Best Sleeping Bags for Women of 2020
|Price||$414.00 at Feathered Friends||$419.00 at Amazon|
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|$519.95 at Backcountry|
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|$364.97 at Amazon|
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|Pros||High-quality down, warm, lightweight||High-quality down, warm and lofty, light, a top tier product||Lightweight, high-quality materials, comfortable||Lightweight, compressible, comfortable||Comfortable, lightweight, excellent materials, not constricting|
|Cons||Sizing not for everyone, fabric is a bit noisy||Expensive||Expensive, included compression sack is heavy||Expensive, not particularly warm||Comforter sometimes does not stay tucked in|
|Bottom Line||The highest three-season performance of any model in our bunch||The premium product comes at a premium price, but is very high performing||This bag has high quality materials, is super light, and will fit most women||A great choice for fast and light adventures, the Neutrino is comfortable and compressible||A well-priced, comfortable alternative to a mummy bag that keeps weight low on long backpacking trips|
|Rating Categories||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit Flame 15||Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15||Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's||Cloud 800|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit...||Mountain Hardwear...||Rab Neutrino 400 -...||Cloud 800|
|EN Comfort Rating (F)||20 F (not EN rated)||15 F||23 F||21 F||26 F|
|Fill Type||Goose down||Goose down||Goose down||Goose down||PFC-Free DriDown|
|Measured Weight (in lbs)||1.7 lb||2.0 lb||2.0 lb||1.7 lb||1.7 lb|
|Total Weight (oz)||27.5 oz||31.2 oz||32 oz||27.2 oz||27.4 oz|
|Women specific features||Extra fill in footbox and chest||Women's specific fit - more insulation in key areas||This bag comes in a "Short" length, which is a standard women's size||Women's specific fit||More insulation per square inch than men's version|
|Fill Weight (oz)||17.3 oz (medium)||22.9 oz||20 oz||14.1oz||14.8 oz|
|Material||Pertex Endurance UL||Ultralight 10D Nylon Shell||10D nylon ripstop||Pertex Quantum||15d nylon risptop|
|Sleeping Pad Sleeve||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Shoulder Girth||54 in||60 in||58 in||60 in||59 in|
|Hip Girth||56 in||58 in||52 in||56 in||58 in|
|Foot Girth||38 in||40 in||44 in||38 in||39 in|
|Stuff Sack included?||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Compression stuff sack and storage bag included||Compression sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included|
Best Overall Women's Sleeping Bag
Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 - Women's
The Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 continues to stand up to the stiff competition of new products on the market featuring high-quality materials in lightweight packages. The Egret still rises to the top of the competition and sets the bar high for quality women's sleeping bags. The Egret has the highest quality, 950+ fill power down, and is super lofty while remaining among the lightest three bags we tested (all within 0.3 oz of each other!). It packs down small and has the best weight to warmth ratio of the bags we tested. We love that there are three color options to choose from, too.
Our 5'5" lead tester felt a little bit stuck in between the two sizes offered. This bag comes in lengths of 5'3" (size Small) or 5'9" (size Medium). We went with the larger bag, which our tester felt was a little too large. That's our main complaint—compared to US national averages, the size Small is a little small, while the size Medium is extra long. Beyond that, it's hard to find real downsides to this bag. The Egret is our favorite overall pick for a long backpacking trip, providing sufficient warmth for three-season use in most environments.
Read review: Feathered Friends Egret 20 UL - Women's
A More Spacious Overall Favorite
Sea to Summit Flame 15
The Sea to Summit Flame 15 surprised us in our tests by keeping weight and packed size low, warmth high, and still offering comfortable, spacious upper body dimensions. Among the top-shelf, low weight-to-warmth ratio bags we tested, this bag offers the roomiest internal space. While it's roomy spread out in a tent, it packs up small inside its included compression stuff sack, which is handy when space is tight inside a backpack. Everything about this bag feels well-thought-out and designed intentionally, creating a fit and backcountry experience that few can come close to rivaling.
There are few downsides here, but one of them is the less-than-ideal long-term storage sack. Our testers found that it stores the bag and its precious down feathers in a slightly more compressed state than the larger compression sacks that came with some other models. Also, the price is prohibitory to some folks. If you're attracted to the specs, and can stomach the price, this bag takes comfort to another level when heading deep into the backcountry.
Read review: Sea to Summit Flame 15
Best Bang for the Buck
Sierra Designs Cloud 800 - Women's
The Cloud 800 is a high-quality product with a well-thought-out design in a small and lightweight package. Sierra Designs has been making innovative products that focus on saving weight, and this zipperless bag is the best of the bunch. It couples a low weight and quality design with a surprisingly low price tag, ringing up for less than many lower quality products we've tested. The Cloud has high quality 800 fill power down with light shell materials and an attached quilt instead of a zipper. All these features are smart weight savings, and the quilt design also adds an element of comfort and flexibility.
