If you're on a mission to cut as much weight from your backpacking gear as possible, your sleeping bag is an excellent place to start. We studied over 50 ultralight options and purchased the 12 best for our side-by-side tests. Our expert testers spent hundreds of nights in these bags in remote corners of the globe, from the Rockies to the Himalayas. We used them in various conditions and elevations, and then carried them all on our backs during the day. We evaluated them on their comfort and warmth and picked out some favorites for you below. Whether you are a gearing up for a multi-month thru-hiker or getting into backpacking for the first time, we have some great recommendations for you. We also have a more traditional Backpacking Sleeping Bag review, for those needing warmer options for cooler climates.
The Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags of 2018
Analysis and Award Winners
We're constantly scouring the market checking for new or improved options to add to our review. Most recently we tested Mountain Hardwear's Ghost Whisperer 20, the heavier but far warmer version of the sleeping bag that completes their top end line of lightweight equipment. Marmot recently overhauled their performance line, and we tried out the Phase 30, which after testing took home our Top Pick for Water Resistance. We also have a new recommendation for those on a tight budget who need something for warmer weather: the Kelty Cosmic Down 40. None of these contenders could quite match the Feathered Friends Flicker 40, which retains its top spot as our Editors' Choice winner (see review below).
Best Overall Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL
Due in large part to its incredible versatility, the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL was the highest rated bag in our review. Whether you are trying to ventilate on a hot night or bundle up to stay warm when the temperature drops, this bag has you covered. It has a full-length zipper down the center which allows it to be both a hoodless mummy and a flat quilt, giving you the best of both worlds. The Flicker 40 UL pairs super high loft 950+ fill quality down with a shell made of naturally water resistant and breathable Pertex Endurance UL. Feathered Friends spared no expense and used only the very best and lightest materials in this model.
This is not the warmest bag — we opted to test the 40F version to check out the lightest Flicker available, and it kept us warm in that temperature range, but any colder and we weren't quite as toasty. The lack of a hood also makes it less warm on cooler evenings — check out the 30F and 20F options if you want a little extra warmth for only a bit more weight. We did like the dual drawcords at both the head and feet, which lets you wear it around camp on chilly mornings, and the already mentioned full-length zipper was far higher quality and more functional than the weight saving buckle or strap systems used on some competing quilts. The Flicker was the clear winner of our comparative review, and we happily recommend you begin your search for an ultralight sleeping bag right here.
Read review:Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL
Best Bang for the Buck
Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20
While not quite as high scoring as our Editors' Choice winning Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 retails for a lower price of $285. If price is your primary consideration, it is hard to find an ultralight sleeping bag that offers anywhere near as much versatility or warmth as this bag, without overly burdening the budget. Enlightened Equipment provides perhaps the most highly customizable sleeping bag you could ask for, which is fantastic for people with who are extra tall or wide, want more or less insulation, or are very particular about color choices. For this review, we chose this non-customized "off the shelf" model, which ships immediately upon order instead of waiting for a custom bag to be constructed.
If you do want a custom-made option, expect to wait 2-4 weeks for shipment, so give yourself ample time before your next trip. We tested the standard size, and it felt a little constricting when entirely closed up, so if you are even a little bit on the broad side, we'd recommend a custom cut. There's a lot of dangling cords as well, which was annoying at times. Other than that, we liked everything else about the Revelation 20. It's a highly versatile quilt that is also very warm, and it ranked in the top half of the products we tested. It's not the cheapest model in this review, but it did offer the best value, with a high overall performance score and a lower-than-most price tag.
