Sleeping under the stars – just an earshot-away from nature’s sounds and splendor – is probably the most practical and highly-coveted escape for most people. Even with the low risks of becoming a bear taco or burrito, nothing beats a night outdoors.
Whether you have a well-to-do camping tent or not, a sleeping bag is an integral part of every sleeping system. And it has remained so ever since it was first introduced in the late 1800s. Furthermore, backpacking, car camping, or even RVing will most likely require sleeping bags to complete the sleeping systems.
So, why are sleeping bags so popular, and which are the best sleeping bags to buy in 2021?
The main function of this nifty invention is simply to deliver warmth, comfort, and protection against cold and wind. It can mean the difference between shivery sleepless nights and a relaxed goodnight’s sleep.
Ideally, you will want to maintain your body temperature at a ”normal” range of about 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1°C) to 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2°C). However, it’s expected that our bodies will lose heat to the environment either through thermal radiation, convection, or conduction.
Sleeping bags get around this heat loss issue by simply providing ample insulation. The bag forms a barrier between you and the colder outside air or the ground. The resulting “dead air” surrounding your body is further warmed up by your body heat (read heat from metabolism).
The filling used in the bag, which can be either made of natural or synthetic materials, does most of the heavy lifting.
However, the lining and outer shell also have their roles to play in ensuring you stay nice and toasty all night long. After all, sleeping bags have been refined over many decades for optimal efficiency. Speaking of which, read on for a summary breakdown on the main components of a sleeping bag.
Sleeping bags have not only gotten a new facelift over the years but also a myriad of intricate components and features. That said, you’ll want to ensure each component in your dream sleeping bag is primarily focused on function and less on just the visual appeal.
Each part should work towards making the item easier to use and more so improve the insulation value of the sleeping bag.
Regardless of the shape or style of the sleeping bag, you can expect to find the following key parts in your dream sleeping bag.
Usually made of down or synthetic materials, insulation refers to the filling inside the bag. The materials in the insulation layer help prevent heat loss by trapping air, which is a poor conductor of heat, resulting in a warm sleeping system for a goodnight’s sleep.
Encasing the insulation layer from all sides, you have the shell and lining fabrics. The shell fabric is usually more durable and water-resistant when compared to the liner. On the other hand, you can expect the lining to be moisture-wicking, softer, and supportive to the fill layer.
These are chamber-like sections on the bag that help prevent the insulation from shifting or clumping up together in one spot. Sleeping bags will either come with stitch-through baffles or the much-preferred boxed baffles.
Most bags will come with vertical or horizontal baffles, neck baffles, and zip baffles to help prevent heat loss.
Some cold-weather bags will also come with draft collars and draft tubes to prevent cold air from getting inside the bag. The draft collars, also called yokes, are located around the neck opening while the draft tube runs along the length of the zipper system.
Most sleeping bags will also come with hoods, which can be cinched snuggly around your head to prevent heat loss and keep the cold out.
Often boxy or trapezoidal, footboxes allow you to lie down with your feet in a natural position. You get plenty of room to wiggle your toes and have your feet pointed up for optimal comfort and breathing room.
Some bags will have very spacious footboxes that can even allow you to stash heating solutions such as foot warmers and hot water bottles.
Sleeping bags will also have other convenience-focused and sometimes insulative features such as:
Other bag brands will also throw in a stuff sack, a storage or compression bag, and a removable liner among other accessories to sweeten the deal.
When it comes to choosing the right sleeping bag for your needs, you’ll need to look beyond the features of the bag for the best results. Other factors such as the climes of your camping destination, the type of activity you’ll partake, and your overall sleeping system setup will have their part to play in the choice you pick.
There’s no need to play the guessing game when it comes to shopping for your next camping sleeping bag. We have compiled a well-researched selection below to give you a head start on your shopping quest.
