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 2021, and if you need some background information, our comparison table and buying advice dive 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: 20°F
Weight: 4 lbs. 8 oz.
What we like: Solid comfort, warmth, and build quality at a good price.
What we don’t: You can go cheaper for a rectangular bag.
Mummy bags are popular for both camping and backpacking, but rectangular bags are roomier and can offer an even better sleeping experience. Our top pick in this category is the Eco Trail Bed 20 from The North Face. For around $120 (regular length), you get a high-quality bag with a useful 20-degree temperature rating, perfect for 3-season car camping in a variety of conditions. If you give the listed rating a 10-degree buffer or so, you’re looking at comfortable sleeping down to about freezing. The Eco Trail Bed also has a premium feel and build along with nifty details like a full-length zipper that opens it up for use as a blanket.
Keep in mind that a rectangular bag is heavier than a mummy for the warmth and doesn’t pack away nearly as small, so the Eco Trail Bed isn’t intended for traveling far from your car or stuffing down into a pack. But we appreciate the option for a comforter-like system, which gives you plenty of room and flexibility depending on the temperature. It’s worth noting that the Eco Trail Bed line was new for last year and replaced the old Dolomite, and improvements include 100-percent-recycled materials and a lower weight. For those who want to spend less, the Coleman Green Valley below is a similar concept but a significant step down in warmth and build quality.
See the The North Face Eco Trail Bed 20
Best Double Sleeping Bag for Camping
Shape: Rectangular (double)
Temperature rating: 20°F
Weight: 12 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: A super comfortable option for two campers.
What we don’t: Heavy and bulky to stuff down.
Car camping can be all about luxury, and for two people who don’t mind getting cozy, a double sleeping bag makes a whole lot of sense. In practice, the Alps Mountaineering Spectrum 20 is one of the most adaptable bags on this list. Like the Exped MegaSleep Duo 25 below, the Spectrum quickly and easily converts into two individual bags if you plan to sleep solo, or you can open it up for use as a quilt. On warm summer nights, you can even sleep on top of both layers much like you would your own bed. And with soft-touch fabrics and a 20-degree temperature rating, there’s a whole lot to like about this camping bag.
What are the shortcomings of the Alps Mountaineering Spectrum? It’s bulky and heavy at over 12 pounds for the regular version, which is more double many single rectangular bags (for reference, the heaviest single-person bag on this list is Coleman’s North Rim at 5 lbs. 4 oz.). In addition, you better feel fairly comfortable with your sleeping partner as the dimensions are a little snug for two widthwise. But for couples and close friends, we like the comfort and practicality of a double bag, and the Spectrum is a nice value to boot. Other options in this category include the aforementioned MegaSleep Duo and The North Face’s Dolomite One Double (we describe the single-person, standard The One bag below), but both cost more than the Alps.
See the Alps Mountaineering Spectrum 20
Best Budget Camping Sleeping Bag
Temperature rating: 30°F
Weight: 4 lbs. 12 oz.
What we like: A great price and reasonably comfortable in warm weather.
What we don’t: Bulky, cheap materials, and doesn’t include a stuff sack.
At the budget end of the spectrum, Coleman makes a nice lineup of basic 3-season sleeping bags for camping. We’ll start by saying that there is nothing remarkable about the Green Valley—it’s relatively heavy with a slick nylon outer and flannel-like liner that could be softer. Why is it on this list? Because it’s 50 bucks (and often less on Amazon) and gets the job done for 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? It’s 50 bucks. Get out some duct tape and roll it up so it’s ready for the next adventure.
In terms of insulation, the Coleman Green Valley 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. This means that the bag is significantly less warm than The North Face Eco Trail Bed above along with many of the pricier options on this list. In addition, the construction quality and materials are quite basic and you shouldn’t expect a premium feel, but that’s a given with a camping bag in this low price range, and we still love the value. Coleman also sells the slightly warmer Brazos 30 for a budget-friendly $40, although that bag is heavier and even cheaper-feeling.
