Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather (Buying Guide)
Looking for a sleeping bag that’s suitable for cold weather conditions? Our team at Outdoor Command has got you – and you’re camping needs – covered. Not every sleeping bag on the market has the insulation, warmth, and performance to keep you cozy on chilly nights. That is exactly why you need to get informed about the top-rated Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather options. Don’t worry, you don’t need to invest a lot of time and effort in researching the top options, we’ve already pre-selected them for you.
In this overview, we’re highlighting our top 3 styles for every budget. We’ve included a budget-friendly option, a mid-priced bag with premium performance, and a high-end, first-class style that costs a pretty penny but is the ultimate investment for die-hard winter campers.
To help you further understand what to look out for when buying a cold-weather sleeping bag, we’ve also included a handy Buying Guide at the bottom of this post. In the Buying Guide, we’re listing some important factors to take into consideration, such as a sleeping bag’s temperature rating, material, type of fill, and weight.
Discover our top 3 Best Sleeping Bags for Cold Weather, and upgrade your camping and/or backpacking gear with this must-have outdoor essential!
Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather – Overview
Coleman 0°F North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag
Though the Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag is by far one of the cheapest 0°F sleeping bags on the market, it doesn’t compromise on quality or performance. The mummy bag has a tapered silhouette to keep you snug, yet is still roomy enough not to feel overly claustrophobic. The design includes a spacious foot box, giving your toes some luxurious wiggle room.
The Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag uses various nifty design-elements to keep you warm at night. The bag features thermally efficient quilting, constructed to eliminate cold spots. The design’s special Thermolock draft tube runs along the full length of the zipper, keeping in warmth and eliminating cold air from entering. The 2-way zipper itself is made of durable hardware, and also allows you to ventilate the bag on warmer nights. When the temperature heats up, simply keep the bag’s semi-sculpted hood loose and zip the bag down. When the temperature drops, tighten the hood with the drawstring closure to lock out the cold and eliminate cold spots around the head area.
ZipPlow System and Ripstop Polyester
The Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag isn’t the most durable of sleeping bags, but we reckon its construction is solid enough for most camping scenarios. The outer shell of the bag is made of ripstop-reinforced polyester, which is less prone to ripping or tearing. The sleeping bag’s special patented ZipPlow system allows the fabric to ‘plow’ away from the zipper, preventing snags and further reducing the risk of tears or rips.
Other pros are that the Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag is machine-washable for quick clean-up after a trip. Plus, the style also includes a stuff sack that allows you to pack it down to a 17.1 x 12.4 x 12 inches bundle.
Are there any downsides? Well, mostly it’s weight: a hefty 5.8 lbs. Compared to down-fill bags, this is an unfavorable warmth-to-weight ratio. It also means that if you plan to take the Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag on backpacking trips, your pack will be weighed down quite significantly. That said, for its affordability, that is a fair trade-off. If you want a bag that offers a 0°F/ -18°C temperature rating, without spending hundreds of dollars on a goose-down or duck-down fill, you’ll need to compromise on the extra weight of a synthetic-fill bag. We think it’s worth it, but if you’re not willing to shoulder the extra pounds, you may want to consider spending a bit more and upgrading to the Kelty Cosmic (the next product in this overview) instead.
- 0°F/ -18°C temperature rating
- Stuff sack included
- Anti-snag 2-way zipper
- Ripstop-reinforced polyester shell
- Heavy (5.8 lbs)
- Not the most durable
- Not as soft as natural-down
- Unfavorable warmth-to-weight ratio
Kelty Cosmic 0°F Down Sleeping Bag
The Kelty Cosmic 0-Degree Down Sleeping Bag is not the warmest bag on the market, but its temperature rating of 0°F/ -18°C should be more than sufficient for most cold-weather campers. The design offers adequate protection against the cold, thanks to its high-quality construction and clever design-elements. For example, the style has a draft tube that runs along the full length of the zipper, preventing warmth from escaping via the anti-snag zipper during the night. The design also comes with a baffle draft collar, helping prevent further heat loss from the top of the bag around the head area.
Special DriDown™ Fill
The Kelty Cosmic 0-Degree Down Sleeping Bag is filled with 600 fill power DriDown™. What is DriDown™? Well, it’s a fancy term used by the brand to refer to the natural down-fill being waterproofed. Kelty describes it as: “Regular down is treated with a molecular level polymer to create a hydrophobic finish on each individual down plume. This finish allows DriDown™ to stay dry longer, loft better, and dry faster than untreated down, keeping you warmer in any environment.” Or, to put it more simply: DryDown™ is natural down that’s been treated to make it water-resistant.
