Whether you are car camping or spending the night in a park or elsewhere with friends or family, a good sleeping bag is definitely something that you will need for camping. And unlike backpackers, you don’t have to focus on only the lightweight options. Instead, you can select something that gives you the comfort you need at an affordable price.
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Here at Active Weekender, we’ve taken the time to compare all the top bags on the market to come up with our list of the best sleeping bags for camping. With this guide, we hope we’ve made comparing the best sleeping bags a little easier for you.
Our Top 15 Best Camping Sleeping Bags for Men, Women & Kids (2018 - 2019)
|Bag||Style||Our Rating||Where To Buy|
|REI Co-op Alpen Pod 17 Sleeping Bag||(4.9 / 5)||REI|
|REI Co-op Ambient 36 Sleeping Bag||(4.9 / 5)||REI|
|The North Face Youth Dolomite 20 Sleeping Bag - Kids'||(4.8 / 5)||Amazon, REI|
|Marmot Women's Phase 20 Sleeping Bag||(4.8 / 5)||Outdoorplay|
|Kelty Big Dipper 30 Degree Kids Sleeping Bag||(4.8 / 5)||Amazon, Outdoorplay, Kelty|
|Marmot Women's Ouray 0F Down Sleeping Bag||(4.7 / 5)||REI|
|The North Face Dolomite Double 20 Sleeping Bag||(4.6 / 5)||Amazon, REI|
|The North Face Dolomite 20F Sleeping Bag||(4.6 / 5)||REI, Cabela's|
|Kelty Cosmic Down 20F Sleeping Bag||(4.5 / 5)||Amazon, REI, Kelty|
|REI Co-op Helio Sack 55 Sleeping Bag||(4.5 / 5)||REI|
|Kelty Tru.Comfort Zip 29 Sleeping Bag - Women's||(4.5 / 5)||REI, Kelty|
|The North Face Women's Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag||(4.5 / 5)||REI|
|Coleman North Rim 0 Degree Sleeping Bag||(4.4 / 5)||Amazon, Walmart|
|REI Co-op Trail Pod 29 Sleeping Bag||(4.3 / 5)||REI|
|REI Co-op Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag||(4.3 / 5)||REI|
What Sleeping Bags Temperature Ratings Mean
As you shop, you will probably notice a temperature rating in the list of features of all the sleeping bags that you consider. For those of you who are beginners when it comes to camping and sleeping in sleeping bags, this number might be confusing but it actually serves a really simple purpose. The temperature rating lets you know the lowest temperature that you can use it in and still keep warm.
So, if you see one advertised with a 30-degree rating, then you know that you should stay warm as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 30F degrees. However, there is one important thing to know about this rating – the manufacturer assumes that you are using a sleeping pad under the back side of it and that you’re sleeping in a single layer of clothes inside of it. That means if you’re not using a sleeping pad between you and the cold ground, then you will not be able to stay warm at the rated temperature. Just something to keep in mind. Also note below that there are three different types of sleeping bags, based on the temperature rating, that shows you what season it works in.
|Type of Bag||Standard Temperature Rating|
|Summer||35°F and higher|
|3-Season||10°F to +35°F|
|Winter||10°F and lower|
If you want into any outdoor retailer like REI, then you will probably notice that most of the bags have a rating between 15°F and 50°F, which is fine for most people.
A good rule of thumb when comparing the ratings of the bags you’re considering buying is to actually purchase one with a temperature rating that is just a little lower that the lowest temp that you expect while camping. This just gives you that extra protection in case it gets too cold out there. And if you end up too warm, then you can always vent it to cool off.
Types of Sleeping Bag Insulation
When you check out the different camping sleeping bags on the market, you might notice that the insulation materials differ from one to the next. While this might not be something you intend to pay attention to, you should reconsider because it has a definite effect on your experience. Let’s look at the different insulation materials that are used so that you can determine which you prefer to have in your bags.
Goose down insulation
If you have a down jacket, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from down sleeping bags. You’ll find this type of insulation is some of the bags, but not all of them.
The benefit of this type of insulation is that it is more durable than other options. Bags with down insulation can also be compressed more than synthetic ones. So, if you’re going to use the same bag for backpacking, then go with this type since it packs down smaller.
