If you’ve ever been hiking through the Anza-Borrego desert in March or slept on an airboat in the Everglades, or even spent a night outside in the Upper Peninsula before ice fishing, choosing the best sleeping bag for your trip is crucial for comfort and warmth. It can also be a life and death situation. Choosing the correct type of sleeping bag for the right situation can be daunting. The kind of bag for a hiking trip through the High Sierra’s, the Appalachian trail, or along the Rocky Mountains, is going to be different from a bag needed in the deep south during summer. Still, both types of bag needs are incredibly different than if you and your significant other are planning an overnighter.
When browsing online your search can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what the different designs and utility needs are for each sleeping bag. Just as each car has different models and features, so too does a sleeping bag. Bags can come in rectangular, semi-rectangular, mummy, kid-sized, and double bag or “couples” bag.
What’s more, the sleeping bag design could be for summer, winter, or a three-season type of bags with each one having specific benefits for each season. We’ll explore all of the versions of these bags in this guide for you to make an easy, yet informed, decision. Keep in mind that it’s always easier to unzip a warmer bag and cool down than it is to warm up from freezing.
Personal choice is another important factor to take into consideration. For instance, some bags have hoods built in that can protect and keep your head and neck warm, but for some people, that is a nuisance. The type of insulation is something that can only be a personal choice, as different types of insulation offer different kinds of benefits, as well as, limitations.
Ultimately, when you set out to find the right gear for your overnighter and settle on the type of sleeping bag you want, you also need to consider the shape and design of the bag, the insulation type, and any additional type of gear such as rain shells, pillows, and stash bags.
There are three main types of sleeping bags, and which one you choose is influenced by factors such as the type of weather you’re going to experience, the terrain, the kind of sleeping pad you have, the clothes you wear, do you sleep warm or cold, and other considerations. We made our selections based on how they work under these conditions.
Most sleeping bags are constructed from two types of materials. The first material is down insulation, i.e., feathers, and there are sustainable, ethical questions and concerns about down insulation that you may want to consider. To have an ethically sourced, sustainable bag, look for manufacturers that abide by rigid standards when providing down feathers from ducks and geese. There are two types of symbols for these bags, marked by the RDS symbol for Responsible Down Standard or the global TDS which stands for Traceable Down Standard.
The other type of insulation that sleeping bags are comprised of is synthetic polyester insulation. While lightweight, synthetic does offer one significant difference from the down insulation. The difference is that synthetic insulation is non-allergenic as opposed to down insulation which may cause issues with some people.
In general, you’d like your sleeping bag to fall into one of three temperature categories. There are always exceptions to the rules, but you’d want your summer bag to be in the temp range of 30+ degrees Fahrenheit, while your winter sleeping bag can handle a temperature range of +15 degrees and colder, while your 3-season bag can handle +15 to +30 degrees.
Another thing you need to evaluate is the type of insulation that comprises the bag. As we spoke about earlier, most sleeping bags are made of synthetic materials, though down insulation is another type of construction. There are a few key differences in the bag materials that you should know about before making a purchase, and we’ve singled out the similarities and differences below:
Some other things to consider with your sleeping bag is the types of cover shells available. Shells act as an additional liner between you, your bag, and the surroundings your bag will lay upon. Typically, you want to find a shell that is water resistant or a durable water repellent designated by the symbol DWR.
Some bags, especially those designed for colder weather, offer snug fitted hoods to assist you in keeping warm. Attached by zippers or Velcro, the hood works to fit around your head to keep your heat in the bag and protect you from exterior weather conditions. Still, other bags will offer a pillow pocket where you can stash clothes to create a headrest within your sleeping bag.Additionally, having zippers located in multiple places and that have good zipper length throughout the bag are an ideal feature for bags used in warmer weather. Keep in mind that numerous zippers may allow for more exposure to the elements, so look for a bag that has zipper covers to help shield from wind, rain and snow.Some bags offer storage pockets while others come with stash bags that allow you to roll up and compress your bag for easy storage. Stash bags are great for quick packing and take up minimal space, but prolonged storage in a stash bag can affect the insulation over time.
In designing our guide, we recommend that you check off qualities such as temperature rating, ease of packing and cleaning, and ideal usage for each bag. Choosing between a winter, summer, or three-season design will depend on how and where you plan to camp. Additionally, your campsite and the weather will determine the type of insulation you may want.
For example, while you may want a snug fit to your bag, having a little wiggle room during warmer weather is essential, just as knowing the proper length you need from your bag to sleep comfortably. Other factors include weight, add-ons, and waterproofing construction.
