Synthetic Sleeping Bag Vs Down featured image

Synthetic Sleeping Bag Vs Down

Choosing between down vs synthetic insulation is one of the problems campers face. This is far more challenging because both sleeping bags have their benefits and drawbacks.

However, the right outdoor gear can turn a chilly outdoor adventure into a delightful one.

One mistake campers make is to go along with what gear their friends prefer.

But just because your friend loves down or synthetic insulation doesn't mean it is the best gear for you.

But knowing which of these insulating gears is best for you requires careful thought and research.

You need to know the disparities between down vs synthetic insulation and if goose down really outshines synthetic insulation.



Going on weekend getaways and camping can improve your quality of life, but you must ensure you don't endanger your health on such trips. Sleeping in an open space might be dangerous to one's health, especially in wet climates.

Anyone who has ever spent a chilly night shivering through the night in a tent may appreciate the value of down or synthetic jackets.

By getting the best sleeping bag insulation, you will save yourself from very cold temperatures when you choose to go camping or sleep outside.

Getting the best synthetic insulation is a necessity for every backpacker who wants the perfect sleeping gear for camping trips. Before discovering the sleep system you need, you must understand the term "fill power."

It is one of the most important considerations when choosing sleeping gear. The term "fill power" describes the quantity and caliber of a hiking backpack and is tangentially connected to nature's finest insulators.

The fill level of a sleeping gear affects how well it can insulate, with a higher capacity producing a higher fill power.

The more volume the tendrils occupy as they grow longer, the more air they can trap heat, and the better they are at keeping you incredibly warm.

So Consider the power fill when you want to get a sleeping bag. If you select the perfect insulating fill and the proper quantity, it is certain you are buying the best sleeping bag.

Because sleeping gears are an expensive investment, so you want to ensure they will fulfill your needs before making a purchase.  Down and synthetic insulation are your best options.

Ensure you are aware of the many sleeping pack variations and what they have to offer. This shields you from being influenced by traders trying to convince you to buy a degree sleeping bag.

It can be easier to choose the sleeping gear that is genuinely ideal for you if you understand the various types, their advantages and disadvantages, and how they differ. 

Types of Insulation


All sleeping bag insulation was previously made of polyester or goose. Manufacturers currently utilize a variety of insulating materials for sleeping bag production.

And their objective is to enhance the quality of sleeping bag insulation and satisfy wet buyers.

It's important to understand that every type of insulation is incredibly adaptable. You can use either one, depending on your preferences or health status.

There are primarily three types of sleeping bag insulation.

  • Goose Down

  • Synthetic Insulation

  • Hybrid Insulation

Which of these insulations is superior is a common query among backpackers or wet buyers. 

But the answer to this question completely depends on where you intend to camp, what temps you'll be camping in, and how you're going to get there.

Both goose-down and synthetic insulation are good choices for sleeping bags. Goose down offers the most warmth, and synthetic bags also provide a good amount of warmth as well.

So which is superior, goose-down or synthetic insulation? Let's leave any technical details but compare these two types of insulation based on a few real-world factors that any camper or hiker will find interesting.

Let's start by understanding down vs synthetic insulation.

Goose Down Sleeping Bag

To be on a safer end, you must choose a reliable and sturdy sleeping bag before embarking on your next excursion. Goose-down sleeping bags are a great tool and are marketed as "extremely durable" products.

So what exactly is a down bag?

What is a Goose Down Sleeping Bag?


A goose-down sleeping bag is typically used for camping and other outdoor activities in cold or warm weather conditions. The down feathers of waterfowl, such as ducks, geese, and other birds, are among the materials for this sleeping gear.

For the soft-down clusters to fully loft while supporting the weight of the shell materials, the feathers are there to add a little extra structure (lighter weight).

They are lighter and more compressible than any other kind of sleeping bag on the market since they are made of feathers from geese.

Down bags have the finest warmth-to-packability ratio, which is why they are a favorite among light campers worldwide.

Even though they are a little more pricey than a conventional style, they will keep you incredibly toasty during those colder evenings.

The down feathers hold in heat to keep you warm. These bags' increased compressibility, which keeps air from escaping when the material is compressed by your body heat, helps them retain their loft and warmth over time.

They are more adaptable and can withstand more severe conditions, but if they are not properly maintained, they quickly lose their loft.

The range of a down bag's fill power, which indicates how warm it should be, is between 550 to 900. The fill power percentage informs you of the amount of goose down used to fill the bag.

Higher numbers indicate greater loft and better down trapping heat, at least theoretically.

The "fill rating" of the majority of three-season sleeping bags is at least 600. In addition, four-season down bags with a real sub-zero weather design will have a fill rating of between 900 and 1000.

This makes it a smart purchase that can enable you to sleep better for longer and ultimately save you money. It's an excellent way to stay warm and get a good night's sleep whether you're car camping with your family or backpacking.

Pros and Cons of Down Sleeping Bag


  • A down bag is incredibly durable and can be filled and refilled numerous times without losing any of its fluffy warmth.
  • They are a great option for backpackers, campers, and other travelers who wish to travel light because they are lightweight and compressible.

