The only way to enjoy a day among the trees is to get a warm night’s sleep, so we’ve put together a list of the best sleeping bags to keep you cozy during the colder months. Whether you’re looking for ultra-light, synthetic down, waterproof, short, long, mummy, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered — or better yet, tucked in.
Best Sleeping Bags
Looking for the perfect sleeping bag for the toss-n-turn-er? The Kelty Tuck 20 Sleeping Bag might just be it. This bag is for laid back camping in chilly conditions — you know, not wanting to hike too far from the car. The regular length stuffs down to 8.7×15” and 3lbs 11 oz — so not quite ideal for backpacking but for someone who wants to experience the outdoors comfortably, this is perfect.
Kelty is reliable and affordable, so for a cool $99.00, you can sleep soundly under the stars with the Kelty Tuck 20 Degree Bag. It also comes with a plush built-in pillow and extra roominess just for side sleepers.
Best Budget Sleeping Bag
The Poler Stuff Napsack is just what it sounds like: an adorably-wearable sleeping bag perfect for the friend that can knock out anywhere. It has so many features, including reversibility, a cozy hood, and a snap-close chest pocket perfect for those looking to keep their personal items secure.
As somebody who has spent some time couch-surfing, this sounds like the perfect outfit and bedding option, all in one. The foot hem can be cinched or released, so whether soundly sleeping, walking to the bonfire, sleep-walking, or driving long distance, Poler Napsack has got you covered.
Best Down Sleeping Quilt
For car-campers — The Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Sleeping Bag is a solid three season synthetic bag and comes with a drawstring hood for extra cold nights. It stuffs down to ~10×18” and just under 5lbs, so ideal for those doing casual camping trips that don’t require a lot of movement from car to tent. Mountain Hardwear uses recycled synthetic insulation and abrasion resistant polyester to construct this reliable bag, so whether you’re heading to Glacier National Park or New Mexico in late fall, it’ll hold up against the elements.
P.S I’m giving Mountain Hardwear bonus points for letting customers choose the length AND preferable zip-side of this sleeping bag. Left side, please and thank you!
Best Car Camping Sleeping Bag
Sierra Designs believes in social responsibility (which we LOVE), so they aim to create gear that’s both reliable and affordable. The Shut Eye 20 is no exception. For its size, weight, and temperature — this bag is sold at an amazing price.
The Shut Eye is water resistant, stuffs down to 9×15”, and comes in weighing under 3 lbs. With a soft interior and durable exterior, Sierra Designs also gives this bag a lifetime warranty. Whether road tripping, backpacking, or camping, the Shut Eye is designed for versatility. And for a hundred bucks, you’ve got yourself a forever sleeping bag.
Best Mummy Sleeping Bag
Not going to lie, when I saw the Therm-a-Rest Questar 20, little hearts started shooting out of my eyes. It looks more comfortable than my bed (not kidding). This one’s also a polyester bag — which, for those who haven’t gone down this road yet, just means that it’s heavier than a traditional down bag, stuffs a bit larger, but may perform better in wet conditions.
The Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 Sleeping Bag comes in Long, Regular, and Small (yay!) sizes — and even the Long stuffs down to a mere 7.5×9” and 2.5 lbs. It’s treated with a Nikwax hydrophobic treatment, so even on a frigid rainy night, you’ll be keeping nice and dry.
Best Synthetic Sleeping Bag
This one’s for the minimalists out there. The Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 Down Quilt is perfect for backpackers and through-hikers looking to keep toasty on cold spring and autumn trips. It’s a down quilt that weighs a mere 1.5lbs (!!!) and comes with a sleek strap to slide over your sleeping pad.
The Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt is super lightweight and the designers kept only the essential elements here: so no, hood, no drawstrings, and no zippers needed. This is what I wish I had when I was backpacking four years ago — it’s an option that allows for ultimate flexibility while keeping the most minimal footprint. If you’re looking for efficiency and are open to paying for quality, this is an incredible option for the folks out there trying to keep it simple.
