A few years ago, when we camped our way around the Northern Territory, it was winter, and so we needed to purchase one of the best sleeping bags for cold weather camping. While we are reasonably experienced campers, coming from sunny and warm Brisbane, we didn’t know too much about camping in cold weather and so had no idea what to look for in terms of what was the best cold weather sleeping bag.
Jumping online to start the research for the best sleeping bag for cold weather camping, I was hit with a stack of information about insulation, temperature ratings, and various other features – all things I had never considered before. At the last minute, I purchased some random winter sleeping bags for sale, and while they did the job, I certainly didn’t put much thought into whether they were the best winter sleeping bags for camping.
With the benefit of hindsight, I have put together this guide for others looking to purchase the best sleeping bag for winter camping or for any climate with cold temperatures. If you are wondering what the best sleeping bag for cold weather is, then this guide is certainly for you.
In this guide, I will first help you understand how a sleeping bag is designed to keep you warm and then take you through the various features that make the best winter sleeping bag.
Once you have a better idea of what to look for when on the hunt for good sleeping bags for cold weather, I will share with you my top recommendations for the best sleeping bags for winter camping.
Whether you are after winter camping sleeping bags, the best winter backpacking sleeping bag or the best budget winter sleeping bag, I have no doubt after reading this guide you will be in a better position to make the perfect choice.
This post may contain compensated links. Please refer to my disclaimer here for more information.
Our pick for the best sleeping bag for cold weather 2023: Darch Cold Mountain 900
If you don’t have time to read my entire winter sleeping bag reviews, my pick for the best winter camping sleeping bag is the Darch Cold Mountain 900 Sleeping Bag.
I love this sleeping bag as a good all rounder – it offers great value for money and is reasonably light at just under 3kg. This sleeping bag will keep you nice and warm even when the temperatures reach below zero.
If you are interested in a super lightweight sleeping bag, there are some other options in the review, or alternatively, you may like to read our guide to the best lightweight sleeping bags for backpacking.
Keep reading below for the full review of the Darch Cold Mountain sleeping bag.
Comparison chart for the best sleeping bags for cold weather 2023
Check out the table below for a quick view of the various features of my recommendations for the top winter sleeping bags. Keep reading below for my detailed reviews.
|Sleeping Bag||Image||Weight||Temperature Range||Size||Check Price / Buy Now|
|Darch Cold Mountain 900 ||2.7 kgs||-12 C||250 cm x 90 cm||Check Price|
|Oztrail Blaxland ||1.6 kgs||-5 C||230 cm x 80 cm||Check Price|
|Oztrail Leichardt ||1.6 kgs||0 C||230 cm x 75 cm||Check Price|
|Coleman Big Game ||4.6 kgs||-6 C||213 cm x 102 cm||Check Price|
|Oztrail Cotton Canvas Mega Hooded||3.9 kgs||-12 C||235 cm x 100 cm||Check Price|
|Blackwolf Campsite Kids||1.5 kgs||-5 C||180 cm x 75 cm||Check Price|
|Sea to Summit Trek Tk II ||1 kgs||-8 C||225 cm x 89 cm||Check Price|
|Sea to Summit Journey Jo II ||1 kgs||-15 C||170 cm||Check Price|
|Coleman Pilbara C0 ||2.2 kg||0 c||200 cm x 100 cm||Check Price|
|BlackWolf Pro Series||1.65 kgs||-2C||230 cm x 80 cm||Check Price|
How does a sleeping bag work?
Sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm by trapping and holding a layer of air next to your body. Your body heat warms this air, and the bag forms a barrier between it and the colder ground or outside air. The less air space there is to heat, the faster you warm up and stay warm.
How to choose the best cold weather sleeping bag
There are a variety of factors that you will need to consider to ensure you purchase suitable sleeping bags for cold weather. Before going out to buy a good winter sleeping bag, consider the following factors:
Sleeping bags are insulated to keep you warm. The insulation is usually in the form of either down or synthetic material which is sandwiched between two layers of fabric – shell fabric on the outside and lining on the inside.
