Best Winter Sleeping Bags for Backpacking in 2017


The North Face Inferno 0 Winter Sleeping Bag

The North Face Inferno 0 Winter Sleeping Bag

Here we selected and reviewed the best winter sleeping bags for backpacking. A sleeping bag is probably the most important piece of sleeping equipment because it reduces the convective heat loss and thus keeps you warm and comfortable during nights. The warmth of a sleeping bag depends on the amount and quality of its insulation. High-quality winter sleeping bags use high-grade insulation (e.g. insulation with good warmth-to-weight ratio) and thus require a smaller amount of insulation to provide the same warmth as less sophisticated sleeping bags. Therefore, they are very light and pack down small which is indeed a big advantage. Note that lightweight equipment minimizes the strain on your body during activities such as backpacking, hiking, mountaineering etc.

The following is a selection and review of the best winter sleeping bags. We only listed high-quality sleeping bags which provide great comfort and a good warmth-to-weight ratio (they are light despite their superb insulation). Furthermore, all sleeping bags in this review pack down very small. As a sleeping bag is typically used in combination with a sleeping pad (especially in winter), you might also want to check out our review of the Best Sleeping Pads. When it comes to shelter options for winter hiking, our selection of the Best Hiking Tents also includes two tents for winter use (single-wall tents).

1. Buying a Winter Sleeping Bag – What is important?

Insulation:

Sleeping bags are either insulated with down or synthetic insulation. Both insulation materials have advantages and disadvantages. Down insulation has a better warmth-to-weight ratio than synthetic insulation (smaller amount of insulation is required for the same warmth) and thus down sleeping bags are lighter and pack smaller. However, they are also much more expensive and lose their insulating properties quickly if they get wet or moist. To minimize this shortcoming, many manufacturers treat the down insulation with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) so that it retains decent warmth even if it gets wet/moist. The quality of down insulation is measured with the fill-power index which usually varies from 400 to 900. The higher the fill-power index, the better weight-to-warmth ratio the down insulation offers. To learn more about the insulation materials, check out the sleeping bags section in our Sleeping Equipment Guide.

In this review, we listed both down and synthetic sleeping bags. In general, we do recommend down sleeping bags for winter hiking as they are lighter and less bulky, but it makes sense to go for a synthetic sleeping bag if you are on a tight budget or you are planning to hike in areas where there is a high risk that the sleeping bag will get moist/wet.

Temperature Rating:

Temperature ratings of sleeping bags are often listed by the EN 13537 standard which consists of the following four parameters: Extreme temperature (an average woman will survive), lower limit (an average man will be comfortable), comfort temperature (an average woman will be comfortable) and maximum temperature (overheating limit). Nevertheless, it is often only the lower limit temperature which is listed. Note that some manufacturers use their own tests and standards. All sleeping bags in this review have a lower limit temperature of 5° F (-15° C) or less and a comfort temperature around 16° F (-9° C). If you are looking for a less warm and lighter sleeping bag check out our review of the Best 3-Season Sleeping Bags instead.

Size:

Sleeping bags typically come in two sizes; regular and long. The general rule of thumb is to go for size L if you are taller than 6 ft. (180 cm). However, you should always check the sizing to be sure that the sleeping bag will fit you comfortably.

Style:

There are several different styles of sleeping bags; mummy, quilt, wearable etc. In this review, we only included mummy sleeping bags as these offer the best insulation – they snugly enclose your body and head (usually with a draw cord at the neckline) thus preventing the body-warmed air from escaping to the outside.

2. The Best Winter Sleeping Bags Review

Best Winter Sleeping Bags

Best Winter Sleeping Bags

  1. Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch Sleeping Bag
  2. Marmot Lithium Sleeping Bag
  3. The North Face Inferno 0 Sleeping Bag
  4. Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch Sleeping Bag
  5. Marmot Trestles 0 Sleeping Bag

Comparison

Feature/Product Mountain Hardwear Phantom TorchMarmot Lithium The North Face Inferno Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch Marmot Trestles
Average Weight2 lbs. 9 oz. (Regular Size)2 lbs. 9.5 oz. (Regular Size)2 lbs. 14 oz3 lbs. 15 oz. 4 lbs. 10 oz.
Average Weight (Metric) 1170 g (Regular Size)1176 g (Regular Size)1300 g (Regular Size)1790 g (Regular Size)2092 g (Regular Size)
Insulation TypeDown (800 Fill Power, DWR)Down (800 Fill Power, DWR)
Down (800 Fill Power DWR)
Synthetic (Thermal Q)Synthetic (Spirafil)
Face Fabric10-denier nylon 20-denier nylon n/a30-denier nylon 70-denier polyester
Packed Volume/Size 8 in. x 13 in. (20 x 33 cm)9.8 liters 23 liters 9 x 18 in. (22 x 46 cm) 19.7 liters
Lower Limit Rating 3° F (-16° C) EN Standard0° F (-18° C) EN Standard0° F (-18° C) EN Standard5° F (-15° C) EN Standard0° F (-18° C) EN Standard
Comfort Temperature Rating 16° F (-9° C) EN Standardn/a13° F (-11° C) EN Standard16° F (-9° C) EN Standardn/a
Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch

1. Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Camping

The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch sleeping bag is very warm but at the same time super light. The sleeping bag has a lower limit rating of 3° F (-16° C) while it weighs merely 2.6 pounds (1170 g). Furthermore, the sleeping bag also packs down very small (it comes with a compression sack) and therefore takes up very little space in your backpack. The sleeping bag uses the cutting-edge Q.Shield down with a fill power index of 800. The Q.Shield down is also treated with DWR so that it repels the water rather than absorbing it. Therefore, it dries faster than regular down and retains more warmth if it gets wet or moist. The sleeping bag also has an insulated hood, ergonomic draft collar, insulated draft tube and a comfortable footbox. The draft collar prevents the body-warmed air from escaping to the outside while the insulated draft tube eliminates colds spots along the zipper. The sleeping bag is available in two sizes (regular and long) with left or right two-way zipper. The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch sleeping bag is well-packable, super light and very warm; hands down the best product in this review. However, it is also the most expensive product listed here.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Packs down very small
  • DWR treated down
  • Design

Cons:

  • /

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Marmot Lithium

Marmot Lithium

2. Marmot Lithium

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Camping

The Marmot Lithium sleeping bag is slightly warmer than the Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag listed above. Nevertheless, it weighs only a couple of grams more. The sleeping bag utilizes 800+ fill power goose down for insulation and has a face fabric made of Pertex Microlight material (20-denier ripstop nylon). The down insulation utilizes Marmot Down Defender technology – meaning that the down is treated with DWR to retain loft even when it is moist or wet. This also helps the sleeping bag to dry faster. The Marmot Lithium is equipped with two zippers; a two-way main zipper and a second zipper on the other side which is shorter and can be used for ventilation. Additionally, the sleeping bag features an insulated hood (with a draw cord), insulated draft tube, ergonomically designed footbox and two hang loops for drying. The sleeping bag packs down very small (less than 10 liters) and thus doesn’t take up too much space in a backpack.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Packs down very small
  • DWR treated down
  • Hang loops for drying

Cons:

  • /

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The North Face Inferno 0

The North Face Inferno 0

3. The North Face Inferno 0

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Camping

The North Face Inferno sleeping bag is heavier and bigger (packed size) than the Marmot and Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags listed above while providing similar warmth. The sleeping bag is insulated with 800 fill power goose down (ProDown). The ProDown down is hydrophobic and thus it retains loft in highly humid environments and dries very fast. The North Face Inferno sleeping bag has a quite wide cut and thus allows you to wear more layers during the night. However, the wide cut also adds weight to the sleeping bag and makes it less packable. The sleeping bag also features a draft collar, insulated hood with a drawcord and an ergonomically designed footbox. On the hood, footbox and back it uses a water-resistant face fabric (Neovent Air) for better protection against the humidity. The sleeping bag has a half-length center zipper which gives you less ventilation options than a conventional ¾ side zipper that most sleeping bags use.

 

Pros:

  • DWR treated down
  • Wide cut
  • Warmth

Cons:

  • Zipper

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Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch

4. Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Camping

The Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch sleeping bag differs from the sleeping bags listed above by being insulated with synthetic insulation rather than down insulation. Therefore, it’s heavier and bigger (packed size) but also half the price. The Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch sleeping bag uses Thermal Q synthetic insulation which mimics the structure of goose down and thus offers a surprisingly good warmth-to-weight ratio. The face fabric is made of 30-denier ripstop nylon to provide good abrasion resistance. It is also treated with DWR in order to repel water. The sleeping bag also features an ergonomic draft collar, comfortable footbox and an insulated hood. The Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Torch is a great option for those who are planning to do backpacking trips in winter, but on a tight budget.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Design
  • Retains warmth in very humid environments
  • Durability

Cons:

  • Weight (in comparison to down sleeping bags)
  • Packed size (in comparison to down sleeping bags)

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Marmot Trestles 0

Marmot Trestles 0

5. Marmot Trestles 0

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Camping

The Marmot Trestles 0 is a budget winter sleeping bag which has a lower limit rating of 0° F (-18° C). As the sleeping bag is relatively inexpensive, it naturally features less sophisticated insulation than the sleeping bags listed above. Therefore, it is heavier (it weighs 4.6 pounds) and relatively large when packed. However, it a great option for those who only do occasional winter trips and thus don’t wish to spend too much money. The sleeping bag uses Marmot’s Spirafil 120 synthetic insulation which provides long-term durability. The face fabric is made of durable 70-denier polyester. The Marmot Trestles 0 sleeping bag also features an insulated hood with a drawcord, trapezoidal foot box and a draft tube. At the bottom, it has two hang loops for easier drying.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Retains warmth in very humid environments
  • Durability
  • Hang loops for drying

Cons:

  • Weight
  • Packed size

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3. The most attractive product in the review

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