10 Best Big and Tall Backpacking Sleeping Bags for 2022

By Joshua Davis •  Updated: 09/14/22 •  27 min read

Winter 2013. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

The backcountry campsite was perfect. Stunning views in all directions of the Chisos Mountains. And not another person in sight.

The downside? It was FREEZING. So cold that water bottles left outside froze solid overnight.

I had brought along a lightweight sleeping bag, expecting slightly warmer weather. But I quickly realized that my sleeping bag was not going to cut it. In the interest of saving money and weight, I had settled on a regular-sized bag for this trip.

What a dumb idea. I’m not a regular-sized dude.

The Chihuahuan Desert may be hot during the day; but, at night … brrrr. I needed a bigger, warmer bag. And I needed it fast.

But this is Big Bend. The only thing you can get fast here is a sunburn.

Layering on every stitch of clothing in my pack, I squeezed as much of my frame into my regular-sized Marmot sleeping bag as the laws of physics would allow.

By midnight, every piece of me from the shoulders up was achingly cold. It was a LONG night.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with a list of the best sleeping bags for big and tall backpackers on the market. Whether you need a longer bag or a wider bag, or BOTH, we’ve got you covered.

OFHQ’s Favorites

In a hurry? Can’t wait to find a bag and hit the trail?

Here are our Top Picks in each category.

Hyke and Byke Eolus 15°F Down Sleeping Bag

How does a small sleeping bag company offer an 800FP goose-down sleeping bag at half the cost of the big brands?

They cut out the middleman and work their backcountry buns off with a skeleton crew. It’s how they roll at Hyke and Byke.

Best Quality-to-Cost Ratio
Hyke and Byke Eolus Down Sleeping Bag
$184.97
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Available in 0°, 15°, and 30°
  • LOW price point
  • High-quality goosedown fill is hydrophobic
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Wide shoulders and large foot box
  • Insulation distribution balances increased efficiency with shaving ounces
  • Compresses to 6.5" x 9.5" when packed
Cons:
  • Less insulation on the bottom than on the top ... must use with a pad
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10/02/2022 01:39 am GMT

The Hyke and Byke Eolus uses 800 fill power goose down, treated with a hydrophobic coating. The shell is a 400T 20D ripstop nylon with a water-repellent finish. The bag has a mummy shape to it and weighs in at only 2.6lbs.

With a 64″ shoulder and 52″ hip girth and a length to comfortably fit a 6’6″ Sasquatch, it checks all the boxes for the best sleeping bag for big and tall backpackers.

Nemo Disco Down Sleeping Bag

Sporting a healthy smattering of innovative and useful features, the Nemo Disco down sleeping bag provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio.

Best Warmth-to-Weight Ratio
Nemo Disco Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Available in men's and women's
  • Available in 15° and 30°
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Surprisingly lightweight for such a big bag
  • Nice compression (7.6 L) when packed. Not bad for a big bag!
  • The foot box is protected against tent wall condensation
  • Lots of elbow and knee room thanks to the unique "spoon" shape
  • Treated down fill is hydrophobic
  • Thermo gills, draft collars, and tubes make it a versatile 3-season bag
Cons:
  • A tad pricey, but, not too bad
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The first thing you’ll notice is the unique spoon shape. Wider at the elbows and knees, it gives you plenty of room to move around and stay comfortable (especially for side sleepers) on cold nights.

The second is the fact that this spoon has gills! These unique vents along the top of the bag allow the sleeping giant within to dissipate excess warmth without letting in icy drafts.

There’s more. A LOT more! Read the full section on the Nemo Disco below to get the full scoop … or spoonful.

Big Agnes Echo Park Synthetic Sleeping Bag

If you want a bag with a palatial amount of sprawl-out room, Big Agnes’s Echo Park may be a bit heavy; but, it’s built for the biggest of us.

BIGGEST!
Big Agnes Echo Park 20 Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • REI Editor's Choice Award Winner
  • Available with -20°, 0°, 20°, or 40° temperature rating
  • Left and right-handed zippers work for everyone
  • Integrates well with Big Agnes Sleep Systems
  • The bag can be fully unzipped and used as a comforter
  • Can be zipped into a mummy bag shape for additional warmth in cold weather
Cons:
  • A heavy beast to lug on the trail
  • Takes up 11.5 liters when compressed
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With an 80″ shoulder girth and 74″ for the hips, you’ll be able to sleep like a baby in all the extra space this behemoth has to offer.

