No matter where your travels take you, from national parks to backwoods to back porches, a camping sleeping bag remains a trusty companion. Since space and weight are not at a premium when you can drive to your destination, the comfort dial can get turned way up. There’s no need to suffer through the night in a constricting mummy bag, so options in this category tend to lean more towards a traditional rectangular shape or a roomier mummy. A number of lightweight options also do a nice job pulling double duty for easy backpacking trips. Below we rank our top picks for 2016, and if you need some background information our buying advice dives into topics like fill type and temperature rating. To complete your camping kit, we've also tested and written about camping mattresses and camping tents.
Temperature rating: 29°F
Weight: 2 lbs. 15 oz.
What we like: Roomy, comfy, and priced right.
What we don’t: Can’t be unzipped completely and opened up as a blanket.
A spacious fit, quality materials and 3-season warmth at a sub-$100 price all adds up to our favorite camping sleeping bag for 2016. The Trail Pod’s mummy design breaks from traditional rectangular camping bags, but is still roomy enough to roll around, while providing better warmth retention than the open top designs. We also like that the Trail Pod fits in a stuff sack and is a candidate for the occasional short-distance backpacking trip. Weight isn’t excessive, and a 29-degree temperature rating is plenty for most 3-season camping and light backcountry use. Our one gripe is we’d prefer if the zipper continued all the way around the bottom of the footbox to allow the bag to be opened up as a blanket. Look to the Wenzel below for that option. Beyond that, it strikes us as the perfect base camping bag to cozy up in before a day of adventuring.
See the REI Trail Pod
Temperature rating: 27°F
Fill: Poly-fiber synthetic
Weight: 4 lbs. 14. oz.
What we like: Roomier than mummy-style bags and the integrated blanket is great for varying temperatures.
What we don’t: Zipper-less enclosure isn’t for everyone.
If you’re a stomach or side sleeper, the Frontcountry Bed could be your new best friend. Sierra Designs went back to the drawing board to offer a something new and unique. The Frontcountry bed is something akin to a roomy pea pod with a big opening in the top and a built-in comforter: there are no zippers here. Above your head, a large insulated zone comfortably accommodates a pillow and your elbows. In addition, the comforter has special pockets for your hands should you sleep with it untucked. We’ve found the design to be a little drafty in cold conditions, even if you tuck in the comforter, but it does retain heat better than the airy rectangular bags on this list. The poly-fill isn’t anything too special, but the bag has been EN-rated, so we can trust the 27-degree rating better than the approximate numbers given to the other bags here.
See the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed
Temperature rating: 30°F
Fill: Stratofiber synthetic
Weight: 4 lbs. 2 oz.
What we like: Very comfortable inside; dual zippers on the front comforter.
What we don’t: Expensive for the occasional camper.
We get that spending more than $200 on a camping bag is hard to swallow, but the Mezzo Loft deserves a spot on our list for its supremely comfortable design. With a 30-degree temperature rating, adaptive comforter, and very roomy interior, it’s a great option for those that struggle to get a good night’s sleep outdoors. The comforter is similar in concept to the Frontcountry Bed above, but Nemo includes zippers on either side for a smoother entry and even less restrictive fit. Its rectangular shape is very spacious like a traditional sleeping bag, but isn’t drafty thanks to a built-in hood. The standard Mezzo Loft accommodates a 25-inch wide pad into its sleeve, and for even roomier options, there is the Mezzo Loft Luxury for a 30-inch mat and Mezzo Loft Duo for couples.
See the Nemo Mezzo Loft 30
Temperature rating: 19°F
Fill: 600-fill DriDown
Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
What we like: Great crossover bag; down insulation at a value price.
What we don’t: Too snug for comfort seekers.
One of our favorite crossover sleeping bags, the Kelty Cosmic 20 has cemented a spot on both our backpacking and camping bag lists. For 2016, the Cosmic got an update, upping the quality of the down (from a low-mid grade 550-fill to 600). The benefit of nicer feathers is an uptick in warmth for the weight and compressibility. And considering the typical price of a down bag, the quality improvement makes what was already a good deal even better. For improved performance in wet conditions, the down has a hydrophobic treatment, which is a big helper should some water enter the tent or if you sleep too close to the wet tent walls. It still won’t insulate as well as a synthetic insulation when moisture enters, and it’s still important to keep the bag as dry as possible, but the extra degree of protection and 20-degree rating makes it a great choice for almost any 3-season trip. Compared with the Trail Pod above, the pricier Cosmic is the better buy if you’ll be backpacking more than 1-2 times a year.