See the Coleman Green Valley
Best Crossover Camping and Backpacking Bag
Temperature rating: 22°F
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
What we like: A nice mix of comfort, weight, and packability.
What we don’t: Pricey for a synthetic-insulated bag.
For campers looking for a sleeping bag that can pull double duty on the occasional backpacking trip, we like Nemo’s Forte. With a 22-degree temperature rating, sub-3-pound weight, and decently packable build (for a synthetic design), the Forte is fully serviceable for short forays into the backcountry. Just as important, it’s supremely comfortable for camping thanks to its unique “spoon” shape, which resembles a mummy bag but with a noticeable boost in space around the knees and elbows. This makes it less restrictive inside, particularly for side sleepers and those prone to tossing and turning. You do pay a premium compared with our top picks at $200, but we think the Forte hits a great middle ground for mixed car camping and backpacking use.
In addition to its spoon shape, Nemo included a number of creative features on the Forte. One of our favorites is the two zippered “gills” along the top of the bag that can be opened on warm nights to keep you from overheating. Further, there’s a small blanket built into the collar that can be folded out or tucked in and around your neck depending on nighttime temperatures. It’s true that the Forte isn’t a perfect all-in-one answer—it’s overkill for car camping in hot weather, and dedicated backpackers may want something even lighter and more compressible—but we love the balanced and adaptable design. For a slightly more premium option from Nemo, check out their Tempo 20 ($150), which is 12 ounces heavier but more durable and roomier with a “relaxed” spoon shape that’s wider at the hips and knees.
See the Nemo Forte 20 See the Women's Nemo Forte 20
Best of the Rest
Temperature rating: 21°F
Fill: 550-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
What we like: Great crossover bag; down insulation at a value price.
What we don’t: Too snug for comfort seekers; no longer uses hydrophobic down.
Kelty’s popular Cosmic Down 20 has been a mainstay in their lineup for years and remains a popular choice among campers and backpackers alike. For starters, you get a respectable weight of 2 pounds 10 ounces, which is the lightest 3-season option on our list (Kelty’s own Galactic 30 below weighs the same but is far less versatile). Along with a healthy dose of 550-fill down, the bag offers cozy warmth and good compressibility. And considering the typical price of a down bag, the Cosmic Down's $140 MSRP really stands out.
It’s worth noting that Kelty recently made some considerable changes to the Cosmic. Namely, down quality dropped from 600-fill-power to lower-quality 550-fill, and it no longer boasts Kelty’s hydrophobic treatment for added assurance against moisture. Weight also jumped a few ounces, although the latest bag still packs down reasonably small, features a PFC-free DWR coating on the shell, and is cheaper by a considerable $40. The Comic collection also includes a synthetic version of the bag, which costs less at $100 but is heavier and less compressible. All in all, the Cosmic Down is a great choice for almost any 3-season trip, and we consider it a better option than the Forte above if you’ll be backpacking more than 1-2 times a year or want to travel light.
See the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 See the Women's Kelty Cosmic Down 20
Temperature rating: 0°F
Weight: 5 lbs.
What we like: Mummy hood increases warmth in cold temperatures.
What we don’t: Cheap build quality.
Teton Sports is a value-oriented brand, and their camping-ready Celsius offers a lot of bang for your buck. For around $60, you get a 0-degree temperature rating and a unique construction that attaches a mummy bag’s hood to a rectangular bag. And while the temperature rating is very generous—depending on how warm or cold you run, it may not even be comfortable around freezing—the Celsius does an admirable job sealing out the cold with insulation around your head and a drawcord at the top.
As expected at this price point, the Teton Sports Celsius falls short of more expensive bags in build quality and overall comfort. To start, the shell fabric feels cheap and the zipper can be finicky to use. Further, the polyester fill does not compress well, and it can be a real pain trying to stuff it back into the included storage bag. But it delivers on warmth, which is why it’s a top seller year after year. Just be aware that the Celsius runs consistently short, and we needed to go up a length to get a proper fit. For another cold-weather option from Teton, check out their Deer Hunter collection, which includes bags rated all the way down to -35 degrees (although again, temperature ratings can be subjective, and it’s important to add in a sizable buffer).
