One of the best sleeping bags is an essential component in any outdoor trip. Anyone who has ever underestimated how cold it can get outdoors, and been left trying to get to sleep while shivering, will know just how downright miserable that is. Worse: lack of sleep will quickly sap your energy levels, not to mention bringing your mood down, the following day. In this guide, we've rounded up the best sleeping bags available right now, at a range of different price points, to ensure you stay cosy, comfy, and ready to tackle whatever outdoor adventure you have planned. Pair it with one of the best camping mats, or even a quality camping bed and you'll be almost as comfy as if you were in your own bed at home.
Best sleeping bags: Quick links
Sleeping bags can be categorised as either down (the light plumage in between a bird’s skin and its feathers) or synthetic. Although down takes a bit of looking after (you need to store it uncompressed and keep it dry, for example), this material delivers huge bang for buck and is relatively lightweight. So unless you’re training to be a camping porter, we suggest going for the lightest option you can get away with.
Arguably the sleeping bag is the most important item you’ll have on a camping trip, only really edged out by your hiking boots – you'll spend a long time in both, and if they come up short that'll be an unpleasantly lengthy experience.
Read on for our pick of the best sleeping bags to buy, or use the quick links for more buying advice and information. Our handy tool will pull in all the best prices, so you can be sure you're not overpaying.
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How to choose the best sleeping bag for you
The best sleeping bag for you will depend on a variety of factors, the big two being how warm it needs to be, and how lightweight it needs to be. Usually, the warmer the bag, the heavier it is, although the latest and best technical sleeping bags manage to deliver warmth for very little weight.
However, there will be compromises. For example, lighter weight materials will often wear out faster and need more care and attention to keep them undamaged in normal use. While a winter sleeping bag (for the UK) should be comfortable well below zero, spring and summer bags can have a comfort rating of zero and up, although bear in mind it’s usually easier to fix being too warm rather than being too cold at night.
Not all sleeping bags need to be super-light, especially if you’re car-camping for a night or two, but if you're trekking or hiking to your campsite – or wild camping – then shaving those extra grams off will pay dividends. If hiking with your sleeping bag is on the cards then looking at packability is sensible – you'll need something that fits comfortably into your hiking backpack, with all your other gear. Cheap synthetic sleeping bags being the most bulky, and expensive goose down compressing for travel the best.
The best sleeping bags right now
1. Rab Mythic Ultra 180 sleeping bag
The best spring-summer sleeping bag for 2020
Reasons to buy
As we’ll never tire of saying, light is right. In which case, this latest bag from Rab Equipment must be very right indeed, and frankly it is. The Rab Mythic Ultra 180 weighs 400g, which is only slightly more than a full standard can of Coke, and means that a full sleeping setup (mat, sleeping bag and liner) can be pushed down to sub-700 grams, an astonishing achievement.
There's more good news in that Rab has packed the ultra with high-loft 900+ fill power European goose down, meaning that it’ll pack down extremely well, before lofting into a beautifully comfy slumber-hug. With a comfort rating of zero degrees, the Mythic Ultra 180 takes warmth to weight ratio to new levels. Rab has managed this by dropping a world-first: Thermo Ionic Lining Technology (TILT) adds a titanium coating to the inner lining, which reflects heat back towards your body. This amps up the warmth rating with very little weight penalty – ingenious and technically impressive. The downsides are a relatively fragile ripstop 7D outer, and a very short 1/8 length zip, both weight-saving compromises that we’re happy to sacrifice to the gods of heaviness. Technically impressive, bewilderingly light and warm, the Rab Mythic Ultra 180 sets the sleeping bag standard for 2020 and beyond.
2. Vango Cobra 400 sleeping bag
Everything you could want from a Spring/Summer sleeping bag, at a great price
Reasons to buy
The Vango Cobra 400 has all the features you could want in a Spring/Summer sleeping bag, at a wallet-friendly price. The 20D 380T Nylon Outer Shell Fabric will hold up to general abuse well, and Vango has pulled out all the technical stops to create a bag that’ll keep you in comfort below zero, yet weighs less than a kilo. Heat retaining tricks include an aluminimised layer that reflects heat back to the sleeper, a shoulder baffle to trap that hard-won warm air inside, while there’s also a full-length zip (with 3D baffle) for ventilation on warmer nights. Vango has deployed many of the modern tricks of the sleeping bag design trade here, with an ‘Arrow’ footbox for comfort, ‘Omega’ shaping on the upper bag (which reduces seams over core areas), as well as 3D mapping – all designed to make sure down is in the right places and giving maximum warmth.
