackers and mountaineers tend to opt for down sleeping bags because of their unparalleled warmth and longevity.
Goose down offers the single best warmth-to-weight ratio of any material used in sleeping bags or outdoor apparel. That means for down and synthetic sleeping bags both rated for the same temperature and offering the same shape, the down bag will almost always be lighter. The other main advantage to down is that it compresses better than any synthetic sleeping bag material. So, you can pack your down sleeping bag into a smaller ball and save much-needed space in your backpack. These two advantages are incredibly important for big trips into the alpine, where maximum warmth, minimum weight, and backpack space are all at a premium.
Still, there are some attractions to synthetic sleeping bags. The main advantage is price – synthetic sleeping bags cost as little as half as much as comparable down sleeping bags. However, be careful choosing a synthetic sleeping bag to save money. Synthetic sleeping bags will lose their loft (their ability to puff up when uncompressed), and thus their warmth, over time and you’ll be forced to replace the bag. While down sleeping bags will also eventually lose their loft, this process takes as long as a decade for down compared to only a few years for synthetic materials.
The other big advantage that synthetic sleeping bags have over down sleeping bags is that they retain their warmth when they are wet. If you get a down sleeping bag wet, it won’t puff up and it won’t do anything to keep you warm. So, if you frequently backpack in wet, rainy conditions, it may be worthwhile to opt for a synthetic sleeping bag.
Down Fill – Down sleeping bags are packed with differing qualities and amounts of goose down insulation. The most premium down feathers are rated 900-fill, while more budget-friendly down insulation is rated 500- or 600-fill. Higher rated fill powers can reduce the weight of your bag, but opting for a lower fill rating is a great way to get a down sleeping bag at a more affordable price.
- Temperature and Season Ratings
Almost every lightweight sleeping bag is rated for a specific temperature that it will keep you warm down to. However, it’s important to understand that these temperature ratings are based on test mannequins and don’t necessarily reflect the temperatures at which you will be comfortable sleeping in the bag. In many cases, the temperature rating describes the temperature at which you can survive the night in the bag.
So, it’s a good rule of thumb to add 20 degrees to the rated temperature of the sleeping bag to estimate the nighttime temperatures at which you’ll be comfortable with that bag. For example, if your sleeping bag is rated to 20°F, you can expect to be comfortable at temperatures around 40°F. If you are a cold sleeper – as many women are – you may want to opt for an even more generous addition to the sleeping bag rating or to invest in a sleeping bag liner.
Based on the temperature ratings, many sleeping bags are marketed for summer, three-season, or four-season use. Sleeping bags rated for 40°F or higher are generally restricted to use during warm summer nights, while sleeping bags in the 15 to 20°F range can be used in the spring and fall as well. If you need a sleeping bag for wintertime use, look for a sleeping bag in the -20 to 0°F range. Keep in mind that you can use a warmer sleeping bag during the summer months – it just may be slightly heavier than carrying a summer-specific bag.
- Sleeping Bag Shape
Sleeping bags come in a few different designs to balance weight, comfort, and warmth.
Rectangular sleeping bags are, as the name suggests, rectangular in shape. They don’t taper around the feet, which gives you plenty of space to bend your knees or move your feet around. However, it’s relatively rare to find rectangular bags for lightweight backpacking because the extra material adds weight. In addition, the spaciousness of rectangular bags leaves more air space around your body, which can detract from their warmth.
The mummy design is the most common shape for lightweight sleeping bags. These sleeping bags start wide at the shoulders and then taper to a much narrower footbed, leaving very little extra space. This design shaves weight and ensures that there’s no unnecessary air space to heat inside the bag. However, it can be hard for some people to get comfortable in these bags when they’re fully zipped because you can’t bend your knees or stick your elbows out. Most mummy bags also come with hoods, which can be wrapped around your head in very cold conditions to prevent heat loss.
Quilts, which look like mummy bags but lack a hood and don’t have any insulating fill material on the underside of the bag, are increasingly popular among backpackers trying to cut weight. These minimalist sleeping bags can weigh as little as one and a half pounds, but many backpackers find them to be less comfortable and less warm than mummy sleeping bags.