See the Teton Sports Celsius
Shape: Rectangular (double)
Temperature rating: 25° and 40°F
Weight: 4 lbs.
What we like: A double bag that can transform into two singles.
What we don’t: Not that warm.
There aren’t a ton of innovative ideas cropping up in the camping sleeping bag market, but we like Exped's creative MegaSleep Duo 25. As with the Alps Spectrum above, this design addresses our main complaint about double bags: versatility when you need to sleep solo. Exped accomplishes this by including what amounts to two separate sleeping bags (one with a 40°F rating and the other with a 25°F rating). And for trips when you want the double bag functionality, it’s easy to connect the Duo’s two pieces for a cozy and comfortable set-up.
Where does the MegaSleep Duo fall short? As with most rectangular models, the Exped doesn’t pack down small (even if you’re using just one of the single bags), so if you’re looking for a dual camping and backpacking option, a bag like the Kelty Cosmic 20 above is a much better choice. The MegaSleep Duo also lacks other features of a mummy bag like tapered cut and a cinched hood that seal out cold much more effectively. In other words, the 25-degree rating should suffice for most summer camping trips, but not much beyond that. But with the ability to sleep with a partner or on your own, the MegaSleep Duo gets a spot on our list for 2021.
See the Exped MegaSleep Duo 25
Temperature rating: 15°F
Weight: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
What we like: Everything you need in an affordable mummy bag from a respected brand.
What we don’t: Not as versatile as the Nemo Forte above.
If you’re in the market for a mummy bag for camping, it’s hard to knock the Marmot Trestles. This synthetic sleeping bag pretty much has it all: a 15-degree temperature rating for true 3-season warmth, a DWR finish to help keep you dry, and a quality feel and build that Marmot is known for. And at just over $100, that’s a whole lot of mummy bag for your car camping adventures.
We have the Marmot Trestles below the Nemo Forte for a couple reasons. The first is shape: the Nemo’s spoon-like cut is far less restrictive and more comfortable in general than the Marmot’s standard mummy fit. In addition, the Forte does a better job for backpacking thanks to its more compressible build and weight savings. It’s true the Trestles is far cheaper and is a fine choice for campers that prefer a mummy design, but those wanting to dip into backpacking or prioritizing a roomy fit should opt for the Nemo.
See the Marmot Trestles 15
Temperature rating: 30°F
Fill: 550-fill DriDown
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
What we like: Cozy down insulation and a roomy rectangular shape.
What we don’t: Less versatile than the Cosmic Down above.
Boulder-based Kelty has been in the camping business for a long time, and we like what they’ve come up with in the Galactic 30. What makes this bag unique is its combination of quality 550-fill power down with a rectangular shape. Most traditional camping bags stick to synthetic fill for cost savings, but lofty down clusters offer a premium feel and warmth that polyester just can’t match. And as we’ve come to expect from Kelty, the Galactic is solidly built and priced right at $120.
What are the downsides in choosing the Galactic 30? First off, even though the down clusters have a hydrophobic treatment, the Galactic will not perform as well as the synthetic bags above in the wet. Further, the rectangular shape and 30-degree temperature rating mean that it isn’t viable for most backpacking trips, which is one of the main reasons to go with a packable and lightweight down bag. As a result, the mummy-shaped Kelty Cosmic Down above is a more versatile crossover camping/backpacking option, but we still love the recipe of cozy down warmth in a roomy design.
See the Kelty Galactic 30 See the Women's Kelty Galactic 30
Temperature rating: 5°, 20°, and 40°F
Fill: Synthetic; 800-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 12 oz.
What we like: Three sleeping bags in one.
What we don’t: Expensive.
