Sleeping Bag Buying Guide

Buying a Sleeping Bag is a big and sometimes daunting process.

What goes into all our designs is an uncompromising and painstaking approach to achieving warmth and comfort, baffle by baffle. A poorly designed Sleeping Bag is not only frustrating to use it can also, in the extreme, be life endangering.


We have developed answers to all the difficult questions that get asked when sleeping bags are put to the test.


This sleeping bag buying guide is designed to help you navigate the sometimes tricky decisions involved in buying a Sleeping Bag. In this guide we’ll cover everything from temperature ratings and weight, the difference between Down and Synthetic insulation, to our specific fits and Sleeping Bag ranges.


Temperature Ratings - which ratings mean the most to you?

Temperature ratings are one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a Sleeping Bag. Whilst you don’t want an uncomfortably cold night’s sleep, you equally want to avoid being too warm or carrying a Sleeping Bag too heavy for your trip.


There are various methods that help to determine the temperature ratings for a Sleeping Bag. However the European (EN) standard, known as EN 13537/ISO 23537, has now been adopted by the majority of Sleeping Bag manufactures, including Mountain Equipment.


All of our Sleeping Bags display EN13537 / ISO23537 temperature ratings except our very warmest Sleeping Bags, our Extreme Expedition Sleeping Bags and Glacier Expedition model, which fall outside the range of the test.


The EN/ISO tests produce three different temperature ratings:


Comfort Rating

This rating is defined as a temperature at which a ‘standard female’ in a relaxed posture will feel comfortable inside a Sleeping Bag. If you are female or a cold-sleeper, this is the temperature rating that is most relevant to you.

Limit Rating

This rating is defined as a temperature at which a ‘standard male’ in a curled-up posture can sleep inside the Sleeping Bag without waking for an eight hour period. If you are a male, or are not a ‘cold sleeper’, then this rating is most relevant to you. This is also the rating which is advertised most widely for most sleeping bags.

Extreme Rating

This rating indicates the minimum temperature at which a ‘standard female’ can remain for a total of six hours before risking the chance of hypothermia and damage to health. Generally this rating should be treated as a guide to how the Sleeping Bag performs under extreme emergency situations, and should not be considered a factor in making a purchase.

Our Good Night’s Sleep Guarantee

In addition to these Standard temperature ratings we also offer our Good Night’s Sleep temperature rating. This is a rating which we feel is the most accurate reflection of a bag’s potential in real-life situations. In most cases our Good Night’s Sleep rating will tally closely to that of the EN/ISO result, but for certain bags the discrepancy might be greater.


This is because the EN test is strongly affected by certain aspects of a bag’s makeup which don’t make as much difference in real life, such as the face fabric and the shape of the bag. Our Good Night’s Sleep rating is guaranteed and is based on extensive experience of manufacturing sleeping bags and extremely exhaustive testing in the laboratory, during cold chamber testing, and is influenced by user feedback from countless expeditions stretching back more than fifty years.


We suggest you base your sleeping bag purchase most closely on the Good Night’s Sleep temperature rating, but of course if you think you particularly feel the cold or otherwise, then you should take this into consideration.


Weight & Pack Size

Be honest: do you tend to car camp, backpack, or use your Sleeping Bag on alpine bivvy ledges? Depending on your usage, the weight and pack size of your Sleeping Bag may greatly differ in importance. If you are mostly going to camp in places where the pack size and weight are not an issue, then consider buying a bigger, more spacious Sleeping Bag.


However, if you are alpine climbing or backpacking and carrying your Sleeping Bag for an extended period of time, then a lightweight Sleeping Bag is really important. Look for a Sleeping Bag under a kilo (2.2lbs) for a Summer Sleeping Bag, under 600g (1.3lbs) if you are really serious about shedding weight.


If you are looking for a year-round Sleeping Bag that’s suitable for a variety of climates, then anything up to about 1.5kg (3.3lbs) will suit you perfectly.


The packed size of a Sleeping Bag is closely allied to its weight, but there is also a huge difference between Down and Synthetic Sleeping Bags. A Down Sleeping Bag with a Good Night’s Sleep rating of -20°C/-4°F may actually compress smaller than a Synthetic Sleeping Bag with a temperature rating of -5°C/23°F!


