5 of the best... summer sleeping bags reviewed (2019)

Lighten the load and sleep in more comfort by camping out in a sleeping bag designed for the warmest months.

 
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Temperature rating

The bags here are designed to be warm enough (for men) around +1°C to -3°C, which is ideal for summer use in the UK hills. Research shows that women tend to feel the cold more, so may prefer a bag rated up to 5°C warmer. Manufacturer’s temperature ratings provide a good estimate of how warm a bag will feel, but as health, fit of the bag and even what you’ve had to eat all play a part in keeping you warm, these ratings are only a rough guide. 

Packed size & weight

Sizes stated are those obtained when the bag is stuffed into its stuffsack. If a compression bag is provided the bag is measured at its compressed level. Weights stated included the stuffsack.

Insulation

The bags featured here use synthetic or down insulation. Down has the advantage over synthetic insulation of being more efficient at trapping air, and therefore it can be used to produce lighter and less bulky sleeping bags. However synthetic insulation is lower in price and maintains its performance better than down when damp. 

Shell & lining

To protect the insulation, the shell and lining benefits from some water resistance, and in some cases this may be enhanced on the base, foot and hood areas. Nylon is often used for the shell and lining, but polyester is used to reduce prices. 

Shoulder baffle

A good shoulder baffle keeps the warm air in the bag, which increases its insulating ability.
The best can be adjusted to fit closely, while lighter or lower-priced bags
may have non-adjustable shoulder baffles or no shoulder baffle
at all.

Hood

The fit and degree of insulation in the hood is important in colder conditions. A drawcord will be provided to cinch it in but some hoods are easier to adjust, and their fit and comfort level will be better than others. 

Size

Some bags are available in a choice of lengths or widths. Women’s models tend to be smaller and some have extra insulation.

Zip

Side zip designs vary from half-length to full-length – the former offering a weight saving, the latter making a more versatile bag for hot nights. To prevent the zip from jamming it may have an anti-snag strip behind, while a wide insulation-filled baffle is important to prevent cold spots along the length of the zip.  


Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30 £140

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  • Lowest comfort limit -2.2°C n

  • Size (length x shoulder x foot width) 210x78x40cm

  • Packed size (compressed) 20x20cm

  • Weight 1027g (inc 95g stuffsack)

  • Women’s Trestles Elite Eco 30 (plus long)

It’s good

Designed with the environment in mind, this bag uses synthetic insulation called HL-Elixr ECO with 96% recycled material. The weight and packed size of the bag is good for a synthetic with this temperature too. The main side zip is full-length and exceptionally well designed not to snag, but there’s also an additional zip on the opposite side of the bag so you can more easily vent the top, as well as sit and read from the bag. Get in the bag and it is more spacious than most, with a particularly roomy foot area. The hood draws in easily and is very comfortable around the head.

However

Like any synthetic bag, this is not as light or as compact as the higher-priced down bags. The main side zip doesn’t quite reach the foot either, so you do get warm feet even with the zip open, although that is a minor difference perhaps rather than a big drawback. There is a shoulder baffle but compared to some it is not quite as good at locking in the warm air. Some bags have the stretch baffle design, which you may prefer, and others have extra water-resistance on the outer material to ensure the insulation stays dry from tent condensation. So no major drawbacks really, and at this price they are probably tolerable.

Verdict

An environmentally-friendly bag with a spacious design and good range of features for general backpacking.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • Weight 3/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

 

Deuter Exosphere 0° £145

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  • Lowest comfort limit 0°C n Size (length x shoulder x foot width) 200x65-77.5x40-50cm

  • Packed size (compressed) 17x22cm

  • Weight 1071g (inc 79g stuffsack)

  • Women’s Exosphere 0° SL

It’s good

The size of this bag is deceptive, as its stretch baffles allow the width to expand by 25%. This means that the bag hugs your body closer, leading to less cold spots and more rapid warming, while still allowing great freedom of movement. The insulation is synthetic Deuter Thermo Proloft, so this won’t be effected by moisture as badly as down. Also you get a nylon shell with water-repellent Dry Zones at the head and foot to keep condensation from tents at bay. Once inside the bag the hood fits well, is comfortable around the face and adjusts easily. The side zip has an excellent baffle and anti-snag strip too.