The Cloud is not the warmest of the bunch. We noticed that sometimes the quilt becomes untucked, letting a draft in if you move around a lot. It is less warm than a traditional mummy bag for this reason. It has no down fill on the backside of the bag, instead coming with a sleeping pad sleeve to keep you secure on your pad. It's an excellent choice for summer backpacking, and you can stretch its use into the shoulder seasons with a warm sleeping pad and some extra layers. We think the Cloud is a superior value for a superior product.
Read review: Sierra Designs Cloud 800 - Women's
Best on a Tight Budget
Kelty Cosmic 20 - Women's
We realize that not all of us have deep enough pockets to purchase one of the higher-end models in this review. We think that the Kelty Cosmic 20 is a great option to get out in the backcountry sooner at a more affordable price point. Kelty continues to improve this bag and has upped the quality of the down to 600 fill power. We stayed warm in the Cosmic down to the lower 30's and saw other women using this bag in the backcountry who were very happy with their purchase. It has a comfortable shape that's spacious enough to move around in, and the liner material is soft and cozy.
The Kelty Cosmic 20 is a lower end bag and is almost twice as heavy as the Cloud, but it's also half the price. If you're trying to go fast and light, we recommend saving up for a higher-end, lighter, and more expensive model. But if you're itching to get out there to camp and backpack and the Cosmic fits your budget, it's a good choice.
Read review: Kelty Cosmic 20 - Women's
Best Synthetic Bag
The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
No other synthetic bag has been able to beat the Cat's Meow. It is the best synthetic sleeping bag we've tested. This bag weighs less than many of our down fill bags at a scant 2.5 pounds and is surprisingly compressible, and comes with a decent compression sack. The North Face has piled on the synthetic fill on the top of this bag, making it very warm and comfortable down to the advertised EN 22 degree comfort rating. The insulation placement is smart, as all the insulation on the backside of the bag gets compressed and rendered mostly useless.
The Cat's Meow is a bit on the short side. Our 5'5" tester maxed out the bag, and it was a stretch to get the hood on. If you're taller, you may want to consider purchasing the long size. We think this bag is well priced and a great deal all around.
Read review: The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
Why You Should Trust Us
This review was crafted by outdoor educator and guide Jessica Haist. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College in Arizona. Originally from Canada, she moved to the US after growing up in Toronto, migrating to the mountains of British Columbia, and now resides in Mammoth Lakes, CA, amidst her beloved Sierra Nevada. She frequently goes backpacking, mountain biking, climbing, and skiing. As an avid and multi-faceted mountain athlete who has spent time in cold environments, Jessica brings to the table a keen eye for the essential features of a women's specific sleeping bag.
We looked at over a hundred bags on the market before purchasing the most compelling models included in this review. To create the tests, we needed to identify the most critical factors that contribute to the performance of a women's sleeping bag. We identified six key performance areas to focus on while testing the bags. Then we spent months taking these bags out and using them in the field. We took them on backpacking trips, such as the Sierra High Route, John Muir Trail, and Mount Whitney, and car camping trips to the Utah desert, Yosemite Valley, and Lover's Leap near Lake Tahoe.
Analysis and Test Results
Why choose a women's specific bag? It may seem obvious, but physiologically, women are different from men. So when it comes to choosing something as important as a bag that will keep you warm and well-rested for a big day in the mountains, these differences should be taken seriously. Everyone wants to find the most suitable product for themselves; for most women, that will most likely mean choosing a women's specific bag. Shorter humans in general, if you have struggled to find a bag that doesn't have you swimming in extra material, a women's bag may be a good option for you.
Luckily, it turns out that a women's specific bag can be more bang for your buck. Almost all of the bags we tested in this review have at least the same amount of insulation, if not more, than the corresponding men's models. Women's bags are smaller and have less volume, so they often end up having more fill per square inch. We have added one high-end unisex bag to our lineup this year, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom, because it comes in a "Short" length, perfect for anyone who has a smaller frame.
After many months of testing, we compiled our assessments, compared specifications, and wrote this review. Our testers' experiences with each of these bags on road trips, long-distance hikes, and summit attempts provided us with incredible insight into each bag's performance. All scores here are relative among the bags we tested. Below we go through each testing metric and highlight which products stood out and why, and we'll also discuss the value of the different options so you can get a sense of what to look for when purchasing on a budget.