If you intend on carrying your Sleeping Bag for long amounts of time, but have only ever used a Synthetic Sleeping Bag, consider switching to a Down Sleeping Bag.


But once you’re back from your trip, always make sure to store your Down Sleeping Bag in its storage cube, which we also provide, to ensure your Down maintains its loft. With Synthetic, it’s not quite so important, but it’s best to store a Synthetic Sleeping Bag uncompressed too.


Insulation - What fill is best for your needs?

Sleeping Bags are either filled with Down or with Synthetic insulation. Down is warmer for its weight and packs smaller, so is a better choice for those who regularly carry their Sleeping Bag. Down is also longer-lasting and more comfortable to sleep in. However, Synthetic Sleeping Bags* are less expensive than Down Sleeping Bags, they are more effective if the Sleeping Bag gets very wet, and they are easier to clean and launder. For most performance applications, Down is superior to Synthetic, but if you expect exceedingly wet conditions, Synthetic is the way to go.


*Not available in the US



Synthetic insulation might all look very similar to the untrained eye, but they vary greatly in their warmth, softness, compressibility, durability, water resistance and compression recovery. All of our Polarloft® synthetic insulations used in our Sleeping Bags are a result of scouring the globe for the best possible materials.

We use three different types of Polarloft® in our Sleeping Bags.

Polarloft® with continuous filament and mixed filament technologies are blended in our Aurora Sleeping Bags to provide the greatest possible reliable warmth and durability. They are the best synthetic insulations available anywhere.


The Polarloft® used in our other Synthetic Bags offer a fantastic blend of warmth, comfort, compressibility and durability which is ideal for all but the most demanding situations. The warmer the synthetic Sleeping Bag, the more weight of synthetic insulation it has inside it, usually in the form of a greater number of layers of insulation and/or thicker layers of insulation.



The greatest factor determining how warm a down sleeping bag will be is the fill weight: how many grams of down are in the bag. The measure of the quality of that down is the fill power, with a greater number indicating greater quality. Roughly speaking, down above 700 fill power is very good down, down above 800 fill power is exceptional down. We use two different types of down in our sleeping bags:


800 Fill Power Goose Down

Our very best Eastern European goose down. Sourced from Western Russia and DOWN CODEX™ approved. Amongst the best downs available anywhere.


700 Fill Power Duck Down

Sourced from two suppliers, one in Germany and one in China, both of which are DOWN CODEX™ approved. An extremely good all round down insulation.



In 2009 Mountain Equipment became one of the first outdoor brands to introduce independent auditing of our down supply chain. Quietly introduced, without fanfare or press-releases, DOWN CODEX® set out to understand an industry and supply-chain that was largely ignored and certainly little understood.


All products contain a code that can be entered into our DOWN CODEX® website to trace the down that they contain. Not only can you identify the source of your down but the audit relating to that source and the down batch test results can also be viewed.


Outer Fabrics

Outer face fabrics are a Sleeping Bag’s first line of defence against moisture, snow, and spilt drinks. They stop down or synthetic insulation escaping the Sleeping Bag, but also allow perspiration out, and are an important factor in comfort. The table below summarises our various face fabrics’ performances, with further details given below:



For extreme conditions, GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ will protect against exposure to moisture thanks to its durably light, exceptionally breathable and rain-resistant membrane. With an incredibly light 10 denier outer face fabric and protective PTFE membrane it weighs just 38g/m² yet will defend against snowfall, snow-melt and the effects of condensation; ensuring that down maintains its loft even in cold and damp conditions.


Exceeding the impressive 1500 mm hydrostatic head of the original DRILITE® LOFT but with a staggering weight of only 28g/m², DRILITE® Loft Xero is a class-leading fabric for the most serious users: it’s amongst the lightest highly water resistant shell fabrics in the world. Ideal for Super Alpine climbing and the most lightweight expeditions where protection, pack size and weight are critical to success.


One of the lightest downproof fabrics on the planet. Perfect for alpinists and backpackers for whom weight is absolutely critical. Despite being just 26g/m², the fabric has exceptional tear resistance, giving you peace of mind on longer or more remote trips.

DRILITE® Loft 30

Considerably lighter than the original DRILITE® Loft Fabric, but still with the same highly water resistant 1500 mm hydrostatic head, DRILITE® Loft 30 weighs 55g/m² and is the ideal fabric for sleeping bags destined for serious mountaineering, climbing, and backpacking in difficult conditions.

