What is the best sleeping bag for women who want to hit the trails? Out of the hundreds of options out there, we bought and tested 13 of the most popular models on the market to find out. From sleeping on the beach to backpacking in the high alpine, we evaluated three-season weight mummy or semi-mummy style bags meant to keep you warm in a variety of situations. We tested these bags over several years, dragging them around on backpacking and car camping trips. The most important features we evaluated were weight, warmth, and comfort. We also checked out each bag's features and packed size to determine which is the best to keep you warm and cozy on any trip.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
|Displaying 1 - 5 of 13||≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫|
Analysis and Award Winners
This summer and fall, our expert testers put the pedal to the metal, granting new awards to the NEMO Rave 15 and Slumberjack Boundary 20, and adding in the Marmot Trestles 15. The Rave took home the Top Pick for Side Sleepers, while the Slumberjack Boundary, with it's $60 list price, won our Best Buy on a Tight Budget. In addition, the Top Pick-winning Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed has received a makeover, which you can read about below. No matter what sort of adventure you go on, our selection has you covered.
Best Overall Women's Sleeping Bag
Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's
We were tickled pink over the Rab Neutrino 400. Weighing in at only 28 oz, it is the highest quality bag with the most significant warmth-to-weight ratio in this review. It is 7 ounces lighter than the closest competitor, the REI Joule 21. We stayed warm and comfortable in this bag from spring to fall, in alpine and desert conditions. It also has the smallest packed size and comes with a useful stuff sack, making this the bag we would choose to carry around the backcountry for multi-day trips. To keep it light and nimble, the Neutrino has a very streamlined design, but also comes with a comfy hood system and small interior stash pocket for all your little gadgets. This award-winner is now hand filled with ethically harvested 800 fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down as of the current version, which allows the bag to retain its loft longer in damp conditions. Select a high R-value sleeping pad to pair this bag, and you have a versatile bag that can be used on cool spring and fall trips as well.
Lightweight & packs down small
Comfortable & warm
Ethically harvested, high-fill power down
Drawcords a bit awkward
Read review: Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's
Top Pick for Ultimate Comfort
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 - Women's
Comfortable and versatile
Great design for stomach sleepers
Heavy and bulky for a down bag
The Backcountry Bed has been revamped! It now uses 700 fill power down, and the shape and size of the bag have been tweaked a bit. The price has also dropped significantly. See the individual review for more info.Sierra Designs has broken the traditional mummy bag mold with its innovative Backcountry Bed design. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed has an integrated half quilt built into this zipper-less bag that easily tucks into the opening for added warmth. You can also pull the quilt entirely out for easy venting and stomach sleeping. We think that this quilt design makes this bag versatile and cozy; it is the closest thing to sleeping in a bed with a comforter that you can get in a mummy style bag and wins our Top Pick for being the most comfortable bag in this review. The quilt has built-in hand/arm pockets that you can tuck your hands into if sleeping with them outside of the bag, or you can use them to pull the corners into the opening for a close, warm fit. This bag is stuffed to the gills with over 22 ounces of PFC-free 700 fill DriDown and feels lofty and puffy; it also has soft lightweight shell materials. This bag could be a good investment if you feel claustrophobic in a traditional mummy bag and are looking for something you can sleep on your stomach in.
Read review: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 - Women's
Top Pick for Side Sleepers
NEMO Rave 15
Side sleepers everywhere rejoice! If you're not comfortable in a mummy style bag, the NEMO Rave 15 may have what it takes to help you snooze the night away, earning those optimal ZZZZZZs. Far from a traditionally-styled mummy bag, this award-winner is chock full of features and earns high marks in the comfort and warmth metrics. If you toss and turn and have the dough to spend, this cozy bag is an excellent option.
