The ultralight sleeping bag is, just as its name suggests, super light. They are perfect not only for camping but for backpacking as well. However, most people fret thinking that because they are ultralight (they are also called “compact sleeping bag”), they must not give the required warmth. That is wrong. If you buy a high-quality sleeping bag, good chances are it will give you good value for your money. However, you have to know how to choose the best one, since all of them are not of the same quality.
There are many ultralight sleeping bag reviews online. Some of them are high-quality reviews, others are just pieces of low-value text written in order to sell the bag to you.
If you are not familiar with sleeping bags yet, don’t be surprised that nearly every type of travel requires different types of sleeping bags. Hey, there is even a sleeping bag for sleeping in space! If you really want to know what to look for when buying your sleeping bag, read this guide and you will understand the criteria which you should base your decision on.
Cheap or expensive?
I would say this is irrelevant since expensive does not necessarily mean that you have the best one. Likewise, a cheap sleeping bag does not mean it is poor quality. What I do advise buyers, however, is not to skimp on features and quality to save money. It is much better to pay more money, get more features with your compact sleeping bag than pay less, and get fewer features.
Down or synthetic?
That is light. If you are keeping the sleeping light, then it had better be made with good fill, at least to compensate for the ultralight nature of the sleeping bag. Therefore, you should buy a sleeping bag that is filled with goose down, which means that 85 percent of the fill is made of the inner, finer feathers of the downside of the geese, swans and other swimming birds, which offers them proper insulation as they swim in cold water.
To travel lighter, you will need sleeping bags, which can be more compressible into smaller sizes so that carrying them can be easy. That is why you had better go for the down-filled sleeping bags. Usually down sleeping bag = ultralight.
Synthetic filled bags would not be good for backpacking as they would be a bit heavier. However, do not dismiss them altogether because they are cheaper and in moist conditions, there is no chance at all of letting water in. The down fill bags, however, can absorb moisture, but that is after they have been used for quite some time.
Which keeps well when exposed to conditions like sharp-edged pebbles? Definitely, the 100 percent polyester bags keep much better, but those which outer shells are made of other materials are also not too bad. As you go shopping, just remember to keep an open mind since there are so many options for you to consider.
One other thing that you ought to know about the synthetic fill sleeping bags is that they are great for camping in the rainy weather. As it was said here, these sleeping bags are completely waterproof where water beads on the surface of the sleeping bag and then it rolls off. Bear that fact in mind when you are going to buy your sleeping bag. Therefore, the best ultralight sleeping bag is one that is most suited to the weather of the place where you are going camping or hiking.
BONUS: Check out this cool guide called “Care of Down and Synthetic Sleeping Bags” from Utah State University. It will give you the understanding on how to take care of your sleeping bag, be it down or synthetic.
Design and style
Now, here is another thing that you must consider, the style of the sleeping bag that you would like to buy. To choose the best one here, you need to know just how the sleeping bag is designed to keep you warm. What happens is that the smaller the space between the sleeping bag and the body, the warmer you will keep. The larger the space, the more cold air is likely to get in and therefore you will not keep as warm.
When you go to the shop to buy a backpacking sleeping bag, look for the mummy sleeping bags. That is the best design as it envelopes your body, leaving almost no space between your body and the sleeping bag. This keeps you warm and snug. However, make sure to buy a bag that is made for a person of your frame because mummy bags can be a bit uncomfortable if they are too fitting. You need some space, don’t you?
If you share the sleeping bag with your partner, go for a rectangular sleeping bag, and make sure that it has zips on both sides so that one person can creep out of the bag without disturbing the other.
You could also go for the double sleeping bags which can be zipped together to form one large sleeping bag, and at the same time can be unzipped to form two, smaller sleeping bags. Go ahead and check our reviews of sleeping bags.
Click here to read more about types and shapes of sleeping bags.
