What is the best sleeping bag for bodacious backpacking babes? We scoured the market, investigating 60+ bags before buying and testing 15 great ones. After years of trying out products made specifically for women, we can say these are the highest quality bunch so far. We slept all over the country in these bags from the top of 14'ers down to the low desert of Death Valley. We tested out each one's warmth and coziness and evaluated their features, deeming some as necessary, and some just weight adding.
Best Sleeping Bags for Women
|Price||$414.00 at Feathered Friends||$529.00 at REI|
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|$329.95 at Amazon||$478.95 at Backcountry|
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|$299.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||High-quality down, warm, lightweight||High-quality down, warm and lofty, light, a top tier product||Comfortable, lightweight, excellent materials, not constricting||Warmth-to-weight ratio, packs down small||Lightweight, packs small, warm, comfortable, ethically harvested, high fill power down|
|Cons||Sizing not for everyone, fabric is a bit noisy||Very expensive||Comforter sometimes does not stay tucked in||Expensive, restrictive in the leg area||Expensive, awkward drawcords|
|Bottom Line||This high-end bag will keep you warm and comfortable from Spring to Fall in all conditions.||The Flame is a new, high-quality backpacking sleeping bag at a high price.||A great, high-quality choice at a relatively low price for those looking for a lightweight bag that doesn't sacrifice comfort.||This model will keep you warm and cozy at night, but comes with a hefty price tag.||A top scorer in our fleet, this bag scores high across the board and has exactly what you want and need while backpacking.|
|Rating Categories||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit Flame 15||Cloud 800||Marmot Phase 20 - Women's||Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||Egret UL 20||Sea to Summit...||Cloud 800||Marmot Phase 20 -...||Rab Neutrino 400 -...|
|EN Comfort Rating (F)||20 (not EN rated)||15||26||21.7||21|
|Fill Type||Goose down||Duck Down||PFC-Free DriDown||Goose down||Ethically sourced European Goose down|
|Total Weight (lb.)||1.72 lb||1.95 lb||1.7 lb||1.75 lb||1.7 lb|
|Total Weight (oz)||27.5 oz||31.2 oz||27.4 oz||28 oz||27.2 oz|
|Women specific features||Extra fill in footbox and chest||Women's specific fit - more insulation in key areas||More insulation per square inch than men's version||More insulation in key areas||Women's specific fit|
|Fill Weight (oz)||17.3 oz (medium)||22.9 oz||14.8 oz||18.3 oz||14.1oz|
|Material||Pertex Endurance UL||Ultralight 10D Nylon Shell||15d nylon risptop||10D Pertex nylon ripstop||Pertex Quantum|
|Sleeping Pad Sleeve||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Shoulder Girth||54 in||60 in||59 in||60 in||60 in|
|Hip Girth||56 in||58 in||58 in||58 in||56 in|
|Foot Girth||38 in||40 in||39 in||36 in||38 in|
|Stuff Sack included?||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff sack and storage bag included||Stuff 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
Winning our Editors' Choice Award for the second year in a row, the Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 stood up to even stiffer competition (featuring higher quality materials than in years past) this year - but the Egret still beat out its competitors to win our highest honor. It continues to set 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 packs 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.
Our average height female tester who is 5'5 felt a little bit stuck in between the two sizes, for someone who's 5'3" or under and 5'9", and went with the larger bag, which she felt was a little too large. If you're a shorter person, you'll be excited that there's finally a bag that fits you! We love that there are three color options to choose from too. The Egret is hands down our favorite pick for any long backpacking trip, and you'll be able to stretch it from early spring to late fall with a warm sleeping pad.
Read review: Feathered Friends Egret 20 UL - Women's
Best Bang for the Buck
Sierra Designs Cloud 800 - Women's
The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 continues to be a high-quality product, with a super well thought-out design in a small and lightweight package. Sierra Designs has been making original products focused on weight savings for years, and this zipperless bag is the best of the bunch! It wins our Best Bang for the Buck Award because of on top of all that, it costs less than many lower quality and lower performing products we've tested. The Cloud has high quality 800 fill power down with light shell materials and just an attached quilt instead of a zipper, all of which are smart weight savings. The quilt design also adds an element of comfort and flexibility.