See the Kelty Cosmic 20
Temperature rating: 5°F
Fill: Woven fiber synthetic
Weight: 4 lbs. 1.6 oz.
What we like: Awesome price for the specs.
What we don’t: Zipper can be finicky.
Teton Sports is a sneaky-good value brand that is gaining ground in the camping world. On paper, their Tracker sleeping bag has it all: 5 degree temperature rating, 4-pound total weight and a soft touch, brushed lining. Tack on a compression stuff sack and interior zippered pocket at a price that consistently hovers around $70, and you have an excellent budget camping and backpacking sleeping bag. The ripstop shell houses polyester insulation that performs admirably in cold weather, and Teton went through the effort to add an extra layer of insulation around the footbox, an area prone to getting cold. True, the mummy shape is a little snug for comfort-focused campers (but roomier than a standard mummy bag), and the main zipper can be a little stubborn, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a bag that puts together this impressive of a stat line, and the comfort to back it up, for under $100.
See the Teton Sports Tracker
Temperature rating: 20°F
Fill: Slumberloft synthetic
Weight: 10 lbs. 9 oz.
What we like: Most comfortable bag out there.
What we don’t: Pricey and huge, even when packed.
Let’s get the elephant in the room taken care of right off the bat—the $240 price tag. This is rarified air for a rectangular sleeping bag that won’t ever see a wiff of backpacking. And there’s no fancy lightweight fabrics or insulation at work here, it’s all about pure luxury camping. Weighing in at over 10 pounds and rolling to the dimensions of an average-size duffel, there’s nothing subtle about the Country Squire, but neither is the comfort. The buffalo plaid lining covers you in camping decadence, and is by far and away the best feeling rectangular bag on this list. A heavy-duty cotton shell and burly zippers should ensure this a one-time purchase. The price, even under $200 on Amazon, keeps it from ranking higher here, but those willing to spend up will be treated to a camping bag for life. If you camp in truly frigid conditions, consider the 0-degree Country Squire instead.
See the Slumberjack Country Squire
Temperature rating: 20°F
Fill: Heatseaker Eco synthetic
Weight: 3 lbs. 12 oz.
What we like: Light and compressible for a rectangular bag.
What we don’t: You pay a premium for the brand.
The Dolomite line is The North Face’s core camping line, and their 20-degree rectangular bag is the big money maker. It hits that sweet spot of warmth and price (if a bit pricey for what you get), and has nifty details like full-length zippers that open it up for use as a blanket. To us, however, the bag feels a little like it’s caught in-between categories. The tapered rectangular shape isn’t as spacious as a traditional bag, but it’s still too heavy and bulky to realistically use for backpacking. For campers that want need less unwieldy gear, the Dolomite does the trick, but we suspect that’s a small group. Otherwise, it’s a good all-around build, and the Heatseeker Eco synthetic fill is an efficient insulator for the weight and packs down well.
See The North Face Dolomite 20
Temperature rating: 15°F
Fill: Insotect Hotstream synthetic
Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: Roomy fit and very warm.
What we don’t: Heavy for a crossover bag.
Built for cold weather car camping, the Big Agnes Encampment is a roomy and cozy synthetic sleeping bag. In contrast to the generous mummy shape of Trail Pod above, the Encampment is semi-rectangular, which amounts to lightly shaving the corners off a traditional camping bag. Spacious to roll around in and equipped with a real hood and cinch cord, the Big Agnes is one of the few on this list to remain warm when temperatures dip below freezing. Just make sure to bring along an insulated sleeping pad. The Encampment has no insulation underneath you, so you’ll need a 25-inch wide mat (checkout our best camping mats for recommendations), to fit into the built-in sleeve at the bottom.
See the Big Agnes Encampment
Temperature rating: 25°F
Fill: Insul-Therm synthetic
Weight: 8 lbs.
