Sleeping Bag Reviews

Searching the internet for the best sleeping bag is exhausting. So, I’ve compiled sleeping bag reviews of the top five sleeping bag models in important categories.

With so many companies producing sleeping bags, it is impossible to find a clear consensus on what bag is best for you.

You need to take your considerations into account by thinking about the environments you will be using it in and why you need it.

While I personally have not experimented with every below model, I’ve scoured the internet, read reviews, am familiar with models and understand when a sleeping bag is designed with extraneous bells and whistles.

If you have a model suggestion, you can contribute to the discussion at the bottom of the page with a sleeping bag review of your favorite bag. Or, read the suggestions of others.

Below you will find sleeping bag reviews for the top model in the following categories:

sleeping bag reviews
  • Cold weather sleeping bag
  • Ultralight sleeping bag, or backpacking sleeping bag
  • Kid sleeping bags
  • Compact sleeping bags for either wilderness backpacking or touring the world
  • Car camping sleeping bag
  • … And what Top 5 list is complete without a bonus? Also a sleeping bag review for the best cheap sleeping bag

Table of Contents

This list was last updated on April 30th, 2013. I strive to make sure that it’s always up to date, with relevant, high quality sleeping bags.

I don’t want to point you in the wrong direction here, and I know sometimes bags are discontinued, so that’s why I try and update this at least twice per year.

This is a pretty long post, so I’ve broken it down into sections and links so you can easily navigate between the sections.

Best Compact Sleeping Bags

marmot arroyo sleeping bag review

Compact sleeping bags are designed to be lightweight and to crunch down into a pancake.

And the Marmot Arroyo is one of the best compact sleeping bags on the market.

The Arroyo has all the benefits you need in a compact sleeping bag, including:

  • Lightweight – Weighs a mere 1 pound, 9 ounces
  • Comfort – 800 Goose down fill makes it so you are sleeping on feathers
  • Compactability – Includes a tiny stuff sack you can squeeze it into
  • Mummy Design – Excellent heat retention

Learn more about the Marmot Arroyo.

Alternately, if you’re looking specifically for compact sleeping bags, I’ve written up a full buying guide to compact sleeping bags here. It includes a few more recommendations, too!

The one drawback of the Arroyo? It’s a 30 degree bag. I personally wouldn’t buy a sleeping bag that is only designed for 30 degrees or warmer. If you’re camping in the Rockies, you need something that provides greater warmth as the weather’s too unpredictable. A snowstorm can roll in during mid-August and if you’re camping, you’re in a dangerous position with a 30 degree bag.

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Best Kid Sleeping Bags

When purchasing a youth sleeping bag, you don’t want to spend big bucks for a bag they will quickly grow out of. However, you can’t shop at Wal-Mart for it, or the bag will not meet your demands.

rei kindercone sleeping bag review

This is where REI comes in. REI delivers award-winning outdoor camping equipment at a discounted price, when compared to big name brands. For your kid’s sleeping bag, this is the route you should take.

In particular, I suggest the REI Kindercone. While you cannot take this for an overnight backpacking trip because of its weight, for car camping with your kid, there is no better bang for your buck.

Learn more about the REI Kindercone Sleeping Bag.

While the Kindercone is great for a cheap, kids sleeping bag, if you’re little tot is gonna be heading into the woods for an overnight, that bag just won’t cut it. The Kindercone is more for backyard sleeping.

If you’re kiddo’s gonna be exploring the backcountry with you, then you need to invest a little more and buy ’em a 25 degree, 3 season bag. In this case, I’d recommend going with the REI Nodder. Here’s why:

  • Lightweight and compressible, so it won’t weigh your kiddo down
  • It has an attached stuff sack that doubles as a space adjuster. AWESOME. What this means is that it grows as your kid does. No need to buy a new bag every year!
  • The hood is designed for a kid-friendly fit.

You can learn more about the REI Nodder here.. Or, I’ve written up a full buying guide to kids sleeping bags.

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Best Ultralight Sleeping Bag

Ultralight sleeping bags are designed for overnight backpacking into the wilderness.

marmot plasma sleeping bag

For Glacier National Park, you need a sleeping bag with around a 20 degree temperature rating. This applies for other mountainous parks, such as Yellowstone, Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite and anywhere in the Northeast.

When I originally wrote this article, there was only one ultralight sleeping bag that you could choose from. That was the GoLite Adrenaline. Now, years later, you have close to a dozen options.

Unfortunately, none are as epic as the Adrenaline was. Apparently, GoLite is re-releasing a new model, called the Z-Series, in the spring of 2013. But for now, you’re SOL on the Adrenaline

Update April 30th, 2013: The Z-Series is Available at GoLite.comUnfortunately, it isn’t an ultralight sleeping bag.

Outside of the Adrenaline, I’ve tested out quite a few and my favorite on the market right now is the Marmot Plasma.

At 1 pound, 14 ounces, it’s about a half-pound lighter than average 20 degree sleeping bags.

While that is a few ounces heavier than the Adrenaline used to be, it is still one ultralight bag.

For ounce counting backpackers and through-hikers, being ultralight is HUGE.