For a fun take on warmth regulation and year-round comfort, The North Face’s The One features a unique layering system that allows you to swap between three different temperature ratings. During summer months or warm nights, you can use the basic synthetic-insulated bag with its 40-degree limit. Then, as the temperature drops, zip on the 800-fill goose down midlayer (to 20°F) or add the third section on top for winter camping (5°F rating). At less than 4 pounds with all layers connected, The North Face design is streamlined, lightweight, and reasonably packable.
What are the drawbacks of this all-in-one system? For starters, at almost $300, The North Face The One is very expensive for camping use. Further, the zippers can be finicky and difficult to use—in other words, switching between layers isn’t an entirely seamless process. And although relatively lightweight, The One Bag is on the heavy end for backpacking (it will do the trick for short trips, however). All things considered, The North Face The One is a well-executed and highly versatile option for year-round adventuring.
See the The North Face The One Bag
Temperature rating: 5°F
Weight: 4 lbs. 1.6 oz.
What we like: Awesome price for the specs.
What we don’t: Zipper can be finicky.
Like the Celsius above, the Teton Sports Tracker is a solid value option. On paper, the bag pretty much 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 $60, and you have an excellent budget camping and backpacking sleeping bag.
To keep you comfortable, the Tracker has a generous amount of polyester insulation that performs admirably in cold weather. Further, Teton added an extra layer of insulation around the footbox, which is an area prone to getting cold. It's true that 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 well under $100.
See the Teton Sports Tracker +5F
Temperature rating: 20° F
Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz.
What we like: Very comfortable inside; dual zippers on the front comforter.
What we don’t: Heavy and expensive for the occasional camper.
We get that spending more than $200 on a dedicated camping bag is hard to swallow, but the Nemo Jazz deserves a spot on our list for its supremely comfortable design. With a 20-degree temperature rating, adaptive comforter and built-in pillow, and very roomy interior, it’s a great option for those that struggle to get a good night’s sleep outdoors. We also like the integrated pad sleeve, which secures your sleeping pad in place and minimizes the risk of rolling over onto the cold ground in the middle of the night. And as we’ve come to expect from the New Hampshire-based company, the Jazz is made with premium materials and an impressive attention to detail.
The comforter on the Jazz is similar in concept to the Sierra Frontcountry Bed below, 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 it isn’t drafty thanks to a built-in hood. The standard Jazz accommodates a 25-inch wide pad into its sleeve, and for even roomier options, there is the Jazz Luxury for a 30-inch mat and Duo and Luxury Duo for couples. To be clear, the Jazz is hefty, bulky, and a considerable investment at $230, but it’s an undeniably lavish option for campers who get out a lot and put a premium on comfort and features.
See the Nemo Jazz 20
Temperature rating: 0°F
Weight: 5 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: Incredibly cheap for the warmth it provides.
What we don’t: The heaviest and bulkiest mummy bag on this list.
In the camping world, Coleman dominates the budget end of the spectrum. And for those who plan on sleeping in cold weather, the North Rim is case in point. For less than $100, you get a burly synthetic mummy bag designed for temperatures down to a claimed 0°F (this bag is not EN- or ISO-tested, so keep that in mind). The North Rim comes in one size designed to fit people up to 6’2’’, and even has features like a draft tube and two-way zipper. For winter camping, this sleeping bag is surprisingly well-built and a good deal.
However, we think the Coleman North Rim is too much sleeping bag for most people, which is why it falls down our rankings. You’ll be hot and sweaty in most conditions, and with all of the insulation, the bag is bulkier and heavier than the mummy options above. But for winter or crisp fall days when you need the extra warmth, Coleman comes through with the North Rim at a reasonably low price point.
See the Coleman North Rim
Temperature rating: 15°F
Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: Very warm yet still roomy.
What we don’t: Heavy for a crossover bag.
Built for cold-weather camping, the Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 is a cozy and roomy synthetic sleeping bag. In contrast to the mummy shapes above, the Lost Dog 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.
