If you’ve ever camped out during the winter months and used the wrong type of sleeping bag, then you probably clearly remember spending those nights lying awake shivering in your tent waiting for morning to come. When you use the best cold weather sleeping bags, you can finally enjoy camping in the winter and take part in a whole new experience, such as ice fishing and long-distance skiing.
Camping out in the winter using the right gear is crucial, since being unprepared in freezing temperatures can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
I’ve put together this buyer’s guide that includes all the information you need to know to find the perfect sleeping bag for winter use. I’ve also tested out several of the leading sleeping bags on the market, narrowing it down to six bags that can provide the protection you need during the coldest months of the year. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of these models, their top features, and how they rated.
Cold Weather Sleeping Bags Comparison Chart
Marmot Trestles Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag
This mummy style bag is made out of one hundred percent polyester and features SpiralFil high-loft insulation, which the manufacturer claims provides maximum durability and warmth. The footbed of the bag is anatomically shaped, providing a snug fit that’s designed to minimize heat loss. The bag itself weighs in at a little over four pounds and has a temperature rating of fifteen degrees. The synthetic insulation provides plenty of warmth, not to mention moisture resistance, so even if the bag happens to get wet, you can rest assured it will continue to keep you warm all night long. Should you get hot during the night, you can take advantage of the fold-down secondary zipper that’s designed to help improve ventilation.
- Synthetic filling
- Fold down zipper for ventilation
- Fifteen-degree rating
This bag can be used in all types of weather conditions, in temperatures as low as sixteen degrees. The tapered design of the bag will help to minimize heat loss, allowing the bag to work its magic and keep you warm by effectively trapping your body heat. This model is on the heavy side, which can make it a poor choice for the long-distance hiker in need of a bag that won’t add too much weight to their pack. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate sleeping bag that can keep you warm in freezing temperatures and one that also comes equipped with ventilation options, then this bag is a steal for the price.
Coleman Brazos Cold Weather Sleeping Bag
This model is made out of one hundred percent polyester and has a low temperature rating of twenty degrees. The bag itself is lightweight and designed to prevent heat loss via a draft tube that’s placed along the zipper. However, despite the draft tube, heat loss is still possible due to the shape of the bag. Unlike a mummy style bag, rectangular shaped bags can lose heat since the bag is not designed to hug the contours of the user’s body. This model is filled with hollow polyester insulation that can help to minimize heat loss, while also working to keep the weight of the bag low, a big plus for the long-distance hiker. This model is also covered by a five-year limited manufacturer warranty, which tells me it’s durable and built to last.
- Five-year warranty
- Synthetic filling
- Draft tube
- Difficult to roll up
- Cannot retain body heat as well as a mummy-style bag
This model earned top marks for it’s cushy, comfortable design, light weight, and overall durability. While it cannot keep you quite as warm as a mummy style bag, it does do a pretty good job of preventing heat loss through the zipper and provides the type of thick, luxurious padding that you’ll need when you’re out in the backcountry. It can handle temperatures as low as twenty-degrees and comes with a five-year warranty, so you know the bag is durable and can handle campouts on rugged terrain.
Soulout Sleeping Bag
This model comes with a 0-25-degree temperature rating and is made out of one hundred percent polyester. The bag itself is not itchy, is comfortable, and comes with a plush liner. The exterior of the bag is made out of 290 T polyester that protects it from moisture, preventing it from penetrating the bag and soaking the filling. The bag is designed to keep the user comfortable and safe in near-freezing temperatures and features double-layer technology that will keep you warm in wet weather. Cleaning and maintaining this bag is a cinch, although it must be washed by hand and hung to dry. The included compression straps will make storing and carrying this bag a breeze; however, it does weigh four pounds, which may be a deal-breaker for some potential buyers.