What makes this ultralight sleeping bag even better is that it employs a 900 goose down fill (SUPER warm) while simultaneously using a water repellent shell. This means that even if it gets wet, it will not become useless, like other down sleeping bags would.

Learn more about the Marmot Plasma at REI.

nemo nocturne sleeping bag

Another great option, but one that I haven’t gotten my paws on yet, seems to be the Nemo Nocturne. While it beats out the Marmot Plasma on cost ($400 as opposed to $550), there are no online reviews, nobody can get their hands on a test version, and it weighs 2 pounds, 2 ounces (a full 4 ounces heavier than the Plasma).

Even though I can’t vouch for the bag first hand, I love Nemo Tents, and I’m sure their sleeping bags rock, too!

If you’d rather save $150 and don’t mind the extra 4 ounces, I’d go for the Nemo Nocturn sleeping bag.

You can learn more about the Nocturne here.

If you’re looking for more info on ultralight sleeping bags, I’ve written about my 3 favorite here and also written a buying guide.

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Car Camping Sleeping Bag

If you are planning to only camp in the front country and from your car, your demands are different than everyone else.

When you are determining a car camping sleeping bag, you want the best priced sleeping bag that offers you the following benefits:

  • Appropriate temperature rating, which is about +32 — if you are cold, just toss some extra blankest in there
  • Synthetic material – Cheaper than goose fill while also heavier — but who cares about weight when car camping?
  • Bells & Whistles – Car camping is all about comfort, so why not have a bag that provides you with everything you need? For car camping, sleeping bag reviews for the best priced sleeping bag that should meet all your demands is the Kelty Lightyear XP. It is synthetic, mummy designed to maintain heat, has a +20 degree temperature rating so you can use it for 3 seasons and zippers by the feet for added ventilation (bells & whistles). Learn more about the Kelty Lightyear XP

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Best Cheap Sleeping Bag

When I say cheap, I do not mean in design. A cheap sleeping bag is a well-priced sleeping bag that should meet almost all your needs and demands.

For a cheap sleeping bag, all sleeping bag reviews point to the North Face Cat’s Meow.

Costing less than $160, this cheap sleeping bag has a +20 degree temperature rating, is light enough to be used while backpacking, employs a mummy design for heat retention, has a pocket at chest level for your headlamp, and compacts into a stuff sack.

Quite frankly, of all the sleeping bag reviews I’ve done, it does not get better than this. You will not find as cheap of a sleeping bag that provides you with everything you could need for all Fall, Spring and Summer outdoor camping.

Learn more about the North Face Cat’s Meow

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Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bag

A cold weather sleeping bag is defined as a winter sleeping bag. For this reason, it requires a temperature rating of at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

rei expedition sleeping bag

Cold weather sleeping bags are designed to maximize heat retention. All features on a sleeping bag of this nature should revolve around the central theme of maintaining heat.

For a winter or cold weather sleeping bag, there is no question about it.

Disclaimer: I’ve never needed nor used a cold weather sleeping bag. All of my camping and backpacking is only 3 season.

That said, I own over 20k+ in gear. I know how to discern the good stuff from the bad, what to look for, and know what I personally would buy.

And there are only 2 options, in my mind, for 4 season sleeping bags:

Which one is right for you? That’s easy. What kind of mountaineering do you do?

If you need a -40 degree bag, get the Marmot. Otherwise, go for the REI. If you’re not sure, I’d recommend the REI and here’s why:

  • It’s $200 cheaper.
  • REI has a patented Down Fill Calculator that they use to optimize the amount of down per baffle. That gives you the most down per baffle (and most warmth per ounce).
  • It weighs a full pound lighter.

Again, if you’re going to explore Everest, get the Marmot. Otherwise, go for the REI.

I gotta say though, I do miss my old favorite, the Sherpa Adventure +0 Sleeping Bag.

It has a flawless, intelligent design:

  • Zipper Location – Placed in the center of the sleeping bag, allowing you to use your hands without losing heat
  • Utility Pocket – Located near your head and permitting you to access your headlamp in the middle of the night–again, without losing heat
  • Trapezoidal Construction – Eliminates the possibility of cold pockets developing and keeps insulation properly distributed
  • Weight – All this for only 3lbs, 12 ouncesUnfortunately, the Sherpa isn’t made anymore. Instead, you’ll have to opt for the REI Expedition or Marmot CWM.

Learn more about the REI Expedition or the Marmot CWM

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More Sleeping Bag Information

Best Sleeping Bag: Don’t let cold weather or wet nights ruin your vacation — learn how to pick the Best Sleeping Bag for you

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Glacier National Park Travel Guide

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  1. Hi, I’d just like to correct one assumption you have about the 900 fill in the ultra-light bags.
    “However, the 900 fill is also a drawback. While it will definitely keep you warmer than most ultralight bags, it adds a few ounces to the weight.”
    900 fill doesn’t weigh more than say 800. It just requires less down to achieve the same warmth than 800 fill so in a sense a 900 bag would automatically weigh less than a 800 fill bag because you have to put less down in it to get the same temperature rating.

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