(Inga Hendrickson)
2019 Summer Buyer's Guide

The Best Sleeping Bags and Pads of 2019

Sleep so magnificent, you’ll be turning in early

Inga Hendrickson

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The North Face One Bag ($290)

(Courtesy The North Face)

When it comes to sleeping bags, a single solution for three-season use is often a recipe for year-round misery. Five-degree bags are sweatboxes, 40-­degree bags aren’t warm enough, and 20-degree bags are never just right. The One Bag, though, is Goldilocks through and through. North Face’s modular design incorporates two top sheets and two sets of color-coded zippers, making it easy to adjust the insulation to three different temperature ratings. Zip in the synthetic top sheet to create a 40-degree bag, which was ideal on a surf trip to Vancouver Island last summer. When we headed to the North Cascades, we swapped the synthetic top for 800-fill down, bringing the rating to 20 degrees. (Bonus: the down sheet doubled as a blanket around the campfire.) Finally, for a fall camping trip, we zipped in both sheets for a toasty five-degree rating. Fully loaded, the One Bag is bulkier than a dedicated cold-weather bag, but the trade-off is versatility. In our opinion, this is a quiver killer, worthy of all-year use in many places. 3.8 lbs

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REI Co-op Magma 15 Bag ($349)

(Courtesy REI Co-Op)


“The boss of mummy bags” is how one tester described this lightweight palace of downy warmth. The key is the high-quality materials. The exterior is water-resistant Pertex rip-stop, which effortlessly shed spilled hot chocolate. And the 850-fill treated down felt opulent. In conditions nearing the bag’s 15-degree rating, our tester zipped up tight and cinched the hood. “So minimalist, yet so comfortable,” he said. 1.8 lbs (men’s) / 2.3 lbs (women’s)

Men's Women's

NEMO Tensor Alpine Pad ($225)

(Courtesy Nemo)

To make the Tensor worthy of having “Alpine” added to its name, NEMO took a twofold approach to combating heat loss, which is often what makes camping at elevation such a frigid affair. First, three layers of space-blanket-like film keep warm air from seeping away. Below these, thinner plastic sheeting produces air pockets, further preventing heat dissi­pation. Those design features also add structure to the pad, which rolls up to the size of a one-liter bottle. 1.1 lbs

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Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30 Bag ($139)

(Courtesy Marmot)

Best Value

The Trestles has been Marmot’s bestselling sleeping bag for years, because of its backpacking-worthy performance, comfort-boosting features, and great price. This year the company gave it some enviro-cred by using recycled materials in the lining, shell, and insulation. The tweaks haven’t eroded the bag’s capabilities, however. The Trestles still packs small for a synthetic and kept us comfortable in temperatures down to freezing. 1.9 lbs (men’s) / 2.3 lbs (women’s)

Men's Women's

REI Women’s Air Rail Plus Pad ($100)

(Courtesy REI)

Babies get bumpers to contain their squirming, so why not adults? The contoured rails on this self-inflating polyurethane-foam pad run from shoulders to knees; they improved our sleep by keeping us firmly on its 1.5-inch-thick, ergonomically shaped surface. The Air Rail is a roomy 25 inches wide at the hips, and adding to its stable feel is the durable brushed-polyester shell. If the standard 68-inch model is too short for you, there’s a 72-inch version, too. 1.6 lbs

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NEMO Aya 30 Bag ($340)

(Courtesy Nemo)

Best for Minimalists

There’s a fine line between a mummy that gently swaddles and one that’s so confining you feel like you’re being held for ransom. NEMO’s ultralight 30-­degree Aya (and the men’s Kayu) is the former, with a slightly flared footbox, a snug hood, ample elbow room, and two temperature-regulating vents that expand the bag when unzipped. Stuffed with 800-fill hydrophobic down, the Aya was warm on a drizzly Minnesota expedition in the mid-thirties. 1.9 lbs (men’s) / 1.7 lbs (women’s)

Men's Women's

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Pad ($140 and up)

(Courtesy Therm-a-Rest)

Unfurling this mat from mug-size roll to full-length splendor made us feel a bit like a magician pulling an endless stream of hankies from our pocket. It took only a dozen breaths for the 8.8-ounce UberLite to bloom into a 2.5-inch-thick pad with enough cushioning to drown roots and pine cones. It’s also surprisingly warm, with an R-value of two. That comes from the layers of triangle-shaped baffling that lock cold air near the ground and warm air near the sleeper. 8.8 oz

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Big Agnes Daisy Mae 15 Bag ($270)

(Courtesy Big Agnes)

Best for Backpacking

Consider this (and the men’s Anvil Horn 15) a full sleep system, with a polyester-taffeta lining that’s so soft it feels like silk, and an attached sleeve that holds a rectangular pad in place. Campers on adventures where bags tend to get wet will appreciate the water-repellent nylon shell, which is stuffed with plush 650-fill down. Claustrophobic sleepers will love the large hood, which provides the freedom to lift your head yet still cinches securely and comfortably. 2.4 lbs

Men's Women's

Sea to Summit Women’s Ether Light XT Insulated Pad ($190)

(Courtesy Sea to Summit)

It may be lightweight, but this pad gets big points for being stable and plush. The secret is in its looped TPU Air Sprung cells—small interconnected chambers that have enough bounce to make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, but not so much that you slide off. Like most women’s models, this one is wide at the hips (21.5 inches). Blowing it up with the bellows system built into the stuff sack took time but spared our lungs a workout. 14.8 oz

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From Summer 2019 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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