Backcountry Zzz’s: The Five Best Sleeping Bags of 2016
Getting a good night’s rest out on the trail is often a game of weather and terrain roulette. If you get wet or end up sleeping in a boulder field with the wrong tent or sleeping bag, your entire experience in the wilderness can come to a crashing disaster (not to mention may turn your partner off of camping as well). We’ve tested this year’s sleeping bags everywhere from spring car camping road trips to off-trail excursions, and found the very best sleeping bags for any wilderness adventure.
Best For: Sleeping in luxury for car campers and overlanders.
Buy it if: Your idea of roughing it usually includes a stay at a Marriott or Hilton. The Concerto feels more like a comfortable hotel bed than a sleeping bag. It features a pad sleeve for a 25 inch wide inflatable mattress (we recommend pairing it with one of Nemo’s insulated Cosmo Pads $160), along with a zip up sheet liner and pillow top.
Best Feature: The extra wide width, combined with snap closure made this sleeping bag feel much more like a bed than a bag. Expect to be buying a pair of these, as your significant other will suddenly develop the need to go camping more often after stealing this from you one night on the road.
Best For: Ultralight ounce counters and minimalist fast packers
Buy it if: You absolutely want the lightest fully featured (minus a zipper) sleeping bag of the year. Coming in at under a pound and a half, treated for water repellency, and filled with 850 down, this is the ultimate summer backpacking bag.
Best Feature: The wrap around style was initially a little weird looking to us, but after a couple nights hammock camping and one very cold high mountain bivvy huddled under it along with every piece and merino and down apparel we had with us, the lack of zipper was very welcome. It makes the Flying Squirrel very adaptable to many situations, and the most innovative sleeping bag we’ve seen in years.
Best For: High Altitude Expeditions
Buy it if: Your “summer” adventures include a trek in the Himalayas or Canada’s Bugaboos and Tantalus ranges. This sleeping bag is built to withstand bad weather at altitude. We can’t imagine a better survival tool when you’re thousands of feet above the treeline.
Best Feature: Kathmandu built this bag with DownTek’s hydrophobic treated down, making this bag the final answer in the battle against wet, snowy high camps. With a 15-degree comfort rating, you could easily sleep out in the this all year long, unless you call McMurdo Station home.
Best For: Snuggling up with your partner
Buy it if: You’d rather be spooning in your bed back home than out on the trail. The Front Country Bed features a quilt cut out rather than a zipper, and an opening at the footbox to stick a foot out when things get too warm. It’s rated to 27 degrees, but with two people, we’ve slept below that comfortably.
Best Feature: The sleeping pad skirt on the bottom will accept queen sized inflatable mattresses, and has a bungee cord tightening system. You couldn’t slide of your pad if you tried to. Combine that with the ease of the comforter insert, and you’ve got the best bed for couples’ camping ever made.
Best For: One bag to do it all.
Buy it if: You’re ready to venture out from car camping to backpacking, but don’t want to have different sets of gear for everything. At just over two and half pounds, the Hotbed Spark is light enough to hike with, but the wide mummy construction is roomier and more comfortable than more restrictive ultralight backpacking bags.
Best Feature: The Thermal.Q insulation is the best warmth to weight ration of any synthetic insulation we’ve tested. It provides excellent loft even after the bag has been sitting in a stuf stack and at the bottom of your backpack for a couple days. When you pull it out, turn the fleece-lined stuff sack inside out and put your down jacket inside for an extra pillow to use at bedtime.