Sack Time: 14 Sleeping Bags to Stave off Nature’s Chill

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You’ve never had such a good night’s sleep as the one experienced in the wilderness a few thousand feet above sea level. The oxygen is thinner than you’re used to, it’s always cooler than normal, the air is decidedly cleaner, and you probably had an exciting day of trail riding or trekking through the backroads. You’re beat, you’ve had a great meal under the stars, the campfire has reduced itself to smoldering embers, and you’re ready to hit the sack. But what sack?

There are many to choose from and, hopefully, you’ve picked the sleeping bag that fits not only your style of camping—hiking, hyper-light backpacking, base camping, car camping or maybe just being under the stars next to your rig—but that it’s also one that fits the temperature range you’ll most likely find yourself in.

On the following list, you’ll find a variety of bags for a variety of situations.

 

Slumberjack Big Timber Pro

 

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 20° F

Lengths: One size

Overall weight: 9.1 pounds

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping, travel

Fill: Slumberloft Synthetic Insulation

Fill weight: 4.9 pounds

Compressed volume: 14 x 36 inches

Compression bag: None

Shell Fabric: 450 denier polyester canvas

Liner Fabric: Soft poly-cotton flannel

Features:

  • “Toes-Up” footbox
  • Durable #8 zipper with anti-snag construction
  • Zip two bags together to create double bag

MSRP: $100

 

Slumberjack Sojourn

 

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 20° F

Lengths: Regular, Long

Overall weight: Regular: 4.4 pounds; Long: 4.6 pounds

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Backpacking, hiking, base camping, travel

Fill: 550 Fill power gray duck down

Fill weight: Regular: 2.6 pounds; Long: 2.8 pounds

Compressed volume: 10 x 17 inches

Compression bag: Yes (and mesh storage sack)

Features:

  • “Double-Dri” waterproof panels on the hood and footbox
  • Black-colored “Solar Liner” fabric allows fabric to dry more rapidly
  • 3-inch draft tubes along both zippers
  • “Arms out” functionality

MSRP: $300 (regular); $320 (long)

 

Coleman Big-N-Tall 30

 

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 30° F

Lengths: One size

Season ratings: Summer

Suggested use: Camping, travel

Fill: Coletherm hollow polyester

Fill weight: Unlisted

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: Dura-Tough tarpaulin

Liner Fabric: Cotton

Features:

  • Wrap ‘N’ Roll makes it easy to pack up, store and transport
  • Comfort Cuff design surrounds your face in softness
  • Double-batt, offset quilt construction eliminates potential cold spots
  • Interior tuck pocket to conveniently store small items
  • Machine-washable for easy cleaning

MSRP: $100

 

Coleman Cloud Comfort 40

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 40° F

Lengths: One size

Season ratings: Summer

Suggested use: Camping, travel

Fill: ThermoTech synthetic

Fill weight: Unlisted

Compression bag: No

Liner Fabric: Cotton Fleece

Features:

  • Removable memory-foam bottom provides luxurious comfort and added insulation
  • Roll Control system keeps your bag straight while rolling it up
  • Cozy Cuff design uses ultra-soft fleece around the opening for superior comfort
  • Thermolock draft tube prevents heat loss through the zipper
  • Machine-washable

MSRP: $80

 

Feathered Friends Flicker 30 Ultralight

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 30° F

Lengths: Regular, Long

Overall weight: Regular: 1.4 pounds; Long: 1.5 pounds

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Hiking, backpacking

Fill: 950+ goose down

Fill weight: Regular: 11.6 ounces.; Long: 12 ounces

Compressed volume: 7 x 10 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: Pertex Endurance UL

Liner Fabric: Flite 15 denier ripstop nylon

Features:

  • Continuous baffles let you position the down where you need it
  • Crossover zipper design provides the heat retention of a draft tube
  • Small webbing loops for use as a hammock under quilt
  • Stuff sack and cotton storage bag included

MSRP: $369 (regular); $383 (long)

 

Feathered Friends Puffin Nano 20

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 20° F

Lengths: Regular, Long

Overall weight: 2.8 pounds (regular); 2.9 pounds (long)

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Hiking, backpacking

Fill: 900+ goose down

Fill weight: 1.6 pounds (regular); 1.7 pounds (long)

Compressed volume: 7 x 14 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: Schoeller Nanosphere

Liner Fabric: Pertex 30 denier nylon taffeta

Features:

