Best sleeping bag 2018: for cold and warm weather camping

Get a good night's sleep with the lightest and warmest sleeping bags around

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Dreaming of open outdoor vistas and living wide and free? You’ll need to be packing the very best sleeping bag you can get your hands on, or you’ll be sleepless and cranky within 24 hours.

Luckily for you, dear reader, we've collected the best of the best here for your sleeping pleasure.

But first, let's decide what you actually need in a sleeping bag.

How to choose the best sleeping bag for you

Picking the best sleeping bag might sound like an easy win – but sleeping bags are a balancing act, like many outdoor essentials. 

Split into two broad groups, down bags offer lightness, unparalleled warmth, and the opportunity to get hypothermia if they get wet. Meanwhile, synthetic bags tend to be heavier for the same warmth rating, more bulky in pack terms, but will see you right in the dampest winter snowholing scenario. 

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 often lose their potency over the years. 

On the other hand, synthetic fill bags suffer from de-lofting over time, which reduces their warmth too, so picking the right combo is essential. 

Also be wary of taking minimum temperature ratings too literally - often the lowest temperature in a rating is a ‘survival’ temp, which won’t add up to a pleasant trip.

These are the 7 best sleeping bags

1. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Sleeping Bag

This super light sleeping bag is perfect for summer temps

Specifications
Weight: 480g
Filling: Down
Temperatures Limit: 4°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Superlight+Pedigree bag
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to summer temps

The old favourite Ghost Whisperer bag is packed with 900-fill power goose down, and is ‘QShield’ treated to help combat the dreaded damp. A 10D ripstop fabric two/three-season bag with a lower rating of 4 degrees, the MH bag is impressively lightweight, packable, and aimed at alpine-style mountaineering types, as well as hikers who want to be warm without the weight penalty. Sounds good to us…

2. Therm-a-Rest Parsec Sleeping Bag

Going somewhere a bit colder? You'll want one of these

Specifications
Weight: 890g
Filling: Down
Temperatures Limit: -6°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Impressive tech spec+Jack of all trades+Nikwax-treated
Reasons to avoid
-Middle weight

The Thermarest is unabashedly hardcore, claiming to be targeting ‘alpine starts and ultralight bivys’, which are rarely the most comfortable events, albeit highly memorable. However, with a rating to -6C the Parsec will keep you alive in all but the most hostile alpine conditions, thanks to a combination of 800-Fill power Nikwax-treated hydrophobic goose down, zoned insulation and a snazzy Reflective ThermaCapture lining designed to capture body heat.

3. Vango Venom 300

This sleeping bag is excellent value, and recommended by DofE

Specifications
Weight: 900g
Filling: Down
Temperatures Limit: 0°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Big bang for buck+Recommended by DofE+Ethically sourced down
Reasons to avoid
-On the heavy side for the rating

A stone cold classic, the Vango Venom has been a byword for wallet-friendly but lightweight sleeping bags for years. Boasting considerable technical assets for minimal spend, it’s no surprise this is recommended by DofE groups. For a few quid over a ton, you get box wall construction, ethically sourced hydro-barrier treated down at 700 fill power and robust mini ripstop 30D nylon fabric.

4. Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame Sleeping Bag

Filled with synthetic insulation, this is great for soggy UK camping trips

Specifications
Weight: 1,110g
Filling: Thermal.Q
Temperatures: 0°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Robust water-resistant bag+Synthetic insulation+Body mapped insulation
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy for temp rating

The HyperLamina Flame is an excellent choice for potentially soggy UK camping, as the synthetic insulation will keep you warm regardless of wet. It’s no technical slouch either, packing in a half length centre zip, a face gasket and Lamina welded construction, as well as body mapped insulation to keep heat in but weight down. 

5. Nordisk Celsius -18°

Ideal for sleeping in the extreme cold

Specifications
Weight: 1,590g
Filling: Down
Temperatures: -18°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Strong cold performance+Made in Europe+Inner pocket
Reasons to avoid
-European production comes at a price

If you’re thinking of visiting cold climes, then the feature-packed Nordisk Celsius is worth a look. With seriously low comfort temps due to premium 90/10 European down, slanted wall construction, close-fitting hood, a neck baffle and a zipper draft tube this is one super-warm bag. Although the weight does add up, you’ll be glad you packed this one if temps hit negative double figures. There’s also a handy inner pocket to keep your batteries warm (and thus charged) inside.

6. Outwell Unisex Outdoor Constellation Lux Sleeping Bag

Camping with a snuggle buddy?

Specifications
Weight: 3,000g
Filling: Isofill Premium
Temperatures: -2°C
Shape: Double Duvet
Reasons to buy
+Car-camping couple heaven+Luxurious+Double size
Reasons to avoid
-Impossible to carry any distance

If you’ve a romantic camping trip planned with your partner then this is the Rolls-Royce of sleeping bags, a comfy double duvet big enough for two. With a slightly optimistic comfort rating of minus two, this will be ideal for car camping in late spring, summer and autumn. Rather brilliantly, the bag also zips apart into two separate sleeping bags, perhaps for those occasions when the outdoors didn’t deliver on romance enough.

7. Rab Ignition 2

A good value lightweight option

Specifications
Weight: 1050g
Filling: Pyrotec polyester microfibre insulation
Temperatures: 0°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Packable+Good value+Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Can’t handle the cold

The Rab Ignition 2 is a light-weight, yet burly, packable synthetic insulated sleeping bag, which will serve you well for three-season camping trips. The synthetic fill makes it ideal for inclement conditions, and robust materials (30D ripstop outer fabric, YKK zips) add up to a bombproof package of warm.