Keep in mind that many manufacturers also make women-specific versions of their mummy and quilt sleeping bags. These women’s sleeping bags are often shorter than standard men’s or unisex sleeping bags, and may feature narrower shoulder and wider hip sections to accommodate women’s body shapes. Many female backpackers use men’s or unisex sleeping bags, so opting for a women’s specific model comes down to personal comfort.
The 12 Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags of 2020 – Compared & Tested by Outdoors Experts
1. Winner Outfitters Mummy Sleeping Bag
This lightweight and affordable mummy sleeping bag from Winner Outfitters uses a unique fill material: cotton. The dense 200 g/m2 cotton is surprisingly warming without adding much weight to this sleeping bag, and like synthetic fill materials it keeps its warmth even when wet. Another nice advantage to the cotton fill is that this sleeping bag is fully machine washable and doesn’t develop the funky odor that you’ll eventually get with most other sleeping bags.
The downside to using cotton is that if your sleeping bag does get wet, cotton takes quite a while to dry. However, Winner Outfitters saw this problem and so encased the sleeping bag in 350T water-resistant polyester, which is soft to the touch and can repel light rain. The polyester shell is also quite durable, ensuring that you’ll have this bag for years to come.
While Winner Outfitters advertises this bag for three- or even four-season use, most backpackers will want to limit it to summer nights. The 35°F rating is somewhat high, and even then the bag is only comfortable for sleeping down to around 50°F for most people. The ventilation system on this sleeping bag, which consists of two zippers, is also better suited for summer use.
- Cotton fill stays warm when wet
- Doesn’t develop odor
- Two-zipper ventilation system
- Water-resistant polyester shell
- Cotton takes a while to dry
- Not warm enough for three-season use
2. Teton Sports LEEF Mummy Sleeping Bag
This 0°F mummy sleeping bag from Teton Sports is designed to handle the coldest nights. The PolarLite Micro insulation is designed to keep you comfortable down to freezing temperatures, and the bag has extra insulation in the foot box to prevent your toes from shivering. The three-piece mummy hood cinches down snugly around your head to keep you from losing heat out of the top of the bag. Plus, a draft tube that runs the entire length of the bag along the zipper keeps warm air from leaking out of the bag throughout the night.
That said, all of this warmth comes at the cost of weight – this mummy bag weighs in at a rather heavy 4.2 pounds. That weight might be well worth it for backpacking during colder spring and fall weather, but it’s a bit much for warm summer nights. Because of that, many backpackers who opt for this bag will also want to consider investing in a lighter, summer-specific sleeping bag.
In addition, while the PolarLite Micro filling is relatively compressible, the sheer amount of it contained in this sleeping bag means that compressibility is limited. Teton Sports provides a stuff sack with compression straps to help, but expect this sleeping bag to eat up a sizable chunk of pack space.
- Comfortable in freezing temperatures
- Mummy hood and full-length draft tube
- Extra insulation in toe box
- Comes with compression stuff sack
- Heavy at 4.2 pounds
- Overkill for summer backpacking
- Compression is limited
3. Coleman North Rim Cold Weather Sleeping Bag
This spacious sleeping bag from vaunted outdoor gear maker Coleman isn’t particularly light at 5.2 pounds. But many tall and heavyset backpackers are willing to overlook the extra weight because of the comfort this bag provides. The sleeping bag is long enough to accommodate men and women up to 6’2” tall and is a whopping 32” wide at the shoulders.
Better yet, this sleeping bag is frustration free. Coleman engineered it with a ZipPlow system that pushes the nylon filling away from the zipper as you close up the bag so that it never gets snagged. In addition, the rip-stop polyester lining helps to ensure that any snags that do form won’t develop into rips. A second zipper allows you to fully control ventilation from the sleeping bag if you use it during the warmer months of the year.
The sleeping bag is rated down to 0°F and is comfortable for the majority of backpackers for sleeping in freezing temperatures. The drawstring hood allows you to lock in heat around your head, while a full-length Thermolock draft tube prevents air from escaping through the zipper.
