Mom Goes Camping

Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags on a Budget

best lightweight budget sleeping bags

There are plenty of cheap, good-quality sleeping bags you can buy.  But, if you are looking for a lightweight sleeping bag on a budget for backpacking, you will find your options a lot more limited.

Some of the best ultralight sleeping bags (like the Marmot Phase 30 or Western Mountaineering Summerite) cost around $300 to $400+.  In many cases, it makes sense to pay more for a really good sleeping bag – especially if you plan on backpacking frequently – and instead cut costs with other gear that doesn’t matter as much towards your weight.  For example, my cook set is insanely lightweight but only cost about $20.

If you aren’t at a point where you’re ready to commit to an expensive ultralight sleeping bag, I’ve found the best budget options.

All the lightweight budget sleeping bags listed here:

  • Cost less than $150: At the time of writing anyway.  You might be able to find them on sale.
  • Are rated to 32F or below: It’s easy to find a summer ultralight sleeping bag, but you won’t be able to get much use out of it, especially at any sort of elevation where it gets cold at night (even in summertime).  Bear in mind that sleeping bags list their lower limit rating.  A bag with a 34F rating likely has a comfort rating of around 45F.
  • Weigh 2.5lbs or less: I tried to limit this to budget sleeping bags under 2lbs, but it’s nearly impossible to find one that lightweight and which still provides a good deal of warmth.  You’ve got to be realistic about how lightweight you can get a sleeping bag on a budget.

 

Tip: You can get more use out of your current sleeping bag by getting a sleeping bag liner.  The liner helps keep it clean and can add up to 15F to the bag’s rating.  If you are on a budget, this is a good sleeping bag liner. Or read these tips for sleeping warmer in your sleeping bag.

Tough Outdoors Sleeping Bag Liner

 

Best Lightweight Budget Sleeping Bags

Sleeping BagRating (F)WeightFillWhere to Buy
Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 3026 lower limit/36 comfort1lb 14ozHL-ElixR syntheticREI
Outdoor Vitals Summit30 lower limit2lbs800 fill power, 14oz fill weight hydrophobic downAmazon
Klymit KSB21 lower limit/35 comfort1lb 14oz650 fill power, 14oz fill weight downAmazon
REI
Hyke and Byke Shavano32 lower limit/45 comfort2lbs 2oz650 fill power, 14oz fill weight hydrophobic downAmazon
Alps Mountaineering Zenith30 lower limit2lbs 3oz600 fill power, 16oz fill power hydrophobic downAmazon
REI

 

Tips for Choosing a Sleeping Bag on a Budget

If your budget is under $150 and you still want to go lightweight, keep these tips in mind while choosing your sleeping bag.

 

Understand Lower Limit vs. Comfort Temperature Rating

Good sleeping bags are rated using the EN system.  Manufacturers typically list the lower limit rating and not the comfort rating. So don’t think that you can use a 30F sleeping bag in 30F weather!  You won’t be in danger of hypothermia, but you probably will be freezing your butt off.

It can get really cold at night, especially on the mountains.  I’ve experienced temperatures of just above freezing in August at 6,000 feet (which isn’t even that high up).  If you want to save money, it’s better to buy just one sleeping bag that you can use in many seasons instead of having to buy separate warm- and cold-weather bags.

EN 13537 rating for sleeping bags

Down Sleeping Bags on a Budget

There are two big benefits of going with down over synthetic.  The first is that down is a lot warmer per weight than synthetics.  The second benefit is that down is much more durable; synthetic fibers will compress over time and stop being so warm.

However, down sleeping bags are usually much more expensive. If you do find a budget down sleeping bag, it probably has some issues:

  • Low fill power: Fill power is a measure of the down’s loft (fluffiness), and thus how much heat it can trap. Cheap down sleeping bags will usually have a low fill power of 600 or less.
  • Low fill weight: Even if the bag does have a high fill power, it might not have that much down in it. So, you’ve also got to check the fill weight, which is a measurement of how much down is actually in the bag.
  • Hydrophobic coating: Down is very susceptible to moisture and water. Many brands now treat their down with a hydrophobic coating. It’s unlikely that you’ll get this coating on a cheap down sleeping bag.

Keep this in mind when looking at down sleeping bags.  A low-quality down might not be much better than synthetic.  If you might be in wet conditions or sweat a lot, then synthetic might be a better choice.

