Walk into any outdoor gear store, and you’ll be met with a dizzying array of down, synthetic fill, nylon, and zippers…yes, you could get lost in the forest of sleeping bags on display. Online, the options are even more overwhelming. So what’s the top sleeping bag for backpackers? That depends on who you are, what you want to spend, and what type of backpacking you’ll embark upon.

Read on to find our favorite sleeping bags for backpackers in six categories.

What you need to know before you continue: Bags listed are the men’s version or unisex, for consistency in size and weight ratings, but each has a women’s equivalent, which is listed. Because these bags are for backpackers, we only gear tested sleeping bags rated to 30 degrees or less for at least 2-3 season use, and those that weighed no more than three pounds. Each bag listed in this round-up was tested in the field in both mountain and high desert environments, in at least two seasons.

Favorite Overall Sleeping Bag For Backpackers: Kelty SB20

Kelty Women's SB20 20-Degree 800-Fill DriDown Sleeping Bag
  • DriDown stays driers, keeps you warmer and dries faster than regular down.
  • Waterproof treatment at hood and foot of sleeping bag.
  • Total Weight: Regular 2lb 1oz (.78kg)/Long 2lb 4oz. (.94kg).
  • Regular: Fits up to 6 Feet/Long: Fits up to 6’6″.
  • Stuff Size: 7 x 13 Inch.

To pick our favorite overall sleeping bag, we sought the sweet spot of quality and affordability, and found the Kelty SB20 to be the absolute best value of all the bags tested. For your money, the SB20 is one of the lightest, smallest, most compact bags out there…small enough to please even ultra-lightweight backpackers.

On a personal note, I reach for this bag every single time I backpack. The men’s bag comes in at 2 lbs, 1 oz and retails for $369; almost $100 less than our runner-up in this category.

Originally part of the now-defunct Kelty TrailLogic system, the SB20 packs down into the smallest stuff sack I’ve ever tried, but expands to a length of 78 inches. It’s filled with DriDown (Kelty’s water-resistant down fill) and while streamlined, it’s not too narrow (you do get a natural fit toe-box).

There’s also a 60 inch draft tube and top draft collar to help keep you warm. The women’s version is located here. 

Runner up: Sea to Summit’s Spark II is incredibly well-made and weighs in at only 22 ounces, but for the hefty price tag, it doesn’t deliver much more than the Kelty. Unless you’re a diehard Sea-to-Summit fan (which we totally get), or the every-ounce-counts kind of backpacker (again, respect) the better value is in the SB20.

Sea to Summit Spark SPII Ultra-Dry Down Sleeping Bag
  • ULTRA-DRYDown TM 850+ Loft 90% Down Cluster Premium European Goose Down.
  • Regular weight ONLY 22 oz.
  • Contoured mummy shape. Box wall baffles over torso.
  • 10D Pertex ® Quantum shell for minimal weight and bulk.
  • EN Tested: Lower Limit 25F / -4C (standard man to have comfortable nights sleep).

Other bags considered in this category: Marmot Plasma, Western Mountaineering Ultralight, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Karakoram, L.L. Bean Sleeping Bag with DownTek

Best Budget Sleeping Bag: Kelty Cosmic 20

Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • Fabric/Polyester.
  • 50D Down Proof Polyester.
  • 50D Polyester Taffeta Liner.
  • 600 Fill Power DriDown.
  • Thermal-comfort hood and natural fit footbox.

I know…another Kelty! The Kelty Cosmic 20 will only set you back $150, yet only weighs 2 lbs, 6 oz. It’s bulkier and fatter than the SB20, but for the casual backpacker, this will be a non-issue.

You still get 600 fill power of DriDown, a comfy taffeta liner (that’s probably where the extra weight went), and a draft collar. If you want a solid sleeping bag for occasional backpacking trips, this is your pick. The women’s version is here.

Other bags considered in this category: REI Radiant, REI Flash, North Face Cat’s Meow, Mountain Hardwear Lamina

Best Non-Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt

Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 600F 2-Season DriDown Sleeping Bag
  • 600 Fill Duck DriDown stays drier, keeps warmer, and dries faster.
  • Longer and wider than a traditional quilt for increased comfort.
  • Provides insulation under the arms and allows you to easily maneuver the sides.
  • An essential innovation to traditional quilt design.
  • 42F / 5C. EN Lower Limit: 33F / 0C. Fits to: 6 ft 4 in. / 193 cm.

What’s a ‘non-bag’, you ask? One trend in backcountry sleeping bags is to ditch the mummy-type design in favor of bags that spread open like blankets. This feature allows for more flexibility, for use in hammocks, on warm nights, and in bunks.

The Sierra Designs backcountry quilt retails for $199, and is only 1 lb, 4 oz for a lightweight (2 season) option for those backpackers who like to stretch their legs and don’t need a lot of layers.

