The right (or wrong) sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a backpacking or camping trip. If you choose the wrong one, you’ll have a long and restless night but if you do your research and pick the best bag for your target destination, you’ll sleep as soundly in a shelter as you do at home. Whether you want a lightweight bag for warm summer nights or a three-season bag to cover you for a variety of seasons, these are our recommendations for the best sleeping bags you can buy.
Therm-a-rest Hyperion 20
Why should you buy this: The Hyperion is incredibly warm for its weight.
Who’s it for: Backpackers who want warmth in a featherlight bag.
How much will it cost: $389
Temperature rating: 20 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 1 pound 4 ounces
Fill: 13 ounces of 900 Fill Goose NHD/RDS
Why we picked the Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20:
The Therm-a-Rest Hyperion is so light in weight you won’t believe it’ll keep you warm, but it will. Its incredible lightness and warmth comes from the premium 900 fill goose down that is packed into the well-placed baffles. You get plenty of loft from the 900 fill down making the bag as comfy as it is cozy. The down is smartly distributed with 70 percent of the loft on the top of the bag where you need it the most and 30 percent underneath you. Be warned, the Hyperion is so comfy that you’ll want to climb into it each night and not get out.
Our two favorite features are the long zipper and the sleeping pad straps. The three-quarter length zipper allows you to cool off quickly when you overheat — just unzip as needed. In warmer weather, you can even use the bag on top of you like a quilt. You can’t unzip it fully like a rectangular bag, but you can stick your feet in the closed foot box and drape the unzipped bag across your legs and torso. The sleeping pads straps are a bonus feature not seen on many other sleeping bags. They hold the sleeping pad securely to your bag so you don’t slip off and end up on the hard, cold ground. These straps are a godsend for the restless sleeper, but they can be removed if you don’t want them.
The Hyperion has a mummy cut so it can be snug around the shoulders for larger individuals. The regular bag measures 57 inches across the shoulders, 49.5 inches across the hips, and 43 inches in the footbox. The Hyperion is rated down to 20 degrees if you have the right base layers for sleeping but it is most comfortable at 32 degrees or warmer. It’s plenty warm enough for three-season usage — possibly even four seasons if you consider yourself a warm sleeper or don’t travel in extreme conditions. It also is available in a 32-degree version that weighs an incredible 16 ounces. For fair weather hiking, the 32 degree Hyperion is an outstanding bag for lightweight or long-distance hikers.
REI Co-Op Magma 10 and Magma 17
The best 3-season down sleeping bag
Who’s it for: The Magma 10 and 17 are for backpackers who place a priority on warmth when it comes to sleeping.
How much will it cost: $349
Temperature rating: 10/17 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds (Magma 10)/2 pounds 6 ounces (Magma 17)
Fill: 850 fill DWR-treated goose down
Why we picked the REI Co-Op Magma 10/17:
The REI Magma may not have snazzy features like self-closing toe boxes but the bag hits the mark where it matters most — comfort and warmth. The lightweight Magma has an inner 15D nylon lining that is soft to the skin and an outer 15D Pertex shell that resists tearing and repels moisture. It has enough space in the toe box to move your feet, and is roomy enough in the hood to fit a small backpacking pillow for a good night’s sleep. The bag has a fitted mummy cut that trims weight and a variable baffle design that deliver warmth. Most people won’t mind the trim fit, but broad-shouldered people may find it a bit snug.
The Magma 10 and 17 have a temperature range that makes them a solid three-season bag suitable for spring, summer, and fall in the mountains. When temperatures plummet, there are two drawstrings on the hood that provide a snug fit while an insulated draft collar and a draft tube on the zipper help to trap body heat inside the bag. To let off some heat, the bag can be unzipped in an arc across the shoulders. When conditions warm up, the bag can be fully unzipped and used as a quilt. An internal anti-snag strip makes it easy to open the bag from both inside and outside the bag without catching on the fabric.