The buying guide at the very end of this article should also give you a glimpse of the major considerations we factored in to bring you only the best sleeping bags yet. Whether you need a sleeping bag that is budget-friendly, long-lasting, or “winterproof”, the picks below have got you covered.
|Sleeping Bag||Available Sizes||Fits Up To||Shoulder/Hip Girth||Shape||Total Weight||Stuffed Size||Temp. Rating||Type of Fill||Fill Weight|
|Kelty Cosmic 20 Down Sleeping Bag (2018 Model) - Regular||Short, Regular, Long||6 ft.||62 in. / 58 in.||Mummy||2.41 lbs.||15.50 × 8.00 dia. in.||19°F||600-fill DriDown, Hydrophobic||1.14 lbs.|
|Outdoor Vitals Summit Series 15°F Sleeping Bag - Regular||Regular, Long||5.5 to 6 ft.||62 in. / 52 in.||Mummy||2.16 lbs.||11 × 8 dia. in.||15°F||800-fill StormLoft Down, Hydrophobic||1.19 lbs.|
|Coleman Big Basin 15 Big & Tall Sleeping Bag||Long||6.5 ft.||66 in. / 66 in.||Semi-rectangular||8 lbs.||15 × 10.25 dia. in.||15°F||Synthetic - Coletherm Hollow Polyester Fiber||4.5 lbs.|
|Teton Sports Leef 20˚F Sleeping Bag, Regular||Regular/Short, Long||6.5 ft.||60 in. / 58 in.||Mummy||3.5 lbs.||12.5 × 6.5 dia. in.||20˚F||Synthetic - 550-fill PolarLite Micro Insulation Polyester||1.95 lbs.|
|Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown 15 Down Quilt - Regular||Regular, Long||5.83 ft.||56 in. / 56 in.||Mummy||2.19 lbs.||10 × 7 dia. in.||15°F||700-fill 90/10 White Duck Down||1.38 lbs.|
|Marmot Ironwood 20 Sleeping Bag - Long||Regular, Long||6 ft.||63 in. / 60 in.||Mummy||2.42 lbs.||12 × 8 dia. in.||20°F||650-fill Duck Down w/ Down Defender, Hydrophobic||1.35 lbs.|
|Therm-a-Rest Saros 20°F Sleeping Bag (2019 Model) - Regular||Small, Regular, Long||5.58 to 6 ft.||63 in. / 61 in.||Mummy||3.5 lbs.||18 × 8 dia. in.||20°F||Synthetic - eraLoft Polyester Hollow Fiber||2.31 lbs.|
|ALPS Mountaineering Aura 20° Sleeping Bag - Regular||Short, Regular, Long||6 ft.||64 in. / 52 in.||Mummy||3.31 lbs.||18 × 8.5 dia. in.||20°F||Synthetic - 2.5D TechLoft Micro Fibers||1.94 lbs.|
|The North Face Dolomite One Bag - Regular||Regular, Long||6 ft.||66 in. / 66 in.||Rectangle||5.25 lbs.||20 × 11 dia. in.||15°F, 30°F, 50°F||Synthetic - Polyester (30% Post-consumer Recycled Fibers)||2.31 lbs.|
|Nemo Disco 15°F Down Sleeping Bag - Men's Regular||Regular, Long||6 ft.||64 in. / 59 in.||Spoon||2.69 lbs.||12 × 9 dia. in.||15°F||650-fill Down, Hydrophobic||1.38 lbs.|
|Sierra Designs Cloud 800 20 Degree Sleeping Bag - Regular||Regular, Long||6 ft.||60 in. / 58 in.||Mummy||1.94 lbs.||15 × 7.5 dia. in.||20°F||800-fill DriDown, Hydrophobic||0.93 lbs.|
|Coleman Sun Ridge Sleeping Bag||Regular||5.92 ft.||66 in. / 66 in.||Rectangle||4.41 lbs.||30 × 13 dia. in.||40°F||Synthetic - ThermoTech Polyester Fill||3 lbs.|
|Klymit KSB 20 Down Sleeping Bag||Regular, Long||6.5 ft.||64 in. / 58 in.||Mummy||2.75 lbs.||13 × 8.5 dia. in.||20°F||650-fill White Duck Down||1.76 lbs.|
|Nemo Riff 15°F Down Sleeping Bag - Men's Regular||Regular, Long||6 ft.||62 in. / 54 in.||Spoon||2.38 lbs.||12 × 7.5 dia. in.||15°F||800-fill Down||1.19 lbs.|
|Teton Sports Mammoth 20 Degree Sleeping Bag||Double-Wide||6.5 ft.||60 in. / 60 in. per person||Semi-rectangular||14 lbs.||27 × 14 dia. in.||20°F||Synthetic - SuperLoft Elite Hollow Fiber Fill||7.83 lbs.|
Pushing on the Kelty brand legacy, the Cosmic 20 down sleeping bag offers perhaps the best value for money yet. While you can buy its refreshed newer version with its more vibrant colors and improved functionality, getting this classic will still feel like a steal for many campers.
