There is nothing worse than lying in your tent or an open bivy with the dreaded feeling of cold gripping your bones. And just being cold is actually best case scenario when it comes to winter backpacking or extreme alpine adventures. When you are spending the night out in sub-freezing temperatures, having the right gear can be a matter of life or death.
Whether you’ve been winter camping for years or just beginning to explore snowy landscapes, having a good winter sleeping bag is an absolute requirement. You don’t want to just survive the night. You want to be comfortable and be able to fully recharge your body after a hard day of exploring.
Thankfully, there are lots of options on the market for great sleeping bags for winter camping, but sometimes all the choices can become overwhelming.
To save you some time, we’ve put together this list of the best winter sleeping bags to keep you warm and toasty in just about every cold climate on earth. From folks just starting out to die-hard backpackers/alpinists, and extreme-climate explorers, we’ve got something for everyone on this list.
Settle in guys and prepare to start sweating just from reading about all of these top winter sleeping bag options…
Quick Answer: Best Winter Sleeping Bags of 2020: Our Top Picks
#1 Marmot Lithium Sleeping Bag – Best Winter Sleeping Bag Overall
#2 REI Co-op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag – Best Budget Winter Sleeping Bag
#3 Murre EX 0 Women’s Sleeping Bag – Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Women
#4 Ptarmigan EX -25 Sleeping Bag – Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Expeditions
#5 Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 0 Sleeping Bag – Best Value Winter Sleeping Bag
#6 Marmot Never Summer 0 Sleeping Bag – Best Value Winter Sleeping Bag #2
#7 Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 Sleeping Bag – Best Lightweight Winter Sleeping Bag
#8 Snowy Owl EX -60 Sleeping Bag – Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Extreme Stuff Fests
|Marmot Lithium Sleeping Bag||Check on REICheck on Backcountry|
|REI Co-op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag||Check on REI|
|Murre EX 0 Women’s Sleeping Bag||Check on Feathered Friends|
|Ptarmigan EX -25 Sleeping Bag||Check on Feathered Friends|
|Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 0 Sleeping Bag||Check on REI|
|Marmot Never Summer 0 Sleeping Bag||Check on REICheck on Backcountry|
|Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 Sleeping Bag||Check on REICheck on Backcountry|
|Snowy Owl EX -60 Sleeping Bag||Check on Feathered Friends|
The Best Winter Sleeping Bags
We understand that not everyone is made for arctic conditions! The selections on this list are meant for the average/intermediate grade winter adventure, with sleeping bags that have a temperature rating of at least 0 degrees F.
Of course, we’ve also included some cool options for those extreme cold adventures. Read on to find your ideal winter sleeping bag!
Best Winter Sleeping Bag Overall
If you’re looking for a great all-around winter sleeping bag to take on winter camping trips, backpack adventures, or even more rugged expeditions, then look no further than the Marmot Lithium!
This mummy-style sleeping bag is made of water-resistant down, so you can have the benefits of a lightweight and warm down sleeping bag without worrying about your adventure being ruined by a bit of rain or wet weather.
Another thing we love about the Marmot Lithium is the convenient internal storage pocket, so you won’t need to reach outside of your sleeping bag for your phone or flashlight.
To keep you warm, the Marmot Lithium features a wraparound footbox design to lock in warmth. The hood of the bag also has a drawcord to minimize any heat loss.
Although it’s not designed for extreme arctic conditions, the Marmot Lithium is sturdy and warm enough to keep you comfortable in single-digit weather. It’s certainly not the cheapest option on our list, but if you want real long-lasting quality, you can’t always compromise on price.
Best Budget Winter Sleeping Bag
Enjoy the comforts of a down winter sleeping bag without the high price tag of some of the other options on this list!
The bag comes with a nylon stuff sack and mesh storage bag, but you’ll need to buy a compression sack separately.
The fully contoured hood helps prevent heat loss, and you can use the drawcords to adjust the neck to stay comfortable. You can also purchase a sleeping pad to go with the Down Time 0; this is compatible with the loops attached to the bag and can be used to secure it to the sleeping pad to prevent you from rolling off onto the cold ground at night.
To help with water resistance, the bag has a ripstop nylon shell. This makes it a bit heavier than some winter sleeping bags but is effective against moisture and dampness.
Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Women
Designed to address the requests and concerns of female campers, the Murre EX 0 is an excellent pick for women looking for a winter sleeping bag.
The bag has an upgraded footbox with superior insulation to help keep your feet warm even in single-digit weather. There’s also a bit more room in the lower taper of the mummy bag in case you’re the type of person who likes to sleep with one knee up.