True to Big Agnes’s reputation for fine craftsmanship, this bag is made of quality, 100% recycled materials and built to provide years upon years of cozy, deep-snoozing night.

Coleman Big Basin Synthetic Sleeping Bag

It’s HEAVY. It’s BIG.

It’s cheap. But, it’s a good sleeping bag.

Budget Pick
Coleman Big Basin 15° Synthetic Sleeping Bag
$65.99
Pros:
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Sub-$100 price point
  • Exceptionally roomy and comfortable
  • Might just hold down your tent in hurricane-force winds.
Cons:
  • Monstrously heavy!
  • No water repellant treatment
  • Does NOT compress well when packed; takes up a lot of space
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10/02/2022 01:39 am GMT

And, you’ll more-than-likely enjoy it more when car camping than on backpacking excursions. Still, if you’re just not prepared to drop over a $100 on a sleeping bag, it’ll get a big guys foot in the door.

Or, out the door, as it were.

Best Big and Tall Backpacking Sleeping Bag Line Up

I love nothing more than spending a full day following a meandering trail into the middle of the God-Blessed-Middle-of-Nowhere.

But I’m a big dude. At 6’4″ and 210 lbs., my physique already provides many of the ounces I would love to shave off my load.

My sleeping bag needs to provide me with the best night’s sleep possible; but, it can’t weigh a ton. I also need it to be roomy enough to accommodate my larger-than-average frame.

Here are the bags that, IMHO, provide the best bang for your buck when it comes to backpacking sleeping bags for big and tall guys like me:

1. Nemo Disco Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

Coming across something that was specifically crafted with tall people in mind always makes me do a happy dance.

When I discovered the Nemo Disco, I did two happy dances.

Best Warmth-to-Weight Ratio
Nemo Disco Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Available in men's and women's
  • Available in 15° and 30°
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Surprisingly lightweight for such a big bag
  • Nice compression (7.6 L) when packed. Not bad for a big bag!
  • The foot box is protected against tent wall condensation
  • Lots of elbow and knee room thanks to the unique "spoon" shape
  • Treated down fill is hydrophobic
  • Thermo gills, draft collars, and tubes make it a versatile 3-season bag
Cons:
  • A tad pricey, but, not too bad
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This “spoon” shaped bag was designed to give big folk more room to move around at night without sacrificing warmth or comfort while the ample 84″ length gives plenty of legroom for anyone up to 6’6″ or more!

The Disco has a temperature rating of 15 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a great choice for spring, summer, and fall camping trips. It’s also available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Insulated with 650 fill-power down that has been treated to be hydrophobic, the Disco will dry faster and retain its loft better in damp conditions. The draft tubes and collar help to seal in the heat, while the Thermo Gills let you dissipate excess heat without letting in drafts.

The shell of the Disco is made from 20D ripstop nylon that has been treated with a DWR finish to repel water. The foot box is protected against condensation from your tent walls, and the entire bag can be compressed into an included stuff sack.

Altogether, this is a well-equipped, thoughtfully-crafted extra large sleeping bag that compresses well when it’s time to packup.

And it’s backed by a Lifetime Warranty. Cue the third happy dance.

2. Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

Lightweight sleeping bags for larger humans is hard to come by. And while it is not as lightweight as the Nemo Disco, the Bishop Pass is a worthy candidate for those needing a big bag that won’t weight them down.

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Down-filled shell, draft collar, face gaskets, and tube keep this bag exceptionally toasty
  • The glow-in-the-dark zipper pull is a nice touch
  • Lots of thoughtful features
  • Surprisingly lightweight for such a big bag
  • Excellent compression when packed (8.26 L) for a big guy
Cons:
  • The price is a tad high but not too bad
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The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 is filled with 650 fill power down, has a water repellant fabric shell, and comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high-end sleeping bag.

It has a shaped draft collar and face gasket to seal in the heat, a contoured foot box, an internal stash pocket, and an anti-snag two-way zipper with glow-in-the-dark pull (left and right hand available).