The Cosmic 20 down sleeping bag is available in Short, Regular, and Long adult sizes meant to offer custom fits to most people’s heights.
The bag will measure up as a solid 3-season unit and an entry-level 4-season unit. Its lightweight quality and traditional mummy shape will appeal to backpackers and most outdoor enthusiasts alike.
That said, let’s nitpick a bit and see the main strengths and drawbacks of the Cosmic 20.
The Cosmic 20 sleeping bag is perhaps one of the most visually appealing pieces we’ve seen yet. The purple or blue with contrasting stripes down the middle are sure to earn you bragging rights over your peers.
However, the sleeping bag is not all about the looks.
With circumferences of about 62 inches and 58 inches around the shoulders and hips in the regular size, the Cosmic 20 will fit tightly or loosely if needed. You can cinch up the hood during chillier nights or loosen it in warmer periods.
Despite being a mummy-shaped bag, it still provides just enough room to roll around without feeling too constricted.
The draft tube and collar also help improve comfort while promoting heat retention and insulation.
Cosmic Down 20 regular will fit persons with heights of up to six feet, but you can always go for the other taller or shorter bag for a more custom snug fit.
First off, the Cosmic 20 bag has a down filling, DriDown to be specific that’s been further treated to promote water repellency. The hydrophobic down will ensure insulation is maintained even when the down gets slightly wet.
That said, you’ll want to use the bag in temps slightly above 19 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. However, be sure to layer your wear including at the feet as some cold spots may be experienced in the bag.
Also, you can adjust the baffles to address the more susceptible areas such as around the footbox. The bag will do for shoulder season camping but for more extreme cases then you may want to go beyond the 600-fill power this unit offers.
Like most Kelty products, longevity has been significantly assured by the quality materials and good craftsmanship.
The outer shell is made of water-resistant 20 denier nylon taffeta that feels strong but not as much as the interior one. Surprisingly, the inner lining feels slightly coarse to the touch owing to its 50-denier polyester taffeta fabric.
A softer inner lining and a more robust outer shell should have been the way to go but then again most of it won’t matter if you’re in layers.
Another reason why the Cosmic 20 is so popular is perhaps its backpacking-friendly overall weight. The bag has a total weight of just under 3 pounds, which is perfect for lightweight camping and backpacking.
It also packs down compactly into the included stuff sack for easier hauling and handling.
The Cosmic 20 down sleeping bag is lightweight, affordable, durable, and made of good quality materials. Where are you going to find such an economically sound bag with hydrophobic down? It’s the no-brainer option for three-season campers, backpackers, and even car campers.
However, be sure to tweak the fit and shake up the baffles whenever needed to help improve insulation in some temps.
Also, you may want to look for the newer version as it promises lighter but durable fabrics, more compressibility, slightly better heat retention, and a small zipper stash pocket to boot.
The Summit Series 15 sleeping bags from Outdoor Vitals are one of the most lightweight bags you can find in the market today. They have a distinct design that features vertical baffles at the top and horizontal baffles at the foot sections.
Also, across its different temperature ratings and sizes, the charcoal color on the outer shell remains the same. You can get a regular or long size of the Summit Series bags in either 15°F, 0°F, -15°F, or 30°F temperature ratings.
With a weight of only 2.16 pounds, the sleeping bag is ultralight and from the surface without a lot of compromises. Its insulation is about 55% of the total weight at approximately 1.19 pounds. The fabrics used are also very lightweight, to say the least.
The outer shell is made of a 10-denier ripstop polyester that’s been coated with a durable water repellent treatment. The inner lining is also made of a similar fabric but without the moisture resistance element.
That said, the stitching on the bag fell short of our expectations as it presently leaks down over continued use of the bag. We hope the next iterations of the Summit Series bags will have better quality stitching and down-proofing given how little it would contribute to the overall weight.
