When choosing a sleeping bag for the JMT, you should consider the following:
- Material (Down or synthetic)
- Temperature rating
- Does it have a hood?
- Is it a traditional sleeping bag or a quilt?
- How big is it when it is packed in a stuff sack?
Most lightweight hikers choose a down sleeping bag because it has a greater warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible (takes up less space). Synthetic materials are much better at retaining warmth when wet, however, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each material. The temperature rating of your sleeping bag is also very important, with 20°F being a good choice in the summer months. If you ‘sleep cold’, then a 10-15°F bag may be more appropriate. ‘Warm sleepers’ should consider a 30°F bag. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some popular, light options. Unfortunately, most lightweight sleeping bags are very expensive. For hikers on a budget, check BPL Gear Swap, Zpacks bargain bin, and Sierra trading post. Aim for a sleeping bag that is around two pounds or less and has the correct temperature rating for your needs.
On a tight budget? Before I decided to lighten my pack, I used a Kelty Ignite DriDown 20°F sleeping bag (women’s version is 43 ounces) and really liked it. It’s heavier than I’d prefer (my current sleeping bag is less than half the weight), but it’s really warm and overall a great sleeping bag. See other budget sleeping bags here.