Read review:Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20
The Best Ultralight Mummy Bag
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20
When it comes to going ultralight, less is more. Less weight and less bulk equal less time and less effort. But if you look closely at UL sleeping bags, you may find that sometimes less is less. Less weight means less insulation, less fabric, less features, and (gasp) less warmth. That may be fine if you are spending a single night out during the peak of summer, but what if you still plan to backpack in the spring and fall when nights are cold, love camping at 12,000 ft. in Colorado, or simply sleep cold every night regardless? Then you may be a perfect candidate to ignore all the hype surrounding quilts and instead stick with a classic mummy bag that simply weighs less. Check out our Top Pick as the Best Ultralight Mummy Bag — the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20. While still weighing in at significantly less than two pounds, this top quality bag features a whopping 18 ounces of heat-trapping insulation, provided by the highest quality 900 fill power down that is both certified responsibly sourced and comes treated with Q.Shield to make it water resistant.
Of course, everything comes at a price, and in the case of the Ghost Whisperer 20, that cost is the hit to your wallet. Rest assured, this is a really nice sleeping bag, but saving a bunch of weight while still sleeping comfortably below freezing isn't going to come cheap. Luckily, there is also a 40F version that is significantly lighter for a price that is more in line with the rest of this review. Regardless, the Ghost Whisperer 20 is a delightfully warm and comfortable mummy bag that will serve you well on those adventures when a quilt simply won't cut it.
Read review:Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20
Top Pick for Water Resistance
Marmot Phase 30
Looking to go ultra-light, but worried about using a down-filled model in a wet climate? Then we recommend you check out the Marmot Phase 30, our Top Pick for Water Resistance. It uses a combination of Pertex Quantum shell fabric and Marmot's proprietary Down Defender DWR treatment for the 850 fill power down. Down has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation, which is why we have chosen only down-filled bags for this review. But where down has historically failed is in wet climates; if it gets wet, it loses 90% of its loft, as well as its heat-trapping properties, and it's hard to get it to dry out well in the field. For this reason, outdoor enthusiasts have long been discouraged from trusting down in wet climates, and with good reason.
Many companies now use "hydrophobic down," which is treated with a DWR (durable water resistant) coating to repel water. Marmot claims that their Down Defender treatment allows their down to stay drier longer, maintain more loft, and dry out quicker than untreated down. While we couldn't verify their exact percentages, our anecdotal testing proved to us that this technology works. Combined with the capillary wicking and natural water-resistant Pertex Quantum 10d fabric on both the inside and outside, the Phase 30 offers up a formidable barrier against soaking rains. It didn't seem particularly warm though, so if you're a cold sleeper or usually camping around 30F, we'd recommend the Marmot Phase 20 instead. If you commonly backpack in the Northern Cascades or have a long-ingrained fear of combining wet weather and down insulation, either of these could be the perfect ultralight bag for you.
Read Review: Marmot Phase 30
Top Pick for Extreme Packability
Sea to Summit Spark I
For certain activities, like self-supported bike touring, bike packing, fast-packing, or adventure racing, weight and size are simply the most important characteristics of any, and every, piece of gear. That's why we couldn't help but recognize the Sea to Summit Spark I as the lightest and smallest down sleeping bag we have ever seen! At a measly 12.7 ounces, this thing weighs less than a jacket, and stuffs into an included compression sack the size of a softball!
Of course, a sleeping bag so small and light comes with obvious drawbacks, such as a comfort rating of 54F, meaning it's only suitable for warm summer nights (or by those willing to suffer a little bit for its attributes). It also costs as much as other bags in this review ($300), but is less versatile, meaning you'll need another one for colder temps. But, if you're a fair weather camper only, or want a dedicated summer bag that packs so small it's almost a joke, the Spark is hard to beat.
Read review:Sea to Summit Spark I
Notable for Those on a Tight Budget
Kelty Cosmic Down 40
Most ultralight backpackers will scoff at the Comic Down 40. We did as well until we used it. While not as high-performing as the other models, it still works! We tested it in the High Sierra at 11,000ft where it got down to 30 degrees at night, and we stayed warm enough when we kept our hat, thermals, and down jacket on at night.
It's not as light as the other ultralight options (almost 2 pounds), but we've included here for people that are on a very tight budget or only backpack once a year, and want something that costs $120 or less. The expensive gear in the review is often high-quality and worth it if you backpack a lot. But if you're just getting into traveling fast and light, we don't think money should keep you from diving in. Products like the Cosmic Down 40 fit that need.