Exceptionally warm and comfortable
Costs a pretty penny and is heavier than others in the fleet
Read review: NEMO Rave 15
Best Bang for the Buck
Kelty Cosmic Down 20 - Women's
The 2016 Kelty Cosmic Down has pulled ahead of its competitors to win our Best Buy Award. Kelty has given the Cosmic Down a much-needed facelift with new colors, and more importantly, higher quality 600 fill power down. Kelty has also lowered the retail price to $160. Higher quality plus lower price equals a Best Buy! This contender is an excellent choice for someone who is looking to upgrade from an old, heavy synthetic bag, or to get into a mummy style backpacking bag. We would recommend the Cosmic for any kind of camping from in the backyard to short backpacking trips, as it is a warm, comfortable choice that will keep you functioning outdoors from late Spring to Early fall, at an unbeatable price.
Affordable for a down bag
Improved 600 fill power
Different diameters on hood and chin drawcords so you can tell them apart in the dark
Less compressible and heavier than competition
Read review: Kelty Cosmic Down - Women's
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
Slumberjack Boundary 20 - Women's
With a list price of $60, the Slumberjack Boundary 20 is in a class of its own. Though it wasn't a high scorer in the review, the price tag can't be beaten, and you'd be hard-pressed to find something that is of comparable weight. Weighing in at 2 pounds 8.4 ounces, it isn't the lightest bag in our review, but it certainly isn't the heaviest. While some may say this award winner is bare bones, we think it's more than adequate for any type of summer adventure, like car camping, or festivals.
Made of durable materials
Middle of the fleet weight
Read review: Slumberjack Boundary 20 - Women's
Analysis and Test Results
Why choose a women's specific bag? It may seem obvious, but physiologically, women are not the same as men. So when it comes to choosing something as important as a bag that will help you stay warm and get rested for a big day in the mountains, these differences should be taken seriously. Everyone wants to find the most suitable product for themselves; for most women, that will most likely mean choosing a women's specific bag. Shorter guys, if you can get over sleeping in a feminine colored bag like fuschia or purple, a women's specific bag may be a good option for you too!
It turns out that a women's specific bag really can be more bang for your buck. Almost all of the bags we tested in this review have at least the same amount of insulation, if not more, than the corresponding men's models, but the volume of the bags are smaller, so they have more fill per square inch. For more about the differences and benefits of a women's bag, check out our Buying Advice Article: How to Choose a Women's Sleeping Bag.
These women-specific bags were tested over multiple summers and were dragged, stuffed, zipped, unzipped, and slept in on all kinds of adventures, from climbing Mount Whitney and backpacking in the High Sierra, to car camping and desert rock climbing. We discovered some new lightweight technology for backpacking, some good car camping and sleepover caliber bags, and great all-around bags for beginner backpackers. We rated each model on its warmth, weight, packed size, features, and versatility, with a significant focus on warmth, weight, and the women-specific features, because those details are what differentiate these bags from unisex bags.
Many of the bags in this review, except the Slumberjack Boundary, Big Agnes Roxy Ann, NEMO Celesta 25, and the NEMO Rave 15 have been EN tested for their warmth rating. The EN rating is a good rule of thumb for deciding which bag you should use for a particular season. For example, you wouldn't use a 32˚F bag when you are winter camping in Alaska, but these guidelines aren't extremely accurate. So whether or not the bag was EN rated was not a huge factor in determining its actual warmth in our test. Instead, we compared these bags side-by-side in similar conditions to determine what we thought were the warmest of these summer weight bags. If you are looking for a bag to take winter camping on high altitude expeditions, check out our Best Winter Down Bag Review for more information. These bags are all unisex, but many of the manufacturers make a women's version or smaller sizes.
Things to consider when evaluating the warmth of a bag are the loft and fit, along with where the insulation is located. Down bags with a higher fill power like the Rab Neutrino 400, which uses 800 fill goose down, are going to be the warmest, and the REI Joule 21 and Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed are close behind with 700 fill. This higher fill power requires less total down to create the same warmth that results in a loftier and lighter weight bag.
