It’s amazing to think that a sleeping bag can weigh only 1 pound and keep you warm through the night. To pull this off, manufacturers utilize light and lofty down insulation, thin shell and lining fabrics, and a pared down, narrow shape. For 2016, there is an extensive array of backpacking sleeping bags available, and we've organized them by weight in three charts: unisex mummy sleeping bags, women's-specific models, and hoodless sleeping bags and quilts for the UL crowd. To keep each list a manageable length, we trimmed a handful of redundant or obscure bags and set the following parameters: 2.5-pound max weight and 35-degree max temperature rating.
|Sleeping Bag Model||Weight||Price||Temp||Fill||Measurements
(Shldr / Hip)
|Western Mountaineering HighLite 35||1 lb.||$340||35°F||850-fill down||59 in. / 51 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Sea to Summit Spark SpII||1 lb. 0.4 oz.||$359||35°F||850-fill down||57 in. / 50 in.||5 x 10 in.|
|Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32||1 lb. 3 oz.||$395||32°F||850-fill down||59 in. / 51 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Phantom Spark 28||1 lb. 6 oz.||$400||28°F||800-fill down||59 in. / 53 in.||6 x 10 in.|
|Nunatak Alpinist 20||1 lb. 6 oz.||$420||20°F||900-fill down||Unavailable||Unavail.|
|Brooks-Range Drift 30||1 lb. 7 oz.||$470||25°F||850-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||Unavail.|
|Feathered Friends Merlin UL 30||1 lb. 7 oz.||$399||30°F||900-fill down||58 in. / 52 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Rab Infinity 300||1 lb. 7.1 oz.||$520||28°F||850-fill down||Unavailable||Unavail.|
|Marmot Hydrogen||1 lb. 7.3 oz.||$329||24°F||800-fill down||61 in. / 56 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Marmot Plasma 30||1 lb. 7.8 oz.||$579||33°F||875-fill down||60 in. / 58 in.||7 x 15 in.|
|Montbell Down Hugger 900 #2||1 lb. 8 oz.||$559||23°F||900-fill down||53 - 75 in. (elastic)||Unavail.|
|Rab Neutrino Endurance 200||1 lb. 8 oz.||$335||32°F||800-fill down||Unavailable||Unavail.|
|Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 20||1 lb. 9 oz.||$479||20°F||950-fill down||58 in. / 52 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Feathered Friends Osprey UL 30||1 lb. 9 oz.||$419||30°F||950-fill down||60 in. / 56 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|REI Flash||1 lb. 10 oz.||$259||29°F||700-fill down
|60 in. / 55 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark||1 lb. 10 oz.||$220||32°F||Synthetic||63 in. / 58 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Exped Ultralite 500||1 lb. 10.8 oz.||$349||30°F||800-fill down||Unavailable||8 x 9 in.|
|The North Face Superlight 15||1 lb. 12 oz.||$429||15°F||800-fill down||61 in. / unavail.||9 x 13 in.|
|Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20||1 lb. 13 oz.||$500||20°F||850-fill down||59 in. / 51 in.||7 x 13 in.|
|REI Igneo||1 lb. 13 oz.||$299||19°F||700-fill down||60 in. / 55 in.||8 x 17 in.|
|Sea to Summit Trek TKI||1 lb. 13 oz.||$249||32°F||650-fill down||60 in. / 59 in.||8 x 14 in.|
|Nemo Tango Solo||1 lb. 13 oz.||$300||30°F||700-fill down||Unavailable||10 x 15 in.|
|Western Mountaineering AlpinLite 20||1 lb. 15 oz.||$540||20°F||850-fill down||64 in. / 55 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20||1 lb. 15 oz.||$429||20°F||850-fill down||60 in. / 56 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Marmot Plasma 15||1 lb. 15.9 oz.||$679||18°F||875-fill down||60 in. / 58 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Phantom Flame 15||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$500||15°F||800-fill down||59 in. / 53 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Nemo Nocturne 30||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$330||26°F||750-fill down||64 in. / 60 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|Marmot Helium||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$399||14°F||800-fill down||61 in. / 56 in.||7 x 14 in.|
|Kelty SB 20||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$370||20°F||800-fill down||62 in. / unavail.||8 x 15 in.|