Read review:Kelty Cosmic Down 40
Best Warmth to Weight Ratio
For one ounce more than our Editors' Choice winner, the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL, you get 20 degrees more comfort rating from the ZPacks Classic. Made with 900 fill down, it doesn't get much loftier for the weight than this. It compresses down to a tidy package, and we loved the included roll-top waterproof stuff sac.
This wasn't the perfect bag - we found it a little constricting and cut on the narrow side, but it is customizable and available in a wider girth. It doesn't open up to a full quilt like other UL bags, limiting its versatility a little particularly in warmer conditions. There's no hood either, so we slept about as warm in the Classic as we did in the 30F-rated Patagonia 850 which does have a hood. If you're setting off on a thru-hike and need something that can take you through the Sierra in the early spring, this bag is an excellent choice and a great way to get your base weight down under 10 pounds while still keeping you toasty at night.
Read review: ZPacks Classic
Analysis and Test Results
We put each of the models in this review to the test in a wide variety of conditions to help you figure out which is the best one for your needs. We rated each bag on a scale of one to ten for five separate metrics: warmth, weight, comfort, versatility, and features. We weighted each metric according to the relative importance that we deemed it had in overall performance, and each product ended with a cumulative score between 1-100. In all cases, we assigned scores based on comparisons between the products, so the highest scoring sleeping bag for a given metric was the best compared to the rest in this review, and not compared to the sleeping bag market as a whole. Keep that in mind particularly when looking at our warmth scores, as we are comparing the warmth of these products (20F to 54F comfort ratings) to each other, and not to other bags that are made to withstand 20 below temps.
Below we discuss each rating metric in depth. We'll explain why each testing category is essential to consider when making a purchase and how we tested for that parameter. Then we'll note the standout models for each category, and also the ones that didn't impress us that much. Ultralight sleeping bags have some advantages over regular backpacking models but often suffer from some serious disadvantages as well. For this reason, we recommend that you thoroughly research and understand a product's relative merits and weaknesses by checking out their individual reviews as well before making a purchase. We also have a comprehensive Buying Advice article, which goes into much greater detail about ultralight sleeping bag features, materials, and the buying process.
What do we even mean when we say an Ultralight sleeping bag? These are models that prioritize weight savings and compressibility over warmth and features. Many are "quilts," or can become quilts, the thought being that the down under you in a regular sleeping bag is not doing much to keep you warm, so why carry it? They might not look like a traditional mummy bag, or have a hood. They also assume that you can stretch the comfort rating of each one with clothing that you are already carrying, like a puffy jacket. The models in this review range in weight from 12 ounces to just under 2 pounds, and in our Backpacking review they range between 1 and 3 pounds. A subtle difference for sure, with some crossover as well. Be sure to check both comprehensive guides out if you are on the fence about which way to go.
One component we talk a lot about in our reviews (but don't score for) is value. How much bang for your buck are you getting from your purchase? Considering all of the different products you have to purchase for backpacking or other remote camping activities, buying great, but not too expensive, products can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, without compromising your comfort or safety on the trail.
The chart below shows you how each product scored in our metrics relative to their price. This can help you winnow out the ones that have a hefty price tag without a comparable increase in performance, and it can also help you find something that offers a lot of value for its price. Bags that fall to the bottom right of the graph have a high score relative to their price, including the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 and the Sea to Summit Spark I. Not surprisingly, this is where our Best Buy winner, the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 also lands. While a higher price tag often correlates with better performance due to advanced materials used in construction, know that you don't always have to break the bank to get a good product.
