When you’re on the trail all day, those extra grams really do make a difference, and one place where you can really shed the weight from your pack is choosing the best lightweight sleeping bag for your adventure. Why? Because the difference between the three-season summer sleepers and heavier duty sleeping bags is huge.
The most important question when shaving weight off your sleeping bag is the temperature you plan to use it at. The lightest down quilt may only weigh 200g, but above the snowline that’ll be a freezing cold nightmare, so paying attention to comfortable temperature ratings is key here.
Another lightweight piece of kit you might consider adding to your pack is a camping mat, which come in inflatable or roll up designs.
Best lightweight sleeping bag: our expert pick
- The big difference between ‘normal’ sleeping bags and lightweight sleepers is the fact that they are much lighter overall. Sounds obvious, right? These bags will keep your pack weight down, which is essential if you’re backpacking or on multi-day hiking trip and need to move fast and light. But sometimes they do compromise on warmth and comfort.
- Without doubt, the best lightweight sleeping bag is the Thermarest Hyperion 32, which requires little compromise from you yet is supremely lightweight. Nikwax-treated Goose Down rounds out a flexible package that you’ll want to use all the time because it’s so small and light.
Choosing the best lightweight sleeping bag
Sleeping bags usually state an EN rating, which is the European standard EN13537. EN13537 uses a thermal manikin test that produces four temperature results: upper limit, comfort, lower limit/transition, and extreme. Of these four ratings, ’comfort’ and ’lower limit/transition’ are the most helpful and are what most people look at when buying a sleeping bag.
If you get colder faster than the average person, look at sleeping bags with a higher lower limit. But remember: real-world variables can have an impact on the performance of a sleeping bag, so these ranges are just a guideline.
Unfortunately, while technology has put most hardware on the SlimFast plan, there are still limits, and nowhere more acute than in sleeping bags. Lighter materials shave off those grams, but lose lots of durability. Elsewhere, DWR coatings and treatments might add vital damp-proofing, but also add in a few grams themselves – there’s literally no escape from the scales.
As usual, down filling offers the lightest and warmest potential, but is pretty useless in damp conditions, while artificial fibers tend to be heavier and bulkier, but much happier in soggy UK conditions.
Bear in mind that even in the summer heat temperatures can drop at night, and even more so as you climb above sea level (approximately 1 degree less for every 100m), so single figure EN ratings are a good choice even for a light UK summer sleeping bag.
The best lightweight sleeping bags to buy now
1. Thermarest Hyperion 32 UL Down
The best lightweight sleeping bag overall
Reasons to buy
New for 2019, the Hyperion 32 takes on where older Hyperion models leave off, resulting in one of the finest lightweight sleeping bags you can buy. The enormous 900 fill GooseNikwax Hydrophobic Down will keep you warm down to a comfort limit of zero degrees, which is impressive considering how light this is. It also packs down to around the size of a 1L water bottle.
The Nikwax treatment on the down itself staves off some of the worst effects of damp, with the treatment staying drier and, according to Nikwax, maintaining loft 60 times longer than untreated down.
A thermally-efficient box baffled construction and zoned fill (70% on the top and sides with 30% on the back) keeps the insulation around your core for maximum warmth and minimum weight, and finally the down filling is Responsible Down Standard Certified.
It’s not cheap, but it is the best lightweight sleeping bags you can buy, and after a long day carrying it, you won’t regret spending the pounds to save those grams.
2. Vango Ultralite Pro 100 Sleeping Bag
Light on pack weight and on your bank balance
Reasons to buy
Whether you take into account the budget price tag or you don’t, the Vango Ultralite Pro 100 is an impressive sleeping bag. The Thermal Reverb system of reflective aluminised lining bounces body heat back to you, and the Polair Active outer fabric remains soft and warm to the touch.
At 900g it’s not feather-lite, but it’s still compact and comfortable to carry when backpacking and hiking. Better still, it comes recommended by both the DofE and The Scout Association.
