Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag of 2020 | Expert Advice

If you quickly want to find out which is the best budget backpacking sleeping bag, I’d recommend the Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag.

So, you’ve got your dates sealed, tickets booked, and are super excited for your next backpacking adventure.

But there’s one item left to be checked in your backpacking list – Sleeping bags.

It’s easy to get boggled by the choices, brands and materials available, but don’t worry.

We can help you out with some good buying advice and also help you choose the best budget backpacking sleeping bag.

Read on!

Our Top 5 Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2020

Product

Weight

Highlights

#1 Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag

2.6 lbs

- Excellent heat retention

- Great warmth-to-weight ratio

- Super soft filler and lining

#2 Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag

3.7 lbs

- Budget sleeping bag

- Comfortable and fluffy

- Provides great warmth for the price of the bag

#3  Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F Premium Down Sleeping Bag

2 lbs

- Made of high quality Shell fabric

- Comes with a compression bag

-  Has an incredibly soft loft

#4  Nemo Men’s Disco 15-Degree Insulated Down Sleeping Bag

2.11 lbs

- Chosen for spacious room space & comfort

- Fairly priced  

#5  TETON Sports ALTOS Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag

3.45 lbs

- Keeps you warm down to 20F

- Superior warmth-to-weight ratio

- Small packed size

How to choose the best budget sleeping bag for backpacking?

Weight

Sleeping bags are one of the heaviest items in your backpack among tents, backpacks, sleeping pads, etc.

A heavy backpack would be my last choice. I might save some energy instead. Don’t you agree?

So it’s a good place to cut pack weight.

Some of the highest performing bags use lightweight ultra thin shell fabrics in addition to a competitive down fill power. The bulkier bags are mostly made of Synthetics or of very low down fill power.

Ideally, choose a down insulated sleeping bag that weighs somewhere between 1-2 lbs.

Temperature Ratings and Warmth

All sleeping bags come with a temperature rating that tell you how much of cold your sleeping bag would sustain. But sadly, most of the specifications are not true when used outdoors.

The bags that specify a lower limit tell you that you can survive the cold up to that, and not that you would still feel warm at that temperature.

That means you’ll be in for a sleepless cold night.

So, what’s the trick?

Choose a bag that is warmer than it is specified to be. ( It will always be so)

For warm nights, it is recommended to go for a bag with 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit and 25-30 degrees for colder needs.

Quick Tip: You can always make any sleeping bag warmer than it is, by adding layers.

Down Fill power / Compressibility

Down fill power means the amount of insulation in the bag, which tells you how much your sleeping bag would weigh, and how much it can be compressed.

Sleeping bags with a higher down fill power weigh less and get compressed more easily as compared to low down fill power.

Down insulation is the clear winner here. But choosing a budget sleeping bag with a down fill can be challenging. Most of the bags that we have chosen are a good mix of weight and price.  

Fill material – why choose Down insulation over Synthetics?

Here’s the catch:

The insulation of your bag translates to you getting a warm & pleasant sleep. It’s as simple as that. So, how do you decide between the two?

My choice – hands down, Down 😀

It has an amazing weight-to-warmth ratio, it’s compressible ( if you own a down jacket, you can vouch for this ), and durable. If you are looking at a good quality sleeping bag that would last for more than 10 years, invest in a Down sleeping bag.

Synthetic has advantages in wet conditions, since it tends to dry faster, and also is not allergenic and priced lower than Down insulated sleeping bags. However, it has serious downsides to it like the weight of it.

Fit – Quilts or Mummy bags?

Mummy Bags

Mummy Bags, true to its name, encloses you like a mummy, with very little space left for anything else inside it.

It can feel a little packed because of the spacing inside the bag, but personally I would definitely go for this one since I enjoy cozy settings. Even at my home, I like sleeping like that in my bedsheets!

They come off as two types – one with hoods and the other without hoods. They are narrower the the bottom and wider at the top thus enveloping you completely.

It’s a good choice to go for Mummy bags when the temperature is below freezing.