- Compression straps for easy transport
- Synthetic filling
- Must be washed by hand
This bag is durable, easy to roll up and transport, features an exterior that’s waterproof and it can keep you warm and dry in near freezing temperatures. This barrel bag features a semi-tapered design that does an excellent job of retaining body heat, while the plush interior will allow you to rest comfortably throughout the night, even when you’re roughing it in the backcountry.
Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag
This is an adult-sized mummy sleeping bag that can work for users as tall as six feet, two inches. This bag also comes with a hood that can be used during freezing temperatures to further improve insulation and the body heat retaining power of the bag. The semi-sculpted hood can be adjusted by pulling on the drawstring. However, if you find that the heat protection is too much on slightly warmer nights then you can unzip the bottom portion of the bag for improved ventilation. The footbox of the bag is insulated as well, working to retain body heat, while the quilted construction of the bag and the draft tube located along the zipper will also work well to prevent heat loss and keep you nice and snug, even in freezing temperatures.
- Insulated footbox
- Draft tube along zipper
- Accommodates taller users
- Tapered design may feel too snug for some users
This model is built tough, designed for use in freezing temperatures, and can accommodate taller users, unlike many competing models. The temperature rating of 0 degrees will be a huge plus for the camper and hiker who love backcountry camping in the winter. Waterproof, quilted, and tapered for improved heat retention, this bag has what it takes to help you survive even the coldest winter weather.
Hyke & Byke Quandary
This bag comes with a lifetime warranty and has been third-party tested and IDFL certified. The design includes hydrophobic duck down filling that offers better moisture resistance compared to standard goose down filling. The insulation combined with the waterproof fabrics used will keep you warm and dry in extreme temperatures. The microscopic air clusters that are found in the feathers work to keep you warmer by creating a loft that will trap body heat to keep you warm.
The bag itself is very light and weighs just over two and a half pounds. This will be a big plus for any camper who hikes several miles a day. The temperature rating comes in at fifteen-degrees, so the bag is definitely designed to handle even the most challenging winter conditions.
- Lifetime warranty
- Duck down insulation
- IDFL certified
The bag is made out of materials that are water repellent and tear resistant. The large YKK zippers are durable and will not snag on the bag’s outer shell. Built tough and designed to keep you warm and dry in challenging winter weather conditions, this plush, comfortable winter bag is a great buy for the serious hiker and camper. However, the price can make it a poor choice for those on a tight budget, yet, considering the lifetime warranty and overall quality of the bag, it should be considered an excellent investment.
AEGISMAX Sleeping Bag
This rectangular sleeping bag has a temperature rating of forty-three degrees, which makes it a poor choice for use in freezing temperatures, however, it can handle mild to moderate winter weather, easily. The bag itself is very light, weighing in at just a little over a pound, making it perfect for the long-distance hiker. The bag is filled with goose down, which offers better body heat retention power compared to models that use synthetic filling materials. The included storage bag allows you to keep this model neatly stored when not in use, or it can be used to attach the bag to the top or bottom of your pack.
- Goose down filling material
- Low price
- Cannot handle freezing temperatures
While this winter bag cannot handle freezing temperatures as well as the other models in my line up, it does offer the type of lightweight design that many hikers and campers are looking for. It’s also equipped with goose down filling material, for improved heat retention, is easy to roll up, and it comes with its own carrying bag that will compress the bag into a small package so you can easily attach it to your pack when you’re hiking to the next campsite.
Cold Weather Sleeping Bags Buyer’s Guide
While a traditional sleeping bag can work well for camping out during the spring, summer, and fall, for the wintertime, you need a bag that can protect you from freezing temperatures and keep you nice and warm all night long.
However, before you order a bag designed for winter use, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider, in order to ensure you end up with a bag that can handle keeping you warm once the temperature drops.
But before I go over the important features to look for, first I’ll discuss the benefits of using a winter sleeping bag and why you should never go camping in cold weather without one.
