Best Three-Season Sleeping Bags 2020 | Top 12 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Three-Season Sleeping Bags 2020 | Top 12

Our pick of the best sleeping bags for camping, hiking and backpacking, with a range of cosy and durable options for warm or cold weather

The best three-season sleeping bags are essential bits of kit for spring, summer and autumn nights in the great outdoors. Choosing the right bag will help guarantee that you stay warm while camping. Plus, unzipping your tent to enjoy an epic view from the warmth of a cosy sleeping bag is one of life’s great pleasures.

But buying one can be a bewildering task. To help you pick the right bag, think about when and how you’ll use it. Will you be backpacking or car camping? And do you need a bag for warm summer nights, or cooler spring and autumn seasons? Also consider how your sleeping bag works with your pack, tent and sleeping mat. This guide will help you find the best three-season sleeping bag for your needs, with versatile options for different weather conditions.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings Explained

To compare the warmth of different bags, look at their temperature ratings. Many sleeping bag brands use a standard rating. This is usually given as three figures: a comfort, limit and extreme temperature rating. The comfort rating is defined as the temperature at which a ‘standard female’ can sleep comfortably. The limit is the temperature at which a ‘standard male’ will be able to sleep without waking. Extreme is the temperature at which a ‘standard female’ can remain for six hours without risk of hypothermia. It’s not a perfect system, as we all differ in shape, size and how much we feel the cold. The figure you need to consider most is the limit rating. Most of the bags featured here have a limit rating of around -5ºC.

Down Or Synthetic Sleeping Bags?

Weight is another critical factor. The ideal three-season sleeping bag will weigh around a kilo. Weight is largely dictated by the materials used, especially the insulation. This will be either goose or duck down, or a synthetic fill. For its weight, down is the warmest, lightest and most packable option. Its main disadvantage is that if it gets wet, it loses its insulating properties. Synthetic sleeping bags are heavier and bulkier but also cheaper, and they will still insulate when wet. So if you’re on a tight budget or go camping in damp conditions, a synthetic bag is a good choice.

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The performance gap between down and synthetic insulation is narrowing, however. Modern down is sometimes treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) that means it still insulates even when wet, while innovations in synthetic insulation are getting closer to mimicking the properties of down, making them lighter and warmer.

Down is comprised of the fine feathers of geese or ducks. It is a natural product that can have ethical concerns, though all the sleeping bags featured here use only responsibly sourced down.  Down quality is indicated by fill power (FP). The higher the number, the better quality the down. So a sleeping bag filled with 600FP down will require more down fill to generate the same warmth as a higher quality 800FP bag. That means the 800FP bag will be lighter and more packable – but also more expensive.

The most common sleeping bag for backpacking is a ‘mummy’-style bag. These are designed with a close-fitting hood and footbox to maximise warmth. Your bag should feel snug without being restrictive. Many sleeping bags come in different lengths for taller and shorter campers. Others are cut to fit typical body shapes. There are also dedicated men’s and women’s versions. When it comes to features, look for a full-length zip as well as baffle construction. This means the sleeping bag is filled in sections, which stops the insulation migrating inside the bag and causing ‘cold spots’.

The Best Three-Season Sleeping Bags

The sleeping bags in this round-up are primarily intended for three-season use; that is, for hiking, backpacking and camping in spring, summer and autumn. They range from lightweight down bags – ideal for fastpacking – to bulkier, synthetic options that are better suited to car camping.

  • Marmot Hydrogen 30 – Best Three-Season Sleeping Bag
  • Vaude Rotstein 450
  • Rab Alpine Pro 600
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
  • Rab Neutrino Pro 400
  • Mountain Equipment Firelite
  • Mammut Kompakt MTI
  • Alpkit PipeDream 400
  • Vaude Säntis 800
  • Therm-A-Rest Questar
  • Montane Minimus
  • Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5
  • OMM Mountain Raid Sleep System

 

BEST BUY: Marmot Hydrogen 30

 

Price: £300
Weight: 665g
marmot.com

Offering a practical balance between weight and comfort, the Marmot Hydrogen is an 800 fill power down three-season sleeping bag that is very lightweight, making it ideal for backpacking trips. The inner lining is soft and breathable but has a DWR (durable water-repellent) treatment, ensuring that moisture won’t get into the down. And even if the bag does get wet, Marmot has used its ‘Down Defender’ hydrophobic treatment for better performance in wet conditions.

The anti-snag zip works brilliantly well and is backed with an inner baffle to eliminate potential cold spots. There’s also another, shorter, zip on the right-hand side for extra ventilation. We also liked the anatomically-shaped foot box and the hood design, which has just one easy-to-pull toggle that draws in around the face. For us, it’s one of the best three-season sleeping bags around.

