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Top 5 Best Sleeping Bags for Elk Hunting • (New 2022 Reviews)

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One of the items you can’t possibly skimp on when gathering your elk hunting gear is the best elk hunting sleeping bag. Cold, sleepless nights only lead to miserable mornings which leads to a decrease in focus. Caffeine only makes up for some of that burden. The key is to get deep restful sleep in even the harshest weather conditions.

When choosing a sleeping bag for an elk hunt, it’s wise to choose a lightweight model to add minimal weight to your pack. While that may seem obvious, the best bags are engineered to be incredibly lightweight, weighing just 2 lbs and packing down to almost nothing. The main benefit is you don’t even know you’re carrying one until it’s ready to be used.

Most Important Factors to Consider

Before we unveil our top picks, let’s quickly go over the factors we prioritized when choosing our top picks:

  • Country of Manufacture – We strive to buy American-made, though, like most things in life, made in China might be more fitting for your budget for a good quality bag.
  • Temperature Ratings – ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 23537-1:2016 governs the requirements and testing methods for labeling temperatures on adult sleeping bags. While this is a good number to consider, most hunters already know that these numbers are notoriously inaccurate. For elk hunting, three-season 10 to 15ºF bags get the job done.
  • Synthetic vs Down – If you want a bag that’s lightweight, stands the test of time, and provides the most warmth, then stick with down. One drawback to down is that it becomes ineffective when moist, though, top brands know this, and they use treatments to block moisture.
  • Fit – The number one rule is to never buy an elk bag that’s too short. Second, it’s wise to test a few brands to ensure there’s enough shoulder & chest girth to sleep comfortably. Third, legroom is an important consideration, especially if you want to store gear in the leg area to dry overnight.

Now, it’s time to check out our top picks.

Best Elk Hunting Sleeping Bag Reviews

In each of the following reviews, you’ll quickly learn why we chose these models, the highlights of each, and some important pros & cons to consider before landing on the right model for your next elk hunt.

#1) Western Mountaineering Versalite Sleeping Bag

As far as true 10º sleeping bags go, this is the best one on the market and our top all-around pick for elk hunting. Western Engineering is the brand we trust the most when choosing an elk hunting bag, and the Versalite is the warmest model in Western Mountaineering’s ExtremeLite series. As the name suggests, these models are the lightest offered by Western Mountaineering.

Since the Versalite is the warmest, it’s the heaviest in the series, but don’t let that scare you away because it weighs just 2 lbs in the 6′ size. That’s the lightest you’ll find in this guide and the lightest you’ll find in this category. Regarding materials, the Versalite features 850+ goose down with an 18 to 22 oz fill weight. This is the highest fill power offered by a sleeping bag for superior insulation, comfort, and longevity.

Lastly, Western Mountaineering sleeping bags are made in the USA and come backed by an unlimited guarantee against manufacturer’s defects. WM even goes the extra mile by repairing or replacing its products at no extra cost to the owner. All in all, if it’s within your budget, and you want a bag that lasts for decades, the Versalite is your match.

Pros

  • 850+ fill power for maximum insulation
  • Super lightweight at 2 lbs
  • High-density nylon rip stops (7 to 12 denier)
  • Super durable 10 to 15 denier nylon taffeta lining
  • Unlimited guarantee
  • Continuous baffles set at 5.25″
  • Full down collar seal
  • Great compression to minimize the size

Cons

  • The highest upfront cost
  • Nothing else
  • No right zip is available

#2) Marmot Helium 15º Degree Down Sleeping Bag

Now, if you want top-notch quality for a lower price than a Western Mountaineering sack, Marmot’s Helium is an excellent mid-range elk hunting sleeping bag. First, this model features 800 fill down for greater loft. This is nearly on par with the 850+ down used by Western Mountaineering and one of the highest grades available in sleeping bags. In other words, the 15º rating on this model is honest.

If you already own a 20º bag and do your elk hunting in Colorado, the Helium 15º is your solution to get rid of those cold sleeping nights. Next, this model is one of the lightest you’ll find in this temperature category at 2 lbs 4.5 oz (1040g), and it packs down well with a 7″ x 14″ stuff sack size. Comparatively, this model weighs about a quarter-pound more than the Versalite.

Several final highlights include the Nautilus Multi-Baffle Hood to limit heat loss, smooth-curved baffles, a water-resistant Down Defender treatment, a fold-down secondary zipper, and even an internal stash pocket for small items & valuables. Lastly, the Helium comes backed by Marmot’s lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Lighter than other Marmot 15º bags
  • Excellent compression
  • Our top alternative to Western Mountaineering’s Versalite
  • 800 fill down
  • Multi-baffle hood with a drawstring to prevent heat loss
  • Backed by Marmot’s lifetime warranty
  • Internal stash pocket

Cons

  • Not quite as warm as the Versalite
  • Check the girth to ensure it’s enough

#3) Kelty Cosmic Down 20

Another popular elk hunting bag – and our top budget pick – is Kelty’s Cosmic 20 down sleeping bag. This model features an ISO temp limit rating of 21ºF, which gives you reliable comfort down to the generally accepted freezing temp of 32º. Anything colder than that, and you’ll need to layer up while you sleep or choose one of the other models in our guide.