Hauling and storing the sleeping bag is very easy and convenient thanks to the included compression sack. While it doesn’t come with a storage bag, the resulting package is minimal and compact measuring about 11 inches in length and 8 inches in diameter.
The bag’s packed size is just a few inches bigger than your Nalgene bottle.
The Summit Series 15F bag is designed around providing optimal insulation and heat retention. Whether it’s the true mummy bag cut or the plentiful down fill, the bag is expected to perform well across the different temperature ratings and sizes.
Insulation in the bag comprises an 800-fill hydrophobic StormLoft down and a grid baffle system designed to keep out the cold. The higher fill-power provides adequate loft to combat the cold without any weight additions.
The baffles also do a great job at ensuring equal warmth distribution and improving comfort.
Stretching all the way to the neck region, the shoulder baffles double as a raised platform and effective draft control. Instead of your typical drawcord cinching, the baffles at the head/neck can be attached or detached using the Velcro tabs for better comfort.
However, there’s a reliable drawcord system in the hood to cinch up or loosen accordingly.
The unique horizontal and vertical baffling tapers towards the mid-section of the sleeping bag to help cut weight and keep the baffles manageable. The use of different orientations in the baffle construction secures the fill in place and helps increase heat distribution.
Lastly, the sleeping bag has a center zip to allow easier usage among both left-handed and right-handed people.
Aside from the minor durability and quality control issues, the 15-degree Summit Series sleeping bag is extremely lightweight, highly compressible, and thermally efficient. It has an incredible fill-power and is easily the next best choice for anyone looking for an entry-level down bag that’s reasonably-priced and feature-rich.
Coleman, the brand behind some of the best camping gear yet, has outdone themselves with the Big Basin Big & Tall sleeping bag. The sleeping bag is marketed towards taller persons with broader shoulders and bigger body shapes.
The sleeping bag will have you keeping warm and cozy through the night in cold environments thanks to its insulative properties and high-quality build. It has a temperature rating of 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aside from the fundamentals, the bag comes with plenty of useful features.
There’s an included small stash pocket for your phone, wallet, or other small-sized valuables. The zipper location is on the left, which is quite ergonomic for most right-handed folks. A compression bag is also included to pack the bag.
The sleeping bag measures 92 inches in length and slightly under 66 inches around the shoulders and hips. Its semi-rectangular shape allows for freer movement in the bag for all types of sleeping positions.
Whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach, the Big & Tall bag is roomy and feels super comfy. Further, you get none of that claustrophobic feeling that is often related to most hybrid and mummy sleeping bags.
The bag might be too big for persons of average height and body size. Plus, it won’t be as warm as expected since there’s more interior space to be heated. In terms of height, the sleeping bag can fit persons with heights of up to 6.5 feet without any squirming or discomfort.
The bag is filled with about 4.5 pounds of synthetic insulation namely the Coletherm Hollow polyester fibers. The fill is further encased by a soft inner lining and durable outer shell, which are both made of high-denier polyester fabric.
It provides plenty of loft and insulation thus eliminating any cold spots and promotes better heat retention than in most synthetic-filled bags. The horizontal baffles and zipper draft tube help keep the fill in place and block out any cold drafts.
Additionally, the footbox has been lined with fleece fabric that excels at insulation leaving your feet warm and comfy.
If it gets too warm, the drawstring in the hood allows for quick and easy adjustments and the bag has openings on both ends. You can unzip the bottom side and cool down during warmer nights. The feature also comes in handy if you like to sleep with one leg (foot) outside the bag.
While the comfort limit is listed as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to layer up accordingly and use a sleeping pad if you anticipate temps that are way below the freezing point. The sleeping pad should have a high R-value for more effective insulation.
The Big & Tall sleeping bag from Coleman is simply too heavy and bulky to carry for a backpacking trip. It weighs a whopping 8 pounds, which is almost equivalent to three lightweight sleeping bags.
Even when packed down in a suitable compression bag, the resulting 15 inches long and 10.25 inches wide package is just too cumbersome to walk or trot around with.
