August 11, 2020

Top-Rated Buyer’s Guide: Best Down Sleeping Bags

August 11, 2020

Top-Rated Buyer’s Guide: Best Down Sleeping Bags

The best down sleeping bag is sought by backpackers, hikers, and every outdoor enthusiast out there. And that comes with a lot of good reasons!

A down sleeping bag strikes the perfect balance between thermal efficiency, heat retention, and plush-like comfort. Unless it gets wet, this sleeping bag will never disappoint! Here are some of the highly-rated down sleeping bags that you can get in the market today. 

Best Down Sleeping Bag Reviews

1. REI Co-op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag - Editor's Pick

REI Co-op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag
  • Water-resistant, 650-fill-power duck down insulation offers excellent loft and warmth and is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and bluesign® approved
  • Ripstop nylon shell has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to protect the down from moisture
  • Relaxed fit from shoulders to hips gives you room to move in your sleep, but remains thermally efficient
  • Contoured hood, oversized insulated face muffler and full-length draft tube hold in warmth
  • Dual top/bottom neck yoke fully encloses your shoulders to prevent heat loss

You can never go wrong with the REI Co-Op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag. This unit is best to use for backpacking, hiking, and other extensive outdoor pursuits. 

The sleeping bag features a water-resistant, 650-fill-power down insulation that generates high-quality warmth and loft. While you are inside the bag, you will experience a mattress-like comfort. It is cozy there, and you will not feel any cold spots.

The down insulation has a Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification, which guarantees that the fill used on its insulation came from verified and trusted farms. 

On its exterior, the REI Co-op Down Time 0 Down Sleeping Bag features a rugged, ripstop nylon shell. It is coated with durable water repellent (DWR) to maximize its defense against the elements. It effectively protects the down from being drenched by water. 

This unisex sleeping bag features a relaxed fit on its shoulder and hips. They are great for giving you enough moving space without experiencing uneven distribution of heat. 

Pros:

  • Highly compressible construction
  • Temperature rating of -17 degrees Celsus
  • Includes a nylon stuff bag and mesh storage bag
  • Interior is not too stiff or tight
  • Durable shell protects the down fill from getting wet

Cons:

  • Side zipper tends to stick a little

2. Kelty Galactic Down Sleeping Bag - Runner-Up

The Kelty Galactic Down Sleeping Bag is an option worth considering. It is tailored for backpacking, hiking, and any other application that requires the service of reliable insulation. 

The down insulation used on this sleeping bag is far different from other conventional down fills. The proprietary Drawdown insulation of the Kelty provides all the necessary benefits that you can get from standard down, but with extra defense against water and moisture. 

Moreover, the down is indeed lofty. It is non-allergen and doesn't have any harmful treatments that could irritate its users. 

This unit is somewhat wider than most mummy sleeping bags out there. Therefore, it is an excellent option for claustrophobic individuals or for those that need extra space for their bodies to move around. 

Needless to say, this sleeping bag is lightweight. It has a standard weight of around three pounds or less, which makes it a superb choice for overnight backpacking and camping. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to compress
  • Features a 600-fill-power down for enhanced insulation
  • Outside shell is made from rugged and water-resistant polyester
  • Rectangular cut for optimal space provision
  • Zipper doesn't snag

Cons:

  • Temperature rating is not that low

3. Naturehike Ultralight Down Sleeping Bag - Budget-Friendly Pick

When it comes to a lightweight and inexpensive down sleeping bag, this unit from the Naturehike should be an excellent option. This sleeping bag's shell is crafted from 15-denier nylon, which has a minimal weight and decent durability at the same time. 

It also has an 800-fill-power goose down that provides sufficient insulation during cold conditions. Such a fill power is already high, which signifies its usability and comfort at low temperatures.

The weight of this sleeping bag is just 1.28 pounds. The architecture of this cocoon has been streamlined and minimized to suit various lightweight outdoor adventures. Whether you want to do an overnight hike or backpacking, the compressibility and lightness of the Naturehike are definitely useful.

Of course, you can rely on the structural rigidity of this sleeping bag. It is not susceptible to wearing and tearing, even if you use it frequently. Meanwhile, the PU300mm coating of the fabric protects the insulation from getting wet. 

