Because of the complexity of construction and the cost and amount of materials involved, a high quality sleeping bag may be the single most expensive item on your gear list.
Read our article on Ultralight Sleeping Bags for additional information on sleep systems.
Recent improvements in materials, construction and in bag design have resulted in bags that are lighter, more compressible, more weather-resistant and warmer than those available even a few years ago. For those seeking the highest warmth to weight ratio down is still the clear winner. Ditto for compressibility. If, however, you typically hike in a consistently wet environment and volume is not as much of an issue for you, synthetic bags are less susceptible to moisture-induced failure and are typically less expensive.
Sleeping pads have also recently undergone significant changes in design that have resulted in more choices for the lightweight enthusiast. Simple closed-cell foam pads still offer the greatest savings in terms of both weight and cost, but the gap (at least in terms of weight) has begun to narrow between inflatables and foam. Several companies now make excellent lightweight sleeping pads that are considerably more comfortable and less bulky than their foam counterparts without being prohibitively heavy.
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