If you get one piece of gear right when you’re spending cold nights in the wilderness, it needs to be your trusty sleeping bag!
Imagine if you’d spent all day hiking and when it comes to cozying down in your sleeping bag, it doesn’t perform how you want it to. Sucks right? Nobody wants an uncomfortable and freezing night before another full day of hiking. I don’t know about you, but I’d be absolutely cranky!
In order to enjoy the simple pleasures of backpacking, it is worth investing some hard-earned cash in a good quality sleeping bag.
Why, I hear you ask? Because the highest quality ones have better insulation and shell materials, which will keep you warm whilst also being light when you need it most.
If you don’t know where to start looking, think of what features are most important to your type of adventure. Is it warmth? Weight? Comfort, packed size or versatility?
Whatever it is, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 lightweight sleeping bags so you can start your search.
- 1 Our Picks for Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags (2020)
- 2 Lightweight Sleeping Bags: Comparison Table
- 3 What to Look for in a Sleeping Bag
- 4 How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag for You
- 5 Why a Lightweight Sleeping Bag is Ideal
- 6 Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags (2020)
- 7 Caring for Your Sleeping Bag
Our Picks for Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags (2020)
- Best for Summer – Marmot Hydrogen | Sea to Summit Spark
- Best for Winter – Western Mountaineering Antelope MF | Hyke & Byke Snowmass
- Best Three-Season Sleeping Bag – Western Mountaineering UltraLite | Mountain Hardware Phantom Flame
- Best Budget Sleeping Bag – Kelty Cosmic | Marmot Trestles
- Best for Women – RAB Neutrino 400 | The North Face Cat’s Meow 22
Lightweight Sleeping Bags: Comparison Table
|Marmot Hydrogen||$$||1 lb 7.3 oz||Summer|
|Sea to Summit Spark||$$$||1 lb .02 oz||Summer|
|Western Mountaineering Antelope MF||$$$||2 lb 44 oz||Winter|
|Hyke & Byke Snowmass||$$||2 lb 44 oz||Winter|
|Western Mountaineering UltraLite||$$$||1 lb 13 oz||Three-Season|
|Mountain Hardware Phantom Flame||$$$||2 lb .08 oz||Three-Season|
|Kelty Cosmic||$||2 lb 90 oz||Budget|
|Marmot Trestles||$||3 lb||Budget|
|RAB Neutrino 400||$$||1 lb 75 oz||Women|
|The North Face Cat's Meow 22||$||3 lb||Women|
What to Look for in a Sleeping Bag
With so many sleeping bags on the market, knowing what to look for will greatly help narrow down the selection.
The first thing to look at when examining different sleeping bags is the weight. Because your sleeping bag is one of the heaviest items in your backpack, you want to choose one that’s lightweight while still retaining all of the important qualities of a good sleeping bag.
Lightweight sleeping bags generally weigh between two and four pounds, with some being heavier depending on the type of insulation.
To ensure your sleeping bag fits in any kind of pack you’re bringing along, choose one that’s easily compressible.
This is such a common feature in sleeping bags nowadays and most sleeping bags are compressible by nature, but this can be furthered by purchasing one with a stuff/compression sack that turns the sleeping bag into a small package instead of a bulky item.
Sleeping bags filled with goose or duck feathers and made with thin fabrics tend to be the most compressible, compared to ones filled with synthetic materials and more heavy duty fabrics.
Sleeping bags are made with different insulation materials. It’s important to look at this when you’re choosing a sleeping bag so you know what you’re getting.
Here are some of the general insulators you’ll run into.
Down: Down sleeping bags are insulated with goose or duck feathers, and will keep you warm in a variety of climates. Sleeping bags made from down tend to be more expensive, but they’re also the most packable and durable. Unfortunately, down isn’t waterproof and turns into a real drag when wet.
Water-Resistant Down: If you’re looking for something warm and decent in damp climates, check out water-resistant down. This is essentially just a water-resistant coating on top of the down that allows for the bag to experience some moisture without getting completely absorbed and soaked like traditional down.
Synthetics: Moving away from down, you can find many sleeping bags filled with synthetic materials. This makes for a less expensive sleeping bag, but one that’s heavier and less compact than ones made from down. However, they do handle water much better and dry quickly, unlike the previous materials mentioned.