Pros:

  • Arguably one of the lightest down sleeping bags out there
  • Waterproof exterior shell
  • Offers a comfortable sleeping space
  • Exceptional insulation quality
  • Compatible with double-bag setup

Cons:

  • It is not wide enough for large-built adults

4. Marmot Phase 20 Sleeping Bag - Premium Pick

Marmot Phase 20 Sleeping Bag
  • Certified 850-fill-power down with Down Defender offers ample warmth while fending off moisture
  • Smooth, curved baffles reduce down shifting and cold spots; multi-baffle hood limits heat loss
  • Anatomic, wraparound footbox increases insulation and room for your feet, creating extra warmth and comfort
  • Full-length, locking YKK® 2-way zipper with antisnag slider is backed by a snagless insulated draft tube
  • Internal stash pocket

The Marmot Phase 20 Sleeping Bag is an outstanding unit for backpacking trips in cold and frosty terrains. It has an ultralight-construction and water-resistant down to ensure that you will never get chilly out there. 

The fill-power rating of this sleeping bag is off the charts already. Specifically, it comes with a certified 850-fill-power down that keeps a moderate body temperature. Moreover, it has the innovative Down Defender technology that prevents moisture from ruining the insulation. 

It is also noticeable that the baffles of this tent are smooth and curved. This unique design enables the effective reduction of cold spots and shifting. The hood also has multiple baffles, which inhibits heat loss. 

The smart anatomic foot box of Phase 20 excels when it comes to thermal regulation. It insulates your feet while providing enough room so that your get can move around and feel comfortable. 

Furthermore, the full-length, two-way zipper of this sleeping bag has an anti-snag slider. It helps in preventing the fabric from getting damaged while ensuring optimal accessibility. 

Pros:

  • Majestic heat retention and thermal efficiency
  • All cold-spot prone areas are heavily insulated
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Foot box is spacious and provides enough room for movement
  • Features a high-quality, water-resistant down

Cons:

  • A little pricey

5. Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Degree Hydrophobic Down Sleeping Bag

It would be best if you also consider the Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 Down Sleeping Bag. This unit features enhanced durability and warmth. Moreover, both the shell and down have impressive water and moisture resistance. 

The hydrophobic 650-fill-power duck down of this sleeping bag is integrated with the proprietary ClusterLoft base. The latter does not only provide additional moisture resistance but also enhances the durability and compression of the sleeping bag.

It is also interesting to note that the down feathers of this sleeping bag have air clusters. These clusters create a "loft" that stops the heat from escaping. Of course, that means adequate insulation and comfort while you are sleeping. 

Moreover, the mummy construction of the Hyke & Byke Quandary further optimizes the comfort and insulation that users can feel from it. You wouldn't have to worry about cold spots and heat loss.

Of course, this tent is designed to be light and easy to pack. You can travel farther with this bag because of these given specifications. 

Pros:

  • Outer shell is crafted from a water-repellent, ripstop nylon
  • Extremely durable; built to last long
  • Foolproof insulation; eradicates cold spots
  • Lightweight and backpacking-worthy design
  • Comes with stuff sack and storage bag

Cons:

  • Zipper quality is not that great

The Best Down Sleeping Bag: Understanding The Different Insulations 

I've covered several types of sleeping bags here and their respective niches. I was able to discuss the essential fundamentals that could help you pick the right sleeping bag that can suit your needs. 

This time, our focus will be anchored on the aspect of insulation. Specifically, there's a need for you to understand how a down insulation works and how it differs from its synthetic counterpart. 

It is on this part where you should be able to identify if you are going to opt for a down fill or synthetic for your sleeping bag. Your decision will matter in the next outdoor pursuits you are going to partake. 

The Anatomy Of Insulation For Sleeping Bags

Right now, most of you here have an idea as to the overall role of insulation. The basic premise is that it keeps you warm while the external temperature is dropping low. 

But let's do some basic science here.

You see, the "appropriate" function of an insulator is to ensure that the transfer of heat away from your body will be slowed down. Specifically, insulation traps the heat through a layer of air that surrounds you. Air is not a good conductor of heat; hence, it is always the ideal medium for trapping heat. 

If the insulation is lofty, its warmth-to-weight ratio is excellent. The loftier it gets, the higher the warmth-to-weight ratio becomes. 