  • Top-stitch, baffled construction
  • Wrap around separating YKK #8 zipper allows the bag to open flat
  • Contoured hood with draw cord
  • Oversize draft tube prevents loss of heat along the zipper line
  • Stuff sack and cotton storage bag included

MSRP: $439 (regular); $459 (long)

 

Therm-a-Rest Dorado Duo HD

Specifications:

Temp Ratings: Men 35° F / Women 45° F

Lengths: One size

Overall weight: 2.4 pounds

Season ratings: Summer

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping, backpacking

Fill: 650+ Fill Nikwax hydrophobic down

Fill weight: 1.1 pounds

Compressed volume: 9 x 14 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 20 denier ripstop polyester with Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

Liner Fabric: 20 denier polyester Taffeta

Features:

  • Unzip completely flat for use as a two-person quilt
  • Nikwax Hydrophobic Down packs small and dries quickly
  • Bottom straps to attach padding
  • Left-side zipper

MSRP: $290

 

Therm-a-Rest Ventana Duo

Specifications:

Temp Ratings: Men 40° F / Women 40° F

Lengths: One size

Overall weight: 4.4 pounds

Season ratings: Summer

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping, backpacking

Fill: eraLoft hollow microfiber polyester

Fill weight: 2.0 pounds

Compressed volume: 11 x 15 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 20 denier ripstop polyester with Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

Liner Fabric: 20 denier polyester Taffeta

Features:

  • Unzip completely flat for use as a two-person quilt
  • ThermaCapture seams help retain radiant heat
  • eraLoft hollow microfiber polyester retains loft and warmth–even when wet

MSRP: $270

 

Therm-a-Rest Antares HD

Specifications:

Temp Rating: -18° F

Lengths: Regular, Long

Overall weight: 1.9 pounds (regular); 2.1 pounds (long)

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping, backpacking

Fill: 750+ Fill Nikwax hydrophobic down

Fill weight: 15.5 ounces (regular); 1.1 pounds (long)

Compressed volume: 7 x 12 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 20 denier polyester

Liner Fabric: 20 denier polyester

Features:

  • Reflective ThermaCapture lining for added warmth without excess weight or bulk.
  • SynergyLink Connectors integrate your mattress for optimal comfort and efficiency
  • Heat-trapping draft collar and full-length zipper draft tube
  • Snag-free zipper

MSRP: $500 (regular); $530 (long)

 

Sea to Summit Basecamp BcI

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 8° F

Lengths: Regular, Large

Overall weight: 2.3 pounds (regular); 2.6 pounds (long)

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Backpacking, hiking, camping, travel

Fill: Ultra-Dry Down 750+ loft, 90/10 premium grey duck down

Fill weight: 14.0 ounces (regular); 1.0 pound (long)

Compressed volume: Regular: 7 x 16 inches; Large: 8 x 18 inches

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 30 denier nylon taffeta 345T with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish

Liner Fabric: 20 denier soft touch down proof nylon

Features:

  • Rectangular shape
  • Pillow attachment point
  • Two-position sleeping mat attachment point
  • Zip draft tube
  • Two zippers on each side of bag

MSRP: $349 (regular); $379 (long)

 

Kelty, Inc. Cosmic 20

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 19° F

Lengths: Short, Regular, Long

Overall weight: 2.4 pounds (short); 2.6 pounds (regular); 3.2 pounds (long)

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping, backpacking

Fill: 600 fill power DriDown

Fill weight: 1.2 pounds (short); 1.3 pounds (regular); 1.6 pounds (long)

Compressed volume: 8 x 13 inches (short); 8 x 14 inches (regular, long)

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 50 denier down proof polyester ripstop

Liner Fabric: 50 denier polyester taffeta

Features:

  • 60-inch dual-slider, locking zipper
  • Draft collar
  • Quilt through construction
  • Thermal-comfort hood and natural-fit footbox
  • Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design

MSRP: $150 (short); $160 (regular); $170 (long)

 

 

Kelty, Inc. Tru.Comfort 20 

Specifications:

Temp Rating: 20° F

Lengths: Regular, Long

Overall weight: 5.1 pounds (regular); 5.5 pounds (long)

Season ratings: Three season

Suggested use: Base camping, car camping

Fill: ThermaPro Insulation

Fill weight: 3.1 pounds (regular); 3.4 pounds (long)

Compressed volume: 10.5 x 17 inches (Regular); 11 x 17 inches (Long)

Compression bag: Yes

Shell Fabric: 50 denier polyester taffeta

Liner Fabric: 50 denier polyester taffeta

Features:

