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Women's Sleeping Bags of the Future: REI Seeks Your Input

Women-specific sleeping bags have been around for more than a decade, and I think I speak for most female adventurers when I say I'm grateful they exist. They do a great job of addressing our needs--both the physiological and metabolic factors that are important to women. For example, a gender-specific fit (i.e., cut to match our shape) is a better step in the right direction than being asked to simply accept a smaller size of a men's bag.

With temperature ratings between bags becoming more consistent, due largely to new EN testing (described in the REI Expert Advice article How to Choose a Sleeping Bag), we’re on the verge of the next generation of women’s bags.

As a result, the REI product team would welcome input from women on what they value most in a sleeping bag. They're at work on several new designs, so they're asking for input to help make our new bags great. Please tell us what you think:

Which of the following do you value most in a sleeping bag for backpacking?

•    Low weight
•    Easy compressibility
•    Reliable temperature ratings
•    Comfortable fit (not too roomy, not too snug)
•    Ample insulation (no cold spots)
•    Nice next-to-skin texture
•    Sustainable or recycled content
•    Pockets
•    Color
•    Something else

Think back to the last time you slept under the stars, struggled with your sleeping bag and said in exasperation, “If only I designed these things!” What would you suggest we improve?

Please post a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Posted on at 7:34 PM

Tagged: EN rating, REI Gear and Apparel, Sleeping bag, camping, rei and women's

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Peggy Hinsman

What I value most in a sleeping bag for backpacking is its ability to keep me warm at night when I am sleeping (ample insulation), but not too heavy or large to carry in the backpack, and to feel comfortable sleeping in it. I am taller than the average American female and often have back aches after sleeping on a sleeping pad in a sleeping bag.

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My wife is aways complaining about the liner. Would it be possible to make a warm bag with a comfortable cotton liner instead of the synthetics?


In order of priority:
1. Comfortable Fit
2. Warmth
3.Low weight
4. Easy compressibility
5. Sustainable,recycled material
6. next to skin texture


I'm also generally too tall for women's gear & end up buying the men's version...

Jen who just loves being outdoors

What I value most is ample insulation (no cold spots), but low weight is also high on my list. The other thing that I am always looking for is a cotton lined sleeping bag. I hate the feel of most synthetics against my skin when I am trying to sleep - it makes me feel sticky and sweaty - yuck!


I value low weight (definitely nothing over 3lbs for a 20 degree, nothing over 1.5 for summer), compressability (5X12 or less is awesome), ample insulation, and sustainability the most. Of course, VALUE and cost is important, too - I just can't part with over $175 for a sleeping bag, and prefer much less. Finally, I value versatility.

I would also suggest keeping and/or adding: "pillow" pocket, full-length zippers (and the ability to use as a blanket or to zip together with another bag), extra insulation in the hip area and feet (most of my female backpacking peeps complain about those spots), and breathability/venting capabilities. Also, a sleeping pad sleeve or straps to secure to a pad are nice touches.


I would love to find a bag with a mummybag/non-mummybag option!


Low weight, easy compressibility and warmth. A pillow pocket would be nice as well as a small pocket to store ear plugs, hair ties and chapstick.


I'm always searching for a comfortable liner and good temperature wise, but as I am big and tall I always end up settling for men's gear anyway


The two most important things to me in a sleeping bag are weight and insulation. It should be light, easy to compress and super warm and snuggly. The only thing that I don't like is hand warmers on the inside of bags, because it always snags on my dry skin.


A quiet zipper that is EASY and FAST to pull up and down. An anti-static material so my hair doesn't get all electric and stick to my face.

Sadly I am too tall (6'2") for women's bags, so I can't benefit from all the gender specific engineering, such as more warmth at the foot and wider at the hips.


I think there are a lot of taller women out there that would appreciate a longer size bag to suit our needs instead of opting for the men's version. Also I know that I get really cold so I'd definitely appreciate ample insulation and a reliable temperature rating. Some cool features to think about: zip off foot box (like the NorthFace Fission model) so that we can hop around camp in our bag and stay warm, small pocket/nook for earplugs for those of us that need to stow small items like earplugs (snoring husbands!), and zippers that are easy to find inside the bag and run smoothly.

Theresa C

Last year, I bought Big Agnes. I love Big Agnes - I love the mattress pad sleeve and the roominess to rollover. A cotton liner might be nice but so far it has worked great compared to my old mummy bag. Now, if you can find a way to work a bathroom feature in (especially in the winter) that would be awesome!


What I value in a sleeping bag is no cold spots, space to move around since I have broad shoulders, compresses well, and the zipper not stick. Last section hike I did on the AT I was frustrated over the zipper getting stuck.


Most important to me is having a sleeping bag that's easy to compress. I hate fighting my sleeping bag into the compression bag on a cold, wet morning on a backpacking trip. Next on my list is insulation, I like my bags to be on the warmer side. I like having pockets on the inside of my sleeping back to keep medications in so they stay warm (eye drops, albuterol inhaler) instead of letting them float around the foot box. Last on my list of important features I care about is comfortable fit and low weight.


This is an outdoors rap I wrote entitled "Bag of Sleep for Two"

heart sierras

I am currently looking for 0 degree or subzero degree vegan sleeping bag (no down!) that is low weight and compressible. I don't really care about features such as pockets and color (though nothing too egregious...) Having a snug fit (I am petite at 5'0"), no cold spots, and nice next-to-skin texture are very important. Sustainable and recycled content would be nice, but not at the expense of reliability. If I can use a bag for the rest of my life, it would be nicer than a "sustainable" bag that damages easily and needs to be replaced often.


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