As I get more into mountaineering and backcountry skiing, I decided it was finally time to break down and buy a lightweight sleeping bag. I was coming up short with my online research and wanted to get the recommendations from other outdoor women. Fortunately, I have access to plenty of rad outdoor women and continued to ask around what bags they were using.
The one brand that came up quite often was Feathered Friends, a local Seattle-based company and arguably one of the best sleeping bags designed for big mountain objectives. Before making the investment, I asked to borrow a friend’s bag for an overnight ski trip and a chilly desert camping trip. However, I wasn’t a fan of the hood. I couldn’t stuff my extra clothes into the top to make a pillow, and the cinching around my head to keep the warm air in wasn’t comfortable nor closed all the way.
Fall camping at Canyonlands National Park.
I went into the Feathered Friends store and tried out some of the other sizes in hopes they made some upgrades. Nope, all the hoods would be the same way. I wasn’t ready to spend the money on my home-away-from-home bedding.
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What product features to consider for a 0-degree women’s sleeping bag:
Below is a quick summary of the product details I was researching. Before using these as a baseline, consider where you’ll be using the sleeping bag and what activities you plan on using it. I live in the Pacific Northwest where the mountaineering season usually spans from spring through summer (sometimes fall) and can have varying ranges in temperatures and weather, though not extremely cold but wet. I’m normally in the backcountry (skiing or mountaineering) and carrying a heavy pack, miles away from civilization, so a lightweight and warm bag is what I wanted.
- Weight – I was looking for a bag weighing less than 3 lbs.
- Fill – I wanted a 650+-fill or higher down bag (not synthetic).
- Packability – The bag needed to pack down small and I compared many bags side-by-side to understand the stuffed sizing.
- Water Protection – I’d be using the bag for snow camping, so having a down bag with water protection would keep the bag dryer and me warmer.
- Comfort – Looking for a good fit, including a hood that cinched shut.
- Price – If I was torn after all the other parameters, price would be the tiebreaker.
I also considered a gender neutral bag since there were WAY more options (I won’t even get into that rant). I’m 5’5” and don’t need the extra length found in most men’s bags (at 6’0”) and women’s bags tend to have added insulation near the footbed since our feet run colder.
Setting up camp for the night on Mount Shasta.
I posed a question to a Facebook Outdoor Women’s Group. Here are sleeping bag recommendations:
Question: “Looking to buy a 0-degree women’s sleeping bag for mountaineering and winter camping that is under 4 lbs. Anyone have any recommendations? I’d love a Feathered Friends bag, but the hood on the bag is too small for my preferences. Thoughts?”
A: I am a big fan of my Marmot Teton 0. It is over ten years old and still going strong. And warm! I took my fifteen year old Marmot Teton (now Ourary) on a Himalayan expedition last Spring. It, combined with the Therm-a-Rest XTherm, kept me warm and cozy. – Teresa H.
A: Marmot Lithium is rated at 0 degree and is under 3 lbs. and compresses down to small bag. But, it’s pricey. – Erica V.
A: I just took my new Marmot Never Summer 0 Sleeping Bag for a spin over Christmas and it was below 20 degrees. I was actually sweating so it’ll definitely keep you warm. Ways a bit over 2# and stuffs very nicely. I can highly recommend it. – Trine R.
A: I have the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Karakoram 0-degree bag and I absolutely love it – the pertex fabric is feather soft and the bag is lofty and warm! And it weighs just 2 lbs. 12 oz. A bit pricy at $549 – the Marmot Lithium mentioned is even a couple of ounces lighter and just $499. – Cheryl T.
A: Western Mountaineering! – Marla P.
A: If you like feathered, go with a Western Mountaineering. You can do a footbox overfill on it to make it a bit warmer. I have a -15 and have never been cold! – Amberleigh H.
A: I have a Western Mountaineering Antelope Gore Windstopper Sleeping Bag and it’s been great. Kept me warm on a 10-day glacier ski trip in Alaska where the overnight temps were well below freezing. – Erin R.
A: I purchased a Western Mountaineering bag a couple of years ago and discovered that they have a very narrow cut at the hips which was not good for me because I’m a side sleeper and like to pull my knees up. It might be different now, but be sure to check the measurements at shoulder and hip for whatever bag you are considering! – Cheryl T.
A: For very light weight and a great price you might also consider an Enlightened Equipment Revelations quilt! These come at a full range of temperature ratings including down to zero degrees, and you can get them with very high loft (up to 950) which means very lightweight and great compressibility. The main difference from a regular bag is that they are open at the bottom with a strap that wraps around your pad – so your pad provides the insulation underneath your body. These are very well reviewed among the backpacker community. Their 950-loft zero degree quilt weighs 22.78 oz and costs $370. – Cheryl T.
A: I have the Big Agnes Lulu 15 Sleeping Bag and LOVE it. Paired with a sleeping bag liner it is so much better than my 0-degree Mountain Hardwear bag. Also, compresses down nicely and takes up minimal room in your pack. I will also add that there is a pocket for your sleeping pad to slip into, so it stays with you and your bag all night long … no rolling off. – Allison
A: I have the Nemo Sonic. It’s pretty much like having a warm cloud cuddle you all night long. – Cassie
I continued to research to find the right bag for me. I’ve decided to go with the NEMO Sonic Sleeping Bag. Why?
The bag has 850-fill, so it will compress more than 650-fill (most of the women options max out 650-fill). The outside lining is protected with water-resistant treatment for snowy trips. The weight is less than 3 lbs. The hood fits my personal preferences more than the one at Feathered Friends. The price is comparable to other bags at roughly $500.
NEMO is an innovative company for outdoor sleeping gear. I was impressed with the vents added to the bag and hope they come out a women’s version in the future.
The runner up was Western Mountaineering. I had never heard of the brand before and was intrigued with the bags and how many women were recommending it. However, I wasn’t able to touch or see it in a store and decided to buy one that I was able to see in person.
I’m always searching for new gear recommendations. Please share what sleeping bag you use in the comments below and why.
A special thanks to all the women who let me share their recommendations on my write-up.