Best Sleeping Bags for Women of 2021
|Price||$439.00 at Feathered Friends||$549 List||$570 List|
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|$519.99 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||High-quality down, warm, lightweight||High-quality down, warm and lofty, light, a top tier product||Lightweight, warm, comfortable, versatile||Lightweight, high-quality materials, comfortable||Lightweight, compressible, comfortable|
|Cons||Sizing not for everyone, fabric is a bit noisy||Expensive||High price tag||Expensive, included compression sack is heavy||Expensive, not particularly warm|
|Bottom Line||This high-end bag will keep you warm and comfortable from Spring to Fall in all conditions||A high-tech, high-quality backpacking sleeping bag with more roomy dimensions than most||This versatile, lightweight bag will keep you warm and comfortable on your extended backcountry forays||This is a top of the line, lightweight unisex sleeping bag that comes in a size that fits women for anyone who can afford it||This lightweight sleeping bag is a great choice for alpine climbing or fast and light adventures|
|Rating Categories||Feathered Friends E...||Sea to Summit Flame 15||Western Mountaineer...||Mountain Hardwear P...||Rab Neutrino 400 -...|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||Feathered Friends E...||Sea to Summit Flame 15||Western Mountaineer...||Mountain Hardwear P...||Rab Neutrino 400 -...|
|ISO/EN Comfort Rating (F)||20 F (not EN rated)||15 F||20 F (not EN rated)||23 F||21 F|
|Fill Type||Goose down||Goose down||850-fill down||Goose down||Goose down|
|Measured Weight (in lbs)||1.7 lb||2.0 lb||1.9 lb||2.0 lb||1.7 lb|
|Total Weight (oz)||27.5 oz||31.2 oz||29.6 oz||32 oz||27.2 oz|
|Women specific features||Extra fill in footbox and chest||Women's specific fit - more insulation in key areas||This bag comes in a "Short" length, which is a standard women's size||This bag comes in a "Short" length, which is a standard women's size||Women's specific fit|
|Fill Weight (oz)||17.3 oz (medium)||22.9 oz||17 oz||20 oz||14.1oz|
|Material||Pertex Endurance UL||Ultralight 10D Nylon Shell||Nylon||10D nylon ripstop||Pertex Quantum|
|Sleeping Pad Sleeve||No||No||No||No||No|
|Zipper Length||62 in||56 in||65 in||59 in||62 in|
|Shoulder Girth||54 in||60 in||63 in||58 in||60 in|
|Hip Girth||56 in||58 in||56 in||52 in||56 in|
|Foot Girth||38 in||40 in||39 in||44 in||38 in|
|Stuff Sack included?||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Compression stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Compression sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included|
Best Overall Women's Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 - Women's
Winning our top accolades once again, the Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 continues to stand up to tough competition and comes out on top. This high-end bag sets a high bar that other manufactures, large and small have not quite met yet. The Egret has the highest quality, 950+ fill power that means it is much warmer per square inch, needing less down fill, and therefore saving weight. It is one of the lightest bags in this review and also one of the warmest, a winning combination of warmth to weight ratio. The Egret is also very compressible and packs down to a small, portable package. We also love the cheery color options it's available in.
It is difficult to find fault with this bag, there are not many in this simple, functional package. Our only minor complaint is that this bag comes in lengths of 5'3" (size Small) or 5'9" (size Medium). If you are in-between sizes, like our 5'5" tester, the larger bag is a bit too big, and the smaller bag is too small. Other than that small sizing gripe, the Egret beats out other craft companies and mega corporation competitors. It is our favorite bag for long trips into the backcountry and can be stretched across spring to fall seasons in most climates.
Read review: Feathered Friends Egret 20 UL - Women's
A More Spacious Overall Favorite
Sea to Summit Flame 15
The Sea to Summit Flame 15 surprised us in our tests by keeping weight and packed size low, warmth high, and still offering comfortable, spacious upper body dimensions. Among the top-shelf, low weight-to-warmth ratio bags we tested this bag is also very comfortable with enough room to move your arms around. The Flame's generous 23 ounces of high quality 850+ fill down makes this a very fluffy and warm model, lofting up huge. However, its down is very compressible and it packs up small inside its included compression stuff sack, which is handy when space is tight inside a backpack. Everything about this bag feels well-thought-out and designed intentionally, creating a fit and backcountry experience that few can come close to rivaling.
The main downside we discovered about the Flame is the included storage cube (not the compression sack used when backpacking). Our testers found that it stores the bag and its precious down feathers in a much more compressed state than other storage sacks included with products. This can damage the loft over time. Also, the price is prohibitory to some folks. If you're attracted to the specs and can stomach the price, this bag takes warmth and comfort to another level when heading deep into the backcountry.
