Somewhere in the last decade, women’s sleeping bags became their own category. Women tend to sleep colder than men, which challenged gear companies to come up with designs that could accommodate the needs of women. But it wasn’t just about stuffing the bag with more down. The shapes started to transform—narrower in the shoulder and wider in the hips—and down or synthetic fill was strategically placed in areas where women reported being coldest—in the feet and the upper body.
This year’s round-up of sleeping bags incorporate some of the most revolutionary changes in the category yet. Here are our top four women’s sleeping bags.
Best for: Bang for your buck
It would be amiss not to include the Kelty Women’s Ignite DriDown 20/EN 28 sleeping bag—its men’s version won Outside’s Gear of the Year award in the 2013 Spring/Summer Buyer’s Guide. This 600-fill down bag—weighing just under 3 lbs—is filled with DriDown, a natural down insulation that is treated with a hydrophobic coating. Because each plume has this water-repelling finish, it stays dry much longer than regular down, retains its loft more then two-and-a-half times in moist environments and, when it does get wet, it dries about a third as quickly.
Which is all to say that this bag will keep you warmer than a regular down bag in a wet climate. It’s hard to beat all of that for a couple hundred dollars. $200
Best for: Wet climates
Sure, water-repellant down insulation is becoming more and more available thanks to popularity in hydrophobic treatments across many brands.
But synthetic insulation is still the best bet if you’re going to be out on a rainy weekend or if you live in the Pacific Northwest. Big Agnes is embracing a new kind of synthetic fill called Pinneco Core, which reflects your body heat back into the bag while moving sweat and moisture away from your skin, in the Betty SL 27. This three-pound bag isn’t the lightest here but it certainly won’t smell as bad as a down bag (yes, even the water-repellant down) when it’s wet. From $189
Best for: Active sleepers
We haven’t seen a more out-of-the-box shape than the Spoon series of sleeping bags from NEMO. The hour-glass designed Harmony and Rhapsody sleeping bags, with curved baffles, offers more room for sleeping on your side and turning and twisting in general. Sleepers who move a lot will love this hybrid, which has more room than a mummy but better warmth efficiency than a rectangular bag.
Both around two pounds, the Harmony 40 ($220) is available with synthetic insulation while the Rhapsody 30 ($350) is stuffed with 700 fill down. And, like the Kelty Ignite, the feathers are water-repellant and faster drying than untreated down. From $220
Best for: Weight savers
The warmest bag here, the 800-fill down Phantasia 32 also comes wet-weather-ready with Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary Q Shield down insulation, which is treated to stay dry and lofty longer in moist weather. Because the bag is a trim mummy shape, it weighs less than the other bags here (at 1.4 lbs) but is warmer because it has more down than any other bag.
This bag—which has been popular with Mountain Hardwear’s women’s alpine climbing team—is abrasion-resistant with extra insulation in just the right places: the torso and the footbox. $380