Sleeping bags are one of the largest, bulkiest items you will bring with you when you go camping or backpacking, and so it pays to look for a good, compact sleeping bag, so that you you can save on room in your backpack for other things. When you have less bulk in your backpack, you can also afford to bring along a smaller backpack, which can further cut down on weight. For this reason, and others, it is a smart idea to choose a compact sleeping bag over something more bulky.
Compact Sleeping BagIf you want a compact sleeping bag, these are the features to look out for.
- Down - You have two options when it comes to insulation for a sleeping bag, which are down and synthetic. Both have their positives and negatives, but one of the best positives associated with down is that it compacts a lot better than synthetic. More specifically, higher quality down, ideally in the 800 to 900 fill range, will compact down better than lesser quality down, such as 700 fill down.
- Lightweight - Although the most lightweight sleeping bag wont always be the most compactable sleeping bag, it is at least a reliable indicator that the sleeping bag manufacturer is putting a little time and effort in to their product, and will help to save on weight, if not bulk.
Best Compact Sleeping BagA few of the very best compact sleeping bags, based on the above criteria.
- Western Mountaineering HighLite Sleeping Bag - If you want something that will perform well in warm weather, the HighLite is a fantastic choice. It's good down to 35 degrees, and uses very high quality 850+ fill down. It also weighs a very light 1 pound, or 453 grams. The high quality down means that there will be less down in the sleeping bag, which means more air, which means more compression. It's not overly warm, but it is extremely compact.
- Marmot Plasma +30 - With a slightly warmer temperature rating of 33 degrees, the Marmot +30 is an ideal progression from the HighLite above. It uses 900+ fill down, which is just about the best you will find from any sleeping bag manufacturer, and even won the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award. It weighs a little more, at 1.38 pounds, or 630 grams, but that extra weight includes a few extra features, like a draft collar, that some people will definitely appreciate, though that extra material does make the bag slightly less compactable.
- Mont Bell U.L. Super Spiral Down #1 - Japanese manufacturer Mont Bell is well known for making some excellent down products, including many down sleeping bags. This particular bag is rated down to 15 degrees, and weighs just 2.25 pounds, or 1020 grams. It uses 800+ fill down, but what really sets this bag apart from the competition is Mont Bell's unique design, which uses a biased cut to coil around you, adding warmth without adding bulk, and helping to make the sleeping bag more compact.
- Find even more sleeping bags to compare and contrast over at the sleeping bags comparison page.
Alternative Packing MethodsIf your goal is to cut down on bulk in your backpack, then there is a great alternative packing method that you might be interested in. By packing everything except the sleeping bag, and then stuffing the sleeping bag in to all the little cracks and crevices between other gear, you both cut down on bulk and also fill up all those little spaces and make your backpack a lot more stable, and less likely to be shifting around.
If you try this packing method, just be sure that there aren't any sharp corners that will tear the outer shell of your sleeping bag.