The big disadvantage to this type of insulation is that is tends to be more expensive than synthetic options. Additionally, it can be an allergen for some people and if it gets wet then it looses insulating power. As you can see, this is not the best option for everyone, but it might work for your needs.
Hands down, this is the most common type of insulation that you come across. That might be due to it being cheaper than down insulation. Despite that lower price, you still get high performance and durability from the synthetic fill.
Typically polyester is what makes up the synthetic fill. As expected, this is a great choice for people who are allergic to goose down.
Synthetic fill insulation is quick drying and can even keep you warm if it gets wet. And it is durable even with the rough treatment of kids and the sharp claws of dogs.
Despite all these advantages, it does have one big disadvantage for some people. It does not compress very small. So, if you are limited on space or using it for backpacking, then you will not like how much space it takes up when rolled.
Water-resistant Down Insulation
To combat the major disadvantage of down fill not being able to keep you warm if it gets wet, some manufacturers are using water-resistant down. With this type of insulation, the feathers have been treated so that they repel moisture, which keeps you dry and warm in the event of wet conditions.
The Different Sleeping Bag Shapes
If you’ve ever slept in one of these, then you already know how great they work at keeping you warm and snug while you sleep in your tent. They are designed to trap a layer of dead air next to your body. And since that air can’t circulate, it ends up getting warmed by your body heat and then your bag locks that air into place creating a type of barrier against the cold air outside. And if there isn’t a lot of extra space in there with your body, then the faster that air gets warm and you stay that way. Unfortunately, a lot of camping sleeping bags are designed to be roomy, which leaves a lot of extra space. That means their efficiency is not as great unless you end up with a bag that offers a more snug fit with less extra space. Keep this in mind as you evaluate bags and check out the different shapes available below.
As you can see in the image to the side, the of this one is pretty self-explanatory. This was exactly the shape that I had back when I got my first sleeping bag as a kid in the 1980’s. Most camping bags have this shape because it offers the most roominess and comfort.
As long as you choose two rectangular bags with compatible zippers (one on the right side and one on the left site), then you can mate them and make yourself a comfy double bed that fits perfectly on a queen size air mattress. This the ultimate in camping comfort. But is also the least warm option – so keep that in mind.
This shape is really kind of the perfect combo of the rectangle shape above and the mummy shape below. It eliminates some of the extra space you get with the rectangle shape, but it isn’t too tight or restrictive like the mummy shape can be for some campers.
Basically, this design is the best of both worlds – you get more warmth than a rectangle bag and more comfort than a mummy bag. It’s also a great shape for people who are restless sleepers since you can still move around a little bit.
I love the look of the mummy-shaped bags. There’s just something about them that makes me smile – maybe because Finn on Adventure Time sleeps in one. But for campers, this style of bag is an excellent choice because it is the warmest type of all the types of sleeping bags designs.
You see, the mummy shape eliminates all extra space, which means you get warm super quick and you stay that way. Of course, this does have it’s down sides. The lack of extra space means that it can feel like a tight fit and if you move around a lot while you sleep, then you’ll find it to be a bit restrictive. This type can also be uncomfortable for people who are overweight or bigger since it is sort of a slim fit through the shoulders and hips areas. Just broad shoulders guys can be really uncomfortable in them, but kids seem to love them.
If you intend on snuggling up next to someone else, or just want a lot of room to move around, then a double-wide shaped option is probably your best choice. These are designed to have enough room for two people to fit in them and sleep comfortably.
For the best results, you should pair this style with a sleeping pad or air mattress to give you more comfort and to keep you warmer. Also remember that you can create this shape just by bringing together two rectangle-shaped bags.
Features To Look For
Now that you know all about the different types of camping sleeping bags on the market, it’s time to consider what types of features you’re looking for in your camping gear. You can go with something basic or something that gives you a few more creature comforts. You’ll find some of the most common additional features listed below.