Best Camping Quilt
I try not to play favorites but…I have had a Nemo bag for six years and it was the best gear purchase I have ever made. The Nemo Sonic 0 Sleeping Bag is designed to keep warmth in and moisture out, and with Nemo’s impeccable eye for quality, it’s the perfect bag for cold camping and mountaineering.
Nemo follows RDS (Responsible Down Standards) which ensures humane treatment and traceability through their supply chain and the Sonic 0, which is (obviously) rated to withstand temperatures down to 0 degrees, stuffs down to weigh under 3lbs. A draft collar and tubes are specifically designed to keep body heat in and cold air out, along with a waterproof footbox. The founder of the Mountain Weekly News also loves this bag but -20 version of the Nemo Sonic for serious year round camping.
Best Winter Sleeping Bag
The Eco Trail is The North Face’s three-season bag made with almost entirely recycled materials. The bag is designed with features like a J-shaped zipper for increased mobility and venting, and internal pockets perfect for a phone or headlamp.
Although it’s rated for 20-degrees, The North Face Eco Trail 20 Synthetic Sleeping Bag does well insulating in a range of dry, windy, damp, and cool conditions. It’s weight comes in right around 4 lbs, comes with a lifetime warrantee, and stuffs to about 10×18” — so ideal for car camping. The North Face has been making quality gear since 1966, and we’re happy and excited to see them utilizing recycled materials with more and more of their products.
Best 3 Season Sleeping Bag
Made with duck down, the Marmot Ouray 0 Sleeping Bag is a mummy style bag designed to have a smaller shoulder section and larger hip section to accommodate different body shapes. This could be good for those with small frames concerned with heat-loss on a cold night — though it interestingly only comes in a Regular or Long size.
The Marmot Ouray has a nautilus-style multi-layered hood designed for keeping ears and heads super toasty, and the bag weighs just ~2.5 lbs and stuffs down to 9.5×19”, which is pretty amazing for all that plush comfort.
Best Women’s Sleeping Bag
Hunters: this one’s for you. The Kuiu Super Down 15 takes the crown for the lightest weight bag on the list, and its sleek design makes it a perfect choice for a cold-season hunting trip. It’s Regular size comes in weighing a miniscule 1lb 15 oz and stuffs down to 8.5×15”, so whether you’re taking a short walk into the woods or heading out for a multi-day trek looking for elk, it will be a great companion.
The KUIU Super Down is specifically created for cold and wet conditions and is even designed with its own water-repellent technology to keep insulation moisture-free. With all of these features, it’s no surprise that this one’s the priciest on our list, but if you have the funds to spend, KUIU’s gear is well worth it.
Best Ultralight Down Sleeping Bag
A good sleeping bag is worth its weight in gold. It only takes one bad night out, freezing your derriere off at 2 am, to swear by everything that’s holy that you’re buying the best sleeping bag you can find.
By Richard Merino
How to Choose a Sleeping Bag?
There are some industry standards used to determine how sleeping bags are rated, but temperatures should still be taken with a grain of salt; “sleeping comfort” is a very subjective concept to measure.
There’s nothing better to sleep on than a fluffy down sleeping bag for camping. They can weigh up to a third less than it’s synthetic counterparts and they take up less space in your backpack. On the other hand, down requires special care, its almost useless if it gets soaked, and requires more maintenance than your high school sweetheart.
That being said, besides down or synthetic fills, other important options to keep in mind when looking for your next bag are: length (for obvious reasons); side of zipper (many manufacturers make bags for left-handed campers); gender (there are many high-quality bags now (designed just for the ladies), and of course the most important—temperature.
In the mid-price range though, it’s hard to beat the dependability and affordability of Big Agnes Bags. They’re well known for down sleeping bags (and tents), but lately, they’ve also been innovating with synthetic fill materials. And they also have one of the widest selections of sleeping bags. Because they’re based in Steamboat Springs, CO, they offer customer service and a warranty that is second to none. This is especially true if you live anywhere near the Rockies.