Getting a good night's sleep is key to enjoying your overnight outdoor adventures, and warmth plays a critical role in making that happen. More importantly, though, warmth is important for your safety. In the quest to lighten your load for comfort and speed, compromising on warmth is just not an option. If your ultralight sleeping bag, paired with your warm clothing, does not keep you warm enough to sleep well and recuperate from your big day of hiking, climbing, or bike riding, well, it doesn't matter how little it weighs. Fortunately, the innovative bags we test here deliver excellent warmth-to-weight ratios. We strongly believe that you should choose your warmth based on the weather you will encounter, and our warmth ratings contribute 30% to each product's overall score.
The amount of loft, or the heat-trapping space created around you by the down fill of your bag, is the primary determining factor of how warm a sleeping bag will be. To build loft while adding the least amount of weight, the majority of these bags use very high quality down with high fill powers. Secondary to the loft is construction. To prevent the down from moving around inside the bag, manufacturers sew in baffle patterns that create little chambers to trap the down in place and prevent it from moving about. The type of baffles (sewn-through vs. box baffle) impacts how many thin spots where very little or even no down protects you from the chill outside. Additionally, the shape of the baffles is different on every bag, and some are more effective than others at preventing "dead spots" and keeping the down in place.
All sleeping bags and quilts come with a temperature rating recommended by their manufacturer, i.e., 20F. However, these numbers can be confusing and even misleading. On one particularly rough night of "product testing," we slept in two bags each rated to 15F at around 15,000ft. in Nepal. It happened to snow that night, and the temperature dropped to 10-15F. Wearing all of the clothes we each had, we still both spent the night shivering mercilessly, didn't sleep for a minute, and welcomed the 3 am pre-dawn wake-up call simply to get moving again. These models did not perform well at their stated rating, so what gives?It turns out there is only one standard for sleeping bag temperature ratings, the EN 13537 standard. To qualify for this standard test, a sleeping bag must have a hood, which rules out all but six of the bags in our test. For those that get a standard EN rating, there are two ratings — comfort and lower limit. In most cases, manufacturers publish the lower limit rating number, as was the case with the two bags we shivered in, but without stating as such. It is true that we didn't freeze to death that night, so the bags did perform to their tested lower limit, but hidden on their websites was the (real) helpful information that these bag's comfort ratings were in the upper 20's, a fact we didn't know. For sleeping bags that didn't qualify for or didn't receive the EN standard test, it is not clear where the temperature rating comes from. And even those that did get a standard rating, the published numbers are most often misleading. So, take those temperature ratings with a grain of salt.
While down is the insulation that traps the warmth and keeps out the cold, we found while testing these bags in frigid temperatures that little design features can make a huge difference in how warm or chilled we felt. Features like hoods, draft collars around the neck, zipper baffles, enclosed foot boxes, and mummy vs. quilt design can have a significant impact on how warm we felt inside a bag, regardless of the amount of loft. In general, traditional hooded mummy bags allowed us to burrow deeper inside our bag and stay warmer than bags without hoods. Likewise, despite their versatile and freedom granting designs, quilts inevitably permitted openings where cold air could squeeze in and were thus rarely as warm feeling as a mummy bag.
Most of the quilts we tested are not designed to enclose the person inside of them fully and are instead meant to wrap around one on the top and attach to a sleeping pad underneath. The idea is that if the down underneath a person is compressed, it will not provide warmth-trapping loft, so why not save the weight if it won't be used effectively? In theory, this is a smart move, but for it to work, you must take into consideration the R-value and insulating properties of your sleeping pad. Since your sleeping pad now forms a very critical part of your warmth envelope, it needs to be insulated. Check out our Sleeping Pad Review and look particularly at the R-value of the pad, higher is better. During our testing, we found that on some cold nights, even an insulated sleeping pad was not enough to keep us warm with a quilt, and so we would have appreciated the extra weight and insulation beneath us.