Down Quality: Fill Power
The most lightweight sleeping bags will have a high down fill power which essentially means that there’s more insulation and you’ll lose less heat while sleeping.
The higher the fill power, the more expensive the sleeping bag, but this is worth investing in if you tend to get cold while you sleep.
Fill power ranges from 500 to 900, with 900 being the warmest. When you get to the lower end of the spectrum, the sleeping bag will weigh more because it needs more material to compensate for having less down filling.
Length & Cut
Sleeping bags come in a variety of lengths and cuts.
Most models come in Regular or Long, sometimes with women’s options available. To keep the hood on your head throughout the night, you may want to consider a longer bag so that you don’t feel squished when completely tucked in.
Lots of lightweight sleeping bags will taper off around the feet to cut down on material and fill. This also makes the sleeping bag more snug and cozy, keeping you warmer at night.
If you move a lot in your sleep, you may prefer a bag that is roomier — however, you can also expect these bags to be draftier as well.
How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag for You
Now that you know what to look for when hunting for a sleeping bag, it’s time to choose one that’s best for you and your adventures.
A good way to narrow down your sleeping bag selection is to know your budget. Sleeping bags can be pretty inexpensive (but lower quality), or extremely pricey due to high quality fill and materials.
Decide on a budget and go from there, but be willing to be flexible in case you find a slightly more expensive one that’s better suited to your needs.
Season & Temperature Ratings (EN Rating)
To choose an appropriate sleeping bag, think about when you’re going to be using it and in what kind of climates.
To help you choose a sleeping bag based on these factors, you’ll find the season and temperature ratings.
Understanding Season & Temperature Ratings
Three-Season Bags (32°F to 20°F)
Most backpacking sleeping bags are suitable for three seasons, meaning you can use them in a variety of climates as they’re versatile and suitable for different temperatures.
Use a three-season bag through summer, spring and fall, as well as in colder climates that drop just below freezing. Just note that three season bags aren’t made for extreme cold!
Summer and Two-Season Bags (32°F and Above)
These sleeping bags are lighter and tend to keep you cooler than a three-season bag in warmer climates. Summer bags compress to be smaller and won’t take up as much room in your bag, but it’s advisable to bring extra layers just in case it gets colder than expected.
Understanding EN Ratings
Many sleeping bags use an EN (European Norm) Rating which is a standard industry temperature rating.
Within the EN rating, you’ll find a comfort rating and a lower limit.
EN Comfort Rating: Because women tend to be colder when they sleep than men, the comfort rating is based on the temperature at which women can comfortably sleep.
EN Lower Limit: The lower limit is the average temperature that men can sleep comfortably for eight hours. (But who ever sleeps for eight hours while camping?)
EN Upper Limit: This is the temperature that a man can sleep, without perspiring excessively.
EN Extreme: The temperature that a woman can survive for six hours without risking hypothermia or death.
EN Ratings are are based on averages, which means they aren’t necessarily the same for everyone. It’s a good rule of thumb to add 10 degrees to make sure your sleeping bag will keep you comfortable.
To use EN ratings properly, consider the coldest temperature you’ll be sleeping in during your trip, and then choose an appropriate rating based on this.
Mummy Sleeping Bags vs Rectangle Sleeping Bags
The shape of your sleeping bag is an important consideration when choosing a bag that’s right for you.
Mummy bags are more tight-fitting and tend to keep you warmer, with a hood and tapered legs. However, rectangle bags are better for those who feel claustrophobic or move a lot in their sleep.
This is all about personal preference and how you want to feel when tucking in for the night.
Women’s Sleeping Bags
If you’re a badass woman backpacker, you may want to choose a sleeping bag specifically made with women in mind. Women’s sleeping bags tend to be shorter than normal bags, have a slightly narrow cut, and offer more insulation as well.
Why a Lightweight Sleeping Bag is Ideal
Because sleeping bags tend to be one of the heaviest and bulkiest items in your pack, it’s ideal to have a bag that weighs less and takes up less room than normal.
There’s no getting around having a sleeping bag on a backpacking or camping trip; they’re a complete necessity. So you may as well make your life a little easier by choosing one that’s easier to carry and pack.
Most lightweight sleeping bags will take care of your every need on a trip, so why not opt for one? They may be slightly more expensive than a regular weight bag, but they’re an investment worth making.
Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags (2020)
To help you find a sleeping bag that’s right for you, here are reviews of the best lightweight sleeping bags for 2020.
Sleeping Bags for Summer
Best for: Summer backpacking | Mountaineering
Temp Rating: 24.4°F to 33.6°F
Insulation: 800-fill goose down
Weight: 1 lb. 7.3 oz
Pros: Light | Comfortable
Cons: Less fill | Lower fill power
If you’re backpacking in the summer, the Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag will keep your temperature constant whilst also saving you with weight and money. Yep, this one is a great all-rounder!
A lightweight yet comfortable bag, our favorite quality is the temperature range — the sweet spot for making this sleeping bag perfect for three-season use.
Using a down fill of 800 makes Hydrogen a much lighter bag than many other downs that use 850-900-fill. When you’re going on a long summer hike or mountaineering or backpacking, this weight (or lack of) is a massive advantage!
If you’re looking for versatile backpacking sleeping bags that are of a good quality, the offerings by Marmot won’t disappoint.
Best for: Ultralight backpacking | Mountaineering
Temp Rating: 40°F (lower limit)
Insulation: 850 fill down
Weight: 1 lb.02 oz
Pros: Lightweight | Compressible | High loft | Water-resistant
Cons: No draft collar
Known as having the “best warmth to weight ratio” out of all backpacking sleeping bags, the Sea to Summit Spark II had to make our list.
An ultra-dry down in a minimalist package, the Spark II is highly recommended if you need a sleeping bag, but don’t want to be slowed down by weight or compromise on quality.
What’s even cooler is that this bag is so versatile! With its size and weight, Spark is a perfect summer sleeping bag for space-conscious cyclists or hikers. If you need a winter bag? Again, its size and warmth make it the perfect liner for slipping into another sleeping bag.
Sleeping Bags for Winter
Best for: Backpacking | Winter hiking | Mountaineering
Temp Rating: 5°F (lower limit)
Insulation: 850 fill down
Weight: 2 lb. 44 oz
Pros: Large draft tube and collar | Appropriate for three seasons
Cons: Zipper and draft collar have been described as hard to use
Western Mountaineering is always a good bet if you’re looking for a burly sleeping bag perfect for serious backpackers and climbers in those cold winter months. What’s more, they are all pretty lightweight and super comfortable too.
A particular model that is ideal for winter activities is Antelope MF. Boasting features such as 850 fill, roomy shoulder girth, 3-Dimensional down filled collar and robust draft tube, together with it being less than 1kg in weight, makes this bag the ultimate package of comfort and protection.
Oh, and it’s not bulky enough to worry about carrying on a hike either!
Best for: Winter adventures | Backpacking
Temp Rating: 15 to 30°F
Insulation: 800 fill down
Weight: (as little as) 2.44 lbs
Pros: Warm | Durable | Appropriate for three seasons
Cons: Zipper is said to be hard to use
Hyke & Byke Snowmass is another good bet if you’re looking for a sleeping bag for those cold winter months. A model that is ideal for winter activities is the ultralight mummy down bag with the lightweight compression sack.
Boasting features such as 800 fill, wide shoulder and large foot box, and microscopic air clusters found in the down feathers, plus it being less than three pounds in weight, gives this sleeping bag the ideal mix of protection, comfort and packability.
This sleeping bag is said to be one of the best light insulator with the highest warmth-to-weight ratio, so you’ll have zero regrets!
Sleeping Bags for Three Seasons
Best for: Backpacking | Hiking | Climbing | Mountaineering
Temp Rating: 20°F
Insulation: 850 fill goose down
Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz
Pros: Ultralight | Very comfortable | High quality
Cons: Slightly thinner shell | Less roomy than others
Western Mountaineering UltraLite is one of the most popular three-season sleeping bags. It’s so well-constructed that it has had only a few changes over the years — why mess with perfection, right”?
The UltraLite has a thinner shell (12D ExtremeLite) but the bag does not compromise on comfort or quality, holding up in the most unforgiving conditions like in Arctic Norway.
So, if you’re looking for a lightweight sleeping bag that is suitable for all seasons but at a fraction of the weight, the UltraLite seems like an obvious option.
Best for: Climbers | Damp conditions
Temp Rating: 15°F
Insulation: 800 fill down
Weight: 2.08 lbs
Pros: Warm | Comfortable | Good in damp conditions
Cons: May need some extra layers in cold weather
Made by Mountain Hardwear, the Phantom Flame is perfect for a wide variety of conditions.