  • It is robust and has a 10-year lifespan.

  • Exceptional weight to warmth ratio

  • Goose-down jackets are the ideal travel companion as they are portable and light.

  • Because they are so breathable, you won't wake up every night sweaty or got, it regulates the body temperature


  • When wet, they lose their insulating properties and are challenging to dry.  It loses some of its ability to trap your body heat overnight.
  • The speed with which goose-down sleeping gears lose their insulating qualities after getting wet is one of the main drawbacks.

    More expensive (high-end down bags costing $700–1,000+ with comparable insulation, compared to $200–400 for synthetic bags).

Synthetic Sleeping Bag

synthetic sleeping bag

Previously, users of sleeping packs were not receiving enough warmth from them. However, that was before technology improved, and today's bags are considerably better than those earlier production!

Others just find synthetic insulations more comfortable than down, while some people prefer synthetic insulation because they don't want to deal with caring for animal elements.

You might wish to spend money on synthetic fabric if you plan to go camping or hiking in the wet season. This is because of how well it works to keep the body warm in colder weather.

What is a Synthetic Sleeping Bag?

Synthetic sleeping gear does not have any "natural" insulation. It is dependent on artificial or factory-made materials for its formation. The insulation is made of different, non-animal materials rather than the natural insulation found on animals. 

It is the best kind of sleeping gear to use for camping in wet weather. Additionally, they are a better choice if you have to camp in a soggy area because they won't lose their insulation if you get wet while inside.

Polarguard 3D or Primaloft are the two materials used most frequently in modern synthetic bag insulation production. Again, the greater warmth-to-weight ratio of synthetic bags made of polyester fibers has an impact on all synthetic bags.

It is inexpensive, easy to maintain, and keeps you warm in a range of climates, including cold and damp ones. It is especially helpful when it is humid outside.

Despite being heavier and bulkier than newer versions, older synthetic insulation used in bags like Hollofil and Quallofil is adequate.

Synthetic sleeping packs today have advanced significantly. In comparison to goose down, they are stronger, dryer, lighter, warmer, more technologically advanced, and better built than ever.

Pros and Cons of Synthetic Sleeping Bag


  • Synthetic gears are best if camping in damp areas.
  • They are affordable.
  • They offer the most adaptability, are easy to clean, and dry quickly.
  • It is generally more moisture-resistant and non-allergenic.

  • It is generally more moisture-resistant and non-allergenic.
  • It is ideal for people who live in warmer areas and prefer to spend their entire lives outdoors.

  • Unlike down insulation, which gradually loses loft and insulation value over time, synthetic sleeping bags do not.

  • Synthetic materials can withstand heat and are machine washable.


  • In humid climates, synthetic fillings can cause your skin to itch and feel damp.
  • In general, carrying them is more stressful.

  • They are extremely challenging to dry and, when wet, lose their insulating properties.

  • Since they are less compressible than the other varieties, they can become bulky unless used in conjunction with equipment made to reduce bulk.

What is the Difference Between Down and Synthetic Sleeping Bags?


We considered the benefits and drawbacks of down vs synthetic sleeping gears. Let's now discuss how they differ from one another.

1. Warmth to Weight Ratio

Presently, the quality and durability of the various types of synthetic fill available on the market from several well-known brands are top-notch.

Although they typically don't offer the same warmth-to-weight ratio as down, they are still a good option for keeping you warm on colder treks.

In addition to being lightweight and compressible, goose-down sleeping gears possess characteristics that are essential for technical expeditions.

Despite all the developments in material science, synthetic insulation is yet to match the down structure and warmth-to-weight ratio.

When it comes to down, insulation is measured using the fill power ratings. Simply said, down's higher fill power denotes why it delivers more warmth than its counterpart. The warmth-to-weight ratio of down is unrivaled in its excellence.

2. Water resistance

Even if your sleeping bag gets wet, synthetic insulation retains some of its warmth even when submerged in water. Down does lose some of its insulating abilities when it becomes wet.

Nowadays, many companies modify the down fill to improve loft retention, reduce moisture absorption, and speed up drying time. Due to these modern developments, the water resistance of down is now closer to that of synthetic materials.

For outdoor activities like playing in the rain, taking a river excursion, and camping in the snow, synthetic sleeping bags are a better choice. Even after getting wet, synthetic gears keep insulating. Additionally, it dries quickly.

3. Ease of maintenance


Unlike a goose-down, synthetic gear is considerably simpler to clean, and you don't need to be careful when cleaning it.

To clean a down gear, you must use a specific cleaner made to specifically remove dirt and odors and restore water repellency while preserving down fill. 

For some reason, down bags should be stored semi-lofted when not in use in the storage bags that come with them in a cool, dry area with controlled temperature.

But you can simply wash synthetic sleeping gears in a large front-loading washer with warm water, a soft cycle, and a little detergent. It is also preferable to keep the synthetic fibers semi-lofted to prevent crushing.

Any sleeping pack, regardless of the type, should always be used with a liner. This will reduce how often you may have to clean this sleeping bag.