  • ThermaPro Insulation
  • Built-in Blanket
  • Comfort-Tuck Zipper System
  • Oversized Hood fits standard home pillow
  • Oversized mummy shape

MSRP: $120 (regular); $140 (long)

 

Temperature Ratings Decoded

Sleeping-bag companies outside of Europe assign sleeping-bag temperature ratings based on a variety of factors and different methods. Therefore, they can’t always be equally compared to each other. In Europe, all manufacturers rely on the European Norm (EN) 13537, which is a standard rating system and testing method, developed so consumers can equally compare sleeping-bag temperature ratings. However, it is a little complicated. Essentially, the EN 13537 evaluates each bag, and classifies it via three levels: Comfort, Lower Limit, and Extreme. The “Comfort” rating is for women, who need more insulation to stay warm; the “Lower Limit” is for men, and suggests the lowest temperature at which a man will be comfortable; while the “Extreme” limit denotes the coldest temperatures a person could remain in a sleeping bag without freezing to death.

On the other hand, in the United States, the temperature rating is a number (in degrees) used to describe a sleeping bag that will keep its user warm at a specific outside temperature. If the rating is 30 degrees, it means that most users would remain warm if the outside temperature dropped no lower than 30 degrees. It makes a couple of assumptions, specifically that the user is wearing thermal undergarments and the bag is resting on a pad. Typically, sleeping bags marketed in the U.S. (or manufactured there) can be divided into three categories with their associated temperature ratings: Summer, Three Season and Winter. “Summer” bags can withstand temperatures no lower than 35 degrees; “Three Season” bags are good between 10 and 35 degrees; while a “Winter” bag can keep its user warm at 10 degrees and below. These ratings are by no means set in stone. They may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, which is why the temperature ratings of the sleeping bags we featured here sometimes show several different ratings (EN 13537 and standard). Even then, they are meant to be a suggestion. Only you know what level of cold you can withstand, and how your body reacts to various temperatures.

 

Insulation: Down vs. Synthetic

Like anything, you will discover proponents of both kinds of fill insulation, as there are campers and hikers who will swear by each one.

 

is not made from duck feathers, but instead the fluffy undercoating that resides between the feathers and the skin of the duck (or goose or other waterfowl). It works very well because it creates myriad air pockets that trap air to be warmed by your body. Also, since its job is to keep a water-born animal warm, it is breathable, which allows moisture to easily escape. Very few manmade fibers can match down’s warmth-to-weight ratio and longevity. If properly cared for, down insulation will last a very long time. However, down has its—ahem—downsides. Though it is breathable, it doesn’t do well after it gets wet, as it takes a long time to dry and is difficult to clean. Because lower-quality down can include dust, particles and debris, people can suffer allergic reactions in its presence. As a result, high-quality down can be more expensive than synthetic.
Synthetic insulation has been advancing in quality in the last few years. Essentially, it is polyester threading that is shaped to mimic down insulation, but its various creators struggle between shaping thin and light strands to trap and warm air efficiently, and shaping thick strands that remain puffy and last longer. A plus for synthetic is that it is water resistant, and will still retain warmth even when wet. It is cheaper and easier to maintain and clean, not to mention completely hypoallergenic. Synthetics, however, are heavier and bulkier than down; a similarly rated down sleeping bag will pack smaller and lighter than one with a synthetic fill. Since there are a variety of companies that produce many different kinds of synthetic insulation (Dryloft, Thermoloft, Polarguard and Thermolite, to name a few), research the pros and cons of each one before making a purchase.
    Like everything in the sleeping-bag industry, down insulation is rated according to “fill power,” which is represented by the number of cubic inches one ounce of down will occupy. For example, if a sleeping bag has down with a fill power of 800, that means that one ounce of down takes up a volume of 800 cubic inches. Most outdoor gear and apparel companies use only goose down, which has a minimum fill power of 500 to 550. Goose down fill power can go as high as 800. The higher the fill power, the better the down will insulate, because there is less chance of cold spots forming (spots where the down has shifted away, leaving an uninsulated area). If a label doesn’t specify fill power, it is usually because the down falls in a range below 400 cubic inches or the item contains less than 75-percent down. Down is marketed in a few different grades. For example, a 90-percent goose-down garment will consist of 90-percent down, and the remaining 10 percent will be small pieces of feather that were not removed during manufacture. The higher the percentage of down, the better the warmth-to-weight ratio will be, and the higher the cost.]

     

    Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2016 print issue of Tread Magazine.

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