And it compresses down to a very manageable 8.26 liters.

So, if you’re in the market for a big and tall sleeping bag that won’t weigh you down, the Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 is worth a look.

3. Marmot Sawtooth 15 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

If you’re tall but not particularly wide, the Marmot Sawtooth is a great choice. It’s rated to 15 degrees, so it’s versatile enough for most 3-season camping trips.

Marmot Sawtooth 15 Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Stuff and storage sacks included
  • Anatomic expandable foot box wraps the down completely around the feet
  • Semi-comfortable price point
  • Water repellant down and shell provides more confidence in wet conditions
Cons:
  • Only Unisex design (not men's and women's)
  • A bit snug for wider folks ... even for a mummy
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The 650FP down is treated to be water repellant, and the 20d ripstop nylon shell has a DWR finish to help shed moisture. The full-length two-way zipper has a Zipper Garage to prevent it from wandering during the night, and the cinch-able hood has multiple baffles to seal in the heat.

The anatomic foot box wraps the down completely around your feet for extra warmth, and there’s even a hand warmer pocket for those chilly nights. The draft collar and tubes help to seal in the heat, while the internal stash pockets are great for stashing small items.

The Sawtooth comes with a stuff sack and a storage sack, and it’s backed by Marmot’s Lifetime Warranty. Not too shabby.

One more thing: they seem to be in short supply; so, finding one may be a needle-in-a-haystack operation.

4. Kelty Cosmic 20 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

When it comes to finding the best blend of quality, function, and price in tall sleeping bags, it’s no wonder that the Cosmic 20 has won Kelty some serious customer loyalty.

Kelty Cosmic 20 Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • REI Editor's Choice Award Winner
  • Pricepoint below $200
  • 20D Nylon shell and 50D polyester lining are tough and buttery smooth
  • Water repellant coating keeps you warm and dry
  • Lots of wiggle room in the foot box
Cons:
  • Down quality is of lower (albeit the most common) quality
  • Creepin' up on 3 lbs.
  • Compression sack not included
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It’s a no-frills, 3-season mummy bag that uses 550FP down and has a water repellant treatment to keep you warm and dry.

The trapezoidal baffles are a proprietary innovation designed to trap more warmth, while the draft tube along the zipper help to further seal in the heat.

The anti-sag zipper keeps the bag from holding you for ransom when you need to get out quick (aka, When you gotta go …), and the spacious foot box ensures that there’s plenty of room for your feet.

The Cosmic 20 stuffs easily into the included stuff sack (although it would be nice to get a compression sack with the package), and it weighs in at just under 3 pounds.

Not too shabby for a budget-friendly mummy bag.

One more thing: Kelty’s Lifetime Warranty has got your back.

5. REI Co-Op Down Time 25 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

You can always count on REI to come out with gear that is functional and well-thought-out with a price that makes you feel like you scored a deal. The REI Co-Op Down Time 25 is no different.

REI Co-Op Down Time 25 Down Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Available in Long and Long Wide
  • Decent compression for a large bag (6.3 L Long; 7.3 L Long Wide)
  • Synthetic fill in foot box protects from tent wall condensation
  • Relatively lightweight for a large bag
  • Well insulated with an arsenal of baffles, tubes, and variated-stictching
Cons:
  • The absence of a stash pocket is disappointing and surprising
  • Compression sack not included
  • Only a 1-Year Warranty
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This large mummy bag has a water repellant down fill and a water repellant nylon shell to keep you dry and cozy. It has a contoured, adjustable hood, a trapezoidal foot box with synthetic insulation, and an insulated draft collar and tube. The left-hand zipper is anti-snag, and there are hang loops and a stuff sack included.

What’s nice about this bag is that it’s available in both Long and Long Wide to accommodate different body types. It’s also relatively lightweight for a big bag and has decent compression (6.3 L Long; 7.3 L Long Wide).

So, if you’re in the market for a big and tall sleeping bag that won’t break the bank, the REI Co-Op Down Time 25 is worth a look.

But that warranty … yuck.

