Warm insulation, compressibility, low weight, and ample interior space are the most important attributes of a sleeping bag for winter camping and backpacking, so you can store your gear and water without freezing overnight.
When maintained and stored properly, a good winter sleeping bag will last fifteen years or more. Our recommendation is to get a down-insulated winter sleeping bag if you plan to go backpacking in the winter or skiing in the mountains because it is much lighter and packs much smaller than a woolen winter sleeping bag.
You can boost the warmth of your 0-degree sleeping bag with a low-cost liner if you need to sleep in colder temperatures. When temperatures dip below zero, most people avoid winter camping and backpacking since it’s just not that fun.
Our top ten down winter sleeping bags for cold weather camping and backpacking are listed below. Please see our evaluation criteria and buying advice below for more information and answers to common questions.
Best Overall: Mountain Hardwear 0F Phantom
A solid winter bag, Mountain Hardwear’s 0F Phantom does everything a winter bag should but isn’t cheap. There is a possibility that heat can be lost through the head. The Phantom’s four chambers of loft in the hood are one of the things that makes it so great.
Furthermore, the draft collar and face gasket prevent precious warm air from escaping. Featuring an 850-fill goose down insulation and weighing less than 3 pounds, this bag is ideal for backpacking and hut trips.
Its 10D recycled nylon ripstop holds up to normal backcountry wear and tear, a rarity for lightweight outdoor gear. When it snows, a DWR finish prevents outside moisture from penetrating.
We appreciate the two-way glow-in-the-dark zipper for making nighttime exits easier. Keep the bag in its mesh sack to prevent crushing the down fill, which will decrease its warmth.
- A lightweight design
- Retention of maximum heat
- Finish that repels water
- It’s expensive
- Larger people shouldn’t use it
Best Budget: Kelty Cosmic 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
Kelty’s Cosmic 0 Degree bag is perfect for cold-weather camping or for use on a one-time trip. Cosmic is an outdoor product that meets Kelty’s high standards for quality and value. Cold-weather bags can’t get better than this at less than $200 and with a warmth rating of zero degrees.
Compared to the other bags on this list, the Cosmic won’t be able to blow them away. As far as warmth, moisture resistance, and speed of drying are concerned, it performs well.
The backpack weighs 4 pounds, which is slightly heavier than other backpacks. However, this means that it remains relatively light in today’s world.
A polymer application coats each plume of down in the Cosmic’s 600-fill DriDown filling to make it hydrophobic, as well as its PFC-free DWR coating. A draft collar and electronics pocket are some of the nifty features of the Cosmic.
- Stuff sack included
- Drys quickly
- Pocket for electronics
Best for Backpacking: Western Mountaineering Versalite 10
You won’t regret investing in Western Mountaineering’s Versatile 10F sleeping bag if you’re looking to pack light and move fast in winter. Sleepers will stay warm down to 10 degrees with this 2 pound sleeping bag. There is a lot of loft in the 850-fill, and it packs down tightly.
Interlocking draft tubes and a genius collar design help keep air flowing while backpackers remain warm and comfy inside. We also appreciate the breathability enhancements. For those with broad shoulders and extra layers, Western Mountaineering added some extra shoulder space.
Given the name, it’s not surprising that this bag has many different lengths, which are much more specific than standard and long sizes.
There are short, medium, and long lengths for those 5 feet, 6 inches and shorter-and they weigh less than 2 pounds each. Besides being a durable bag, the ExtremeLite shell uses taffeta inside so it can withstand a little more wear and tear.
Best for Expeditions: Marmot Col -20
As this backpack is equipped with 37.5 ounces of 800-fill-power down, it is ideally suited for hiking in unsettling conditions. Although this is a splurge, if you are going out on a long expedition, then it is well worth the high cost if you happen to be heading out on a long journey.
There is something that we really love about this bag: it is roomy, allowing you to toss it around and layer up to keep warm on those chilly nights in the mountains.
Depending on how thick you like your foot box to be around the feet, you might want to consider adding a bit of extra padding to it. There is a glow-in-the-dark zipper pull on this jacket and a draft tube filled with down that gives the jacket some clever design features.
If you pack it down well, it’ll easily fit into a bigger pack (around 60 liters) and still give you room for other winter gear, clothes and gear. However, it’s a bit bulky, but you can easily pack it into a smaller pack if you pack it well.
- The cut is roomy
- Zipper pulls that glow in the dark
- When it’s cold, it’s good
Best for Extreme Cold: North Face Inferno -40
Obviously, this is not a cheap bag, so let’s be honest: you’re paying a lot for it, but what you’re really getting is The North Face’s warmest bag designed to withstand the coldest weather.
There is a rating of minus 40 degrees for the 800-fill ProDown Inferno bag. Furthermore, it has a wide range of smart design features, such as an interior pocket, a full draft collar, a cinch on the hood, and many more.
Also, there is a trapezoidal baffle on this mattress, which prevents sleepers from scooting down as they sleep while they are asleep. Likewise, the center zipper on the bag is a unique feature, which makes it easier to shimmy into the bag and out of it for both right-handed and left-handed individuals.
Our favorite part of this feature is that it also allows ventilation to be distributed evenly across the torso through the unzipping process, instead of just forcing air in through one side of the garment.