DRILITE® Loft 20

One of the lightest versions of DRILITE® Loft available. Our 20 denier version weighs just 36g/m² yet still affords the same highly water resistant properties of the original with an impressive 1500mm hydrostatic head.


Weighing just 38g/m², HELIUM™ 20 uses 20 denier yarns to create a fabric that is compressible, tough, and extremely comfortable. Its densely woven construction ensures the highest levels of downproofing, wind resistance and resistance to heat loss. The new HELIUM™ 20 offers greater handfeel over previous HELIUM™ fabrics as well as reduced seam slippage, resulting in even greater durability than the previous fabric.


A durable and well-proven version of our Helium™ fabrics offers great all round long-term performance without adding undue cost. It’s easily cared for and offers excellent comfort. It is 53g/m².

Fit - It’s worth getting a bag that fits well.

Every Mountain Equipment Sleeping Bag is specified to one of five different fits: Expedition, Mountain, Alpine, Valley, and GT.


In turn, our Sleeping Bags are then available in either our standard regular or long sizes, and our Women’s Specific shape and specification in some models. Women’s Sleeping Bags are shorter than the equivalent Men’s Sleeping Bag by 15 cm/6 inches and also offer a marginally smaller footbox to suit smaller feet (but with increased fill weight). They also come with EXL™ stitching at the midriff which provides greater comfort, warmth, and improved fit.


It’s worth getting a bag that fits well – one that is too tight and restrictive will be uncomfortable if used for any length of time, while one that is too big can feel cold as the air inside them may circulate freely.


Expedition Fit

Wider and marginally longer than our Mountain Fit, the Expedition Fit caters for the needs of high altitude mountaineers and polar explorers who need to wear or store additional items of clothing or even their boots inside their sleeping bag.

Mountain Fit

The foundation of all our fit blocks, this semi-tapered mummy profile combines excellent thermal efficiency and comfort for all-round mountain use.

Alpine Fit

Slightly more tapered in the upper body and in the legs than our Mountain Fit this fit maximises thermal performance and minimises weight for the upmost performance.


Valley Fit

Providing the greatest possible room and comfort. The hood of the bag will accommodate a full-size pillow, and the bag’s main body profile will easily accommodate relaxed postures whilst the enlarged foot box gives extra wiggle room.


GT (‘Grand Tourer’) Fit

Our largest fit block, this is our Alpine fit but with every dimension increased by approximately 15%. It follows the same tapered shape as the Alpine fit but offers greater room for larger sleepers.




Designed to fit a maximum user height of 185cm / 6ft 1” It will perform optimally for those users who are between 178cm and 183cm (5ft 8” and 6ft) in height.


Designed to fit a maximum user height of 200cm / 6ft 6” It will perform optimally for those users who are between 185cm and 197cm (6ft 1” and 6ft 5”) in height.


Women's Specific

Regular Women's:

Designed to fit a maximum user height of 170cm / 5ft 6” It will perform optimally for those users who are between 163cm and 168cm (5ft 3” and 5ft 5”) in height.

Long Women's:

Designed to fit a maximum user height of 185cm / 6ft 1” It will perform optimally for those users who are between 178cm and 183cm 5ft 8” and 6ft) in height.


Construction is key to long-term performance.

How a Sleeping Bag is constructed makes a big difference to durability, its ability to maintain warmth in wet conditions, and how much the Sleeping Bag weighs. We use more complex constructions than any other Down Sleeping Bag manufacturer, but we do this because on longer or extreme trips, it really matters. It is also key to ensuring even warmth throughout a Sleeping Bag, as there is no point in having a warm torso if your feet and head are freezing.


Sleeping Bag construction relates to how the insulation is held in place and arranged in a Sleeping Bag. For Down Sleeping Bags that means how the baffles are constructed, and for Synthetic Sleeping Bags it relates to how the sheets of insulation are sewn together.


You can find out more about the Baffle type or Construction type for each of our Sleeping Bags on their product page.


