Not too long ago, a 20-degree sleeping bag that weighed less than two pounds was an anomaly. Today, several bags meet that that once unattainable criteria and we have been testing five of them over the last six months.
All the bags are down-filled, traditionally shaped mummy bags. Shell materials, baffle construction, size, shape, and type of down can differ, giving each model specific characteristics. All of these bags kept us warm while sleeping to the rated temperature, but each had minor advantages that we’ll share here.
Best For Gram Counters
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 20 Regular
This bag borrows its whisper light compressible shell fabric from the iconic down jackets of the same name. The 10d ripstop fabric is partially translucent, giving the bag a ghost-light look. The differentially sized horizontal baffles contain 900 fill power, RDS certified, fluorine-free “Q-Shield” water resistant down. An utterly effective snag-free zipper pull design closes the ¾ length, draft tube-backed zipper; I found this feature a godsend, no more struggling with a snagged zipper in the middle of the night. Although this bag tied for the lightest bag in the roundup, it doesn’t have the smallest cut, and I found it to be comfortably roomy (I am 6-feet tall, 167 pounds). The Ghost Whisperer 20 is topped off with a six-chamber hood design that was amongst the warmest in the test but is curiously devoid of a draft collar. I used this bag extensively while climbing in the North Cascades, and although care against snagging the ultralight fabric was prudent, no damage occurred. This bag was the most expensive in the roundup.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound, 10 ounces
- Girth Sizes: 59” Shoulder, 53” Hip, 38” Foot
- EN Rated
- MSRP: $570
- More info: mountainhardwear.com
- Buy Now: Backcountry.com | Amazon.com
Best For Climbers
Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL20 Regular
The Hummingbird UL 20 tied for the lightweight title in this roundup, but it’s shell fabrics felt much more resistant to snagging and abrasion. Pertex Endurance, a 10d mini-ripstop is used on the exterior shell, and a 15d ripstop nylon lines the bag. Feathered Friends forgoes treated down, relying instead on the Pertex Endurance’s microporous coating, which yields a highly water-resistant, fully wind resistant, and highly breathable containment for the 950 fill power traceable down (hydrophobic treatments lower the fill power of down). It was the only bag in the test without hydrophobic down, but also the single contender with a microporous laminate on the shell. This bag had the slimmest cut and shape, so restless sleepers may want to look at other models, but for the alpine endeavors I took it on, this bag fits well in my cramped assault tent and on narrow ledges. It warmed up rapidly in frigid conditions. Continuous horizontal baffles let the user adjust the distribution of down, a trapezoidal foot box kept the loft intact to combat cold feet, and a full-length zipper permits venting. The draft collar at the top of the bag is minimal, but the draft tube behind the zipper is massive. There is a stiffener inside the draft tube that limited snags. Feathered Friends holds an esteemed reputation amongst mountain guides, and Feathered Friends builds their bags in the guide haven of Seattle, Washington.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound, 10 ounces
- Girth Sizes: 58” Shoulder, 52” Hip, 38” Foot
- MSRP: $489
- More info/Buy Now: featheredfriends.com
Best For Value
Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20 Degree Regular
The outstanding specification of the Nitro 800 20 Degree is the price. It’s $70 less than the next least expensive bag in the roundup and a whopping $240 less than the most costly, it still boasts an EN temperature rating and features that are on par or exceed competitors with higher price tags. The bag has 800 fill power, PFC-free Dridown insulation and uses a 15d nylon ripstop fabric for the shell and the 5” horizontal baffles. The hood of the bag features a generously filled, 5” wide “Draft Dodger” collar that extends the entire width of the bag. The half-length zipper and Sierra Designs exclusive hands-free, self-sealing foot vent provide heat regulating options. The Nitro 800 also boasts the roomiest cut of the roundup, making it the top choice for active or larger sleepers. Finally, there is a 2-inch wide bonded stiffener along the zipper track, limiting zipper snags. The specifications, features, and price make the Sierra Designs Nitro 800 20 Degree a hard to resist choice amongst the under two-pound offerings.
- Verified Weight 1 pound, 12 ounces
- Girth Sizes: 62” Shoulder, 56” Hip, 40” Foot
- EN Rated
- MSRP: $330
- More info: sierradesigns.com
- Buy Now: Amazon.com
Best For Technophiles
Big Agnes Hitchens UL 20 Regular
The Hutchens UL 20 is visibly different; Big Agnes specified Insotect Flow baffling to contain the 850 fill power DownTek water repellent RDS down, which claims several advantages. The vertically oriented channels allow heat to flow along the length of the bag and permits the bag to closely follow the contours of the body, holding insulation and heat near the skin. FlowGates limit down migration but allow heat transfer within the extended baffles. A generously filled draft collar sealed the head of the bag, and although the foot box was narrow, it was also tall, maintaining the loft in that area. The half-length zipper has a 3D-shaped draft tube to ward off snags, but this zipper was the most snag prone in the roundup. The mini-ripstop nylon shell material was wispy light, similar to the Ghost Whisperer fabric, and demanded the same care to avoid tears from snagging. The EN Limit rating of the Hitchens UL 20 is 13°F, the lowest of EN rated choices in the roundup.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound, 12 ounces
- Girth Sizes: 60” Shoulder, 54” Hips, 36” Foot
- EN Rated
- MSRP: $530
- More info: bigagnes.com
- Buy Now: REI.com | Backcountry.com | Amazon.com
Best For Durability
Therm-a-Rest Parsec 20 Regular
The Parsec 20 barely sneaks under the 2-pound limit of this roundup but feels the most durable. The 20d ripstop polyester shell and 20d polyester taffeta lining are by far the most substantial feeling, lending confidence against damage. 800 fill power Nikwax Hydrophobic, PFC-free, RDS down and a Thermacapture radiant liner in the top share insulating duties. Down is distributed according to need; 60% of it lies in the top half, the remainder in the bottom. The foot of the bag has a “Toe-asis,” a down filled pocket to quickly warm frozen toes, while a generously filled draft collar seals the top. The full-length zipper provides venting, and a wide draft tube backs it up. Webbing lines both sides of the zipper track to reduce snagging, but deliberate use was necessary. “SynergyLink” connectors come with the bag that facilitates integration with a mattress, and an external zipped pocket graces the top of the bag. Therm A Rest is relatively a newcomer to the sleeping bag game, and they have produced a practical and durable bag in the under two-pound weight class.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces
- Girth Sizes: 62” Shoulder, 57” Hip, 46” Foot
- EN Rated
- MSRP: $400
- More info: thermarest.com
- Buy Now: Backcountry.com