A sleeping bag is an indispensable asset in winter camping. But, not all sleeping bags are created equal and so to speak, how do you even know the best winter sleeping bag from the plethora of products in the market?
Fret not! We spent about 24 hours researching and comparing over 20 sleeping bags and rounded up to the best 5 winter sleeping bags. We review them further down and bring out their pros and cons.
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Our basis of selection relied on features such as insulation, sleeping bag temperature rating, size, style, brand reputation, and many more that we expound on in a brief buying guide below. So without further ado, let’s dive into the meat.
Speaking of products, below we present our 5 select sleeping bags:
Winter Sleeping Bag Reviews
Keep you comfortable on:
Kicking off our list is the Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag, Orange/Grey. This bag is reliable, all-purpose and insulates in sustained chilly and wet conditions.
It boasts an upgraded design with style lines and fabric liner that make it much comfortable on trekking, backpacking, and mountaineering excursions.
With a temperature rating of 0°F (-18°C), this bag will keep you warm even in extreme conditions. The sleeping bag is made from 70D 100% polyester and has a classic trapezoidal foot box and a 3D hood construction.
It has a wave construction top that provides maximum loft and warmth, while the bottom features a blanket construction for the best warmth and comfort.
EN tested, this sleeping bag insulation features Marmot’s unique SpiraFil™ technology that provides an exceptional combination of warmth, softness, low weight, and compatibility.
This synthetic bag weighs just 4 lbs and packs down very small into its own compression stuff sack. It has two hanging loops and even a stash pocket where you can keep some little essentials.
In addition, the bag is available in two variations; one with a right zip and another with a left zip so as to suit both right and left-handed individuals. The featured zipper is full length locking YKK 2-way zipper type.
- Comes with stuff sack.
- 100% polyester construction.
- Patented SpiraFil™ technology.
- Very low-temperature rating.
- EN tested.
- Could be a bit heavy for backpacking.
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is one of the best winter sleeping bags currently on the market. Available from size 5ft 6in to 6ft 6in, this sleeping bag can accommodate adults of all heights.
Along the same lines, you can choose either a left or right zipper bag. It has a down insulation with 800 fill-power, making it pretty warm, comfortable and lightweight at just 455g.
This is a classic mummy sleeping bag designed to hug your body for maximum warmth. It has a large hood that tightens around and then narrows down from shoulders to bottom.
The bag has a temperature rating of 20°F and even benefits from DWR treatment, which allows it to effectively fend off moisture for maximum dryness in wet weather.
Although its shell fabric has a small Denier number (12D), it still remains very tough with even better compression. It has continuous baffle patterns that wrap all around the bag, allowing you to push down around to eliminate cold spots.
The neck area, in particular, has overstuffed baffles that create heaps of warmth when sleeping. Another impressive feature is a large drat tube with a tough exterior coating to minimize snagging.
Western Mountaineering offers a lifetime warranty for this product and they will repair any defects or replace the bag if there’s something really serious.
Even so, they make extremely high-quality bags and defects are very rare. If you are looking for a premium sleeping bag with a high down insulation index, you won’t go wrong with this one.
- High-quality construction.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Available in different sizes.
- Premium down insulation.
- DWR treated.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Quite expensive.
The Nemo Men's Disco 15-Degree Insulated Down Sleeping Bag has a unique spoon design that provides ample room around the elbows and knees, making it perfect for side sleepers.
It has a temperature rating of 15 degrees (F) and includes special Thermo Gills™ that increase the bag’s temperature range on milder nights, letting you unzip and let excess heat out without allowing cold drafts in.
In addition, Blanket Fold™ design featuring a panel of soft, insulated material keeps out cold air and helps keep sensitive areas such as face, neck, and shoulders warm throughout the night.
The bag is insulated with high-quality fluorocarbon-free, water-resistant Nikwax Hydrophobic 650-fill Down™ that is RDS certified, lightweight, and unlike regular down, it maintains its insulation when wet.
Since down is prone to migration, the folks at Nemo made sure that won’t happen, thanks to vertical baffling that prevents the formation of cold spots.