The outer shell of the Kelty Cosmic 0-Degree Down Sleeping Bag is made of durable 20D Nylon taffeta. To add extra comfort, the sleeping bag also comes with a 50D polyester taffeta liner that feels smooth and quite luxurious. Other design perks include handy pad loops that allow you to attach your bag to a sleeping pad, reducing the risk of rolling off and landing on the cold ground in the middle of the night. This 0-degree bag’s hood also has drawstrings of different widths for easy “in the dark” identification: making snuggling up and tucking yourself in a total breeze, even when your flashlight is not within reach. Oh, speaking of keeping things within reach: the Kelty Cosmic comes with a handy stash pocket to keep your personal belongings close.
If you want premium down-fill comfort and warmth, without paying the jackpot, the Kelty Cosmic is pretty much as good as it gets.
- 0°F/ -18°C temperature rating
- Great value-for-money
- 600-fill power DriDown™
- Water-resistant down-fill coating
- Soft polyester taffeta lining
- Durable 20D nylon outer shell
- Baffle draft collar
- Draft tube and anti-snag zipper
- Stuff sack included
- Slightly more expensive
- Not the most lightweight (4 lbs)
- Not the best warmth-to-weight ratio
Therm-a-Rest Oberon 0°F Down Mummy Sleeping Bag
The Oberon 0-Degree winter sleeping bag by Therm-a-Rest has a mummy-shape silhouette and comes with all the high-end perks you’d expect of a bag at this price-point. The design has an 800-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™. insulation. This means the down-fill has been treated with a special water-resistant coating, which reduces water absorption and maintains insulation, keeping you warm, dry and comfortable at all times. This special down-fill dries three times faster than untreated down, ensuring you, and your bag, stay dry even in damp conditions or on wet undergrounds. The down-fill used in the Therm-a-Rest Oberon’s construction is responsibly-sourced and even comes with Responsible Down Standard Certification to ensures that the waterfowl in the down supply chain are treated humanely.
Special zoned insulation
The ‘hot’ perks don’t stop there. The Therm-a-Rest Oberon Winter Sleeping Bag comes with special zoned insulation, distributing the fill based on where your body needs it most. The silhouette uses 60% of the fill on top, and 40% on the bottom, giving the bag an optimal warmth-to-weight ratio. Additionally, the Therm-a-Rest Oberon features an ergonomic, down-fill foot box that helps warm cold toes rapidly, whilst offering some wiggle room for your feet at night. The top of the high-quality sleeping bag is also lined with special ‘ThermaCapture Lining’, trapping radiant body heat and retaining warmth, without adding bulk or weight.
Other premium features of the Therm-a-Rest Oberon are heat-trapping draft collars, full-length snag-free zippers, full-length draft tubes, and a cinched hood to eliminate cold-spot around the head and neck area. This winter sleeping bag also comes with an external zip pocket, enabling you to keep smaller personal belongings close at hand. The style includes a stuff sack, which allows you to pack down the sleeping bag to a 10″x 17″ bundle.
- 0°F/ -18°C temperature rating
- Ultralight (2 lbs 4 oz)
- Special Zoned Insulation
- 800-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™
- Heat-trapping draft collar
- ThermaCapture Lining top-layer
- Cinched hood and draft tubes
- External zip pocket
- Stuff sack included
- Very Expensive
- Less value-for-money due to high pricing
The 3 products on this Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather overview each have their pros and cons, yet all deliver on warmth, comfort, and performance. Which is ‘the best’ depends on your personal needs. If you want to buy a cold-weather camping sleeping bag, yet don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend, a budget-friendly option like the Coleman Mummy could already offer sufficient performance. The trade-off is that this synthetic-fill bag is heavier than down-filled styles, meaning it will weigh down your pack. If you want an ultralight option and money is not an issue, a top-end choice such as the Therm-a-Rest Oberon may be your perfect match. This high-end design offers an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio – and is by far one of the lightest cold-weather bags on the market. The downside is that it is also quite expensive, making it less outstanding in value. If you want to take the middle road, the Kelty Cosmic could be your mid-budget match. This style does use natural down-fill, is lighter than the Coleman Mummy and is a lot more budget-conscious than the Therm-a-Rest Oberon.
Rest assured: you can’t make a bad choice based on this overview. Each item is highly-rated by other campers on performance, quality, and durability: making them excellent investments in your camping comfort. If you need further help deciding on ‘the best’ sleeping bag for you, check out our Buying Guide at the bottom of this review for a clear overview of important buying factors. You’re welcome!