|Nemo Salsa 30||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$240||22°F||650-fill down||64 in. / 60 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|The North Face Furnace 35||2 lbs. 1 oz.||$169||35°F||550-fill down||64 in. / 60 in.||8 x 13 in.|
|Marmot NanoWave 35||2 lbs. 3 oz.||$89||35°F||Synthetic||60 in. / 58 in.||8 x 13 in.|
|Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 2s||2 lbs. 3 oz.||$350||29°F||800-fill down||61 in. / 60 in.||7 x 14 in.|
|Sea to Summit TKII||2 lbs. 4 oz.||$279||18°F||650-fill down||60 in. / 59 in.||8 x 14 in.|
|Nemo Nocturne 15||2 lbs. 5 oz.||$380||15°F||750-fill down||64 in. / 60 in.||9 x 18 in.|
|Nemo Fusion 30||2 lbs. 6 oz.||$210||25°F||550-fill down
|64 in. / 60 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|The North Face Blue Kazoo 20||2 lbs. 7 oz.||$289||13°F||650-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||9 x 17 in.|
|REI Radiant||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$199||19°F||600-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||8 x 18 in.|
|Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 3s||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$400||20°F||800-fill down||61 in. / 60 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|REI Lumen||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$159||20°F||Synthetic||62 in. / 58 in.||7 x 15 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Flame||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$179||22°F||Synthetic||63 in. / 59 in.||7 x 16 in.|
|Nemo Salsa 15||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$280||15°F||650-fill down||64 in. / 60 in.||9 x 18 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Ratio 15||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$260||12°F||650-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Sleeping Bag Model||Weight||Price||Temp||Fill||Measurements
(Shldr / Hip)
|Feathered Friends Grouse UL 30||1 lb. 9 oz.||$399||30°F||950-fill down||54 in. / 56 in.||7 x 10 in.|
|REI Flash||1 lb. 11 oz.||$269||32°F||700-fill down
|58 in. / 58 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Feathered Friends Egret UL 20||1 lb. 12 oz.||$479||20°F||950-fill down||54 in. / 56 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Heratio 32||1 lb. 14 oz.||$230||32°F||650-fill down||56 in. / 52 in.||7 x 14 in.|
|REI Joule||2 lbs. 2 oz.||$340||23°F||700-fill down||58 in. / 58 in.||8 x 18 in.|
|Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 2S||2 lbs. 3 oz.||$390||33°F||800-fill down||58 in. / 58 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Nemo Rhumba 30||2 lbs. 4 oz.||$260||34°F||650-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|Sierra Designs Eleanor Plus 2S||2 lbs. 5 oz.||$250||30°F||700-fill down||57 in. / 57 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Nemo Rhapsody 30||2 lbs. 5 oz.||$350||30°F||750-fill down||62 in. / 58 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|Nemo Aria 30||2 lbs. 6 oz.||$230||30°F||550-fill down
|62 in. / 58 in.||9 x 16 in.|
|Mountain Hardwear Heratio 15||2 lbs. 7 oz.||$260||15°F||650-fill down||56 in. / 56 in.||8 x 15 in.|
|Rab Neutrino Endurance 600||2 lbs. 7 oz.||$500||31°F||800-fill down||Unavailable||9 x 12 in.|
|Marmot Angel Fire||2 lbs. 8 oz.||$249||22°F||650-fill down||56 in. / 56 in.||Unavail.|
|Sleeping Bag or Quilt Model||Weight||Price||Temp||Fill||Measurements
(Shldr / Foot)
|Enlightened Equipment Enigma||14.7 oz.||$350||30°F||950-fill down||54 in. / 40 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|ZPacks Solo Down||15.1 oz.||$395||30°F||900-fill down||56 in. / 30 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Enlightened Equipment Revelation||15.2 oz.||$350||30°F||950-fill down||54 in. / 40 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Loco Libre Gear Serrano||15.3 oz.||$294||30°F||950-fill down||52 in. / unavail.||Unavail.|
|UGQ Flight Jacket||15.3 oz.||$265||30°F||950-fill down||50 in. / 40 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Nunatak 2 Season Arc Quilt||15.9 oz.||$340||32°F||900-fill down||49 in. / 34 in.||Unavail.|
