A great backpacking sleeping bag is something I never leave home without when I’m packing for my travels.
From the obvious uses of sleeping with it in my tent, to keeping me cosy on bus rides, to the slightly less conventional use of it as a pillow or even a jumper when it gets chilly, a backpacking sleeping bag is an absolute travel must for me.
However, picking the right sleeping bag for your travels isn’t always easy.
Firstly, there’s a huge range of different products on the market and secondly, there’s a variety of factors to take into account when choosing the backpacking sleeping bag best for you.
- The 15 Essential Gadgets We Couldn’t Road Trip Australia Without
- Best Carry On Packing Tips for Long Haul Flights in Essential Long Haul
- 3 Best Headlamps for Backpacking
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
Backpacking Sleeping Bag Buying Guide
Being that I like to travel light (read here why I never backpack with more than 13kg) the pack down size and weight are 2 very important factors to consider in a backpacking sleeping bag for me.
Another important factor is the warmth or the temperature rating of your backpacker sleeping bag.
Of course, your needs here will depend on where in the world you’re travelling too, but generally, I’d recommend either a 2 season (summer-proof) or 3 season (spring / autumn-proof) model.
Most sleeping bags also give 2 additional warmth ratings – the temperature they’ll comfortably keep you warm at and the extreme temperature they’ll keep you alive at.
Base your purchase strongly around the comfort rating here – hopefully you won’t get near experiencing the extreme end!
As you can imagine, this warmth factor then has to be balanced against the weight and size factors, so thinking about how much of a warm sleeper you are is key here!
Women, it’s a scientific fact we tend to be colder sleepers, so you may want to bear this in mind!
I also like to think about the possibility of any added features in my backpacking sleeping bag (like concealed pockets), as well its comfort, water resistance, durability and its warranty length.
Being a budget travel blog – I also consider price to be a strong factor in any purchasing decision.
As such, there’s not a product in this list that will a) break the bank and b) that I wouldn’t consider buying myself.
Buying a backpacking sleeping bag is totally fine online, but I tend to stick to trusted stores like REI and Backcountry that offer refunds, replacements and free shipping options.
With these things in mind, I’ve picked out 6 great backpacking sleeping bag models I’d highly recommend in order to help you get the best bang for your buck. so here they are:
#1 REI Ambient 36
The real selling point of this backpacker sleeping bag is its lightweight credentials – at under 1kg, it’s perfect for keeping your pack weight down, which is just what you need when lugging a bag around the world.
The REI Ambient is also soft, with a good warmth rating and some nice extra features like a hood and draft collar that will keep you cosy.
There’s extra shoulder and hip wiggle room for added comfort too and an anti-snag zip to make sure getting in and out in the middle of the night is straightforward.
The only downsize to this backpacking sleeping bag, is its size.
Not coming with a compression sack, this is going to be a bit bulkier than some of the other models in my list.
Buy the REI Ambient 36 Now
#2 TETON Sports Tracker +5F Ultralight
This backpacking sleeping bag really is a hard one to overlook when it comes to finding the best models for cold climates. So, if you’re going somewhere a bit nippy, this could be the one to keep you warm up to -15C.
The TETON Sports Tracker is also larger than your average backpacker sleeping bag – which is a godsend for us taller folk – but with that and its warmth factor, it does lose some ground in the weight department – weighing in at a heavy 1.8kg.
A great hood feature keeps your head warm though and the body-mapping technology of this backpacker sleeping bag, mean it has extra insulation where you need it most – namely your feet.
The TETON Sports Tracker +5F Ultralight Sleeping Bag also has 2 discreet internal pockets for electronics or valuables and its shell is water resistant and anti-tear.
Best of all this great backpacker sleeping bag has a lifetime warranty and a free compression sack to help pack it down.
Now that is hard to look pass.
Buy the TETON Sports Tracker +5F Ultralight Sleeping Bag Now
#3 North Face Aleutian Sleeping Bag: 20
With a well-known brand like North Face putting their name to this backpacker sleeping bag, you know the product you’ll be getting is likely to last.
This 20 model is going to be suitable for temperatures right down to -1C, but there’s also a warmer lighter model – Aleutian Sleeping Bag: 35 – if that’s more what you’re looking for.
Both these great products have a lifetime warranty, with a synthetic insulation that is light and will dry quickly.
In addition, 30% of this is recycled Heatseeker Eco insulation, so the greenies among us can feel happy with that too!
The other thing I love about this backpacking sleeping bag is that you can unzip the whole thing and just lay it straight over you like a blanket instead, which makes me, personally, feel a lot less claustrophobic.
The only downside to the North Face Aleutian Sleeping Bag: 20 is that it also comes in a little on the heavier side at around almost 1.5kg.
Buy the North Face Aleutian Now
#4 Marmot Trestles 30
Another great backpacking sleeping bag for cooler temperatures is the Marmot Trestles 30.
This 3 season sleeping bag is mummy-shaped and has an awesome drawstring to pull the hood right around your face!
Made from synthetic fibre, this sleeping bag will dry quickly if wet and help to keep you warmer in damper weather too.
It’s also very reasonably priced.
With a concealed inner pocket for valuables, dual side zips for easy access and a durable water-resistant treated shell and lining, this backpacker sleeping bag offers excellent value for money and is a good all-rounder.
Buy the Marmot Trestles 30 Now
#5 Mountainsmith Arapaho Sleeping Bag: 20
The most outstanding feature about the Mountainsmith Arapaho: 20 is the unique side zip that lets you vent the foot area, and the foot area alone, of this great little sleeping bag.
This is awesome if you need to immediately cool down in the night, or just give those feet of yours a good airing out!
The Mountainsmith Arapaho Sleeping Bag: 20 also comes with an excellent draft collar, perfect for keeping your upper body snug and if want, the mummy shape allows you the comfort of a hood as well.
There’s 60/40 insulation split from top to bottom on this one, which means its well-designed to keep you warm and the handy mesh bag, on top of the free stuff stack allows you to store this product in the best possible way.
Roomy and with a lifetime warranty, this number packs down pretty well too.
The only downside? It’s a little bit pricier than the other 5 models I’ve recommended here.
Buy the Mountainsmith Arapaho Now
#6 Snugpak Travelpak 2
The Snugpak Travelpak 2 is definitely the backpacking sleeping bag to consider if you’re travelling to tropical climates.
That’s because this beauty has an inbuilt mosquito net, perfect for counteracting those pesky bugs.
You can also seal the sleeping bag during the day to keep out any creepy crawlies that way too.
As well as those bug defense mechanisms, the Travelpak 2 also has a sophisticated odour control treatment, that reduces the growth of bacteria and helps when you’re travelling in places where laundry facilities might be thin on the ground!
This backpacking sleeping bag is also incredibly lightweight and, as with all snugpak models, compresses down to an impressively small pack size. I’ve got to say, I’m a big fan!
Buy the Snugpak Travelpak 2 Now
So there you have it, my 6 great contenders for the best backpacking sleeping bag.
You can also learn more from this article by The Gear Hunt.
Have you tried any of these products and what are your thoughts?