Full Specifications

Face fabric: Pertex 20d 100% nylon / lining: 30d 100% nylon DWR / insulation: 800+ fill power goose down / comfort rating -1ºC / limit rating -4.6ºC / extreme rating -21.9ºC / pack size: 30 x 15cm.

 

Vaude Rotstein 450

Price: £350
Weight: 950g
vaude.com

This lightweight yet roomy three-season sleeping bag combines plenty of well-thought out features with impressive eco credentials. The green colour matches Vaude’s green ethos, as this sleeping bag is made from sustainable materials, with no nasty PFCs and only responsibly-sourced down. That ought to help you sleep with a clear conscience.

It’s a fairly standard mummy shape, but is long enough to suit campers over 6ft, with a roomy footbox, contoured hood and full-length side zip. The bag is filled with 450g of 700FP duck down, which gives it a temperature rating of -7°C (limit), making it ideally suited for spring, summer or autumn use. It has an impressively small pack size and tips the scales at under 1kg.

Check out our full Vaude Rotstein 450 DWN review

Full Specifications

Face fabric: 20d 100% polyamide / lining: 20d 100% polyamide / insulation: 700 fill power duck down / comfort rating -1ºC / limit rating -7ºC / extreme rating -25ºC / pack size: 35 x 20cm.

 

Rab Alpine Pro 600

Price: £295
Weight: 1173g
rab.equipment

A lightweight but weatherproof three-season sleeping bag that is actually warm enough for year-round use, the Rab Alpine Pro 600 is a real workhorse and a versatile option for mixed weather conditions. It pairs a Pertex Quantum Pro face fabric with DWR-treated 650FP duck down fill, giving it excellent all-round resistance to damp and moisture. The snug-fitting mummy style boosts warmth, as does the trapezoidal baffle construction. It’s a supremely well-made sleeping bag that promises to keep you cosy whether huddled on an alpine bivvy or backpacking a long-distance trail anywhere in the UK.

Check out our full Rab Alpine Pro 600 review

Full Specifications

Face fabric: Pertex Quantum Pro 20d 100% nylon / lining: 20d 100% nylon / insulation: 650 fill power duck down / comfort rating -3ºC / limit rating -10ºC / extreme rating -29ºC / pack size: 31 x 22cm.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

Price: £399
Weight: 751g
mountainhardwear.com

With an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio and impressively packability, this premium down sleeping bag is a great option for gram-counting ultralight backpackers. The lightweight rip-stop nylon shell is filled with 900FP water-repellent goose down, and the bag is cut in a performance mummy shape, with a baffled hood to maximise warmth. It ought to keep you toasty down to temperatures just above freezing. We also liked the well-designed stuff sack, which is fitted with compression straps to help you cinch the pack size right down, so it fits easily in a rucksack.

Check out our full Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 40F review

Full Specifications

Face fabric: 10d 100% ripstop nylon / lining: 10d 100% ripstop nylon / insulation: 900 fill power goose down / comfort rating 8ºC / limit rating 4ºC / extreme rating -10ºC / pack size: 13 x 25cm.

 

Rab Neutrino Pro 400

Price: £345
Weight: 830g
rab.equipment

Rab is a company with a great heritage in sleeping bags, and the Rab Neutrino Pro 400 is a well-proven down three-season sleeping bag. It offers a good balance between warmth and weight. The overall design and construction is of extremely high quality. The fill, meanwhile, is comprised of 800FP responsibly-sourced goose down, with a Nikwax water-repellent coating. Like other Rab bags, it uses a Pertex Quantum Pro face fabric to provide durability, breathability and added water resistance. The mummy style cut incorporates a well-designed foot box and a snug hood. On test we did find the hood drawcords a little confusing to operate. Overall, however, this is a warm and cosy sleeping bag for varied conditions throughout the UK and beyond.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 20d Pertex Quantum Pro 100% nylon / lining: 20d 100% ripstop nylon / insulation: 800 fill power goose down / comfort rating -1ºC / limit rating -7ºC / extreme rating -25ºC / pack size: 18 x 27cm.

Mountain Equipment Firelite

Price: £420
Weight: 770g
mountain-equipment.co.uk

The Firelite is an ultralight down sleeping bag designed for backpacking and alpinism. It uses high-quality, responsible-sourced 800FP goose down, which means it offers excellent warmth for weight while remaining very compressible. The bag’s comfort rating is 0ºC with a limit rating of -6ºC, but it is a warm bag, and Mountain Equipment’s own ‘Good Night’s Sleep’ rating puts it at -9ºC, which we’d say is accurate. The snug ‘Alpine Fit’ is space-efficient, minimising cold spots, while the construction utilises a ten denier Plasma face fabric that is lightweight and very breathable. The lining is made of the same material and feels very soft against the skin. The zip comes high up around the face, and a single drawcord pulls in around the head effortlessly.