REI Sleeping Bags
If you are on a tight budget, with less than $100 to spend, there is a way to make every penny count. If you can only afford a bag rated to +30 or higher there is really one-way to go: REI Sleeping Bags. You won’t be paying the big R&D and advertising bucks that major brands demand and you can still get a high-quality product. Case in hand their Trail Pod Sleeping Bag is rated to +30 degrees, but it is only $79 for the small version and $99 for the long. Also keep in mind a bunch of the bags we reviewed above are in the $100 range. There is a sleeping bag out there for everyone.
Other Sleeping Bag Considerations
Overnight bivouacs are overrated. If you spend any amount of time camping you know that after a day breaking a sweat in the great outdoors, there is nothing better than passing out in a warm and cozy sleeping bag, followed by a long night of solid sleep. So save the hard-core adventures for daylight and invest in a good night sleep, or spend a cold night damning yourself wishing you had.
In my experience, I’ve frozen my feet and spent a miserable night sleeping in a +20 bag on a cold ledge with temperatures in the low 40’s. So if you’re making the investment on a good bag, you want to get something that’s at least rated to +25 Fahrenheit, ideally less, especially if you want to do some sporadic winter camping.
If you plan on spending more than a week sleeping on a glacier, you want to get a 4 season and negative rated sleeping bag for sure.
These sleeping bags work amazing for car camping. If you’re looking for a more specific sleeping bag for backpacking. Keep reading.
Sleeping Bags for Backpacking
Whether you are a casual camper or a hardcore backpacker, your sleeping bag is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will have with you. A great sleeping bag is one that will keep you warm on even the coldest of nights without sacrificing too much in the way of weight or comfort.
Below is a little more information on how to buy a sleeping bag so that you stay safe on the trail and don’t become a liability to others in your party.
How Do Sleeping Bags Temperature Ratings Work?
By far the most important aspect of a sleeping bag is its temperature rating. A sleeping bag’s temperature rating tells you what temperatures the bag can handle while keeping you safely and comfortably warm.
Thanks to the EN Standard, a sleeping bag’s rating is now a reliable measurement. Select a bag that is rated for the coldest temperature you expect to encounter. An EN rating is provided with almost every sleeping bag on the market today.
Most sleeping bags provide three different EN ratings. These include a comfort rating (for women) that shows the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average woman warm (it has been scientifically proven that women sleep colder than men).
|Tested Lower Limit||
18.1 degrees (F) – EN
29.1 degrees (F) – EN
|Tested Lower Limit||
3.6 degrees (F) – EN
16.7 degrees (F) – EN
A lower-limit rating (for men) is also provided. This shows the lowest temperature that the bag will keep the average man warm.
REI Makes a 10 Degree Bag for Men.
|Tested Lower Limit||
10 degrees (F) – EN
22 degrees (F) – EN
|Tested Lower Limit||
19 degrees (F) – EN
30 degrees (F) – EN
Sleeping Bag Weight
The next most important aspect of a sleeping bag is its weight. You want to keep as low a weight as possible, especially while backpacking, without sacrificing comfort or safety.
Weight versus roominess is up to personal preference. Some people prefer a lightweight bag to all else, even if it means paying more money. Others would rather have a roomier sleeping bag, even if it means carrying a little extra weight. Most modern bags set out to strike a balance between weight and roominess.
Insulated Sleeping Bags
The last thing to consider when buying a sleeping bag is the type of insulation. The choices include down, synthetic, and water-repellent down.
Though down sleeping bags are more expensive, they are among the lightest, compressible, durable, and breathable. This makes them a great long-term investment. They do not, however, hold up to excessive moisture very well.
Synthetic bags like The North Face Aleution are perfect for damp and cold conditions and come for a little less than down sleeping bags up front. However, they are slightly heavier and do not compress as easily.
Check out the North Face Aleutian Sleeping Bag ($108.95).
Water-repellent down sleeping bags are treated to resist moisture. As mentioned above, this is something of an Achilles heel for regular down bags. Water-repellent down bags are among the most expensive but best overall sleeping bags.
Buying a sleeping bag shouldn’t be a rush decision. There is also no one best bag for everyone. Take your personal preferences, body type, and type of overnighting you plan on doing into consideration. Look at a number of bags before making a decision. Most importantly, make sure to understand a bag’s temperature rating and select one with a temperature rating that will keep you safe and sound.