The big warming element here is of course the down, which is premium-quality 90/10 700 Fill Power Goose Down – hydro-treated to resist damp – and it is ethically sourced to boot. Overall the Vango Cobra 400 is impressively specced and has a build quality that’ll keep going and going, just like a premium sleeping bag should. Happy camping!
3. Mountain Hardware Lamina 30F -1C Sleeping Bag
The best UK autumn bag for all eventualities
Reasons to buy
The MH Lamina range can be a bit bewildering in itself, with a wide range of similarly-built bags with different insulation weights, delivering very different results ‘in the field’. However, the 30F -1C is a particularly strong choice for the autumnal UK adventurer with a downright impressive sub-kilo weight, this is a bag that won’t weigh heavy as the day draws on. Although the three-season rating is technically enough for Autumn anyway, these bags are excellently designed for heat retention. Fully zipped up, tailored hood neatly arranged, draft collar deployed this little bag can take a deep dive to an extreme temp of -19C - although that won’t feel like any kind of fun.
Even more impressively, this is an artificial insulation bag, which usually means bulkier and heavier than a down equivalent, but does mean that it’ll still keep you warm in damp conditions. UK autumn conditions are almost entirely ‘damp’, again making this an excellent choice. Finally, the build quality of the MH Lamina’s is strong - they really feel like tempting places to sleep, silky materials, roomy at the toe, lots of insulation in the hood all add up to confidence for a good night’s sleep ahead - what more could you ask for?
4. The North Face Gold Kazoo
A versatile, middle-weight sleeping bag for summer to autumn camping
Reasons to buy
The North Face Gold Kazoo is a solid choice for 3-season requirements, it’s got some different design cues to mark it out from the crowd, and neat touches that will keep you warmer and happier than a cheaper competitor. The ethically approved 700 fill ProDown is hydrophobically treated, keeping it drier and warmer for longer, while anti-compression pads are designed to keep you more insulated from the ground – a cunning plan, as that’s where you lose most heat. A well-thought out fitted hood and zipper baffle combine with a draft collar to combat heat loss for minimal weight too, and there are even pad loops to connect the bag securely to a pad, making it ideal for springtime bivvying.
5. Vango Nitestar Alpha 350
A reliable budget sleeping bag for spring summer camping
Reasons to buy
Those of you seeking a comfortable sleeping bag that does away with needless frills in order to keep the cost down will love the Vango Nitestar Alpha 350. We’ve tested Vango’s budget sleeping bag during late spring through summer camping and found it reliably warm and comfortable to sleep in. It’s soft and snug once you’re inside, and Vango has designed it with a two-way auto-lock zip so that it doesn’t unzip itself in the night while you’re sleeping – no-one wants to be woken up by a draft during the wee hours.
This Vango sleeping bag packs down reasonably small into a 4-strap compression stuffsack, so it won’t take up much room at all in your car, if car camping. That means it won’t add much weight to your pack when backpacking either. Vango has used an insulated zip baffle to retain heat when the temperature drops, so you won’t encounter any nasty cold spots in the sleeping bag. Instead, you’ll continue to feel warm and cosy throughout the night – the ideal scenario for a good night’s sleep. Need to air it? The Nitestar Alpha 350 has a hanging loop exactly for that purpose.
6. Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame
The best sleeping bag for soggy camping trips
Reasons to buy
The HyperLamina Flame is an excellent choice for potentially rain-lashed camping, as the synthetic insulation keeps you warm regardless of how wet it is. This sleeping bag is no technical slouch either, packing in a half length centre zip, a face gasket and Lamina welded construction. Another reason why it's routinely considered to be one of the best sleeping bags money can buy is something called mapped insulation. This clever design works to keep heat in and weight down.
7. Thermarest Hyperion 32F/0C Sleeping Bag
The best sleeping bag for those seeking minimum pack load, big warmth
Reasons to buy
The Thermarest Hyperion is squarely aimed at those covering ground, where weight is of vital importance. Lightweight and with the pack size of a large water bottle, this is one for the fast and light crowd, as well as anyone who doesn’t like lugging heavy loads. Why else does it top our best sleeping bag buyer's guide? Well, the massive 900 Fill Power ethically sourced Nikwax Hydrophobic Goose Down ticks all the boxes, while a RipStop shell and inner lining, which also has ThermaCapture Lining to trap more heat all add up. Finally, neat touches like the synergylink connector, which straps the sleeping bag to a camping mat, really make this particular wonder stand out.