Some people also choose quilt style sleeping bags. There is also a reason for that, but these types of bags will be covered in another post.
The weight of an ultralight sleeping bag
We have all along been talking about the best ultralight sleeping bag without touching on the weight. Just how light is this sleeping bag? Well, reviews online will show you the weight of some of the bags. One thing that you will note is that the sleeping bags made of synthetics fill are heavier, but not too heavy. Basically, for a sleeping bag for backpacking, it should be utmost 1 pound (~0.4 kg) in weight, if you are using it for summer. That should not be too bad for you to lug around with you on the trails.
The weight of the bag that you buy will depend on the season. For example, summer sleeping bags, as mentioned above are supposed to be about 1 lb (~0.4 kg) while the winter sleeping bags should be about 3.5 pounds (~1.5 kg). That will be ample to keep you warm enough and at the same time, it will not be too heavy to go hiking with.
To make the burden even lighter, make sure that you do not carry the stuffing sack. In addition, consider buying a sleeping bag that comes with the half zipper because that reduces the weight that you have to carry around. Try to find out other things that you should bear in mind to reduce the weight of the sleeping bag when you are going backpacking.
Eventually, you will find that there is no need of choosing a down filled bag if the shell is not good enough. There are a few things for you to consider when you are choosing the shell fabric. Just a few of them are:
- Must be breathable at the same time
There … that seems like quite a tall order for just one sleeping bag, but then, since you will be spending money on it, then it had better serve its purpose. That is why you should make sure that the sleeping bag meets all the listed requirements.
Is the sleeping bag made of microfiber? Most of them are. Therefore, you can buy comfortably. But make sure that the sleeping bag is made of Pertex, a material that is most recommended for the lightweight sleeping bag.
Temperature rating for an ultralight sleeping bag
This is what it all comes down to, the temperature rating. If you are a cold sleeper, that is, a person who must sleep under a heap of blankets and will still wake up cold, well, you will need to carry a sleeping bag that is rated for low temperatures. If you are a hot sleeper, a person who tosses and kicks all the bed sheets away at night, then you will most probably need a sleeping bag that is rated for use in high temperatures.
Do a study of the areas where you will be camping. Are they warm? How warm? Are they cold and if yes, how cold are they? With that in mind, you can be able to choose a good sleeping bag.
Make sure the sleeping bag is fitting
Make it too small and you will be uncomfortable or make it too big and it there will be too many cold spots. It is important that the sleeping bag be well fitting but at the same time, you should consider its breathability. That way, the air that is exhaled does not stay in the sleeping bag because it could be condensed and cause you a much discomfort. That is why it is recommended that you buy the mummy sleeping bag because it fits snugly without constricting your body too much.
The best ultralight sleeping bags do not cost much. They are much cheaper than their counterparts in the market. Thus, expect to pay a good amount for a good sleeping bag. However, set a budget and then stick within it. Just note that down fill sleeping bags are more expensive than the synthetic insulation varieties.
Other things that you should consider include the zipper guard to make sure that the zipper does not snag on the fabric. You should also make sure to buy from a well-reputed brand, which you can find on Amazon or eBay so that you can get value for money. If you can, buy all the ultralight backpacking gear from the same store and ask for a discount.
A sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear when going camping. If you choose the wrong one, chances are you will not have a memorable time camping (especially sleeping). Dedicate enough time to make a research. In order to perform a good research, first, you have to set yourself criteria you will be evaluating sleeping bags based on. Answer these questions when looking for your bag:
- Where am I going camping with the bag?
- What are the temperatures there?
- Is it going to be wet or dry there?
- How long is my trip going to take?
- How often will I use the bag throughout the year?
- When these questions are answered, it is much easier for you to pick the right sleeping bag
What do you think?
Drop a comment below to let us and other people know what you think about this article. Do you have any valuable tips about lightweight sleeping bags? Have you had a good/bad experience with some particular type or model of the sleeping bag? Let us know…