For the last few weeks, the team at Great Big Trail has been researching, reviewing, and field-testing the best sleeping bags out on the market today. The Western Mountaineering UltraLite came out as the overall winner in our tests as the best, highest-quality sleeping bag for 2019.
For a lot of people, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep outdoors. The hard ground, the cold air (which can reach blistering temperatures in the morning), and the discomfort of not being at home on your bed. Not getting a good night’s rest can seriously affect your day, so a high quality sleeping bag is a must.
A good sleeping should keep your body warm and insulated, be comfortable, last a life-time, and be light-weight. Your sleeping bag is going to be one of the heaviest things you bring with you on your hiking or camping trip. If you’re trailblazing, it’s essential to find one that meets all of these criteria.
Our reviews will guide you through the best overall sleeping bags on the market today.
Winner: Western Mountaineering UltraLite
Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz.
Why we love it: It’s super comfortable and super warm
This is one of the premium backpacking sleeping bags out there, for good reason. It packs 850-fill goose down into a package where every detail has been considered. If you care about quality and price isn’t an issue, this is the bag for you. From the no-snag zippers to the stitching to the continuous baffles and the well-shaped footbox, Western Mountaineering has paid close attention to everything that serious hikers care a lot about.
This sleeping bag is also one of the most comfortable on the market. The shell fabric is some of the softest we’ve ever encountered and the bag manages to be lightweight while still being seriously warm. People have used these bags all over the world, including in the most unforgiving of conditions, and they have stayed warm enough to come back and tell the tale.
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
Why we love it: You can’t get much more warmth for your money than what this bag offers.
This bag is a decent weight, offers a lot of warmth, and is an overall great value. REI gear has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years and this sleeping bag is one of the great things that has come out of that. The Co-op lists it as a fitted bag, but it has the same dimensions as the Feathered Friends bags, listed below It even has a version designed for women (the Magma 17 is for the ladies and the Magma 10 is for the gentlemen).
While REI says this bag goes down to 15 degrees, practical tests have shown that it’s not quite a 4 season bag. It’s EN rating is more conservative, at 22 degrees. Still, we wouldn’t recommend this for more than a 3 season bag, especially if you get cold easily.
Feathered Friends Swallow/Egret 20
Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz to 1 lb. 12.7 oz.
Why we love it: The bag contains the best down and will last forever, for less than comparable bags.
The Egret is for women and the Swallow is for men. These bags are very soft, light, and filled with goose down that is responsibly sourced. It will keep you warm down to 20 degrees and lasts forever, if you take proper care of it. For 2018, they gave it a new shell fabric that makes it even more durable and lighter than previous versions.
This bag offers similar warmth, materials, and construction to the bag discussed below, for about $60 less. In fact, this bag uses slightly higher quality down and a little more of it, all while keeping the price down. If you aren’t familiar with Feathered Friends, a brand out of Seattle, you should get to know them because they offer awesome gear at awesome prices.
Enlightened Equipment Revelation
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. to 1 lb. 6 oz.
Why we love it: This quilt can be customized even though it’s not expensive.
Quilt technology is relatively new to the backpacking world. If you haven’t tried it, this bag offers you an affordable way to see if you like it. Basically, a quilt removes the hood from the mummy-style bag, so you have to wear a beanie or sleep with a hood on. Most people attach their quilts to their specialized sleeping pads, making your bed one piece instead of two. You might sacrifice a bit of comfort because you’re sleeping directly on your pad, but you’ll save space and you won’t slide off it during the night.
Enlightened Equipment offers this highly customizable quilt at a reasonable price. Choose between 3 different fill powders, 5 lengths, 4 widths, 6 temp ratings, and 16 fabrics. You can also add 20D weather resistant strips to your custom made bag. It takes a while to get your bag after you order it, but you get exactly what you wanted.
This isn’t the best quality quilt on the market, but it’s a great way to try out quilt technology or get exactly the options you’ve been looking for.
Kantabic Gear Flex Quilt 22°
Weight: 1 lb. 6.5 oz.
Why we love it: This is the premium quilt for ultralight backpacking.
If you love quilts or you have to have the best, this is the quilt option for you. You get a premium build, so everything is the best possible quality that it could be. The quilt is rated to 22 degrees, so it’s good for 3-4 seasons, depending on your location. You can open or close the bottom of this quilt, for additional warmth or coolness, and you can even secure the bottom third of the bag with the included zipper.
