Best Sleeping Bags 2016
Marmot, Big Agnes, Nemo, Valandre
- Get in there. Mummy bags might all look the same, but fit can vary. When you’re in the store. zip all the way inti the bag with extra clothes on, move around, and see how it feels fully cinched.
- Zip’em together. Got a backpacking sweetheart? Make sure your bags have compatible left – and righthand zippers.
Why we like it: Smart features make this bag especially cozy on subfreezing nights.
Our cold-sleeping tester swooned over this bag while testing in the Rockies. “I don’t fall in love with bags easily, especially synthetics, but this one’s clever details won me over,” she says. The 6-inch draft collar (with a snap button to secure it around your neck) rests under your chin like a comforter, and the hood is deep enough to fit a packable pillow even when fully cinched. The insulated flap in the footbox lets you micromanage warmth; rest your toes above the flap on mild nights, or stuff them underneath when you want extra heat.
The continuous-filament fibers have more loft than regular short-staple fill, giving it excellent warmth to weight for a synthetic (it’s the same weight as some down bags in the same temp range), but it’s also relatively pricey for its class. Packability is decent for a synthetic—down to basketball size.
Waterproof treatments on the hood and footbox provide an extra layer of protection from condensation-soaked tent walls.
It only comes in one size (fits up to 6’3″), but for those who don’t fill it, a drawstring at the bottom of the bag seals off the lower 12 inches so you don’t waste energy heating unused space.
Vaude Arctic 800 – OUR SCORE: 4.8/5.0
Why we like it: Go tent-less with this bag’s waterproof bottom and footbox.
With tents, a “bathtub” floor extends waterproof fabric above ground level—a no-brainer for camping in wet conditions. Now NEMO applies that same design to the base of this bag. The 20-denier waterproof nylon shell covers the entire bottom of the sack. The waterproof footbox is protected with the same material as the bottom, but stops there to save on weight and cost. “I slept under a tarp in the Adirondacks and rain constantly dripped on the foot of my bag. Fortunately, it ran right off so my feet didn’t ice over in the near-freezing temps,” our tester says. Bonus: The waterproof shell, combined with the integrated sleeve for pads up to 25 inches wide, makes the bag more durable and protects your mattress.
The 700-fill, water-resistant duck down kept one warm-sleeping tester comfortable down to the mid-20s. Caveat: While the hoodless design saves weight, some testers wanted the extra warmth in chilly temps. Pull the drawstring collar tight and wear a beanie in temps under 40°F.
Nemo Moonwalk– OUR SCORE: 4.6/5.0
Why we like it: This expedition bag combines plush, high-quality down with a unique draft collar for remarkable warmth to weight.
Don’t be concerned that Valandre refers to it as a Marie Antoinette draft collar. As one tester quipped, “With its unparalleled ability to seal in heat, I’d prefer to simply think of it as something fit for royalty.” The 2.5-inch-thick collar has a 9 ¼-inch zipper above your left shoulder; pull the drawcord over the middle, and you have a girthy draft collar that’s custom-fit to your neck size and comfort level.
The unusually wide, 65-inch shoulder circumference allows extra elbowroom, or you can wear a full expedition down jacket to bed in order to lower the temp rating even more (a common technique for mountaineers). “I loved that I could roll around like a rotisserie chicken and still stay plenty warm, even on a -3°F, tentless night,” said our tester after hiking through Colorado’s Pike National Forest.
Valandre designers studied the ideal baffle height in each sub-section of the bag, which resulted in 91 different pieces to create the anatomical shell and liner. The tallest baffles have more of the 800-fill goose down over your torso to maximize warmth in your core, whereas the baffles over your legs are minimized to save on weight. Naturally, the premium materials and extensive R&D boost the cost.
Valande Shocking Blue – OUR SCORE: 4.4/5.0
Why we like it: You get a legit, three-season down sleeping bag that’s true to its temp rating for less than $200.
“No cold spots—I slept completely warm from head to toe,” said one of our editors aft er a damp, mid-20s night in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains. To keep the price low, Big Agnes opted for 600-fi ll, water-resistant duck down. It’s not as packable as higher-fi ll down (the included stuff sack gets it to 8 by 17.5 inches; we recommend getting an aft ermarket compression sack to smash it down to soccer ball size).
The 60-inch shoulder circumference strikes a pleasant balance between thermal effi ciency and elbowroom. One editor had space to pack an extra layer so she could put on warm clothes in the morning, but there was loved how the footbox kept her toes toasty in subfreezing temps, but another with larger feet wished for more wiggle room.
The drawcords were a bit sticky when cinching the hood all the way down, requiring massaging of the fabric to shrink the opening to blowhole size. Some testers also wished for a loft ier draft collar
Big Agnes Boot Jack – OUR SCORE: 4.6/5.0
Why we like it: With down on top and synthetic insulation underneath, this bag maximizes the performance benefits of both types of fill.
U-shaped baffl es curve across the top of the bag, so the walls catch the down as you move side to side. This makes the feathers less likely to migrate to one end of the baffl e, creating cold spots. Short-staple synthetic insulation on the bottom is more resistant to compression than down, so it stays loft ier—and warmer.
The DWR-treated nylon shell kept insulation dry in damp conditions. Aft er our tester had his entire kit soaked while crossing a rainy pass on the PCT, he was surprised to fi nd the inside of his bag still dry. Note: One tester found the temp rating generous and recommended sleeping in a puff y in near-freezing temps. Want more warmth? Pick up the 20°F Ion for another $50 and 3.5 ounces.
Lightweight materials (a 12-denier shell; 850-fi ll, hydrophobic goose down) and design (a ¾-length zipper) put this bag at the lighter end of its class, even with the synthetic fi ll.
A 10-inch zipper on the opposite shoulder from the main opening allows you to fl ip open the top of the bag for more breathing room in mild temps. However, the ¾-length main zip prevents you from venting your feet.