Once you’re in, you feel cocooned against the world – in part because of the innovative elasticated baffles that eliminate dead space. Clever stuff. There’s no denying that the price is high, but it is commensurate with the quality. This is an excellent three-season sleeping bag from one of the best manufacturers in the business.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 10d plasma 100% nylon / lining: 10d plasma 100% nylon / insulation: 800 fill power goose down / comfort rating 0ºC / limit rating -6ºC / extreme rating -24ºC / pack size: 21 x 25cm.

 

Mammut Kompakt MTI

Price: £169
Weight: 1500g
mammut.com

This is a high-quality bag from Mammut, a premium brand that offers great value. It uses synthetic polyester insulation, so is heavier than the down bags in this test, but the overall weight is reasonable for a three-season sleeping bag with a lower limit of -7ºC. The synthetic fill also means that the bag will stay warm even when wet. The bag itself feels very cosy thanks to the soft fabrics and body-hugging insulation. A wider foot box allows you to spread your feet a little.

One minor niggle is the hood, which doesn’t offer as good a fit as some, though it’s worth noting that the women’s version has a larger hood, as well as a fleece-lined foot box. But we did like the thick baffle behind the almost full-length zip, which keeps out draughts effectively. There’s also a wide version for those who prefer extra space and comfort. If you spend more time on campsites rather than in the hills, and you won’t be hiking for days with full kit, this bag is probably the best synthetic option around, especially at this price. It would be excellent for bikepacking and bivvying in the UK too, thanks to its impressive weather-resistance and relatively small pack size.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 100% polyamide / lining: 100% polyester / insulation: Ajungilak MTI synthetic polyester fill / comfort rating -1ºC / limit rating -7ºC / extreme rating -25ºC / pack size: 25 x 30cm.

Alpkit PipeDream 400

Price: £229
Weight: 865g
alpkit.com

Alpkit has built its reputation on making well-priced kit for camping, bikepacking and pretty much every other outdoor activity you can think of. The PipeDream 400 is a 750FP down sleeping bag that weighs just 865g and costs only £229 – an impressive price for a bag of this quality. The down fill is ethically-sourced and has been treated with Nikwax to repel water, so it will keep you warm even when wet. This weather-resistance is boosted by a DWR-coated face fabric. There’s a full-length zip baffle and a collar baffle for added warmth too.

The fit is definitely on the roomier side, especially around the shoulders, neck and head. The comfort limit is rated at -4.2ºC, but Alpkit has its own standard and reckons that -6ºC is ‘the tipping point between a comfortable and restless night’s sleep’. That feels about right to us. Though it’s not quite as tailored as some of the more expensive bags, overall this is a very good bag for a very good price and should meet the needs of most backpackers.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 20d 100% polyester / lining: 20d 100% polyester / insulation: 750FP goose down / comfort rating -4.2ºC / limit rating -10.8ºC / extreme rating -29.5ºC / pack size: 14 x 19cm.

 

Vaude Säntis 800

Price: £250
Weight: 1200g
vaude.com

There’s a lot to like about this sleeping bag, which has a couple of quirky but useful features. It uses a synthetic fill, with a comfort rating of 1ºC and a limit rating of -4ºC. That’s pretty good considering it only weighs 1.2kg. The Vaude Säntis is designed for three season use and would come into its own in wet weather. That’s due to its synthetic fill and Pertex Quantum water-repellent face fabric. The material has a slight stretch to it too, especially around the knees. This means it hugs the body without feeling too snug.

There are twin drawcords around the shoulder baffle and hood, although they’re a little fiddly. You also get an inner zipped security pocket and an anatomically shaped foot box. The bag itself is mummy-shaped, with a small zip opening along the right hand side at shoulder height. This allows you to pop your arm through to easily sit up in your bag. You could also read, play cards and even thread a rope through if bivouacked while climbing. It’s a nice little touch that aids overall comfort. Overall, this is a great synthetic option: it is reasonably light, packs down small and is well designed. Like many Vaude products, it utilises eco-friendly manufacturing processes too.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 100% polyamide / lining: 100% polyamide / insulation: synthetic polyester fill / comfort rating 1ºC / limit rating -4ºC / extreme rating -21ºC / pack size: 20 x 35cm.

