Mummy-style sleeping bags haven’t changed much in the past few years, so it’s the details that make the Feather Friends Swallow YF 30 stand out, especially for the price: durable water-resistant nylon outer shells, 900-plus-fill-power down, luxuriant inner nylon materials, hardy snap retainers around the collars, and a lifetime warranty. You won’t die, but you certainly won’t be comfortable if you take your 20-degree-limit-rated sleeping bag into 20-degree weather. The bag’s shape and diagonal baffles made it feel far roomier and more accommodating than most of the traditional mummy bags we tested. Top row: Marmot Trestles 30, The North Face Furnace 20, REI Trail Pod 30 (previously tested), Big Agnes Husted 20, Therm-a-Rest Saros. The Dolomite is also noticeably less lofty than the other bags we tested. The zipper versatility also makes it easier to continue "wearing" your sleeping bag on cold mornings as you prepare breakfast or enjoy a hot beverage. ; Sleep system: Being comfortable at a particular temperature depends on many other variables, especially the R-value of your sleeping pad, the other key component … Several of our female-identifying testers found it to be too tight, and most of our male-identifying testers couldn’t zip it across their chests. On chilly mornings, we appreciate a sleeping bag you can unzip all the way around the bottom and "wear" as you sip your coffee. Getting the right one in a market with various options is a time-consuming task. The Montbell is EN limit rated to 11 °F. The REI Co-op Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag costs nearly twice as much as some of the cheapest car-camping bags we tested, but we think it’s worth the investment. The Therm-a-Rest Saros incorporates such a system pretty nicely. (Since weather can be unpredictable, REI even suggests choosing a bag that has a lower rating than the temperatures you expect to experience while camping—specifically, they recommend buying a bag that is limit rated for at least 15 degrees colder than the weather you expect to encounter. If you’re going to be investing in a high-quality double bag like this one, we recommend pairing it with a double pad that fits perfectly. On a night when a teething baby was retrieved from his crib to be cuddled and breastfed in the bag, Dad was able to remain asleep even with constant shifting of Mom and babe. In addition to reading reviews, we spoke with experts and then evaluated each of the 200-plus bags on our initial list based on how they were reported to perform according to the following criteria: Warmth: Your body creates warmth, then your sleeping bag traps that warmth in an enclosed area. The upgrade and also-great picks in this guide are both backpacking sleeping bags, comfortable for most three-season conditions (that is, all but winter in most of the country) and suitable for locations ranging from public campgrounds to backcountry trails. A women’s bag might be better for you than a unisex bag if you consider certain factors, such as your age, level of exhaustion, health conditions, medications, body height and mass, level of nourishment, state of hydration, the altitude of your campsite, and wind chill and humidity of the air around you. For $350, the Magma 15 is actually perhaps the best value backpacking sleeping bag when compared to other burly ultralight sleeping bags offering the same temperature rating. But according to REI’s explanation of the difference between men’s and women’s bags, women’s bags would need more insulation to achieve a given temperature rating (since women’s bags are comfort rated and men’s are limit rated). To enjoy the cost savings, you need to be willing to accept a few compromises, most notably in terms of comfort and versatility. Both of those trips had overnight temps in the low 30s. That’s when packability becomes important. The foot box is also very well insulated. Side and stomach sleepers will likely appreciate particularly wide bags like the Kelty Cosmic 20, Therm-a-Rest Saros, or Nemo Forte, which give you a larger foot box to stretch your legs. Their rectangular shape, loose fit, and usual lack of a head cover limit their overall ability to retain heat. Our testers also had trouble tossing or turning at night, or sleeping in a fetal position. A full-length zipper gives you plenty of venting options, and a Y-shaped zipper slide does an excellent job preventing snags. Belly- and side-sleepers will especially enjoy the spaciousness of the rectangular design of our top pick, the REI Co-op Siesta 30. Back in the lab, we weighed each bag on our scale, measured their packed size in a third-party compression sack, and slept in them under controlled conditions to determine their warmth. increases their longevity and ensures you won’t wake up to a dead battery. Down bags specifically tend to come with an oversize sack for long-term storage. Ultralight hikers who are counting each ounce in their pack might not consider bags with less than 850 fill power, but we think 