Shell and Lining
One thing that you might want to look for are bags that have a water resistant shelling and lining. You’ll find that the outer shell will either be made of polyester or ripstop nylon because they are both ultra durable. And if it has synthetic filling, then you’ll know if it’s water resistant by looking it a durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the shell. With this type of finish, water will just bead up on the exterior instead of soaking into it. In terms of the lining, it will not have this sort of treatment because it’s entire purpose is to promote the dispersal of body moisture.
This is exactly like it sounds – a small pocket for you to stash your phone, flashlight, headlamp, book, or anything that you might have with you. This really comes to good use if you like to read before you sleep but don’t have a good place to stash your reading light and book when it’s time to sleep. And for kids, this is a good place to stash toys or stuffed animals.
If you expect to be doing your sleeping in conditions where the temperature gets pretty low, then you you’ll find a hood to be a great way to hold in more body heat. You see this feature on semi-rectangular bags and you can use the drawcord to cinch is around your head while you sleep.
Additionally some hoods even have a pillow pocket so that you can stuff your jacket in for a little extra padding under your head while you sleep.
I find this feature to be a must-have when it comes to a comfortable night’s sleep when camping. It is basically just a pocket where you can stuff in your jacket or clothes to get a makeshift pillow. These pockets also fit inflatable camping pillows, if you have one of those.
Sleeping Pad Sleeve
If you’ve ever rolled or tossed and turned yourself off the sleeping pad in a tent, then you already know now awesome sleeping pad sleeves are for campers. This feature has a sleeve on the underside of your bag that fits in sleeping pad so that it always stays with the bag. These are perfect for sleepers who move around a lot at night.
Accessories You Might Want
Though you don’t necessarily need any of these items to use your camping sleeping bag, they might improve your experience. And some of these things are just a good way to extend the life of your bag so that it lasts you through several years of camping.
Probably the best way to both keep the inside of the basg clean and extend its life is to use a sleeping bag liner with it. This is just a soft fabric liner that is designed to fit inside of it. Another benefit to using one of these is that it gives you an additional 8°F to 15°F of warmth when inside it. And if you find out that your bag is too warm for the conditions, just sleep in the liner by itself!
If you need an easy way to transport your camping bag, then a good stuff sack is the way to go. Sometimes you get one of these for free when you buy the bag, but cheaper models tend to come without them. Luckily these things are cheap to buy, so you can easily afford one on its own.
If you are serious about camping and your gear, then you will want to get a good storage sack to keep your bags in when not in use. Why? Because storing it rolled up in a stuff sack actually lowers its lifespan by decreasing the effectiveness of the insulation over time! Instead, put it in one of these and hang it up in a closet or the garage for storage.
Caring For Your Sleeping Bags
Once you get yourself a new sleeping bag, it is important take measures to care for it properly. Even if you’ve only spent a hundred bucks on it, proper sleeping bag care can extend its useful life so that you don’t have to replace it early. We’ve put together a few tips to help you care for your sleeping bags when they are in use and in storage.
In Between Camping Trips
When you are not using or transport your camping gear, you still need to take good care of your bags. From cleaning it to storing it, we can help you keep it in the best condition before your next camping trip.
Storing. When not in use, you should never keep your sleeping bags in a stuff sack or rolled up. This type of compression actually wears down the effectiveness of the insulation. And definitely don’t use a water-tight storage bag as it can result in some condensation build up that can turn into mildew and ruin your bag. Instead, keep the bag lose and stored in a large laundry style storage sack that is made of cotton. Many bags are actually sold with these, but if you don’t have one then they are cheap to buy from outdoor stores and online. Additionally, never store your bag if it is wet – it should be completely dry before storing away.
Cleaning. When possible, use spot cleaning to keep your bag clean instead of washing it. This helps to reduce the wear and tear that comes from using a washing machine. For the most effective spot cleaning, make a paste of laundry powder and water and use a toothbrush for your spot cleaning. And the hood and collar can be hand washed without affecting the shell if you are careful. And you’ll want to clean these areas since oil from your face and hair builds up in these spots.