- Tall and wide to accommodate larger people
- Zipper doesn’t snag or rip
- Comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures
- Drawstring hood and full-length draft tube
- Very heavy
4. Abco Tech Sleeping Bag
This lightweight sleeping bag from Abco Tech offers unparalleled comfort thanks to its rectangular design and soft polyester lining. The bag isn’t particular wide – it’s 30” across – but since it doesn’t taper towards the feet you’ll have plenty of room to move around inside of it. The hood isn’t quite as constricting as other sleeping bags, either, which offers a more comfortable sleeping position.
With this comfort, Abco Tech did make some compromises on warmth. The rectangular shape of the bag leaves extra air that needs to be warmed, and there is no draft tube to prevent heat from escaping through the zipper line. In addition, since the hood doesn’t cinch down all the way around your head, expect to lose some heat out of the top of the sleeping bag. Because of all this heat loss, this sleeping bag is somewhat limited to summer backpacking.
That said, the sleeping bag isn’t particularly heavy for a rectangular model and does a relatively good job of compressing. Abco Tech provides a compression sack for the sleeping bag to help. Another plus is that the polyester outer is water resistant and the fill dries quickly after getting wet.
- Rectangular shape for comfort
- Hood isn’t overly constricting
- Comes with compression sack
- Water-resistant outer lining
- Lots of places to lose heat
- No draft tube
- Noticeably heavier than mummy bags
5. Hyke & Byke Quandary Sleeping Bag
This 650-fill down sleeping bag from Hyke & Byke blends performance and value, making it the ideal choice for many backpackers. The sleeping bag is filled with hydrophobic 650-fill down, which is lightweight and compressible – the regular length of this sleeping bag weighs just 2.7 pounds. In addition, this filling is not quite as susceptible to water as most other down fillings and contributes to the relatively affordable price of the sleeping bag.
Hyke & Byke paid attention to durability in designing this sleeping bag with features like 400T ripstop nylon around the zipper. The double zippers are designed to enable ventilation during warmer weather and run along an anti-snag slider that prevents them from getting caught on the full-length draft tube.
The main drawback to this sleeping bag is that it’s not all that warm compared to other down sleeping bags around the same weight. The 15°F temperature rating is somewhat optimistic, even by Hyke & Byke’s own estimation – the company states that most backpackers will only be comfortable in this sleeping bag down to 40 to 50°F. So, while the sleeping bag can be used for three-season backpacking, it is most suited for summer trips.
- Affordable down sleeping bag
- Hydrophobic 650-fill down
- Available in multiple lengths
- Durable with ripstop nylon and anti-snag features
- Not that warm – best for summer trips
6. FARLAND Camping Envelope Sleeping Bag
This rectangular sleeping bag from FARLAND features a unique, dual-purpose design. When used on its own, the sleeping bag works just as you’d expect. But when sleeping with a partner, you can transform your two individual sleeping bags into a double sleeping bag simply by zipping them together. That’s great for summer camping, when warmth isn’t quite as much of a concern and you want to cozy up to your partner after a long day on the trail.
The rectangular design of this sleeping bag does somewhat limit it to summer adventures. As for other rectangular bags, there is no draft tube along the zipper and the shape of the hood is such that it’s hard to cinch it down tightly around your head. As a result, the 20°F temperature rating should be taken with a grain of salt – expect to be comfortable in temperatures between 40 and 50°F in this sleeping bag.
That said, the fabric choices in this sleeping bag are well adapted for warmer nights. The 290T nylon lining is waterproof and breathable, ensuring that your bag stays dry in case an afternoon thunderstorm rolls through and that you won’t get the bag wet with sweat overnight. Unfortunately though, there’s only one zipper so you can’t precisely adjust the ventilation on this sleeping bag.
- Two sleeping bags can be zipped together
- Waterproof and breathable outer lining
- Comfortable rectangular design
- Only comfortable down to around 40°F
- No double zipper for adjusting ventilation
- No draft tube or hood cinch
7. HiHiker Mummy Bag
This sleeping bag from HiHiker is mummy shaped, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not comfortable. The bag is quite broad at the shoulders and leaves plenty of room to bend your knees and elbows before tapering to a generous foot box. The sleeping bag is a bit tall for many women, at 6’2”, but most men will be quite happy to have the extra length.