Therm-A-Rest Questar

Price: £240
Weight: 1100g
thermarest.com

Though best known for their sleeping mats, Therm-A-Rest also make an impressive range of sleeping bags, from ultralight options to comfortable base camp bags. The Questar is one of the brand’s mid-range three-season sleeping bags, striking a good balance betweeen price and weight. It’s a bit heavier than the other down bags here, because it uses 650FP insulation, meaning you need more down to reach its -6ºC limit rating compared to an 800+ fill power bag. Cleverly, however, the designers have placed more down on top and less underneath, where it would be compressed by bodyweight anyway. Removable ‘SynergyLink Connectors’ can attach the bag to your sleeping mat, ensuring that you – and the bag – stay in place, so the system works as it should. There are also loops to attach an additional down quilt, making this a versatile sleep system for winter use. The Questar also comes in three different lengths, though all seem to be fairly roomy.

Full specifications

Face fabric: 20d 100% ripstop polyester / lining: 20d 100% polyester taffeta / insulation: 650FP goose down / comfort rating 0ºC / limit rating -6ºC / extreme rating -24ºC / pack size: 23 x 36cm.

 

Montane Minimus

Price: £330
Weight: 1005g
montane.co.uk

The Montane Minimus has a comfort rating of 3ºC and a limit rating of -2ºC. It is filled with 800FP water-resistant down. Those are decent specs and it’s pretty lightweight too. The stand-out feature, however, is the waterproof Pertex Shield+. It has fully taped seams, a water-resistant YKK AquaGuard zip and a soft, breathable and fast drying lining. This means the Minimus is ideally suited to exposed camps and bivvys.

It’s loaded with other smart little details too. This includes non-slip silicone patches on the underside of the bag, so you don’t slip off your sleeping mat. There is an internal mesh stretch water bottle pocket, an internal security pocket and colour-coded drawcords. The hood fits superbly and was undoubtedly the best in test. Basically, if there’s a good chance that you’ll be camped out in the rain, this is the best three-season sleeping bag to buy.

Full specifications

Face fabric: Pertex Shield+ / lining: PEAQ down fabric / insulation: 800FP goose down / comfort rating 3ºC / limit rating -2ºC / extreme rating -18ºC / pack size: 22 x 30cm.

Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5

Price: £100
Weight: 1890g
jack-wolfskin.co.uk

This synthetic sleeping bag will keep you warm down to around -5ºC, and offers great value for £100. It is the heaviest bag on test here, however, and is fairly bulky. For us, this puts it firmly in car or base camping territory – but for that sort of use, it’s a good option. Jack Wolfskin’s ‘Smoozip’ design eliminates the common problem of snagged zips. It utilises a unique ‘S-shaped’ zip that slides easily – though we did find that when drawing the zip up from the inside, it did snag a bit on the baffle.

The insulation is the brand’s own polyester Microguard, and this bag features extra fill around the torso and foot area to boost warmth. The lining and outer is made of a heavier 50d fabric, but is still soft to the touch. A nice detail is a soft fleece lining around the head, neck, arms and feet area; something missing from lighter bags. The fit is snug and cosy, with an easy-to-use drawcord and a close-fitting hood. As a cosy three-season sleeping bag for car camping, the Jack Wolfskin Ecosphere Re Smoozip is an excellent choice, especially for the price.

Full specifications

Face fabric: SoftTouch 50d / lining: SoftTouch 50d and Nanuk 150 fleece / insulation: microguard synthetic fill / comfort rating 1ºC / limit rating -5ºC / extreme rating -22ºC / pack size: 25 x 44cm.

 

OMM Mountain Raid Sleep System

Price: Jacket £190, Pants £150, Foot Pod £45 (Total: £385)
Weight: Jacket 390g, Pants 275g, Foot Pod 80g (Total: 745g)
theomm.com

OMM don’t make outdoor gear like anyone else. That’s because much of the kit the brand produces is for specialist disciplines like mountain marathons and adventure racing, where the emphasis is on going fast and light. That’s also the ethos behind the Mountain Raid sleep system, which consists of an insulated jacket, trousers and a foot pod that combine together to create a ‘sleep suit’, eliminating the need to carry a sleeping bag.

Each piece uses PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation, and though the sleep suit doesn’t offer the same level of warmth as a full three-season sleeping bag, for short overnight trips it is perfect. The jacket and the trousers are excellent standalone products, while the foot pod packs down to a size smaller than a tennis ball. It’s a versatile and innovative system, and we liked it a lot.

Full specifications

Face fabric: Point Zero fabric / insulation: PrimaLoft Gold Eco synthetic fill (60gsm top, 40gsm bottom)

Read our full OMM Mountain Raid Sleep Suit review.

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