The best warmth to weight ratio sleeping bag is one insulated with down. This means a smaller amount of insulation is required for the same amount of warmth, as is needed for synthetic insulation.
Of course, the benefit to this is a lighter sleeping bag and one that takes up less room, making down the perfect choice if you are after the best sleeping bag for cold weather backpacking. A down sleeping bag can easily fit into the bottom of a backpack!
Despite being a great compact winter sleeping bag, down is unfortunately far more expensive than even the best synthetic winter sleeping bag. However, down sleeping bags are incredibly durable, and the best down sleeping bag will last you for years.
Another negative is that down tends to lose its ability to insulate if it gets wet. To avoid this issue, many manufacturers treat the down with a durable water repellent.
The quality of down is measured by a fill power index from 400 to 900 – the higher the fill power index, the better the weight to warmth ratio of the sleeping bag.
If using a down sleeping bag, it is recommended you purchase one that has been ethically sourced. This means that animals have not been ill-treated to produce the down for the sleeping bag. Look for companies that follow the Responsible Down Standard. You can find a list of companies that follow this standard here.
All the down sleeping bags in this review are by companies that follow the Responsible Down Standard.
If you are looking for the best price sleeping bags or just one of the cheap winter sleeping bags, you should opt for a synthetic insulated sleeping bag.
Synthetically insulated sleeping bags are so much cheaper than down as well as being quick-drying and insulating even if it gets wet. A Synthetic winter sleeping bag also tends to be better for people suffering allergies.
The negative about synthetically insulated sleeping bags is that it doesn’t pack down as small as down, so not ideal when space is at a premium.
You will need to consider the temperature of the environment you will be camping in to choose a sleeping bag that will keep you warm enough.
Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t use a standard temperature rating system so choosing an appropriate winter weight sleeping bag can be difficult. Basically, the rating is a guess as to the ideal temperature; the average person will keep warm in the sleeping bag.
The one universal rating method that you may see on a sleeping bag is the EN13537 rating – the European standard for labelling sleeping bags. This standard expresses temperature ratings in the following way:
- Comfort: This is the warmth level required for a woman to sleep comfortably. It is based on a woman because on average women need more insulation to stay warm than men.
- Limit of Comfort: This is the lowest temperature that a man would feel comfortable sleeping in.
- Extreme: This is basically the coldest temperature you would survive in, not sleep comfortably, but survive without freezing to death.
It is also important to note that everyone’s body temperature is different. Various factors will affect your body temperature when you sleep, such as:
- Sensitivity to temperature
- Conditioning, fitness and level of experience
- Gender and age
- Sleeping habits
- Hunger and nutritional intake
- Level of exhaustion; and
There are other reasons for your level of comfort inside a sleeping bag, such as your sleepwear, sleeping mattress, and prior exposure to wind, rain, snow and humidity.
Many camping experts suggest that when in doubt purchase a sleeping bag rated at least 5-10 degrees below the average temperature you will be using your sleeping bag in.
For easy identification, some manufacturers label their sleeping bags as two seasons or three season sleeping bags:
- 2 Season Sleeping Bags: also referred to as Summer sleeping bags are recommended for warmer weather or from temperatures of 0c. These sleeping bags are only recommended if you are always sleeping in warm weather.
- 3 Season Sleeping Bags: ideal for temperatures around -6c and above. Features of a 3 season sleeping bag include cinchable hoods, draft collars and zipper draft tubes. These sleeping bags are perfect for all sorts of climates.
- Cold Weather Sleeping Bags: Suitable for those camping in extreme climates -6c and below.
Size / length
Sleeping bags generally come in one of three lengths that are supposed to fit men and women of varying heights. Usually, these lengths are tall (200cm), average (185 cm) and short (170 cm).
There are a variety of shapes when it comes to sleeping bags with the main ones being the mummy, tapered rectangular and rectangular.
If you are trying to save weight and space, look for a tapered sleeping bag such as the mummy, whereas if comfort is the priority, a standard rectangular sleeping bag is your best bet.
