Winter camping begs for cold weather sleeping bags. Staying warm while sleeping in temperatures below freezing or high altitudes will keep your body safe and refreshed. But with so many sleeping bags on the market, how do you weed through for the best?
We’re here to help! Keep reading to learn the benefits of sleeping bags for winter camping–plus, we reveal our five favorite brands.
What Are Cold Weather Sleeping Bags?
Cold weather sleeping bags keep your body warm in extremely low temperatures. They typically feature a down fill and are built to keep out drafts and water.
Mummy-shaped bags are best for sleeping in temperatures below freezing, as the design provides better insulation than a rectangular-shaped sleeping bag. They have a foot box and hood to ensure even and effective heat distribution across your body. The hood is one of the best parts because much of your body’s heat escapes through your head, so the hood prevents unnecessary heat loss.
The Benefits of Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
The obvious benefit of cold weather sleeping bags is that they keep you very warm, even in freezing or below-freezing temperatures. They can keep your body warm without the risk of hypothermia or frostbite.
If you’re hiking or winter camping, getting a restful night of sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. A sleeping bag rated for the temperatures and elements you’ll be experiencing can keep you warm and safe. It could save your life.
What Temperature Rating Should Cold Weather Sleep Bags Be?
Cold weather sleeping bags should be rated for at least 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit for standard winter camping. But if you’ll be sleeping in high altitudes during the winter or extremely low temperatures, you’ll want to get one rated for down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The key is not to underestimate how cold it might get. Below freezing temperatures can affect your mind and body. If you’re out hiking, the last thing you want is to experience lack of sleep or the inability to get warm.
It’s vital to have proper insulation and the assurance that you’ll stay dry. Down fill is the best option for ultimate insulation. And we recommend looking for outer fabrics that are water-resistant or waterproof.
Sleeping bags are rated with what’s called a down fill rating. This is a measurement of down quality, meaning less is needed to keep you warmer. However, it is not a measurement of quantity, so a high number doesn’t necessarily mean warmer. Down weight numbers tell you how much down is in the bag. The higher down fill rating means you need less, and therefore you can get a bag that is the same warmth but lighter.
Pro Tip: Before you take your furry friends along on your winter camping adventure, make sure to read Do Dogs Get Cold Camping? The answer might surprise you!
5 Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
A simple search online will bring up endless cold-weather sleeping bag options. So, we did the work for you and have identified the five best options on the market. We’ve rated them based on their features, including weighing under five pounds, temperature rating, fill type, and shape.
Let’s check out each in detail.
#1. Nemo Sonic
About: The Nemo Sonic is an 800-fill down sleeping bag with a synthetic outer material. It’s waterproof and breathable, and it has adjustable thermal gills to vent body heat at your core. The hood has an internal draft collar to block out drafts. It also has a stretch construction at the knees for easy movement.
Weight: 3lbs 8oz
Temperature Rating: -20°F
Fill Type: 800-fill down, 100% responsible down standard certified
- Award-winning design allows for temperature regulation in...
- Adjustable Thermo Gills vent body heat at your core without...
- Stretch construction at the knees allows side sleeping
#2. Marmot Col
About: The Marmot Col has goose-down fill and a Pertex® shield fabric that’s both waterproof and breathable. Its cross baffle construction prevents drafts. In addition, it has zipper guards and a storage sack.
Weight: 4lbs 6oz
Temperature Rating: -20°F
Fill Type: Certified 800-fill power goose down
- Das ursprüngliche Design des Schlafsacks - verhindert...
- Der Haubenkordelzug ist leicht verstellbar
- Spezielle Reißverschlüsse schützen den Schlafsack vor...
#3. Western Mountaineering Versalite
About: The Western Mountaineering Versalite has 20oz of down fill. It also has a full down collar. The shoulder girth is 62in, and the foot girth is 39in. Product purchasers love its amazing warmth, lightweight design, and comfort.
Temperature Rating: 10°F
Fill Type: 850-fill down
- 10° F Temperature rating and6IN Loft.
- Full-length #5 YKK Zipper
- Full Down Collar and 20 oz. Down Fill will keep you warm
#4. Mountain Hardwear Phantom Alpine
About: Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom Alpine cold weather sleeping bag is water-repellent, lightweight, and compressible. Its dual-side zippers are glow-in-the-dark, reflective, and anti-snag. In addition, the down-filled face gasket blocks drafts at the hood opening.
Temperature Rating: 15°F
Fill Type: 850-fill goose down
- High-lofting, RDS-certified 850-fill down insulation
- Ultralight and compressible 10D shell and 20D Pertex Y-Fuse...
- Dual side zippers with glow-in-the-dark, reflective zipper pulls
#5. Kelty Cosmic 20
About: The Kelty Cosmic 20 is a three-season sleeping bag. It’s light and compressible. The sleeping bag has anti-snag dual zippers that unzip from the bottom if you want to put your feet out. There’s also a zippered internal pocket for a cell phone or headlamp.
Weight: 2lbs 6oz
Temperature Rating: 20°F
Fill Type: 550-fill down
- TRAPEZOIDS, MAN: Turns out this funky shape is ideal for helping...
- GET DOWN: Light, compressible, warm to boot; what’s not to love...
- ENTRY LEVEL VETERAN: Priced even lower for 2021, the Cosmic is...
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to sleep on the ground, check out these 5 Best Portable Hammock Stands to Bring Camping.
Are Cold Weather Sleeping Bags Worth It?
Cold weather sleeping bags are essential if you’re planning to camp in the winter or at high altitudes. Not only do they keep your body warm so you can get proper rest, but they might also save you from hypothermia or frostbite in serious winter conditions.
As you read the reviews of these bags, you’ll hear the same story: that people wish they’d made the purchase sooner. Turns out, you can put a price on warmth and comfort, and it’s worth way more than your standard all-purpose sleeping bag.
Since the sleeping bags we listed are lightweight, they’re also easy to take backpacking, bikepacking, or store in a small camper.
We’d love to hear about the product you use and all about your experience. And if you’ve used one on our list, drop us a line about how well you like it.
What’s your go-to cold weather sleeping bag? Drop a comment below!
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