If we had to pick a favorite, we’d settle on the Kelty Cosmic: the mid-budget option. This down-fill sleeping bag combines the comfort of down, with the water-resistance of synthetic-fill – thanks to its special DriDown™ coating. This means the down-fill will not loose its insulating performance when wet and is quick-drying and durable. Plus, unlike the Therm-a-Rest Oberon, the Kelty Cosmic is still accessible to campers on a smaller budget. Giving you the chance to enjoy the luxury of down-filled sleeping bags, without breaking the bank.
This 0°F temperature rating bag also comes with all the perks need to keep you warm and sheltered during cold nights. Including a full-length draft tube, a baffle draft collar, and a drawstring hood that can be cinched to prevent cold spots around the head. Made of quality materials and with a soft, silky-like taffeta lining, it really does offer a ‘Unicorn’ experience, at ‘Pony’ pricing, as the brand itself so eloquently put it. And though we’re often skeptical at marketing language, in this case, we fully agree.
Best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather – Buying Guide
With so many options on the market, finding the best cold weather sleeping bag for your needs can be a challenge. There are various important buying factors that we recommend campers to take into consideration, such as temperature rating, the type of filling, materials, Amazon customer reviews, and – of course – cost. These buying factors can help you narrow down your search selection, and help in determining which bag is your perfect fit. To make the shopping process easier, and help you save time and effort, we’ve listed the most important buying factors below. Get informed about these key features and facts, and use our handy overview to select the cold weather sleeping bag that ticks all your boxes!
The temperature rating is one of the most important buying factors, especially when shopping for cold weather sleeping bags. The last thing you want is to spend money on a cold-weather sleeping bag, only to find out it’s not capable of dealing with low-temperature conditions. The best way to ensure that a bag matches up to the cold is via its temperature rating.
As a general rule of thumb, the temperature rating indicates the lowest temperature that a sleeping bag can be used in, whilst still keeping you comfortable. Do note that a temperature rating is only an indication, not a guarantee. That said, it is a great guideline to eliminate sleeping bags that do not offer sufficient warmth or insulation in cold weather conditions. For example, a 40°F temperature rating means the bag keeps is suitable for conditions as low as 40°F. Whilst a 0°F bag can be used in winter camping or extra cold conditions, as long as the temperature doesn’t dip below 0°F, etc.
A word of warning: the temperature rating doesn’t take into account your tolerance to cold, body dimensions, or metabolism. If you’re a camper that’s often cold, or suffer from poor blood circulation and cold hands and feet, a 20°F temperature rating may not be sufficient in 20°F weather. In this case, pick a bag with an even more extreme temperature rating (for example, -20°F) to ensure you stay warm at night.
Tip: To maximize the warmth a sleeping bag can offer, considering adding an insulated sleeping pad, and/or a sleeping bag liner to your kit. A sleeping pad will insulate you against the chilly ground, whilst a sleeping bag liner can easily add several degrees of sleeping warmth to your bag. Plus, unlike most down-feather sleeping bags, a separate sleeping bag liner can be machine-washed easily, making clean-up a breeze.
Type of filling
Sleeping bags are generally divided into two types of fill: natural or synthetic. Each has its pros and cons, and for us, there isn’t a material that reigns supreme: as both can keep you warm, providing the quality of the material is sufficient. For example, sleeping bags with synthetic fiberfill are often extra-durable, water-resistant, and lightweight. Sleeping bags with a natural fill, for example, feather down, are superb at insulation and are often lighter than synthetic-fill styles.
Down-fill bags are often considered superior because they offer an outstanding warmth-to-weight and warmth-to-bulk ratio. Meaning maximum insulation at minimum the weight, whilst the material is also extra-compressible enabling smaller packing dimensions. A downside to down is that it’s not waterproof and often loses its insulation properties when wet. This is why you should also choose a down-fill bag where the down has been pre-treated with some type of water-repellent / water-resistant coating. Ensuring the down-fill keeps its insulating abilities, even in damp conditions.
Tip: When it comes to natural fill, companies will either use duck down or goose down. The latter, goose down, is known for its superior warmth and would be our recommended option. That said, goose down sleeping bags are often more pricey than duck down fill, or synthetic fill bags; making them less budget-friendly. However, if you’re looking for superb insulation and comfort, it may be worth the investment.