Big Agnes Bolten SL 20
The best 3-season synthetic sleeping bag
Why should you buy this: Backpackers who want all-weather protection should look at the Big Agnes Bolten SL 20, which is crafted with a durable and lightweight synthetic insulation that stays warm even when it’s wet outside.
Who’s it for: Backpackers and car campers who explore in areas where wetness is a major concern.
How much will it cost: $289
Temperature rating: 20 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 11 ounces
Fill: PrimaLoft Silver & PrimaLoft Gold Active stretch insulation
Why we picked Big Agnes Bolten SL 20:
There is little argument that a down sleeping bag is warm — it’s perhaps the warmest material you can wrap yourself in. However, down insulation does have a significant flaw — it loses its warmth when wet. Manufacturers have turned to a special water-resistant down that is treated superficially with a DWR-like Nikwax but this technology is relatively new and its effect on the longevity of a down bag is unknown.
While many sleeping bag makers use down in their high-end bags, manufacturers like Big Agnes realize there is a huge market for synthetic fabrics, as well. These synthetic bags offer a significant advantage because they stay warm even while wet, though wet warmth does come at a cost as synthetic bags are often heavier and bulkier. This is where the Big Agnes Bolten SL 20 shines by offering the wet warmth advantage of synthetic insulation while maintaining a lightweight profile that rivals many down bags in the same temperature class.
So, how does the Big Agnes manage to make a synthetic bag almost as light as down? The answer lies in the materials. The company uses PrimaLoft Silver and combines it with PrimaLoft Gold Active stretch insulation. Primaloft has spent decades perfecting its insulation so it mimics down with millions of air pockets that trap your body heat. The result is a lightweight insulation that’s warm, durable, and compressible. The active stretch insulation is a unique addition to the bag. It’s built into side stretch panels that provide some give in the sleeping bag allowing you to sleep on your side and move around inside your bag.
The Big Agnes Bolten screams comfort with a top zipper that is easy to undo and extends almost the full length of the bag. When unzipped, the bag can be used as a quilt for sleeping in warmer weather. Other features include interior fabric loops for sleeping bag liners, exterior loops for easy drying, and an integrated draft tube to prevent snags and minimize cold air from seeping in through the zipper.
Salewa Fusion Hybrid Sleeping Bag: 28 Degree Synthetic
The best hybrid sleeping bag
Why should you buy this: The Salewa Fusion Hybrid takes the lightweight qualities of down and blends it with the water resistance of Primaloft to create a bag that’s warm under all conditions.
Who’s it for: Hikers who want a bag that stays warm when it’s wet, yet lightweight like down.
How much will it cost: $275
Temperature rating: 28 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 2 pounds 4 ounces
Fill: 50 percent PrimaLoft, 50 percent down
Why we picked the Salewa Fusion Hybrid 28-degree sleeping bag:
When purchasing a sleeping bag, many face the age-old decision of down versus synthetic. It’s a difficult choice of whether to opt for the lightweight and compressibility of down or the “warm while wet” feature of synthetic insulation. Thankfully, Salewa’s Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag features 50 percent down and 50 percent Primaloft, providing the best of both worlds in a single package.
Salewa designed its mummy bag for the mountaineer or backpacker who needs to be warm regardless of outside conditions. The Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag offers a 90/10 duck down (90 percent down, 10 percent feather) that’s lightweight, highly compressible, and warm when conditions are dry. Salewa also stuffed the bag with Primaloft which provides warmth even while wet. The result is a 650-fill power that stays warm down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and keeps 94 percent of its insulating warmth when wet. Furthermore, the down/synthetic blend dries four times faster than down alone.
Salewa didn’t stop with the insulation when it designed its Fusion Hybrid sleeping bag as it also built-in all the convenience features anyone might need in a sleeping bag. Extras such as a drawstring hood, a draft collar, and tube for warmth, and a foot section with its own zipper make this bag a solid choice. When it’s warm outside, it’s also capable of being unzipped and used as a blanket and features a full-length, two-way YKK zipper compatible with other sleeping bags — a welcome bonus for those camping with a significant other.