To keep your upper body warm and provide more wiggle room, the Murre EX 0 also has a bit of extra volume in the chest and elbow area. All these features combined create an excellent, relatively lightweight bag perfect for camping or backpacking winter adventures.
Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Expeditions
If you’re in need of a mountaineering bag or something to combat some truly harsh weather conditions, then look no further than the Ptarmigan.
This mummy bag might not come cheap, but the price will be worth it when temperatures drop below zero and you need to stay warm at night. Constructed from 900+ goose down and a Pertex Shield to keep the bag breathable (but also provide waterproof protection), the Ptarmigan is certainly a sleeping bag capable of taking on an extreme winter.
To keep breathing condensation from entering the bag, there’s a permanent collar and a 3D contoured hood. The entire length of the bag has large sidewalls to keep insulation even along your entire body.
Another awesome feature of the Ptarmigan is the dual-webbing zip guards that prevent the fabric along the zipper from getting caught or snagging. No need to worry about getting stuck at night or struggling to unzip your bag when you’re tired and ready to sleep!
Best Value Winter Sleeping Bag
Not too expensive, not too bulky, and well designed to do its job keeping you warm, the Bishop Pass 0 is a great all-around winter sleeping bag.
It’s relatively lightweight and small for a winter bag, so it’s a good option for backpackers. Plus, since it’s not as expensive, you can save money to get other gear you might need for your adventures.
The Bishop Pass 0 is filled with comfy, fluffy down that has been RDS certified, meaning the animals involved in its production were not unnecessarily harmed. To keep the bag water-resistant, it has a ripstop nylon shell to protect you from moisture and prevent the bag from getting stained.
One of the coolest features of the Bishop Pass 0 is the glow-in-the-dark zipper pull, making it easy to locate the zipper in the dead of night. There’s also a 2-way zipper on the footbox so you can ventilate your feet without needing to open the entire bag.
To prevent drafts along the zipper, the bag features a full-length draft tube and draft collar. Inside the bag, there’s also a storage pocket to stash small essential items you might want to have on hand.
Best Value Winter Sleeping Bag #2
Made from certified RDS (Responsible Down Standard) water-resistant down, the Marmot Never Summer 0 is a great option for a backpacking or camping winter sleeping bag.
The bag is relatively lightweight and packs down small, so it’s easier to fit in your backpack and carry around than other sleeping bag options.
To keep you warm and toasty inside, the Never Summer 0 has a multi-baffle hood and a down-filled collar. A draft tube also rungs the length of the bag to prevent any cold air from getting in along the zipper.
The YKK snag-free zipper goes two ways, and there’s a second fold-down zipper for more ventilation options. There’s an internal storage pocket and a heat pocket in the footbox where you can place a heat pack if you’re the type of person who often gets cold feet while camping.
Best Lightweight Winter Sleeping Bag
Although it can be difficult to compromise on weight and still achieve a warm and effective winter sleeping bag, the Phantom 0 achieves a perfect balance.
Weighing in at less than 3 pounds, it’s not too heavy or bulky to carry around with you on your winter backpacking adventures, and the warm down fill will keep you comfortable when temperatures drop at night.
The Phantom 0 has a 4 chamber hood, contoured footbox, and tuck stitching around the bag to prevent heat loss and help the sleeping bag last longer. To keep the sleeping bag ventilated, there’s a 2-way zipper that has an anti-snag design.
Best Winter Sleeping Bag for Extreme Stuff Fests
This is definitely the most expensive bag on the list, and for good reason. If you need a sleeping bag to combat arctic conditions and sub-zero temperatures, there’s no better option than the Snowy Owl!
This super sleeping bag has a temperature rating for -60 degrees Fahrenheit. The 900+ goose down filling will keep you warm and toasty, while the nylon lining and Pertex Shield EX breathable and waterproof shell protects the bag from moisture and dampness.
The 2-way #5 YKK dual zipper system is anti-snagging and has locking sliders, so you don’t have to worry about the bag accidentally coming open at night. A draft tube also runs the length of the zipper to prevent any cold air from getting inside.
There’s also a permanent collar and a 3D contoured hood to keep your head warm and keep moisture from your breath out of the sleeping bag.
Coming in at 5 lbs, the Snowy Owl is definitely a lot heavier to carry with you, but it does come with a stuff sack and storage bag. Besides, if the nighttime temp starts dropping below -30 F, you’ll be glad you have such a hefty bag!