 

Cheap Generic Brand Sleeping Bags

There are times when I only want to choose a trusted brand name (with water filters, for example).  However, I’ve had luck with some generic brands.  They can be just as good as the major brand names but cost half the price.

You’ll want to pay particular attention to reviews when choosing generic brands though.  Lots of generic brand backpacking gear is inconsistent or has inaccurate info.  For example, the 2lb sleeping bag you buy might actually weigh 2.5lbs.

 

Best Lightweight Budget Sleeping Bags Reviewed

Here are more detailed reviews of the best budget lightweight sleeping bags.  All of them weigh 2.5lbs or less, are rated to 34F lower limit or below, and are very affordable.

1. Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30 Sleeping Bag

Features:

  • Rating: 26F lower/36F comfort
  • Weight: 1lb 14oz (regular length)
  • Length: 72 inches (long length also available)
  • Fill: HL-ElixR synthetic
  • Pack size: 5” x 19”
  • Draft tube
  • Hood with draft collar
  • 3D footbox
  • Stash pocket
  • Hang loops
  • Two zippers: Main zipper plus fold-down zipper

 

Pros:

This is by far the best of the budget lightweight sleeping bags because of its quality construction and design.  It uses HL-ElixR synthetic insulation, which combines different types of fibers for good loft and low weight.  For all you eco-minded people, the insulation is from 100% recycled sources. The insulation is sewn in with waves to keep it in place.

Because the sleeping bag uses synthetic insulation (which is a lot cheaper than down), they didn’t have to cut corners on other aspects of the bag to save costs.  There is a draft tube and draft collar which will keep cold air out of the sleeping bag.

The temperature rating is pretty accurate on this bag. You’ll start to feel a bit cool in the low 30s, but will be fine so long as you’ve got enough warm clothing on.

 

Cons:

The main downside to this sleeping bag (especially considering the low price) is that it’s a bit snug.  The hip girth is 57 inches and the shoulder girth is 62 inches on the regular size. If you are a wider person, you might feel a bit claustrophobic in it.

Also note that the sleeping bag doesn’t compress down that small.  The stuff sack is 9.5×19 inches, which comes to a whopping 22 liters of space in your pack.


 

2. Outdoor Vitals Summit 30F

outdoor vitals summit lightweight sleeping bag

Features:

  • Rating: 30F lower limit
  • Weight: 2lbs plus 3.5oz for compression sack
  • Length: 6’
  • Fill: 650-fill hydrophobic down; 14oz fill weight
  • Draft tube
  • Hood with draft collar
  • Foot box
  • Adjustable length
  • Buy at: Amazon

 

Pros:

Outdoor Vitals is a newer brand on the scene.  They are based out of Utah and focus on making affordable backpacking gear. Of course, this means that the gear is made in China.  However, that doesn’t’ mean Outdoor Vital products are low-quality.   They base their designs on existing products from major (expensive) brands and then tweak them, basically being able to deliver the same quality at a fraction of the cost.

The Outdoor Vitals Summit sleeping bag is one of the few cheap down bags that actually lives up to its temperature rating.  It is comfortable in the low 40s (for most people, at least).  They also make a 0F and 20F bag too, though I didn’t include them here because they are pricier and a bit heavier.

The Summit sleeping bags have all the advanced features you’d want for camping in cold weather: 800 fill power quality down, a good fill weight of 14oz, baffles instead of being sewn-through, draft tube, hood with draft collar, and foot box with extra insulation.

I also like that the Summit sleeping bag comes in three sizes: 5’6”, 6’, and 6’6”.  The bag is roomy enough for large people with its 64” shoulder girth (68” on the long size).

 

Cons:

There’s one small annoying thing about the Summit sleeping bag: The drawstrings around the hood aren’t flexible.  This makes it fairly difficult to cinch the collar and the cords start to fray.  Some people also reported that the sleeping bag eventually starts leaking feathers.


 

3. Klymit KSB Down 35

klymit ksb35 lightweight sleeping bag

Features:

  • Rating: 21F lower/35F comfort
  • Weight: 1lb 14oz
  • Length: 82 inches
  • Fill: 650-fill down; 14oz fill weight
  • Pack size: 13″ x 7″
  • Draft tube
  • Hood with draft collar
  • Hang loops
  • Stash pockets
  • Adjustable length
  • Two-way zipper
  • Buy at: Amazon, REI

 

Pros:

The main standout feature of the KSB sleeping bag is its versatility.  It’s 35F comfort rating is certainly exaggerated (realistically it’s probably around 40 or 45F), but the bag is suitable for warm weather or cooler temps.  In summer, use the two-way zipper for ventilation.  In colder weather, you’ll stay warm thanks to the hood and draft tube and collar (though you’ll still want warm jammies).

