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How We Tested Backpacking Sleeping Bags

By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Saturday
Our backpacking sleeping bag testing has occurred over five years in classic backpacking and climbing areas in the U.S. and internationally, though primarily testing occurred in California's climbing and backpacking paradise, the High Sierra. For each round of this review, each bag was weighed on our own scales for accurate comparisons.

Testing out and about in the mountains.
Testing out and about in the mountains.

Bags were tested by outdoorsy friends, local mountain and backpacking guides, and National Park Service scientists on extended trips in summer conditions. Warm nights at middle elevations, uncommon amounts of monsoonal moisture, and cold nights above twelve-thousand feet put the contenders to the test on quick mountaineering jaunts and on extended backpacking trips throughout the High Sierra.

Throughout these tests, these three-season sleeping bags have been exposed to all types of conditions, terrain, and weather. They have been stuffed, packed, carried, slept in, and lounged in. Close to 30 different people have used and abused these bags and provided feedback in an effort to find the best backpacking models out there.

We tested these bags over several years and on trails across the globe. This review has evaluated over 70 sleeping bags over the years, comparing them in a variety of environments and conditions. The bags were tested hands-on in real-world applications by our OutdoorGearLab review team, with valuable input from avid recreational backpackers and local mountain guides.

Enjoying some sleeping bag testing near Washington Pass during our best backpacking sleeping bag review.
Enjoying some sleeping bag testing near Washington Pass during our best backpacking sleeping bag review.


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