The Benefits of Cold Weather Sleeping Bags
- The right sleeping bag allows you to enjoy a whole new camping experience. When you don’t have the right gear for winter camping, not only will you spend uncomfortable nights in your tent, but in severe conditions, you will also put yourself at risk of hypothermia. A sleeping bag that’s specifically made for winter camping will keep you comfortable and warm throughout the night.
- These bags do not only feature impressive insulation, but they also come equipped with a waterproof shell, so you’ll also stay dry.
- These bags will give you an affordable way to camp during the off season, so you won’;t have to rent a pricey cabin. Instead, you can continue to enjoy tent camping, which is significantly more affordable.
- If you’ve never camped in the winter, then you can take advantage of a wide range of winter sports, not to mention hunting and ice fishing.
- A sleeping bag will help you retain body heat so you can remain comfortably warm.
Now, let’s take a look at the important features you need in a sleeping bag that can protect you and keep you warm when you’re camping out in the winter.
When you’re shopping for a new sleeping bag that’s designed for winter use, you’ll need to check out each model’s temperature rating, weight, size, shape, insulation type, and what kind of material it’s made out of.
A temperature rating for a sleeping bag is how a manufacturer rates how warm the bag is. Most experienced campers recommend adding ten degrees to the bag’s temperature rating. So, if you purchase a bag that’s designed for twenty degrees, you can assume that the bag will work in temperatures of around thirty degrees. While you may not like using a sleeping bag if it’s too warm, it’s easy to cool off using one of these bags by simply unzipping it. But there’s nothing you can really do if you’re stuck in the backcountry and your bag isn’t warm enough.
A sleeping bag that’s designed for winter use is available in a variety of temperature rating options, but most seasoned campers recommend choosing a bag with a zero-degree rating or a model with a -20 or -40-degree rating. These options will keep you safe and warm in freezing temperatures. For mild winters, you may want to go with a bag that’s slightly cooler, with a rating of twenty to thirty degrees.
For basic winter camping, you should purchase a model that has a temperature rating of at least -20 degrees. If you’re planning on camping in a high-altitude, then go for a bag with a -40 degrees temperature rating.
Many campers agree that the most effective type of winter bag comes equipped with goose down insulation. This type of insulation provides excellent compressibility and warmth.
Bags that have goose down insulation will be more expensive, but these bags are also incredibly durable. This filler does an excellent job of keeping you warm and makes a bag very easy to carry since it compresses easily. However, when this material gets wet it can be difficult to dry it out.
Synthetic materials are another popular option. Bags with this type of insulation are often priced more affordably compared to models with goose down. This type of insulation will not go bad if it gets wet, however, the bags are bulkier, which can make them difficult to pack.
Water-resistant down is another option, but it’s also the most expensive one. This filling will offer many of the benefits of traditional down, without the damage that can occur when it gets wet.
These bags are also available in a variety of shapes designed to work with different body types and personal preferences. Some are designed to trap air while others are much roomier and will give some users the leg room they need to stretch out.
Mummy bags are one of the most popular options and they do a great job of providing warmth, but can be a bad choice for the user who is looking for more room to stretch out.
Each shape comes with its own pros and cons. Below, you’ll find the most common shape options.
This is basically the shape most people are familiar with, and they’re very spacious and roomy, so you can really stretch out and relax. These bags are much larger than other shapes and because of this, they don’t retain heat very well. This is why many campers believe they’re a better choice for warm weather use. While this style doesn’t retain as much warmth as other shape options, they do provide more room, which can make them a better choice for taller users or restless sleepers.
These bags are also called semi-rectangular and they’re very similar to the popular mummy style, but they don’t conform to the body completely, the way a mummy bag does. Most models feature a bottom that tapers slightly with a rounded top. These bags offer the perfect balance between space and warmth, so you can enjoy a little wiggle room.
These bags are designed to follow the contours of your body and are all about retaining warmth. However, they aren’t exactly very roomy. Yet, if you’re camping out in freezing conditions, then you’ll want a bag like the mummy, which can provide max heat retention.