600 to 700 fill power is good enough for most people. Limit ratings, on the other hand, refer to survivable temperatures. Initially, we were taken aback when we compared similarly rated men’s and women’s bags and found that the women’s bags were more expensive than the men’s bags. This is nothing that some strategic cord cinching and careful sleep adjustments can’t fix, but it does seem like a small oversight in an otherwise great bag. It packs down into its stuff sack smaller than most synthetic bags, but don't expect it to disappear in your pack. The Swallow 30 weighs 1 pound 12 ounces and uses 900-plus-fill goose down—something you don’t often see in bags costing less than $400. Widely separated baffles are a recipe for cold spots because there often isn’t enough filling to spread evenly throughout the chamber, so we stayed away from bags with wide baffles. However, if you're new to backpacking and daunted by steep price tags, this down bag can provide a tremendous performance-to-price ratio. Learn more. It’s rare to find a comfortable down bag that costs less than $300, yet the Down Hugger was softer and had more loft than some bags that cost $100 more. Unfortunately, it is difficult to evaluate the warmth of the bags objectively because none of them adhere to EN standards, protocols in which researchers establish the warmth of a bag through standardized laboratory testing. The Down Hugger felt loftier than any other bag we tested; it envelopes you the minute you’re inside. Contour: Women’s bags are warmer than unisex and men’s bags because they are designed with narrower shoulders in mind. None of these travels were as lucrative as the authors would have liked, so they also know what it's like to be shopping for gear on a budget. Like its cousin, the Feathered Friends Swallow, the Egret is popular because of its details. For this review, we defined a budget backpacking sleeping bag as a 3-season bag with a 20-35°F temperature rating and an MSRP under $200. It's not light, compact, or super comfortable, but its performance is good enough for most backcountry applications. Look no further than this ultra-cheap quilt style, one of the best backpacking sleeping bags under $100. From a materials perspective, most of the budget bags had similarly soft fabric linings made of glossy ripstop nylon. The Montbell Down Hugger 800 #3 is the least expensive bag of our picks at $319, and has some unique features that will appeal to side sleepers, tossers-and-turners, and people who sleep in a ball. It’s big enough to hold a phone, which is helpful because keeping lithium batteries warm (though not hot!) If you're searching for the absolute best bargain on a sleeping bag that's suitable for backpacking, our recommendation is the REI Trailbreak 30. Photo: Caleigh Waldman. One significant factor that influences sleeping bag versatility is the type of insulation. Today, that's thankfully no longer the case. The differences also extend to comfort and versatility. Close the gill zippers (left) and the Nemo Kyan seals in heat like any other bag. A decent-quality, down-filled backpacking bag should last for at least 10 years. We prefer the pad attachment system on the Therm-a-Rest Saros (far right) over several designs on more expensive bags because it's fully removable and durable enough for long-term use. For 2020, we like the Anvil Horn 15 best: it’s roomy inside but still an efficient insulator, and competitively priced at $270. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. My Top Pick: The Best Sleeping Bag Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20° The best backpacking sleeping bag in terms of all-round performance is the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20°.The reason why it is undoubtedly the best sleeping bag for hiking is that it uses premium-quality material, is extremely lightweight, packs ridiculously small and yet delivers full functionality. The KSB's best feature might be its longer than full-length zipper. The most distinctive feature of the Big Agnes bag is its integrated sleeping-pad sleeve that allows it to dispense with insulation in the bottom half of the bag. The zipper on this bag is in the front (instead of the side), which exposes your core to the cold. This review began with research of more than 100 of the most popular budget backpacking sleeping bags. If you’re a person with wider hips, you may prefer to sleep in a women’s bag because of the contoured design. Most of the other couples she and her husband camped with that weekend were also colder than they would have liked inside rival double bags. Other bags use stiffened fabric adjacent to the zipper to keep the silky lining fabrics away from the zipper's teeth. Kalee Thompson took the double bags on three group camping trips, including to Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park and to the oceanside Sycamore Canyon Campground at Point Mugu State Park in Oxnard, California. 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