A little off the beaten path, Coleman took a different approach when making the Big Basin Big & Tall sleeping bag by focusing on a very specific demographic. As you can expect with all Coleman products, the bag is well-made with a good balance between functionality and form.
While it’s not lightweight, the sleeping bag will be perfect for taller persons looking to camp out well into the shoulder season.
Coming from a reputable brand such as Teton Sports, you’d be right to expect the Leef 20F to be just as high quality and functional. Available in regular and long adult sizes, the sleeping bag is undoubtedly one of the more practical mummy bags we’ve seen around.
The bag is lightweight and has a temperature rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit making it ideal for hiking and backpacking. You’ll be sure to stay warm and cozy in the bag even in extremely cold temperatures.
Firstly, its mummy shape ensures that there’s little to no room left inside the bag for cold spots. The style of the bag also tends to be more comfortable and snugger as compared to rectangular and semi-rectangular bags.
The Leef 20˚F sleeping bags also feature a synthetic insulation layer with a fill-power of about 550. The PolarLite Micro insulation is sandwiched between a 40-denier ripstop polyester outer shell and a silky double-brushed poly-flannel lining.
We also love that the polyester fiber insulation and generous horizontal baffles conform to your body curves allowing plush comfort.
The ripstop stitching and water resistance provided by the fabric help prolong the life of the bag and prevents water from affecting its insulation properties. Moreover, the fabrics in conjunction with the filling help keep out the cold air leaving you nice and toasty throughout the night.
Unlike most sleeping bags, the Leef 20˚F has a well-insulated and vaulted footbox to ensure your feet stay warm and comfy just like the rest of your body. There’s also a three-piece hood designed to deliver custom-fit adjustments around the face and head.
The resulting survival temperature rating maxes out at about 20 degrees Fahrenheit meaning you can use the bag in very cold temperatures without any issues. While you can add some clothing layers and insulation to qualify it as a four-season, keep within the set comfort limits for the best results.
The Leef bags are loaded with convenience features such as a full-length zipper with an anti-snagging feature, a zippered stash pocket, two hanging loops, and a lifetime warranty to seal the deal. A full-length draft tube has also been integrated with the zipper to keep the cold air out.
The full-length zipper system allows for easy access and the interior zippered pocket is the perfect size to stash your phone or other smaller items. The hanging loops may be used to air-dry the bag over clotheslines or when storing the unit.
A Velcro tab has been added at the top to prevent the bag from coming undone under tension. However, you can expect the usual zipper snags when closing the sleeping bag from the inside.
The Leef 20˚F is also very lightweight at only 3.5 pounds and packs down into a manageable carrying bundle. The bag’s packed sizes measure 12.5 inches in length and 6.5 inches in diameter. You won’t have a hard time backpacking with it as the bag can be easily fitted into most backpacks.
Lastly, the bag offers adequate girth around the hip and shoulders, plus it supports a max height of 6.5 feet.
You can get the Teton Sports Leef sleeping bags in either a zero-degree (black) or a 20-degree (green) temperature rating. The bags are differentiated by color with the latter being green and the former being black.
Either bags can withstand cold weather and are strongly built to take on any type of terrain. The Leef sleeping bag is yet another budget-friendly option to consider that doesn’t skimp on the benefits.
It does have some flaws which are, for the most part, easy to work around.
The Thermodown Quilt is opened at both ends and can be used as either a full-on sleeping bag or a blanket-style quilt. The quilt is super lightweight and versatile for anyone looking to camp out in cold environments or seasons.
The quilt can be bought in either 15°F or 30°F EN ratings, which are also available in regular and long sizes. Overall, the bag comes with down insulation, several adjustability features, good-quality materials, and a few convenience-first accessories.
As its name foreshadows, you can use the Thermodown 15 as a quilt, blanket, or mummy sleeping bag but without the hood.
During chilly nights, the Thermodown 15 can be closed using the zipper system and drawcord at the bottom and snap enclosures at the top and mid-section. The quilt also has a strap to help secure it to your preferred sleeping pad to prevent it from shifting while you sleep.
You can also just leave the quilt open and use it as a wraparound blanket while you enjoy the sunset or have your meals.
Even the regular-sized quilt is quite large measuring 78 inches long and slightly under 60 inches in width. The generous dimensions coupled with its various configurations make it ideal for most body types and heights.