The Cloud is not the warmest of the bunch, and we noticed that sometimes the quilt becomes untucked, letting drafts in if you move around a lot, making it less warm than a traditional mummy bag. It's an excellent choice for summer backpacking and can stretch into the shoulder seasons with a warm sleeping pad. 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
Looking to break into the down sleeping bag market, but don't have hundreds of dollars to drop? Look no further than our Best on a Tight Budget Award Winner, the Women's Kelty Cosmic 20! This bag is a good quality bag that rings in at a very decent price. The down fill power of this bag is 600, which is similar quality to many products we tested that are much more expensive, and Kelty has improved the liner materials again, and they are even softer. The Cosmic kept us warm in temperatures down to around 30 degrees, which is about average in the bunch.
Kelty has shaved a few ounces off the weight of the latest version of the Cosmic, and it is no longer the heaviest down product in this review, making it an even better value. It is a comfortable bag with a roomy mummy cut so you can wear extra layers and move around freely in it. If you're hoping to cover a lot of miles this summer, and don't want to be weighed down we'd suggest saving up for a lighter product. But if you're just getting into backpacking and want to see what it's all about, the Kelty Cosmic is a great starter bag on a budget!
Read review: Kelty Cosmic 20 - Women's
Top Pick for Comfort
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 - Women's
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 continues to hold the Top Pick award for the most comfortable product in this review. Its unique design combines a high level of performance and comfort. This model is our go-to choice when we will be car camping and value a good night sleep over everything else, and when weight isn't as much of a factor. Its quilt is very versatile and is a great choice for stomach sleepers who want to splay their arms out, but it also works well for back and side sleepers. It has great venting capabilities - when it's warm, you can fold back the quilt, or untuck and drape it over you. We also love the soft liner materials.
This product will keep you warm down to freezing temperatures, but the quilt feature does take some monitoring to make sure it stays tucked in when you move around. It's 700 fill power down is not the highest quality of the products we tested, and it is heavier and less compressible. However, if you're looking for a different option than a mummy bag shape for nightly comfort, we highly recommend the Backcountry Bed!
Read review: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700
Top Pick for Best Synthetic Bag
The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
The Cat's Meow is still the lightest and most comfortable synthetic sleeping bag we've used and wins our Top Pick Award because it is our favorite synthetic model. At a scant 2.5 pounds, it's lighter than several of the down models in this review and almost as compressible. It has an EN comfort rating of 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and we agree that it would keep us warm down to this temperature. We like that the Cat's Meow has most of its insulation placed on top where it won't compress and become useless under our body.
This bag is on the smaller side. Our 5'5 tester was barely able to get the hood over her head, so if you're taller, consider sizing up to the 'long' size. The Cat's Meow has a reasonable price tag and is the best synthetic model of the bunch.
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 in her beloved Sierra Nevada. She frequently goes climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, 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.
There were hundreds of bags on the market that we looked at before settling on the 15 models included here. The second component of pre-work was determining the most important things a women's bag does. We identified six key performance areas to focus on while using the bags. Then we spent a total of 5 years (spring, summer, and fall of each) taking these bags out and using them in the field. We took them on backpacking trips, like the Sierra High Route, John Muir Trail, and Mount Whitney, as well as car camping trips to the Utah desert, Yosemite Valley, and Lover's Leap near Tahoe.
Analysis and Test Results
Why choose a women's specific bag? It may seem obvious, but physiologically, women are not the same as men. So when it comes to choosing something as important as a bag that will help you stay warm and get 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 guys, if you can get over sleeping in a feminine colored bag like fuschia or purple, a women's specific bag may be a good option for you too!
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 end up having more fill per square inch.
After many months and seasons of testing, we compiled our assessments, crunched numbers, and wrote this review. Our lady testers' experiences with each of these bags on road trips, long-distance hikes, and summit attempts provided us with incredible insight on each bag's performance. All scores here are relative. 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 big disparity, and is there a huge 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 800-fill, will cost the manufacturer more than the same amount of 600-fill, which gets passed on to you. Higher-loft down bags are warmer for their weight, more compressible, and typically end up scoring higher in our testing metrics. Hence our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Feathered Friends, which uses 950+ fill power down and has a hefty price tag. The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 is a little more reasonable in that department.
