Are you looking for a warm and comfortable hiking sleeping bag? In this detailed article I’ll list some of the best hiking sleeping bags of 2018. I’ll also cover the important features you should look for when searching for a high-quality sleeping bag.
Just remember that you don’t want to create a bottleneck when it comes to hiking gear. What do I mean by this? It won’t matter if you pair the best sleeping bag with a cheap and unreliable camping tent. You don’t need super expensive gear. But you also shouldn’t cheap out either.
Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather: Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F
Best Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag: KSB 20 Degree Down
Best Budget Sleeping Bag: Coleman North Rim Mummy
Best Sleeping Bag for Camping: TETON Sports Celsius XXL
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What to Look for in a Sleeping Bag
All sleeping bags are not created equal. So keep this in mind before going out and picking the cheapest one. There are a couple of different factors to consider when searching for a hiking sleeping bag. Will you be hiking in the summer or winter? Do you need a sleeping bag hood?
I’ll answer these important questions in the sections below.
This is arguably the most important feature when looking for a hiking sleeping bag. Don’t expect to find a “year round” sleeping bag that will work in all weather conditions. The two biggest insulation types are down and synthetic. Both materials have their own pros and cons.
Down Insulation: Some birds have a layer of down under their tough exterior feathers. This down has the ability to trap air molecules into very small pockets, which creates a thermal barrier and keeps them warm as a result. Down can also be used as a thermal layer in sleeping bags, jackets and pillows.
So why might you want a down insulated sleeping bag? It’s a great solution for ultralight hikers, as the material is more compressible compared to other insulators. You have the ability to fold up your sleeping bag, then remove the air – to make it extra small. If properly cared for, down is also the perfect choice for long-term use.
Synthetic insulation: Most often synthetic insulation is actually made from polyester. Synthetic insulation is less expensive then down insulation, but it does come with added bulk. It not only doesn’t compress as well, but over time the insulation material will decrease each time you pack it.
Synthetic insulation is a solid choice on budget, or if you consider yourself a casual hiker. It also dries much faster than down, which is optimal if you plan on traveling to wet locations. Although synthetic insulation is heavier and bulkier than down, it won’t provide as much warmth. Keep this in mind before choosing a hiking sleeping bag.
What is a temperature rating? You might see sleeping bags labeled with different temperatures – this is called a temperature rating. For example, a “25-degree” bag means that you will sleep comfortably in a bag where climates don’t drop below 25°F. Remember to keep an eye on Celsius vs Fahrenheit (here in the United States we use Fahrenheit).
When you decide where you want to go camping or hiking, you’ll need to research the average temperatures for that time of year. You also need to factor in other variables – like the type of clothing you wear to bed and if you’ll be sleeping in a tent. If you’re sleeping in a tent you won’t need a sleeping bag with a very low temperature rating.
The last thing to look for in a hiking sleeping bag is specific features. This part is totally up to you – as what you want on a hike will be different from other people. Do you want a sleeping bag with a hood? A hood is optimal for colder climates, as it prevents heat from leaving the sleeping bag. Some hoods even have a pillow pocket for added comfort.
Other popular features include zippers and draw cords. These actually go beyond personal preference. If you have two sleeping bags that are compatible, they can zip up together. There are also double sleeping bags like this, that have the ability to convert into two single bags. So you have many options when it comes to zippers – make sure to think about what matters most.
There are also different sleeping bag shapes, depending on how you sleep. If you normally sleep on your back, you might want to get a wider foot area so your feet can move around more. You can get away with a narrow foot area if you sleep on your side, because they won’t move around as much. And if you need a cell phone pocket, many sleeping bags have that option too.
Best Sleeping Bags of 2018
There are many articles out there listing the “10 Best Hiking Sleeping Bags” or something similar. So instead of making a list based off an arbitrary number, my decisions instead were based on categories. So if you need a high-quality sleeping bag built for a specific situation, this list is for you.
Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather
When you’re hiking in cold weather, you need a sleeping bag that will keep you warm at night. The most important factor to consider with these bags is temperature rating. And don’t forget to factor in the temperature of the tent when pairing it with a cold weather sleeping bag. For extra warmth you might even need a hood, so your body heat won’t escape the bag.
Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F
This is a premium winter sleeping bag that has a temperature rating of 0°F. I personally wouldn’t like to test that temperature out myself, but with high-quality down insulation it will hold up to the test. This particular bag is made with Outdoor Vitals new down material, that promises to be more resistant to moisture.
The Summit is not only small and warm, but also very durable. The fabric used really feels like it will last for the long-term. What I like about this hiking sleeping bag is its proven ability to pack small, yet still retain so much warmth. In the past you could have a super lightweight hiking sleeping bag, that wouldn’t be a great choice in cold weather.
Best Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag
If you’re looking to save as much weight (and room in your backpack) as possible, an ultra compact sleeping bag is for you. Most of these sleeping bags are made with down insulation – as it’s such an effective material for compacting. These bags will also be form fitting to your body. The classic “rectangle” sleeping bag is comfortable, but it takes up way too much space.
KSB 20 Degree Down
I know “ultra compact” gets thrown around a lot in the hiking world, but the general idea is to pack as light as possible. This KSB hiking sleeping bag not only packs up small, but it only weighs 2.75 lbs. That’s nothing compared to just how much warmth this bag provides. You’ll be ready for those cold conditions with a 20°F temperature rating.
It’s also made with a white duck down that is lofty, breathable and very warm. How does it keep you warm at such a lightweight? The unique over-stuffed foot box and insulated mummy hood target the two areas of your body that get the coldest. And with handy stash pockets built into the bag, you won’t have to stumble around at night for your belongings.
Best Budget Sleeping Bag
I know how quickly money starts to add up when it comes to outdoor gear. In the beginning I was so overwhelmed by just how expensive some items could be. But remember, when it comes to hiking, you can still have fun and not break the bank. Most people assume “budget” means cheap – this isn’t the case at all. And you can always slowly upgrade your gear later on.
Coleman North Rim Mummy
This sleeping bag from Coleman is the ideal choice for hikers on a budget. And if you’re lucky enough to catch it on sale you’ll be saving even more money! The North Rim Mummy is made from polyester material, so it will be slightly heavier than down. But hey, there’s really nothing wrong with synthetic material.
Like the name suggests, this mummy bag will fit snug around your body. This design makes it that much easier to pack in your hiking backpack. It also has quilting construction, an insulated foot-box, and a Thermolock draft tube for added warmth and improved heat retention. The only drawback is the size, as it’s only made for individuals 6 feet 2 inches in height and shorter.
Best Sleeping Bag for Camping
Camping is different from hiking in that you’ll be staying in one place for an extended period of time. You’re always on the move while hiking, which is why gear weight is such an important factor. But with camping you have the luxury of a car or RV. So when it comes to sleeping bags for camping, weight isn’t a factor – it’s all about size and comfort.
TETON Sports Celsius XXL
This is what I like to consider your standard “rectangular” sleeping bag. It’s not necessarily lightweight or small – as the pack weight is around 7 pounds. But hey, if you’re going on a relaxing camping trip with the family you don’t have to worry about shaving ounces of weight from your gear. The Celsius XXL is not only big, but it’s super comfortable!
You’ll have plenty of room to stretch your legs and the larger mummy style hood will keep your head warm. What I like about this sleeping bag is the brushed poly-flannel lining, because it feels like bed sheets. It’s also great for cold weather camping, with the 0°F temperature rating. And for those warm summer months, you can simply unzip as much of the bag as you please.
It took me a while to figure out what kind of hiking sleeping bag I needed for my adventures. Hopefully this article has made your decision a little easier. I found so many “10 Best” articles in my search and I thought sleeping bag categories would make things so much easier.
If there’s one point you leave with, I would say it’s the temperature rating. If you’re hiking in the winter, it’s essential that the sleeping bag you choose will withstand the cold conditions.