A proper fit is essential when shopping for a bag. If your bag is too large, it can be drafty, which equals more dead air space that your body will need to work to warm up. The Nemo Celesta and the NEMO Rave are also both very roomy and have a unique "spoon" shape to accommodate side sleepers, and therefore have a lot of dead space to heat up. The Kelty Cosmic Down and the Marmot Angel Fire bags fit just right, with enough wiggle room to wear a few extra layers when it gets below freezing, but no spare room for cold air. Fit is indeed one of the most compelling arguments we can make to purchase a women's specific bag. We like the Cat's Meow's cozy baffles that stop air from getting in along the zipper and around the neck. The bags that included draft collars like the Neutrino and the Angel Fire had a little extra element of warmth. These draft collars blocked the cold drafts from entering and retained our body heat inside the sleeping bags.
Many manufacturers are being more strategic about where they are placing their insulation — especially for women's specific bags. As women are known to sleep colder, manufacturers are putting extra insulation into their women's models, and often they put it into the foot box for ladies' icicle feet. The Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's and the REI Joule 21 both have more insulation than their unisex counterparts. The Marmot Trestles 15 - Women's and The North Face Cat's Meow both have extra insulation in the hood and foot box areas specifically. We think the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is one of the warmest models in this review.
As the EN rating system gains popularity and becomes the industry standard, we've noticed a trend in manufacturers naming their bags deceivingly with numbers that don't reflect what the EN tests indicate. For instance, the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is EN rated to 25 degrees and the Marmot Trestles 15 is EN rated to 16.7F. While this is a small deception, it is something to look out for while shopping for your new bag.
When planning your backpacking kit, one thing to consider is choosing a sleeping pad that will add warmth, especially if your bag does not have insulation on the back. The higher the "R-Value", the more the pad will insulate you from the ground. Check out our Best Sleeping Pad for Women Review for more information on how to choose the right one. We love our Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's and the super warm Therm-a-rest ProLite Plus - Women's pads.
Women are typically smaller than men. Women also have on average 50% less brute strength and 30% less lung capacity than men, so all advantages are welcome when it comes to reducing pack weight on a long overnight trek. Why would we want a heavy, bulky bag to haul around? No backpacker wants to add extra weight to her pack; we all want to have a bag that will have the greatest weight-to-warmth ratio. The weight of a bag is a sum of its fill, shell materials, and features.
Synthetic insulation is typically heavier, as is down insulation with a lower fill power, like the 600 fill duck down found in the Kelty Cosmic Down. Having a lighter weight shell material will obviously lighten up your bag — but these light materials are often much less durable than a heavier shell material. We have discovered that bags with sleeping pad sleeves, like the Roxy Ann, tend to be heavier, even without insulation on the back because this material is usually heavier in general. The more features your bag has, such as zippers and pockets, the heavier your bag will be - so you need to decide if you want that extra stash pocket.
The Rab Neutrino is by far the lightest bag in this review, at 28 oz, which is a result of its high down fill power (800), its lightweight shell material, and simple list of features. If you're not planning on carrying your bag around much (except in your car) consider getting something that is heavier, less expensive, and has a few more comfort features. If this sounds like something you're after, the Marmot Trestles 15 - Women's, with its synthetic fill and two zippers for easy opening, is an exceptional choice. The NEMO Celesta 25, with its unique spoon shape and extra features is also a wise choice; do note that these are two of the heaviest bags in this review. Another way to lighten your load is to find yourself a lightweight compression sack as most of the stuff sacks that come with your bag are heavy and bulky, although the Neutrino's is excellent.
Remember, every ounce you can shave off your pack saves you some pain — ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain!
When you're working hard during the day, you want to sleep well at night. The most important factors affecting comfort in these bags are the size, shape, and shell materials.