What we like: Good comfort and warmth at an affordable price.
What we don’t: Hefty. Very hefty.
The Wenzel Blue Jay is everything we love about camping. It’s comfy cozy, no-frills fun—not to mention affordable. $55 gets you a 7+ pound behemoth that is quite warm (for a non-mummy style), and the flannel interior is soft against the skin and holds up well after multiple washings. The classic rectangular shape unzips completely, which means you can use the Blue Jay as a large blanket on warmer nights. Because of its weight and all-around bulk, the bag should be used exclusively for car camping—it doesn’t take kindly to compressing, but it can be rolled up for transport. For the casual camper, the Wenzel is a near-perfect bag, with enough warmth for most 3-season use at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
See the Wenzel Blue Jay 25
Temperature rating: 45°F
Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
What we like: Wearable design at a reasonable price.
What we don’t: Less synthetic fill limits it to summer use.
Wearable sleeping bags, which essentially amount to a sleeping bag that has arms and feet openings, are gaining some serious traction for their novel yet functional design. Our favorite is the budget-friendly evrgrn Crash Sack from REI. The full-length front zip and arm holes means you can go straight from late night s’mores to your tent and then back out for morning coffee without leaving the comfy confines of your sleeping bag. A number of hand and storage pockets further blur the lines between full-length jacket and sleeping bag. If you don’t plan to use the wearable feature set, we recommend steering clear. The rest of the bag is more inline with a sub-$100 bag with a strictly summer-only temperature rating of 45 degrees.
See the evrgrn Crash Sack
Temperature rating: 30°F
Fill: Coletherm synthetic (3 lbs.)
Weight: 5 lbs.
What we like: A great price and reasonably comfortable in warm weather.
What we don’t: Heavy and doesn’t include a stuff sack.
At the budget end of the spectrum, Coleman makes a nice line-up of basic three-season sleeping bags for camping. There is nothing remarkable about the Green Valley—it’s relatively heavy with a slick nylon outer and fleece-like liner that could be softer. Why is it on this list? Because, it’s 29 bucks and it gets the job done if that job happens to be car camping, sleeping on a bunk in an Airstream, accommodating a buddy on the couch, or keeping dog hair off the backseats. What if the dog chews a hole in it? Who cares— it was 29 bucks. Get out some duct tape and roll it up so it’s ready for the next adventure. This bag is rated to keep you warm from 30 to 50-degree temperatures, but you will probably need some long underwear (and maybe an extra liner) at the lower end of that range.
See the Coleman Green Valley
Camping Sleeping Bag Comparison Table
|REI Trail Pod||$90||29°F||Mummy||Synthetic||72 in.||2 lbs. 15 oz.||10 x 12 in.|
|Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed||$130||27°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||72 in.||4 lbs. 14 oz.||11.5 x 20 in.|
|Nemo Mezzo Loft 30||$230||30°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||76 in.||4 lbs. 2 oz.||10 x 18 in.|
|Kelty Cosmic 20||$160||19°F||Mummy||600-fill Down||72 in.||2 lbs. 9 oz.||8 x 14 in.|
|Teton Sports Tracker||$70||5°F||Mummy||Synthetic||87 in.||4 lbs. 1.6 oz.||9 x 15 in.|
|Slumberjack Country Squire||$240||20°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||84 in.||10 lbs. 9 oz.||16 x 40 in.|
|The North Face Dolomite||$99||20°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||72 in.||3 lbs. 12 oz.||11 x 20 in.|
|Big Agnes Encampment||$180||15°F||Mummy||Synthetic||72 in.||3 lbs. 4 oz.||9 x 20 in.|
|Wenzel Blue Jay||$55||25°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||72. in.||8 lbs.||13 x 18 in.|
|evrgrn Crash Sack||$119||45°F||Mummy||Synthetic||72 in.||2 lbs. 5 oz.||7 x 14 in.|
|Coleman Green Valley||$29||30°F||Rectangular||Synthetic||75 in.||5 lbs.||n/a|
- Mummy and Rectangular Sleeping Bags
- Down vs. Synthetic Insulation
- Temperature Rating
- Weight and Packability
- Double Sleeping Bags
- Kid’s Sleeping Bags
- Don’t Forget A Mattress or Pad
Don’t quote us on this one, but we’re pretty sure that the original mummy shape was not chosen for comfort (more for entombment), so it’s little surprise that some folks find the fit rather restricting. The advantage of having that tapered, body hugging cut is there is little extra space for cold spots to creep in. And with a quality hood cinched around the top of your head, you can really maximize the temperature rating potential. If you find yourself at higher elevations or in colder temperatures, a mummy bag is a great option. Additionally, if you plan to occasionally mix in some backpacking, there are great mummy bags made with a roomier fit, including the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed and the Big Agnes Encampment. For a full list of lightweight mummy options, check out our article on the best backpacking sleeping bags.