One cool feature of this sleeping bag is that its length can be adjusted by 15”, turning it into a sleeping bag for people as short as 5’3”.  If you want a sleeping bag that you can share with family members, this is really cool.

 

Cons:

Bear in mind that this is a cheap down sleeping bag, so you get what you pay for.  There aren’t any baffles to keep the down filling in place.  So, you have to fluff it like crazy and try not to get the down feathers all bunched in one place. Some people also complain that this sleeping bag leaks feathers.

The sleeping bag only comes in one size.  At 60 inch shoulder girth and 50 inch hip girth, it’s good for most larger people, even men 6 feet tall.  However, it might not be the best bet for smaller people.  Even when you adjust the length, the bag could still end up being too wide – which means cold for us petite people.


 

4. Hyke and Byke Shavano

hyke and byke shavano sleeping bag

Features:

  • Rating: 32F lower/45F comfort
  • Weight: 2lbs 2oz
  • Length: 78 inches (short and long sizes also available)
  • Fill: 650-fill down; 14oz fill weight
  • Pack size: 9” x 6.5”
  • No draft tube or collar
  • Hood
  • Foot box
  • Hang loops
  • Buy at: Amazon

 

Pros:

Hyke & Byke is another newer brand to hit the scenes which is dedicated to making affordable backpacking gear.  At first glance, the lightweight sleeping bag does seem great: It is made from 650 fill power down and is incredibly cheap.  Even the fill weight is decent at 14oz (400g). The company even responsibly sources its down, so no live plucking or forced-feeding practices were used.

It’s also nice that the sleeping bag comes in three sizes. The short is 72”, regular is 78”, and long is 87”.  The shoulders are pretty wide, so all sizes are good for larger people.

There are baffles on the Shavano sleeping bag, but they are only a channel along the left side of the bag.  On the plus side, this means you can move the down around to put it where you want it most.

 

Cons:

Despite this bag being a bit heavier than my other picks for lightweight down bags, it isn’t nearly as warm.  The 45F comfort rating is exaggerated.  Realistically, it’s more in the low 50s.  You’ll need lots of jammies to stay warm in cooler temperatures.

The “adjustable” baffle system they use isn’t all its hyped up to be either.  The down moves around in the sleeping bag.  You can end up with too much down in some places and not enough in others.  It’s honestly a pain to have to constantly move around the down each time you set up camp.

The bag is also a bit flimsy, so it will start leaking down at some point.  This isn’t too surprising considering how cheap the down sleeping bag is.


 

5. Alps Mountaineering Zenith 30

alps mountaineering zenith sleeping bag

Features:

  • Rating: 30F lower limit
  • Weight: 2lbs 3oz
  • Length: 78 inches (regular)
  • Fill: 600-fill hydrophobic down; 16oz fill weight
  • Pack size: 6” x 14”
  • Zipper baffle
  • Hood with draft collar
  • Buy at: Amazon, REI

 

Pros:

This is the last of the cheap lightweight down sleeping bags I’ll recommend.  It made it onto the list because of its low price and decent design.  It’s comfortable to sleep in and has a nice shape to it.  It’s not that it’s a bad sleeping bag; it’s just that the other ones here are better.

 

Cons:

There’s a good reason that I listed this bag last.  Compared to the other budget sleeping bags, it is really lacking insulation.  It’s 30F lower limit is optimistic.  You’d need a liner or lots of jammies to use this on nights in the 40s.

There aren’t any baffles in the bag either, other than along the zipper and chest area.  The down will move around in the bag and bunch up.  The hood does have a draft collar, but there aren’t any drawstrings to cinch it around your face.  Thus, this is really only suitable for warmer nights.  Considering that the other sleeping bags listed here are just as lightweight and even more affordable, I’d go with one of them.

 

Other Options

As mentioned before, it’s really tough to balance cost and weight. If you are willing to pay a bit more (around $200) or carry a bit more weight (up to 3lbs), these sleeping bags are even better options.

 


Image credit: “Sleeping Bags” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Jesse Wagstaff

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About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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