The Best of the Rest
The Ibis sleeping bag is a bit wider than other winter sleeping bags but still maintains a mummy shape to prevent heat loss. If you’re in conditions that drop a bit below the temperature limit for the bag, the extra shoulder room gives you enough space to wear a down jacket for additional warmth.
Thanks to the shape, the Ibis is a perfect bag to take along on mountain treks when temperatures may vary from night to night, depending on the weather and how high up you are.
The continuous baffles on the bag allow you to position the down where you need it, and the #5YKK two-way zipper with locking sliders keeps the sleeping bag closed at night and helps with ventilation on warmer nights.
If you’re the type of person who feels too claustrophobic in mummy-shaped sleeping bags but you still want a good winter sleeping bag, then the Sea to Summit Ascent is probably a good pick for you.
Although it doesn’t retain heat quite as well as mummy bags, the Ascent AcIII still has a hood with cord adjustments and a draft tube around the neck with adjustments to help regulate temperature.
The right side of the bag has a half zip, and the left has a 2-way full zipper, so you can ventilate the bag as needed. To keep your feet warm, the footbox is anatomically contoured, and vertical baffles along the sleeping bag prevent cold spots.
If you need to push the temperature limit of the sleeping bag, there is room for extra layers. However, due to the design, it’s not the sleeping bag you’d want on an extreme cold expedition.
An excellent winter sleeping bag for women or small-statured people, the Big Agnes Daisy Mae comes at a lower price but still does relatively well in cold conditions. It’s not the bag for extreme cold, but for weekend winter camping trips or light backpacking adventures, it’s a great option.
The is designed to match women’s thermoregulation and provides extra warmth around your feet. You’ll also have more room to move around thanks to the semi-rectangular shape, but this feature also makes heat retention a bit poorer than mummy bags.
You can purchase a separate Flex Pad Sleeve that can attach your sleeping bag to your sleeping pad to prevent you from rolling onto the cold ground at night. The bag also has a Pillow Barn pocket to keep your pillow in place.
The Big Agnes Daisy Mae has a Free Range style hood, which allows you to lift your head more easily. Drawcords for the hood are inside the bag, so you can adjust it as needed throughout the night without needing to reach out of the bag into the cold night air.
Filled with Hydrophobic Down and with a polyester shell, the Therm-a-Rest Questar is a great option for a water-resistant and fast-drying down sleeping bag. It also has a bit more room than some mummy sleeping bags, letting you reposition at night without losing any thermal efficiency.
To keep your feet warm, the ergonomic toe box features a Toe-asis, which is an extra thick pocket of down to prevent any heat loss. The Questar also has a draft collar, zipper draft tube, and adjustable hood to trap heat and regulate ventilation.
If you’re planning on camping in colder weather, the Questar also features quilt and blanket loops, so you can purchase additional layers of warmth depending on the weather conditions and time of year.
A compression sack and storage sack are included with the bag for easy transportation and packing.
A great sleeping bag to have on treks up mountains and winter camping expeditions, the Snowbunting is relatively lightweight for its warmth and design.
The standard-width mummy bag gives you enough space so you don’t feel constricted, but also prevents any heat from escaping. A full-length draft tube also stops any cold air from seeping in at the zipper.
No need to worry about the bag accidentally coming open at night; the 2-way zipper has locking sliders. You can also reposition the down thanks to the continuous baffles on the sleeping bag, which allows you to achieve maximum comfort.
Say goodbye to cold nights on the mountain top; the Marmot Col Sleeping Bag is designed for sub-zero temperatures on your outdoor adventures!
Filled with 800-fill-power goose down with a Pertex Shield of waterproof and breathable material for the shell, you’ll stay warm and dry even in extreme conditions.
The Marmot Col has several key features to maximize heat retention. For your feet, there’s an 11 baffle footbox with reinforced fabric to withstand boot liners or gear. The 6 baffle hood also has drawcords that are easily accessible so you can adjust the hood even in the dark.
Although it’s not exactly light, the Marmot Col is less heavy than many alternative winter sleeping bags designed for mountaineering.
If you’re not planning on staying in any sub-zero conditions on your mountaineering adventures, then a great bag like the North Face Inferno 0 can save you money while still providing excellent warmth.
The hydrophobic finish helps the bag repel moisture and dry out much faster than other down sleeping bags.
To keep the cold out and the heat in, the Inferno 0 also has a full draft collar and hood cinch cords, which you can adjust to regulate ventilation. The hood, footbox, and back are also strengthened with additional water-resistant fabric since these are the areas most likely to come in contact with wet tent walls.