Paria Outdoor Products’ Thermodown 15F quilt has about 22 ounces (1.38 pounds) of white duck down. The quilt has a fill power of 700 done at a ratio of 90 to 10, which means the insulation comprises 90 percent down plumes and 10 percent feathers.
Further, a strongly-stitched ripstop 20-denier nylon fabric has been used for the outer shell to block out wind and moisture to some extent. A silky-soft polyester pongee fabric with a thread count of 320 makes up the inner lining.
The footbox has an adjustable drawcord that can be left undone or adjusted accordingly to address any temperature changes. There’s also the large baffled construction that allows you to move the down around to eliminate any cold spots and improve comfort.
A drawstring has also been included in the collar to allow for even more customization. You can close it up for a snug draft-free fit or undo it in warmer temperatures.
However, when using it as a sleeping bag, the resulting Elephant’s foot shape lacks a hood. So, you’ll want to have your beanies and other suitable headgear if you expect colder climes at your camping destination.
At only 2.19 pounds, the Thermodown 15 is one of the most lightweight options we have on our best-of-the-best selection. It will be the perfect companion to your backpacking trips and ultralight camping adventures.
It also comes with a rugged compression bag to help you pack it down small and compactly.
The packed size of the quilt measures approximately 10 inches in length and 7 inches in diameter. Such a compact bundle will fit perfectly in most backpacks, especially those with sleeping bag compartments.
In a nutshell, the Thermodown 15 performs better as a quilt than a sleeping bag. That said, you’ll love the temperature adjustment features, great down insulation, loftiness, very roomy interior, and portability. Just be wary of the snap enclosure system and initial learning curve.
Almost identical to Marmot’s Radium bags, the Ironwood 20-degree sleeping bag is a sleek mummy-style unit available in Denim and Steel Onyx color style. The bag is ideal for all your 3-season camping needs and more.
It is made of hydrophobic down and features the classic mummy style including a hood, broad shoulders, and a slimmed-out footbox.
Despite having an adequate down filling with a fill power of 650, the Ironwood 20 doesn’t burden the insulation to keep you warm. The down layer has been further treated with Down Defender to offer some moisture resistance and ensure that you stay nice and toasty even in damp conditions.
The Down Defender treatment also helps maintain loft, reduces clumping, and ultimately elevates comfort.
The mummy shape of the bag helps reduce the development of cold spots in the bag by providing a snug fit. The polyester outer shell and inner lining helps block out some moisture and wind from getting inside the bag with the latter being soft to touch.
Besides, the horizontal baffles go all-round the bag and can allow some slight down adjustments to address variations in temperature. The Ironwood 20 also has an anatomically-shaped footbox to help reduce heat buildup while preventing cold spots.
The bag further ensures warmth and comfort by having its seams at the ground level and sides. Other nifty solutions in the bag for cold-busting include a fluffy hood, a functional draft tube, and a snug fit.
The included full-length YKK two-way zipper system is easy to use, jam-free, durable, and makes it a whole lot easier getting in and out of the bag.
Ironwood 20 Sleeping Bag will be most suitable for persons with heights of up to six feet.
At slightly less than three pounds, the Ironwood is passable as a valid option to consider for your backpacking adventures. It also rolls up easily in a small bundle measuring only 12 inches long and 8 inches in diameter.
The sleeping bag also comes with an okay quality compression bag and a large mesh storage bag for hauling and long-term storage.
Going by its drab appearance, you’d be mistaken to dismiss the Ironwood 20 sleeping bag from Marmot as any other low-quality bag. The bag has a no-frills design with a primary goal of delivering peak performance using only the best quality materials and craftsmanship.
It is a good quality 3-season sleeping bag that will ensure you stay warm and cozy wherever you choose to camp.
However, the bag is slightly costlier than most comparable down bags and you might want to swap the stuff sack for a more durable one. Also, the bag has most likely been discontinued as there’s very little information about the product’s existence on the official website.
This three-season sleeping bag comes in a few variants; 32F, 20F, and 0F temperature-rated options each available in small, regular, and long sizes. The Saros 20 remains comfortable up to a temperature limit of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a nutshell, Therm-a-Rest knocked it out of the pack with the comfort and warmth of the Saros series of sleeping bags. It ticks all the boxes in terms of insulation fundamentals and goes a step further by adding several accessories and features to make the bag more intuitive to use.