The quilt has an opening on one panel to allow the user to wrap it around a sleeping pad or vent on a warm night, but still offers an enclosed area around the toe-box. The insulation is 600 fill duck DriDown, and the quilt is designed to fit users up to 6’4″.

Note: unlike the previous sleeping bags mentioned, the backcountry quilt is rated to 30 degrees, not 20. Note: the quilt is also available in a synthetic fill rated for 1.5 seasons (as opposed to 2) for just over $100.

Other bags considered in this category: Enlightened Equipment Backcountry Quilt

Best Non-Traditional Shaped Bag: Nemo Salsa

NEMO Salsa Sleeping Bag
  • 30D Nylon Micro Taffeta (Shell).
  • Spoon shape is wider at the knees and elbows for side sleeping.
  • Premium features like the stretch stitching, FlowGates, and high quality fabrics.
  • 650FP DownTek water repellent down repels water while maintaining its loftand insulation value.
  • Included Accessories: Drawstring Stuff Sack.

Need a bag that zippers all the way up like a traditional sleeping bag, but gives you lots of room to move around? Ditch the mummy look with the Nemo Salsa for $239.95. You get an unique spoon-shape in your bag, which allows side-sleepers to tuck their legs up and roll back and forth at will. It’s designed for a 6 foot person, and has 650 fill DownTek (sustainably sourced down).

The Salsa weighs in at a respectable 2 lbs, 1oz; the downside, it’s rated to 30 degrees instead of 20. (Note: you can pay more for the 15 degree version.) Note: the women’s option is called the Rhumba 30.

Runner up: Big Agnes Big Pine is lightweight and stuff-able, but instead of a slim-shaped mummy design, it’s a boxy rectangle. If you’re longing for a camp bed of your youth, this is the one…new and improved for lightweight hiking.

Big Agnes Big Pine
  • Works with any pad size and is compatible with most couches, dorm room beds, inflate-able mattresses, etc.
  • Big Pine may be used zipped closed as a sleeping bag or unzipped as a comforter
  • 80 x 70 open
  • Stuff sack size 8×7.5

Other bags considered in this category: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed, Big Agnes Lulu

Best Bag For Kids: North Face Aleutian 20

The North Face Aleutian 20/-7 Sleeping Bag
  • Nylon.
  • Insulated, three-season mummy bag.
  • Filled with Heatseeker Eco insulation.
  • Efficient warmth-to-weight ratio that’s also highly compressible.
  • The full-length zippers on each side can be unzipped to allow the bag to lay flat.

No, you can’t put your kids in adult-sized sleeping bags. They need their own, sized appropriately, to ensure they stay cozy at night (think air pockets that little kids just can’t warm up in an oversized bag). Our kids have tried multiple bags over the years, but one stays in our gear storage year after year. The North Face Aleutian 20, weighs 2 lbs, 14 oz  and costs only $99.

It’s a three-season mummy-bag design, with what North Face calls their Heatseeker synthetic insulation (made with 30% recycled material). Kids get a draft collar, and hood for their pillow.

Runner up: We simply have to give a shout-out to the REI Kindercone, because while rated to 30 degrees instead of 20, it’s a great bag for very young kids at only $60 that includes a stuff sack that’s always attached to the bag.

Other bags considered in this category: Eureka Grasshopper, Marmot Trestles, Mountain Hardwear Mountain Goat

Best Synthetic Bag: Big Agnes Master Key 25

Big Agnes - Master Key 25 (synthetic)
  • Enjoy a cozy yet roomy sleeping bag during your camping adventure.
  • Collar and zipper are constructed to prevent a draft for optimal comfort.
  • Hood takes a contoured shape in order to provide the best possible fit.
  • Designed with a mummy shape to keep the inside well-insulated.
  • For easily storing or hanging up to dry.

Want a synthetic fill instead of down? Go with the Big Agnes Master Key 25, coming in at 2 lbs, 14 oz. It features a traditional mummy shape, and is very versatile for $139. We wish it were rated to a lower degree, but at 25, the Master Key is just as comfortable for casual sleep outs during a summer concert series as it is in the backcountry.

It beat out other synthetic bags for price and design (some are not backpacking-friendly shapes and weights). The women’s Big Agnes Lulu 15 is an even more appealing option; while $169, this synthetic bag is rated to 15 degrees and has a roomier toe-box and more rectangular design.

Other bags considered in this category: North Face Furnace, Marmot Cloud Break

Best down source: DownTek

If you buy a sleeping bag filled with down, you probably want to know where that down came from. DownTek is the word we look for when down sourcing is important to us. It’s quite simply the sustainable down brand we trust most. DownTek follows ethical down sourcing practices, and is made to be water resistant.

Many brands and products use DownTek (as evidenced in this round-up). Some of our favorites in addition to the Nemo bags referenced above include the L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag with DownTek and the Big Agnes Mystic.

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