When you write a checklist of the items you need for your next camping trip, chances are a sleeping bag is at or near the very top of that list.
A sleeping bag is vital for comfort and safety, and getting into one at the end of a long day in the wild just feels so good. But not just any sleeping bag will do. You need to find the best sleeping bag for you and your camping needs.
And since I know compiling all the gear needed to go camping isn’t easy, especially if you’re starting from scratch, I’ve compiled 5 of the best sleeping bags for your consideration below.
The sleeping bags featured here are all three season bags (meaning they’re generally suited for use in every season except winter) to help you get the most bang for your buck. The sleeping bags also range in price and style, so whether you’re a serious camper looking for the best of the best, or a new camper looking for a high quality sleeping bag that won’t break the bank, I’m sure you’ll be able to find one below that’ll work for you.
But remember, think of compiling the best camping gear as an investment. An investment in good times, fresh air and memories. Plus, once you have the gear you need, you’ll be ready to camp at a moments notice and never have to scramble or sit out the next time a kick ass camping trip presents itself.
How To Choose The Right Sleeping Bag
(Already know about sleeping bags? Then keep scrolling to see 5 of the best sleeping bags for your next camping trip)
The Temperature Rating
The temperature rating of your sleeping bag is an excellent place to start to determine the conditions in which your sleeping bag will be safe and comfortable to use. If this information isn’t found in the name (like the Los Ranger 15), it’ll be easily spotted in the sleeping bag’s description.
Keep in mind, however, that sleeping bag warmth ratings are set based on the user wearing a layer of long underwear, a hat, and sleeping on a 1 inch thick sleeping pad. In addition to your clothing and your sleeping pad, factors like the type of tent you’re using, your hydration level (being hydrated helps you stay warm), and your gender (women tend to sleep colder then men) also play a role in determining how warm you’ll be in your sleeping bag.
For most campers, a three season bag, (i.e. one rated for use at a minimum temperature between 10° and 35° Fahrenheit and therefore designed for use in Spring, Summer and Fall) is the smartest buy. But if you’re a serious camper, you may want to consider buying a sleeping bag for use during warmer months and another for use during colder months.
Remember when making your selection, a good rule of thumb is to buy a bag rated below the lowest temperature you think you’ll ever use it at. Why? Because you can always make a sleeping bag cooler by undoing the zipper.
Synthetic Vs Down
Perhaps the biggest decision when buying a sleeping bag is deciding between a synthetic or down filled bag.
Synthetic (i.e. filled with a type of polyester) – for the beginner camper not looking to drop a lot of dough, and for campers not incredibly concerned about weight and compressibility, synthetic bags are a solid choice. This is because synthetic bags are typically heavier and bulkier than down filled bags. But if you plan on doing mostly car camping (i.e. driving up to your campsite) instead of backpacking (hiking miles to reach your campsite), concerns about weight and space won’t be an issue. And if the little extra weight and space of a synthetic bag doesn’t bother you, you can absolutely take one with you into the backcounrty.
Down (i.e. filled with duck or goose feathers) – for those looking to make an investment in their camping future, a down filled bag is an excellent choice. Typically more expensive than synthetic, down filled bags are lighter (as they require less filling compared to a synthetic bag to achieve the same amount of warm), warmer and more compressible. The most commonly cited flaw of down filled bags is their inability to stand up to wet conditions (they can get flat and take longer to dry out). However, while down can’t fully match synthetic in this respect, most quality down filled sleeping bags now use feathers treated with new water rappelling technologies. So as long as you’re not planning on camping in a rain storm or having your sleeping bag fall in a river, this shouldn’t be a big concern. And the price is an issue consider this: the life of a down sleeping bag is much longer than synthetic bags, with quality down sleeping bags lasting 20 to 25 years.
Most sleeping bags come in two sizes — regular and long (and sometimes three sizes with the addition of short or wide). Most men will need to go with the long option. But if you’re comfortably under 6 feet tall, the regular size should work (and that’s a good thing because the regular size is always cheaper).
You may remember sleeping bags in the shape of a rectangle from you were a kid — whether from camping in your backyard in the summer or during sleepovers. But now that you’re an adult, for almost all of your camping needs (unless you plan on camping in your backyard this summer or having a sleepover), you’ll want a mummy bag — which, you guessed it, is shaped like a mummy. These bags feature a hood at the top that’ll help keep you warm and prevent heat from escaping out the top. But don’t worry about being too hot while camping in the summer, you can always sleep on top of the hood.
5 Of The Best Sleeping Bags For Camping & Backpacking
1) Eddie Bauer - Airbender 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
If you’re serious about camping and only want the best of the best when it comes to your gear, the Eddie Bauer Airbender 20 Sleeping Bag is for you. As the winner of National Geographic’s 2014 Gear of the Year Award, the Airbender is the first ever sleeping bag to feature an integrated, inflatable sleeping pad built directly into the bag. That means there’s no need to haul your sleeping bag and a sleeping pad with you while backpacking.
But the combination of these two items doesn’t mean the bag is heavy, in fact, it’s ultra light at just 3 lb. 5 oz. It’s also ultra warm. Rated for use at temperatures as low as 20° Fahrenheit (-6° Celsius), the Airbender features an 850 StormDown by DownTek down fill on the top and a synthetic fill on the bottom. And while some goose down-filled bags don’t stand up well to wet conditions, the Airbender features DWR technology that makes it super moisture resistant while keeping its insulating power. Price: $799
Looking for something even warmer (like, camping in Siberia warm)? Check out the Eddie Bauer Kara Koram -30 StormDown Sleeping Bag, which is rated for use in temperatures as low as -30° Fahrenheit (-34° Celsius).