Most sleeping bags come in either two shapes: rectangular/envelop-shaped, or mummy-shaped. For warmth, we’d recommend a mummy-shaped bag, due to the snug and form-fitting silhouette. The more a cold-weather sleeping bag hugs your body, the better the insulation, and the less risk of cold spots. Do note that snug should not mean too tight: you still want a sleeping bag that’s spacious enough to offer a bit of wiggle room. A mummy-shaped sleeping bag also comes with the perk that the hood can often be cinched with a drawstring or velcro closure, eliminating cold spots around the head.
Tip: If you do decide on a mummy bag, choose a style with a contoured or 3D foot box. A foot box offers a bit of extra space for your feet, ensuring that even though the silhouette is tapered, you’re feet aren’t squeezed for space.
Weight & Packing Dimensions
Another important factor to take into consideration is a cold-weather camping sleeping bag’s weight ratio. As these bags are often thicker and more insulated than regular, 3-season bags, they can also weigh quite a bit more. If you’re a car camper, the weight of the bag may not be an issue, since you don’t have to carry it over long distances. However, for backpackers and hikers who plan to carry the bag on multi-day trips, weight should be a key priority. The lighter the sleeping bag, the less it will weigh down your pack. The good news is that there are ultralight cold-weather bags on the market, ensuring there’s a match for every preference. In our overview, we’ve listed the weight of each product, allowing backpackers to instantly see which bags are the lightest.
Besides the weight of the sleeping bag, packing dimensions can also vary greatly. Some cold-weather sleeping bags can be compressed to tiny bundles, whilst others are still a bit bulky, even when packed. We recommend you to choose a bag that includes a stuff sack, as this makes it easier to pack the bag down to compact dimensions. Plus, a stuff sack helps protect your bag during transport, and can sometimes even be clipped to the exterior of your backpack to save on packing space.
Besides the type of fill, the material of the outer shell/silhouette of the bag is also an important buying factor. The outer shell of sleeping bags is most commonly made of some type of nylon and/or polyester. Do note that one type of polyester may be inferior to another type, as there are quality gradations. The best way to check whether a bag is made of quality materials when shopping online via Amazon? Check the customer reviews. As you can’t feel the thickness of the materials or inspect the stitching on the seams, customer reviews are your best source of info on the quality of a product. See if other campers comment on the bag’s durability, quality, and construction: as these customer reviews are a great indication whether a bag lives up to standard.
Tip: We recommend all campers to pick a bag made of high-quality, tear-resistant fabrics such as ripstop nylon. You may have to spend a bit more on initial purchase, but choosing first-class quality over a second-class product will pay off in the long-term. Also, when selecting materials, look out for fabrics that are water-resistant and/or waterproof. This prevents the interior of the bag from becoming wet or moist when sleeping on damp undergrounds or dealing with bad weather.
You may not consider it an important buying factor, but we advise every camper to think carefully about the type of zipper they want on their sleeping bag. There are right-zipping bags, left-zipping bags, and even bags without zippers. The location of the zipper determines how to get in, and out, of your bag. Choose a style that feels comfortable to you, as quick access to a bag, is key in cold conditions. Also, check whether the zippers on the bag are high-quality according to user reviews. A flimsy zipper that breaks easily can instantly ruin a trip, and high-quality hardware is a must for camping in cold, challenging conditions.
Tip: If you choose a sleeping bag with a full-length zipper, ensure the product comes with a special draft tube. A draft tube in an insulated tube along the full length of the zipper, designed to keep the heat in, and cold out. A draft tube can instantly improve the insulation fo a bag, and help prevent cold spots when you’re tucked away comfortably.
We often get asked: ‘How important is the brand of a sleeping bag?’ Honestly, this is up for discussion. We know some campers that swear by established brands, whilst others are more than happy to settle for second-rate knock-off products. Now, we’re not saying you should only buy from expert outdoor brands, but we do recommend it. When you buy outdoor gear online, it eliminates the chance to inspect a product up-close, for example, when in a Rei store. Or, in other words: you’re taking a risk, as you can’t check whether a product lives up to expectation. To reduce the risk of a product lacking in quality or performance, buying from an established, renowned brand in outdoor gear is a solid way to go. These brands are known for their high-quality standards and have set a precedent for outstanding quality, customer service, and value.
Needs some examples of brands that have our expert seal of approval? Names we trust are Big Agnes, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Coleman, NEMO Sonic, The North Face (especially the North Face Inferno), Kelty, Western Mountaineering, Teton Sports, Feathered Friends, and Sierra Designs.