|Brooks-Range Cloak 30||1 lb.||$300||30°F||850-fill down||Unavailable||5 x 14 in.|
|Loco Libre Gear Ghost Pepper||1 lb. 0.1 oz.||$324||30°F||950-fill down||52 in. / unavail.||Unavail.|
|UGQ Renegade||1 lb. 1.1 oz.||$350||30°F||950-fill down||52 in. / 38 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Katabatic Gear Palisade 30°F||1 lb. 1.5 oz.||$460||30°F||900-fill down||52 in. / 38 in.||6 x 12 in.|
|Hammock Gear Burrow 20||1 lb. 2.6 oz.||$249||20°F||850-fill down||50 in. / unavail.||Unavail.|
|Nemo Siren 30||1 lb. 3 oz.||$370||30°F||850-fill down||53 in. / 39 in.||10 x 10 in.|
|Nunatak 3 Season Vector Quilt||1 lb. 5.1 oz.||$380||20°F||900-fill down||55 in. / 40 in.||Unavail.|
|Jacks R Better Hudson River||1 lb. 5.5 oz.||$300||25°F||800-fill down||48 in. / unavail.||12 x 15 in.|
|Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15°F||1 lb. 6 oz.||$535||15°F||900-fill down||52 in. / 38 in.||7 x 13 in.|
|Therm-a-Rest Corus HD||1 lb. 6 oz.||$240||35°F||650-fill down||48 in. / unavail.||7 x 10 in.|
|Katabatic Gear Flex 22°F||1 lb. 6.1 oz.||$385||22°F||900-fill down||54 in. / 40 in.||7 x 13 in.|
|Enlightened Equipment Convert||1 lb. 6.4 oz.||$500||20°F||950-fill down||64 in. / 46 in.||7 x 12 in.|
|Jacks R Better Sierra Sniveller||1 lb. 8 oz.||$340||25°F||800-fill down||52 in. / unavail.||12 x 15 in.|
|Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 800||1 lb. 8 oz.||$260||28°F||800-fill down||56 in. / 40 in.||7 x 14 in.|
|Enlightened Equipment Prodigy||1 lb. 15.8 oz.||$185||20°F||Synthetic||54 in. / 40 in.||8 x 12 in.|
As sleeping bag weight goes down, temperature rating goes up. It’s a simple formula: warmer bags have more down fill and require more shell fabric to contain it. For the purposes of this list, we stuck to a 35-degree Fahrenheit temperature rating at the high end. Anything above that is very questionable for backcountry use and strictly for when the conditions are hot.
Don’t expect the warmth of your bag to perfectly match the listed rating. Many gear manufacturers now follow the European Norm (EN) and provide 2 numbers: the EN Comfort (comfort rating for women) and EN Lower Limit (comfort rating for men), which is what is listed for the unisex bags above. But not all manufacturers use the same standards for testing temperature ratings, and some smaller companies don’t EN rate their bags at all. This doesn’t mean you should discount non-EN numbers—high-end bags from Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends often are warmer than a comparable bag’s EN rating.
All in all, we never suggest stretching the limits just to save a few ounces. We all sleep differently—some run warm and others cold—so we build in a buffer of about 10 degrees for the temperature rating of our bags. Overnight lows can dip unexpectedly and you don’t want to be stuck out in the cold. You can add a few degrees with a sleeping bag liner or by wearing a jacket, but opting for a warmer sleeping bag is the route we recommend.
Down and Synthetic Insulation
The down vs. synthetic debate is one of our favorites and something we cover extensively in our insulated jacket and sleeping bag reviews. For backpacking sleeping bags, it’s clear-cut: down insulation is the lightest insulator and only 1 sleeping in the top 30 of this chart has synthetic insulation (the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark). Down bags are more expensive, and if you don’t mind an extra pound or so of weight and a larger stuffed size (synthetics don’t pack down as small), a synthetic bag is a viable option. Synthetics do insulate better when wet—even more than the new hydrophobic down treatments. But when it comes to cutting weight, you want down fill.
In terms of down fill power, the table above spells it out pretty clearly. The top is full of bags with premium down (800-fill and up) because it insulates better at a given weight. Custom sleeping bags like the Enlightened Equipment Convert show the impacts in upgrading: you can choose the Convert 20F with anything from 800 to 950-fill down, and total weight drops from 22.97 to 20.54 ounces (the price also jumps from $325 to $480).