Bags typically come in two sizes, regular and long. Every kind of bag and every manufacturer will have different specifications, so keep that in mind.
Armed with all that information, what follows is our guide to help you find the ideal sleeping bag for your camping plans. We’ve broken down our suggestions into types of use, from hiking to van camping, as well as couple’s bags, to winter and summer gear, and 3-season type of bag.
What’s the difference between a sleeping bag designed for hiking and one for camping? The differences are minimal except in one crucial category, the overall weight. Moreover, like most things, the lighter, the more expensive. This guide will save you some time, and most importantly, money in making your selection.
Another difference is the size of the bag when you roll it and store it. You want to be certain it’s not too bulky. The overall efficiency of the bag in keeping you warm and comfortable are factors to consider. What this means is that a hiking bag is typically constructed of synthetic fibers and are much warmer, yet thinner, than other type sleeping bags.
Keep in mind that a sleek design uses less material than a roomier bag, and hence would weigh less. This design feature can be another critical factor to consider when looking for the ideal sleeping bag. The last thing you need on a long trek through rugged terrain is to lug around unnecessary weight, especially with the newer technology available with sleeping bags.
Our suggestion for the best hiking sleeping bag is the super lightweight sports bag from Teton. Designed for comfort, warmth, and to be taking over the hills and through the woods, this mummy-style bag is perfect for any short or long trek you may have planned. Manufactured with added insulation in the foot box and with a built-in hood, you’ll sleep soundly and safely in any weather event.
Small and compactible, the Teton bag never needs to roll up. Just stuff it in your stash bag, tie it to your pack, and go. Temperature ranged from +20 degrees to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and engineered for ultimate water resistance for every adventure makes this an awesome bag for your next overnight hike.
The best sleeping bag for hiking will have a couple of critical features that you should look for, and we’ve simplified those for you below.
A new trend in camping is that campers are ditching the rustic, idyllic tent style of camping and choosing to sleep in their cars, trucks, and vans. Whether driving out to Joshua Tree, a surf trip up the coast, cruising the river, or even just having an adventure with “city camping,” the trend of camping in the vehicle is becoming extremely popular.
Also, having the comfort of van and car camping has many perks, and one of which is that you don’t need to sacrifice some comfort with your sleeping bag like you would with hiking. With van and car camping, the only limitation is the size of your sleep space, but keep in mind that sleeping in your car can become uncomfortable without the right type of sleeping gear.
Anyone that’s ever slept in their car, even if for just a quick catnap, knows that the car isn’t the most insulated place in cold weather and can become stuffy and humid in warmer weather. The ideal camper allows for ventilation, and the best bag for van camping is one that is warm, not too snug, and with zippers that allow for ventilation when needed.
Of course, dress according to the night time weather report, but one of the benefits of van camping is not having to worry about getting wet due to rain and snow, the biggest challenge is with comfort and warmth. The possibilities are endless with van camping, and you can choose from a nice thick down feather insulated bag or find a perfect couples-sized bag for you and your date.
Our selection is for the individual car camper, however. While it may be fun to share with someone else, we made our selection based on versatility, warmth, and comfort for one person. For van camping, we offer two suggestions. The first is polyblend, lightweight mummy bag by Teton that is affordable but high quality. The polyester shell is easy to hand or machine wash and dry which is a nice bonus.
While the double layer flannel lining keeps heat in while the easy to zip sides allows you to ventilate quickly when needed. The rounded shell hood will enable you to keep your head snug and warm, or as a place to lay your pillow without it resting on the floor. As we’ve discussed with synthetic fibers, they’re compact, easy to clean, and are excellent to stay warm once used.
The downside is that they take some time to warm up as opposed to down, which warms and stays warm quickly. Engineered for freezing and above, this bag is an excellent option for van camping regardless of external temperatures.
Our second selection is more of a traditional, down insulation type bag. The benefits of down insulation are that they stay warm for longer periods because down retains heat better than synthetic fibers. Additional comfort is a bonus with goose down insulation, and our choice from Hyke and Byke will make any overnight camping adventure ideal.
This bag is manufactured for low-level temperatures and features tear resistant nylon fabric, which is ideal for winter nights in the desert, or for sleeping in your car during wet, cold weather. The mummy bag and hood engineering create warm air pockets which make this perfect for relaxing in or using as a blanket during the day.
Also, if it gets too warm, the traditional YKK zipper and anti-snag sliders allow for easily adjustable ventilation to suit your sleeping temperature needs.
The compact and light design of the stash bag does make packing and storing easy. Just shove the mummy bag into the compression sack and presto, save room in the trunk of your car. It is a versatile, lightweight mummy style and can also be used for outdoor sleeping, especially when coupled with a waterproof shell.