If you're looking for a good value bag that still performs well but doesn't cost quite as much as the Feathered Friends Egret, you'll have to sacrifice a little on the fill-power, compressibility, and usually weight. For example, the heavier, but inexpensive Kelty Cosmic, one of our Best Buy winners, costs comparatively little and does well across the metrics. Its application is more limited in comparison to our Editor's Choice winner, but it will still fulfill your needs and save you a lot of cash.
Many of the bags in this review, except the Egret, Big Agnes Hazel SL, Mountain Hardwear Lamina, and the NEMO Aya, 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 makes it easier to compare between the bags that have been EN tested. Whether or not the bag was EN rated was not a huge factor in determining its actual warmth in our test. Instead, we compared these bags side-by-side in similar conditions to determine what we thought were the warmest of these bags. If you are looking for a bag to take winter camping on high altitude expeditions, consider a winter down sleeping bag. Those bags are all unisex, but many of the manufacturers make a women's version or smaller sizes.
Related: The Best Winter Down Sleeping Bags
Things to consider when evaluating the warmth of a bag are the loft and fit, along with where the insulation is. Down bags with a higher fill power like the Rab Neutrino 400 and Sea to Summit Women's Flame (uses 850-fill goose down), are on the warmer side, and the REI Joule 21 and Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed follow behind with 700-fill. The Egret outshone them all with its 950+ fill power. This higher fill power requires less total down to create the same warmth that results in a loftier and lighter weight bag. Keep in mind that both the Sierra Designs Cloud 800 and Backcountry Bed have integrated comforters that can untuck in the night, reducing warmth. Feathered Friends has a great page that explains fill power in greater detail.
A proper fit is essential when shopping for a bag. If your bag is too large, it can be drafty, which equals dead air space that your body will need to work to warm up. The NEMO Rave is roomy and has a unique "spoon" shape to accommodate side sleepers, and therefore has a lot of dead space to heat up. The Kelty Cosmic and the Marmot Angel Fire bags fit most of our testers very well, with enough wiggle room to wear a few extra layers when it gets below freezing, but no spare room for cold air. The fit is indeed 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. The bags that included draft collars like the Flame and the Mountain Hardwear Lamina had a little extra element of 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 where they are 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 ladies' icicle feet. The Rab Neutrino 400 - Women's and the REI Joule 21 both have more insulation than their unisex counterparts. The Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 and The North Face Cat's Meow both have extra insulation in the hood and foot box areas specifically. The Feathered Friends Egret has way more down fill than its counterpart unisex bag and it is the warmest bag we tested.
When planning your backpacking kit, one thing to consider is choosing a sleeping pad that will add warmth, especially if your bag does not have insulation on the back. The higher the "R-Value," the more the pad will insulate you from the ground. We love our Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's and the super warm Therm-a-rest ProLite Plus - Women's pads.
Women are typically smaller than men. Women also have, on average, 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 her pack; we all want to have a bag that will have 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 type and power, shell materials, and features.
This year, we've noticed that many manufacturers are touting their products as "Ultralight." We think this word is being overused, and none of the bags in this review are what we consider 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 more to achieve the same warmth. Having a lighter weight shell material will lighten up your bag — but these light materials are often much less durable than a heavier shell material. Bags with sleeping pad sleeves, like the Hazel SL, tend to be heavier, even without insulation in the back of the bag because this material is usually heavier. The more features your bag has, such as double zippers and pockets, the heavier your bag will be - so you need to decide if you want that pad sleeve or can go without such an amenity.
The Egret, Neutrino and Sierra Designs Cloud 800 are the lightest bags in this review, at 27.5 oz. 27.2 and 27.4 oz, respectively. This classification is a result of their high down fill power (950/800), lightweight shell materials, and a simple list of features. The Cloud doesn't even have a zipper, which also cuts weight. If you're not planning on carrying your bag around much (except in your car) consider getting something that is heavier, less expensive, and has more comfort features. If this 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 most of the included stuff sacks are heavy and bulky, although the Neutrino's is excellent.