Washing. Sometimes washing the entire thing is inevitable. If you have to do this, then make sure to use a gentle detergent. For down bags, you’ll have to hand-wash in a bathtub of warm water. Let is soak for 15 minutes before draining the tub and doing a cold-water rinse. Instead of twisting out the water, just press it out. Note that some down bags can be washed in a front-loading machine on the gentle cycle (check with your manufacturer). For synthetic bags, you can hand-wash in the tub or use a front-loading machine with cool water on the gentle cycle. You may need extra rinse and spin cycles for effective washing.
Drying. After washing or spot cleaning your bags, you need to get it completely dry before you can store it. Letting it air dry is the best way to accomplish this. If you don’t have time for it to air, then you can tumble dry it on low-heat or no-heat. Keep in mind that too much heat or too long in the heat can melt the shell and insulation. To restore the loft, you’ll also want to put a couple of tennis balls in the dryer once it is almost completely dry.
While Camping or On The Trail
As you take your bags out on camping trips, it become necessary to clean it up a bit even though you’re still using it. To reduce your need to clean, we have a few tips to help you keep that bag in a clean condition.
Use clean clothes. As tempting as it might be to collapse into the bag in what clothing you wore during the day, you need to sleep in clean clothes to keep in inside fresh and clean. And if you’re in bear country, don’t sleep in what you were wearing when you were cooking or eating because it can attract unwanted attention from the wildlife.
Use a sleeping bag liner. The easiest way to keep the inside of bags clean is to use a liner. It has the added benefit of increasing the temperature rating of your bag by 5°F to 15°F. And once you get home, all you have to do is wash the liner.
Air out the inside. To prevent musty smells and other buildup, you’ll want to turn your bag inside-out each day and let it air out a bit. This also eliminates any moisture buildup that might be happening. Just be careful not to leave it in direct sunlight as the UV rays can damage the materials that make it up.
Over time, the durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the exterior shell of bags can deteriorate and no longer be effective. To combat this, you have to periodically restore it. You can find DWR products to accomplish this at most outdoor retailers and online.
If you’ve chosen a down insulation model over a synthetic one, then leaking down will probably be something that you have to deal with at least once. Though most bags have “down-proof” liners and shells that are made to prevent the down from coming out or poking through, it is common for a few feathers to come out and maybe even poke you. Those sharp quills most often show up to poke you when a bag is new and the insulation just hasn’t settled yet. When this happens, just try working it back through to the insulation liner and you’ll be fine.
Tears in the Fabric
With use, there is a good chance that you’ll end up getting a rip or a tear in the fabric of the exterior or liner. This is nothing to worry about. You can patch it up temporarily with a little patch of nylon repair tape.
Reviews: Top Rated Sleeping Bags for Camping
If you’re interested in a little more information than just our top lists below, then our reviews might help you out. While these aren’t thorough reviews, we do go over some of the features, advantages and disadvantages of the top sleeping bags that we’ve selected.
Coleman Brazos Cold-Weather Sleeping Bags Review
So, if you need a good budget sleeping bag, then I think this one is definitely one of the most affordable options out there.
The temperature rating on this one is 20ºF to 40ºF and it can comfortably fit someone with a height up to 5 ft. 11 in. And the insulation is a polyester synthetic fill.
The big disadvantage of using this bag in the winter is that it is rectangle-shaped, which means it won’t be the most efficient way to stay warm. Though it does have a Thermolock System that is designed to reduce heat loss though the zipper.
For the money, this one is a decent value since it is so cheap. However, for really cold temperatures I think a mummy bag like the one below is a better choice.
Coleman North Rim 0 Degree Sleeping Bag Review
For the best budget sleeping bag for camping in the winter, this Coleman mummy bag is the winner. Right now, it is definitely the best value for the money if you’re on a tight budget. It has a better temperature rating for cold weather camping and a lower price than the Coleman bag listed up above.
It is definitely a great addition to your cold weather camping gear.
This mummy-style bag will fit someone up to 6-ft 2-inches in height and is insulated with a synthetic polyester fill. The temperature rating is 15ºF and the 60 ounces of Coletherm insulation keeps you nice and warm.
A stuff sack is included with this one, which makes this an awesome value for the money. This is probably the cheapest winter camping sleeping bag option on the market right now.
