Backcountry Digs at Their Finest

The Best Sleeping Bags of 2016

April 24, 2014 Buying Guides By
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect our selections for 2016. Our earlier selections, from 2015 and 2014, are on the following page.

You’ve got your summit day kit dialed in, your favorite pair of hiking shoes picked out, and you’re just about packed for the ultimate outdoor summer adventure. So when you get to your campsite after a long road trip of grueling hike into the wilderness, don’t get caught unrolling the same musty sleeping bag you once used while couch-surfing back in your college days. These great sleeping bags bring the comfort of home to the dirt floors of the high country, and everywhere else, for that matter.

Additional contribution by AJ Powell and Matt Neundorf.


The best feather-filled bags.

Nemo Salsa 30


Nemo’s Salsa 30 features a unique spoon shape. The hourglass-shaped bag allows for users to more easily roll around in the bag and sleep in any configuration comfortably. It also features water-resistant DownTek down and stretch stitching in the baffles — which lets the bag shape and move to your body position more readily.

Feathered Friends Swift UL 20


Seattle based Feathered Friends has been making quality down garments and sleeping bags since the 1970’s (we’re big fans of their down booties). Its Swift UL 20 is the an ultra-lightweight bag designed to pack down to almost nothing while still offering the finest materials available like Pertex Endurance UL fabric on the outside and 900+ fill down on the inside.

Western Mountaineering MegaLite


Western Mountaineering crafts some of the best down sleeping bags on the market. It is technically cut to fit a larger frame, but even if you are smaller, it allows for more room to move around inside without an extra weight penalty. The tech here, aside from its incredibly light weight of one pound, eight ounces, is in the draft collar. The collar helps to block out any wind and drafts that try to work their way inside your fortress of warmth.

Marmot Ion 20


Marmot’s new Ion is filled with 850+ fill power hydrophobic down, which helps to mitigate down’s biggest downfall — that it loses insulation when wet. It also has an optimized insulation layout; the baffles are body mapped to provide more heat where you need it most. It also offers an anatomically designed footbox, which increases comfort.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Elite 850


Sierra Design’s Backcountry Bed features one of the more unique sleeping bag designs on the market. It is essentially a flat quilt that wraps up around your body and has a blanket attached. The design is odd at first, but after testing, it is incredibly comfortable and is one of the best backcountry sleeps you can get short of bringing a massive air mattress and comforter. The Elite 850 version is the top-of-the-line model featuring technology like 850-fill duck DriDown and 10D ripstop nylon.


The best alternatives to duck and goose.

Eddie Bauer Igniter 20


Part of the Ascent series, Eddie Bauer’s Igniter 20 features lofty Climashield Apex synthetic insulation that will keep you toasty all the way down to 20 degrees. It also features a Pertex ripstop nylon outer that helps to repel water in the event of an unexpected shower.

Montbell Burrow Bag #3


As far as synthetic sleeping bags go, Montbell makes some of the best, at super affordable prices. The Burrow Bag #3 is rated to 30 degrees, which makes it extremely versatile. It also features spiraled baffles with stretch stitching to move and conform to your body, eliminating dead spots in the insulation.

The North Face Aleutian 20


At $110, you can’t go wrong with the Aleutian 20. It features The North Face’s Heatseeker Eco synthetic insulation, which is composed of 30 percent post-consumer recycled material, so you can go camping with a clean conscience.

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Spark 34


In the Spark 34, Mountain Hardwear uses its proprietary Thermal Q insulation, which is lauded for its stellar weight-to-warmth ratio. It is also packed with other tech, like zoned insulation that maximizes warmth where it’s needed most and a Lamina construction that eliminates cold spots caused by traditional stitching.

Big Agnes Cross Mountain 45


Don’t be fooled by its hoodless appearance. The Big Agnes Cross Mountain is the pocketknife of sleeping bags. At a 40-degree temperature rating, it can be combined with a warmer bag for colder temperatures or used on its own as a summer weight kit. Its quilted construction is comfortable and warm. If you wish to combine it with a sleeping-bag liner, interior loops help to lock it down and keep it in place inside the bag.

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