Cold weather camping requires some gear with special qualities; mainly, warmth. And apart from your clothing, no piece of equipment is as important for winter camping as a good cold weather sleeping bag. A proper sleeping bag will not only let you sleep comfortably in chilly weather, but actually help you remain safe when the temperatures drop below freezing. To help you get started, here 8 of the best cold weather sleeping bags we’ve come across.
Of course, as with winter jacket, there are multitude of options to choose from when selecting a cold-weather sleeping bag, and you’ll find bags made from goose down, synthetic fills, hybrids, Polyquills…you name, they make it a sleeping bag in it, and the Goose Down Purists have been duking it out with the Synthetic fans for quite some time. It can be tough to choose one, but in the end, it should come down to what you’re looking for in terms of weather, how much weight you’re willing to carry, and how much you’re willing to spend; there will be a plethora of options in all of those categories.
Packed with 850-fill goose down and weighing less than 2 lbs, the REI Magma 10) is perfect a combination of weight, warmth, and of course, price. REI knows a thing or two about delivering excellent quality goods, and they’ve done it again, with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, no-snag zipper, and very generous foot and hood space on the Magma 10. It’s not the highest-quality bag we’ve seen, nor is it meant for extreme weather conditions, but for an ultralight, versatile sleeping bag that goes with you on all sorts of winter expeditions, REI delivers.
The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is our choice for a budget buy, affordable enough for beginners, campers, and people who don’t expect a whole lot out their gear. It’s very affordable, and while definitely not meant to handle any extreme temperatures, makes a perfect option for some mild winter camping. It is, however, quite large and bulky; it will take up quite a bit of room in your pack, and weigh you down considerably. For long-distance backpacking, you’ll probably want to look into something lighter and more packable. But for basic camping, the price on the Cosmic can’t be beat.
If you’re looking to take on larger mountains and are ready to invest in something worth it, the North Face Inferno is a solid option that still won’t break the bank – too much. It’s made from 800-fill ProDown and finished with a hydrophobic coating to repel moistures up to 10 times faster than regular down. It’s quite Generously cut for more room, and to wear extra layers, and features a Full draft collar and integrated draft overlap to keep heat trapped in. Overall, it’s super comfy and thick, and super warm. It weighs a bit much (more than 3lbs) and is a bit large to pack, but provides the warmth and quality you need in the mountains.
Ready to spend some big money for serious comfort? The Brooks Range Drift -10 is made with vertical baffles packed with 850 fill down, and is the perfect marriage of comfort, warmth, and heavy-duty weather resistance. It weighs over 3 lbs, but packs warmth far beyond that. Yes, it’s expensive, but you do get what you pay for – and this sleeping bag is light, packable and warm enough to handle just about any situation you could throw at it. Brooks also makes lighter and less expensive options if you can’t afford this model, and don’t need it’s extreme capabilities. It’s also very roomy and spacious.
If you can afford to spend a little bit more than the Kelty Cosmic above, and are looking for something just a little bit warmer and lighter, the Rab Ascent is a good choice. Filled with hydrophobic down and in a compact mummy shape, it’s the warmest of Rab’s Ascent models and rated down to -13 degrees, it’s a very high-quality, warm bag for winter camping. It weighs only 3.8 lbs and is only a little bit more expensive than the Kelty. A good, all-around option for winter camping and backpacking, also without breaking the bank.
Ultralight backpacker? Can’t bothered to be weighed down by anything? The Versalite 10 may just be the bag you’re looking for. It’s not the warmest or toughest bag on our list, but it is the lightest, coming in at less than 2 lbs. It’s filled with 850 down, is ultra-fluffy, and is rated down to 10 degrees. So if space and weight in your pack is more important to you than sheer cold-weather endurance, the Versalite is a fantastic option. There’s a full-length snag-proof zipper, a plush draft collar, draft tube, and extra-large shoulder area in case you need to wear a jacket as the temps drop.
The Bison is the splurge on our list. Coming in at well over $1000 and rated to -40 degrees, it’s meant for extreme mountaineering. The 850 fill down makes it large and fluffy (with 10” of loft!), and it weighs over 4 pounds – but when you’re serious about your high-altitude pursuits, that’s actually quite light afterall. It’s got Double Interlocking Draft Tubes and Gore Windstopper to keep the wind and cold out in even the most extreme conditions. You most likely won’t be purchasing this bad boy for lesser adventures, but if Denali or the White Mountains are calling your name – it’s got your back.
The REI Igneo is meant for wet and chilly (but not freezing) conditions, with a double-protection design that uses both water-repellent down and waterproof/breathable fabric panel to keep water out and you dry and comfortable. It’s only rated to 25 degrees, so you probably won’t be taking on high-altitude peaks in the winter-time, but should suffice for camping and milder backpacking trips. It’s got 700-fill down and weighs only about 1.12 lbs, making it great for ultralight backpacking where warmth is not the only factor. It’s from REI, a trusted name, and is relatively affordable.