As an outdoors person, you already know that a good night’s sleep can be the difference between a lovely day on the trail and a wilderness nightmare—and that’s the best-case scenario.
In the woods, where circumstances can change very quickly, it’s essential to pack the right stuff. A lousy sleeping bag is not only uncomfortable but can allow precious body heat to escape, which can result in hypothermia.
For its warmth-to-weight ratio, water-resistance, insulation, and compressibility, the Mythic 600 Down Sleeping Bag by Rab is our choice for best all-around sleeping bag in 2020. Check out our other top picks for backpackers, budgeters, and more.
Best All-Around Camping Sleeping Bag
Rab Mythic 600 Down Sleeping Bag
A top-of-the-line model from a top-of-the-line brand, Rab’s Mythic 600 is 2020’s best all-around sleeping bag. Its warmth-to-weight ratio is unmatched, weighing in at just 23 oz. with a temperature rating of -16°C (3F).
The Mythic is insulated with 900-fill down and features a hydrophobic, Pertex outer shell. The baffles prevent the down from migrating and clumping, while the angled footbox and minimal zipper save weight. Adjustable drawstrings around the hood and feet effectively trap body heat. As a four-season bag, it’s designed to keep you warm in a wide array of conditions.
While you can rest assured that you’re investing in a top-notch bag, it does come with a steeper price tag. If you opt for the Mythic 600, be prepared to spend a bit more. That said, you’ll appreciate every ounce of downy goodness while dozing under the starry sky.
- 900-fill down
- Hydrophobic, fluorocarbon-free quilting
- Heat retention
- Impressive warmth-to-weight ratio
- Packs small
- Limited ventilation
Best Budget Sleeping Bag:
Marmot Nanowave 25F/-4°C Synthetic Sleeping Bag
For its two-digit price tag, the Marmot Nanowave is a breath of fresh air. The polyester shell is surprisingly soft, while the Spirafil High Loft Insulation is warm and durable. A convenient two-way zipper makes slipping in and out for a midnight whiz a cinch.
The Nanowave is perfect for those on a budget. But, if you plan on spending a lot of time on the trail, consider investing a little more on a lighter model, as what you save on cost here you’ll pay for in extra ounces. Don’t get me wrong, at 2lbs, it is very light; however, the temperature rating is a mere -4°C (25F), meaning it’ll really only perform on cool nights.
- Soft shell
- High-loft synthetic insulation
- Great for summer
- Packs large
- So-so warmth-to-weight
- Not for cold temperatures
Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag:
Mountain Hardwear Lamina 30F/-1C Regular Synthetic Sleeping Bag — Women’s
If you’re traveling abroad or hitting the trail for extended stretches, then Mountain Hardwear’s Lamina sleeping bag may be right for you. The model is named after Mountain Hardwear’s patented Lamina construction, which increases warmth retention while minimizing cold spots.
With a half-length zipper, tapered toe box, and lightweight synthetic insulation, the Lamina manages to trim the fat. And, for the price, the warmth-to-weight ratio is excellent: 2lbs. 5oz. for -1°C (30F). A draft collar, in addition to an adjustable hood and toe box, makes for a warm and cozy night’s rest.
- Retains heat
- Maintains loft
- Great for backpackers
- Packs large
Best Double Sleeping Bag:
Klymit KSB 30 F / -1.1 C Double Down Sleeping Bag
No, you’re not seeing double—meet Klymit’s KSB Double Down Sleeping Bag. If sleeping in a tent isn’t intimate enough for you, this will certainly scratch your itch.
First things first: What’s the difference between a sleeping bag and a quilt? A quilt is an ultralight alternative that nixes the rear panel and zippers. I know, I know, but it actually makes sense: As you sleep, your back compresses the sleeping bag’s rear insulation, decreasing its R-value and diminishing heat retention. In fact, your back isn’t kept warm by your sleeping bag, but by your sleeping pad. So quilts shave weight without shaving heat.
While it weighs just over four pounds, it’s equivalent to two pounds per person. An 650-fill down insulation provides ample warmth, while the 20 denier shell is soft and durable. Temperature rating is for -1.1°C (30F), and so is ideal as a three-season or summer bag.
Jokes aside, the one real drawback of the KSB is not having independent sleeping bags in case one of you gets lost. For that reason, the KSB is best kept for camping trips and not long hiking trips, where anything can happen.
- Retains heat well
- Maintains loft
- Surprisingly light
- Great for two
- Packs large
- Not ideal if someone gets lost
Most Comfortable Sleeping Bag:
The North Face The One Bag
The One sleeping bag by The North Face couldn’t be more aptly named. Their innovative design gives you three sleeping bags for the price of one. Their 3-in-1 system lets you add or remove layers to create a warmer or cooler bag for temperature ratings of -15°C (5F), -6°C (20F), or 4°C (40°F).
The soft 800-fill ProDown insulation and anti-compression layer on the back makes The One a warm and comfortable option. One complaint is that The One is not highly compressible or particularly lightweight; the extra hardware adds ounces and creates more points of failure than your average bag.
- Amazing temperature versatility
- Maintains loft in back panel
- 800-fill ProDown
- More hardware
Best Sleeping Bag for Summer Camping:
The North Face Eco-Trail Synthetic 35
The 100%-recycled insulation of The North Face Eco-Trail Synthetic 35 makes it both environmentally friendly and water-repellent. With a temperature rating of 1°C (35F), you won’t have to worry about overheating on warm summer nights. If the temperature dips, a draft collar keeps the cold out and the warmth in. An internal pocket lets you store your phone/ valuables.
