How to Choose a Down Sleeping Bag
Updated July 2020
At Bogong we stock a huge range of quality sleeping bags – over 50 models at last count – and it can be pretty hard to make a decision. I've written this guide to a few of the best options for particular purposes. This is not the be-all-and-end-all of sleeping bag advice, but hopefully it's a useful guide to get you started on choosing the best sleeping bag for you.
Scenario 1: General-use, three-season bag. Good for bushwalking, travel, camping.
Our recommendation: Mont Zodiac 500 Sleeping Bag
The Mont Zodiac 500 is one of our most popular bags, and it's not hard to see why. It's a comfortable, quality down sleeping bag from an Australian company. Full-length zips on the side and base mean it can be opened out as a doona, making it versatile enough to deal with crashing on a friend's couch as well as a bushwalk down at the Prom.
This is a quality sleeping bag at a very reasonable price.
Scenario 2: Serious bushwalking bag.
Our recommendation: Mont Brindabella 700 Sleeping Bag
You're pretty into outdoor activities, and you're not going to cancel your next trip just because it's snowing, or stay home just because it's -2°C in Grampians. You need a serious sleeping bag.
The Mont Brindabella 700 is warm and versatile. It has 700 grams of quality 785–850 loft premium duck down keeps you toasty warm, while the new, higher-performing Hydronaute XT outer shell protects your sleeping bag from condensation, snow and wet gear. The down is Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treated too, for ultimate protection from moisture.
But when you're heading off at other times of the year, the full-length side and foot zippers mean you can vent as required, making the Brindabella 700 a versatile option for serious bushwalkers.
Also consider: Exped WB 800
Scenario 3: Snow camping/winter sleeping bag.
Our recommendations: Mont Spindrift 850, Exped Waterbloc 800
The Exped WB 800 features fully welded waterproof seams. Check out the outrageous video above!
Ideal for snow camping, winter bushwalks and ski tours where everything gets wet in the end. For these kinds of trips, it's worth taking a bag that's a bit warmer than you need to allow for the effects of moisture (as I found out the hard way on the Western Arthurs). A boxfoot or mummy-style bag is the most thermally efficient in winter conditions. The Mont Spindrift 850 and the Exped WB 800 both feature top-quality down with a mummy shape and waterproof shell fabric.
Scenario 4: Mountaineering sleeping bag.
Our recommendations: Mont Expedition 8000
When it comes to choosing a sleeping bag for mountaineering, it's best to chat to one of our expert staff about exactly where you're going, so that we can determine the exact sleeping bag that would be best suited for you.
In general, you want a very warm sleeping bag, with high quality down. The down in the Mont Expedition 8000 sleeping bag is 825–850 loft and has a down fill weight of 1400 grams. The down is also DWR treated, which stops it from clumping when wet and helps it to dry quicker. In addition, the Expedition 8000 has a new Hydronaute XT outer shell that reduces water ingress in the first place and helps trap warm air.
Mont's clever construction, where the torso baffles run the length of your body instead of horizontally, also means that down doesn't shift off your body like it can with horizontal baffles. The warm, comfortable boxfoot design is also good for cold weather. With a minimum comfort temperature of -30°C to -40°C, this bag suits extreme cold conditions and use in the world's great ranges.
Scenario 5: Lightweight at all costs!
Our recommendations: Mont Zero UL
You want a light pack, and you're willing to sacrifice a little convenience to get it.
The Mont Zero UL is an incredibly lightweight down sleeping bag. It's perfect for summer cycle tours, hikes and camping when it's not too cold. It's a tiny 300 grams, and packs down into a unit that's barely bigger than a one-litre Nalgene bottle. It has a minimum comfort temperature of 7 degrees. This is achieved by using top-notch duck down, ultra light fabric, and a tapered mummy shape. The lack of a hood is a price you need to be willing to pay for the weight saving.
It's worth noting that there are lighter bags out there, but the Mont Zero UL is the lightest full-sized sleeping bag currently on the market. (It accommodates people up to six feet in height.)
Also consider: Mont Zero SL
Scenario 6: Ultralight bag that is still comfortable.
Our recommendation: Mont Helium 300
If you want a lightweight sleeping bag without the sacrifices, the Mont Helium 300 is the way to go. It includes many of the features that are missing from other ultralight sleeping bags, such as a full length zip and bottom zip, down-filled baffles along the zip and hood, and a generous hood. All this at only
700 grams 640 grams!
How can it be so light? Two reasons. One is the ultralight
15 denier 10 denier fabric which cuts the weight of the shell dramatically. The other is the 800 loft down. This incredibly high spec down gives you more warmth for the same weight, cutting down on the total weight of the bag!
Update Feb 2016: The Helium 300 is now 60 grams lighter thanks to new 10-denier fabric, and it features DWR down for improved performance in damp conditions.
Scenario 7: Budget three-season bag that will be used and abused.
Our recommendation: Rock Empire Cyklotour
If you're looking for a sleeping bag just to take camping, cycling or maybe to a festival, the Rock Empire Cyklotour is a good option. As a synthetic sleeping bag, it is a good value option, and much easier to wash than a down sleeping bag. The main drawback is the size and weight, although this is not as bulky as many cheaper synthetic sleeping bags out there.
- DOWN VS. SYNTHETIC SLEEPING BAGS
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