Also, do keep in mind that the W.A.R.M. fit technology in the newer model of the Saros is the only major difference between either sleeping bags. W.A.R.M. is short for “With Additional Room for Multiple Positions”, which focuses on supporting different types of sleeping positions while still maintaining the bag’s thermal efficiency.
Firstly, the bag has about 2.31 pounds (37 ounces) worth of synthetic insulation, which is made of eraLoft polyester hollow fibers. The weight of insulation alone is more than you can find in most sleeping bags.
However, it mostly helps improve comfort since the bag’s lower limit rating is still at 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Secondly, the Saros line of sleeping bags features innovative zoned insulation where the filling is left only in the areas it’s needed. This helps cut weight by a few ounces and further eliminates cold spots in high-risk regions.
Also, the filling is secured in place using baffles sewn into the durable outer shell and cozy inner lining combo. The shell is made of water-resistant treated 20-denier ripstop polyester fabric while the lining has a 20-denier polyester taffeta cloth.
Lastly, the only issues you might experience with the Saros 20 with regards to warmth and comfort are perhaps the footbox and hood. While the footbox is packed with adequate filling, it doesn’t provide enough room for the natural positioning of feet.
Then again, there is a little foot warmer pocket in the footbox to help improve warmth in your extremities. So, maybe all is not lost.
Also, the shoelace-like drawstring in the hood is too thin and requires multiple tweaks for custom fitting. We believe an elastic drawcord would have been the way to go for better results.
Whether you’re deep in the backcountry or simply away from a power source, the Coleman Inflatable mattress is designed for such extremes. It uses a battery-operated pump to fully inflate or deflate the mattress in less than two minutes.
The pump uses four D-cell batteries that can be bought separately.
Additionally, to avoid annoyances such as overnight deflations, Coleman used a Double Lock valve to avoid any air leakages.
Although the Saros 20 comes with a high price tag, you’re bound to get your money’s worth if you fully utilize the included handy accessories and features.
The 3/4-length zipper helps in venting excess heat and operates smoothly without any snags.
We also loved the unique pad attachment system dubbed SynergyLink Connectors, which includes stretchy straps to help secure your sleeping pad in place. The connectors are very effective and won’t affect sitting up or moving around in the bag.
However, if you don’t find the pad attachment useful, it’s fully removable.
Additionally, the Saros 20 has a zippered stash pocket perfectly-sized to keep your headlamp or phone. That said, the bag might not be meant for backpacking given its hefty weight and substantial packed dimensions.
The Saros 20 weighs about 3.5 pounds and packs down into a substantial cylindrical bundle measuring 18 inches long and 8 inches in diameter. Luckily, the included stuff sack and storage bag help make it easier to transport and store.
The Saros 20 is a well-built, comfortable, and warm sleeping bag loaded with nifty accessories and features. Despite the minor imperfections, you will mostly be getting your money’s worth with the bag.
However, the bag is slightly heavier than comparable options and so you’ll want to avoid backpacking with it. The sleeping bag is more suited for shorter hikes and car camping but within the given temperature limits.
Complete with its Oreo-like color scheme aka Ultramarine/Coal, the Aura +20° sleeping bag is your go-to option for cold weather camping. It comes in short, regular, and long sizes, which are all quite long and broad at the shoulders.
The Aura +20° has an almost wavy baffle construction that should ideally help with even heat distribution and comfort. Much like its parent company’s motto, the Aura 20° sleeping bag will undoubtedly “exceed your expectations”.
Or will it?
As with most sleeping bags from Alps Mountaineering, the Aura +20° sleeping bag is very well-built and roomy. It has a length of 80 inches and 86 inches in the regular and long sizes, respectively. The bag will easily support heights of well up to 6.5 feet.
The bag stays warm even when temperatures dip slightly below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be mostly attributed to its true-mummy design and insulation. The Aura +20° sleeping bag has about 1.94 pounds worth of synthetic insulation.
