Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag under 100 in 2020 | Expert Advice

If you quickly want to find out which is the best backpacking sleeping bag under $100, I’d recommend the Hyke & Byke Sleeping Bag for Backpacking.

Sleeping bags are one of the most important items in your backpack.

As much as you want to cut down weight, you don’t want to lose out on the warmth & comfort either.

Check out our buying advice and some tips to extend the life of your sleeping bag. A list of the best sleeping bags for backpacking follow.

Our Top 5 Backpacking

Sleeping Bags under 100 of 2020

4.6

Weighs 3.75 lbs

1. Hyke & Byke Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

  • Best price for 650 down fill
  • Silky smooth material that feels great against your skin
  • Made of high quality baffle & filling
4.5

Weighs 2.12 lbs

2. Outdoor Vitals Sleeping Bag

  • Comes with a 800+ fill power down
  • Excellent compression size
  • Comes with a VitalDry DWR coating
4.2

Weighs 3.45 lbs

3. TETON Sports Ultralight  Sleeping Bag

  • Keeps you warm down to 20F
  • Superior warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Small packed size
4.8

Weighs 2.6 lbs

4. Marmot Ironwood Lightweight Sleeping Bag

  • Excellent heat retention
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Super soft filler and lining
4.3

Weighs 1 lbs

5. Big Agnes Buffalo Sleeping Bag

  • Lightweight, best for backpacking
  • Super soft & comfortable
  • Spacious room space

We've created a comprehensive Sleeping Bag buying guide along with useful tips on how to use them. 

How to choose?

Understanding Temperature Ratings

EN Rating

European Norm (EN) is a system to standardize temperature ratings of sleeping bags. It was designed to keep ratings consistent across the industry, but not all companies use EN ratings.

Most sleeping bags come with the EN Lower Limit (example: Magma 10), which is usually 10-15 degrees lower than the EN Comfort Rating.

Choosing a Temperature Rating

Temperature ratings only give you a rough estimate of what to expect out of the bag, and not the exact number. Choosing a bag with a EN lower limit of 10 keeps you alive at 10 and not warm.

As a thumb rule, always go for a bag that’s warmer than you want it to be. It always works. Go for roughly 10F lesser than the ambient temperature you’d be hiking in.

Never rely on the temperature rating specified by the manufacturers.

Increasing Temperature Ratings

Not to forget while focussing on the temperature rating of the bag, it can always be increased by using add ons. For example, using a down jacket or a sleeping bag liner can significantly boost your warmth.

You can also add layers to the sleeping bags such as sleeping pads, wool base layers, etc.

Understanding Insulation of Sleeping Bags

When it comes to sleeping bags insulation, they are mainly of two types – down and synthetic.

Down insulation is the most popular for its weight-to-warmth ratio but choosing one over the other is a compromise between weight, warmth and price.

Down

They are down insulated, and they have an unmatchable weight-to-warmth ratio and also have a very good compression size. As you might expect, these are expensive.

The quality of a down bag is measured with its down fill power, which says how well insulated the loft is (or) how fluffy the down insulation is. The higher the down fill power, the better the quality of the bag. i.e) the better the weight-to-warmth ratio it provides.

Synthetic

Synthetic bags on the other hand come off as cheaper alternatives, and are heavier because of the insulation materials, usually polyester. They perform slightly better than down when wet and dry faster.

Since you are looking at sleeping bags for backpacking, synthetics may not be a good choice for you.

Understanding Fit and Shapes of Sleeping Bags

An image displaying different types of sleeping bags

Down quilts have steadily gained popularity in the recent years, especially among ultralight backpackers. The reason is simple: Quilts provide the best warmth-to-weight ratio.

They do this by cutting out the material and insulation that’s normally compressed under your body in a mummy bag. With a quilt, you’ll sleep directly on your pad and it feels similar to a down comforter.

Quilts don’t have hoods, so it’s important to pack a warm hat or hooded clothing (puffy coat) for chilly evenings. Most quilts have pad attachment straps to help hold in heat, but mummy bags work better in cold/windy conditions because they’re less drafty.

We generally prefer the flexibility, weight, and comfort of quilts when nighttime temperatures are above freezing (32°F). Mummy bags are preferred when temps dip below freezing.

Are sleeping bags actually waterproof?

No, sleeping bags are not waterproof even though they might say so. Don’t expect to stay dry inside your sleeping bag when there’s a downpour.

Sleeping bags come with a Durable Water repellent (DWR) coating though, that makes them a little water resistant. There are also water resistant sprays that are used before the camping trip, to make them water resistant.

Though they don’t make a bag anywhere near waterproof, it’s a nice feature to have. The coating tends to wear off with time, but reapplying it is easy.

Synthetic bags come with a slight advantage here over down bags, because they resist water and manage to stay warm a little more, when wet.

