Unlike other outdoor activities that need a particular weather condition, camping can be done all year round, providing that you have the right camping gear and equipment. Especially in cold weather, preparing things that keep you warm is a must-do in your checklist. If you don’t want to shiver uncontrollably and desperately wait for the sun to rise, you need to choose yourself a good sleeping bag to spend the night in. 

To give you the chance to camp in cold weather comfortably and enjoy the special routine that can be done only in that kind of weather such as enjoying a warm cup of coffee after a good night’s sleep; we’d share with you about our experience on how to choose the best sleeping bag for cold weather. 

How do I choose a winter sleeping bag?

First of all, I’ll show you how to choose a suitable sleeping bag. Most people choose things to buy for their liking, but there are some factors that one should consider before deciding to spend the money. The same situation in buying a good winter sleeping bag.

1. Price

A sleeping bag might be the most important yet expensive item on every camping trip. It keeps you warm throughout the night and protects you against the small insects that might sneak in the tent via a let-opened window or door. The price might vary from 150$ to 500$ depending on the brand, functions, weight, size… Hence, to have an objective evaluation, I’d suggest you think about the times you might use it, or in other words, the cost peruse. If you do not usually use the sleeping bag, it is not necessary to buy a high-end one. Otherwise, if you are a usual camper who might spend about 50 nights per year among the wild of nature, it only costs a few bucks for one comfortable night pampering yourself in a good, warm, and lightweight sleeping bag – which is totally a reasonable investment. 

2. Weight

A sleeping bag is not only one of the most expensive item on a camping trip, but also one of the heaviest item on the list among tent, backpack, and sleeping pad. The total weight of a sleeping bag is a sum of its fill material and the weight of its shell fabrics. 

When you think about the weight of a sleeping bag, determine how you’d bring it to the camping venue. If you’re going to hike to the spot, you should keep everything as lightest as possible. With your back hurt on the very first day of the trip, the camping time cannot be as fun as you expect. A bag that is ultralight is great for backpacking, and of course, they are costly as they are made of high-quality materials to cut down weight. Also, if you choose the ultralight option, you might be also beneficial from its warmth, comfort, and safety. 

If you are not into ultralight options or simply don’t want to spend a fortune on a sleeping bag that you seldom use, you’d consider a lightweight sleeping bag. 

3. Warmth 

The main purpose of a sleeping bag is to trap the heat from your body from getting out. As the bag doesn’t generate warmth itself, it should be well isolated to be able to trap more heat. That’s why you should choose mummy bags over quilts. Mummy bags are well isolated, hence they are cozier and warmer than quilts which have a large area, and the heat spreads across it. 

4. Fit

When we think about a sleeping bag fit, it comes to a comparison between mummy bags and quilts bags.

Mummy bags Quilt bags
Well isolated & restrict space Less restrictive
Keep you cozy & warm Less warm
Come with or without hoods Without hoods
A zipper can be snaggy sometimes  No zipper issues
Can be expensive At a reasonable price

5. Fill materials 

As I already mentioned, the weight of a sleeping bag is the sum of the shell fabric and the fill material. It affects a lot to the weight-to-warmth ratio, and if you want an excellent ratio, choose bags with down insulation which also compresses more easily. Hence, it is suitable if you are going to have a backpack camping trip. 

On the other hand, synthetic sleeping bags are bulkier and cheaper than bags with down insulation. Also, when it comes to wet weather, it retains heat more effectively. However, due to its weight, you should choose it if you go camping by car. 

6. Temperature rating

When it comes to rating, there’s at least a standard to that we can rank things. It’s the same for sleeping bags that we use European Norm (EN) to standardize the temperature rating. Not all companies use EN ratings, but it is still widely used across the industry. 

To that, EN rating specifies 4 limits according to gender, and the most common one is EN Lower Limit, which is defined as the temperature that a standard make can sleep for eight hours straight to it in a curled position.  

