10 best sleeping bags for backpacking
Whether you're trekking in Patagonia or inter-railing to Palermo, bunk in comfort without being weighed down by your pack
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Warm, cosy sleeping bags can take up a lot of backpack-room when you’re travelling, so we’ve hunted for the smallest, most lightweight and portable bags we could find - leaving you with way more room to stuff the fun things in your luggage, but still keeping you snug at night. We’ve found summer-ready lightweight sacks and snuggled into durable winter bags better suited for snowy climes.
When making your choice, it’s important to consider a bag's season and temperature ratings. Confusingly, the numbered sleeping bag seasons don’t correspond to the four seasons: a season 1 bag is suitable for the hot summer months in the UK, or when camping abroad in hotter countries, season 2 for generic late-spring to early-autumn, season 3 for early-spring to late-autumn, and season 4 for winter use in temperatures below zero. You may also come across a season 5 bag, which are more commonly known as expedition bags and are designed for mountain use and extreme cold.
Temperature ratings offer a more specific guide and are usually listed with comfort and extreme ratings. The comfort rating is fairly self-explanatory, denoting the temperature under which you will start to feel the cold. The extreme rating is the temperature at which the bag will protect you from dangers such as frostbite and hypothermia and keep you alive over short periods; we recommend you don’t push this one too much.
Other variations to consider are carrying weight and pack size, a mummy or rectangular shape, whether the case is sufficiently waterproof to risk carrying it outside your backpack, and whether you want synthetic (bulkier and heavier than down but keeps in heat when wet) or down (light, easier to compress and retains heat better, but loses it when wet).
1. Snugpack Travelpack 2: £35.16, aboveandbeyond.co.uk
This comes with an in-built, roll-away mosquito net, making it an ideal choice for backpackers braving malarial zones. Great for summer months, it weighs in at 1.1kg and it’s possible to seal the bag (when you’re not in it) to keep unwanted creepy-crawly visitors out.
2. Marmot Trestles 30: £84.99, surfdome.com
If you ever needed a bag to hide away from the world in, this would be your best bet. Insulated with a blend of hollow and polyester fibres, it’s exceptionally warm, making it perfect for colder backpacking trips. It comes with a face muff so you can tuck yourself right in and the easy-stuff bag saves time in the morning.
3. Coleman Pathfinder: £39.99, completeoutdoors.co.uk
Offering toasty warmth between late spring and autumn, this bag is slightly heavier than the others at 1.7kg, but has double layer insulation to keep you snug between -2 and 3 degrees. It also has extra foot room, an internal pocket for valuables, and packs down into a handy 40x40x50 pack.
4. Urban Escape Ultralight Mummy: £23, halfords.com
Weighing less than a newborn puppy at 1.02kg, the small pack size of this bag makes it perfect for backpackers trying to cram as much as possible into their luggage. It’s summer use only, but the hollow fibre filling, hood and drawstring cord will make even chilly nights cosier.
5. Vango Ultralite 900: £90, vango.com
This 1.5kg bag is great for a cold trip (suitable for conditions as low as -20). Its “thermal embrace” system keeps you toasty as the lining shapes itself to your body, and the covered zip helps to keep cold drafts to a minimum. The 40-denier nylon shell is breathable, so you won’t get all clammy during the night.
6. OE X Roam 100: £20, gooutdoors.co.uk
Ideal for camping in temperatures of around 10 degrees, this is the cheapest bag on our list, and weighs in at 900g. The two-way zip means you can stick a foot out if you start to overheat, and the waterproof bag makes it safe to carry outside your rucksack to save space.
7. Ayacucho Lite 700: £50, cotswoldoutdoor.com
Fire-engine red and super-lightweight at 680g, this mummyshaped sleeping bag is like wrapping yourself up in a duvet. It’s really only suitable for summer, keeping you comfortable down to temperatures of 11 degrees, but is perfect for backpacking in tropical climes and also packs down beautifully.
8. Nordisk Oscar +5 Sleeping £190: £190, cotswoldoutdoor.com
Weighing in at 500g, this is the most lightweight sack on the list and, thanks to the zip up the front, you can comfortably sit up in it and still keep your feet warm. It might be pricey, but if practically-weightless is your aim, you can’t go wrong with this canary yellow number. It will keep you cosy down to -6 degrees, making it an allseason sack.
9. The North Face Aleutian 20/-7: £99.99, surfdome.com
This is a fairly heavy bag at 1.6kg, but one that’ll keep you warm in temperatures as low as -7 degrees, making it ideal for winter adventures. Great for eco-warriors, 30 per cent of the insulation is made from recycled material and it’s completely synthetic so dries out quickly.
10. Aerolite 1000 Mummy: £70, blacks.co.uk
If you need a super-light bag for camping, then this is a great choice: it’s only 980g and is suitable for temperatures between five and 25 degrees, thanks to a double layer of hollow-fibre stuffing. The compression sack maximises your pack space and the bag’s tough “ripstop” fabric means it will last for trips for years to come.
If you’re after a lightweight sleeping bag that’ll pack down tightly and works well for the summer, we think the Snugpack Travelpack 2 is a practical choice, especially as it comes with a handy mosquito net. For those backpacking in mountainous areas or during the winter might want to check out the Aerolite 1000, which will protect you against even the chilliest elements.
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