In REI’s defense, they had to make an administrative decision that protected its interests from an unfortunate number of bad apples that were taking their generous Lifetime Warranty for granted (i.e., buying a Clif Bar and demanding a refund after they ate it claiming they weren’t satisfied … c’mon people!).

6. Big Agnes Anvil Horn 15 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

True to a Big Agnes sleeping bag, the Anvil Horn 15 is PACKED with features … except for that one thing.

Big Agnes Anvil Horn 15 Down Sleeping Bag
$246.33
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Available in Long and Long Wide
  • Flex Pad Sleeve acts like a fitted sheet for pads up to 30" x 78"
  • Compatible with the Big Agnes Sleep System
  • Left-hand and right-hand zipper bags can be mated together to make a double
  • Pillow Barn and Flex Sleeve keep your pillow and pad in place
Cons:
  • What!? No stash pocket??
  • Long Wide version is overpriced in our estimation
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It has a 650FP DownTek down fill, a left-hand snag-free zipper, a ripstop polyester shell, and a poly-taffeta lining.

The Flex Pad Sleeve acts like a fitted sheet for pads up to 30″ x 78″. It’s also compatible with the Big Agnes Sleep System.

What’s really useful is that the left-hand and right-hand zipper bags can be mated together to make a double. If you and your accompanying heart-throb want to do some backcountry cuddlin’, just zip your two Anvil Horns together and, voila! You’ve got a double.

The Pillow Barn and Flex Sleeve keep your pillow and pad in place, and the one-handed hood cinch helps you seal in the warmth.

Other features include an insulated draft collar and tube, liner loops, hang loops, a stuff sack, and a mesh storage sack.

The Anvil Horn 15 is available in both Long and Long Wide to accommodate different body types.

Unfortunately, the Long Wide version is a bit overpriced in our estimation. But, if you can find it on sale, it’s definitely worth considering.

7. Hyke and Byke Eolus 15 Down Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

“How much does it really cost to make this outdoor gear I’ve spent thousands of dollars buying for all my adventures?”

With that thought, an engineer and avid backpacker named Daniel began to find out how to manufacture high-quality backpacking gear at the best possible price.

Thus, Hyke and Byke was born, dedicated to keeping costs low by taking an out-of-the-box approach to make great backpacking gear.

The Eolus is their down sleeping bag, and it’s one of the lightest and most affordable on the market at this price point.

Best Quality-to-Cost Ratio
Hyke and Byke Eolus Down Sleeping Bag
$184.97
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Available in 0°, 15°, and 30°
  • LOW price point
  • High-quality goosedown fill is hydrophobic
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Wide shoulders and large foot box
  • Insulation distribution balances increased efficiency with shaving ounces
  • Compresses to 6.5" x 9.5" when packed
Cons:
  • Less insulation on the bottom than on the top ... must use with a pad
Buy Now on Amazon
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10/02/2022 01:39 am GMT

It’s packed with 800 FP hydrophobic goosedown, which means the down clusters will stay dry 10 times longer than untreated down and will still loft after being compressed.

The shell is made of water-repellent 400T 20D ripstop nylon, and it has double anti-snag zippers, vertical baffles, and a spacious foot box.

The Eolus also has hang loops, an internal stash pocket, and comes with a compression stuff sack.

This bag is available in 0°, 15°, and 30°F temperature ratings. The middle 15° bag weighs 2 lbs. 12.8 oz. while the other two just a tad more and a tad less.

The Eolus has a great warmth-to-weight ratio and is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable, high-quality down sleeping bag. However, keep in mind that there is less insulation on the bottom of the bag, so you will need to use it with a pad.

Is there a big backpacker out there that sleeps directly on the hard, merciless ground after a long day of trekking? You’re tougher than I am.

8. Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

My personal backpacking sleeping bag of choice, I found the Marmot Trestles Elite to be the best sleeping bag when it came to the ratio of comfort and weight to price.

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Great comfort-weight-price ratio
  • The anatomical foot box is designed for large feet and increases warmth and comfort
  • Wave construction increases loft on top
  • Blanket construction enhances comfort underneath
  • Additional secondary zipper allows for the dissipation of excess heat
  • Machine washable
Cons:
  • A bit heavy for a backpacking bag ... but, not too bad for a big one.
  • Not the greatest compression when packed; but, it's better than most large synthetics
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Fitting up to 6’6″ and with a shoulder girth of 76″, this mummy-style bag has plenty of room for those on the taller side. It’s also got an anatomical hood and foot box for increased warmth and comfort, as well as an anti-snag left-hand main zipper.