The bag includes a zippered stash pocket that offers storage for small items such as a flashlight. Full length 2-way YKK zippers allow easy entry in and out of the bag, while the foot box is waterproof and breathable to keep your feet warm and dry.
Last but not least, the bag comes with a staff sack storage and transportation.
- Unique spoon shape.
- Weather-proof construction.
- Supplied with stuff sack.
- Includes stash pocket.
- Thermo Gills™ technology.
- Great value for money.
- None found yet.
The Mountain Hardwear Lamina Sleeping Bag takes a mummy shape with wide shoulders and large foot box to provide enhanced comfort.
Despite its wider fit, it comes with a snug, tailored hood that protects your head well from severe winds. This synthetic sleeping bag has a unique lamina construction that maximizes the loft of insulation, promotes heat transfer from hot to colder areas, and eliminates cold spots.
The bag is rated 5°F and it is lighter and more compressible than other sleeping bags with a similar temperature rating. It also has a moisture-wicking polyester lining plus a lightweight nylon shell that effectively repels water for complete dryness.
Another notable thing is the full-length zipper with double sliders that allow ventilation as needed. Overall, this sleeping bag is well-constructed and a great option on a budget.
- Wider mummy shape.
- Unique lamina construction.
- Zonal insulation.
- Water-resistant material.
- Supplied with flimsy stuff sack.
Summing up this list the North Face Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag. This is a three-season mountaineering bag and arguably the best for women. It has an EN rating of 20 degrees (F), meaning it’s slightly warmer than average.
The fit is up to 6ft and it comes in ‘Long’ and ‘Regular’ versions. This one has a mummy design and hugs the body while leaving extra room.
Weighing 2.5 pounds, this may be considered a bit heavy but it’s actually light for a synthetic sleeping bag. The bag is water-resistant and with DWR treatment on the outside, it’s perfectly built for cool weather.
A reinforced hood and foot box also helps in this regard. The body features 20D Ripstop nylon while the hood and foot box is made from 30D nylon/polyester taffeta. These low Denier numbers help minimize the weight of the bag.
The bag zippers can either be on the left or right and they go all the way down, however, they don’t open fully.
Small interior pockets provide storage for a smartphone, headlamp, or other handy items and it comes with a compression sack for storage. This product comes at a fair price and is covered by a lifetime guarantee against defects and workmanship.
- Three-season mountaineering bag.
- Compression sack included.
- EN tested.
- DWR treated exterior.
- Could be heavier for backpacking trips.
Choosing the Best Winter Sleeping Bag
Take it from us, it is only easier when you are well-informed of the things to consider. A proper winter sleeping bag is critical for warmth, comfort, and safety. How much warm a sleeping can depend on the amount and quality of insulation.
The amount of comfort the bag offers depends on its feel on our skin, the space it has, how the hood and collar fit. For safety reasons, it is important that the bag can withstand the elements including occasional rain showers, condensation, and even snowmelt.
So let’s delve into the factors to consider when choosing a quality winter sleeping bag:
The types of insulation include: down and synthetic. Deciding between these two is the biggest question every outdoor enthusiast will always ponder.
Down sleeping bags
A typical misconception is that down insulation is characterized by bird’s feathers. As a matter of fact, down sleeping bags feature plumage that lies underneath the outer feathers of geese and ducks.
Down has the ability to trap body heat while still remaining breathable and moisture-wicking for when the mercury rises.
The quality of down insulation is measured in ‘fill power’. It simply means the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of down can fill. Fill power ranges from 400 to 900. For example, down with 800 fill-power means that an ounce of the same down fills 800in3 of space.
Ideally, the higher the fill power, the lesser down is required to fill a given amount of space, and ultimately a lighter sleeping bag. For instance, a 700 fill-power down sleeping bag will be lighter than a 600 fill-power down.
Premium down of 900 fill-power is the lightest and of the highest quality. Another benefit of higher fill-power down is increased warmth.
