Winter camping isn’t for the faint of heart. If you want to get out there even when the temperature starts to dip and the snow transforms the woods into a totally different world, then you’re going to need the best equipment in the game. Keeping your body warm while you sleep is a delicate balancing act and it’s not one you can afford to cut corners on. If you’re planning on getting out there in 2021, then you’re going to want to see the best this year has to offer!
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
3 Best Winter Sleeping Bags - Overview
Here are the top 3 picks!
- Award-winning design allows for temperature regulation in variable mountain climates
This sleeping bag is the real deal. It’s one of the more heavy-duty winter sleeping bags out there right now. It’s a chunky mummy-style sleeping bag that’s going to totally encapsulate you, locking in your body heat while blocking out the chill from the winter.
This sleeping bag is filled to the gills with features, literally. One of the most prominent features you’re going to find on this winter sleeping bag from Nemo Sonic is the Thermogills. These are almost exactly like gills on a fish, except they’re for body heat.
The gills are there to keep you from getting uncomfortably warm inside of this sleeping bag. They’re engineered to let heat out without letting cold in. It’s an interesting sight to behold in action. You’d think that holes of any sort would be enough to puncture the usefulness of your sleeping bag, but sometimes you need a small opening for yourself to keep your body feeling comfortable in the dead of night.
The hood is another point of protection in this sleeping bag. Your head is the only spot for an opening in this sleeping bag once you’re all zipped in. To mitigate the chill that could potentially slip into the sleeping bag there’s an internal draft collar. This is just an area of the bag that keeps a firm seal around your collarbone area, sealing in the good and blocking out the bad.
The bag itself weighs in at about 3 pounds. In terms of 3-season or summer sleeping bags, this is pretty heavy, but since we’re in the winter sleeping bag headspace, this is an amazing minimum weight for a sleeping bag like this. It’s rated for survival at 0-Fahrenheit, which is a mind-blowing achievement in just one degree.
That’s the kind of rating you get when your sleeping bags are carefully considered from head to toe. The tow box is breathable and water-resistant so you can say goodbye to accidentally soaking your feet in morning dew collected on the walls of your tent.
The insides of this sleeping bag are overstuffed with 800 FP hydrophobic down. Nemo Sonic uses Responsible Down Standard certified down, which means they’re doing their best to continue making these incredible sleeping bags without ravaging the planet we’re so inclined to enjoy during camping trips.
This big beefy sleeping pod is just as reliable, durable, and warm in a pinch as you’d expect just from looking at it. It’s an incredible piece of equipment. If you’re going to be taking on the slopes or the mountains, then you need to be ready. This mummy-style sleeping bag is the last resting place you’ll ever need.
The insides are a 650 fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down. The down lining of this sleeping bag deflects about 90% of the water it comes in contact with. You’re never going to find yourself in a situation where this sleeping bag got so wet that you’d be unable to slip into it for a good night of sleep after a second or two.
If you bring along a small air mattress, you can take advantage of this sleeping bag’s “SynergyLink” straps covertly attached to the underside of this sleeping bag. It’s a simple yet clever solution for folks that find themselves tossing and turning throughout the night, this way they’ll never end up rolling away from their mattress and freezing their butts off because they didn’t realize they had migrated to the cold unfeeling ground.
This sleeping bag from Marmot is vibrant and always ready for action You could keep something like this in an emergency kit in case your power goes out for an extended period of time. The high visibility of your sleeping bag makes it great for emergencies, when you’re easy to spot you’re easy to rescue, and that’s going to save lives.
This sleeping bag is perhaps one of the more fun sleeping bags out there. The vibrant color is eye-popping and practical. On the inside of this sleeping bag, there’s a secret pocket that is perfect for stowing away a charging phone for some midnight tunes. It’s also the perfect middle ground sizewise.
It’s not so large that it would comfortably accommodate some of the taller campers. It’s not going to have your body struggling to heat up the left behind by the sleeping bag, and it’s not so tight that it feels like you’re being constricted. The inside of the jacket is skilled with a certified 850+ Fill Power Goose Down. This down is not only water-resistant but capable of sealing in your body heat once you’ve hopped in the sleeping bag.
This sleeping bag is going to be sticking with you for an incredibly long time, nothing like regular use is going to break this bag apart. Water (for the most part) is going to find itself slipping right off of your sleeping bag, keeping you warm and dry and ready to take over as the new one.
Getting set up with a good winter sleeping bag isn’t much harder than finding a good 3-season sleeping bag. It’s all about identifying the key necessities and finding a sleeping bag that speaks to you. Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to be camping and how cold it’s likely to be, you’ll be able to effectively narrow down your range of options and make your hunt much more simple.
Even by narrowing down your options this way, you’re still blowing open a thousand doors at the beginning of your investigation, there’s so much to consider, from the material the sleeping bag is made from to the fillings and shape of the bag. You need to know how much the bag itself weighs so you’re not accidentally over encumbering yourself by slapping a sleeping bag onto the side of your pack on your way out the door.
Space Inside the Sleeping Bag
If you can’t comfortably fit inside of your sleeping bag then you’re just straight up out of luck. Fitting inside of a winter sleeping bag means that you’re adequately covered, but it’s also important to consider how much extra space is in there with you. Every square inch of extra air in your sleeping bag is another square inch you have to keep warm.