We made a point of testing each of these bags while sleeping in temperatures very close to their stated ratings, catching two colds and spending more than a few nights shivering in the process. These experiences have taught us which bags are warm and which are not, and we rated these bags for absolute warmth, meaning the warmest got the highest score, and the coldest got the lowest score. At the top of the warmth department was the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20, a hooded mummy with a comfort rating of 32F and box baffle construction. The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 is a full-hooded mummy that uses very thick but narrow sewn-through tube baffles, and it also scored highly. Another high scorer was the Zpacks Classic, which featured a ton of loft in its box baffles, but lacked a hood. While we love quilts for their versatility and spaciousness in warmer weather, our testing revealed that in cold weather, they don't seal off as well and can't keep us as warm as mummy style bags.
Next to warmth, weight is the second most important consideration when choosing an ultralight sleeping bag. If you are putting together a lightweight backpacking kit, then the models represented here are all great choices for getting your base weight down near 10 pounds. For those looking to go ultralight, only the lightest of selections here should grab your attention. It is worth noting that in almost all cases, we chose the model or option that was the lightest weight, usually going with a higher temperature rating to do so. For those who want a bit more warmth and are willing to carry a few extra ounces to have it, there are usually slightly heavier, and warmer options available compared to what we tested. As the second most important metric, weight accounted for 25% of a product's final score.
When it comes to ultralight sleeping bags, most managed to shave weight with a combination of really high quality down and pared down features and design. Down provides the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation, which is why it is the only insulation used in the very lightest products. Down is rated by its fill power, and the higher the number, the more it will loft up, and thus the higher quality. In most cases, the bags tested in this review use down with a fill power of 800 or more. The fill power and quantity of down used in each competitor can be found in the specs table or on the individual product pages.
In the case of most quilts, weight is saved by eschewing fabric or insulation on the underside of the bag. Lightweight straps or string systems help latch the sides of the quilt around the user or a sleeping pad, thereby saving the weight of a zipper as well. Quilts also forego the hood, thus avoiding the weight of more fabric and insulation. Since they retain their fully enclosed design with a hood, mummy bags are naturally heavier. They save weight by having more restrictive cuts and usually employing only a half-length zipper.
We weighed these bags individually on an independent scale to determine the weight and then assigned the scores comparatively. In the case of quilts where extra straps or buckles were required to close up the quilt or affix it to a sleeping pad, we also included that weight, but never did we add the weight of the stuff sack. The lightest bag in this review is the Sea to Summit Spark I, our Top Pick for Insane Packability. It weighs in at a remarkably low 12.7 ounces and packs into an included compression stuff sack the size of a softball. Second is the Western Mountaineering HighLite, a hooded and fully enclosed mummy style bag that manages to weigh a measly 15 ounces. Also very light is the Feathered Friends Vireo UL, a mummy style bag without a hood or zipper that features a 25F rating on the lower half and a 45F on the upper half. It is meant to be paired with a warm down jacket for ultimate comfort at a lighter weight.
In many ways, comfort is the quality of a sleeping bag that makes it unnoticeable. Think about it, discomfort while sleeping usually has to do with something that is bothering you. If there is no tightness constricting you, rough fabric itching you, drawcords dangling in your face, or buckles resting underneath your body, then there will be nothing causing you discomfort, and you will be comfortable. Quality sleep is one of the most important aspects of a successful backcountry trip, as you need to be able to recover after long days of difficult hiking, biking, climbing, or whatever it is you are doing. Since comfort is so important, we chose to weight it as 20% of a product's final score.
When assessing for comfort, the first thing we looked at is how well the bag fits. Our head tester is 5'11" and fairly trim, so we ordered all of the test models to suit a person 6'0" tall and standard width. By ordering them all the same size, we were able to compare the fit of each bag to the same standard. Luckily for you, all of the bags in this review come in different height and width options, making it easy to customize a bag for your particular shape. Two aspects of a sleeping bag or quilt's fit were immediately noticeable: the length and the width. Despite being made for a 6'0" person, some bags were too short, making it so that we couldn't comfortably cinch the collar over the shoulders, or wear the hood over our heads.