Most camping bags are designed with a rectangular shape for maximum comfort and roominess. You can even join two rectangular sleeping bags together if one bag has a “right-hand” zipper and the other a “left-hand” zipper, creating a winter double sleeping bag. The zippers also need to be the same size, style and roughly the same length to create a double winter sleeping bag.
If maximum warmth is a priority and you’re looking for a sleeping bag for extreme cold weather, then a mummy shaped sleeping bag is the best choice.
A mummy shaped sleeping bag is wide at the shoulders and narrows down towards the feet, creating less air that needs to be heated within the bag.
Some people don’t find these bags very comfortable as they are more restrictive than rectangular shaped sleeping bags.
The tapered rectangular is somewhere in between the mummy and the rectangular shaped sleeping bag.
These sleeping bags have a tapered design offering greater warmth and efficiency than rectangular bags, but they’re still plenty roomy for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Women’s sleeping bags
Some warm sleeping bags for adults come in women specific versions. Basically, these bags are designed to match a woman’s contours.
When compared to standard bags, women-specific bags are shorter and narrower at the shoulders and wider at the hips and add extra insulation in the upper body and footbox.
Along with your tent, your sleeping bag is likely to be one of the heaviest and bulkiest items you take camping. Sleeping bags come in a range of weights from the ultra-light at around .5 kg to 3 kg+.
If weight is a priority to you, check out the table above as I have listed the weights of all the sleeping bags in this guide.
Above we have covered the main features of good quality sleeping bags, but all the top winter sleeping bags come with many additional features to increase your comfort.
Sleeping bag shell
The outer shell of a camping bag is typically made of ripstop nylon or polyester for durability.
Many synthetic-fill bags feature a shell fabric treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. DWR allows water to bead up rather than soak through the fabric. Linings, on the other hand, promote the dispersal of body moisture, so DWR is not used here.
To tell if a shell has a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, rub a wet cloth across the surface. If the water beads up, then it has DWR.
The downside to a sleeping bag treated with DWR is that it tends to be less breathable, trapping perspiration inside the sleeping bag. Trapped sweat reduces the insulations ability to trap heat so you will be colder in a sleeping bag treated with DWR.
Polyester or nylon breaths and draws away moisture. Cotton (flannelette) increases comfort but won’t draw away moisture so you can be left feeling damp.
Most sleeping bags have two zippers so you can easily open your bag from the inside and the outside.
Look for sleeping bags with good quality zippers. Zippers that continuously get caught are a pain and make getting in and out of your bag difficult.
Also look for zippers that go all the way around rather than just halfway so you can easily open the bag if you get too hot.
Neck collars are perfect on sleeping bags for cold conditions as they ensure the warmth stays within the bag by ensuring heat doesn’t escape from the sleeping bag.
Sleeping bag hood
When camping in colder temperatures, you’ll lose a lot of heat through your head. The best cool weather sleeping bag will include a built-in hood.
When cinched with a drawcord, the hood prevents heat from radiating away. Some hoods offer a pillow pocket that you can stuff with clothing to create a pillow.
Some sleeping bags have small pockets on the inside where you can store small items, such as your phone, watch or glasses, close at hand. These are ideal for sleeping bags for cold weather backpacking.
Sleeping pad sleeve
On some bags, the underside insulation has been replaced with a sleeve to fit a sleeping pad. The result: no more rolling off the sleeping pad in the middle of the night!
Best winter sleeping bag reviews 2023
Below I have listed my top 10 recommendations for lightweight sleeping bags for cold weather.
Best synthetic sleeping bag: Darch Cold Mountain 900 sleeping bag review
If you’re after one of the lightest synthetic sleeping bag options that will keep you warm as well as lightweight, then the Darche Cold Mountain 900 sleeping bag is the perfect option. This cold weather sleeping bag is rated at -12°C and will comfortably keep you warm when temperatures get down to around -5°C, so is the ideal choice if you’re after the best lightweight sleeping bag for cold weather.