Making your way down the list, there are number of mid-range options with 600 to 700-fill down and even a couple synthetic bags mixed in. Weight does go up but price also drops substantially. There are a growing number of synthetics (including the 1 lb. 10 oz. Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina bags) that do an admirable job of keeping weight down at competitive temperature ratings and reduced costs. But when the question is all about weight, premium down still is best.
Sleeping Bag Shape
Sleeping bag shape matters, and a key way that manufacturers cut weight is by tapering things in (cutting corners, so to speak). Some sleeping bags are designed for people who want extra room or sleep on their sides, while others fit tightly and don’t allow for nearly as much movement. Ultralight bags in particular are known for having the most heavily tapered designs, although you often have choices in the cut.
There are real sacrifices in terms of comfort, so it’s important to think through your backpacking style and sleeping preferences. Are you a casual weekender or fast-packing minimalist who saws off the end of your toothbrush? Are you a back sleeper or a side sleeper? You can start by eyeing the shape of a bag, then check the shoulder and hip girth (listed in our table above). Mummy bags are some of the least spacious designs, tapering pretty heavily from the shoulders to footbox. On the other end of the spectrum, Nemo innovated with the spoon-shaped Nocturne, which is 64 inches in the shoulders and 60 inches in the hips, a significant 4 to 8 inches roomier than comparable bags. True, the added material ups the weight to over 2 pounds, but the extra ounces are worth it for some.
A sleeping bag takes up a significant amount of space in your pack—along with your tent and sleeping pad (yes, we've created handy charts on backpacking tent weight, 1-person tent and shelter weight, and sleeping pad weight, too), it’s among your largest pieces of gear. As you might expect, premium down packs the smallest and warmer bags with more down generally have larger stuffed sizes. A big downside of synthetic insulation is that it doesn’t compress nearly as well as down.
Listed stuffed size can be a little confusing, but all it refers to is the dimensions of the included stuff sack. As a result, a smaller stuffed sack does not necessarily mean one bag is more compressible than one with larger measurements. We provide the numbers on this list as an indication of how much space the bag will take in your pack, but you can always buy a compression sack separately to reduce its volume.
Compressed volume will crop up as well in your search—REI is particularly keen to list this spec. What the compressed volume shows is the number of liters a sleeping bag fills under a standardized amount of force. The more compressible the insulation and fabric, the lower the volume. Not every bag has this spec, but it’s nice to know when available.
Hood vs. Hoodless
Just about every mainstream sleeping bag is a complete mummy, which means the insulation covers the top and back of the head when cinched up. But there are some niche and cottage industry designs that go without a hood to cut weight. The appeal typically is limited to ultralight backpackers or those that don’t like the feeling of a mummy bag. The hoodless designs require less fabric and fill, which helps drop their weight (the 30-degree ZPacks Solo Down bag is a great example).
Lopping the top off the bag does not mean the aforementioned ZPacks Solo will keep you warm at 30-degrees without some help. If your head is cold you’ll be cold, no matter how much insulation is around your legs and chest. A jacket with a hood or beanie works as a replacement (ZPacks also makes a Goose Down Hood that’s pretty awesome). But you should take into account the added weight and cost of the beanie.
There’s no lighter way to stay warm in the backcountry than with a down quilt. Trimming away the bottom material and insulation delivers 30-degree ratings for well under 1 pound. Fit and comfort are also strong suits because the open design emulates your blanket at home and is less constricting than a comparable mummy bag. The open sides can result in some heat loss if you’re not familiar with the system (and sometimes even if you are), so quilts remain a tiny percentage of the market. But for ultralight backpackers, hammock sleepers or those wanting more wiggle room, a quilt is undeniably the lightweight champ.
Fabric Thickness (Denier)
With ultralight tents, manufacturers cut weight by using thin fabrics that weigh less but are considerably less durable. You’ll see some of the same with sleeping bags, but because they are used on the inside on the tent, thin materials (with a lower denier) are less of a liability. Even the see-through 10-denier shell on the Sea to Summit Spark isn’t cause for too much concern as long as you keep it in a stuff sack and don’t sleep directly on the ground (and maybe keep the dog away from it as well). The biggest threat to tearing a sleeping bag is snagging it on its own zipper, but taking some extra care should allow just about any sleeping bag to have a long life.