The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

How We Tested Backpacking Sleeping Bag for Women

By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor
Tuesday October 29, 2019
Testing sleeping bags is hard work!
Testing sleeping bags is hard work!

Over six springs, summers, and falls, we spent countless nights sleeping on the ground outside. We took these bags backpacking on the Sierra High Route and the John Muir trail, to a high camp near Mount Whitney, and on many nights of car camping from Yosemite Valley to the Utah desert. We tested the limits of these bags' warmth, spending cold nights in the alpine where temperatures went below freezing, out in snow and thunderstorms, and spent some very warm nights at Lover's Leap climbing area near Lake Tahoe.

Warmth


Spending many nights at high elevation in the mountains, early spring through late fall, we were able to test each sleeping bag's warmth. We evaluated each bag's fill materials for quality and amount as well as the fit and features like baffles and shape to determine the warmest of the bunch.

This bag was almost too warm for us on summer nights in the alpine!
This bag was almost too warm for us on summer nights in the alpine!

Weight


We weighed all the bags - which one was the lightest? Which was the heaviest? Which had the best warmth to weight ratio that made it worth it to carry around with us?

The NEMO Aya is a great choice for backpacking in the mountains.
The NEMO Aya is a great choice for backpacking in the mountains.

Comfort


Which bag was the softest, cushiest cloud we could sleep in, and which had the roughest materials? Were they too big, too small or just right?

The Marmot Phase is very comfortable with soft liner materials. We enjoy sleeping in this bag.
The Marmot Phase is very comfortable with soft liner materials. We enjoy sleeping in this bag.

Packed Size


What bag had the most compressible materials? Did they come with a compression sack to squeeze them down to the smallest possible package? Size does matter in this metric.

Packed size is important. Models that came with compression sacks pack down smaller.
Packed size is important. Models that came with compression sacks pack down smaller.

Features


Some features just added weight but weren't that useful. Others were essential to the bag's functionality. We used them all and evaluated their worthiness!

The Lamina has a large and fluffy hood with a huge draft collar to keep cold air out.
The Lamina has a large and fluffy hood with a huge draft collar to keep cold air out.

We stuffed, compressed, packed up, and carried all of these bags for several outdoor adventures and then zipped, unzipped, toggled, and of course, slept in these bags to test them to the fullest.

Our Men's and Women's sleeping bag testers out in the field with their products.
Our Men's and Women's sleeping bag testers out in the field with their products.