(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Sleeping Bags and Pads of 2020

Comfortable, technical, light—sleep systems for every season


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Sea to Summit Ascent AcII ($399)

(Courtesy Sea to Summit)

We’ve seen the trend in jackets and tents, and now it’s come for sleeping bags: weight savings, warmth, and comfort are no longer at odds. Sea to Summit loaded its ­Ascent AcII with niceties, like an oversize shape that accommodates all sleeping positions and three zippered openings—­full-length on one side, half-length on the other, plus a slit around the footbox—to regulate temperature. It boasts 19.4 ounces of ­750-fill down, with a mix of vertical and horizontal baffles that keep the insulation in place and prevent cold spots, and a large draft collar to lock in heat. The result is a ­no-compromise sleeping bag that weighs just 2.4 pounds. “It’s much roomier than most light bags, but still toasty warm,” said one tester. On a backpacking trip in British Columbia’s Chilcotin, we found it true to the 15-degree temperature rating, but the easy venting system meant we slept great at 60 degrees. That’s an impressive range, especially for such a feathery bag. Sure, there are cozier options. But we have yet to find a worthier bag for three-season use. 2.4 lbs

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Mammut Relax Down Bag ($320)

(Courtesy Mammut)

Best in Summer

Claustrophobic sleepers will ­appreciate the 750-fill Relax Down, which has a wide torso so you can wiggle into a comfortable ­slumber. The men’s version is ­rated at 28 degrees (the ­women’s is four degrees ­warmer), and a ­two-way zipper slices up the middle for easy temperature regulation. The included earplugs and sleep mask were nice luxuries. 2.1 lbs (men’s) / 2 lbs (women’s)

Men's Women's

NEMO Flyer Pad ($120)

(Courtesy NEMO)

NEMO’s new hybrid design ­marries the durable nylon exterior of an inflatable pad with the structure and comfort of open-cell foam. The Flyer has about 60 percent less foam than similar pads, replacing the balance of its internal volume with air. Bonus: it takes less than ten breaths—about 30 seconds—to inflate. 1.4 lbs

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Marmot Paiju Bag ($564)

(Courtesy Marmot)

Best Year-Round

For an October outing in British Columbia, our tester gambled on the minus-five-degree Paiju’s storm readiness (the threads are waterproof and the shell water-­resistant) and went sans tent. Dew shook right off, and the ­800-fill ­water-resistant down kept him toasty even on a windy ten-degree night. Superb packability makes it an ideal choice for summer trips with unpredictable weather. 3.7 lbs

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Zenbivy Light Mattress Pad ($159)

(Courtesy Zenbivy)

Your bag is only as warm as the pad beneath it. Unlike most lightweight air mats, ­Zenbivy’s has an R-value of five-plus, thanks to 180 grams of synthetic fill. Still, it’s only about the size of a ­football when packed down. The pad’s rectangular shape means that even restless sleepers will avoid the sting of waking up on the cold, hard ground. 1.3 lbs

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NEMO Forte 35 Bag ($160)

(Courtesy NEMO)

Best on a Budget

Finding a high-performance sleeping bag for $150 is hard. Enter the Forte. With 80 percent recycled, ­moisture-resistant polyester fill, it kept us warm during a wet, ­near freezing trip. Extra room at the elbows and knees for side sleeping plus zippered ventilation gills are smart details that will make a camping fan out of anyone. 2.1 lbs

Men's Women's

Klymit Static V Luxe SL Pad ($120)

(Courtesy Klymit)

The Luxe SL is a lofty 3.5 inches high and 27 inches wide, enough that active sleepers won’t slide off, and it comes at an affordable price. To shave grams, Klymit used a thin 30-denier fabric and narrowed the bottom third of the pad. This translates to a high and dry night of rest on V-shaped baffles so pronounced, they gave back sleepers gentle acupressure therapy. 1.3 lbs

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Rab Mythic Ultra 180 Bag ($550)

(Courtesy Rab)

Best Fast-and-Light

To manufacture a bag that weighs less than a pound, crams into a three-liter stuff sack, and still performs at 32 degrees, Rab used responsibly sourced ­900-fill down and a reflective lining made from ­tita­nium-coated fibers that capture radiant heat—an industry first. During a fall trip to Greenland, even amid snowfall, our tester slept like a baby. 14 oz

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Big Agnes Insulated ­Axl Air Pad ($180)

(Courtesy Big Agnes)

For the Axl Air, Big Agnes upgraded one of its most popular lightweight sleeping pads with PrimaLoft’s new synthetic insulation, which includes a warm, ultralight aerogel. It then thermally bonded that fill to the top and bottom of the pad, reducing air movement. The resulting pad has an R-value of three—great for three-season use. It also packs down to Nalgene size. 14 oz

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From Summer 2020 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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