For its warmth, the Eco-Trail Synthetic 35 is not as light as you’d expect; the regular length weighs about 2.5lbs., while the size long comes in at 2lbs.12 oz. That said, for its price, the Eco-Trail is the perfect summer sleeping bag.
- Perfect for summer nights
- Eco-friendly synthetic insulation
- Many features
Best Shoulder Season Sleeping Bag:
Marmot Sawtooth 15F/-9C Long Sleeping Bag
For chilly days and autumn hikes, we recommend the Marmot Sawtooth 15. This model strikes a fine balance between a summer and a winter sleeping bag; it features a 650-fill Power Down, coated in a water-resistant Down Defender to stay dry in damp conditions. The down-filled collar and adjustable drawcords increase heat retention, as does the heater pocket in the footbox. An internal stash pocket lets you store your phone or valuables.
The Sawtooth 15 is a great choice if you plan on hiking in chilly climates, but don’t want to break the bank.
- Warm and cozy hood
- Very well insulated
Best Winter Camping Sleeping Bag:
Mountain Hardwear Phantom Gore-Tex 0F/-18C Down Sleeping Bag
Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom meets all the requirements for any serious winter camper or mountaineer. They thought of everything; the expedition mummy cut creates extra space to store fragile equipment in freezing conditions. It’s also incredibly light for a winter bag, weighing in at just 2.68 lbs.
While the outer shell is made of the highest waterproof and wind-resistant GoreTex WINDSTOPPER fabric, the 850-fill down insulation isn’t treated with a hydrophobic coating. And, although the elastic hood does fit snugly around the head, we would’ve liked to see a cinchable drawstring for added versatility.
- Perfect for winter
- Windproof/ waterproof GoreTex shell
- Awesome color scheme
- Great value
- No hood cinch
- Insulating down not hydrophobic
How to choose the best sleeping bag
Next to your backpack and your tent, your sleeping bag is your most important piece of gear. Choosing the right one is not only key to your comfort, but key to your survival. Here, we explore the things you need to know when choosing a bag. For a more in-depth discussion, check out our ultimate guide to choosing a sleeping bag.
Type of Camping
The type of camping you’ll be doing will determine the features you’ll need. For car campers, backcountry campers, and glampers, comfort trumps all else. For thru-hikers and mountaineers, something durable is essential and preferably lightweight. For all campers, though, warmth and water-resistance should be considered in the context of your camping environment.
The external part of a sleeping bag consists of a shell and a lining. Most shells are made from a synthetic, water-repellent fabric, such as nylon, polyester, or taffeta. For something more durable, opt for rip-stop, a reinforced weave that prevents abrasions and stops tears from spreading. Breathability is also important for being able to dry your sleeping bag when wet. That said, good breathability usually comes at the cost of decreased water-resistance.
The lining is the part of the bag that touches your skin. Common fabrics include nylon, polyester, taffeta, polycotton, and silk. Polycotton is affordable and soft, but heavy and doesn’t dry well when wet. Silk is breathable, lightweight, and soft, but tricky to repair.
Temperature rating is a measure of the lowest possible temperature in which the sleeping bag will keep you warm. It’s typically given in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Insulation refers to the type of material used inside the sleeping bag. The two main categories of sleeping bag insulation are synthetic and down. The former is a broad category of manmade fabrics. They’re typically less expensive and more water-resistant than down; however, they’re often heavier and have a lower warmth-to-weight ratio.
Down, on the other hand, is a natural insulator made of duck plumage. If you’re eco-conscious, be sure the down is ethically sourced. Many modern downs are treated with a hydrophobic coating to keep moisture at bay. Down sleeping bags should never be stored in their compression sacks, as they’ll lose their loft over time, thereby decreasing their R-value. Down is definitely the preferred choice in cold or dry climates.
A sleeping bag that doesn’t compress well is going to take up a lot of volume in your pack. Most sleeping bags do come with a compression stuff sack, which allows you to condense it. Alternatively, you can ditch the stuff sack and simply cram it into your backpack. This way, instead of creating dead space by imposing the stuff sack’s shape, the sleeping bag will mold to the dimensions of your pack.
This isn’t so important for car camping or glamping, but if you plan on carrying your sleeping bag into the backcountry, weight matters. Remember, the weight by itself is meaningless; what’s key is the warmth-to-weight ratio.
FAQs for Camping Sleeping Bags
How much should a sleeping bag cost?
This depends entirely on your needs. Prices can range from fifty bucks to a grand. Budgets aside, the cost of a sleeping bag is less important than its value. Ask yourself which features you need and whether the model you like meets those needs for a reasonable price.
What degree sleeping bag should I get?
Choose something with a lower temperature rating than you think you’ll need. It’s always better to be too warm than too cold, especially in the woods where nighttime temperatures can dip significantly.
Can sleeping bags be washed?
Yes, but washing instructions vary from model to model. Always check the tags. It’s usually best to avoid driers; however, sometimes light tumble dry can be a good way to restore loft.
Be extra careful when it comes to down sleeping bags. Use a gentle wash cycle and cold water. Front-loaders are best since the agitator of a top-loader can damage your bag. Throw in a few tennis balls to keep the insulation from migrating and clumping. Be sure it’s completely dry before storing.
There you have it: the best sleeping bags of 2020. While there isn’t one perfect bag for every single condition, choose a model that meets most of your personal and environmental needs. If you’re new to camping, opt for a budget option to see what you like and what you don’t.