Read review: Sea to Summit Flame 15
Best Bang for the Buck
Sierra Designs Cloud 800 - Women's
The Cloud 800 is a high-quality product with a clever design in a small and lightweight package. Sierra Designs has been making innovative products that focus on saving weight, and this zipperless bag is the best of the bunch. It couples a low weight and quality design with a surprisingly low price tag, ringing up for less than many lower quality products we've tested. The Cloud has high-quality 800 fill power down with light shell materials and an attached quilt instead of a zipper. All these features are smart weight savings, and the quilt design also adds an element of comfort and flexibility.
The Cloud is not the warmest of the bunch, with less down fill than our top contenders, and its temperature rating is higher than most we've tested. We noticed that sometimes the quilt becomes untucked, letting a draft in if you move around a lot. It is less warm than a traditional mummy bag for this reason. It has no down fill on the backside of the bag and instead utilizes a sleeping pad sleeve to keep you secure on your pad. It's an excellent choice for summer backpacking, and you can stretch its use into the shoulder seasons with a warm sleeping pad and some extra layers. We think the Cloud offers stellar value for a superior product.
Read review: Sierra Designs Cloud 800 - Women's
Best on a Tight Budget
The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
The Cat's Meow once again rises to the top of the fluffy pile and earns its recognition for the strong value it presents. Great for tight budgets, it's also our favorite synthetic bag of the bunch. It outshines all other synthetic models we've ever tested, as well as some of its down-filled sleeping bag competitors, for its warmth, low weight, and compressibility. This bag weighs less than many of the down-filled bags we tested at a scant 2.5 pounds (a pound lighter than some synthetic competitors), is surprisingly compressible, and comes with a decent compression sack. Cleverly, The North Face designed this bag with the vast majority of the insulation on the top of the bag to pile on the warmth. Since most of the insulation you lie on gets compressed and isn't useful, we think this is a great idea. The Cat's Meow is a great choice to keep you warm from spring to fall in cool climates and its synthetic materials will keep you warm even if they get damp.
The Cat's Meow is a bit on the short side. Our 5'5" tester maxed out the bag, and it was a stretch to get the hood on. If you're taller, you may want to consider purchasing the Long size. And while it's impressive for being moderately priced and filled with synthetic insulation, there are further weight and packed size savings to be had if you're willing to spend more. We think this bag is well priced and a great deal. We readily recommend it to ladies just getting into backpacking, as it performs adequately for a bargain price.
Read review: The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
Why You Should Trust Us
This review was crafted by outdoor educator and guide Jessica Haist. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College in Arizona. Originally from Canada, she moved to the US after growing up in Toronto, migrating to the mountains of British Columbia, and now resides in Mammoth Lakes, CA, amidst her beloved Sierra Nevada. She frequently goes backpacking, mountain biking, climbing, and skiing. As an avid and multi-faceted mountain athlete who has spent time in cold environments, Jessica brings to the table a keen eye for the essential features of a women's specific sleeping bag.
We looked at over a hundred bags on the market before purchasing the most compelling models included in this review. To create the tests, we needed to identify the most critical factors that contribute to the performance of a women's sleeping bag. We identified six key performance areas to focus on while testing the bags. Then we spent months taking these bags out and using them in the field. We took them on rugged backpacking trips in various mountain ranges, and car camping trips to the desert, National Parks, and climbing areas.
Analysis and Test Results
Why choose a women's specific bag? It may seem obvious, but physiologically, women are different from men. So when it comes to choosing something as important as a bag that will keep you warm and well-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 humans in general, if you have struggled to find a bag that doesn't have you swimming in extra material, a women's bag may be a good option for you.
Luckily, it turns out that a women's specific bag 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. Women's bags are smaller and have less volume, so they often end up having more fill per square inch.
After many months of testing, we compiled our assessments, compared specifications, and wrote this review. Our testers' experiences with each of these bags while car camping, thru-hiking, and summit attempts provide us with incredible insight into each bag's performance. All scores here are relative among the bags we tested. Below we go through each testing metric and highlight which products stood out and why, and we'll also discuss the value of the different options so you can get a sense of what to look for when purchasing on a budget.
The prices of the women's specific models that we tested ranged almost across a factor of 10. Why such a significant disparity, and what is the difference between them that warrants such a price gap? When it comes to sleeping bags, many of them use various types of down fill. The wholesale price of down varies with the "power" or loft, so a higher-loft down, say 850-fill, will cost the manufacturer more than the same amount of 600-fill. There is also a quality and cost difference associated with the type of down – duck down is typically much cheaper and less lofty (and therefore heavier) than goose down. Costs, of course, get passed on to you as the consumer. Higher-loft down bags are warmer for their weight, more compressible, and typically end up scoring higher in our testing metrics. The Feathered Friends model, which uses 950+ fill power goose down, has a hefty price tag. The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 is a little more reasonable but still very high quality at 800 FP in that department.
