Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bag

Finding the right sleeping bag is challenging for anyone, but it can be especially frustrating when you’re shopping for something that is lightweight but can still protect you in cold weather. So many average bags on the market are warm in freezing temperatures, but they weigh more than anyone wants to lug around in the forest. And other bags are lightweight, but you’ll be chilly sleeping if the nighttime temps dip below 50 degrees F.

So how do you find the right bag?

It can help to evaluate bags based on a few of their most important features:

How compressible is the bag?

Everyone wants a bag that can be compressed down into a small bundle, whether they are hiking or not. But if you are hiking and you have limited space on your back, compressibility in a sleeping bag is essential.

How warm is the bag?

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bag

And did you build in the 20-degree rule of comfort when evaluating a contender? Keep in mind, most sleeping bag warmth ratings are based on the temperature you’ll be able to survive in, not the temperature that you’ll be comfortable sleeping in. So, for instance, if a bag’s rating is 20 degrees, that means you’ll be able to survive the night if the temp dips to 20 degrees. You’re going to be cold though and you’ll likely not get much sleep. You want to add about 20 degrees, depending on personal preference, to determine how comfortable you’ll be. So a bag with a warmth rating of 20 degrees will allow you to stay toasty and warm at around 40 degrees.

How spacious is the bag?

You’ll want to consider how much room you’ll have in a given bag. What the “right” amount of space is in a sleeping bag is a matter of personal preference. Some people love the idea of being tightly cocooned into their sleeping bag, while others loathe the thought of it and need room to thrash about all night long. Keep in mind, the tighter the bag the warmer it will be, so you might need to compensate on temperature rating if you prefer a looser bag. Also, make sure you take into consideration both the length and width of the bag. You might have plenty of room to spread out your arms, but if your toes are pressed up against the bottom of the bag, you won’t be that comfortable. Also, be sure to allow for the varying sizes of your body. People usually aren’t the same width at their ankles as they are at their hips and belly, so you want to make sure something fits all parts of you.

How easy is the bag to get into and out of?

Zipperless sleeping bags are all the rage now and understandably so. Zippers are just one more thing you need to worry about when you’re camping. They break and they get caught on things, and you’ll find yourself wasting time or being stuck with a bag that can’t do its job because of the zipper. If you must choose a sleeping bag with a zipper, make sure it’s one that’s coated and that offers some kind of guarantee that it will work properly.

How is the bag insulated?

How easy is the bag to get into and out ofThere synthetic and down-filled bags and as you might guess, there are pros and cons to each style. Down tends to be lighter, but it doesn’t hold up as well when it gets wet. Down is warmer, but some people are ethically opposed to it. Synthetic is cheaper, but many people find it to be inferior all-around. You need to decide what’s important to you and choose your sleeping bag based on that.

What is the shape or type of the bag?

Finally, you need to decide which shape of bag you prefer. You have plenty of options: mummy, rectangular, and quilt to name a few. Again, they all have pros and cons, and in many ways, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. The conditions in which you’ll be backpacking or camping are also an important consideration when choosing the type of bag that’s going to offer the performance you need.

How that we’ve given you a few things to think about when choosing an ultralight sleeping bag for backpacking, here are a few of our favorites:

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Sleeping BagThis bag has a warmth rating of 20 degrees F, so it will keep you comfortable at temperatures around 40 degrees F. It’s a down-filled bag that features a down collar that seals in warmth around your neck without being bulky. It comes in three different sizes and weighs under two pounds. It retails for about $500.

Check it out on AMAZON.

NEMO Siren Down Ultralight Quilt

Nemo Siren 30 Ultralight Sleeping QuiltCamping quilts tend to be lighter than most sleeping bags and this one from NEMO is no exception. It weighs one pound seven ounces and has a temperature rating of 30 degrees F (comfortable at about 50 degrees F). It’s filled with 850 power down and is one of the lightest weight hoodless sleeping bags/quilts you’ll find on the market today. It’s ideal for restless or side sleepers and can be coupled with a sleeping pad for ultimate comfort. It retails for a little under $500.

Check it out on AMAZON.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700This is one of the more budget-friendly options on our list, but it doesn’t sacrifice warmth for price. It has a temperature rating of 27 degrees F (so you’ll be warm between 40 and 50 degrees F) and is filled with 700 PFC-free Dridown. It weighs in at a tad over two pounds and features insulated hand and arm pockets.

Check it out on AMAZON.

Hyke & Byke 0 Degree F 625 Fill Power Hydrophobic Sleeping Bag with Advanced Synthetic – Ultra Lightweight 4 Season Mummy Bag

Hyke&Byke 0 Degree F 625 Fill Power Hydrophobic Sleeping Bag with Advanced Synthetic - Ultra Lightweight 4 Season Mummy BagThe Hyke&Byke 0 Degree Mummy Bag is filled with 625 synthetic Fill Power and has a 0-degree rating (comfort level 10 degrees F for men and 30 degrees F for women, according to the bag description). It comes with a lifetime warranty and keeps you warm and dry. It’s a great lightweight bag and weighs about 4 pounds. This makes it one of the heavier bags on our list, but it’s also one of the warmer bags and is filled with synthetic fiber instead of down. It’s an excellent option for those who prefer a synthetic-filled bag instead of one that utilizes animal products. It retails for about $115.

Check it out on AMAZON.

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