The secondary fold-down zipper is a nice touch, allowing you to vent excess heat on warmer nights. And the internal stash pocket is great for keeping your glasses or headlamp close at hand.

The Marmot Trestles Elite comes with a compression sack and storage sack, and it’s even machine washable … though we don’t recommend doing that too often.

At 3 pounds 1.4 ounces, it’s not the lightest backpacking sleeping bag out there and it compresses down to about the size of a basketball … also not stellar. But considering its size and comfort, we think it strikes a nice balance.

So, if you’re looking for a big and tall sleeping bag that won’t break the bank, the Marmot Trestles Elite is a great option.

9. Big Agnes Echo Park Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

If you want a bag with all the bells and whistles at a low price point, you’re gonna pack some weight. But, for a lot of people, it’s worth it.

BIGGEST!
Big Agnes Echo Park 20 Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Pros:
  • REI Editor's Choice Award Winner
  • Available with -20°, 0°, 20°, or 40° temperature rating
  • Left and right-handed zippers work for everyone
  • Integrates well with Big Agnes Sleep Systems
  • The bag can be fully unzipped and used as a comforter
  • Can be zipped into a mummy bag shape for additional warmth in cold weather
Cons:
  • A heavy beast to lug on the trail
  • Takes up 11.5 liters when compressed
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The Echo Park uses 50% post-consumer recycled synthetic insulation and is available in four different temperature ratings.

It’s got a unique Free Range hood that allows you to move your cranium around without un-cinching, and the integrated hand pockets allow you to grab the corners from the inside and wrap even more toasty luxuriousness around you.

The draft collar and tubes help to seal in the heat, while the water-and-stain-repellant fabric keeps you feeling dry and not having to hide some socially-debilitating splotch from a nosey neighbor.

The Pillow Barn is a nice touch for those whose pillow likes to go walking, and the sleeping pad sleeve means that you can secure your pad underneath so it won’t go for a stroll of its own.

Add to all this a unique array of zippers that can not only allow it to open fully into a comforter but also close into a mummy-style bag … well, it’s easy to see how this bag won an REI Editor’s Choice Award.

The only thing working against the Echo Park is its weight, but if you don’t mind lugging a bit more on the trail, this could be the big and tall backpacking sleeping bag for you. So let’s move on to our next contender …

10. Coleman Big Basin Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Important Spec’s:

Speaking of lugging more weight …

To be clear, we don’t consider the Big Basin a backpacking sleeping bag in the technical sense. Any bag that weighs more than your water (or an intermediate bowling ball) is best left for car camping.

But, if you’re looking for a low-cost bag that will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of size and comfort, this one fits the bill.

Budget Pick
Coleman Big Basin 15° Synthetic Sleeping Bag
$65.99
Pros:
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Sub-$100 price point
  • Exceptionally roomy and comfortable
  • Might just hold down your tent in hurricane-force winds.
Cons:
  • Monstrously heavy!
  • No water repellant treatment
  • Does NOT compress well when packed; takes up a lot of space
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Coleman is known for making relatively durable gear at an affordable price point, and the Big Basin is … relatively okay.

This synthetic (polyester) bag is rated to 15°F and has a draft tube along the zipper to prevent heat loss and an adjustable hood. It’s also got a snag-free zipper and a fleece-lined foot box with zippered vent for those with fickle feet.

What it doesn’t have is any water repellant treatment, so expect to feel a bit wet if you sleep out in the open or a heavily-condensated tent.

And, as we mentioned before, at 7.98 pounds, this is a car camping bag through and through. But if that’s what you’re looking for, the Coleman Big Basin should definitely be on your radar.

Guide: Choosing a Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

Sleeping bag design has become a highly specialized industry over the years, and advancements in materials and construction have made today’s backpacking bags lighter, more compressible, and more comfortable than ever.

With all of the sleeping bags on the market, choosing the best option can be a daunting task. This guide will help you select the best bag for your needs.