So how do we understand the limit? For example, a sleeping bag with a lower limit of 20F means that the bag keeps you alive till 20F, and not that you’d be warm at 20F. It’s actually no science to choose a sleeping bag by its temperature rating, but you should always get one that is warmer than you want it to be at the campsite. This is the rule of thumb. 

As it is not always accurate to choose a bag by its temperature rating, you can increase the warmth of the sleeping bag yourself if the one you bought has not been able to meet your needs. You can use a sleeping pad, wear jackets and liners, … 

Detailed reviews on top 10 best sleeping bags for cold weather

Product Images Product Names Editor's Rating Price
Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag 4.9 See latest price
Browning Camping McKinley -30 Degree Sleeping Bag 4.9 See latest price
Coleman Palmetto 30°F Cool Weather Sleeping Bag 4.8 See latest price
0 Degree Winter Sleeping Bags 4.8 See latest price
Wenzel Windy Pass 0-Degree Mummy Sleeping Bag 4.7 See latest price
Outdoor Vitals Summit Sleeping Bag 4.7 See latest price
FARLAND Sleeping Bags 4.7 See latest price
Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree F 4.6 See latest price
TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 Sleeping Bag 4.5 See latest price
ALPS Mountaineering Desert Pine 0-Degree Sleeping Bag 4.5 See latest price

1. Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag 

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As its name suggests, this Coleman sleeping bag allows you to camp in cold weather as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. With the mummy style, it can easily accommodate an adult with height up to 6’2’’, and provide enough warmth by its semi-sculpted hood. You can adjust the tightness by the drawstring and allow more air in using the zip in the bottom of the sleeping bag during warmer nights. This feature is super useful for those who like to sleep with one foot out. If you are not one and have the cold feet, the sleeping bag’s insulated foot box and its quilting construction will trap the heat for the whole night long. 

Pros

+ Allow you to camp in zero-degree temperatures (Fahrenheit)

+ Suitable for tall people 

+ Feature a zip in the bottom, which comes with ZipPlow system that prevents snagging during zipping

Cons

+ A bit bulkier 

2. Browning Camping McKinley -30 Degree Sleeping Bag

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With an extremely durable outer shell made of 210T nylon diamond ripstop fabric (which is perfectly paired with a brushed polyester liner) and filled with multi layers, this sleeping bag provides extra warmth that you could survive the harsh temperature as low as -30 degrees. It is suitable if your next destination is a place in cold climates, and the specially designed mummy-style of the bag offers you space to move around while the zipper with two-layer constructions helps you trap in maximum heat. The bag also comes with a compression sack, and its compact design allows you to bring along easily. 

Pros

+ Unique design (multi layers and durable outer shell) gives you both warmth and space

Cons

+ Not suitable with warmer climates

3. Coleman Palmetto 30°F Cool Weather Sleeping Bag

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Another product from Coleman which is 100% made from polyester and able to keep you warm in temperature as low as 30°F. Campers with height up to 5’11’’ can use this bag comfortably, and will have a good warm sleep thanks to the polyester cover and tricot fiber blend liner.  Some might not be interested in the tricot lining as they think it traps debris too easily; and some with dry skin might find the inside surface a bit abrasive. However, if you can go along with these things, this sleeping bag is still a good choice with useful features such as the ZipPlow system from Coleman (that prevents snagging while zipping/unzipping well) and the ease when you carry it away for the trip due to the Roll Control fasteners ad the patented no-tie closure. 

Pros

+ ZipPlow system that allows easy zipping/unzipping

Cons

+ Some might find tricot lining a bit abrasive

+ A bit bulkier

+ No hood, no draft collar

4. 0-Degree Winter Sleeping Bags

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This product from Rioyalo comes with a thoughtful design of Wind Buffer that is extremely good at keeping heat from losing from warm to cold weather (5F-32F degree). It also features a silky soft lining (the first-rate 190T Pongee lining) that is nice to your skin and assures a comfortable sleep. This sleeping bag is durable thanks to high-quality material (such as 210T Nylon ripstop on the shell and 350GSM 100% polyester fiber filling) and able to waterproof yourself while you traverse the damp terrains. You can carry this sleeping away easily as it is lightweight, highly portable, easy to fold, and comes with a compression sack with straps. 

