The Best Sleeping Bags of 2013

(Inga Hendrickson)
kelty ignite dridown sleeping bags camping

The Kelty Ignite DriDown

Two hundred bucks for an ordinary down sleeping bag would be a killer deal. It’s even better when that bag is made of water-resistant down, weighs less than three pounds, and packs to the size of a football. That, in a stuffsack, is why the Ignite DriDown is our favorite bag this year. Kelty cut costs—but little, if any, performance—by using 600-fill duck down instead of pricier goose feathers. “It felt warmer than its 20-degree rating,” said one tester. Draft collars around the hood and along the full-length, two-way zipper helped. To trim weight, Kelty employed ripstop nylon on the exterior, which is thin enough that it should be handled with care. But that’s a minor inconvenience for this much value. 20˚; 2.8 lbs.

Compressibility: 4 
Warmth-to-Weight Ratio: 4.5

Sierra Designs Cal 13 Sleeping Bag

sierra designs cal 13 nemo nocturne 30 spoon therm-a-rest-antares 25 sleeping bags camping
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: When weight is everything.

THE TEST: With most sleeping bags, ultralight means ultratight. Yet even though Sierra Designs kept features to a minimum—a half-length, one-way zip and a tissue-thin nylon shell and liner—whittling this water-resistant, 800-fill down bag to under two pounds, the standard size still fit a 200-pound six-footer with room to wiggle. “Usually, I’m uncomfortable in a standard, but I slept like a baby,” he said. Another plus: the jacket-style hood can be cinched down to form a snug pocket of warmth.

THE VERDICT: The half-length zip isn’t as comfortable or ventable as a full-length one, but most testers didn’t care, as the Cal is the lightest and warmest bag here—and packs down smaller than some puffy jackets. 13˚; 1.7 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 5
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 5

Nemo Nocturne 30 Spoon Sleeping Bag

sierra designs cal 13 nemo nocturne 30 spoon therm-a-rest-antares 25 sleeping bags camping
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Side sleepers, comfort seekers.

THE TEST: Around 70 percent of people sleep on their sides, yet until now sleeping bags weren’t designed that way. Enter Nemo’s new line of spoon-shaped bags, cut to fit a body turned sideways: traditional width at the shoulders, narrower through the hips, and wider at the knees and feet. If it seems insignificant, it’s not. Several side-sleeping testers were convinced that they slept more soundly thanks to the Nocturne’s shape. And while everyone liked that the foot of the bag is wrapped in condensation-reflecting, waterproof-breathable fabric, not everyone was nuts about the clingy-when-damp liner.

THE VERDICT: Smart new design; light, comfortable, and highly packable. 30˚; 2 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 4
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 4

Therm-a-Rest Antares 25 Sleeping Bag

sierra designs cal 13 nemo nocturne 30 spoon therm-a-rest-antares 25 sleeping bags camping
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Three-season backpacking in drier climates.

THE TEST: The 750-fill Antares has no insulation on the bottom of the bag and works best paired with a 25-inch pad. It’s not the first such design, but it’s one of the best: just slip the pad through the straps and it’s held in place—no more rolling or sliding off. “It feels comfortable the minute you get inside,” said one tester. A nearly full-length side zip lets you vent on warmer nights, while the full draft collar and sculpted hood seal in warmth when temperatures drop.

THE VERDICT: Some testers missed being able to roll around with the bag, something you can’t do with the Antares with a pad in place, but none complained about the impressive weight and packability. 20˚; 1.9 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 5
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 4

L.L. Bean Adventure 25 Sleeping Bag

ll bean adventure 25 mountain hardwear ultra lamina big agnes shoestring sl camping sleeping bags camp woods
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: The budget minded, college kids, festivalgoers, new campers.

THE TEST: The Adventure sleeping bag’s offset layers of insulation minimize cold spots and provide true-to-rating warmth down to 25 degrees. A soft interior lining and room to shift around let one of our testers—who typically has a hard time sleeping in a tight bag—get a decent night’s rest. “Surprisingly comfortable” was a common refrain. Just stick close to the car and you’ll be fine: it doesn’t compress very well—it took up almost half of a 60-liter pack’s main compartment—and, at just under five pounds, it’s pretty hefty.

THE VERDICT: Too bulky for backpackers. For everyone else, it’s a comfy sack at a great price. 25˚; 4.8 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 2
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 4

Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 32 Sleeping Bag

ll bean adventure 25 mountain hardwear ultra lamina big agnes shoestring sl camping sleeping bags camp woods
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Light-and-fast missions.

THE TEST: Camped out under a tarp, one tester appreciated the highly windproof nature of the redesigned UltraLamina. To help prevent cold spots, its proprietary synthetic insulation is welded (not stitched) directly to the shell and lining. The design also increases loft, and our tester slept soundly even as a heat-sucking breeze blew through his crude shelter. The two-pound bag packs as small as a Nerf football in its compression sack (included), and a snug cut reduces bulk and boosts warmth, though some found the shape constricting.

THE VERDICT: The bag to get when warmth-to-weight trumps a generous cut. 32˚; 1.6 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 5
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 4

Big Agnes Shoestring SL Sleeping Bag

ll bean adventure 25 mountain hardwear ultra lamina big agnes shoestring sl camping sleeping bags camp woods
(Inga Hendrickson)

BEST FOR: Canoe and kayak trips.

THE TEST: Big Agnes claims that its new synthetic insulation repels rain and condensation and pulls sweat vapor away from your body to keep the bag drier and you warmer. To test those claims, we sent the bag sea-kayaking in perpetually soggy British Columbia. “The Shoestring SL was always dry in the morning, even when the tent was soaked with condensation,” wrote one tester. Cut and stitched into vertical baffles, the bag’s insulation is impressively lofty and compressible. So much so that one tester was convinced it was down filled.

THE VERDICT: A bit portly for fast-and-light trips but ideal for dank adventures of any other stripe. 22˚; 2.9 lbs.

COMPRESSIBILITY: 3
WARMTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO: 3

More Gear

Holiday Subscription Sale! Save 79% and Get a Free Gift!

Subscribe
Pinterest Icon