Finding a happy medium or a sleeping bag that’s adjustable is going to be the difference between a good winter trip and eight hours of miserable sleep. You should also consider the shape of your sleeping bag. Mummy-style sleeping bags are great for the wintertime because you’re able to totally tuck yourself into your bag.
Once you’ve set up camp and zipped yourself into a massive cocoon of warmth you’re going to be able to keep yourself warm without worrying that you’ll pop up in the middle of the night with frozen toes and a nasty shivering fit. Mummy bags also keep you from having to go crazy with your ground layering, saving you space in your pack.
Overall they’re an efficient use of space, and if you’re sleeping on your own then maximizing your ability to stay warm and carry your things is going to be key to keeping yourself sane during winter camping trips. This is all to say that you’re going to have to take some time to seriously consider the size of your sleeping bag before committing to a purchase.
A sleeping bag that’s too big for your tent is better than a bag that’s too small for your body, so err on the side of too big so you’ll have room to grow, to accommodate a camping guest if you’re ever able to talk a friend into coming along with you.
Temperature of the Sleeping Bag
Every tent is going to be rated for a certain survivable temperature. It’s easy to take our body’s ability to regulate temperature for granted, but once you’re lying down on the cold hard ground, especially during the winter months when things start freezing over, you can’t just leave it all to your heart and natural body functions, especially once temperatures start to dip during the night.
A sleeping bag is all about keeping your body heat from escaping when there’s nothing else contributing to that equation. Once the sun’s gone down and the fire’s gone out, you’re left to your own devices. Checking the temperature rating on your sleeping bag is going to be the difference between a comfortable night at your campsite and waking up with frozen toes.
Even summer nights can get a little uncomfortable to sleep in without a good sleeping bag. Remember that you’re not in a soft bed that’s designed to keep your body heat in your body. When it’s just you and the ground, you’ve got to have an intermediary even when it’s 70-degrees outside, and you’re going to be much colder than that during the winter.
It’s also important to remember that the temperature rating is telling you the minimum temperature you can survive in, not a temperature that’s comfortable to sleep in. If you want to calculate a comfortable temperature for yourself, then remember the 20-degree rule. This is a simple principle that will guarantee you a comfortable night of sleep no matter where you are.
Just add 20 degrees to the minimum temperature rating of your sleeping bag. If your 3-season sleeping bag says it’ll save you at a minimum rating of 20-degrees, you’ll make it through the night alive below freezing, sure, but if you add 20-degrees to that, you’ll see that you’ll probably only be comfortable at temperatures around 40-degrees. You should also be aware of how they reach these ratings.
Temperature ratings use a dummy inside of a sleeping bag with a groundsheet, several layers of clothing, an internal layer in your sleeping bag, and a warm hat. All of this is supposed to augment the ability your sleeping bag has to keep you warm when the frigid wind starts clawing at your tent. The 20-degree rule is helpful, but it’s also no good if you don’t take the time to pack some warm socks and a pair of warm gloves.
Transportation of the Sleeping Bag
When you’re heading out to go camping, hiking, or backpacking, you’re responsible for bringing along every single thing you could possibly want to have at your campsite at the end of the day. The same goes for your sleeping bag, that’s just an unavoidable truth of the world. That means that your sleeping bag has to be able to transport pretty easily.
If you’re going to be outside for more than a single day then one of your top three concerns should be how well you’re able to bring along your sleeping bag. A bag’s fillings and shape are going to totally determine how much you can compress your sleeping bag and fit it in with the rest of your belongings. If you’re getting a big bag meant to sleep multiple people, you’re going to have to consider how heavy that is.
Every extra pound in your pack is going to weigh you down that much more and make it harder to complete your trek. Once you’ve found a bag you’ll fit inside of warmly and comfortably, you’re going to have to seriously consider your backpack or whatever carrying method you prefer, and figure out how you’re going to carry your sleeping bag once you’ve added it to your collection.
The winter is especially difficult to plan around, you can’t cut as many corners if you’re backpacking or camping during the colder months. You have much higher basic needs to meet. Your clothes are going to be heavier and your campsite needs to be much more robust. A fire at your campsite can only get you so far before you start needing extra layers, a dry change of clothes, and an opportunity to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket or sleeping bag.
It’s going to be hard to dethrone this one. It really feels like a cutting-edge piece of camping equipment. When you bed down for the night in this beautiful down mummy-style fortress, you’re zipping yourself into a world of warmth. The Thermogills on this sleeping bag need to be tried before they can be believed.
One of the first things that come to mind when you’re thinking about winter camping isn’t the ability to cool yourself down, but it’s a reality. When you’re properly kitted out for a winter expedition you’re going to get pretty warm. Your winter tents, your winter clothes, and your winter sleeping bag are all going to excel at keeping your body’s heat right where you want it.
All of that insulation needs an outlet, and when you’re in snooze land, you’re going to have to rely on the design of your sleeping bag. The vents along with the hood and the copious amounts of down filling this sleeping bag to the brim all come together to make something much more special than the sum of their parts.
A good winter sleeping bag is going to over-perform if anything. It’s a sign that you’re getting something that’s really going to protect you, even if you’re pushing yourself to your limits, the wiggle room makes for a positive surprise. This is a sleeping bag for folks serious about their winter outdoor getaways and it's well worth stocking up. Hands down this is the sleeping bag for hardcore winter campers.
Bonus tip: Winter camping is tough, but it’s not impossible. When you know the tricks of the trade you’ll start having a much better time, this video will show you some of the ropes!