Pros

+ Wind buffer design that keeps you warm 

+ Come with a compression sack with straps

+ 30 days’ hassle-free return policy

Cons

+ Some find it not suitable for the extremely cold weather

5. Wenzel Windy Pass 0-Degree Mummy Sleeping Bag

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As its name suggests, the 0-degree temperature rating makes the product a warm, comfortable, and hypoallergenic sleeping bag. If you are tall and have been struggling to find a long-enough sleeping bag several times, this is the one.  This Wenzel product is 8’4’’ long and be filled with non-allergenic Omega II  with offset quilt construction; which means that you will be warm and comfortable inside for the whole night long. Additionally, this sleeping bag features the shoulder collar that provides extra comfort against your face. You can carry it away easily using the stuff sack to compress this oversized bag. 

Pros

+ Spacious (3’33’’ wide and 8’4’’ long)

+ Feature shoulder collar that provides extra comfort

Cons

+ Occupy quite a large area in your tent

6. Outdoor Vitals Summit Sleeping Bag 

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This might be the best sleeping bag for cold weather due to its high compressibility and water-resistance. You will sleep comfortably in 5 degrees F weather in this sleeping bag, and it is ultra-lightweight to be carried away. It holds the highest ratio of weight-to-warmth and the baffled exterior also contributes to the lightness of the bag. There is also an insulated foot box to make sure that your feet are warm for a good night’s sleep.

One interesting feature of this product is that you can zip 02 of them together, which is a plus point if you are going to have a few romantic days in the wilderness with your loved one. 

Pros

+ Highest ratio of weight-to-warmth 

+ 02 bags can be zipped together

+ Lifetime warranty

Cons

+ A bit expensive

7. FARLAND Sleeping Bags 20℉

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This Farland product is suitable if you are going to camp in cold weather as it is able to keep you warm in temperature as low as 20℉. Also, the bag is water-resistant that can protect you well in extreme weather conditions, which makes sure you will get a dry and cozy sleep. With the outer made from 290T Nylon, lined with polyester pongee and double filled with polyester fiber, the sleeping bag is durable. You can also zip 02 of them together to have a romantic star-gazing night with your sweetheart

Pros

+ Lightweight & water-resistance 

+ 02 bags can be zipped together 

+ 100% risk-free satisfaction guarantee

Cons 

+ The bag is thinner towards the feet

8. Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree F

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This Hyke & Byke product aims to maximize durability, warmth, and water resistance using Cluster Loft base, which is better than down filling in durability under compression and moisture resistance. You will have comfortable and good sleep using this sleeping bag in temperatures from 10 degrees up thanks to the super-soft duck down (Hydrophobic 650 FP) with insulation and waterproof capabilities. The special filling also helps in resisting moisture that enables you to traverse in damp terrains while carrying the sleeping bag easily in its compact bag. Besides the high-quality material which makes this sleeping bag super durable; there are other features that interest any camper such as double large YKK zippers and anti-snag slider, wide shoulders, and large footbox, snag-free velcro,… The hooded design will make sure you will have a warm sleep from head to toe. 

Pros

+ Special down filling with loft technology creates air pockets that trap in heat and waterproof the inside

+ Suitable for big and tall campers

Cons

+ Zipper issues 

9. TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 Sleeping Bag

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This Teton sleeping bag, as its name suggests, is a great choice if you are finding one that can be used on any occasion of outdoor activities. The inner fleece liner adds warmth in the coldest climates and can be removed easily if you camp in warm weather. It is s easy to clean, lightweight, and when you remove it you can use it as a blanket. As a durable and portable camping gear, this Teton sleeping bag comes with a great compression sack that you can stuff the bag in from the bottom, then easily tighten the heavy-duty straps to have it ready to carry away. 