The prices of the women's specific models that we tested ranged almost across a factor of 10. Why such a significant disparity, and what is the difference between them that warrants such a price gap? When it comes to sleeping bags, many of them use various types of down fill. The wholesale price of down varies with the "power" or loft, so a higher-loft down, say 850-fill, will cost the manufacturer more than the same amount of 600-fill. Costs, of course, get passed on to you as the consumer. Higher-loft down bags are warmer for their weight, more compressible, and typically end up scoring higher in our testing metrics. The Feathered Friends, which uses 950+ fill power down, has a hefty price tag. The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 is a little more reasonable but still very high quality at 800 FP in that department.
If you are looking for a bag that performs well but does not cost as much as the Egret, you will have to sacrifice fill-power, compressibility, or weight, or some combination of these factors. For example, the heavier but inexpensive Kelty Cosmic costs comparatively little and does well across the metrics, but is heavier and not as warm. Its application is more limited than the Feathered Friends, but it will fulfill most of your needs and save you a lot of cash.
Many of the bags in this review, except the Egret, have been EN tested for their warmth rating. The EN rating can serve as a rule of thumb for deciding which bag you should use for a particular season, and it makes it easier to compare between the bags that have also been EN tested. During our tests, whether or not a bag had an EN rating was not a huge factor in determining its actual warmth. Instead, we compared these bags side-by-side in similar conditions to determine what we thought were the warmest of these bags. We found that even some of the bags with the same EN rating differed in warmth because of the fit and additional features like neck baffles. Consider a winter down sleeping bag if you are looking for a bag to take winter camping on high altitude expeditions. Many manufacturers make a women's or smaller sized version.
Things to consider when evaluating a bag's warmth are the loft, fit, and insulation location. Down bags with a higher fill power and more ounces of down fill will generally be the warmest. For instance, the Sea to Summit Flame 15 (23 ounces of fill) and the REI Magma 15 (23.5 ounces of fill) are some of the warmest of the bunch. The Egret outshines them all with 950+ fill power and 17.4 ounces of super lofty down. This higher fill power requires less total down to create the same warmth, resulting in a loftier and lighter weight bag.
A proper fit is essential when shopping for a bag. If your bag is too large, it can be drafty, which means your body will need to work harder to warm up the bag's dead air space. The Kelty Cosmic and the Marmot Angel Fire bags fit most of our testers very well. They had enough wiggle room to wear a few extra layers when it got below freezing but no spare room for cold air. The fit is one of the most compelling arguments we can make to purchase a women's specific bag. We like the Cat's Meow's cozy baffles that stop air from getting in along the zipper and around the neck, but it is a tight fit for someone 5'5" or taller. The bags that included draft collars like the Flame, Magma, and the Mountain Equipment Glacier 700 offer a little extra warmth. These draft collars blocked the cold drafts from entering and retained our body heat inside the sleeping bags.
Many manufacturers are being more strategic about placing their insulation — especially for women's specific bags. As women are known to sleep colder, manufacturers are putting extra insulation into their women's models, and often they put it into the foot box for our cold feet. The Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's and the Egret have more insulation than their unisex counterparts. The Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 and The North Face Cat's Meow specifically have extra insulation in the hood and foot box areas. Both the Cat's Meow and the Lamina have most of their insulation on the top of the bag where it won't be compressed underneath you, and the Egret has continuous baffles that allow you to move all the down on top of you for extra cold nights (or beneath you on warm nights).
Related: Best Sleeping Pad For Women
On average, women have less brute strength and less lung capacity than men, so all advantages are welcome when it comes to reducing pack weight on a long overnight trek. Why would we want a heavy, bulky bag to haul around? No backpacker wants to add extra weight to their pack; we all want to have a bag with the greatest weight-to-warmth ratio. Of course, if you are looking for a car-camping bag, this metric shouldn't be a deciding factor for you. The weight of a bag is a sum of its fill, shell materials, and added features.
Over the past few years, we've noticed that many manufacturers are labeling their products as "Ultralight." We think this word is overused, and none of the bags in this review are what we consider to be truly ultralight. Synthetic insulation is typically denser, as is down insulation with a lower fill power, like the 600 fill duck down found in the Kelty Cosmic, since you need a higher amount to achieve the same warmth. Having a lighter weight shell material will lighten up your bag but generally will be much less durable. Bags with sleeping pad sleeves tend to be heavier, even without insulation in the back of the bag, because this material is usually heavier than insulation. The more features your bag has, such as double zippers and pockets, the heavier your bag will be, so it's helpful to decide which amenities are important to you before purchasing a bag.