2) Big Agnes – Los Ranger 15 Degree Sleeping Bag
Warm and comfortable, the Los Ranger 15 from Big Agnes features a water repellant 650 DownTeck down insulation and is rated for use in temperatures as low as 15° Fahrenheit (-9° Celsius). Built with extra space at the bottom so you can more freely move your feet and extra space at the shoulders so you can easily turn over while zipped in, the Los Ranger is roomy but light at 3 lb. 5 oz. Plus, the Los Ranger features an integrated pillow pocket (to keep you pillow in place all night) and an integrated sleep pad sleeve built into the bottom side of the bag to hold your sleeping pad firmly underneath you (no more rolling off you sleeping pad and waking up on the ground). Note, however, that the sleeping pad is sold separately. Price: Starting at $223
Looking for something even warmer? Check out the Big Agnes Storm King 0, which is rated for use in temperatures as low as 0° Fahrenheit (-17° Celsius).
3) Kelty - Cosmic Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
For campers not wanting to spend a fortune, but looking for the comfort, compressibility, and lightness that only a down-filled sleeping bag can provide, the Kelty Cosmic Down 20, with a 550 hydrophobic DriDown fill is a great choice (watch their video to see more). This versatile three-season bag is rated for use in temperatures as low as 21° Fahrenheit ( -6° Celsius) and weighs in at 2 lb. 13 oz. (for the ‘long’ size, which most men would need). And if you’re planning to camp in colder conditions and put the temperature raitng to the test, the Cosmic Down 20 also features a thermal hood and a top draft collar to keep the heat in and the cold out. Plus, if you’re camping in wet conditions, the DriDown fill helps repel moisture and dry more quickly. Price: $170
Looking for something even warmer? Check out the Kelty Cosmic Down 0, which is rated for use in temperatures as low as 0° Fahrenheit (-17° Celsius).
4) Rab – Ignition 3 26 Degree Sleeping Bag
Ready for three season camping, the Rab Ignition 3 features a hydrophobic synthetic fill that stands up to camping in wet conditions like almost no other. Weighing in at 2 lb. 97 oz., this bag is fairly compressible for a synthetic bag (typically, down-filled bags are more compressible) and is rated for use in temperatures as low as 26° Fahrenheit (-3° Celsius) . The bag’s tapered mummy shape allows for some movement at the feet and adequate movement at the shoulders, and features an internal draft collar at the neck (watch a video here). Price: Starting at $145
Looking for something even warmer? Check out the Rab Ignition 4 which is rated for use in temperatures as low as 19° Fahrenheit (-7° Celsius).
5) REI – Lumen Sleeping Bag
Consistent in making quality products at affordable prices, REI comes through again with their Lumen Sleeping Bag. This synthetic three-season bag is rated for use in temperatures as low as 20° Fahrenheit (-6° Celsius) and it’s soft materials and fill construction give it a closer feel to a down-filled sleeping bag (but without the down-filled price). The mummy cut of the bag features extra room around the shoulders and hips for easy turning while zippered in, and at just 2 lb. 5 oz., offers an admirable warmth to weight ratio. Plus, for a synthetic bag, the Lumen impresses with its compressibility . Price: Starting at $160
Looking for something even warmer (much warmer) for wintertime camping? Try the REI Expedition Sleeping Bag which is rated for use in temperatures as low as -20° Fahrenheit (-28° Celsius).
6) Mountain Hardwear – Lamina 20
Makers of high quality outdoor gear, Mountain Hardwear has fused many of the benefits of a traditional down sleeping bag — being warm, light and compressible — into their synthetic filled Lamina 20. Weighing in at 2.14 oz., the Lamina’s innovative welded construction that eliminates cold spots (watch the video here) and enhance the bag’s compressibility. Being synthetic, and having DWR-treated nylon shell that repels water, makes this bag especially well suited for camping in wet conditions. Rated for use in temperatures as low as 20° Fahrenheit (-7° Celsius), the Lamina also comes in several different temperature ratings, including 0° , -15° and -30° options.
Don’t Forget A Sleeping Pad
1) Big Agnes – Double Z
Winner of Backpacker Magazine’s 2014 Editors Choice award for best sleeping pad, the Big Agnes Double Z is a 4 inch thick air chamber sleeping pad that inflates and deflates with ease. Plus, it comes in three sizes, with the smallest weighing in at just 17 oz (check it out in this video). And while the Double Z is rated for use in temperatures as low as 35° Fahrenheit (2° Celsius), making it a great choice for summer camping, try the Insulated Double Z if you plan to camp in colder weather. Price: Starting at $80. Buy It Here
2) Big Agnes – Two Track
Great for campers looking to keep things simple, the Big Agnes Two Track is a self-inflating sleeping pad, meaning you just open the air valve and the pad will inflate on its own — easy as that. Great for camping in colder temperatures, the Two Track is rated for use in temperatures as low as -25° Fahrenheit (-31° Celsius) and weighs 2 lbs (for the mummy cut pad). Price: starting at $80. Buy It Here
3) Therm-a-Rest - NeoAir All Season
Just like the name says the Therm-a-Rest Neo Air is a great sleeping pad approved for use in all four seasons. 2.5 inches thick and weighing in at just 19 oz this pad is comfortable when in use and compact when it’s not. Plus, the Neo Air comes with a 2.5 oz. AAA battery operated mini pump which will inflate its air chambers in less than 3 minutes. Price: starting at $158. Buy It Here
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