Despite the toasty warmth rating, it's important to combine the Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 with a well-insulated sleeping pad. The bag has little in the way of insulation underneath you, so you’ll need a 20-inch-wide mat at the least (check out our best camping mats for recommendations), to fit into the built-in sleeve at the bottom. It's also 6 ounces heavier and not as compressible as the similarly roomy Nemo Forte above. But for those who want to get out camping in the shoulder seasons, the Lost Dog is well-made and warm.
See the Big Agnes Lost Dog 15
Temperature rating: 20°F
Weight: 3 lbs. 11 oz.
What we like: Good balance of price and performance.
What we don’t: Not a standout in weight or packability.
Kelty’s Cosmic Down and Galactic above are value leaders among down sleeping bags, but the Tuck 20 is our favorite synthetic model in their lineup. Predictably, weight and packability aren’t anything to write home about, but this bag hits an excellent balance of price and performance. For just $90, the Tuck is warm with a 3-season-friendly, 20-degree temperature rating and nicely appointed with a spacious footbox and dedicated bottom zipper to free your feet should you get too toasty. For side sleepers and those who toss and turn, we also like that Kelty made the Tuck slightly wider than most traditional mummy bags, which translates to more freedom of movement than a design like the Marmot Trestles above while still nicely sealing in warmth.
All that said, the Kelty strikes us as a jack of all trades but master of none. In other words, it’s a considerable step up in build quality and overall construction compared with the cheaper Coleman bags above but falls short of more premium designs like the Nemo Forte 20, Marmot Trestles 15, and Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 in all-around warmth and comfort (it’s also the heaviest among that grouping). And for only $50 more, Kelty’s aforementioned Cosmic Down 20 is over a pound lighter and much more packable. But if you’re hoping to stay under $100 and don’t mind the tradeoffs, the Tuck 20 is a thoughtful design and yet another excellent value from the Colorado-based brand.
See the Kelty Tuck 20 See the Women's Kelty Tuck 20
Temperature rating: 50°F
Fill: 750-fill down
Weight: 14.8 oz.
What we like: Extremely light and packable.
What we don’t: Pricey for the level of warmth.
All of the bags above are rated to keep you warm in 3-season temperatures or below, but the Sea to Summit Traveller 50 is a decidedly summer-focused option with a temperature rating of only 50 degrees. That said, for fair-weather campers or vanlifers who only plan to get out in the warmer months, there’s a lot to like: this bag is impressively light at just 14.8 ounces (the lightest option on our list by over 1.5 pounds), takes up minimal space in a pack or duffel bag, and unzips fully to transform into a quilt on particularly balmy nights. We also appreciate that Sea to Summit included drawcords at both the shoulders and feet, which can be cinched tight to help retain heat should the mercury dip.
A summer-only bag like the Traveller has its place for lower elevations and those who run warm, and its low weight and small packed size also make it a great option for international travel and hostel stays (hence the name). However, that’s still a fairly small target market, and the Traveller in particular is very pricey for the level of warmth it provides (there is a 30-degree version available, although cost jumps to a steep $319). All in all, we’ve included the Traveller here because it’s a well-made bag from a reputable brand and fills a niche, but the limited appeal and lack of versatility push it to the bottom of our list.
See the Sea to Summit Traveller 50
Temperature rating: 20°F
Weight: 5 lbs. 1.5 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.
We tested the Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs and found it to be a bit too drafty for our tastes, but the casual concept applies much better to car camping. Enter the Frontcountry Bed, which is a solid choice for stomach or side sleepers. This unique design is 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. On the whole, the Frontcountry Bed feels like a hybrid between a mummy and rectangular bag.
We found the design to be comfortable yet a little too open-feeling in cold conditions, even if you tuck in the comforter, although it does retain heat better than some of the airy rectangular bags on this list. The poly-fill insulation isn’t anything special either, but the bag has been ISO-rated so we can trust the 20-degree rating (the 31°F Comfort rating is even more accurate) better than the approximate numbers given to other bags.