8. Mountain Equipment Iceline
The best sleeping bag for winter camping
Reasons to buy
It’s not a new sleeping bag, but the classic Mountain Equipment Iceline has graced many an expedition to very cold places, and rightly so. Designed to keep you warm down to a 'good night's sleep temperature' of -30°C degrees, with 994g (minimum fill power 800) of 90-10 Russian Goose Down, and all wrapped in a rain-resistant and breathable Gore Thermium 10D outer shell. All that makes this the best sleeping bag for cold weather camping.
Mountain Equipment has gone to town with the baffle design, packing in a variety of shapes in different areas to maximise loft to keep you warm. An anatomically shaped hood hugs your head, and a neck collar provides a snug yet soft fit. The fact that the Iceline comes ‘expedition fitted’ (so it’s roomier than usual) is another reason why this serious bit of camping gear is top of our best sleeping bags list. When you’re done using it, just roll the bag into the supplied waterproof roll-top stuff-sack.
9. Snow Peak Bacoo 550 Sleeping Bag
The best waterproof down bag compromise
Reasons to buy
The Snow Peak Bacoo 550 packs in the warmth with a solid 800 fill power of duck down (cut with 10% feathers, unfortunately), which is how it gets a -7C rating. That’s a solid winter rating, and usually there’d be a caveat here about mixing down and UK wetness, but Snow Peak have used waterproof and breathable fabric for the outer, heading off down-clumping unpleasantness.
This combination could well prove to be a real winner, giving a winter-warm bag at only slightly over a kilo, which is pretty light for the warmth. The breathability should mean that moisture-laden air can also escape, keeping that down in premium condition all night. Other neat touches include separate shoulder and hood drawcords, and a headlamp pocket, which will also be useful to stop phone or GPS batteries from freezing and discharging overnight.
What are the most popular sleeping bag materials?
Sleeping bags tend to rely less on technology, per se, and more on high quality materials. That said, there are a range of outershells, down treatments and heat-capturing trickery that are worth keeping an eye out for.
When choosing among the best sleeping bags, it’s best to stick to better known outdoor manufacturers such as Thermarest, Rab, Vango, Mountain Equipment, Mountain Hardware, Montane, Mammut, Patagonia and North Face.
These brands will not only have wide ranges to choose from, ensuring you get the ideal spec and sizing for you, but they also have strong environmental pedigrees. That means such companies would offer ethical down choices, for example.
Should I buy a synthetic or down sleeping bag?
Sleeping bags are split into two broad groups: down bags and synthetic bags. Broadly speaking, down sleeping bags offer lightness and unparalleled warmth... along with the opportunity for you to catch hypothermia if they get soaked. Why? Down absorbs the water, clumps together and provides no insulation when wet.
Down bags have evolved a wide range of waterproof coatings and down treatments to try and stave off the damp problem, but these are sometimes only partially effective, and the treatments often lose their potency over the years. With down bags, pay attention to the baffle construction, as better sleeping bags employ a range of funky shaping tactics to avoid all the down clumping together at one end, and to prevent cold spots forming between the pockets.
Also keep a sharp eye out for ethical down, down quality (cheaper types will include duck), and fill power. The latter is a measurement of the ‘loft’ you’ll get from 1 gram of down. Better quality down will ‘loft’ (fluff up) better than cheap down, giving you more insulation per gram.
Synthetic bags tend to be heavier for the same warmth rating on a down bag, and are usually bulkier in pack terms, but will see you right in the dampest scenario. Artificial down materials like Thinsulate mean that even the wettest synthetic bag will insulate you.
There are a host of materials that try to strike a balance between weight, durability and warmth, so it’s worth looking at a few. On the other hand, synthetic fill bags suffer from de-lofting over time, which reduces their warmth.
Are the temperature ratings accurate?
Be wary of taking minimum temperature ratings literally, as these results are achieved in a lab and are therefore only guidelines - real-world variables will impact a sleeping bag’s temperature performance.
Most sleeping bags state an EN rating, which is a European standard (EN13537) covering four temperature ranges. These are: upper limit, comfort, lower limit, and extreme (a survival only rating and not to be followed for normal use).
On a related note, check the fit of a sleeping bag before you buy, as different lengths and chest sizes are often available. The better the fit (you want it to be snug but not tight), the warmer you’ll be. Don’t be tricked into thinking you’ll be wearing more than just base layers in a sleeping bag, either, as extra clothing changes the fit of the bag and sometimes makes it colder. If it's nippy out, lay your jacket on top.