First, consider what type of backpacker you are. Are you an ultralight minimalist, or are you more concerned with comfort and convenience?

Do you primarily backpack in warm weather, or do you venture into colder climates?

Your answers to these questions will help guide your decision on what type of bag to choose.

Ultralight backpackers trekking for long distances typically prioritize weight and packability above all else. For these hikers, every ounce counts, and they are willing to sacrifice some comfort to save on weight.

However, if your excursions cover shorter distances, you have the luxury of carrying a bit more weight, and you may prioritize comfort over ultralight packability.

Warm weather backpackers will want a bag that is well-ventilated to prevent overheating, while those venturing into colder climates will need a bag that can keep them warm in below-freezing temperatures.

Aside from these considerations, it’s worth reading up on the most important spec’s of sleeping bag design.

These include:

Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

Simply put, the temperature rating of a sleeping bag indicates the lowest temperature at which the bag is designed to keep the typical sleeper warm and comfortable.

But it’s important to understand a few things about how these ratings are determined, as well as their limitations.

A bag’s temperature rating is NOT a guarantee; rather, it is based upon standardized laboratory tests, the results of which are printed on the bag itself to help backpackers make informed buying decisions.

As a rule, you want to select a bag with a temperature rating well above the lowest temperature you expect to be sleeping in. You can always unzip your bag to get cooler; but, if the temperatures fall below your bag’s rating, you’re in for a long night of miserable shivering and numb extremities.

Also, it’s a good idea to look for bags with an “ISO” and/or “EN” rating and the specific use of the terms “Comfort” and “Lower Limit.” This ensures that you are considering a bag that can be reliably compared to others that have gone through the same standardized testing.

You’ll typically find these printed just inside the zipper at the head of the bag.

Wilderness Tip: A sleeping bag’s ISO/EN rating is determined with the assumption that the user will be sleeping on an insulated pad (with an R-Value of 5.5) and wearing a base layer with socks.

If you sleep without a pad and/or in your birthday suit, don’t expect it to perform as rated … and please don’t tell us.

The “Comfort” limit refers to the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average “cold sleeper” comfortable. The “Lower Limit” is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep a “warm sleeper” comfortable.

As you might expect, women’s bags usually have a higher Comfort limit than men’s or unisex bags; but, when in doubt, always choose the bag with the lower limit.

Insulation (Fill) Types

Fundamentally, you have two options: down or synthetic.

Down Insulation

The benefits of down insulation include :

When considering a down sleeping bag, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Fill Power

The higher the fill power, the higher the quality of the down, and the more warmth it can provide relative to its weight (loft). For example, the most expensive bags suited for the coldest weather will have a fill power closer to 800 than 500.

Water-Resistant Down:

It used to be that getting your down sleeping bag wet was a cardinal backpacking sin. Now, you can get a bag with down that sports a water-repellant treatment. Look for it on the label.

Wilderness Tip: Look for RDS (Responsible Down Standard) or TDS (Traceable Down Standard) on the packaging. This ensures that the down keeping you toasty at night came from humane sources.

Synthetic Insulation

The benefits of synthetic insulation include:

It’s good ol’ affordable polyester and requires much less care and attention in wet conditions.

There is not a standardized measurement for fill power on synthetics; so, it’s best to refer to the ISO/EN ratings to determine temperature/comfort ratings

The downside (that’s punny) to synthetic fill is that it does not compress as well as down, meaning the bag will take up more space in your pack.

Now that you understand the types of insulation, here are a few more considerations as you narrow your search for the best backpacking sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bag Weight

The insulation and shape of your bag will have the most significant impact on weight.

For example, a synthetic-filled, rectangular bag will weigh MUCH more than a down-filled mummy bag.

Wilderness Tip: Some manufacturers indicate the “fill weight” of their bags on their packaging; however, it is the overall weight of the bag that truly matters. When comparing bags, look for the one that provides the best balance between temperature rating and overall weight for your needs.

Sleeping Bag Shapes

[Insert illustration of three types of bags]

The Rectangular Bag: The original, iconic sleeping bag shape, the rectangular bag, is roomy and comfy but not very thermally efficient. If you sleep cold or toss-and-turn a lot at night, this could be the bag for you. However, it will weigh and pack more than other shapes.