On the exact opposite end spectrum is the squared off sleeping bag. These traditional camping bags trade a body-shaped fit for extra room to roll around. Clearly designed for warmer conditions, rectangular bags can often be completely unzipped down one side and the bottom to be used as a large blanket for two. You do lose the insulating hood found on mummy bags, so plan your sleepwear accordingly when taking them outside their summer comfort zone. As a result, if you are looking for an all-in-one bag for camping and backpacking, opt instead for a mummy bag (or at least a roomier mummy-like bag mentioned above). Your back will thank you for saving the weight.
There are two main types of insulation used for sleeping bags for camping: down insulation made up of clusters of duck or goose feathers and synthetic manmade fibers. For camping, when weight and a compact stuffed size are not as essential, down fill loses some of its inherent advantages. But the premium warm feeling that you get with a down bag is still there. For the same reasons down jackets are so popular, even for daily use, a down sleeping bag is an indulgence oftentimes worth paying for. But the extra cost is definitely a consideration. A down sleeping bag, with average quality down (600-fill), can cost $50 or more than an equivalent synthetic option.
Synthetic insulation, sometimes referred to as synthetic down, dominates the camping sleeping bag category because of its affordability. Additionally, compromises in choosing the cheaper fill-type are relatively minimal for camping. With a car, camper or trailer to transport all the gear, the larger stuffed size and extra weight are much less of a concern than when a sleeping bag has to be crammed into a backpack. And should the insulation get wet, synthetics continue to warm you, unlike down feathers.
Camping has a sweet simplicity to it, and one of the great things about driving (or walking a short distance) to your campsite, is that you don’t need anything too special from your camping sleeping bag. Realistically, you can get a great sleeping bag for under $100. Spending extra brings features like a softer touch shell fabric and a lighter overall weight, which is worth it for some, but most campers will be happy with a tough nylon shell, a healthy dose of synthetic fill, and a cozy flannel lining. The Wenzel Blue Jay, which can be found on Amazon for around $55, is a great example. It's plenty warm, comfortable and tough enough to keep using year-after-year.
Let’s make this clear right off the bat: it’s important not to treat sleeping bag temperature ratings as hard truth. Unlike backpacking bags, which are mostly assigned a rating through a standardized process (EN rating system), individual manufacturers assign the ratings for their camping bags. As such, there are some major discrepancies once you have them out in the real world. One reason for this is due to the shape of many camping bags. A rectangular bag that has a wide opening on one end will not retain heat in the same way a sealed off mummy bag can.
In the end, the temperature rating does have value and you should use it as a basic guideline. In choosing the proper approximate rating, try to get an idea of the very coldest temperature you'll be experiencing overnight. Once you have that number, it’s a good idea to build in a little buffer (we like an extra 10-15 degrees) to avoid getting cold. And keep in mind the temperature rating is closer to a survivability rating rather than being comfortable and warm. Other factors to consider are your age—people typically don’t sleep as warm the older they get—and whether you are a cold or warm sleeper. Most campers stick to the warmer months for their outdoor adventuring, and as a result, most of the sleeping bags on this list are rated in the 25-40 degree range.
Sleeping Bag Lining
The interior of a sleeping bag varies quite a bit from bag to bag depending on its intended use, but the tried and true flannel lining is still our camping favorite. The soft touch fabric simply can’t be beat, and it’s plenty durable and washable in most cases. The one downside is the flannel adds extra weight compared with an integrated polyester that you’ll find in a crossover camping and backpacking bag. But if you’ll be exclusively camping, we highly recommend enjoying a flannel lining for its home-y feeling in bags like the Wenzel Blue Jay or Slumberjack Country Squire.