When you're working hard during the day, you want to sleep well at night. The most important factors affecting comfort in these bags are the size, shape, and shell materials.
We've noticed that more recently, manufacturers have been going to great lengths to figure out how to make the traditional mummy design more comfortable. Through many nights evaluating bags, we have found that comfort is a direct correlation between shape and size. The more comfortable contenders are often, the roomier ones — which means they're not necessarily as warm since they leave room for extra cold air.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed has a genuinely innovative bed-style design and is the most comfortable model we tested. It feels like you're sleeping in a bed with a comforter, although it still has the mummy shape around the legs which will feel restrictive to some people. The Backcountry Bed and the Cloud both also sport an innovative foot vent that you can slide your feet through, without letting in cold air. The Marmot Trestles is quite comfortable, with lots of room to move around inside the bag and two zippers that allow for your arms to come out with ease; it also has a quilted effect, much like the Sierra Designs options.
Shell and liner materials are also an essential factor for comfort. We prefer the soft, silky material of the NEMO Rave and the Rab Neutrino next to our skin. Kelty has updated the Cosmic Down's shell and liner materials, so they are softer and more comfortable against the skin than previous models.
When it comes to your sleeping bag, size does matter. If you are carrying your bag on your back for multiple days, you want it to become as small as possible so your pack can remain compact for good balance and maneuverability in tricky terrain.
Down fill is much more compressible than synthetic insulation, and thus the down-filled Rab Neutrino has the smallest packed size. The Sierra Designs Cloud is a close second. The synthetic Marmot Trestles and the Mountain Hardwear Laminina have the largest. All of the products in this review come with some form of stuff sack, but most are not compression sacks except which we prefer.
Related: The Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sacks
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 and the one that comes with the Flame is on the small side, so the down is still being slightly compressed. Always store your bag uncompressed.
In this category, we evaluated shell material, zippers, pockets, baffles, drawstrings, sleeping pad sleeves, and any other added features these bags may have. We also note what features are necessary and useful in comparison to features that are superfluous and make the bags heavier and more cumbersome. We like the Neutrino 400's streamlined features because they are all designed with weight savings in mind. Its soft, lightweight fabric, small stow pocket, and high-quality 800 fill down with no other bells and whistles make this our favorite simple-featured bag. The Cloud 800 and Egret are a close second.
We also like bags with two different types of drawcords for the baffles around the chin and forehead, like on the Cat's Meow. This feature makes it possible to differentiate between them in the dark and make adjustments accordingly. The Rave has a pillow sleeve that you can stuff your extra clothing in to create a simple pillow. We think this is a clever idea but seems a little unnecessary since we usually have a plethora of stuff sacks at our disposal (when camping) to repurpose as a pillow. We think that the Marmot Trestles' extra zipper and large stow pocket are unnecessary and make the bag heavier.
Almost every down bag in this review now comes with some type of hydrophobic down, so 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, DriDown, and so on.
The effectiveness of hydrophobic down is a difficult thing to test, and people online have done everything from getting in the shower to jumping into frozen lakes to try and test the effectiveness of a manufacturer's treated down. Things are looking good online as to the actual performance of this treated down, but skepticism still exists as to how beneficial the treatment is. One consideration is that this coating can add around an ounce to your bag, along with the potentially harmful chemicals that may be off-gassing on you when 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 demonstrably 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. The Angel Fire's "zipper garage" is enormous and probably weighs an ounce itself, but we will say that it never catches on anything. Feathered Friends and Mountain Hardwear also employ these zippers on their bags.
Lastly, a subtle but nice feature is a bag that has a lighter colored liner material. It's nice to have a material that contrasts the items (instead of camouflaging) lost in the depths of your bag, such as that rogue sock. The Rab Neutrino has a great, light-colored material that also doesn't show too much dirt.
With the women's sleeping bag market growing every year, we hope we have been able to help you determine what kind of a sleeping bag will be right for you. We've shared our favorites with you and given you the tools to evaluate and decide what the best product will be for you. Good luck and happy trails!
— Jessica Haist