Our suggestion when looking for the perfect bag for sleeping in a car and van should have the features listed below.
Nothing says I love you more than snuggling up with a person you love. Also, nothing can challenge a relationship more than being tired and stressed as a by-product of not getting enough quality sleep. Fear not! We’ve taken that into account in putting together our guide of the best sleeping bag for every situation. Keep reading, and we’ll discuss the benefits of two types of bags for you to consider.
When shopping for a couple’s style sleeping bag, there are a few things to factor into your decision. First is how and where you plan to use your bag. As we’ve discussed previously, a hiking bag is going to be different from a traditional camping bag, and where you sleep, the terrain, weather, and how you plan to get there are all determinants in your overall comfort.
With those factors in mind, we suggest that you look for a design that offers multiple options for use. For example, some couple’s sleeping bags allow you to separate each part into two independent sleeping bags, while others don’t. Other bags allow for quick stash and pack, while others need to be hand rolled and may be bulky as a byproduct.
Sleek yet warm, light and cozy, this double sleeping bag is the best affordable sleeping bag around. Constructed from polyester makes this bag highly water-resistant for any indoor or outdoor use. This couple’s bag has a temperature range from +32 degrees to +50 degrees, making it great to use in all but the harshest weather events.
Easily fold and roll your bag into the included pouch for storage and packing. It will be slightly bulky compared to other stash type bags when it’s rolled up, but it does compress down for easier packing. Moreover, with versatility in mind, the rectangular shape allows for your heads to rest uncovered and a U-shaped zipper function to open the bag up easily.
Another feature with this Ohuhu bag is that it allows you to sleep comfortably side by side or completely detach itself, giving you the convenience of two separate bags. This versatility is ideal for the regular camper who may have trips planned with, and without, a significant other. Included are two small packable pillows for added comfort without sacrificing too much pack space.
Related Post: The Best Double Sleeping Bag
If you’re a camper looking for a colder weather bag and plan on always having your significant other camping with you, we suggest looking for a mummy style bag that doesn’t permit detaching into separate bags such as the Sports Tracker manufactured by Teton.
The Sports Tracker has a unique mummy style design and two hooded tops that will keep cold drafts at bay, protecting your head, neck, and face through the night. While this feature may make snuggling difficult, the trade-off is that you’ll sleep in comfort with your head protected from the cold.
Added insulation in the foot box guarantees that from head to feet you’ll be warm and secure in even the most extremely chilly nights. The polyester blend is engineered for extreme cold in mind, with temperature ranges below freezing and comfort ratings at +20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Constructed of polyester, synthetic microfibers makes this comfortable bag one you can use for camping as well as hiking. The durable compression sack means there’s no more rolling up, just shove into the bag, tie-up, and go. Opposed to other suggested couple’s bags, the difference here is that it doesn’t separate into two, but whether used by couples, or alone, this bag is an excellent selection.
So, whatever your plan is, there is an ideal sleeping bag for both you and your significant other to sleep comfortably, securely, and safely.
While sleeping bags are designed for comfort and warmth, they do fall into one of three categories. The first category type is a bag designed for winter. The second type of bag is one intended for summer with the final group being a 3-season type bag.
To give you an idea of the best usage and weather for each type of sleeping bag be sure to read the temperature ratings for each. The ratings will give you a range that is ideal for the bag’s usage. The lowest temperature range explains to you the lowest degrees you should use your bag, while the higher number is the temperature comfort rating.
Why is this all important? The type of bag you want to find needs to match its usage. For example, a summer bag is going to be lighter and less insulated than a winter bag, so you wouldn’t want to choose a summer bag if you plan on camping in the snow.
The ideal winter bag design is one that has a built-in hood, and we recommend either traditional rectangular shape or mummy style. The difference in the two forms is one of comfort as the rectangular shape allows for more movement, or space to layer your clothes, while the mummy bag is snugger and doesn’t allow for as much freedom of movement.
Also, the perfect winter bag should have an extreme weather rating, one that can go as low as below freezing and offers a comfort zone of 20 degrees warmer. Additionally, look for a down insulated, or multi-down style insulation. It is a combination of traditional feather and synthetic fiber construction, which makes the bag stay warm longer while being lightweight.
The hood design should be tight enough to stay warm but offer enough space to allow you to build a pillow without sacrificing your head cover. The OmniCore is a great winter bag constructed for extreme weather, light enough to pack, and most importantly, a hood design engineered to give you a comfortable night sleep.