Of course, both down and synthetic insulation can generate an impressive heat-trapping mechanism in the air. Both of them have their respective advantages and disadvantages. 

Down Fill Insulation

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Compressible

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Ethical concerns

The term "down" refers to the plumage that is present on the skin of ducks and geese. They usually lay under the feathers of these creatures.

Interestingly, many consider down fill as one of the best organic insulators. Only a few can match it, and that is seemingly the case. 

A single plume of a down contains highly fine fibers that are stemming from its center. You can also spot small filaments that are forming like branches on each of the fibers. 

The natural structure of the plume enables it to manufacture air pockets that are capable of trapping heat. Essentially, it can keep you warm all the time. 

Moreover, sleeping bag manufacturers are using the "fill power" as a gauge of assessing the quality of down insulation. The better the quality of down, the bigger the space that it can cover. For instance, an 800-fill-power is capable of covering 800 cubic inches per ounce of volume. 

If you are looking for a sleeping bag that can provide relentless and consistent warmth, get a unit that has a high fill-power. It is a guarantee that you will never shiver while you are outside. But the trade-off here is the price. The higher the loft, the more expensive a sleeping bag can get. 

  • Durability - When it comes to durability, down fill is quite difficult to beat. It has resilient physiology. You can stuff and re-stuff it without losing its insulating capabilities and fluffiness. 

An expensive, high-quality down can last in service for at least ten years. If you are a serious backpacker or hiker, you will see the best down sleeping bags as a sound investment. 

  • Compressibility - One of the reasons why a down sleeping bag is excellent for backpacking is due to its compressibility. It is on this aspect that it can outclass its synthetic counterparts. Even those units with a low-temperature rating of zero degrees are still capable of getting inside the bottom part of your backpack.
  • Water-resistance - On the flip side, the down is quite weak when exposed to water. You don't want to be drenched in water or moisture, as it will get messy. Of course, when that happens, its insulating capabilities will disappear. 

Fortunately, there have been developments in nanotechnology that have enabled hydrophobic coatings to be bound to the filaments. As a result, the down is capable of repelling water. Surely enough, this doesn't mean that a "dry down" is waterproof, but they are already sufficient enough to protect the down from losing its loft. 

If you want to keep your sleeping bag dry, get a waterproof stuff sack. 

  • Ethical issues - We can't deny that the down is a product derived from animals. Of course, there are a lot of individuals that are against the use of these animal products. That's why the down is a red flag for them. 

There have been issues in the past where geese and ducks are forced fed to produce foie gras. Moreover, reports of inhumane methods of plucking are also acknowledged. Because of these worrisome concerns, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) was created.

The RDS is a certification that testifies that a down is processed ethically. With this system, manufacturers are required to get their down only from verifiable and traceable farms. 

Synthetic Insulation

Pros:

  • Retains insulation even when wet 
  • Dries quickly 
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Doesn't excel incompressibility
  • Low weight-to-warmth ratio

Many sleeping bags out there veered from the use of down as insulation. There are various reasons for this, which may include the cost in the manufacturing and the ethical concerns that surround down fills. 

Synthetic fill is guaranteed from being organic. That's something I can testify to. Many sleeping bags manufacturers have their own designs for this particular insulation. Hence, most of the synthetic fills out there have proprietary anatomies already. 

However, there are two general designs these manufacturers follow: the long continuous filaments and the short-staple fibers

A short-staple fiber somehow replicates the plume structure of its down counterpart. It can somehow compress, but it is not durable. This fiber is susceptible to breaking when you stuff and re-stuff it continuously.

Meanwhile, long continuous filaments feature long strands of filaments being weaved together. The resulting output is highly durable and lofty insulation. But unlike the staple fiber, the continuous filament is not compressible. 

Conclusion

When it comes to insulation, it seems that high-quality downs can really supersede their synthetic counterparts. For many hikers and backpackers out there, a sleeping bag with a high fill-power down is their only choice. You can't negotiate them, and that's completely understandable, considering its features.

You can experience the qualities of a down fill by acquiring the best down sleeping bags. Being able to be wrapped on them will certainly give you comfortable levels of warmth and coziness. 

I hope you learned something from this guide. For questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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