Video Version of  Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Camping Quilts

For those that prefer video, and like to see the actual quilts and sleeping bags in hand, this is a detailed deep-dive explaining all the gear, what’s great and how I use it

Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator (AAWE)

The Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator (AAWE) estimates the comfort temperature of sleeping bags (even if the bag has not been ISO 23537/ EN 13537 tested). That this, our AAWE model, taking into account the physical properties of a sleeping bag or camping quilt, its down, and other parameters can accurately estimate within a few degrees the comfort temperature range of almost all tested and untested sleeping bags, camping quilts, and alternatives. This allows you, the consumer, to make apples-to-apples warmth comparisons between sleeping bags without confusion. This also gives you powerful tools to compare warmth to weight (performance), and warmth to cost (value) between sleeping bags, so you don’t spend more money than you have to.

In summary, Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator saves you both weight and hard earned income by allowing you without confusion to find the lightest and warmest sleeping bag or camping quilt at the lowest cost. You win!

Note 1: The Adventure Alan Sleeping Bag Warmth Estimator (AAWE)  is just that an estimator. It is not a test, nor intended to be used in lieu of testing. It is intended to be used as a tool for consumers in assessing the relative merits between sleeping bags and camping quilts. And while there is a very high correlation between the model’s estimates and values for most tested bags and quilts, there are also a few places where it misses comfort rating of a tested bag by more than 2 degrees. This is most likely due to inaccuracies or typos in the published specs for those bags, but unless we tear the bag apart and weigh and measure component weights this cannot be conclusively proven or disproven.

Note 2: For camping quilts and hoodless sleeping bags, similar to the I SO sleeping bag test protocol, the model assumes one layer top and bottom of long underwear and a warm hat — or better yet, a warm hood to achieve their lowest comfort level.

Note 3: The ISO sleeping bag test has no contingency for testing quilts. Thus, while it is possible to follow most of ISO sleeping bag test protocol for a quilt, whatever resulting temperature ratings related would not be “official” until a few quilt specific protocols are defined.  That being said, we do know of at least one manufacturer that has to the best of their ability tested a down quilt using as much of the ISO protocol as possible. Thankfully, our model correlates well with those values. And from an engineering standpoint, the logic of what would make a sleeping bag warm would apply equally to a quilt.

Data Tables for Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Camping Quilts

Cautions in Making Comparisons

For fair comparisons it’s best to compare sleeping bags and quilts with similar girths and comprt temperature ratings.

  1. Compare bags with similar girth measurements. That is, all other things being equal, bags/quilts with wider girths get a lower W2W rating vs. bags with narrower girths. This is simple math.
  2. Compare bags with similar temperature ratings. That is, all other things being equal, bags/quilts with a higher temp rating get a lower W2W rating vs. bags. E.g. a +30 bag is going to get a lower W2W vs. a +20 bag. This is because the shell, zipper, etc. remain the same weight, so the only increase is weight is a few ounces of down. Again, this is simple math.
  3. Both W2W and W2C values are simply intended to rank sleeping bags and quilts from high to low. As such, there is is no proportionality to those values (e.g. a quilt with a 5 W2W value is not 2x warmer for the weight than a quilt with a 2.5 W2W value. In a bit more detail, the W2W and W2C values are calculated so that the top score for a category is 5 and the lowest scores in the range of 1 or less — although in a few cases, there are high scores a bit over 5.

Top Picks | Backpacking Sleeping Bags and Camping Quilts

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11 replies
  1. Nyc
    Nyc says:

    great analysis!
    I can’t understand by what formulas “Warmth to Cost” and “Warmth to Weight” were calculated

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      NYC, “Our AAWE model takes into account the physical properties of a sleeping bag or camping quilt, the type and amount of down, and other parameters to accurately estimate within a few degrees the comfort temperature range of almost all tested and untested sleeping bags, camping quilts, and alternatives.” The physics/engineering of what makes a sleeping bag or quilt warm is fairly well defined. So if you know the enough of the physical properties of the bag or quilt then you can model about how warm it should be. Once that’s done you can validate your model by using it to estimate the temp ratings of tested bags. After a few minor tweaks to our physical model, we found that we can reliably get to within a few degrees of almost all tested bags. Best, -alan

      Reply
  2. Mike G.
    Mike G. says:

    Hey Alan,

    FYI, it looks like you have the high end KG Flex 22 listed as having 950 fill, but KG’s highest fill offered is 900.

    Great article and super helpful! Love your data driven comparisons for all these bags.

    Looking forward to another Down Jacket update with the same detail!

    Reply
  3. Backcountry Forward
    Backcountry Forward says:

    Could you explain the warmth to weight ration and warmth to cost ratio a bit? Is a W2W and W3C that’s high better or lower? Like is a W2W of 5 meaning that it is 5 times warmer than it is “weightful”? A paragraph explaining these terms would be helpful!
    Thanks for a great resource!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Backcountry. We have amended the table to answer it. The quick answer is both W2W and W2C values are simply intended to rank sleeping bags and quilts from high to low. as such, there is is no proportionality to those values (e.g. a quilt with a 5 W2W value is not 2x warmer for the weight than a quilt with a 2.5 W2W value. In a bit more detail, the values are calculated so that the top score for a category is 5 and the lowest values in the range of 1 or less. Although in a few cases, there are high scores a bit over 5. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  4. Tom Ludovise
    Tom Ludovise says:

    Another super-informative article. I’ve been considering switching to a quilt and your info helps a lot. Thanks, Alan!

    Reply
  5. Alan G Wonders
    Alan G Wonders says:

    Wonderfully done! Useful. Huge project.
    Thanks.

    Perhaps column headers in table are misstated as reciprocals. I clicked “supporting data” first. Headers of columns 3 & 4 say weight to warmth, cost to warmth. Yikes! Compared to others, my gear had very high cost and weight compared to warmth provided. Not good. I’m cold and paid too much.

    The full article clarifies, corrects. These colmns are anchored ratings (5 best) for weight and cost relative to warmth provided. Quilts are more efficient to provide more warmth value for unit cost and weight.

    Optionally, one could state columns headers tersely as warmth FOR cost and warmth FOR weight.

    Consider names of some worksheet tabs, too.

    Reply
  6. Mauricio D. Melati
    Mauricio D. Melati says:

    Hi Alan, nice job here! But please, remember to insert some quilts from China. From people like me from Brazil and others non-developed countries, this options are the only option. I recomend you to take a look at “Ice Flame” baffled quilts with 800 goose down, and the “Windhard” sewn thrown with 850 goose down.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Mauricio, collecting the bags + quilts, all the data and modeling them was a HUGE effort. There was only so much we can handle in the time we had. In the future we may include “Ice Flame,” “Windhard” and some other quilt and sleeping bag manufacturers and they may be modeled/tested and added to the data. Best, -alan

      Reply

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