If you are looking for a bag that performs well but does not cost as much as the Egret, you will have to sacrifice fill-power, compressibility, or weight, or some combination of these factors. For example, the Cat's Meow costs comparatively little and does well across the metrics, but is heavier, not as warm, and less compressible because of its synthetic materials. Its application for longer or fast and light adventures is more limited than the Feathered Friends, but it will fulfill most backpacking needs and save a lot of cash, too.
Many of the bags in this review, except the Egret and the Western Mountaineering AlpinLite, have been EN tested for their warmth rating. The EN rating can serve as a rule of thumb for deciding which bag you should use for a particular season, and it makes it easier to compare between the bags that have also been EN tested. During our tests, whether or not a bag had an EN rating was not a huge factor in determining its actual warmth. Instead, we compared these bags side-by-side in similar conditions to determine what we thought were the warmest. We found that even some with the same EN rating differed in warmth because of the fit and additional features like neck baffles. Consider a winter down sleeping bag if you are looking for a bag to take winter camping on high-altitude expeditions. Many manufacturers make a women's or smaller-sized version.
Things to consider when evaluating a bag's warmth are the loft, fit, and insulation location. Down bags with a higher fill power and more ounces of down fill will generally be the warmest. For instance, the Sea to Summit Flame 15 (23 ounces of fill) and the REI Magma 15 (23.5 ounces of fill) are some of the warmest of the bunch. The Egret outshines them all with 950+ fill power and 17.4 ounces of super lofty down. This higher fill power requires less total down to create the same warmth, resulting 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 means your body will need to work harder to warm up the bag's dead air space. The Kelty Cosmic and the Marmot Angel Fire bags fit most of our testers very well. They had enough wiggle room to wear a few extra layers when it got below freezing but no spare room for cold air. The fit is one of the most compelling arguments we can make to purchase a women's specific bag. We have noticed that more women's products are entering the market that have a wide or adjustable fit, like the Nemo Forte 20. If you're not a larger person these bags will be colder because there will be more empty internal space your body heat will need to warm up. The bags that included draft collars like the Flame, AlpinLite, and the Mountain Equipment Glacier 700 offer a little extra 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 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 our cold feet. The Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's and the Egret have more insulation than their unisex counterparts. The Angel Fire and The North Face Cat's Meow specifically have extra insulation in the hood and foot box areas. The Cat's Meow has most of its insulation on the top of the bag where it won't be compressed underneath you, and the Egret and AlpinLite both have continuous baffles that allow you to move all the down on top of you for extra cold nights (or beneath you on warm nights).
Related: Best Sleeping Pad For Women of 2021
On average, women have less brute strength and less lung capacity than men, so all advantages are welcome when it comes to reducing pack weight on a long overnight trek. No backpacker wants to add extra weight to their pack; we all want to have a bag with the greatest weight-to-warmth ratio and no extra material. Of course, if you are looking for a car-camping bag, this metric shouldn't be a deciding factor for you. The weight of a bag is a sum of its fill, shell materials, and added features.
Over the past few years, we've noticed that many manufacturers are labeling their products as "Ultralight." We think this word is overused, and none of the bags in this review are what we consider to be truly ultralight. Synthetic insulation is typically denser, as is down insulation with a lower fill power, like the 550 fill duck down found in the Kelty Cosmic, since you need a higher amount to achieve the same warmth. Having a lightweight shell material will lighten up your bag but generally will be much less durable. Bags with sleeping pad sleeves tend to be heavier, even without insulation in the back of the bag, because this material is usually heavier than insulation. The more features your bag has, such as double zippers and pockets, the heavier your bag will be, so it's helpful to decide which amenities are important to you before purchasing a bag.
The Hyperion blows the competition out of the water in this category, weighing just 19 ounces. However, it is also the least warm bag in our review, indicating a pretty clear trade-off. The Neutrino, Egret, and Sierra Designs Cloud 800 come in around 8 ounces heavier than the Hyperion at 27.2 oz, 27.5 oz, and 27.4 oz, respectively, but they are all much warmer. These bags' low weights result from their high down fill power (950/800), lightweight shell materials, and streamlined features. The Cloud doesn't even have a zipper, and the Hyperion only has a half zip, both of which cuts weight. If you're not planning on carrying your bag on your person, consider getting something less expensive, heavier, and with more comfort features. If this option sounds like something you're after, the Nemo Forte, with its synthetic fill and roomy cut, is a good choice. Another way to lighten and tighten your load is to find yourself a lightweight compression sack, as the included stuff sacks can be heavy and bulky. The compression stuff sack included with the Sea to Summit Flame is an exception and is excellent.
When you're working hard during the day, you want to get a good night's sleep. The most important factors affecting comfort in these bags are the size, shape, and liner materials.