Pros

+ Compression sack included for easy carrying

Cons

+ No hood

10. ALPS Mountaineering Desert Pine 0-Degree Sleeping Bag

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This ALPS sleeping bag might be the best of its kind, the mummy style. Made with high-quality Elavation+ insulation and two-layer construction, this bag can accommodate your good night’s sleep in temperature as low as 0 degrees F. The outer is made from ripstop fabric that makes the bag durable for harsh weather condition and the zipper which is conveniently unseparated is also a good construction for careless users. You can carry it away easily in its standard stuff sack which comes along with the product, and don’t worry if you have to take a long hike to the camping spot. 

Pros

+ Made of high-quality ripstop fabric with insulated chest 

+ Mummy style with double layers to increase the warmth 

Cons

+ None at this time

How to use a sleeping bag correctly and efficiently?

1. Use sleeping bag liner

The sleeping bag liner will play the role of a barrier that prevents your bag from getting dirty. Any material will be of help: cotton, polyester, silk,… providing that the liner is thin and lightweight.

2. Air out the sleeping bag

To wash and air out the bag after a trip is important, but not everyone knows that you need to hang out the sleeping bag during the trip as well, and once a day. It will dry out the moisture and any dust might stuck in the bag will fall away. 

One thing you need to remember when air out the bag is that you should not let it exposed to harsh sunlight. The heat might damage the outer layer, and hence, just dry the bag with mild sunlight.

3. Zip the bag carefully

Zipper is like a lock to your sleeping bag. It keeps the bag well isolated and hence, keeps the warmth inside. Some think that it is just a trivial aspect and use the zipper roughly. They only realize its importance when the zipper snaps and the sleeping bag becomes unusable. The night then will be totally ruined. 

Not all sleeping bags come with a high quality zipper, hence, always handle it with care.

4. Only fold and store it when dry

Make sure that the sleeping bag is well dried out before being folded and stored away in the compression bag. If there are any water drops or moisture left, there will be mold, bad odors all over the sleeping bag, and its material surely will be damaged.

5. Give the sleeping bag gentle care

If one knows how to use and sustain things, they shall be in good shape for a long time; and it’s the same with a sleeping bag. Remember not to put the sleeping near the fire, for example, the campfire. Do not let your kids jump on the sleeping bags or else its down material will get distributed unevenly. Then, it’s difficult for you to sleep inside the bag.

FAQs

1. Is it better to wear clothes in a sleeping bag?

If you find your sleeping bag is not warm enough to sleep in, wearing long underwear and clothes will keep you warmer inside. The clothes play the role of another layer of insulation that keeps your natural heat close to your body and prevents it from getting out. 

However, take notes of the following points:

– Do not wear too many layers of clothes or put other stuff inside the bag, which might reduce the space inside the sleeping bag, as well as the amount of warm air that your sleeping bag could trap. Also, when you wear too many clothes, it might make you break into a sweat. 

– Do not wear clothing that is too tight as they might cut the blood circulation off your body and that part will feel colder. 

– Do not wear moist clothes. They will compromise the insulating power of your sleeping bag.

Tips for clothing to wear in a sleeping bag is to choose fresh and dry clothing that fit well.

2. Why am I cold in my sleeping bag?

Though your bag gets a good EN lower limit, the sensitivity to the cold greatly depends on individuals and weather conditions. Hence, follow our suggestion above: always get one that is warmer than you want it to be at the campsite. 

In case you only realize it when it comes to sleep time at the campsite, you can wear extra clothes, or cover the sleeping bag with wool…

3. How do you sleep in a sleeping bag?

Get the instruction virtually by watching this video:

Conclusion

Sleeping bag is an important camping gear, and becomes even more crucial in cold weather. Choosing a suitable sleeping bag that ensures you a warm and tight sleep will contribute a lot to the success of your getaway. I do hope that after reading my sharing knowledge about the top best sleeping bags for cold weather, you will find a good pal and get many comfortable nights out in the wild.