Sleep Tight on the Trail: The Most Comfortable Backpacking Sleeping Bags Reviewed

A woman folds and packs a sleeping bag, going on a journey through the forest. The concept of tourism and ecotourism. Equipment for traveling.

Key Points

  • There is usually a trade-off between warmth and packability with sleeping bags.

  • Many companies sell backpacking sleeping bags, so research which one is right for you.

  • A good backpacking sleeping bag must have insulation, comfortable lining, a lightweight profile, waterproof material, a temperature rating suited to the camping site, and durability.

  • Know the weather forecast to ensure the sleeping bag is suited to the climate.

Slipping into a comfortable sleeping bag with a soft and cozy lining after a long day in the woods is darn near the greatest thing ever. Throw in a hammock, a camping pillow, and a cot, and you've got yourself pretty close to heaven on earth.

No exaggeration.

Backpacking is exhausting — especially if you're going solo. You put dozens of miles on your feet, and a solid eight-hour snooze is a must by the end of the day.

That's where the sleeping bag comes in. It's a backpacker's cocoon of warmth, warding off those pesky nocturnal chills and even peskier mosquitos that want a taste of you. It's like a portable hug that says, "No worries, you rest easy. I got your back."

Such assurance is necessary when backpacking and is unattainable if you don't know about the most comfortable sleeping bags on the market.

If that sounds like you, then stay tuned.

Nemo Forte 35

With the Nemo Forte 35 bag, the first noteworthy feature is how it spoons you. The "Classic Spoon" shape contours to your body so it feels like a loving ghost is hugging you.

Packed with unique features like the Therm Gill technology, which allows you to vent body heat, the Nemo Forte 35 bag performs best for back or side sleepers who stay in one position through the night.

It's perfect for mild temperatures, given its 30-degree rating, and the compressibility and light weight make it a sleeping bag that's easy to load up.

For roughly $130, it's an excellent option for backpackers trekking when it's not too cold out.

Nemo Forte 35 Photo source:

Kelty Cosmic 20

The Kelty Cosmic 20 is a budget-friendly gem for thrifty backpackers at $140. It's a steal for a down sleeping bag, but don't expect an earth-shattering, crème de la crème sleeping bag for that price. Still, it provides ample warmth and comfort, ensuring you catch your Zzzs at night.

The Kelty Cosmic 20 bag excels in two departments: affordability and packability. It's a fine choice for penny-pinching backpackers who want an easy-to-store sleeping bag.

It doesn't claim the title of the most luxurious down sleeping bag ever crafted. The 550 power-down fill is comfortable but lacks the fluffiness of most down sleeping bags. Then there's the fact it's only rated for 20 degrees. If you're going winter camping with Kelty, bundle up.

It's wallet-friendly, reasonably warm, and easy to pack. These three traits make the Kelty Cosmic 20 bag a great choice for backpackers.

Kelty Cosmic 20 Photo source:

Big Agnes Lost Dog 15

Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 bag withstands the coldest depths of winter, barring some freakish coming-of-the-next-Ice-Age event.

In short, if it's too cold for the Lost Dog, why the heck are you out there?

There are models suited for 45, 30, 15, and zero degrees. This one is for 15 degrees.

Its synthetic construction — three cheers for human technology — offers a fitted jacket-style hood, no-draft collar, wedge, and zipper baffles to allow some ventilation or roasting in your body heat.

Synthetic material typically doesn't pack as small as a down sleeping bag. The Big Agnes is no exception. The impressive warmth of this bag comes at the cost of packability. As The Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want."

Instead of going in your backpack, the Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 most likely belongs strapped to your backpack. That's not a bad trade-off for a $200 sleeping bag that provides such warmth.

Big Agnes Lost Dog 15Photo source:

Therm-a-Rest Questar 20

The Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 bag usually costs around $380. That's certainly a big ol' chunk-a-change, but it buys you a top-notch, three-season sleeping bag designed for the coldest spring, summer, fall, and some winter nights.