Another issue was the width or girth. Our favorites were the roomiest, that allowed us to lie on our side or back, or squirm around between the two, without feeling like we were wrapped up in cellophane. Mummy bags are famous for being a bit claustrophobic and constrictive, but some, like the Feathered Friends Vireo UL proved to be plenty roomy. Quilts often feel more spacious and less constrictive because of their open cut, but paradoxically we found on a couple of different quilts that if it was attached to our pad, then it was too tight to lie on our side. Or, if it was a frigid night and we wanted to wrap ourselves up entirely, there just wasn't enough fabric to wrap all the way around us.
Secondary to the fit of a sleeping bag is the rest of the potentially annoying comfort considerations. These include minor details such as whether the drawcord strings reside in a place where they will continuously dangle in your face, whether the liner fabric of the bag is comfortable to the touch and slippery enough for clothes to slide around unimpeded inside, and whether hoods when included, fit over the head comfortably. The presence of features that bothered us induced us to lower the comfort score a little bit.
Ultimately, one mummy bag and one quilt proved to be the most comfortable designs in this review. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 was supremely satisfying because it had no zippers, buckles, or drawcords to disturb your sleep. Instead, it was designed extra wide so that it comfortably wraps all the way around you like a flour tortilla, and extra tall so you could easily duck your head inside on a cold night, or use the unique hideaway hood feature. Alternatively, the Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 was the most comfortable mummy bag due to its generous sizing around the torso, the deep fitting hood, and a unique foot box design that was wider, taller, and more spacious than the tighter cut of the legs above it. The little things such as a zipper baffle, drawcords on the outside of the collar, and cord lock buckles recessed within the fabric also ensured that sleep wasn't disturbed. Slightly lower scoring, but still among the top three was the Feathered Friends Vireo UL, whose vast and spacious cut in the torso is designed to accommodate the extra fill of an insulated jacket, but also left us feeling free to move about as desired.
If you want a three season sleeping bag, or are planning an epic six-month thru-hike that will span the seasons of a cool spring into hot summer and back into a cool fall, then versatility is a critical metric. Simply put, versatility is the ability of the bag to be used comfortably in the most possible (different) situations. Questions we asked ourselves when rating each bag for versatility were: is it possible to wrap oneself up like a cocoon to stay warm on the coldest nights? Likewise, is it feasible to open the bag up and ventilate to stay cool on the warmest of nights? Sleeping bags that could do both with ease were the highest scorers when it came to versatility, and sleeping bags that pigeonholed themselves into only being practical in one season or temperature range scored the lowest.
In general, we found that quilts were more versatile than ultralight mummy bags, whose half-length zipper designed with weight savings in mind often made it even harder to ventilate on warm nights. Quilts that included full-length zippers, or that were long enough and broad enough to wrap oneself up in fully, fared the best because they most easily allowed for staying warm on cold nights. Besides just being able to be used in both hot and cold seasons, we also looked at whether a bag would be serviceable in wet climates. Ultralight bags that used hydrophobic down, which is down that has been chemically treated to resist absorbing water and thereby losing its loft and warmth-trapping properties received a bonus. We also looked at whether a bag used a DWR (durable water resistant) treatment on its outer shell to protect it from absorbing liquids such as condensation, or used a naturally water resistant fabric such as Pertex Quantum to accomplish the same thing. Lastly, we looked at how packable the sleeping bag is. The smaller it packs down, the easier it is to carry along with you, and for a few outdoor sports like bike touring or bike packing, this is a critical component of whether a piece of gear is useful or not. As an important metric, but not the most crucial metric, we weighted versatility as 15% of a product's final score.
The most versatile product without a doubt was the Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL. Made with the lightest and highest quality 950+ fill goose down, this bag is simultaneously both a quilt and a fully enclosed hoodless mummy bag, offering protection for all types of situations. On the warmest nights, it can be used as a spread out blanket, which is also ideal for two people, or as a quilt with an enclosed foot box by tightening the drawstring on the end and zipping it up partway. The full-length zipper means that on cold nights it is possible to seal it up entirely and trap the warm air in with the help of a neck baffle with dual drawcords. Simply put, no other bag so easily met the demands of all seasons. While we tested the 40F version of this bag because it was the lightest weight, it also comes in 30F and 20F versions for those who live and play in colder climates or seasons.