Lately, it seems like manufacturers have been going to great lengths to figure out how to make the traditional mummy design more comfortable. The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 has a "Performance Plus" mummy shape that is roomier than a traditional one. We have found that comfort is a direct correlation between shape and size through many nights evaluating bags. Often, the roomier the model is, the more comfortable it feels. Unfortunately, these bags are less warm than other tight-fitting bags, as body heat is wasted filling up the "dead" space in the roomier bags. Bucking this trend, though, is the Sea to Summit Flame 15. Its shoulder and hip dimensions are noticeably more spacious than its lightweight competition, but it remains very warm. Our testers found this to be a huge reason to consider this bag, as few models offer the warmth, weight, and comfort that this bag can.
Many bags have added features for comfort like the Cloud's innovative foot vent that you can slide your feet through without letting in cold air in and the Big Agnes Torchlight 20 that has expansion panels you can zip open or closed to tailor the size of the bag to you. Shell and liner materials are also essential factors for comfort. We prefer the soft, silky material of the Rab Neutrino next to our skin.
When it comes to your sleeping bag, size does matter. If you are carrying it on your back for multiple days, you want it to become as compressed as possible, so your pack can remain small for better balance and maneuverability in tricky terrain.
It's a general rule that, per ounce of insulation fill, down fill is much more compressible than synthetic insulation. The down-filled Hyperion, by far, has the smallest packed size followed by the Rab Neutrino. Both of these bags have only 15 ounces or less of down fill, though, which means there is less volume to compress and so are less warm than most of the competition. Impressively, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom and Sea to Summit Flame have 20 ounces or more of 850 down fill that compresses down to a similar size as the Neutrino, while also providing more loft and warmth.
The synthetic Nemo Forte is the bulkiest model we tested. The other synthetic bag we tested, The North Face Cat's Meow, wasn't as bulky as we had expected for the warmth it provides, though it still stands out as larger in packed size than most down bags we tested. The packed size of these two bags is improved by the inclusion of a compression sack, which helps to cinch down the packed size of each model. All of the products in this review come with a stuff sack, but most are not compression sacks. We prefer compression sacks for squeezing the bags into the smallest bundles possible. Other bags to include compression sacks are the Sea to Summit Flame, Mountain Hardwear Phantom, and Mountain Hardwear Rook.
Remember that compressing your down bag shortens its lifespan; this is why most manufacturers include a large cotton or mesh storage sack with your purchase. Unfortunately, Kelty does not provide one for the Cosmic Down. The ones that come with the Flame and the Cloud are on the small side, so the down is still slightly compressed and is not ideal. Always store your bag uncompressed.
In this category, we evaluated shell material, zippers, pockets, baffles, drawstrings, sleeping pad sleeves, and any other added features. We also note what features are necessary and useful compared to superfluous features that make the bags heavier and more cumbersome. We like the Mountain Hardwear Phantom's streamlined features because they are designed with weight savings in mind. The bag is soft, made of lightweight fabric, and has high-quality 850 fill with no other frills, making this our favorite simple-featured bag. The AlpinLite and Egret are also very streamlined.
Almost every down bag in this review comes with some type of hydrophobic down. 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 uses DriDown, etc.
The effectiveness of hydrophobic down is difficult to test, and folks trying to do so have done everything from getting in the shower to jumping into frozen lakes to test the effectiveness of a manufacturer's treated down. Some realistic tests are looking promising as to the actual performance of this treated down fill, but skepticism still exists about how beneficial the treatment is. One consideration is that this coating can add around an ounce to your bag's weight, and potentially harmful chemicals may be off-gassing while you sleep. We asked Feathered Friends about why they don't treat their down feathers, and here's what they had to say:
"We made a conscious decision not to treat our down with a water repellent coating. Although waterproof down has recently become popular in the outdoor industry, we find that it compromises the down's effectiveness and longevity while providing little real-world benefit. We also have concerns about the widespread and excessive use of PFCs, which have a demonstrable negative impact on the environment. Because we take such pains to source high quality down and take such pride in the quality of our products, we don't have any plans to use down treatments, and, as far as I know, neither do Western Mountaineering, Arc'teryx, or other purveyors of high-quality down products. We do, however, use a DWR on all of our fabrics, which should be effective in keeping out moisture from condensation, ice, or light precipitation."
A trend we've noticed recently is burly "anti-snag" zippers and extreme measures taken for zippers not to get caught on the bags' shell material. Overall we prefer these zipper pulls to stiff material along the zipper to prevent snagging.
With so many women's products on the market these days, we hope we've cleared up the industry hype and helped you determine what will work for your needs. We've shared which ones are our favorite for carrying around and sleeping in, and hope you feel confident selecting the right one for your adventures. Good luck and happy trails.
— Jessica Haist