You can layer this cut because it has a generous cut. There is also a compression sack as well as a storage sack included in the bag so that you can use it while in the wild – or after you get back from it.
- Zipper in the center
- The cut is roomy
- Insulated pocket inside
Best for Wet Weather: Big Agnes Boot Jack 25
Whether you live in the Pacific Northwest or Northern California-or anywhere else relatively wet and cold-Big Agnes’ Boot Jack bag provides maximum waterproof protection.
Water-repellent shells perform a great deal of the work when it comes to ensuring a first barrier to moisture in the product, but that is not all the company is good at.
As an added layer of protection, Big Agnes uses DWR-treated DownTek inside the lining, thus creating a more durable shell.
In addition, we love Big Agnes’ typically ingenuity and cleverness in creating both internal and external loops so you can attach liners or hang the bag after your trek, which is a classic Big Agnes feature.
In terms of weight, the 600-fill bag weighs a little over two pounds and packs down extremely small.
- Loops in both directions
- Layers that resist water
- Not good for extreme cold
Best for Short Trips: Rab Ascent 700
The Rab Ascent 700 is a mid-level winter bag from Rab that would be ideal for those who will travel in cold weather at least a few times a year.
A bag rated to a low of about 10 degrees is offered at a middle-of-the-road price point, which is a mid-weight, middle-of-the-road bag. There is no doubt that the Ascent holds up its end of the bargain when it comes to value for the money it costs.
There is a lot of room in the bag, so whether you are sleeping on your side, stomach, back, or anywhere else, you will have plenty of space to move. Almost 25 ounces of 700-fill duck down keep you warm without making you overheat at the same time.
There is also a trapezoidal baffle design built into the bag that prevents the formation of cold pockets that can occur in other bags.
There is no doubt that this is not the lightest bag on the list for this purpose. Think of it as mid-range in weight. It is a solid choice, however, if you are planning on camping from a car, going on a short trip or staying in a base camp, or you’re planning on camping from your car.
- The cut is roomy
- Drawcord on hood
- A heavy load
- A bulky person
Best for Hot Sleepers: Nemo Sonic Down
A complete set of 800-fill hydrophobic duck down quilts with a windproof membrane is specially designed for use in very cold weather. It is rated at minus 20 degrees.
However, Nemo’s Thermal Gills zip up to allow airflow to come in across your core while you sleep, which is good news for those of us who sleep hot at night. In my opinion, it would be great for people who tend to wake up hot in their sleeping bags in the morning.
In addition to being incredibly roomy, the Sonic is also very supportive, which makes it great not only for users who toss and turn but also for those who like to layer extra layers on top.
As an extra feature we like, we have added a different feel to the pulls on the hood drawstrings, which is a nice touch that allows you to adjust the tightness of the hood drawstrings easily, even on nights when there are no moons and stars.
As well as Nemo’s PFC-free and Responsible Down Standard, we also recognize that there has been humane sourcing of their down throughout the entire supply chain, which means the down is sourced from sustainable sources.
- Cut that’s roomy
- A waterproof material
- A comfortable chair
Best for Kids: The North Face Youth Eco Trail
Designed in a mummy style, this sleeping bag is rated to -20 degrees and is completely made from recycled materials, so it’ll keep your kid warm and keep your heart warm too.
For extra warmth, there is a fitted, cinched hood that keeps little ones snugly warm, and the completely recycled synthetic insulation keeps the little ones warm no matter what conditions the outside conditions are like. A sleeping pad can be attached to the Eco Trail using tie-down loops on the interior.
- A J-zip that wraps around
- Pocket on the inside
- An eco-friendly product
What to Look For in a Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag
Spending money on a sleeping bag should be based on how much you use it. You might want to spend a little more on a bag that is going to keep you warm and comfortable on frequent weekends on the trail. Holding back on the budget might be a good idea if you’re a beginner or an occasional camper.
An essential feature of mummy-style bags is their hood-like top, which tapers downward toward the feet to hold warmth. The majority of sleeping bags designed for extremely cold weather will be mummy-shaped, but if you’re going camping in the backyard on occasion, rectangle-shaped bags are usually sufficient.
In order to find the right sleeping bag for you, warmth ratings should be used as a baseline, not as a rule of thumb. Take them with a grain of salt since they’re issued by manufacturers.
Yet they are usually intended to indicate how warm a bag can remain at the lowest temperature that an individual might be able to sleep in. Whenever you camp in cold weather, it’s a good idea to pack extra layers.
Your sleeping bag tags should contain specific instructions about how to wash and dry it. There is one rule about what not to do, and that is not dry to clean it. If you do not so, the waterproof coating will damaged, as well as the loft.
For extra comfort in the tent or on the trail, most rectangular sleeping bags can be zipped together. It is not as effective to use sleeping bags with hood for this purpose.
Loft refers to the thickness and plumpness of a sleeping bag, and correlates with its warmth
There is no doubt that the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 F sleeping bag is one of the best winter sleeping bags on the market (view at Mountain Hardwear), since it is an all-rounder that is perfect for any winter activity.
At just under 3 pounds, this backpack is not only lightweight, but it is also very sturdy, making it equally suitable for backpacking as well as car camping.