The sleeping bag is a little bit on the heavy side, at 4.5 pounds, thanks to all this space. But, you can expect the 20°F temperature rating to hold fairly true thanks to a full-length draft tube along the zipper and a cinchable hood. In fact, this is one of the few budget sleeping bags that is truly good for three-season use.
For the price, HiHiker’s sleeping bag offers a lot of value. The bag itself is covered by a lifetime warranty, and you get a travel-sized pillow to bring along as a luxury item on your backpacking trips along with a compression stuff sack.
- Extra tall mummy sleeping bag
- Full-length draft tube
- Cinchable hood
- Lifetime warranty
- Comes with travel pillow and compression stuff sack
- Leaves extra space for many women
8. SOULOUT Sleeping Bag
This rugged yet comfortable sleeping bag from SOULOUT is a favorite among summer backpackers. The 210T polyester lining is durable enough to sleep directly on the ground if you want, yet soft and smooth to the touch to help ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. Better yet, the polyester material is water-resistant and breathable enough to help wick away moisture during the night.
Although SOULOUT recommends this sleeping bag for three-season use, most backpackers will want to limit it to summer camping. The 32°F temperature rating is a minimum and most people will only be comfortable in the bag at temperatures above 50°F. There is no draft tube along the zipper, the hood doesn’t cinch down, and the rectangular shape leaves a lot of space to be heated.
Despite this, the rectangular shape does offer some distinct advantages. The sleeping bag is spacious, particularly around the shoulders. Plus, without a draft tube in the way it’s easy to zip two of these sleeping bags together to create a double bed for you and a partner.
- Durable and water-resistant outer lining
- Two bags can be zipped together
- Spacious rectangular design
- Allows heat to escape
- No draft tube or cinching hood
- Not good for three-season use
9. Kelty Tuck 22°F Sleeping Bag
This incredible and affordable sleeping bag from Kelty is one of the best synthetic sleeping bag options on the market today. The sleeping bag’s 22°F temperature rating isn’t an exaggeration thanks to Kelty’s proprietary ThermaPro fiber insulation, which offers a much higher warmth-to-weight ratio than standard polyester fill materials. Plus, Kelty built this sleeping bag with a 75D polyester liner and outer shell, which together ensure that the bag remains dry and breathable throughout the night.
The sleeping bag has a full-length draft tube along the zipper as well as a double-zipper design for ventilation during the summer months. Even better, the foot box can be opened to allow your feet to breathe and to prevent your hiking feet from smelling up the sleeping bag.
For the price, it’s something of a toss-up as to whether this sleeping bag can beat out comparably priced down sleeping bags. The 3-pound weight is still somewhat on the high side for the tight mummy shape, and the ThermaPro fill lacks the compressibility of down. But, the breathability and ventilating zipper design of this bag can put it over the top for many backpackers.
- Excellent three-season sleeping bag
- ThermaPro insulation offers high warmth-to-weight ratio
- Water-resistant polyester shell
- Foot box can be ventilated
- Not as compressible or light as down
- More expensive than other synthetic sleeping bags
10. WhiteFang Sleeping Bag
If you’re looking to stretch a limited budget as far as possible, this is the sleeping bag for you. For just over $35, this sleeping bag offers a 35°F at an impressively low 3.3-pound weight. While the sleeping bag isn’t quite warm enough for backpacking deep into the fall, it’s safe to say this is a three-season sleeping bag with the addition of a liner.
The secret behind the light weight of this sleeping bag is its mummy shape, which is significantly narrower than some of its heavier competitors. The sleeping bag may be slightly tight around the shoulders for broad-chested men, and the length is such that even 6’-tall backpackers may have trouble fitting.
That said, for those who can fit in this sleeping bag it offers even more than just warmth at a value. The polyester outer shell and lining are waterproof and breathable, while a double zipper system allows you to dial in the amount of ventilation you want in any weather conditions. Plus, a drawstring hood and full-length draft tube help to lock in heat inside the bag.