3. Mountain Hardwear Lamina 30F/-1C Reg
A durable lightweight sleeping bag from a trusted name
Reasons to buy
The Mountain Hardwear Lamina line is packed with light-for-their-warmth synthetic bags, and this is the lightest in the family. Coming in just under a kilo, it’s heavier than some but also very robust.
A 30D Nylon Ripstop shell will last years, and the Thermal.Q artificial down insulation will keep you toasty in all weathers down to minus one degrees - an ideal combination for UK adventures.
Although the comfort rating stops at a chilly three degrees, Mountain Hardwear have set a ‘comfort limit’ at minus three, which is really plumbing the mercury for such a light bag. This is partly achieved through thermal mapping, which allocates the heaviest insulation to where it is most needed, around your core.
In addition, the ingenious design of the Lamina line all adds up to a bag that punches well above its weight, such as the draft collar, tailored hood and anti-snag zip.
4. Mountain Equipment Helium 250 Down
A snugly bag for summer camping trips
Reasons to buy
The Mountain Equipment Helium 250 is a lovely bag for summer adventures, and the build quality will last for ages too. Weighing in well under a kilo it’s no heavyweight, but the 254g of 90-10 Pure Duck Down fill will take some looking after to deliver the full insulation rating of a comfort rating of 8°C, with a limit at 3°C (extreme is a scary -11°C, which is very unlikely in summer).
As you’d expect from Mountain Equipment, the Helium spec list reads well, even though it’s not the lightest down bag here. An Alpine cut keeps heat trapped, and Slanted Box-Wall baffles should keep the down well distributed and lofted.
Elsewhere there's an anatomically shaped hood and anatomically shaped foot-box, plus a heat-retaining internal collar. The included waterproof roll-top stuff-sack will help protect your down bag if exposed to the elements.
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5. Snugpak Adventure Racing Softie
A durable yet lightweight sleeping bag for summer
Reasons to buy
The Snugpak Adventure Racing Softie is a keenly-priced and well-specified synthetic bag, which is designed to be part of a ‘system’ with other Softpak items. These include a smock (adding extra insulation) and a bivi bag (weatherproof shell), but the bag itself can be used standalone, and delivers plenty of bang for buck.
For a mere 750g, a comfort rating of zero degrees is a strong performance – even more so considering this is a synthetic bag. It's designed for Adventure Racing though, so comfort has been compromised for saving on weight.
The outer shell is water resistant Paratex Micro, which should be treated with a certain amount of care, and weight-saving is evident in the 1/4 Length YKK Zip, which keeps heat in, but may be too much of a compromise for the casual camper.
However, as one of the cheapest options here, far from the heaviest or the most delicate, this is certainly an option worth considering for lightweight use - just be prepared for the compromise.
6. Sea To Summit Spark SPI Sleeping Bag
A lightweight sleeping bag that packs down small
Reasons to buy
The Sea To Summit Spark SpI represents an impressive balance between weight and warmth, thanks to its inclusion of an ultra-insulating, premium quality European goose down filling.
Sea to Summit says it’s perfect for ‘space conscious cycle tourers and ultra light walkers’, and that’s because it packs down really small. With that in mind, plus the competitive weight, it’s a great backpacking option for when you want to travel light but not freeze.
7. Nordisk Oscar +10 Degrees Sleeping Bag
The unbelievably light sleeping bag for summery weather
Reasons to buy
A beautifully warm synthetic lightweight sleeping bag for summer camping and adventure trips. The Oscar has been created from ultra-fine 7-denier ripstop nylon and 100% recycled synthetic filling made from PET bottles.
It packs down very small, making it ideal for backpacking and bike-touring trips in warmer weather, and has a half-length zipper for better ventilation. If you're a wriggler, you'll enjoy the trapezoid footbox, which offers more room.
The Nordisk Oscar +10 has an integrated pack sack (designed with compression straps) and comes with an extra mesh storage bag for neater packing.