Down Sleeping Bag Construction

Construction of a Down Sleeping Bag is all about Down control. It’s the thing that keeps the Down in place throughout the Sleeping Bag’s lifetime. All our Sleeping Bags feature excellent Down control, but some of our Sleeping Bags have truly exceptional Down control. The only real disadvantage to better Down control is marginally greater weight, and being much harder to sew together. We use five main types of baffle construction in the body of our Down Sleeping Bags as seen above.


Synthetic Sleeping Bag Construction

For Synthetic Sleeping Bags, construction is all about trying to make the Sleeping Bag as warm and thick as possible. It’s not as simple as laying more sheets of insulation on top of each other, as greater benefits can be had by lapping insulations, or by sewing them offset or unevenly, as this creates greater bulk. We use four main types of construction as seen above.*


*Not available in the US




Discover the Range

Extreme Alpine

Extreme Light




*Not available in the US


*Not available in the US

Goose Down Sleeping Bags

Our Goose Down Sleeping Bags are our most exceptional Sleeping Bags, designed for users who want to push their limits or for those who simply want one of the best Sleeping Bags ever made. We make three different ranges of Goose Down Sleeping Bag.

GORE® THERMIUM™ 10D outer shell is durably light, highly breathable and rain-resistant

Extreme Expedition

Engineered to withstand extreme cold in the most hostile environments on earth. With durably rain-resistant fabrics and construction optimised to maximise and maintain warmth for extended periods these bags are built specifically for the needs of explorers and mountaineers undertaking the most committing journeys in the highest, coldest and most remote locations.


DRILITE® LOFT™ XERO 10D outer shell is ultra-light, highly breathable and water-resistant

Extreme Alpine

True expedition bags in all but weight, re-defining what is possible for those in need of high levels of protection and reliable warmth. Developed specifically for climbers and mountaineers tackling the world’s last great problems and pushing the envelope of possibility to its limit, these lightweight, protective Sleeping Bags are anything but simple. Providing absolute confidence for self-supported trips in remote locations, these are designed for alpinism’s leading edge.


Plasma™ 10D outer shell is incredibly light and exceptionally breathable

Extreme Light

The lightest, most efficient Sleeping Bags we have ever developed. If you want reliable warmth for minimum weight, look no further. Their advanced design and cutting edge fabric technology has opened up a new standard in superlight bag construction. Developed for alpinists, ultra-distance backpackers and mountain athletes these bags will help you reach your destination faster, more efficiently and more comfortably than ever before.


Duck Down Sleeping Bags

Our Duck Down Sleeping Bags offer similar performance to our Goose Down Sleeping Bags but at a fraction of the cost. They are a great choice for all but the most discerning of customers. We make three different ranges of Duck Down Sleeping Bags.

GORE® THERMIUM™ 10D outer shell is durably light, highly breathable and rain-resistant


Glaciers offer true all-round performance and protection for unreliable conditions. Whether you are on a 3-week tent-based trek in the Himalaya, hauling a pulk across the Greenland icecap or mountaineering in the Cascades there is a Glacier Sleeping Bag for almost every mountain and cold weather adventure.


DRILITE® LOFT™ XERO 10D outer shell is ultra-light, highly breathable and water-resistant


Efficiently sized, supremely comfortable and low in weight each Helium bag offers outstanding all-round performance for backpackers, cycle-tourers and trekkers. These bags don’t skimp on features and will keep you warm and comfortable whether on a summer road-trip or extended trek.


Plasma™ 10D outer shell is incredibly light and exceptionally breathable


A benchmark in down sleeping bag design. Low in weight and easy to pack they offer great all-round performance in a roomier, more generously sized design. With features that would put many rivals more expensive bags to shame, the Classic collection is ideally suited to all-forms of self-supported travel whether backpacking across Europe, trekking in the Himalaya or venturing through South America.


* Not available in the US


Earthrise Sleeping Bags

Recycled down offers almost all the performance of virgin down but with less environmental impact. A superb option for all but high performance users.


Recycled down, recycled fabrics; the Earthrise is our most sustainable range of sleeping bags which will give you years of excellent service. Based on the design of our best-selling Helium models, Earthrise bags are high performance products that boast both serious warmth and outstanding green credentials.*


* Not available in the US


Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Synthetic Sleeping Bags excel when you need totally reliable protection whatever the elements throw at you. Versus Down they are easier to care for and are usually cheaper. We make three different ranges of Synthetic Sleeping bag.*


* Not availabile in the US

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