Looking for the best sleeping bag to keep you warm when you wild camp?

Who knows what I used as a teenager, probably something I found at home but I started proper wild camping in the mountains with a Vango synthetic sleeping bag that I’d used with the family on campsites, I imagine most people do.


This green synthetic sleeping bag was huge, took half of my 60l rucksack up! It was just about warm enough.

The first thing you’ve got to know about sleeping bags is that THEY do not warm you up. YOU warm you up. The sleeping bag is simply an insulator, it reduced the loss of heat from your body into the environment. It does this by trapping a layer of air in the fibres.

Synthetic bags are a man-made material, plastic basically, they take up twice the space generally than the other type of insulation, down. Down is found under the feathers of birds. Goose down is used in good quality sleeping bags. Because it’s so fluffy and fin,e the warmth to weight ratio is higher than that of synthetic material. In mid-ranged bags, however, you’ll find duck down. So, there are two main materials used, synthetic and down.

I’m not going to test anything, I’m not even going to compare numbers. Over the years that’s what I’ve done many times and I’m simply going to offer you my opinion on what I’ve learned and felt out there in snowstorms, sometimes admittedly freezing all night. One that comes to mind was caused by condensation in the tent, a bivvy bag would have stopped that.

Winter wild camping
Winter wild camping

Sleeping bags are not as different as the tickets say. The most important thing to look at on a sleeping bag that you want to keep you warm on freezing nights is the EN13537 Comfort rating. This should be below zero to be comfortable in the Winter and if you need the bag for arctic conditions then you know as much or more than I do already (see link at the bottom of the page).

So, synthetic takes up twice the space and down is half the weight. It’s a no-brainer, choose down. Which brand? Well, there are many and they do offer different design benefits BUT unless you have £500 in the budget or you’re off to Everest then the bespoke companies are out of your league. You’ll pay them an extra few hundred to make the bag a bit more to your spec. This is fine but for most of us, our budget will stretch to £200.

The WeeNest on Redmond's Edge
The WeeNest on Redmond’s Edge

For me, £200 is best spent with Alpkit. I had a SkyeHigh 1000 which had an EN comfort rating (the important number) of -2 but I’ve gone to sleep at 8 pm and it was -10c outside, been comfortable throughout the night and woke to find a snowstorm had frozen the tent. I measured 30c in the bag!

Since selling that on, I now own a SkyeHigh 500 for summer and the 900 for winter.

Get one here:

I have no affiliation with AlpKit, they just sell great stuff!

The Skyehigh 1000 was always too hot in the coldest of summer UK nights for me so I end up sweating, which will cause discomfort and next day make you cold.

Feel free to comment mentioning what keeps YOU warm in Winter but please include the EN comfort rating for comparison (not Leeds).

I’ve tried to keep this short and easy to understand for the less experienced campers out there. I found a similar article on the PHD website which complicates things a little as their audience is well experienced mountaineers. This article goes into detail and tests a number of sleeping bags. I’ll thank them here for providing this resource and saving me from going into this level of detail. If you want the long winded version go take a look – https://www.phdesigns.co.uk/the-truth-about-sleeping-bags

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