The unique feature of the Inferno 0 is the center zip design. This allows you to sit up easier, and some campers prefer the feel to side-zip sleeping bags.
For extreme outdoor winter campers, the Phantom GORE-TEX is the sleeping bag for you. It’s lightweight (in comparison to other winter sleeping bags), comfy, and made from sustainable materials.
The GORE-TEX shell creates a completely windproof layer between you and the exterior elements. It also prevents any moisture from entering the bag while still allowing moist air to exit for ultimate breathability.
There’s enough extra room in the bag for additional layers if needed, while the mummy shape provides ultimate heat retention. The bag also has a draft collar, a large zipper draft tube, and a contoured footbox to keep your feet warm.
You can find the zipper easily at night since it’s glow-in-the-dark, and there’s no need to worry about snagging thanks to the zipper design.
The Therm-a-Rest Polar Ranger is a great middle option between the super extreme cold weather bags and the lighter moderate winter sleeping bags. With a temperature rating of -20, you can stay warm in sub-zero temps, but also open the side vents to regulate the ventilation on warmer nights.
If you need additional warm layers, you can purchase separate quilts and blankets, which can be attached to the loops on the sleeping bag.
The shell of the Polar Ranger has been treated to be water repellent, which also helps the bag dry quicker. Even if your feet are cold, you can get them warmed up thanks to the Toe-asis baffle pocket in the ergonomic footbox.
A compression sack and stuff sack are also included for easy transportation of the sleeping bag.
How to Choose the Best Winter Sleeping Bag
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when you’re shopping for the ideal winter sleeping bag. Your own budget is probably the number one priority, and since good winter sleeping bags don’t come cheap, it’s better to put some forethought into your purchase decision.
Thankfully, the sleeping bag industry has standardized a lot of testing methods, so it’s easier to compare which bag is the best for you depending on how you plan on using it.
Sleeping bags designed for extreme arctic weather are produced much differently than bags designed for weekend winter camping trips. We’ll discuss some of the key points for sleeping bags and what conditions and uses are best for certain features.
Warmth and Temperature Rating
The temperature rating on a sleeping bag gives you an idea of what degree of coldness the bag is designed to be used in.
Bags used to all be tested individually by manufacturers, which made it difficult to compare temperature ratings across brands. Today, things are different: bag testing is almost always done by the International Standards Organization (ISO). It doesn’t matter what brand or store you shop at; the temperature ratings will all be measured by the same criteria.
However, if a temperature rating says “0 degrees Fahrenheit,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be warm at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature ratings are, at best, an estimate. Out in nature, there are always other factors to take into consideration. If you have a rough idea about how cold the temperatures will be on your camping trips, look for a winter sleeping bag with at least that temperature rating, if not lower.
It’s also important to consider your own “normal” body temperature. Are you usually very warm? Or are you someone who is always cold at night even with a down comforter? If you know you tend to get cold, it might be a better idea to look for a winter sleeping bag designed for colder weather than you’re anticipating.
Comfort Rating vs. Limit Rating
To help you make the decision about which winter sleeping bag is best for you, we want to get into the nitty-gritty of temperature ratings a bit more.
On a winter sleeping bag tag, you’ll see two numbers. One is the comfort rating and the other is the limit rating.
A comfort rating is the temperature at which a person who is generally a bit colder will still be comfortable while sleeping in the bag. The limit rating is the temperature at which someone who is generally warmer while sleeping will still be okay.
The limit rating of a sleeping bag is always lower than the comfort rating. If you’re unsure about how cold the temperatures will be, it’s usually a good idea to err on the safe side and get a bag designed for slightly colder weather.
If you use the comfort rating, you’ll probably have a bit of wiggle room and be able to withstand slightly colder temperatures. On the other hand, if you’re always hot when you sleep anyway, you can probably go off the lower limit rating when shopping for a winter sleeping bag.
Synthetic Vs. Down Fill
There are two primary materials used to make winter sleeping bags – synthetic fibers or down. Each has its own benefits and shortcomings, and depending on the type of camping you plan on doing, one may be a better choice for you.
When it comes to the warmth to weight ratio, down is still the all-around winner. You can get a sleeping bag that packs down smaller and provides more warmth than a synthetic material bag.
However, the big downside to down sleeping bags is their total lack of effectiveness in wet conditions. Of course, the idea is always to keep the inside of your tent or shelter dry, but accidents happen – or sometimes sleeping bags get a bit wet in transportation.
Down sleeping bags retain water and won’t dry out easily. Once a down sleeping bag gets wet, it loses any insulating qualities and takes a long time to dry out thoroughly.