Using liners will prevent sweat, oils, and dirt from settling on them, which means you won't be washing your sleeping bags occasionally.

4. Price Comparison

Another top difference existing between these insulation bags is How Much Is A Sleeping Bag. The large cost difference between a down bag and a synthetic bag can be a deciding issue for campers on a tight budget.

The magical insulating layer that keeps ducks, geese, and even people warm is in high demand due to the rising global popularity of trendy down jackets.

And because of the scarcity of these materials, the cost of down sleeping gears is really on the high side. Additionally, the cost of down bags varies according to the fill power, weight, and quality.

Synthetic insulation production is less expensive than the production and processing of birds down.

This is why synthetic bags tend to be very well-liked by newcomers or people who don't use their equipment as frequently and can be hundreds of dollars less expensive than a down sleeping bag.

5. Compressibility, Durability, and Longevity


The type of insulation or fill of a sleeping bag or jacket is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping.

This is so because the amount of fill or insulation a product contains affects its warmth, cost, weight, durability, compressibility, and performance in damp conditions.

The greater warmth-to-weight ratio of synthetic insulation affects a synthetic bag's ability to be compressed. A synthetic sleeping bag with a similar temperature rating to a goose-down bag will therefore be heavier and not compress.

Also, sleeping bags containing synthetic fill from earlier manufacturers can last for 3–4 years. Then the current versions last 8–10 years, or almost as long as down. However, despite your best efforts, don't anticipate a synthetic bag to last a lifetime.

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On the other hand, if a synthetic sleeping gear is stuffed into its sack over an extended period of use, the fibers will eventually start to fall apart.

In comparison to synthetic variants, down bags are more lightweight and compressible at the same temperature rating.

The down bag is incredibly compressible, making it possible to pack it into a tiny, light bundle that is ideal when weight and space are at a premium.

A down sleeping pack that is properly cared for can last for many years before you notice a reduction in function.

If it is built of durable materials and has sturdy seams and stitching, that time can be increased to more than ten years. With appropriate care, expensive sleeping gear can last up to 15 years.

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

how to choose a sleeping bag

For new and experienced campers, the issue of finding the best sleeping bag for camping is not generally an easy endeavor. You already know what down vs synthetic sleeping packs is, but before you decide, let's look at the crucial things you must consider.

  • Think about your budget.
  • What is the present state of the weather there?
  • Are you traveling by yourself or with family and friends? 

If this is cleared, you should look at the various sleeping bags' characteristics, sizes, forms, and insulation options.

1. Determine what activities a sleeping bag is needed for

Do you often camp out or hike through the front country? Are you packrafting or mountaineering?

Because the weight, form, and features of sleeping gears are often better suited for specific end applications, it is crucial to choose a sleeping bag based on what you want to use it for the most.

2. Determine the Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings 

A sleeping bag's temperature rating reveals the lowest temperature at which it may be used. A bag rated at 35° will keep you warm up to around that temperature; if it falls below that, you'll start to feel uncomfortably chilly.

A basic "rule of thumb" is to round up the temperature rating by 10-15° when purchasing a sleeping bag.

This implies that even if a sleeping bag may be rated at a temperature of 20, you should actually expect it to only function at a temperature of 30 to 35 degrees.

Related post: Best Sub-Zero Sleeping Bag

3. Will You be Car Camping or Backpacking 


Weight and compressibility should be your top priorities when choosing camping sleeping bags. A large sleeping gear should never be crammed into your pack. Choose lighter sleeping bags if you plan to backpack.

However, you might want to reevaluate your alternatives if you're driving.

4. Sleeping Bag Construction 

Choosing sleeping gear can be difficult due to the various styles, materials, and features available.

For recreational camping, a rectangular-shaped sleeping gear is most typical. It allows you to spread out and sleep in a natural position; classic sleeping bags are the most comfortable. 

A bag with a flexible tapering rectangular shape is ideal if you intend to use it frequently. Even on shorter adventures, you can do this to increase the length and effectiveness of your camping experience.

5. Shell And Lining Fabrics 

Down Sleeping Bags

You also need to consider the lining fabrics. The majority of sleeping bags are made of nylon ripstop shells and inner fabrics that have had DWR treatment.

They help the fillings of sleeping bags loft remarkably well and are incredibly soft and lightweight.

In cold temperatures, camping bags made of "traditional" fabrics like cotton and flannel, as opposed to nylon, can be particularly cozy. In hot or humid weather, nylon will keep you cooler and dry more rapidly when you're camping.

Note: You can look for professional advice on how to choose the best sleeping gear for outdoor activities to make the process simpler. These professionals can recommend the best sleeping insulation based on the nature of your outdoor plans and activities.

Read our detailed guide here for more information on How To Choose A Sleeping Bag.


On a camping vacation, waking up in the middle of the night shivering from the cold can destroy the fun you came to have.

But with the information in these articles, you can quickly identify the one that addresses your camping objectives and budget. In addition, you can get advice from a camping and sleeping gear expert.

Ryan S. Mills
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