Compared to Western Mountaineering and premium Marmot models, the Cosmic 20 is a significant jump down in price. At the of this writing, it costs about 1/4 as much as the Versalite. Although, you do get what you pay for when choosing an elk hunting sleeping bag. One big difference to note is the fill power. The Cosmic Down 20 features 550 fill power down which certainly doesn’t match the 800+ fill powers offered by our top two picks.

A couple of this bag’s key highlights are the water-resistant DriDown technology and its relatively lightweight at 2 lbs 7 oz with a 7″ x 13″ packed size. The advantage of DriDown is it helps to prevent the down from failing to insulate if it gets wet, and it helps the down dry faster than untreated down.

Pros

  • Gives you the most bang for your buck in temps down to the low 30s
  • The DriDown tech delivers by maintaining the integrity of the bag if it gets moist
  • Zippered internal stash pocket
  • Small packed size and lightweight
  • Comfortable and spacious foot box
  • Kelty stands behind its warranty
  • A good choice for side sleepers

Cons

  • Not good for below-freezing temps
  • Heavier than our top two picks
  • The stash pocket could be larger

#4) Marmot Sawtooth 15° Sleeping Bag

A good budget alternative to Marmot’s Helium is the Sawtooth 15º. Overall, the Sawtooth is our favorite budget 15º bag for elk hunting. Noteworthy differences between this model and the Helium are the 650 fill power down, heavier weight at 2 lbs 8 oz, larger stuff stack size of 7.5″ x 16″, and the stretch tricot baffles.

While those differences are important to keep in mind, for the money, this model gives you just about as much bang for your buck as Kelty’s Cosmic 20, and it’ll keep you just about as warm as the Helium model. Additionally, it features the same must-have Down Defender treatment that adds a layer of water resistance to the mix.

Final considerations are Marmot’s lifetime warranty, an internal stash pocket, the heater pocket in the foot box (we love this), and it features the same Nautilus Multi-Baffle Hood as the Helium with a down-filled collar. All things considered, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better 15º bag for the same price.

Pros

  • Currently Marmot’s most affordable 15º sleeping bag
  • Heater pocket in the foot box
  • Perfect for mid to late season and early season
  • One of the lightest 15º bags for the money
  • Water-resistant treatment
  • Marmot lifetime warranty
  • Available in Long X Wide

Cons

  • A bit heavier and bulkier than the Helium
  • 650 fill down

#5) Hyke & Byke Quandary 15º Down Sleeping Bag

Our final pick is another good budget choice by one of the more under-the-radar brands in the hunting world, Hyke & Byke. Essentially, this model is a budget alternative to Marmot’s Sawtooth and is priced similarly to Kelty’s Cosmic 20 with beefed-up materials. The first advantage of choosing this over Kelty’s Cosmic 20 is the higher 650 down fill power that matches the Sawtooth.

Next, this model is more likely to keep you warm in temps hovering around freezing than the Cosmic 20. Regarding weight, it does weigh more than the preceding four bags at 2 lbs 11 oz in the Regular size. However, it only weighs a few more ounces than the Kelty Cosmic 20 for a warmer bag.

One design feature we really like on this model is the anti-snag slider with double YKK zippers. This is one of the features you’ll highly appreciate – that delivers – if the zippers on your current bag snag. Finally, Hyke & Byke is a US-based company that backs its sleeping bags with a lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • A good budget alternative to Marmot 15º bags
  • It will keep you warmer than Kelty’s Cosmic 20 for about the same price
  • Water-resistant to survive sleet and snow in the backcountry
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Anti-snag zipper design that delivers
  • Roomy interior

Cons

  • The heaviest bag in our guide
  • Gets cold for some people in temps 25º or below
  • Materials are good but not on par with Marmot

Bottom Line

No matter your budget, you’re bound to land on the best sleeping bag for elk hunting in this here guide. Once you take a moment to consider the most important factors we listed in the introduction and fill in the blanks with your needs, choosing a bag becomes a lot easier. There are both premium and budget options here, and a couple of final points to consider…

The first point is that Western Mountaineering makes the best elk hunting bags that’ll outlast any other brand in this guide. This is important because if you want a model to last you for decades, investing in Western Mountaineering will more than likely save you money in the long run compared to buying a budget bag every few years.

The second point is that if you only need a bag for occasional use, then the budget route is likely better for your needs than going all-in on a premium model that only gets a handful of uses.

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