Sleeping bags are still the most popular nighttime insulation option with backpackers because they’re warmer in cold, damp, or drafty weather, especially below freezing. While mummy sleeping bag designs still prevail, there’s a lot more variety in the types of sleeping bags that have become available in the past five years, including women’s specific sleeping bags. Is it worth buying a women’s specific bag sleeping bag? You betcha, but they’re not as widely available as sleeping bags for men.
Here are our top 10 sleeping bag picks made especially for women.
1. REI Magma 30 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
The Magma 15 is insulated with 850+ fill power, water-resistant, goose down with a 15 denier Pertex lining to provide a super soft feel. Variable baffling keeps the down from shifting while reducing weight. The Magma 15 is available in 66″ and 72″ lengths weighing 2 lb 4 oz and 2 lb 6 oz.
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2. Sea to Summit Attitude At1 25 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
The Attitude 25 is insulated with 750 fill power Ultra-Dry duck down. It weighs 2 lbs 6.1 oz and is available in 5′ 7″ and 6′ lengths.
3. NEMO Riff 30 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
Weighing 2 lbs 3 oz, the Riff 30 is available in two lengths, 5′ 6″ and 6′. It is insulated with 800+ fill power hydrophobic down.
4. NEMO Disco 15 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
Weighing 2 lbs 15 oz, the Disco 15 is available in two lengths, 5′ 6″ and 6′. It is insulated with 650 fill power hydrophobic down.
5. Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
Available in two lengths: 5′ 3″ and 5′ 9″, the Egret UL 20 is insulated with 950+ fill power goose down and weighs just 1 lb 9.6 oz.
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6. Marmot Phase 20 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
The Phase 20 is insulated with 850+ fill power goose down that’s been treated with a water-repellant coating. Weighing 1 lb 13 oz, the Phase 20 is ideal for women who want to slash pack weight without compromising on sleeping comfort.
7. Marmot Xenon 15 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
The Xenon 15 is insulated with 800 fill power, water-resistant goose down. It weighs 2 lbs 6 oz and comes in a 5′ 6″ length.
8. Marmot Angel Fire 25 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
Weighing 2 lbs 7.5 oz, the Angel Fire 25 is insulated with 650 fill power Dri Defender down and available in 5′ 6″ and 5’10” lengths.
9. Kelty Galactic 30 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
Weighing 2 lbs 9 oz, the Galactic 30 is insulated with 550 fill power DriDown and available in 5′ 8″. We like this bag because it is such a great value and surprisingly warm and packable.
10. Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 20 – Women’s
Weighing 2 lbs 7 oz, the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 20 is insulated with 700 fill power water-resistant down and available in a 5′ 8″ length.
How to Choose Women’s Sleeping Bags
Here is a list of the most important factor to consider when purchasing a sleeping bag for backpacking, so it fits your needs and preferences.
What to Look for in a Sleeping Bag
When choosing a sleeping bag for backpacking, you want one that’s warm, lightweight, and highly compressible since you’re going to have to haul it in a backpack. Sleeping bags insulated with 800, 850, 900, and 950 goose down or duck down are the best in terms of warmth by weight, but you’ll pay a premium at the top end. Fit is also important, both width and length, especially if you’re a short woman or have a smaller build. If a bag is too large, it will feel colder than one that fits closely, since your body needs to work harder to fill the extra space with hot air.
Female-Specific Sleeping Bag Needs
Women require more insulation than men because they have less body mass to generate body heat. Add another 10 degrees if you’re female and decide to buy a “unisex” sleeping bag instead of a women’s specific bag. Women also tend to have colder extremities, like feet, hands, and heads and require more insulation in those areas. They also have narrower shoulders and are predominantly shorter, requiring sleeping bags that are cut differently than their male counterparts.
How to Understand Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
The introduction of standardized sleeping bag temperature ratings by the outdoor industry substantially improved their reliability. Bags tested with the European Norm (EN) 13537 get two ratings: a Comfort rating and Lower limit rating. The Comfort rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average woman (or “cold sleeper”) comfortable, and the Lower Limit rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep an average man (or “warm sleeper”) comfortable. The difference in the Comfort and Lower Limit ratings is usually about 10 degrees since women feel colder than men when sleeping. If you’re a woman and decide to buy a men’s or unisex bag, get one that’s 10 degrees warmer than you need so you’re comfortable at night.
Female Sleeping Bag Sizing
The fit of a sleeping bag is usually measured in terms of length and girth. Girth measures the maximum internal circumference of the bag, usually at the shoulders, hips, and feet. Measure yourself at these points and compare them to the girth to see if the bag will fit tightly or loosely. People with bigger shoulders or side sleepers tend to feel more comfortable in bags with higher shoulder girths, while women typically need a shorter length bag and a smaller shoulder girth because they have narrower shoulders than men. It’s important to get a bag that minimizes the amount of unoccupied interior space relative to your measurements, so your body has less air to heat up to stay warm.
Insulation and Compressibility
High-quality goose and duck down with fill powers of 800, 850, 900, and 950 provide excellent insulation by weight and are widely preferred by backpackers and base campers because they’re so lightweight. Some manufacturers only offer down that’s been treated with a water-repellent coating, while others prefer to offer it unadulterated. Down is naturally water-resistant so the jury is still out on whether “treated” down makes a difference in the long-term since it’s easy to keep your sleeping bag dry with a little care.
Sleeping Bag Weight
While gear weight is important, be careful not to sacrifice your comfort by selecting a sleeping bag that won’t keep you warm or dry in the conditions you need it to. When choosing between bags with different outer shell fabrics, consider their breathability, so they will vent perspiration that can degrade your insulation, and whether they have a DWR coating, which can be important if the foot of your quilt gets wet regularly.
Sleeping Bag Features
Most sleeping bags are pretty similar when it comes right down to it, but there are some features that set premium sleeping bags apart from non-premium bags. These include draft collars, continuous baffles, very high fill-power goose down, non-snagging zippers, draft tubes positioned behind zippers to seal out the cold, ventable foot boxes, and full-length zippers that help extend the range of a bag in warmer weather.
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