A 15- or 20-degree sleeping bag offers the greatest versatility for the widest range of conditions. It's the temperature range I use on the majority of my excursions—which is why I would consider spending a little extra money to get the lightest, most compact version I could find.
Before we get to the bags, a couple of things:
First: The lightest weight, most compact bags in this category all use goose down for insulation, which I consider vastly superior in almost all ways to synthetic. (I consider synthetic-fill bags only if I am traveling for prolonged periods in potentially wet conditions, since synthetic bags perform much better when wet or damp.)
Second: A good benchmark ultralight weight for a 15-degree bag is 2 pounds, give or take a few ounces. All of the featured bags below fall in this category. All of the weights and prices listed below are for a men's regular length bag, which fits up to 6'0". (Add 2-4 ounces for a long version, which fits to 6'6".)
Third: Ultralight down bags use a high (usually 850) fill power down. (The number represents the amount of space in cubic inches that an ounce of goose down takes up. The higher the number, the better the insulation for the weight.) High fill-power down is expensive. Many high-quality 15-degree down bags feature less expensive 600-650 fill, but usually weigh more than 2 pounds because of it. Also included below is the amount of goose down that has been stuffed into the bag (the "fill weight"), which can provide another point of comparison between bags.
Fourth: Most sleeping bags these days are rated according to the European Norm (EN) system, which provides a comfort range rather than specific temperature rating. (Learn more about this in my post: Sleeping Bag Warmth Update: European Norm rating system becoming industry standard.) All the bags below have a peak comfort range in the 15- to 20-degree range.
Here are some of my drool-list favorites:
This is what I bought my wife for her birthday. Phenomenal bag. Unlike many others in this category, features a full-length zipper. Fill weight: 19.5 ounces. Total weight: 2 pounds, 2 ounces. $389.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom +15
Excellent bag features a much more contoured, closer-fitting hood, a roomy vertical toebox, and ultralight shell material. 3/4 zipper. Fill weight: 20 ounces. Total weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces. $400.
Sierra Designs Vapor +15
A new entry from Sierra Designs that is being touted as the lightest 15-degree bag currently available. Worth a look. Short zipper. Fill weight: 18 ounces. Total weight: 1 pound, 14 ounces. $419.
Western Mountaineering Ultralite
The Made in the USA option—and a damn good one. An ultra-simple, yet elegantly designed 20-degree bag with a full-length zipper. Fill weight: 16 ounces. Total weight: 1 pound, 13 ounces. $385.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.
Labels: Sleeping Bags, Ultralight