It's ideal for the rabid backpacker out to conquer the great outdoors. The Questar 20 features the 650-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down.

Don't let the name scare you. Like the dread disease, it only means the down is "water-hating." This water-resistant material absorbs 90 percent less water and dries three times fast than similar products.

If you're caught in a rainstorm, this is a godsend. Down sleeping bags get soaked if exposed to too much water, which is sure to dampen your camping experiences.

Not into dad jokes? Okay, fine, moving on.

The Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 bag's "Additional Room for Multiple Positions" fit caters to all sleepers: back, side, stomach, and those "around the clock" types.

All sleepers of all shapes, sizes, and preferred positions find comfort and warmth in this sleeping bag. Even tall users enjoy a cozy night of sleep without feeling like they're in a straight jacket.

It's a high-quality, down sleeping bag that wraps you in warmth. The compression sack makes it easy to put in your backpack.

Price is the only downside (sorry for the pun), but it's worth every dollar if you want a sleeping bag with a soft and cozy lining.

Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 Photo source:

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 bag isn't a good choice for camping outside in cold weather. It's great for warm summer nights or car camping where heat is just a turn of the key away.

If eco-friendliness is your mission, this sleeping bag is your soulmate! Marmot uses 96 percent recycled materials in its Trestles Elite Eco 20 bag, allowing you to rest easy knowing you're doing your part to protect the environment while enjoying nature's wonders on your camping trip.

Although the sleeping bag offers efficient insulation, it may not be the most practical option for extended outdoor trips or backpacking in cold weather due to its bulkiness and weight. It does not easily compress into a small package, making it inconvenient to carry in a backpack.

For those taking quick trips during the warmer months and wanting an affordable, environmentally conscious option, the Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 bag is a true winner. For only $180, this sleeping bag is the best way to sleep comfortably without leaving a carbon footprint.

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Photo source:

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Blaze 15

If you need a sleeping bag that keeps you warm in less-than-ideal weather, the Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Blaze 15 is an excellent choice. This bag provides exceptional warmth, even in wet and windy conditions, so you stay comfortable and cozy no matter what the elements throw your way.

With its high-quality materials and thoughtful design, the Lamina Z Blaze 15 is a reliable and durable addition to any camping or outdoor adventure.

Warmth is this product's main selling point. A night tucked in a Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Blaze 15 bag is a night where you stay warm. Such warmth means extra bulkiness and weight.

It's not the most practical option for long-distance backpackers but excels for short weekend trips.

Its superb waterproof qualities keep you dry as well as warm. For $120, it's an affordable, comfortable sleeping bag that gets the job done.

The buck doesn't stop there. Two more sleeping bags deserve consideration.

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Blaze 15 Photo source:

Two More Options

The North Face Cat's Meow sleeping bag is a reliable option for outdoor enthusiasts with its 20-degree temperature rating. Its synthetic insulation provides cozy warmth in any condition. It's highly compressible and thus easy to carry.

The REI Co-Op Magma 15 sleeping bag is a top choice for cold weather. It's stuffed with 850-fill power goose-down insulation, just about the warmest material on the planet. Its temperature rating is 15 degrees.

If you plan on camping in even colder weather, you might want to reexamine your definition of "fun."

The Better Company

As fantasy writer David Eddings says, "The stars were better company anyway. They were very beautiful, and they almost never snored."

Stars are beautiful, and yes, they're quiet. They're also frequently consumed by rain clouds, reminding you of the fleeting nature of beauty — and of the beauty of nature — and how big a mistake it is not to have an insulated, waterproof sleeping bag.

Backpacking is amazing, but not without a sleeping bag to keep you warm at night. Pair your bag with a camping mat for maximum comfort.

Do yourself a favor and bring a superb sleeping bag next time you go backpacking. It's the better company to keep you warm through those chilly nights.

Check out MyOutdoorGear for fascinating insight on how to survive and thrive in nature. There are tips, tricks, and tantalizing insights on all sorts of things, like how to read a topographic map.

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