Down vs Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Which is the Best?

Last Updated on June 3, 2022 by Ecorf

When going camping, a sleeping bag is critical for your survival and comfort. The right sleeping bag provides you comfort against the surface underneath and it also protects you against biting weather. There are mainly two types of sleeping bags namely synthetic sleeping bag and down sleeping bag.  

To get the best between down vs synthetic sleeping bag, you must know that these products are designed for a specific camping experience. Therefore, it is imperative to know the benefits of the two sleeping bags so that you can make the right choice. 

Purpose of a Sleeping Bag

Before you rush to buy a sleeping bag, you must know exactly its significance and how it functions. A sleeping bag helps enhances the creation of a boundary between your body and the outside environment by trapping a pocket of air. 

The heat produced by your body will be trapped by this air pocket which helps to insulate you and keep you warm at the same time. Quality sleeping bags are capable of trapping more air while at the same time preventing it from escaping thereby keeping you warm. 


Therefore, a durable sleeping bag that keeps you warm and suits your needs is ideal for your purpose. However, you should know that both down sleeping bags and synthetic sleeping bags have their pros and cons with regard to performance.    

Benefits of Down Sleeping Bag

A down sleeping bag is made of animal down or feathers of a bird or goose. Down sleeping bag creates insulation by trapping air and it is also renowned for being lightweight and breathable which improves its comfort. It is also easy to compress and it can last longer if you treat it well. 

Down sleeping bag is the ideal choice in cold and dry conditions and it also has higher weight-to-warmth ratio compared to synthetic insulation. With less weight or down, goose down sleeping bag, for instance, can offer the same quality insulation.  However, duck down is more common since it is readily available and less expensive. 

However, apart from the benefits of down sleeping bag, it also has some disadvantages as well. The sleeping bag clumps easily and it also has a tendency of losing shape when it gets wet and it takes longer to dry. This will contribute to the loss of insulation properties. It is crucial to try by all means to keep your down sleeping bag dry if you want to keep it for a longer period. 

The other issue with down sleeping bags is that it requires special care to clean it. On top of that, the sleeping bag is expensive compared to a synthetic sleeping bag. If you want to go for a down sleeping bag, then you should be prepared to pay more money.

Benefits of Synthetic Sleeping Bag

The main benefit of a synthetic sleeping bag is that it is relatively cheaper compared to down sleeping bag. Its performance is also perfect since it is made of polyester and it quickly dries when wet. The other plus for the sleeping bag is that it can still insulate even if it is wet. This is something a down sleeping bag cannot do. 

Synthetic sleeping bag is durable though there are different brand names that can make your shopping experience a bit challenging. Therefore, you should know whether a synthetic sleeping bag is either short-staple or continuous filament. 

Down vs Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Which is the Best?

Short-staple bags have fine filaments that are densely packed to reduce heat loss. This helps to make the bags soft and allow for greater compressibility but they are less durable. Continuous filament sleeping bags are strong and durable but they have a stiffer feel and have limited compressibility. 

However, synthetic sleeping bags also have their downsides such as being bulkier and heavier compared to down insulation.  This means that they may not be ideal for backpacking as a result of their excessive weight. 

The other issue is that synthetic sleeping bags offer less warmth despite their bulkiness. The insulation capability of the sleeping bag also gets reduced over time. Down sleeping bags are warmer compared to synthetic sleeping bags.  The other weakness of synthetic sleeping bag is that it is less durable compared to down sleeping bag. 

How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag?

Choosing the best type of sleeping bag depends on what you really want to achieve. If you are backpacking, then down sleeping bag is the best product that you can choose since it is lightweight and more compact. If you are on a car camping mission, then synthetic sleeping bag can do but the choice depends on what you need. 

The environment you will be camping in also determines the type of ideal sleeping bag that you can choose. If the environment is rainy and humid, then a synthetic sleeping bag can give you better comfort compared to down sleeping bag. It is also important to consider the temperature rating of the sleeping bag which is determined by the size of your body. 

Down vs Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Which is the Best?

The other thing that you should consider pertains to the aspect of the shape of the sleeping bag. Sleeping bags come in different shapes and these are designed to fit the needs of different users. For instance, rectangular sleeping bags are ideal for users who want to sleep comfortably since they are spacious inside. 


Down and synthetic sleeping bags are designed to satisfy the needs of different users and they consist of different properties that make them unique. Both sleeping bags have their pros and cons so the element of choosing the best product depends on what you need. 

If you are going to camp in a cooler and drier environment, then a down sleeping bag can be suitable for your trip. On the other hand, a synthetic sleeping bag may be perfect for you if you are going to camp in a damper and cool environment. The other thing that you should also consider is whether you are backpacking or car camping to determine a sleeping bag with the ideal weight.