Some other things to consider with a winter type bag is waterproofing, weight, and durability. It doesn’t do you any good to have to pack a heavy, bulky type bag during an extended hiking trip, especially up extreme heights like the 14,000 feet of Mount Whitney or some other jagged peak.
The ideal sleeping bag for winter ultimately comes down to two factors. The first is temperature rating as this can be one of life or death, while the second is a personal choice. Some people prefer the room to move and roll around while sleeping, while others prefer to be snug, like a bug in a rug or rolled up tight like a burrito. It’s a personal choice based on where, and how, you plan to sleep.
To help you choose the best winter sleeping bag, we’ve summarized our features below.
It’s the middle of summer, and you’re about to go fishing on the lake, and you need to get a good night sleep before casting in the morning. Alternatively, perhaps you’re planning a canoe trip down the river, but man, it’s a steamy night. What type of sleeping bag do you need? The ideal bag to look for is one that is thin and light, one that you can sleep in comfortably but not overheat.
Opposed to winter bags a summer bag should be thin with plenty of zipper length to allow for ventilation. Additionally, you want to find a bag that doesn’t fit too snugly. A mummy bag isn’t the ideal choice for summer type weather; instead, a rectangular shaped bag is the better option because it allows you room to move and stretch out with limited contact to the bag, keeping you cooler.
As they are typically made thinner than other types of sleeping bags, a summer bag will be easy to compress as well and is almost always made from synthetic fibers. The reason that the best sleeping bags are constructed from synthetic fibers is that it will allow for your bag to breathe. This construction design means you won’t trap moisture inside your bag, making you more comfortable to sleep in warm weather.
The other benefit of synthetic bags is that they are traditionally lighter than down for easy packing. Thinner bags and less material in the construction will also make your purchase more affordable, but don’t just buy the cheapest, thinnest bag you can find. You want to look for a compact, lite bag, but also one that is designed for water resistance and manufactured with stitching in a cross-hatch pattern to help limit ripping.
Another thing you’ll want with these slimmer bags is to get a great sleeping pad. Usually compressed plastic foam, the sleeping pad will give added comfort beneath your sleeping bag. These can be thin and easy to roll up, or a little thicker, depending on how you plan to get to your campsite.
Regardless of how you get to your campsite, look for a type of pad that is non-slip, to prevent sliding throughout the night, especially if you’re sleeping on the unlevel ground. The last thing anyone wants is to be curled up in a crumpled ball at the bottom of your tent because you slipped off your sleeping pad.
Some of our suggested key features to consider with a summer bag are summarized below.
Don’t ruin your night outdoors shivering or sweating due to having the wrong type sleeping bag. Anyone that’s ever laid around half asleep, waiting for daylight so you can get up and move around, knows that selecting the right type of sleep pad, sleeping bag, and clothing is crucial.
A typical bag’s construction is with synthetic fibers and a rectangular shape with plenty of zipper length to allow you to unzip and open up the bag as needed. The polyester shell should be water resistant and easy to clean, whether by hand or machine wash. The snake pattern is the traditional stitching for these types of a sleeping bag to evenly distribute heat in the bag. A bag can be as a single bag, a couple’s bag, or one for the kids.
Designed more for a traditional camper or even cabin type sleep the 3-season bag is one that may be a little thicker than a summer bag, yet not as thick as a winter bag, and usually won’t offer the extra insulation in the foot box found in winter type sleeping bags. However, there are three-season bags designed for extreme cold and will have similar insulation and construction as winter bags.
A bag is one that is versatile enough to be used in various temperature and weather ranges. These types of sleeping bags should be comfortable enough for you regardless of your environment, from heat to cold, but aren’t ideal for extreme weather situations. That’s when the specificity of a winter or summer bag is the correct choice to be made.
Whether you’re an avid sportsman, or just looking for a fun night out in the elements with friends and family, it’s critical to select the right gear for your trip. Moreover, one of the most important decisions you have is to choose the right type of sleeping bag. Your bag choice is one of the most significant factors that can make or break your trip and can literally be a life or death decision. Nobody enjoys trying to sleep while shivering or sweating, and the type of bag you choose can go a long way in guaranteeing your comfort and safety.
We suggest a couple basic things to consider in making your selection, and our guide discusses these at length throughout.
Ultimately the ideal sleeping bag is one that fits your sleeping needs and meets your personal preference. Some individuals may prefer the warmth of down insulation, while others may prefer the weight of synthetic fibers. In the end, getting a good night sleep is what’s important, and our guide was put together to assist you in making your choice of the best sleeping bag for every situation.
Featured image source: pixabay