What’s the best way to use Sleeping bags

Air out the bag

Air out the bag once daily when you are at the camp. It ensures the moisture that the bag has collected from your body, clothes or anywhere else, evaporates. Keep the bag in mild sunlight at least for 10 minutes.

If it’s raining and you are on a car camp, air it out inside the car.

Store when dry

Make sure to dry the bag for 24 hours at the least before you store it.

Store it in the storage sack and not in the stuff sack. Storing the sleeping bag compressed makes the bag to lose some of its loft and the bag eventually degrades.

Soon after the trek, pull out the sleeping bag from the stuff sack and shake it to fill up the down, and then store it in a cool dry place.

Gentle care

Be patient with the zippers. Zippers snapping in a brand new bag can get quite annoying. Not all sleeping bags come with heavy duty zippers, so it just takes a little extra care while zipping your bag, to extend its life.

When you are near a campfire, take care to not take your sleeping bag too near it. If you have kids around who jump around and on the sleeping bags while playing, it might damage the loft. Down gets distributed unevenly which isn’t very pleasant while sleeping.

Using a sleeping bag liner

Sleeping bag liners are inserted inside your sleeping bag to give some additional warmth and also keep the bag away from the dirt.

That also means that you’d just have to wash the liner instead of the sleeping bag itself. It extends the life of your sleeping bag.

Sleeping bag accessories

Stuff and Storage Sacks

Stuff sacks or compression sacks are essential during backpacking, as storage sacks are during storage.

An image of the storage bag of a sleeping bag

Sleeping bags may or may not come with them, but you can always purchase them separately.

Sleeping Bag liners

They come in different materials – cotton, poly cotton, silk, thermals, microfibre, etc. You can choose one based on your budget and requirements.

Top 5 Backpacking Sleeping bags under 100

1. Hyke & Byke Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

Pros

  • Best price for 650 down fill
  • Ultralight
  • Exceptional weight-to-warmth ratio
  • Silky smooth material that feels great against your skin
  • Best for backpacking
  • Comes in bright colors
  • Made of high quality baffle & filling
  • Comes with a DWR coating for water protection

Cons

  • Narrow & feels a little stuffed at times
  • Slight odor detected by some that wears away with time
  • Crampy near the legs

Bottomline

A budget ultralight sleeping bag with the best warmth-to-weight ratio you can get.

2. Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F Premium Down Sleeping Bag

Pros

  • Comes with a 800+ fill power down
  • Excellent compression size
  • Made of high quality Shell fabric and an ripstop internal fabric that makes it ultralight.
  • Has an incredible loft that feels like an risen bread.
  • Has a grid baffle design that ensures the down is equally distributing, leaving no spots cold.
  • Comes with a VitalDry DWR coating
  • High standard zippers.

Cons

  • Needs better insulation pads in temperatures below freezing.

Bottomline

A bag that excels in weight-to-warmth ratio and comfort.

3. TETON Sports ALTOS Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag

Pros

  • Feels soft & comfortable against the skin
  • Has an incredible loft
  • Weighs only 3.45 pounds
  • Has a hydrophobic down fill for water resistance
  • Keeps you warm down to 20F
  • Super warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Comes with the hood
  • Small packed size
  • Comes in bright colors

Cons

  • Constricting shoulder space for bigger people

Bottomline

A solid sleeping bag, an allrounder. Weighing the pros and cons, it provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio at this price range.

4. Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag

Pros

  • Comes with a Down defender for retaining the fluffiness of the loft
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Super soft filler and lining
  • Has a nice fluffy hood and comes with an internal pocket
  • Has a zipper guard to prevent them from snapping
  • Keeps you warm upto 30F

Cons

  • Constricting space that’s a characteristic of all mummy bags

Bottomline

A warm mummy style bag, made with high quality materials best chosen for comfort & price.

5. Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40 (Thermolite Extra) Sleeping Bag

Pros

  • Two of the same bags can be zipped together
  • Lightweight for backpacking
  • Comfortable room space to changes sleeping positions inside the bag
  • Best for warmer nights
  • Super soft & comfortable lining of the inner material

Cons

  • Not for winter weathers- needs an insulated sleeping pad for added warmth
  • Thin material – no insulation at the bottom

Bottomline

A solid bag for mild weathers, best suited for backpackers.

Conclusion

Our pick out of the lot is Hyke & Byke 650 Down Sleeping Bag for Backpacking. It’s easily the bag that offers the best weight-to-warmth ratio at the price range it comes at. It’s made of good quality materials and is the best budget buy.

There you have it!

If you have any comments/suggestions, feel free to drop them below. 🙂

Mark Bennett
 

I have a serious thing for travel, outdoors and wilderness. I grew up in Oregon and camping outdoors with my father was one of the fondest memories of childhood. I enjoy camping and hiking and love to share what I've learnt over these years.