The Darch Cold Mountain 900 sleeping bag ticks all the boxes! As well as keeping you nice and warm at just 2.7kg, it is incredibly lightweight. It’s also quite spacious and with a length of 2.5m, it is the longest in these reviews so perfect if you’re a particularly tall person.
To ensure you stay nice and cozy this lightweight, warm sleeping bag features a hood, neck collar and wind baffle. It is also insulated with a two layer hollow fibre filling and has a water resistant 70 denier polyester outer shell and silk like liner.
Other great features of these best sleeping bags for sub zero temperatures include dual zippers, an internal pocket for valuables and it can be zippered together with other sleeping bags to create a double.
For those camping in cooler temperatures and looking for the best sub zero sleeping bag that is lightweight, spacious and won’t blow the budget then the Darche Cold Mountain sleeping bags are a great one to consider.
Best lightweight synthetic sleeping bag: Oztrail Blaxland Hooded sleeping bag review
If you’re after a super lightweight sleeping bag, then a good one to consider is the OzTrail Blaxland sleeping bag. Not only are these perfect for those after the best ultralight synthetic sleeping bag, but they are also really affordable, making them ideal for those after the best cheap winter sleeping bag too.
At just 1.6kg these are really lightweight sleeping bags; however they are relatively narrow at just 80cm, which probably has something to do with how light they are although they are 230cm in length so plenty of space in for tall people. They also pack down really well so perfect if you’re after sleeping bags for winter backpacks.
Rated at -5°C, the Oztrail Blaxland warm, lightweight sleeping bags will do a pretty good job of keeping you warm, even when temperatures get around zero. To keep you nice and warm this best value winter sleeping bag features synthetic insulation, a draw corded hood and draft tubes.
Other features of this warmest lightweight sleeping bag include a ripstop polyester shell, soft cotton lining, and Velcro closure at the top so you can keep the sleeping bag close even when unzipped and zip across the base for greater foot comfort. Plus you can even zip two of these two together to make a double sleeping bag!
For those after the best portable sleeping bag, which is lightweight yet will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night, then the Oztrail Blaxland sleeping bags are certainly worth considering. Not only is this a lightweight and warm sleeping bag – but it is also one of the cheapest in these reviews.
Best budget winter sleeping bag: Oztrail Leichardt Camper sleeping bag review
If you are not a regular camper, you may not be able to justify spending a lot on a sleeping bag, but there are plenty of options when it comes to the best cheap cold weather sleeping bag, like this Oztrail Leichardft one.
These lightweight winter sleeping bags have a synthetic fill with a fill weight of 300 gsm which has been sewn into place to keep the insulation securely in place.
To help keep you toasty and warm the sleeping bag features a hood that you can tighten around you to avoid any heat escaping through your head and draft tubes that keep the cold air out. Combined these features ensure you stay warm in conditions as low as 0 °C.
These warm, lightweight sleeping bags are relatively narrow sleeping bag at just 75cm wide, but it is 230cm long so plenty of room for even the tallest person. It’s lightweight too at just 1.6kg so great for backpacking trips.
Other features of this best lightweight, packable sleeping bag include a polycotton lining, a polyester shell, velcro closure at the top to keep the bag closed even when unzipped, an overlapping zipper at the side for additional warmth and just like the last sleeping bag; you can zip two of these together to make one double.
The Oztrail Leichardt is the cheapest sleeping bag in these reviews, making it the perfect choice for those wanting the best cold weather sleeping bags for the money.
If you are after a wider size sleeping bag to keep you extra warm on a cold night, you will love the Coleman Big Game sleeping bag.
While this sleeping bag doesn’t give you any extra length – at 102cm wide – it is the widest of all the sleeping bags in these reviews. This is perfect for those who don’t enjoy that snug feel you often experience with sleeping bags for camping in winter.
This sleeping bag is made from a durable 10 oz poly cotton canvas with a cosy cotton flannel lining to keep you toasty and warm. The insulation is held securely in place across the entire sleeping bag to avoid any cold parts and draft tubes prevent heat loss through the zippers.
