Last Update: 10.Apr.2020
Lightweight synthetic insulation
Offset welds increase stability and loft
Durable Water Repellent finish
Moderate warmth-to-weight ratio
3D footbox increases the insulation and room for your feet
Lots of insulation
heavy stuff sack
A camping sleeping bag is designed to be your all-in-one sleeping system for nights in the great outdoors. These bags are insulated to help keep you warm at night by trapping in your own body heat against your skin.
Plus, they provide some wind protection and keep you clean when you’re sleeping on the ground. When used in conjunction with a sleeping pad, a sleeping bag is your go-to method for staying warm and comfortable on a camping trip.
There are many different kinds of sleeping bags out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are your options:
We can categorize sleeping bags based on what time of year they’re meant to be used in. In general, there are two main types of bags:
There are three main shapes you can find in camping sleeping bags, each with their own pros and cons. Here’s what you can expect from the different shapes:
Modern camping sleeping bags are made with two kinds of insulation, either down or synthetic. While both are good options, they are best used in specific situations and have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Down insulation uses the down feathers of ducks or geese to keep us warm in the outdoors. Down is well known for its high warmth-to-weight ratio, which means even a small amount of it is effective in insulating us from the cold.
Since down has such a high warmth-to-weight ratio, down products and sleeping bags tend to be lighter and more packable than their synthetic cousins. However, down does not work well when wet and can actually make you colder if your bag is very damp. Plus, down is generally much more expensive than synthetic alternatives.
Unlike down, synthetic insulation is made from spun polyester fibers that are clumped together to trap heat and keep you warm. Synthetic insulation is often much cheaper than down and is good at keeping us warm, even when it’s wet.
That being said, synthetic insulation has a lower warmth-to-weight ratio, so synthetic products are often heavier and bulkier than their down counterparts. But, if you’re looking to camp in damp environments, synthetic is often the better insulation material.
Humans come in many different shapes and sizes and so do our sleeping bags. So, when buying a new bag, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a model that will fit you well. These are the metrics you’ll find when looking at size guides for different models:
Buying a sleeping bag for camping is no easy feat as there are a whole lot of considerations to factor into your decision-making process. That being said, here are some of the most important features to keep in mind when searching for your next camping companion:
All camping sleeping bags come with a temperature rating. This rating is a measure of the coldest temperatures that you should use that particular bag in. However, just because a bag is rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t mean you’ll have a nice night’s sleep in those conditions.
Rather, one should simply use the temperature rating as a rough guideline when buying a sleeping bag. In general, it’s best to use a bag that’s 10-15 degrees colder than the coldest conditions you think you’ll face on your trip. Do keep in mind that warmer bags will often be heavier and less packable than models designed for three-season use.
The weight and packability of a sleeping bag can have a huge impact on your trip, especially if you’re backpacking. Usually, three-season bags will be lighter and more compact than four season models. Additionally, the lightest models will usually be mummy bags that are made from high-quality down.
Since a sleeping bag is made from very compressible materials, they will usually be sold with an accompanying stuff sack to make packing easier. The size of the stuff sack is a good indicator of the compressibility of a given bag.
That being said, if you’re looking for a very lightweight and highly packable model, you’ll likely have to be prepared to spend top dollar for it. Generally, ultralight models are made with very high-quality down which can be up to 2-3 times more expensive than a comparable synthetic-filled option.
The vast majority of sleeping bags on the market today will come with one zipper on either the right or left-hand side. These zippers make it possible for people to get in and out of the bag at night. However, not all zippers are made equal.
Most sleeping bags will have one zipper that goes three-quarters of the way down the length of the bag. This is the standard format for a zipper but some models now have one zipper on either side to make it easier to get in and out.
Alternatively, some bags have a full-length zipper on one side and a half-length zipper on the other side. This configuration allows for easy access and exit from the bag while also allowing the camper to quickly ventilate their sleeping quarters on a hot summer’s night.
It’s important to note, though, that zippers add quite a bit of weight and bulk to any sleeping bag. Thus, while they are convenient, having more or longer zippers on a bag is not necessarily the best option, especially for the weight-conscious backpacker.
Many new sleeping bags now come with small pockets built into their design. These pockets are generally known as “stash pockets” and allow the user to store smaller items. Stash pockets are becoming more and more popular in sleeping bags because they’re great for storing headlamps, phones, and other important gadgets at night.
However, depending on their placement, they can actually be a bit annoying to sleep with, so there are some downsides to having a stash-pocket in your sleeping bag.
Here are some of our recommendations for the best camping sleeping bags around:
Best Car Camping Sleeping Bag
When it comes to value, it’s hard to beat the Mountain Hardwear Lamina 30. This summer-weight sleeping bag is made using Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary lamina construction. This technology welds together seams to maximize the synthetic insulation’s loft while minimizing cold spots.
Built with a mummy-style design, the Lamina 30 has a contoured foot box for warmth while a tailored hood helps trap in heat around the head. It’s made with a lightweight and durable 30D ripstop nylon shell that’s easily compressible for better packability. This nylon shell also has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to help keep you warm, even if the weather isn’t cooperating.
If that wasn’t enough, the Lamina 30 also has a durable two-way zipper with a built-in glow-in-the-dark zipper pull so you don’t lose it in the dark. The Lamina 30 includes a compression sack as well as a mesh storage sack for at-home use. It’s also one of the most affordable sleeping bags out there, so you don’t have to break the bank to go camping.
Best Sleeping Bag for Summer Camping
This synthetic-filled sleeping bag from Nemo is specifically designed for summer camping use. Made for those fast and light backpacking trips in the mountains, the Kyan 35 is packed full of quality Primaloft insulation. This insulation provides ample warmth and comfort without sacrificing weight savings and packability.
With the same compressibility of 650 fill down, the Kyan 35 has many of the benefits of a down bag without the drawbacks of using down in wet conditions. Plus, the Kyan 35 features a 20D and 30D ripstop nylon shell for durability and water-resistance.
In the summer months, the Kyan 35 is also designed to provide ample breathability, as the bag’s Thermo Gills allow for plenty of airflow and ventilation on warm nights. When the temperature drops, though, you can still count on the Kyan 35 to keep you warm, thanks to its thermally-efficient insulation and design.
Best Sleeping Bag for Winter Camping
As one of the best-rated winter camping sleeping bags on the market today, the Nemo Sonic is your go-to sleep system for the colder months. The Sonic comes in two models, a 0 degree Fahrenheit and a -20 degree Fahrenheit, so you can find the bag that’s best for your winter camping needs.
This bag is made using high-end 800 fill power hydrophobic down, which is designed to keep you warm, even when wet. The down in this bag is even Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, so you can feel confident in the environmental aspects of your gear.
Built with a modern design and a new-age profile, the Sonic allows for plenty of movement within the bag at night. The bag has a stretch fabric construction around the knees for added comfort while the Toester footbox is warm, waterproof, and breathable. Oh, and the Sonic also has Nemo’s proprietary Thermo Gills, which makes it easy to cool down when things start getting a bit toasty warm at night.
Best Sleeping Bag for Fall Camping
Made to tackle any shoulder-season adventure, the Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 is a top-of-the-line sleeping bag for all fall camping needs. Rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the UltraLite is a great option for those colder nights.
The UltraLite is built using some of the best down on the market and features a full down collar to help trap in heat on colder evenings. Made in the USA, the UltraLite has 5” of premium loft to help you stay warm while the whole bag weighs less than 2 pounds. Cozy, comfortable, and functional, there’s a lot to love with the Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20.
In the Toptravelpoint Blog you will always find useful and up-to-date information about hiking and camping. & Bryce
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