However

The weight and packed size is not as impressive as the higher-priced down insulated bags. Also other bags have a slightly lower temperature rating, while also being smaller and lighter when packed. While the details are great there is no shoulder baffle, although as this hugs your body so close due to the stretch design this is not such a drawback. You may feel the stretchy, hugging design is not for you and prefer the spaciousness of some non-stretchy bags, as it does take a little getting used to. This still offers a great option for most backpackers though.

Verdict

Well-priced bag, with the benefit of stretch baffles and some great features setting it apart. 

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • Weight 3/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Criterion Ultralight 350 £225

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  • Lowest comfort limit -3°C

  • Size (length x shoulder x foot width) 200x72x41cm

  • Packed size  19x25cm

  • Weight 823g (inc 21g stuffsack)

It’s good

This is a well-priced bag when you consider it is slightly warmer than some other bags here (it has a -3°C temperature rating) and comes with a very good weight and small packed size. It’s made with 700 fill power down and a Pertex nylon shell with a water-repellent treatment like other quality bags. Importantly you also have trapezoidal construction to keep cold spots at bay along the seams. The zip is full-length, so you can vent the foot area in warmer weather. Get inside and it fits very close, with a hood that can be drawn in further with a drawcord. Overall it feels great for lightweight backpacking.

However

The supplied stuffsack doesn’t compress the bag as others do. If it did then this bag would squeeze down to just 19x16cm. Also there is no shoulder baffle and the zip baffle is slightly smaller than some options. I did find the zip snagged a little more easily than some others, and the hood does not fit quite so well. The bag is also slightly smaller in width and length than others. You don’t get the benefits of hydrophobic down or synthetic insulation either, both of which would absorb less water and dry quicker than the down used here. The price is good for what you get, but of course you can spend less – and you can also get a slightly lighter bag.

Verdict

Lightweight compact bag with a full-length zip, but does lack some details of heavier/higher-priced bags.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • Weight 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%


Rab Neutrino 200 £240

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  • Lowest comfort limit -1°C

  • Size (length x shoulder x foot width) 210x78x45cm

  • Packed size (compressed) 15x18cm

  • Weight 608g (inc 37g stuffsack)

 It’s good

The low weight and tiny packed size sets this sleeping bag apart from many others, and yet you still get a temperature rating down to -1°C. It is the use of 800+ fill power down insulation as well as thin Pertex nylon that mainly keeps the weight down. The down has been treated, so it absorbs less water and dries more quickly than standard down. Unstuff the bag and get inside and the hood fits well, with a neck collar that is both well filled and easily adjusted with drawcords. The side zip is half-length to save weight, but it still allows you to get inside easily enough. The side zip also gets a huge baffle on the inside.

However

Having a half-length side zip does mean that in warm weather this bag can be overly hot, as you can’t vent the foot area as can be done with other bags. It’s also a slightly smaller bag than other options, so larger people may feel it is a little restrictive. This bag is down-filled, so it needs a little more care to keep dry than a synthetic-filled bag, which will maintain better performance if it gets damp. Of course there are lower-priced bags but it is the weight and packed size benefit you will lose out on if you pay less. 

Verdict

Ideal sleeping bag if you want to save weight and packed size, but it does only have a short side zip. 

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • Weight 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


Lightwave Firelight 350 £449

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  • Lowest comfort limit -2°C

  • Size (length x shoulder x foot width) 200x75x55cm (plus short and long)

  • Packed size 18x26cm

  • Weight 654g (inc 15g stuffsack)

 It’s good

This bag is extremely lightweight but also has a lower temperature rating than some bags. The foot area is very wide too, and there’s a full-length side zip, so it is not skimping on features. The low weight comes from the use of 900 fill power down combined with very thin Pertex Quantum 15 denier nylon. The weight saved by the materials means that plenty of great features can be added, so that full-length side zip has a very good internal baffle, and the shoulder baffle is also very well filled. In addition the bag comes in three sizes. If low weight and full features are your priority, then this sleeping bag is hard to beat.

However

The obvious drawback here is the price tag, but if you pay less then you’ll need to compromise on the weight or other benefits. The stuffsack doesn’t include a means of compressing the bag, but if paired with a compression bag it would go down to 18x16cm. The side zip is great but seems more likely to snag than some others, so a little more care is needed. The hood fits well but some others have a little more comfort around the drawcord, and the shoulder baffle gets no drawcord at all. Some bags get stress zones and extra water-resistant designs, so there are drawbacks here if low weight is not your number one priority.

Verdict

When low weight and practical features are needed this bag is hard to beat for those with the cash.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • Weight 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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