One of the best features of this sleeping bag is the wrap n roll which means no trying you stuff the sleeping bag into a tiny stuff sack. Simply roll the sleeping bag and fasten the straps. Other features include soft fabric around your face and neck and an included pillow.
At 4.6 kg this is certainly not the lightest sleeping bag in these, but perfect for those campers wanting a wider sleeping bag. Rated at -6 °C, this sleeping bag will keep you comfortably warm in sub zero conditions.
If you like the look of the previous Coleman Big Game sleeping bag yet need something for even colder conditions and want a little extra length, then the Oztrail Cotton Canvas Sleeping Bag is for you! For a little extra money, you get a warmer and longer sleeping bag and it is lighter too!
Rated at -12 °C, this sleeping bag will keep you comfortably warm in temperatures around -5°C, making it one of the warmest sleeping bags in these reviews. It keeps you warm thanks to the double layer synthetic insulation and the 8.5oz cotton canvas outer shell. It also has a lovely soft cotton flannel lining.
As mentioned, this best zero degree sleeping bag is longer than the previous Coleman sleeping bag with a length of 235cm and yet is still 100cm wide – just 2 cm narrower than the Coleman one. Yet at 3.9kg it is 700g lighter.
Some other great features of these sleeping bags include an auto lock full length side zip, draw corded hood, velcro closure to keep the sleeping bag closed even with the zipper opened, an overlapping foot zip to reduce cold spots, a zip guard to prevent snags and a double head zipper so you can regulate your body temperature at both ends.
If you’re looking for a durable sleeping bag with loads of space that will keep you super warm when the temperatures drop well below zero, the Oztrail Cotton Canvas Mega Hooded sleeping bag is the one you want.
If you’re after the best lightweight winter sleeping bags for the kids, then you’re going to want to get one of these Blackwolf Campsite kids sleeping bags. These lightweight sleeping bags for cold weather are designed to keep the kid’s toastie warm, even when the temperatures drop below zero.
These are really lightweight sleeping bags weighing in at just 1.5kg, so they are easy for the kids to carry. They are still a pretty good size too with a width of 75cm and 180cm long – so they will last the kids for quite a while. These best lightweight, warm sleeping bags are super compact when packed away too!
These Blackwolf Campsite kids’ sleeping bags are insulated with a hypoallergenic fill which is a down alternative that is great for any kids with allergies. They also come with a nice flannel lining and have a ripstop outer shell. To keep the kids warm, they feature a contoured style hood with a drawstring and toggle hood.
Other features of this best lightweight winter sleeping bag include anti snag zippers, internal pocket for the kid’s valuables and it all comes in a compression sack.
These aren’t cheap sleeping bags, so even if you are after something for the kids, you might want to opt for one of the other more affordable adult sleeping bags in these reviews. However, if you want something small, lightweight and compact for the kids, then the Blackwolf Campsite kids sleeping bags are worth checking out.
Sea to Summit is known for making excellent quality down sleeping bag options, so it’s no surprise that a few feature in these reviews. This Sea to Summit Trek Tk II sleeping bag is incredibly lightweight; in fact, the lightest in these reviews and will keep you warm in temperatures well below zero.
At just 980g, this is by far the lightest bag in these reviews. It is, however, one of the narrower sleeping bags but not too narrow at 89 cm. These lightweight sleeping bags for cold weather are filled with 500g of 650+ responsibly sourced down and have a 33 denier nylon shell with a 40 denier nylon lining.
Rated at -8°C, this sleeping bag will keep you comfortably warm when temperatures drop just below zero. It comes with some great features to keep you warm including vertical chest baffles to help prevent cold spots, two-dimensional hood for trapping in the heat, a neck collar, a built in hood with a drawcord and zip draft tube.
Other features include a large internal pocket for your personal belongings, full length anti snag 2 way YKK zippers and a separate foot zipper.
