The weight of your sleeping bag can significantly impact your overall backpacking experience. A lighter sleeping bag allows for easier transport and reduces the overall burden on your back during long treks. However, finding the perfect balance between weight and warmth is crucial.
In this article, we will shed light on the significant role that the weight of a sleeping bag plays, taking into account the specific trip and planned activities. This should help you to find a suitable backpacking sleeping bag for your needs.
So without saying more, let’s see how light should a backpacking sleeping bag be.
What Should My Sleeping Bag Weigh?
The weight of the sleeping bag can significantly impact your mobility and comfort during your outdoor adventure. Sleeping bags have an average weight of 1.2 kilograms, with ultra-light backpacking models weighing at least 340 grams, but the heaviest models on the market weigh up to 2.5 kilograms.
Indeed, determining the ideal weight for your sleeping bag hinges on a multitude of factors and conditions.
- Insulation and materials of the sleeping bag
- Price of the sleeping bag and budget for vacation gear
- Type of holiday (camping with or without a vehicle, survival, backpacking)
- Season, climate and local weather
Sleeping Bag Weight When Camping with Vehicles
The weight of a sleeping bag always plays a subordinate role when we use a means of transport (car, train, camper). For camping with a vehicle, the purchase of a sleeping bag should be based primarily on the weather conditions on the campsite and the planned budget.
If the sleeping bag is evenly spread out in the vehicle, the choice of the right sleeping bag is reduced to an acceptable purchase price for the model.
The situation is similar when we do outdoor camping in a tent at the destination with a vehicle. If this is the case and we don’t feel the weight of the sleeping bag on our back for most of the day like when backpacking, the weight is of secondary importance.
That’s why camping with a vehicle – for example during a music festival – is the ideal condition in terms of sleeping bag weight. The car practically replaces the backpack and the sleeping bag with its weight does not affect the resilience.
In contrast to car camping, for example, where we spend the night on the back seat with a sleeping bag on a longer drive, outdoor camping is also about keeping an eye on the weather and the conditions on site. In general, we need a significantly warmer and therefore heavier sleeping bag for outdoor camping in autumn and winter than for summer camping in a tent at a music festival – slightly thinner, lighter sleeping bags are sufficient here.
How Light Should a Backpacking Sleeping Bag be?
For backpacking, it is of central importance how much the sleeping bag weighs. Proper planning before the start of the trip plays an important role here. If the main goal is to reduce the weight of the backpacking trip equipment, a sleeping bag should weigh no more than 1 kilogram, and a mat or mattress no more than 500 grams.
The following criteria should be considered for the weight of a sleeping bag when backpacking:
- Length of the backpacking trip
- Access to shops and equipment stores
- The size of the backpack carried
- Number of campers
Many backpackers don’t have “the one” sleeping bag in their closets at home. Instead, it makes sense to vary the sleeping bag and thus the weight depending on the season, weather, and length of the trip. Winter sleeping bags are correspondingly heavier than those for summer.
If there is no access to shops and equipment stores on the way, the sleeping bag you take with you must be very precisely tailored to your needs. If you want to avoid a heavy winter sleeping bag, you have to pay special attention to a good all-around sleeping bag.
What Materials Affect the Weight of a Sleeping Bag?
The weight of a sleeping bag is influenced by several key materials used in its construction. These include:
Outer layer materials
The thicker the outer skin of the sleeping bag, the higher the overall weight. This is closely linked to the filling of down sleeping bags – the more filling power, the higher quality and heavier the model. Ripstop is a typical material for the outer protective layer of the sleeping bag. This is reinforced nylon, which is advantageous in terms of breathability and durability. In the premium area, there are still Gore-Tex and other water-repellent materials. These are expensive but proven in moisture.
Lining and inside of the sleeping bag
Depending on the type, the inside of the sleeping bag will also be completely different from model to model. There are those made of nylon, polyester or a mixture of both. Ultimately, however, the question also arises: synthetic or down as insulation in the sleeping bag?
Zippers and hardware
The type of zippers and other hardware components can add weight. High-quality, lightweight zippers and components are often used to minimize this.
Baffles and stitching
The design of baffles and stitching affects how the insulation is distributed within the bag. Well-designed baffles can minimize cold spots and reduce the need for excessive insulation, thereby reducing weight.
Extra features like hoods, draft collars, and pockets can add weight. It’s important to evaluate whether these features are necessary for your specific needs.
All of these considerations have a significant impact on the weight of the sleeping bag. Typically, the higher the density, the quicker the weight. So the price of good insulation is an increase in weight.
Where and When is the Sleeping Bag Used?
When choosing a sleeping bag, the climate and weather at the destination are particularly relevant. Local weather and temperature determine whether a sleeping bag should be thicker, warmer, and therefore heavier or not. For example, winter sleeping bags are usually significantly heavier than summer sleeping bags.
We can roughly divide sleeping bags into three areas in terms of their temperature suitability:
- Summer sleeping bags: -1 degrees Celsius and higher
- Three-season sleeping bags: -9 to -1 degrees Celsius
- Winter sleeping bags: below -9 degrees Celsius
In general, we recommend paying attention to the labeling in accordance with EN 13537 or ISO 23537. Both are standards for evaluating how warm a sleeping bag really is. If this designation does not exist, you should be careful or even ask the manufacturer.
There are temperature ranges for both standards, but only the values of Comfort and Limit are decisive for us, which represent a lower threshold for warm and cold sleepers. We strongly advise you to focus on the comfort value – this is usually a good way to go!
When dividing it into the three categories above, it is initially just a matter of getting an impression of how warm the sleeping bag actually is and whether it might be far too warm or cold for the planned use.
For cold weather, winter camping or low temperatures camping is always a bigger challenge in general. This starts with the fact that we need thicker and therefore warmer clothing, which increases the weight of the luggage. In addition, of course, you have to think of a three-season or even winter sleeping bag that is suitable for the region and the climate.
For expected temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, this should be a matter of course. As a rule, mummy sleeping bags are particularly suitable as winter sleeping bags due to their closeness to the body.
Rain and humidity
For areas that are particularly rainy and humid, the sleeping bag should have a protective outer layer so that no water can soak the sleeping bag. Gore-Tex lining, for example, can insulate well in summer and prevent moisture from penetrating when it is wet. The disadvantage however is that it can quickly become too warm in summer.
Summer and heat
For the summer months and in extreme heat, we recommend using a blanket sleeping bag (hut sleeping bag). We can usually open this completely with a zipper on the side and thus convert it into a blanket. In summer, backpackers in particular should make sure to reduce their weight significantly – ultra-light models for summer weigh between 350 and 750 grams.
Backpacking sleeping bag comes in a wide variety of models with different fillings, sizes and shapes, designed to adapt to very different temperatures. It is therefore essential to choose your sleeping bag wisely to ensure comfortable warm moments without having to put on all your clothes. So besides considering the lightness of the sleeping bags, make sure it is meet other criteria that are important for a camping or backpacking trip.