The design of the bag minimizes the amount of air space around the user’s body, while maximizing heat. These bags are often much lighter compared to other sleeping bag shapes which is why they’re a popular choice for the long distance hiker.
These bags are designed for two people. The design itself is pretty roomy and provides more than enough space for two people to stretch out. Of course, like the basic rectangular bag, the extra roominess often results in a loss of heat, which can make this type of bag a bad choice for winter use.
On the inside of a bag, there should be material that’s designed to wick moisture away from the body. The outer shell should be made out of material that will repel water and prevent it from soaking the insulation and interior of the bag.
Some models will come with a hood, which is perfect for cold weather camping. These hoods do an excellent job of trapping in heat that you would otherwise lose from the top of the head. Models with a hood will also come with a draft collar which will prevent cold air from making its way into your bag through the top portion of the bag.
Most sleeping bags feature a type of outer shell that’s made from water resistant material. This type of protection comes with a higher price tag, but the extra level of protection is often worth it. Bags that don’t have an outer shell that are water resistant will be more susceptible to mildew and mold growth. The bags will also be difficult to dry out if you’re camping in colder weather. A shell that’s water resistant will ensure you stay comfortable and dry in inclement weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Warmer in a Sleeping Bag with Less Clothes on?
No. Sleeping in thermal underwear and another layer of clothing will keep you even warmer when you’re sleeping in a sleeping bag. Clothing works to provide an additional layer of insulation that will keep your body heat close to your skin, preventing it from escaping.
Why am I Cold in My Sleeping Bag?
If you find that you’re still cold in your sleeping bag, then it could be that the bag you chose is way too big. A bigger bag will create cold air pockets that can leaving you shivering all night. If the bag you choose is too small, then you may not have adequate coverage.
Are Mummy Sleeping Bags Better?
Mummy sleeping bags are less bulky and much lighter compared to standard sleeping bags. This makes them a great choice for backcountry camping and backpacking. Keep in mind that heat efficiency in standard sleeping bags can be compromised because of their wide open rectangular shape.
How Cold is too Cold to Camp?
For beginners, temperatures ranging from the 30s to 40s will be tool cold. Nighttime temperatures ranging from 50-60 degrees will be much more comfortable. However, the experienced camper and backpacker will know how to stay warm, even in freezing temperatures.
Do I Need a 0-Degree Sleeping Bag?
This will be dependent on where you’re camping and when. If your camping destination experiences freezing temperatures and heavy rainfall or snow is in the forecast, then yes, a 0-degree bag will keep you nice and toasty, even in freezing temperatures. Remember, it’s always better to have a bag that keeps you too warm than a bag that can’t keep you warm enough.
Should I get a Long or Regular Sleeping Bag?
A camper or hiker that’s six foot tall or taller should look for a long sleeping bag. If you choose a bag that’s too short for you then you won’t have adequate coverage, which means, even if you do purchase a warm sleeping bag, it will not be able to protect you and keep you warm during the night. Of course, if you’re under six feet tall, then go with a standard length bag since these bags will provide a comfortable fit and will not leave too much space at the bottom of the bag, which will allow too much cold air in and will not work to help retain body heat.
The best cold weather sleeping bag will be a model that can provide adequate protection during the colder months of the year. It’s important for you to find a bag based on what the average winter temperature range is like in your part of the country. This will help you find a bag that’s able to provide the level of insulation you need to prevent hypothermia or a long cold miserable night in your tent. The bags that I’ve included here in my top six line up all earned top marks for their ability to keep the user dry and warm all night long. They’re also available in a variety of price points, so even the camper or hiker on a tight budget should have no trouble finding the perfect bag for their next outdoor adventure. The guide I’ve put together will also help you make the best choice in terms of finding a bag that comes with all of the essential features you need for your trip, whether you’re dealing with temperatures ranging from twenty to thirty degrees, or camping out in severe weather and freezing temperatures.