We've noticed that more recently, manufacturers have been going to great lengths to figure out how to make the traditional mummy bag more comfortable. Through many nights evaluating bags, we have found that comfort is a direct correlation with the shape and size of the bag. The more comfortable contenders are often, the roomier ones — which means they're not necessarily as warm since they leave room for extra cold air. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed has a genuinely innovative bed-style design and is the most comfortable bag we tested. It really does feel like you're sleeping in a bed with a comforter, although it still has the mummy shape around the legs which still feels restrictive. The Backcountry bed also has an innovative foot vent that you can just stick your feet through whenever you want, but doesn't allow cold air in. The Marmot Trestles is quite comfortable, with lots of room to move around in the bag and two zippers that allow for your arms to come out of the bag with ease; it also has a similar quilt effect, much like the Backcountry Bed.
The latest trend we've seen in backpacking bags is to ditch the mummy style altogether to accommodate a more comfortable sleep. NEMO has created a line of "Spoon" shaped sleeping bags that allow you to bend your knees or sleep on your side without moving the bag with you. The Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15 has added room for sleepers by making the bag a rounded rectangular shape in which the sleeper can move around, bend their legs, and sleep on their sides. We think this isn't the best move for a backpacking bag, as the enlarged shapes add weight, and the bag becomes less warm because there is more space inside the bag for the sleeper to heat up. But, if you are too claustrophobic to sleep in a standard mummy bag, this could be a solution for you.
The REI Joule 21 is one of the warmest bags we tested, along with the Backcountry Bed. It has adequate room for our shoulders, and the new model, released in 2017, has adjusted the leg room space to provide this same comfort for your lower half. The bag is also light and warm, two other very important features.
Shell and liner materials are also an essential factor for comfort. We prefer the soft, silky material of the NEMO Rave and the Rab Neutrino next to our skin, while the Slumberjack Boundary and the Marmot Trestles has the roughest and unappealing material. This year, Kelty has updated the Cosmic Down's shell and liner materials, so they are softer and more comfortable against the skin.
When it comes to your sleeping bag, size does matter. If you are carrying your bag on your back for multiple days, you want it to become as small as possible, so your pack can remain as small as possible too.
Down fill is much more compressible than synthetic insulation, and thus the down-filled Rab Neutrino has the smallest packed size, while the synthetic Marmot Trestles and the Mountain Hardwear Laminina Z Flame have the largest. All of the products in this review come with some stuff sack, but most are not all compression sacks except for the Cat's Meow, the Laminina and the Trestles.
When you get a new bag, consider purchasing a separate stuff sack that is waterproof and can compress your bag to the smallest size possible. Check out our Best Stuff Sacks article to find one that works with your bag.
Another packing strategy is packing your bag in your pack without a stuff sack, instead of stuffing it into your bag around other items that are less compressible. This way, the bag fills all the empty spaces created and becomes the "mortar" to all the "brick" items in your bag. Remember that compressing your down bag shortens its lifespan; this is why most manufacturers include a substantial cotton or mesh storage sack with your purchase. Unfortunately, Kelty does not provide one for the Cosmic Down and the one that comes with the Mountain Hardwear Heratio is on the small side, so the down is still being slightly compressed. Always store your bag uncompressed. For more information on bag care, read over our Buying Advice article.
In this category, we evaluated shell material, zippers, pockets, baffles, drawstrings, sleeping pad sleeves, and any other added features these bags may have. We also noted what features were necessary and useful in comparison to features that were unnecessary and made the bags heavier and more cumbersome. We like the Neutrino 400's streamlined features because they are all designed with weight savings in mind. Its soft lightweight fabric, small stow pocket, and high quality 800 fill down with no other bells and whistles makes this our favorite simple-featured bag.