Constructed in dry down technology, this bag withstands anything the elements throw at it, making it ideal for camping in damp or humid weather. This warm sleeping bag is lightweight, coming in at slightly over 2 lbs and is custom built with an insulated draft tube and reinforcement around the zipper.
The Phantom Flame even has a comfort footbox that’s sure to keep your toes warm in the coldest conditions and the six chamber hood will trap heat in for a comfortable night’s sleep. You certainly can’t go wrong here!
Budget Sleeping Bags
Best for: Budget backpacking
Temp Rating: 20°F
Insulation: 600 fill down
Weight: 2 lb. 90 oz
Pros: Affordable | Good quality | Comfortable
Cons: Only 600 fill down
Yes, you can get decent lightweight sleeping bag on a budget! At a respectable 2 pounds and 9 ounces, the Kelty Cosmic gets the job done whilst also being kinder on your wallet.
For under $200, you get a comfortable three-season sleeping bag that has an ideal temperature rating and an almost premier feel due to its shell fabric.
An ideal choice for weekend backpackers, the Kelty Cosmic may not pack down as small as other downs, but it definitely provides you with the warmth and comfort you’ll need on any camping trip!
Best For: Budget backpacking | Warm weather
Temp Rating: 30°F
Weight: 3 lbs
Pros: Good in damp conditions | Plush | Inexpensive
Cons: Not as compressible as other bags
Budget-conscious backpackers, this is the sleeping bag for you. At a low price without compromising quality, the Marmot Trestles is an awesome sleeping bag made from synthetic materials that’s great for warm weather camping
Due to the fill, this bag is water-resistant, making it perfect for damp conditions. This sleeping bag is built to be comfortable and last for many trips, with a spacious footbox, roomy mummy build, all made of high quality materials.
Sleeping Bags for Women
Best For: Women on lightweight adventures | Backpacking in warmer temperatures
Temp Rating: 37°F
Insulation: 800 fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 75 oz
Pros: Warm | Water-resistant | Interior pocket
It may sound weird, but women-specific sleeping bags are so much better than unisex ones! Why? Because us women tend to get colder when we sleep, so we need a higher insulation but ALSO a more “fitted” shape to keep that insulation where it needs to be.
The RAB Neutrino 400 is perfect for this as it has a “mummy taper” shape with an internal collar, hood drawcord and a unique trapezoidal baffle chamber design that eliminates cold spots. With its high-quality 800FP European goose down, you’ll be nothing but toasty in this bag.
All these features plus its light weight makes this the top choice if you’re a woman choosing a sleeping bag for ultralight backpacking.
Best For: Women not going far in wet conditions | General backpacking
Temp Rating: 22°F
Weight: 3.00 lbs
Pros: Warm | Comfortable | Affordable
Cons: Slightly heavier than other downs
The North Face Cat’s Meow 22 is the perfect sleeping bag for an introduction to the outdoors! An inexpensive and lightweight bag, this is a comfortable choice for those short backpacking trips in the summer.
Like RAB’s Neutrino 400, this three-season sleeping bag also maximizes comfort for the female shape whilst keeping the weight down for the hikers. Offering similar features such as the draft collar, shaped hood and compression sack, Cat’s Meow 22 beats out other budget backpacking sleeping bags for not compromising on quality!
Caring for Your Sleeping Bag
In order to keep your sleeping bag in tip top shape, it’s important to care for it properly.
It’s recommended to give your sleeping bag a full wash once a year, but you should also clean it after each use. Instead of a full wash every time, spot clean your bag to remove any dirt or debris it may have picked up from the outdoors.
Before washing it, it’s imperative you check the cleaning instructions for your individual bag because it varies depending on brand, type of bag, and the insulation of your specific sleeping bag.
In between each use, you should air out your bag by hanging it up or laying it out flat. This should remove any smells and excess dirt, making it ready to be packed up and used again!
With the variety of lightweight sleeping bags out there, you can easily find the perfect one for you! Take some time to think what you need as a good quality sleeping bag is a long-term investment.
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Getting ready for an epic outdoor adventure? See our other gear articles
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- Best Men’s Hiking Boots 2019: Boots for Any Outdoor Adventure
- The Ultimate Camping Packing List for Outdoor Adventures
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