See the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed
|The North Face Eco Trail Bed 20||$119||Rectangular||20°F||Synthetic||4 lbs. 8 oz.||11 x 20 in.|
|Alps Spectrum 20||$190||Rectangular||20°F||Synthetic||12 lbs. 1 oz.||15.5 x 27 in.|
|Coleman Green Valley||$50||Rectangular||30°F||Synthetic||4 lbs. 12 oz.||12 x 18 in.|
|Nemo Forte 20||$200||Mummy||22°F||Synthetic||2 lbs. 14 oz.||9 x 11.5 in.|
|Kelty Cosmic Down 20||$140||Mummy||21°F||550-fill down||2 lbs. 10 oz.||8 x 13 in.|
|Teton Sports Celsius||$62||Rectangular||0°F||Synthetic||5 lbs.||10 x 15 in.|
|Exped MegaSleep Duo 25||$219||Rectangular||25°, 40°F||Synthetic||4 lbs.||12 x 28 in.|
|Marmot Trestles 15||$115||Mummy||15°F||Synthetic||3 lbs. 6 oz.||9.5 x 19 in.|
|Kelty Galactic 30||$120||Rectangular||30°F||550-fill down||2 lbs. 10 oz.||7.5 x 15 in.|
|The North Face The One Bag||$290||Mummy||5°, 20°, 40°F||Synthetic/
|3 lbs. 12 oz.||Unavail.|
|Teton Sports Tracker||$56||Mummy||5°F||Synthetic||4 lbs. 1.6 oz.||9 x 15 in.|
|Nemo Jazz 20||$230||Rectangular||20°F||Synthetic||5 lbs. 3 oz.||13 x 29 in.|
|Coleman North Rim||$50||Mummy||0°F||Synthetic||5 lbs. 4 oz.||12 x 17 in.|
|Big Agnes Lost Dog 15||$190||Semi-rectangular||15°F||Synthetic||3 lbs. 4 oz.||9 x 20 in.|
|Kelty Tuck 20||$90||Mummy||20°F||Synthetic||3 lbs. 11 oz.||8.7 x 15 in.|
|Sea to Summit Traveller 50||$219||Semi-rectangular||50°F||750-fill down||14.8 oz.||4 x 8 in.|
|Sierra Frontcountry Bed||$170||Rectangular||20°F||Synthetic||5 lbs. 1.5 oz.||11 x 20 in.|
- Sleeping Bag Shapes: Rectangular vs. Mummy
- Temperature Rating
- Down vs. Synthetic Insulation
- Weight and Packability
- Sleeping Bag Lining and Comfort
- Zippers: ¾ Zip, Full Zip, No Zip
- Crossover Camping and Backpacking Sleeping Bags
- Double Sleeping Bags
- Kids' Sleeping Bags
- Sleeping Bag Liners
- Don’t Forget A Mattress or Pad
Camping sleeping bags fall into two general categories: rectangular bags that offer plenty of room to roll around and pared-down mummy designs. Most campers stick to the more spacious rectangular shape: these versatile bags can often be completely unzipped down one side and the bottom to be used as a large blanket for two. There isn’t any insulation covering your head, so plan your sleepwear accordingly when taking them outside their summer comfort zone. Also, most rectangular bags are heavy and don't pack down small, so if you are looking for an all-in-one option for camping and backpacking, we recommend choosing a mummy-style bag instead.
Mummy sleeping bags trim away material in the shoulders, hips, and feet for a shape that mimics your body. The advantage of having a tapered 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 Nemo Forte 20.
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 the majority of 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.
