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If you’re interested in hitting the hills and the mountains in autumn and winter, you’ll want to be well prepared and ensure you’re carrying the right kit. A major element of this kit is a good warm sleeping bag suitable for colder conditions - many summer sleeping bags are lighter and contain less fill, which means that if the temperature drops standard summer family options may not cut it to keep you safe and warm.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some winter sleeping bag options suitable for more extreme conditions.
Best winter sleeping bags at a glance
- Best on test: Rab Neutrino 600 Sleeping Bag
- Best ultra-light option: Vango Cobra 400
- Best for Arctic conditions: Snugpak Softie 15
- Best for value for money: Robens Icefall Pro 900
- Best for fluffy, lofty cosiness: OEX Leviathan EV 900
- Best for excellence in an older model: Rab Alpine 800 Down Sleeping Bag
- Best for maximum performance: Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag
What’s the difference between a summer and winter sleeping bag?
Fill power is the most obvious difference - winter sleeping bags often have high powered goose down filling to keep you as warm as possible in challenging conditions. Down and its synthetic alternatives are also very packable, allowing you to carry the bags inside or attached to packs when out hiking in the hills. They’re often also coated with a hydrophobic damp proof system, designed to allow the bag to retain its warm, loft and fill even when in clammy or wet conditions.
What to look for in a winter sleeping bag
Good sleeping bags have a rating system that allows you to easily determine which bag you’ll need depending on the adventures you’re going on. The comfort temperature is the temperature which you’ll be warm and cosy when using the bag - the extreme temperature is the limit of the bag and often around -16 for the very best products on the market.
It’s not advisable to go down to these temperatures, but buying a good bag with a decent extreme temperature at least means you’ll be safe and not at risk of hypothermia in the most challenging of conditions.
Get kitted out for your hiking and backpacking adventures
The tapered design of the Rab Neutrino 600 down sleeping bag means it cuts excess bulk, a very good thing if you’re having to hike through alpine environments - the kind of setting this sleeping bag was designed for. 800 Fill Power goose down keeps is covered by a wind resistant outer - perfect for those blustery winter nights.
A true four seasons sleeping bag, although it’s a significant outlay, this option from Rab comes highly recommended.
This is an excellent ultra-light option from Vango that cuts excess bulk, meaning that it fits easily into a pack and would be our recommended choice for winter hiking.
The special construction means that it’s tapered around the feet, head and shoulders to keep you tucked in and warm throughout the night. The durable nylon shell is water resistant and we also liked the convenient internal pocket for phone storage.
Whether that’s the case or not, there’s no denying the bag’s credentials - it packs down very small, has a no-stitch construction which means the risk of cold spots is reduced, and the anti-snag webbing on the zipper is a nice touch that we found works well to keep you properly zipped up all night.
This offering from camping experts Robens falls into a nice category that balances 3-season performance and good value for money. As well as being a little kinder on the bank balance, there are some nice little touches, like the centre zip that can be partially opened when sitting for increased comfort.
The neck baffle is also very comfortable and keeps your head supported - the MicroThermal Ball filling also mimics down well and provides good loft and insulation.
The hydrophobic coating on the OEX Leviathan sleeping bag makes it perfect for winter camping adventures as the idea behind this is that it retains its fill, loft and insulation even when damp.
We found the inside of the sleeping bag to be especially comfortable - thanks to the compression sack the bag also packs down small enough to make carrying it on wilder adventures possible - a good value for money product.
If the Rab Neutrino option stretches the bank balance a little, this Alpine 800 provides similar attributes and winter performance for a lesser price.
It offers 650 fill power rather than 800, but for casual winter camping adventures it will be more than adequate for most people.
With a tapered fit it’s easy to get comfortable - it’s rated to an extreme temperature of -16 so it’s likely to keep you safe and warm even in the most inhospitable environments.
If you’re after maximum performance from your sleeping bag and you need it to perform in the most challenging of circumstances, this offering from Patagonia, although expensive, will do all you need it to do.
Usefully, it comes in three sizes - short, medium and long, and its 800 fill power down is designed to maximise efficiency and balance warmth and comfort with ease of packing.
Like all of Patagonia’s products you can also be sure of good sustainability credentials - the bag is Fair Trade Certified sewn.