We also like bags with two different types of drawcords for the baffles around the chin and forehead, like on the Slumberjack Boundary 20 - Women's and Cat's Meow. This makes it possible to differentiate between them in the dark and make adjustments accordingly. The Celesta and Rave have a pillow sleeve that you can stuff your extra clothing in to create a simple pillow. We think this is a clever idea but seems a little unnecessary since we usually have a plethora of stuff sacks at our disposal (when camping) to make our pillow out of. In the case that you're lacking additional materials, this pillow pocket will have your back. We think that the Marmot Trestles' extra zipper and large stow pocket are unnecessary and make the bag heavier, as does the Roxy Ann's large, bulky sleeping pad sleeve. We like it when the bags come with both large storage bags and compression sacks. It is imperative that you store your bag fully lofted, not compressed, to maintain its integrity over time.
Every down bag in this review now comes with some type of hydrophobic down, so it seems that manufacturers are on a level playing field in this department. Each company has a proprietary hydrophobic down; Mountain Hardwear has Q Shield, Rab uses Nikwax, Sierra Designs, DriDown, and so on.
The effectiveness of hydrophobic down is a difficult thing to test, and people online have done everything from getting in the shower to jumping into frozen lakes to try and test the effectiveness of a manufacturer's treated down. Things are looking good online as to the actual performance of this treated down, but skepticism still exists as to how beneficial the treatment is. One consideration is that this coating can add around an ounce to your bag, along with the potentially harmful chemicals that may be off-gassing on you when you sleep.
A trend we've noticed for 2017 is overly burly zippers and extreme measures taken for zippers not to get caught on material. We appreciate it when a zipper doesn't get stuck every time we want to get in and out of our bag, but some of the measures companies have taken seem like overkill. The Angel Fire's "zipper garage" is enormous and probably weighs an ounce itself, but we will say that it never catches on anything. We think the Kelty Cosmic Down has found a decent balance of lining the zipper with materials that won't catch as easily but did not overdo it. We think that having a lightweight bag is more important than these added measures to make sure the zipper doesn't catch the material and we entreat the manufacturers to keep that in mind. We'd rather be a little more careful unzipping!
Lastly, a subtle but nice feature is having a bag that has a lighter colored liner material. It's nice to have a material that contrasts the items (instead of camouflaging) that have been lost in the depths of your bag, such as that rogue sock that you've been searching for. The Rab Neutrino has a great, light-colored material that also doesn't show too much dirt. The Laminia Z Flame has a bright yellow liner material that we thought was too light and showed dirt and stains very easily. We also like the Cat's Meow's light blue liner color.
A Note on Versatility
Versatility in itself is not a rating metric, but more a holistic approach to evaluating these bags; it's also an excellent way to assess if you're getting a good bang for your buck. All of the bags in this test are made for summer use and are women's specific; this, in and of itself, limits how versatile these models can be. We evaluated these bags for versatility based on their warmth (to see if they could be used over more than one season) and how many different situations they could be used in. The more massive synthetic bags like the Trestles and Boundary are better choices for car camping and are less versatile.
The Neutrino 400 and the Joule 21 are the warmest bags in this review, and when paired with a high R-Value sleeping pad, could be stretched to 3-season use, therefore making them some of the most versatile. The Cat's Meow is one of the lightest of the synthetic bags and is a decent choice to bring on a backpacking trip if there is the possibility of extended wet conditions. Other things to consider for versatility are if the bag has hydrophobic treated down — this makes the down insulation more resilient in damp conditions. Some of the bags have very cheap or different diameter zippers and cannot be mated with another bag, another important consideration to keep in mind. We think the Sierra Designs Women's Backcountry Bed is very versatile because of its unique quilt design that allows you to moderate your temperature easily and enables you to sleep in any position, from side to stomach, easily - however it has no zipper and so can't be mated with another sleeping bag.
We hope we have been able to help you determine what kind of a sleeping bag you're in the market for and aspire to assist you in narrowing down your search for the best. We know these decisions can be tough! If you're still unsure about which contender you might want to purchase, be sure to read over the buying advice to gain more knowledge and insight about the process of choosing a contender.
— Jessica Haist
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.