Synthetic bags, on the other hand, are designed to remain insulating even when damp, so no worries if you track a bit of snow into the tent. They also dry out faster, so even if your sleeping bag gets wet while on a camping trip, it’s not as difficult to dry out again.
Some down material sleeping bags have a water-resistant treatment so you can enjoy the warmth and compressibility features of a down bag but also the water-resistance of a synthetic bag. These are usually a bit more expensive and still aren’t quite as water-resistant as fully synthetic material sleeping bags.
Weight/Stuff Sack Volume
Unlike lightweight summer camping bags, good winter sleeping bags can become quite heavy and bulky. If you’re planning on backpacking or going winter hiking with your sleeping bag, you’ll need to prepare for how much weight and space it will take up in your pack.
If you need a compact and light bag, definitely pick a down sleeping bag for winter camping. These will keep you warm but take up much less room in your pack.
The stuff sack volume of your sleeping bag is pretty straightforward: this is the total volume able to fit inside the stuff sack.
Because down sleeping bags compress more, you can use a lower volume stuff sack. Synthetic sleeping bags require more space, so you’ll need a higher volume stuff sack.
Having a good compression sack helps to make transportation and packing your sleeping bag easier. Some winter sleeping bags come with a compression sack, while others you have to purchase it separately.
Water Resistance and Water Protection
Having a water-resistant winter sleeping bag is important. In snowy conditions, your sleeping bag will likely get at least a little bit damp during your camping trip.
As we’ve already discussed above, down sleeping bags definitely take the trophy for warmth, but synthetic is the way to go if you want more water-resistance.
If you do decide to get a down sleeping bag, it’s a good idea to look for one that has received a water treatment to keep it somewhat water-resistant. However, in very wet conditions, a synthetic bag will always outperform a down sleeping bag.
For people who really like down sleeping bags but are worried about potential exposure to water while camping, there are some breathable nylon sleeping bag covers to provide extra protection. The downside to this is that you’ll have to carry something else with you.
Another solution is to get a waterproof bag in which to store your sleeping bag to eliminate the risk of it getting wet during transportation. At your campsite, you can also put an additional tarp on the floor of the tent to prevent dampness from collecting inside.
In addition to temperature ratings and material, there are some other features you might want to keep an eye out for when shopping for a good winter sleeping bag.
Some winter sleeping bags come with a neat internal pocket to store flashlights, cell phones, watch, toiletry essentials, or other important gear you’ll want close on hand. When you’re already warm and cozy inside your sleeping bag, having an internal pocket is a great convenience to have.
A draft collar is another thing some campers consider essential. Draft collars are tubes of fabric around the hood of the sleeping bag that are usually filled with down to prevent heat from escaping at night. For warmer sleepers, having a draft collar might not be necessary, but if you tend to be cold, it’s a good feature to have on your sleeping bag.
Winter sleeping bags have also gotten very creative with zipper placement. Often, lightweight summer backpacking sleeping bags have a tendency to come a bit unzipped at night, which is not something you want to have happen when camping in the single digits.
Extra zippers that lock or overlap keep the sleeping bag in place at night and make it easier to unzip a section of the bag rather than the entire length if you need to reach out and grab something.
You can also take note if the zipper is protected with a guard or cover to prevent it from snagging. It’s no fun to be struggling with the zipper when you’re cold, tired, and just want to go to bed!
Some sleeping bags come with accessories like stuff sacks or liners included, while for other products, you need to purchase them separately. If you have a summer backpacking sleeping bag that you love, you might want to begin your search for a winter sleeping bag by checking for products made by the same brand.
Final Thoughts on the Best Winter Sleeping Bags
Now that you’ve gotten an idea of the best winter sleeping bags on the market, it’s time to start getting your kit together for your own winter adventures.
Whether you’re planning an overnight trip in the local national forest, a mountain expedition, or simply wanting to arm yourself with a proper cold-weather sleeping bag, we hope you’ve found the perfect sleeping bag on this list.
It’s always a good idea to double-check the weight, length, and packing measurements of your sleeping bag before making a final purchase to make sure it’s a good fit – for you and for packing it in your backpack!
If you don’t know which sleeping bag to go with, go with my top pick: the Marmot Lithium 0 – I have been using this sleeping bag in frigid conditions all across the world and you can’t go wrong.
May your next unplanned bivy be everything you have hoped it would be.
What are your thoughts? Did this Best Winter Sleeping bags review help you? Anything I didn’t answer? Did you have a different experience using a sleeping bag on my list? We want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below – thanks, guys!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy some gear through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the site going.