Whether you are planning a trip to the wonderful pilgrim’s routes of the Camino de Santiago, going hiking in the Lake District, or perhaps any of the great wilderness trails in North America, it is essential that you have the best gear on you to ensure a pleasant journey.
This review checks out one of the most important items on that list – sleeping bags. I am specifically looking at the best summer sleeping bags, and those that are portable enough for backpacking. I have taken a look at the top summer sleeping bags available on the market, and at the end I will give you a list of considerations you need to take into account, as well as my take on the best choices.
- 1 My Selection
- 2 1: Millet LD Baikal 750 Women’s
- 3 2: Marmot Nano Wave 50 Semi Rec
- 4 3: RAB Ignition 2
- 5 4: The North Face Aleutian 35/2 Men’s
- 6 5: Kelty Tuck 30 Degree
- 7 6: RAB Neutrino 200
- 8 7: Mountain Hardware Ratio 45 Men’s
- 9 8: Kelty Cosmic 40 DriDown
- 10 9: Big Agnes Cross Mountain 45
- 11 10: The North Face Unisex Aleutian 35/2
- 12 11: Marmot Always Summer
- 13 12: Tough Outdoors Warm Weather XL
- 14 13: Marmot Men’s Nanowave 55
- 15 14: Ledge Scorpion 45 F
- 16 Important Sleeping Bag Considerations
- 17 My Choice
1: Millet LD Baikal 750 Women’s
This item comes from one of the biggest names in the business – Millet – and is a woman’s sleeping bag. It’s made in the mummy style and is designed for comfort, made with a polyamide shell – perfect for waterproofing – and a synthetic filling, and has double sips and an inside flap for added insulation. You also get a full hood with a drawcord. It weighs less than 2lbs, and when packed measures 13x8x8” so is very compact. This is a good choice for women, and at the price it is just what you would expect.
Key Features – women’s model, mummy design, twin zips, hood, compact
2: Marmot Nano Wave 50 Semi Rec
This impressive sleeping bag comes from Marmot, another top brand, and is a neat model with some great features. It also features a mummy design, so you get maximum insulation, it’s made of durable outer materials and comes with a patented ‘SpiraFill’ internal filling that provides excellent warmth, and is equipped with the requisite double zips. The 50 in the item’s name designates its warmth rating – down to 50F – it is 6ft in length, unisex, and weighs just 1lb 14oz. It also comes at a sensible price.
Key Features – top brand, 6ft long, lightweight, 50 temperature rating, compact
3: RAB Ignition 2
This nicely made sleeping bag from RAB, is rated down to 30, so offers excellent insulation. This does mean, however, that it is heavier than some, but if you are expecting particularly chilly nights, it could be appealing. The construction combines nylon for durability and a microfiber filling that provides added insulation. It has twin zips and, when packed, measures 14x9x9”, and in total it weighs 3lb 4oz. This one is also unisex and comes at a decent price for a quality sleeping bag.
Key Features – extra insulated, unisex, twin zips, 30 warmth rating, 3lbs plus
4: The North Face Aleutian 35/2 Men’s
This men’s sleeping bag – though of course women can use it too – comes from one of the most recognisable names in outdoor pursuit gear, The North Face. The insulation in this one, combined with the strong construction, gives it a 35 temperature rating, so it’s good for colder nights. It has a draft collar and a footbox zipper for added comfort and warmth, and weighs just 2lb. Compact when folded, this is a very nice sleeping bag from a top brand, at a price you would expect to pay.
Key Features – top brand, men’s bag, 35 temperature rating, 2lb weight, extra zips for insulation
5: Kelty Tuck 30 Degree
Kelty is a brand with a strong reputation for quality outdoor gear at decent prices, and this nicely-made sleeping bag certainly fits that bill. It’s a 30 rated bag, so good for colder nights and use in spring and autumn, thanks to the use of ThermaPro synthetic insulation, which is designed for retaining warmth. It comes with the usually required zips, a comfortably designed footbox, and is 6ft in length. This one weighs 2lbs 8oz, and packs down to 12×7”, so is surprisingly compact at a very sensible price.
Key Features – top brand, 6 feet, comes with a bag, 12×7”, 2lbs 8oz, 30 temperature rating
6: RAB Neutrino 200
I’ve already included one model from the RAB range, and it is surely worthy of more. This model offers excellent insulation using genuine goose down – which is also hydrophobic and has been specially developed for such purposes – and the outer lining is Pertex, as is the inner, for added insulation. It boasts a mummy design with a shaped footbox for full comfort, is intended for smaller users and weighs just over 2lbs, and its quality is assured as it is hand-filled in the UK. It’s a top-price sleeping back in anyone’s book, but is down-filled so that adds to the price.
Key Features – top quality goose down, top brand, small bag, Pertex, very warm
7: Mountain Hardware Ratio 45 Men’s
With a 45 temperature rating, made strictly for summer use, this model comes with many impressive features, not least the fact it weighs less than 2lbs so is very light indeed. The shell is 100% nylon, is filled with synthetic down, and it comes with all the zip closures you would expect. This one is a men’s bag and is 6 feet long, has a very fine lining for comfort and comes from a brand with a decent reputation at a sensible price, too.