SmartSpeed® +0 F Degree Extreme Weather Winter Cold Sleeping Bag Review
New to the market for 2015, this cold weather bag rom SmartSpeed is one of my favorite options right now for camping in the winter. It has an affordable price and some great features that you won’t want to pass up.
The temperature rating for this one is 40ºF Degree / +0ºF Degree and it’s semi-rectangular shape does a good job of keeping you warm and toasty when the temperatures outside drop.
It is pretty roomy and comfortable and can be combined with another bag to make a nice double-wide option. The insulation is a synthetic polyester fill and the exterior is waterproof.
Overall, this one is very lightweight and very comfortable. And, it does a good job of keeping you warm in cold weather.
TETON Sports Mammoth Queen Size Flannel Lined Sleeping Bag Review
If you need to snuggle up with your sweetie or if it will be you, the spouse and a kid or two in the tent, then this extra large sleeping bag from TETON Sports is a good choice. It measures in at 94″x 62″, which is the same size as a queen size air mattress (that means you can use one instead of a sleeping pad in your tent).
For such a large size, this one also has an affordable price. You can buy it in either a 20-degree bag or a 0-degree bag model, depending on your camping needs.
A really nice feature is that the top and bottom of the bag actually separate completely with left, right, and bottom zippers. So, you can connect it with other bags in the Mammoth line if you want to create an extra, extra large sleeping area.
It features SuperLoft Elite 4-channel hollow fiber insulation to keep you warm. And full-length side draft tubes and Velcro tabs at the top of zippers keep zippers in place and cold air out.
A stuff sack comes with it, so you have everything that you need for a fun weekend of camping with the family!
TETON Sports Fahrenheit Regular 0°F COTTON Flannel Lined Sleeping Bags Review
If you’re a fan of the TETON Sports brand, but don’t need the x-large size of the Mammoth bag above, then this one makes a great choice for you. It has a very affordable price and offers a lot of warmth and comfort for the money.
The semi-rectangular option features a 100% cotton flannel liner to keep you extra warm and comfortable when the temperatures start to drop out there. And, you can attach it to other bags if you need to do so.
Rated for those 0°F cold temperatures, it features SuperLoft Elite four-channel hollow fiber insulation. Plus, it has double layer construction entire width and length of bag increases warmth and durability
You get a stuff sack with this one as well, which makes it another great value for the money.
Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bags Review
I’m a big fan of Kelty’s outdoor gear and this bag is no exception to that. In fact, I think that this is one of the best three season sleeping bags for the money right now. It’s made by one of the top outdoor brands on the market and it has an affordable price with high quality components.
The insulation material is 50-fill hydrophobic DriDown, which has a water-resistant finish. What this means for you is that it can keep it’s loft, dry quicker if it gets wet and resist moisture when it does get exposed to water.
In addition to the extra warmth offered by the DriDown, it also features box-baffle construction that has a differential cut and ground-level side seams so that you get the ultimate warmth and you don’t have to deal with any cold spots while you’re sleeping. The thermal comfort hood and top draft collar also help to keep that warmth locked in when it’s cold outside.
The temperature rating of this three-season camping bag is 21°F / -6°C and you can buy this one in three different lengths depending on your height. Options are short, regular and long. Here’s how those sizes break down by height:
- Short: Fits to: 5 ft 6 in
- Regular: Fits to: 6 ft
- Long: Fits to: 6 ft 6 in
And don’t worry about getting too warm in this one because it has a 2-way, double sliding zipper that offers easy venting for those nights when it gets warmer than expected out there.
A stuff sack is included when you buy this one, which makes it another great value for the mummy. Definitely put this one on your short list of bags to consider for your camping trips.
Sierra Designs Zissou 23-Degree 700 Fill DriDown Sleeping Bag Review
Sierra Designs is another one of the top brands in outdoor gear and that shows with how great this Zissou 23-Degree 700 Fill DriDown sleeping bag is for campers. It is one of the most lightweight sleeping bags for campers that I’ve seen, especially if you’ve been looking at good three season sleeping bags.
