The Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags

By E Bush , last updated January 21, 2012

After a tough ascent to a summit and supper by the fire, it’s time to tuck in for the night; what cold weather sleeping bag will you trust to keep you warm in the cold mountain air? Maintaining a temperature warm enough for sleeping conditions is the main concern in the following recommendations, but a few other factors are worth considering when choosing your next sleeping bag. The bags mentioned below do a great job of balancing warmth, size and insulation options for all you adventurers out there.

Staying Toasty

Recent European Standard heat measurements now give consumers a more accurate rating by which to assess sleeping bag warmth. The new rating system allows you to easily narrow down your search. It’s a good idea to choose the bag based on the coldest temperature you think you may experience during your trip. If the bag has a temperature rating of +25, that is to say it will be sufficient down to 25° Fahrenheit.

Keeping It Light

One make-it or break-it detail of the optimal sleeping bag is weight. Your hiking will be much more pleasant without a bag like a lead weight stressing your back. At the same time, you need your bag to be spacious and warm enough to see you through the night. Most bags try to balance these two needs, but one option that stands out above the others is the Sherpa Adventure Gear Pertemba. A down-insulated bag that includes a hood to keep your neck warm, this gem only weighs 3 pounds and 7 ounces, barely adding any weight to your pack. The Pertemba will keep you blissfully warm down to 0° Fahrenheit without being big and bulky.

The Guts

The two main types of sleeping bag fill are synthetic and goose down. Among the merits of synthetic fill are that it dries faster when exposed to damp conditions, whereas down loses heating power when wet. It is also lighter and easier on the purse. One bag worthy of recommendation is the synthetic North Face Cat’s Meow. This bag uses Climashield, a thermal insulation recently developed that guards heat better than previous synthetic fabrics, and has received honorary awards from Backpacker Magazine.

Down-insulated bags typically last longer, are lighter and warmer than synthetic-fill, which means that they are generally more expensive. A winner in the category of down bags is the Marmot Lithium. Keeping you toasty down to 0° Fahrenheit, the Marmot only weighs 2 pounds and 12 ounces. It also comes with a face muff. If you’re looking for a collapsible and reliable down bag, this may be just the thing for you. While it’s not cheap, this bag will last and keep you happy on your backpacking excursions.

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker looking to upgrade your current sleeping bag or a beginner looking to brave it in the great outdoors this winter, you will want to approach shopping for the perfect bag with a few key factors in mind: warmth rating, weight, and the type of insulation. You’ll find that the recommendations above fit the bill. Now get out there, have some fun, and stay warm!

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