Quilts

If you are that kind of a person who likes to move around a bit freely while sleeping, Quilts are the ones you should be going for. They don’t come with hoods so you will have to purchase one separately.

Quilts are popular because of the weight-to-warmth ratio they provide, owing it to the sleeping pads that are attached to it.

It’s a good choice to go for Quilts when the temperature is above freezing.

Durable Water Repellents

Bags that come with a durable water repellent ( DWR ) coating, come useful during wet conditions. They add an extra layer of protection to the sleeping bag that beads up the water outside it by preventing it from soaking in.

The DWR coating is usually done on the bag’s shell fabric. It does not make the sleeping bag any waterproof but it’s a good add-on to have.

Point to note, the DWR coating needs to be reapplied once in a while since it tends to wear off with time.

Top 5 Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Pros

  • It comes with a Down defender for retaining the fluffiness of the loft, that makes it a super durable sleeping bag.
  • The bag demonstrates an excellent heat retention and keeps you warm when the temperature drops.
  •  It has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio making it a great option for backpacking.It also keeps you warm down to 30F.
  • It has a super soft filler and lining, a nice fluffy hood and comes with an internal pocket for keeping your stuff organized.
  • It also comes with an innovative zipper guard to prevent them from snapping.

Cons

  • Since it is a mummy style bag, the bag can be a  little constrictive for bigger people with broad shoulders.

Pros

  • Considering that it gives a 600 Down Fill power at a cost of around $100, it’s a treat for people for whom warmth & price are the primary concerns.
  • It is lighter and compact as compared to other bags in this price range. It weighs 3 pounds and compresses upto 11 litres.
  • It keeps you warm upto 20F but if you are looking for warmer options, they also have the same bags at other temperature ratings.
  • It is comfortable and fluffy, and a pleasure to use, which is rare for bags coming at this price range.
  • Overall, this is THE choice for those who are looking at a long lasting best budget backpacking sleeping bag.

Cons

  • Heavier in comparison to the other bags reviewed, not a good choice for people who are looking for light sleeping bags. Solves the purpose & functionality very well though.
  • Mummy design sleeping bag might become snug at times.

Pros

  • The 800+ fill power down compresses smaller, cuts weight and keep you warmer! It comes with a compression bag that makes it even easier to carry it.
  • 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
  • Has a VitalDry DWR coating that comes handy during wet conditions.
  • It has one of the highest standard zippers you can get.

Cons

  • Some customers have reported issues with pulling the zipper all the way up. But preferring a full / ½ / ⅓ zipper is a personal choice.
  • Needs better insulation pads in temperatures below freezing.

Pros

  • A 3-season sleeping bag that’s designed to give you the best comfort.
  • If you are that kind of person who changes their sleeping positions very often, sideways and on the tummy, this bag could be the best choice for you.
  • It is fairly priced considering the generous internal dimensions & the room space it provides.
  • On warm nights, the thermo gills of the bag help vent out the heat from inside, thus not making you feel very suffocated.

Cons

  • It is slightly larger than the average packed volume.
  • We cannot claim it is ultralight, though it comes at a reasonable weight.

Pros

  • It has an incredible loft that feels soft & comfortable against the skin.
  • It weighs only 3.45 pounds, making it a great budget sleeping bag for backpacking.
  • It has a hydrophobic down fill that makes the bag water resistant.
  • It is one of the warmest bags in our review that keeps you warm down to 20F.
  • It comes with a hood, has a very compact packed size and also comes in bright color options.
  • A solid sleeping bag, an allrounder. Weighing the pros and cons, it provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio at this price range.

Cons

  • The shoulder space can be a little constricting for bigger people.

Conclusion

The clear winner of the roundup would be the first product – Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag.

It proves itself in all of these params – weight, warmth, temperature ratings, price, down fill power and DWR.

One distinct feature of the top pick would be it’s cozy internal fabrics, value for money and an exceptional hood design.

We hope this guide helped you choose the best budget backpacking sleeping bag for your adventures.

Let us know which one you picked in the comments! Happy backpacking!

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.