In terms of suitability, down is perfect for cool and dry weather conditions. It effectively traps heat for all-night warmth and allows excess moisture to escape.
Other properties of down
When it comes to compression, down packs down effectively and easily sneaks into the lower compartment of a backpack. In addition, down is incredibly robust and can be packed and re-packed without losing its downy warmth. Down can also last for many years if properly looked after.
The only negative thing with down sleeping bags is that they lose their insulating properties quickly if they get wet or moist. However, recent research has seen the development of DWR (Durable Water Repellent), a thin liquid that can be used to treat down so as to increase its resistance to water. Rainwear that has been treated with DWR does not get saturated with water easily as those without.
Typical synthetic insulation features polyester material that either comes in short staple fibers or long continuous filaments. The former comprises of short strands of fill material that are densely packed to trap heat.
Short staple fibers compress really well but break down sooner or later with repeated stuffing and re-stuffing, eventually creating cold points.
On the other hand, continuous filaments create tough, high-loft insulation as the filler material stays in place for good. This characteristic compromises on compression, though.
The biggest advantage of synthetic insulation lies in its ability to insulate even when wet, making it the best choice for camping in wet conditions.
So as much as it’ sensible to keep your sleeping bag as dry as possible, synthetic is a god sent in the event that it rains. Furthermore, if it gets wet, it dries much quicker than down. Synthetic is also cheaper than down.
On the downside, synthetic is heavier than down and provides less warmth compared to down of the same density.
Winter sleeping bags have specific temperature ratings, which tell the minimum temperature that you can stay warm at while in the sleeping bag.
For instance, if a sleeping bag is rated 20 degrees, it means that it can keep you comfortable as long the outside temperature doesn’t fall below 20°F. The typical temperature rating for a winter sleeping bag is 10°F (-12°c).
Sleeping bag size
Sleeping bags come in two variations; regular and long. As a general rule of thumb, pick size L if you are taller than 6 feet. Even so, make it a point to confirm the sizing in order to be sure that the sleeping bag will fit you nicely.
Sometimes you will have to sleep with boot liners and items such as water bottles and water filters, which can freeze overnight in extremely cold temperatures.
In this case, you will need extra room in the sleeping bag to store your gear. Consider a longer sleeping bag so you can store small camping equipment below your feet.
Sleeping bags also come in various styles; mummy, semi-rectangular, quilts, double wide, and more. For instance, mummy sleeping bags have narrow shoulder and hip widths to increase warmth. This design, however, makes them more restrictive and may be less comfortable, especially for larger guys.
Another design is the semi-rectangular, which offers extra room around the shoulder area. Double wide bags allow two persons to share the warmth and can even be separated into individual sleeping bags.
Quilts sleeping bags have also gained popularity over the last few years. These have no hoods and so you must pack a puffy coat or a warm hat for cold evenings.
Obviously, established brands have a great level of acceptance for a number of good reasons. But, watch out for over-priced products from some renowned brands – you could be buying the brand name instead of a quality product.
Winter camping can only be fun with the right sleeping bag, among other essentials such as a tent. When night temperatures fall, you’ll want a warm, comfortable cocoon to get into.
We trust that one of the sleeping bags we’ve listed above can meet your needs, whether you’re specifically looking for a winter sleeping bag or a more versatile three-season gear.
We’ve also seen that you don’t have to spend a fortune for a quality sleeping bag though it’s evident that premium models are costly. That said, get yourself a sleeping bag and make your next winter trip a memorable one.
What sleeping bag do I need for winter camping?
It strictly has to be a winter sleeping bag with a given temperature rating. Temperature ratings differ so we recommend going with one that matches the minimum temperature of where you are going to camp. Choosing between down or synthetic insulation, however, might come down to personal preference.
What temperature sleeping bag to get?
Anywhere from 0°F to 20°F will work.
What is the best sleeping bag material?
Apart from down and synthetic filler materials, the most common lining and shell fabrics include nylon, polyester and taffeta, fleece, and ripstop. Learn their pros and cons here; best fabrics for sleeping bags.