The Neutrino, Egret, and Sierra Designs Cloud 800 are the lightest bags in this review, at 27.2 oz, 27.5 oz, and 27.4 oz, respectively. This achievement results from their high down fill power (950/800), lightweight shell materials, and streamlined features. The Cloud doesn't even have a zipper, which cuts weight. If you're not planning on carrying your bag on your person around much, consider getting something less expensive, heavier, and with more comfort features. If this option sounds like something you're after, the Marmot Trestles Elite Eco - Women's, with its synthetic fill and two zippers for easy opening, is a good choice. Another way to lighten and tighten your load is to find yourself a lightweight compression sack, as the included stuff sacks can be heavy and bulky. The compression stuff sacks included with the Flame and the Nemo Aya are an exception and are excellent.
When you're working hard during the day, you want to get a good night's sleep. The most important factors affecting comfort in these bags are the size, shape, and liner materials.
Lately, it seems like manufacturers have been going to great lengths to figure out how to make the traditional mummy design more comfortable. We have found that comfort is a direct correlation between shape and size through many nights evaluating bags. Often the roomier the model is, the more comfortable it feels. The Marmot Trestles is a good example of this. Unfortunately, these bags are less warm than other tight-fitting bags. Bucking this trend, though, is the Sea to Summit Flame 15. Its shoulder and hip dimensions are noticeably more spacious than its lightweight competition. Our testers found this to be a huge reason to consider this bag, as few models offer the warmth, weight, and comfort that this bag can.
Many bags have added features for comfort like the Cloud's innovative foot vent that you can slide your feet through without letting in cold air in and the Marmot Trestles' second zipper that allows you to sit up with your arms out. Shell and liner materials are also an essential factor for comfort. We prefer the soft, silky material of the Rab Neutrino next to our skin. Kelty has updated the Cosmic Down's shell and liner materials to be softer and more comfortable against the skin than previous models.
When it comes to your sleeping bag, size does matter. If you are carrying it on your back for multiple days, you want it to become as compressed as possible, so your pack can remain small for better balance and maneuverability in tricky terrain.
Down fill is much more compressible than synthetic insulation; therefore, the down-filled Rab Neutrino has the smallest packed size. The Cloud and the Nemo Aya are also very small. The synthetic Mountain Hardwear Lamina and the Marmot Trestles are the bulkiest. All of the products in this review come with a stuff sack, but most are not compression sacks. We prefer compression sacks for squeezing the bags into the smallest bundles possible.
Remember that compressing your down bag shortens its lifespan; this is why most manufacturers include a large cotton or mesh storage sack with your purchase. Unfortunately, Kelty does not provide one for the Cosmic. The ones that come with the Flame and the Cloud are on the small side, so the down is still slightly compressed and is not ideal. Always store your bag uncompressed.
In this category, we evaluated shell material, zippers, pockets, baffles, drawstrings, sleeping pad sleeves, and any other added features. We also note what features are necessary and useful compared to superfluous features that make the bags heavier and more cumbersome. We like the Mountain Hardwear Phantom's streamlined features because they are designed with weight savings in mind. The bag is soft, made of lightweight fabric, and has high-quality 850 fill with no other frills, making this our favorite simple-featured bag. The Cloud 800 and Egret are also very streamlined.
Almost every down bag in this review comes with some type of hydrophobic down. It seems that manufacturers are on a level playing field in this department. Each company has a proprietary hydrophobic down; Mountain Hardwear has Q Shield, Rab uses Nikwax, Sierra Designs uses DriDown, etc.
The effectiveness of hydrophobic down is difficult to test, and people online have done everything from getting in the shower to jumping into frozen lakes to test the effectiveness of a manufacturer's treated down. Things are looking good online as to the actual performance of this treated down fill, but skepticism still exists about how beneficial the treatment is. One consideration is that this coating can add around an ounce to your bag's weight, and potentially harmful chemicals may be off-gassing while you sleep. We asked Feathered Friends about why they don't treat their down, and here's what they had to say:
"We made a conscious decision not to treat our down with a water repellent coating. Although waterproof down has recently become popular in the outdoor industry, we find that it compromises the down's effectiveness and longevity while providing little real-world benefit. We also have concerns about the widespread and excessive use of PFCs, which have a demonstrable negative impact on the environment. Because we take such pains to source high quality down and take such pride in the quality of our products, we don't have any plans to use down treatments, and, as far as I know, neither do Western Mountaineering, Arc'teryx, or other purveyors of high-quality down products. We do, however, use a DWR on all of our fabrics, which should be effective in keeping out moisture from condensation, ice, or light precipitation."
A trend we've noticed recently is burly "anti-snag" zippers and extreme measures taken for zippers not to get caught on the bags' shell material. Overall we prefer these zipper pulls to stiff material along the zipper to prevent snagging.
With so many women's products on the market these days, we hope we've cleared up the industry hype and helped you determine what will work for your needs. We've shared which ones are our favorite for carrying around and sleeping in, and hope you feel confident selecting the right one for your adventures. Good luck and happy trails.
— Jessica Haist