The Mummy Bag: The mummy bag is form-fitting and tapered at the feet, which makes it more thermally efficient than the rectangular bag. If you don’t mind being cocooned while you sleep and are looking for a light/compact bag, this is a great option.

The Semi-Rectangular Bag: The semi-rectangular bag combines the best of both worlds by offering more space than a mummy bag while still being somewhat thermally efficient. If you find most mummy bags too confining, this could be a good option.

Sleeping Bag Fit

I’m 6’4″ and 210 lbs; so, my sleeping bag is neither the smallest nor the lightest.

Years back, I tried to make do with a smaller bag to save on ounces and ended up freezing from the shoulders up in Big Bend National Park because I couldn’t squish down enough to fit my sasquatch frame in the bag (yes, it gets cold in the Texas desert … blasted cold).

The moral of the story: get a bag that fits you well. If you have to err, go too big rather than too small.

Sleeping bags come marked with a “fits up to” specification that indicates the maximum height of the individual it will sleep. Experience compels me to recommend that, if your height comes close, try the next size up before making a final purchase.

Additional Features and Accessories

These days, it’s not enough for a bag to just be a bag. Each season, it seems, bag designers are coming out with new ideas and innovations that add convenience and comfort to sleeping on the trail.

Useful features to look for include:

Hoods: A good hood will seal in warmth on chilly nights and provide a cozy cocoon to snuggle into.

Draft Collars and Tubes: Draft collars are tube-like baffles that help prevent body heat from escaping through the top of the bag. The tubes run the length of the zipper to seal in warmth.

Foot Vent: A foot vent allows you to open up the bottom of the bag on warmer nights without having to unzip the entire thing.

Stash Pockets: Stash pockets are usually located near the head of the bag and provide a place to store small items like a watch, headlamp, or lip balm within easy reach.

Sleeping Pad Loops or Sleeve: These help keep the pad underneath you, thus, helping to keep you on it all night long.

Compression Straps: Compression straps help cinch down the bag so it takes up less space in your pack.

Hang Loops: Hang loops are sewn into the shell of the bag and allow you to air it out or hang it to dry.

Pillow Pocket: A pillow pocket holds a small, inflatable camp pillow in place at the head of the bag.

Zippers: Some are right-hand configured and some left and some both. Some bags have “full-length” zippers that allow you to open the bag up like a comforter on warmer nights; others have “half-length” zippers for venting, and some have no zippers at all. Choose the zipper configuration that best meets your needs.

Fabric Shell and Water Repellency: The nylon or polyester shell of a sleeping bag may have a treatment to prevent moisture from infiltrating the bag. Check the packaging for this feature.

Some bags come equipped with a waterproof foot box that provides extra protection from condensation if your feet rub up against the tent wall (a tall person tribulation for sure).

Stuff Sack and Storage Sack: Stuff sacks keep the bag compressed while on the trail, saving space in your pack. However, storing the bag compressed between uses can kill the loft and compromise its effectiveness.

To preserve the loft and allow the bag to air out, store it in a loose mesh storage bag or hang it by the loops.

Sleeping Bag Liner: It does for your sleeping bag what a fitted sheet does for your mattress at home: keeps the funk from building up. Most sleeping bags cannot be machined-washed, but a liner can. It will add years to your bag’s life and

Get one. Be happier.

Time to Hit the Sack

When it comes to finding lightweight gear, being a big backpacker has its challenges.

But don’t despair, with a little extra effort you can find the gear that meets your needs without breaking your back or the bank. I sincerely hope that we have helped you get a little (or a lot) closer to finding the perfect sleeping bag that fits your needs.

When it comes to sleeping bags, size does matter. So take the time to find a bag that fits you well and provides the warmth and features you need to get a good night’s sleep on the trail.

Now, get out there!

Joshua Davis

Being outdoors is freedom! Being outdoors with my wife and two boys is LIVING! Whether in my backyard or getting lost in a National Park, there’s nothing I’d rather do than explore, discover, and experience the paradise that surrounds us. Give me my family, a backpack, and a trail and my life is full!