The temperature rating is 23°F/-5°C, which makes it great for spring, summer and fall. Like the Kelty above, this one features down insulation. Specifically, you get 700 Fill-Power Dri-Down insulation with it that keeps you both dry and warm. The DriDown feathers are treated to resist moisture, which results in them keeping you drier, lofting higher, and drying faster in either humid or dry conditions.
There are two size lengths available in the Sierra Designs Zissou 23-Degree DriDown bag. You can choose from regular or long. Here’s how that fit breaks down:
- Regular fits: 6′
- Long fits: 6′ 6″
So, this is good three season sleeping bag for tall guys or ladies.
And if you plan on doing some backpacking with it, you find the trail weight to be 2-lbs for the regular size and 2-lbs 3-oz for the long size. Plus, the DriDown compresses better than regular down, which makes this one of the most compact sleeping bags on the market.
It does come with a stuff stack for transport and a laundry style bag for storage when not in use. Hands down this one of the best and top rated options on our list.
Kelty Cosmic Down 41 Degree Sleeping Bags Review
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that this one shares almost identical features to the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Degree listed up above. In fact, the only real difference between the two Kelty bags is the temperature rating.
With this Kelty Cosmic Down 41 Degree model, the temperature rating is obviously 41°F, which means that is better for camping in warmer weather. Though some people are comfortable using this one as a three season bag, it really just depends on your temperature preferences.
It feature the same water resistant and high performance 550-fill hydrophobic DriDown that keeps you from getting cold at night or wet in the rain.
Available sizes in this one are short, regular and long, which makes it great for people of all shapes and sizes. Here’s how those sizes break down in terms of height:
- Short Fits: 5 ft 6 in
- Regular Fits: 6 ft
- Long Fits: 6 ft 6 in
So, choose the size that best meets your body height for the most comfortable fit. And if you are backpacking, keep in mind that the DriDown insulation makes this one another good compact sleeping bag for backpacking.
It does come with a stuff stack for transport.
The North Face Dolomite 2S Sleeping Bag Review
If you don’t require the extra warmth performance that you get from a mummy bag, then this rectangle-shaped option by The North Face is a good choice. The Dolomite 2S from The North Face is a very lightweight bag that is one of the most compact sleeping bags we’ve seen.
The insulation for The North Face Dolomite 2S is a synthetic Heatseeker insulation fill, which is perfect for allergen sufferers. It works well in cold and warm weather conditions. The temperature rating for it is 40°F/5°C,
You can order this one in two different size lengths right now. Options are regular or long.
The North Face Dolomite 2S has a small watch pocket inside, which is perfect for small items like a flashlight or phone. And the bag can be unzipped completely if you want to use it as a comforter or sleep base.
For transport, it does come with a drawstring stuff sack.
REI Polar Pod Sleeping Bags Review
If you want a good mummy style sleeping bag that has synthetic insulation instead of down, then the REI Polar Pod is your best choice. It has avery affordable price under $100 that makes it great for campers shopping for cheap sleeping bags for camping.
The REI Polar Pod is available in a variety of different color combinations. And there are three different size lengths to choose from – short, regular and long.
The temperature rating of this cheap 3-season sleeping bag is 27°F, which makes it a good choice for camping trips all year long. You’ll stay toasty warm with the polyester synthetic fill and offset quilt construction. There’s even a draft tube and a draft collar to keep you warm on those extra cold nights.
An inner stash pocket makes it easy to keep track of your phone, glasses, flashlight or other small items. And the water repellent finish on the exterior shell prevents stains and moisture from seeping into the bag.
If you want versatility, then you like the 2-way zip that allows you to use the REI Polar Pod as a comforter.
When you buy the REI Polar Pod, you get a stuff sack for transport and a storage bag for when it is not in use. Additionally, it the backed by REI’s lifetime product guarantee – so you never have to worry it the REI Polar Pod failing you.
What About Women’s And Kids Sleeping Bags – Is There Really A Difference?
The sleeping bags for women are typically shorter in length, more narrow in the shoulder area, and wider in the area of the hips. Additionally, they offer more insulation in the footbox and upper body areas.
The sleeping bags for kids include extra features like a sleeve or loop to keep the bottom attached to the sleeping pad at night, pillow pockets, and exterior pockets for toys and other devices and gadgets.
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