What keeps your mind at ease during a backpacking trip is the thought of retiring into the warmth of your sleeping bag after hours on a trail. Developments in backpacking bags have seen an improvement in the warmth you can derive from something light. They are also effective in different conditions. Using goose and duck down was usually trailed by problems of moisture creeping in but improvements in the area of hydrophobic coatings have made them a more sought after option for insulation.
Below we give our selection of the top backpacking bags you can get in 2017.
1. Feathered Friends Swallow Nano 20 ($429)
Designed and fabricated by Feathered Friends, the Swallow Nano 20 uses a 900-fill goose down and weighs 1lb. 15 oz., perfect for hikes with long trails. Designed with a 20D shell which is water resistant, it also has a temperature rating of 20°F which can be trusted. The Swallow Nano 20 easily outclasses some of the well-known backpacking bags in specs and price.
More goose down
Excellent quality for the price
Needs to be purchased early as it quickly gets out of stock
2. REI Co-op Magma 10 ($349)
The REI Co-op Magma 10 is a result of years of advancement on the part of the manufacturer. It is EN-rated to 10°F at the extreme and 22°F for a good night sleep. It weighs 1 lb. 14 oz., which is relatively light and has an 850-fill goose down. It has baffles which are spaced differently for temperature regulation. Its shell is a 15D, and while it may not be as durable as a 20D, it offers better breathability.
Gives great warmth
It lacks continuous baffles which you can adjust on your own based on the temperature of the environment
3. Western Mountaineering UltraLite ($500)
This sleeping bag ranks high in weight coming in at 1 lb. 13 oz., with an 850-fill goose down. With a temperature rating of 20°F, the UltraLite is a 3 season sleeping bag which offers you comfort after a days’ hike in various conditions. Built with a 12D shell means you have to handle with care as it is less durable.
It is very light
Soft fabric offers great comfort
Its 12D shell is thin and less durable
4. REI Co-op Radiant 19 ($199)
The REI Co-op Radiant 19 is a more budget friendly bag although this may come at the expense of other features. It has a Temperature rating of 32°F EN Comfort and 19°F EN Lower Limit. With a 650-fill duck down, it may not be as thick as those with 850 or 900 fill. It also weighs 2 lbs. 8 oz. which is significantly more than the ultralight backpacking bags. It is overall a great 3 season backpacking bag and is a good choice if you wish to go on your first trip.
It comes at an affordable price
Spacious around the shoulder areas
The added weight is significant on long trips
Not very thick with the 600-fill duck down
5. Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Flame ($179)
Shying away from natural fill like the duck down and goose down, the Lamina Z flame uses a synthetic thermal Q fill. Although backpacking bags using down fill are usually better, you shouldn’t write off the Lamina Z as Mountain Headwear has made some improvements on this bag. While it weighs 2 lbs. 11 oz., when compressed, it can get really small which cannot be overlooked for a synthetic bag. You also enjoy the effects of the insulation even during times when it gets wet. Having a 32°F EN Comfort and 22°F EN Lower Limit rating, it is great for different conditions.
It is not easily affected by moisture
It comes at a low price
It may lose its shape with time
Compared to down fill, it is not as soft
6. Marmot Hydrogen ($329)
The Marmot Hydrogen is an ultra-light backpacking bag with a weight of 1 lb. 7.3 oz. EN Rated at a lower limit of 24.4°F, and this backpacking bag is suitable for summer backpacking trips. It has an 800-fill goose down which makes it comfy and warm to temperatures close to freezing temperature.
It is ultra-light
You save money on it
800-fill goose down may pale in comparison to the 850 or 900
7. Montbell Down Hugger 900 #2 ($559)
Another ultra-light backpacking bag with a weight of 1 lb. 8 oz., the Montbell Down Hugger 900 offers great comfort while hiking or during rest. It has comfort temperature rating of 34°F EN and a lower limit of 23°F EN. It is insulated using a 900-fill goose down with an 8D shell. The 8D shell means it is very thin and less durable, so you have to take extra care when using it. The Montbell Down Hugger also uses a material which stretches and returns to its original shape as you adjust your body in it.
It is ultra-light
Uses 900-fill goose down
The 8D shell material is less durable
8. The North Face Furnace 20 ($179)
The North Face Furnace 20 uses a combination of 700-fill goose down and synthetic (Heatseeker). While this reduces the cost of this bag, it significantly reduces the heat retention capacity of the sleeping bag. With a lower limit of 14°F EN and a comfort rating of 26°F EN, the Furnace 20 is a great 3 season bag. 2 lbs. 12 oz. means this backpacking bag is not within the ultralight category. It has a ProDown hydrophobic finish so you can be at ease when you think about moisture creeping into the bag.
Price is perfect for those on a budget
Suitable for most conditions
It is heavy
It provides less warmth for the weight
It doesn’t back down well
Any quick search on the internet may give you a range of products you can select from, but those listed above have been tested to ensure they meet the specs which are advertised.