Given this is a down sleeping bag, it is one of the more expensive sleeping bags in these reviews. You do unfortunately pay around triple the price for a down sleeping bag – but that also means a super lightweight sleeping bag that will keep you ultra warm in sub zero temperatures.
So if you want a top quality sleeping bag that is super compact, lightweight yet oh so warm, then the Sea to Summit Trek Tk II is well worth considering.
If you want something to keep you warm in even colder temperatures, then check out the Sea to Summit Journey Jo II Sleeping Bag. Rated at -15 °C, this super lightweight sleeping bag will keep you comfortable and warm with temperatures as low as -8°C.
The Sea to Summit Journey Jo II is a women’s specific tapered sleeping bag designed with the shape of the female body in mind to maximise warmth. It features 650+ of responsibly sourced down which not only keeps you super warm but is what also ensures the sleeping bag is lightweight and packs down well. The outer layer is made from a durable 30D nylon while the lining is a soft touch 20D fabric.
The sleeping bag has a range of different features to help keep you warm including panels under the foot area, vertical chest baffles and sidewalls to keep the down in place and prevent cold spots, a 3D hood with drawcord, a neck collar with a draft tube to seal in the warmth and zip draft tubes to ensure cold air doesn’t get inside the bag.
Other features include an internal security pocket for your personal belongings, two way YKK side zippers and separate foot zippers for extra ventilation points. Another awesome feature is you can zip two together to make one super large sleeping bag.
Weighing in at just over 1kg, you certainly get quite a lot in this sleeping bag despite its lightweight. Mind you, do keep in mind that it is only 170cm in length so much shorter than any other sleeping bag in these reviews.
These are super expensive sleeping bags, however, if you need something for extremely cold weather and you don’t want to lug around a heavy synthetic sleeping bag, these Sea to Summit Journey Jo II are really worth considering.
If like us you live in the warmer parts of the world and don’t need anything too OTT for the winter months, then the Coleman Pilbara C0 sleeping bags are a good choice – in fact, this is what we have. They are a good happy medium sleeping bag – good price, good weight and warmth.
The Pilbara sleeping bag is made from good quality fabrics and hardware and features a synthetic 250gsm hollow fibre filling. The outer fabric is made from cotton and the lining is a flannel with a fleece liner.
At 2.2 kg, these are pretty lightweight sleeping bags too. They are roomy as well at 200 x 100 cm, one of the largest in terms of width. We just use the one sleeping bag completely unzipped for the two of us when we go camping. It packs down pretty well too.
As well as being able to be unzipped to use as a blanket, you can also zip two Pilbara sleeping bags together to create a double sized one. Other great features include the cozy foot fleece for added warmth where you need it, a separate foot zipper and an internal pocket for valuables. It’s machine washable too, which is brilliant.
For the average Aussie family camping trip, the Pilbara C0 is the best Coleman sleeping bag. We’ve had ours for a few years now and it’s served us well on many many camping trips.
The BlackWolf Pro Series sleeping bag is another great alternative for a large, spacious and warm sleeping bag. Rated at a comfort rate of -2 °C, this sleeping bag will keep you warm when the temperatures drop below zero.
At 1.65kg, this is a lightweight sleeping bag considering its impressive temperature rating. It has a length of 230cm so it’s plenty long enough for taller people and is 80cm wide.
The BlackWolf Pro Series -10 is a mummy shape sleeping bag and has specially designed baffles that help to prevent insulation migration and lengthen their lifespan. To help you stay extra warm, this sleeping bag has a contoured hood and tapers down to a narrow footbed.
It features a 420T ripstop shell and 700g ClusterLoft® fill that is hypoallergenic, washable and compressable.
Other great features of this sleeping bag include an anti snag zipper, draft excluder and hidden internal pocket for your small valuables.
The BlackWolf Pro Series sleeping bag is among the warmest sleeping bags in this guide and it’s well worth a look if you’ll be doing some cold weather camping.
Hopefully you found this guide on choosing a cold weather sleeping bag helpful. Other camping product guides we have that you may find helpful include family tents, pop up tents and lightweight sleeping bags for backpacking.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.