Key Features – quality synthetic down, 45 temperature rating, soft interior, men’s bag, very light
8: Kelty Cosmic 40 DriDown
Kelty has such a vast range of quality sleeping bags – and other gear – that we were always going to see more than one of their products on this list. This one is rated 40, so is suitable for cooler nights and perhaps even autumn use, and is filled with a patented DriDown synthetic down, that provides added insulation and stays drier than most. The shell is polyester, it has twin zips and ripcords, it is unisex and a good size, and weighs just 2.3lbs, so is quite compact.
Key Features – DriDown inner, strong outer, twin zips, very light, 40 temperature rating
9: Big Agnes Cross Mountain 45
The Big Agnes brand is another one with a reputation for quality products at sensible prices. This sleeping bag, rated to 45, is nicely made and comes with a sculpted construction and a neat footbox for added comfort. It also has a hood that can be unhooked, and double zips for added insulation. This one is unisex, is quilted and made from recycled material, and weighs in at under 2lbs, so is great for long treks. All in all, a decent sleeping bag for summer and perhaps autumn use, and at a mid-range price. It’s also available in a range of other sizes.
Key Features – quality brand, recycled, 45 temperature rating, light to carry, well made, comfortable
10: The North Face Unisex Aleutian 35/2
North Face has already been featured on this list with their men’s version of this same bag; this one is the unisex model, and offers the same features. The insulation in this one, combined with the strong construction, gives it a 35 temperature rating, so it’s good for colder nights. It has a draft collar and a footbox zipper for added comfort and warmth, and weighs 2lb 5oz. Compact when folded, this is a very nice sleeping bag from a top brand, at a price you would expect to pay.
Key Features – top brand, unisex bag, 35 temperature rating, 2lb 5oz weight, extra zips for insulation
11: Marmot Always Summer
This very neat and brightly coloured sleeping bag comes from the extensive Marmot range, which is known for its quality products that have many satisfied customers. It’s well-made and rated to 50F, is equipped with double zips for added insulation, and comes with the brand’s usual promise of quality at a sensible price. It is very light – that is a speciality of the brand – and folds down to a compact size in its own bag, and is certainly worth a place on this list.
Key Features – Marmot brand, quality materials, 50 temperature rated, unisex, compact
12: Tough Outdoors Warm Weather XL
This bag is big enough to fit a 6’6” person, hence the XL tag, and is rated at 60F. That means it is really only suitable for summer use, but that’s what this review is all about. It’s made from a fully waterproof shell with an insulating filler – this is a basic model that does not offer anything fancy, but that’s not a bad thing – and has double zips and a comfortable lining. It folds down into a very compact package inside its own bag – 14x8x8” – and weighs just 1.5lbs. It is also very, very affordable, which may put some buyers off, but it has been put to the test and is recommended for light backpacking use.
Key Features – very affordable, very light, very large, twin zips, 6’ 6” capacity
13: Marmot Men’s Nanowave 55
This 55F bag from Marmot, a men’s model, comes with all the usual attributes we expect of the brand, including the patented SpiraFil insulation which adds and retains warmth, quality comfortable lining and outer and twin zips, plus a moulded footbox for added comfort. You also get drawcords for a snug fit, it is light at 1.5lbs – in fact, very light – and compresses to around 6×6”, which is surprisingly compact. This is a good bag at a very sensible price for a quality item.
Key Features – Marmot brand, good size, 1.5lbs, SpiraFil, good price for a quality item
14: Ledge Scorpion 45 F
My final entry is one for anyone on a budget who wants a decent bag that will fit someone 6 feet tall, plus at a very good price. It is perhaps not as robust and high-performance as some of the ones listed above, but it is 45F rated, comes with quality outers and an insulating filling, has all the right locks, zips and drawstrings and a comfortable liner, and packs to a size of 12×8”, smaller if you use the compression bag. It weighs less than 2lbs, and is hard to beat if you want a bag for occasional light use.
Key Features – large size, small when packed, light at 2lbs, comfortable, budget-price item
Important Sleeping Bag Considerations
Now that you have the details of each sleeping bag, here are the factors you may want to consider when making your choice:
Price – this is an obvious factor, as you will have a set budget. As with all such items, I advise you check the price carefully and shop around, but always buy the best you can afford.
Compactness – you are going to spend a lot of time carrying your sleeping bag in its folded state, so check how small it can get.
Material – some people have preferences when it comes to the material used; my reviews often touch on this, but the manufacturer descriptions will give you all the details.
Durability – backpacking sleeping bags are designed with durability in mind, so check for the best options.
Male and Female – there are unisex, male and female options available.
Weight – pay attention to the weight of your sleeping bag as it will add to the load you have to carry.
Warmth and Temperature Rating – you will find a temperature rating in most of my descriptions, so make sure you understand the meaning and choose accordingly – bear in mind these are all summer bags.
Synthetic Vs Down – this is a personal choice, as both options will do the job well.
Mummy or Quilts – tucked in fully, or just underneath? The choice is yours!
Length and Width – an obvious consideration is to make sure you buy a sleeping back that will accommodate your height.
Storage – and finally, how does it store when not in use? Does it come with a bag or roll up?
That’s my selection of important considerations when buying a summer sleeping bag, so which is the one for you? Let’s see if I can help.
Choosing a summer sleeping bag from the above list is about personal choice and needs. If you are on a budget and want a bag for occasional use, the final one from Ledge is a very good buy at the price.
If you are a regular backpacker and need a sleeping bag with proven quality and one that will give you comfort, protection and warmth every time, and last a long time too, look at the ‘name brands’.
Any from the Marmot or North Face range are always to be relied upon, and the RAB and Kelty models also offer great value for money.