Zippers: ¾ Zip, Full Zip, No Zip
Mummy bags typically have a ¾-length side zip that requires some wriggling to get in and out of and can’t be opened up completely should you want to zip the sleeping bag together with another compatible bag. That’s why for camping, we recommend a bag that fully unzips. Not only is it easy to create a large and comfortable space for two if you zip it to another bag, but unzipping the bag on its own opens it up for use as a blanket. And if the bag has a tough exterior shell, you can use it as an outdoor picnic blanket in a pinch.
A third type is the no-zip, which is limited to a couple designs, including the Frontcountry Bed that made our list. The large oval opening requires some modest flexibility and patience to get out of, but going zipper-less can be nice. There's no fumbling in the night for the zipper pull and you don’t have to worry about snags or heat loss (if the bag lacks a good draft tube). In the end, we don’t see the zipper-less design completely taking off. The in and out convenience and ability to use the bag as a blanket with a full zip sleeping bag is the better answer for most campers.
For most, the primary weight and packability consideration is whether or not it can be carried from the garage to the car, squeezed in with the rest of your stuff, and then moved from the trunk to the tent. That said, we still recommend checking the weight and stuffed size that will be listed in the product specifications to get an idea of just how large and heavy the bags are. Synthetic bags are typically made with thicker fabrics and require more insulation to provide sufficient warmth, which can add up to a surprising amount of bulk. The 10-pound SlumberJack comes to mind as one example. And if you’re considering a double bag (covered in more detail below), you’re talking about packed dimensions listed in feet rather than inches. If weight and packed size become important, a crossover backpacking/sleeping bag like the still-roomy REI Trail Pod reduces both.
A double sleeping bag is simply a standard sleeping that has doubled in width to accommodate two campers sleeping side-by-side. These bags are often an effective selling point to get a reluctant partner to finally try out camping. But is it worth getting the double bag as opposed to just zipping together two compatible sleeping bags? Our simple take is: no. While they’re undoubtedly spacious and a touch cheaper than getting two single bags, we’ve never been in a scenario where zipping two bags haven’t worked just as well—and it gives you the flexibility to camp solo as well.
But who are we to tell you not to get a double bag? And if you find it’s what you want, we recommend the truly massive and comfortable The North Face Dolomite Double 20. Not only is the Dolomite Double a double, but it has enough room inside for a two full size adults on each side and a storm-frightened toddler (or dog) in the middle.
If you have a little kiddo or are shopping for one, we highly recommend picking up a sleeping bag that is sized proportionally. Unless you only camp in areas with very warm overnight temperatures, a 4.5-foot person in a sleeping bag designed for a 6-footer is a recipe for cold and uncomfortable nights. They just can’t heat all of that extra space. To keep from having to replace sleeping bags every couple years as your little camper grows up, consider getting a sleeping bag that has an adjustable length, like the REI Kindercone. Kids bags, like the Kindercone, are often made in a bunch of fun colors, which sure doesn’t hurt in getting them excited for some time spent outdoors.
If you’ve ever had a pad deflate or slept directly on the ground in cold weather, you know firsthand the importance of an insulated pad beneath you. More, when you lay on a sleeping bag, you compress the insulation, which impacts its ability to warm you (this is particularly true for down fill, but does impact synthetic as well). As a result, it’s important to choose a sleeping mattress or pad that will protect you from the ground if you’ll be camping in cooler temperatures (typically under 50-60 degrees).
For summer camping where it stays warm at night, you can use a large, uninsulated airbed, but if it’s cold, get a sleeping pad with some form of insulation (most often synthetic or foam). Sleeping pads are given an R-value rating, and the higher the number, the better it insulates you from the cold. As a general guideline for 3-season use, we recommend a rating between 2.5 and 4. Summer campers can get away with less, while winter adventurers will want something that exceeds 5 (and may want to consider adding a second pad for additional protection). Checkout our favorite camping sleeping mattresses for a breakdown of our top picks as well as buying advice. And for lightweight options, we've put together an article on backpacking sleeping pads.