- Excellent value for a three-season bag
- Waterproof and breathable shell
- Full-length draft tube and cinching hood
- Tight around the chest and shoulders
- Not tall enough for many men
11. UPSKR Sleeping Bag
This rectangular sleeping bag from UPSKR is available at a bargain price, but don’t let that fool you – this sleeping bag delivers on performance. At just more than the weight of a mummy sleeping bag, you can sleep comfortably during summer nights in this bag thanks to the breathable polyester fill and lining. Plus, a double zipper system allows for plenty of ventilation.
While the bag is rated to 20°F, in reality this is primarily a summertime sleeping bag. The lining and fill are relatively thin, so you should expect to be cold even at temperatures around 40°F. Plus, like other rectangular sleeping bags, it’s easy for cold air to sneak into this bag since there is no cinch on the hood and no draft tube covering the zipper line.
Still, many backpackers like this sleeping bag because of the comfortable space it offers. The bag is relatively wide, catering to broad-shouldered men and heavyset backpackers. Plus, the thinner insulation layer ensures that you won’t find yourself overheating inside the bag.
- Lightweight for a rectangular sleeping bag
- Double zipper system for ventilation
- Comfortable, spacious interior
- Breathable for summer nights
- No draft tube or cinching hood
- Insulation layer is relatively thin
12. REVALCAMP Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather
This rectangular sleeping bag from REVALCAMP is available in 20 different colors, making it the perfect bag for expressing your style around camp. Plus, if you’re outfitting an entire family with sleeping bags, the availability of multiple colors makes it much easier to tell which bag belongs to whom. The outer shell is not only colorful, but also water- and UV-resistant.
The sleeping bag is rated for temperatures of 32°F, but be warned that the insulation layer is relatively thin. In addition, there are no heat-trapping design features like a draft tube or cinching hood, so this sleeping bag is better suited for summer nights than for three-season camping.
That said, the spaciousness of this sleeping bag is a distinct advantage. The bag is 32” wide at the shoulders and you can even zip two bags together to sleep with a partner. The height of the bag is also enough to allow for men up to 6’ tall to sleep comfortably without spilling out of the bag.
- Lightweight for a rectangular sleeping bag
- Available in 20 colors
- Water-resistant polyester shell
- 32” wide at shoulders
- Not warm enough for three-season camping
- No draft tube or cinching hood
- No double zippers for ventilation
How to Pack a Sleeping Bag
When it comes time to prepare your new lightweight sleeping bag for an overnight adventure, what’s the best way to compress it and pack it for the trail? The vast majority of backpackers use stuff sacks for this purpose – you can simply stuff your sleeping bag foot-end first into the sack, pushing it down and compressing it until you can’t compress it any more.
Many sleeping bags come with basic stuff sacks, but it is often worthwhile to invest in a stuff sack that has compression straps on it. These straps allow you to more effectively compress your sleeping bag inside the stuff sack, so that you can minimize the amount of pack space it will take up. Keep in mind that if you have a down sleeping bag, it’s important to prevent it from getting wet in the case of a rainstorm. For that, a watertight stuff sack is your best option, although you can also put your sleeping bag inside a plastic garbage bag before stuffing it into your stuff sack.
After your trip, it is essential that you take your sleeping bag back out of the compressed stuff sack and store it uncompressed. Keeping your sleeping bag compressed for extended periods will ruin the bag’s ability to fluff up, which in turn ruins its insulating properties. You can store your sleeping bag uncompressed in a storage sack, provided with most sleeping bags, or by hanging it in your closet or laying it out in the space beneath your bed.
Having the right sleeping bag for your outdoor adventures can make the difference between sleeping comfortably throughout the night and shivering in the cold. Importantly, staying warm at camp doesn’t mean you need to lug a five-pound or heavier sleeping bag in your backpack, or to spend hundreds on an ultralight and minimalist sleeping bag. Instead, there is a huge variety of lightweight sleeping bags designed to meet the needs of every backpacker no matter the season. With our reviews of the 12 best lightweight sleeping bags on the market today, you can find the perfect bag to keep you warm and comfortable during your next adventure.