Tied for second in the versatility department was the Zpacks Classic and the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700. A hoodless mummy bag that is rated to 20F features box baffle construction, and a DWR coated Pertex Nylon shell, the Zpacks Classic is ideal for cold nights. It also has a ¾ length zipper that allows one to open it up like a quilt for warmer nights. Using an opposite strategy, the Backcountry Quilt 700 is the most extensive and most expansive one person quilt with an enclosed foot box, ideal for summer comfort. Due to its size, it can wrap all the way around a person, providing an excellent cocoon in colder weather. It also uses hydrophobic DryDown to protect against condensation build up. Our favorite choice for battling wet weather was the Marmot Phase 30, which included a fantastic combination of Pertex Quantum shell and Marmot's Down Defender treatment. If you want an ultralight bag that you can utilize in all three seasons, be sure to pay attention to our versatility ratings.
The features metric provides the last piece of the puzzle for understanding how well an individual ultralight sleeping bag works or doesn't work. A sleeping bag is simply a down filled sack or blanket designed to keep you warm at night, and the features are all those little components that make it work. A good analogy would be a car. A car is a motorized vehicle that allows you to go somewhere without using your human power. Its features, like the stereo, air conditioning, and drivetrain, are what allows you to be comfortable and have fun while on your way. While not as critically important as warmth or weight, features are never-the-less the pieces of a sleeping bag that you will use every night that you sleep in it, so how well they perform is very important.
The most common features found on these bags are zippers, draft collars, cinch cords around the neck, face, hood, or feet, and in the case of quilts, pad attachment systems. When assessing for features, we looked first at whether a bag's specific features functioned well or were finicky and annoying. Then we compared them to similar features on the other bags and rated them in comparison to all the others.
Zippers that wouldn't stay zipped or were continually getting stuck in fabric, pad straps that wouldn't stay attached or wouldn't lock in place, and drawcords that didn't have buckles or wouldn't stay tight, are examples of poorly performing features that caused us to knock the score down a bit. As something worth being aware of, but certainly not the most important overall metric, we assigned features 10% of a product's final score.
Once again, our Editors' Choice Award-winning Feathered Friends Flicker 40 received the highest score for features, a perfect 10. Not only did it have a ton of features — full-length zipper with a reinforced draft tube, drawcord enclosure at the feet, dual drawcord and neck baffle at the head, optional attachment points for DIY pad straps — but they all worked well. The difference in having a full zipper versus just intermittent buttons or straps to enclose the quilt was a game-changer for trapping in heat.
The Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag 30 also had a great set of features, including a two-way zipper that is ideal for accessing a tie-in point while alpine or big-wall climbing or for simple ventilation, and neck drawcords that live on the outside of the bag so the cords don't dangle in your face or wrap around your neck. We also like how the drawcord locks around the face are recessed inside the fabric for a more comfortable surface where your face rubs. Our Best Bang for the Buck Award-winning Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 also has a great set up features, although not quite as good as the other two mentioned above.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sleeping bags available on the market today to choose from, ensuring it is a challenging task to find the right one. This review specializes in ultralight sleeping bags, specially designed to be as light as they can be. Ultralight sleeping bags are ideal for use in the summer and depending on the climate and your sleeping system, hopefully, spring and fall as well. They are great for outdoor sports like thru-hiking, fast-packing, bike-packing, bike touring, trekking, adventure racing, alpine climbing, and any situation where weight and pack size is of critical importance to the success of the adventure. We chose these as the best and most popular sleeping bags out of literally hundreds of options, and then tested them extensively in the mountains and deserts all over the world, often in quite cold temperatures, in order to provide you with the most comprehensive comparative review available today. We hope that this article, used in conjunction with the individual product reviews and our Buying Advice Article, helps you to make a purchase the suits your particular needs.
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.