There are two types of insulation used for camping sleeping bags: manmade synthetic fibers and down insulation made up of clusters of duck or goose feathers. Down offers the ultimate warmth-to-weight ratio along with excellent packability, which is why it’s highly valued for backpacking sleeping bags. For camping bags, however, weight and a compact stuffed size usually aren’t major considerations. In addition, down is much more expensive that synthetic insulation. For instance, even a “budget” down sleeping bag like the Kelty Cosmic Down 20, which uses lower-quality down (550-fill), costs around $30-$50 more than an equivalent synthetic option like the Marmot Trestles. And the gap is much larger for premium down bags, which can cost $400 or more.
Synthetic insulation dominates the camping sleeping bag category because of its affordability and practicality—15 of the 17 bags on this list have synthetic insulation. The compromises in choosing the cheaper fill type are relatively minimal for camping. With a car or camper to transport all of your gear, the larger stuffed size and extra weight are much less of a concern than when your sleeping bag has to be crammed into a pack and carried on your back. And should the insulation get wet, synthetics continue to keep you warm, unlike down feathers. For a full explanation of the two insulation types, see our article on down vs. synthetics.
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 Teton Sports Celsius, which can be found on Amazon for around $60, is a great example. It's plenty warm, comfortable, and tough enough to keep using year after year.
For most, the primary weight and packability consideration for a camping bag 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. 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 Nemo Forte reduces both.
The interior of a sleeping bag varies quite a bit between designs, but one general rule of thumb is that comfort correlates closely with price. Comparing two of our top picks, we found the flannel lining on Coleman’s cheap Green Valley is far less soft and cozy when used back-to-back with The North Face’s Trail Bed (especially the smooth fleece-like panel along the top of the Trail Bed’s interior). Some campers won’t mind missing out on the plush feel for the substantial cost savings (about $80 separates The North Face and Coleman options), but a well-made bag is undoubtedly a nice place to slip into at the end of the day. For those that plan to get out a lot, opting for an upgraded design may be worth it.
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 prefer 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 Sierra Designs 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 over the market. 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.
It’s not cheap outfitting an entire camping set-up, and for those who plan to add backpacking into the mix, the cost can get out of hand quickly. If this sounds like you, choosing a crossover camping/backpacking bag is a viable way to save. A few models above can pull double duty for both activities with few compromises, including the Nemo Forte 20 and Kelty Cosmic Down 20. Both bags weigh less than 3 pounds, compress reasonably small for stuffing into a pack, and offer enough warmth for most 3-season adventures.
That said, the all-in-one answer comes with some compromises. Crossover designs typically are less roomy than true camping bags to shave weight and bulk (the Nemo’s “spoon” shape bucks this trend by increasing the width in important areas like around the elbows and knees), and they often use thinner fabrics that require added care and are more prone to tears. Finally, dedicated backpackers can go much lighter with more targeted models that use ultra-premium down and even more compromised shell materials, but cost goes up considerably (for a full list of options, see our article on the best backpacking sleeping bags).
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: typically not. 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 hasn't worked just as well—and it gives you the flexibility to camp solo as well (Exped's MegaSleep Duo and Alps Mountaineering's Spectrum 20 are two of the few to address this issue). But who are we to tell you not to get a traditional double bag? And if you find it’s what you want, we recommend the aforementioned Exped MegaSleep. Not only is it a double, but it has enough room inside for an adult 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.
As we touched on above, temperature ratings tend to be fairly generous and often require adding a sizable buffer to ensure you’ll stay warm throughout the night. For those who run cold or simply want to bring their bag into lower temperatures, adding a sleeping bag liner can help keep you cozy without breaking the bank. Liners are made of soft materials like fleece, wool, polyester, or silk and typically add around 5 to 15 degrees to the warmth rating of your bag. They also serve as a barrier between you and your bag’s interior, which can help boost lifespan (you can wash the liner after use rather than getting your bag dirty). Liners typically cost between $30 and $60, and a couple of our favorite options are Sea to Summit’s Thermolite Reactor for mummy bags and their Premium Blend Silk/Cotton Liner for rectangular models. To be clear, liners are totally optional and not everyone needs one, but they do offer added warmth and comfort and help keep your bag in good shape.
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. Further, 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.
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