The bag is narrow, so if you don’t open it as a quilt you might feel constriction in your space. It also takes some time to attach it to your sleeping pad, and it’s helpful to get a feel for this system before you’re trying to do it in the dark after a long day of hiking. Still, if you are a minimalist or you love the quilt concept, this is the ultimate one for you.
The North Face Furnace 20
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
Why we love it: This extra warm bag is under $200.
This bag isn’t ultralight but it’s still a great deal. It’s rated to 26 degrees, so it should be usable in 3-4 seasons, depending on where your adventures are taking you. It’s a roomy bag, with extra width across the shoulders and hips where it counts. For less than $200, you may not be able to find a better sleeping bag.
This bag contains a combination of down and synthetic fill, which isn’t as warm as down is alone. It also won’t pack down as well, so it might take up more space than you’d expect a bag of its weight to take up. You do get goose down, which is warmer and better overall than the duck down that some of the budget bags use. It’s the synthetic fill that allows the bag to have such a low price, though, so consider if the tradeoff is worth it for you.
Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz. to 2 lbs. 11 oz.
Why we love it: This bag is extra roomy, for people who hate feeling constricted inside their sleeping bags.
Side sleepers often struggle in mummy bags. They either have to sleep in positions that aren’t comfortable for them or they end up contorted in their bags. This sleeping bag is wider than normal, especially where the elbows and knees would be. Side sleepers can sleep how they’re comfortable without sacrificing warmth or comfort.
This bag, while rated to 30 degrees, offers zipper “gills” on both sides that can be opened to let warm air out. This makes it perfect for warmer trips as well as colder ones. It isn’t as light as we might like and it it isn’t exactly soft and luxurious, but if you need the space then this might just be the bag for you.
Kelty Cosmic Down 20°
Weight: 2 lbs. 13 oz.
Why we love it: If you need a down bag and don’t have a lot of cash, this is a great option.
Kelty is known for inexpensive backpacking gear, and sometimes that can bite you when you’re out on the trail. Other times, like with this sleeping bag, it creates the perfect way to get out of town without breaking the bank. This is one of the cheapest down sleeping bags on the market, but it’s still rated at 19 degrees. The down is also treated to be water resistant, so you should be satisfied with the bag even in wet conditions.
Note that this is still a cheaper sleeping bag. People have complained that it has some spots that are colder than others and the fabric isn’t as luxurious or comfortable as what you would find in pricier bags. Still, if you only get out a couple times a year or you’re new to backpacking, this can offer the perfect option, until you’re sure you want to invest more in a better bag.
Sea to Summit Spark SpI
Weight: 12.3 oz.
Why we love it: This is one of the lightest and easiest-to-pack bags available.
This super light bag also packs down to the size of a grapefruit. If you’re doing thru-hiking or you are taking special care to go light, it may be the perfect option for you. It also has a shell that repels water and a full mummy hood, unlike many bags that are this light. These also make it more versatile because you can use it in more kinds of weather.
The tradeoff is that the bag is only rated to 54 degrees. It’s pretty much a one season bag, and one that is likely best used at lower elevations, too. It’s also not a super comfy bag, being narrow and lacking a cinch collar on the mummy portion. If you need to move fast and light or you only go out in warm weather, though, it’s the perfect answer to your sleeping bag problems.
Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15
Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Why we love it: This roomy bag offers a pad sleeve at a reasonable price.
This is a roomy bag rated at 15 degrees, though past experience with Big Agnes’ rating system tells us that might be optimistic. Still, if you use the bag with an insulated pad, it should be a decent 3 season sleeping option.
This bag offers an uninsulated bottom and an attached pad sleeve, which is controversial. It tends to function more like a sleeping quilt and less like a bag. On the one hand, it keeps you on top of your sleeping pad all night. On the other, it won’t let you rotate or move around in your bag very much at night. This tends to be an option that people love or hate, and you need to know where you stand before you invest in the bag.
3 Things to consider when choosing a sleeping bag
Weather & Warmth
This is one of the bigger things you have to consider. What kinds of weather environments will you be using your sleeping bag in? Is it warm, or blistering cold?
Sleeping bags are not cheap. A good sleeping bag will run you up to $500. However, when you consider the importance of a sleeping bag in terms of quality of sleep and keeping you warm and insulated at night, then it’s worth it to spend a little more money to get a higher quality sleeping bag. The more you spend, the longer it will last as the more expensive ones are built with better, more durable material.
How heavy your sleeping bag is a big consideration. If you’re going to be driving straight from your home to the camping lot, then it doesn’t matter if your sleeping bag is heavy. But if you’re going to be trekking for days with it on your back, then choosing one that’s lightweight is going to be crucial.