The insulation, which is made of 2.5-denier TechLoft Micro Fibers has been dual-layered in the baffles to reduce cold spots and provide optimal warmth. The hood also has drawstrings to cinch up the opening and regulate temperature.
The fabrics used to make the bag’s inner lining and outer shell are very durable yet lightweight. The shell is made of ripstop nylon fabric while the lining features a silky but tear-resistant polyester lining.
We were also quite impressed with the bag’s zipper system, which features burly #8 separating zippers. There is also a secondary zipper system meant for venting excess heat and allowing sitting up more easily.
Our only gripe with the zipper system or even the whole bag itself is that they will still snag a little when closing the bag.
While the single-hole synthetic fibers are highly compressible, the resulting bundle doesn’t hold a candle to any down sleeping bags. The Aura +20° is bulky and heavy to carry around or store owing to its hefty weight of 3.31 pounds.
The packed size is also not backpacking-friendly as the bag will easily gobble up lots of storage space – 18 inches long and 8.5 inches in diameter.
The ALPS Mountaineering Aura +20°sleeping bag is your best bet at a three-season unit with incredible thermal efficiency. It will easily complement your sleeping system and deliver comfort and warmth all through late-spring, fall, and summer.
The bag is reasonably-priced and functionally-designed but suffers from a few expected minor issues.
Marketed towards campers who want it all, the Dolomite One sleeping bag comes as a 3-in-1 unit to help you keep warm even at temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Essentially, you get two extra layers of insulation that you can add or remove from your base layer.
You can buy the Dolomite One Bag from North Face in either regular or long sizes, both with zippers on the right-hand side. The bag has a rectangular shape, which means it will be very roomy and accommodative, unlike most mummy bags.
Pretty much the highlight of the Dolomite One Bag, we cannot talk about the ingenious three-in-one insulation system. The top layer has a temperature rating of 50 degrees Fahrenheit while the middle layer is rated 30 degrees.
Both layers contain North Face’s proprietary Heatseeker Eco synthetic insulation, which is mostly polyester fibers. The top layer is bright Hyper Blue whilst the middle layer is radiant yellow.
The multi-layer works simply by interchanging or combining the layers to suit the given weather conditions. Chilly nights call for the 30-degree middle layer or both layers when temperatures dip below 30 degrees.
Else, you can ditch the yellow middle layer for the blue upper in warmer weather conditions.
The bag also comes with wraparound zippers that fully open the sleeping bag from the bottom to allow for additional ventilation. The footbox in the bag is also quite roomy and will provide adequate comfort and warmth.
North Face provides a wide range of high-quality apparel and camping equipment. As with most of their products, the Dolomite One Bag is a true definition of function meets form. From the choice of materials down to the very minute details, the bag just exudes quality craftsmanship.
Color coding is present on the two layers to help make the alignments and attachments quicker and easier. The uppers have bright colors so you can tell them apart and the zippers are also color-coded for quick closures and unzipping.
The filling is made of 30% post-consumer recycled polyester fibers, which is a huge plus for the environment. Enclosing everything in place is the 50-denier Ciré polyester taffeta shell and silky-soft polyester liner, all present in the two layers.
The middle layer has an even more comfy fleece-lined lining for unmatched comfort. Lastly, there’s a watch pocket included in each layer for stashing away your phone, flashlight, or other small valuables.
However, with its two extra layers of insulation, you can expect the Dolomite One Bag to be very heavy and bulky to haul or even store. At 5.25 pounds and packed size measuring 20 inches in length and 11.00 inches in diameter, backpacking with the bag is just out of the question.
Pretty much everything that makes the bag shine over the rest makes it very heavy and bulky. The major contributors to the heftier weight include the extra insulation, multiple sets of high gauge zippers, all the extra fabric, and a thicker base layer.
The North Face Dolomite One bag might be the ideal choice for you if you don’t prioritize weight and instead, want a unit that will serve you in varying temperature ranges and destinations. It will save you money and storage space as you only need one bag for a wide variety of situations.
While moving away from the canonized sleeping bag shapes can be a swing and a miss for most brands, Nemo’s Disco 15 spoon-shaped sleeping bag is far from that. The bag’s unique spoon shape, innovative features, and superb build quality place it among the most sought-after sleeping bags amongst campers.
The Nemo Disco sleeping bags are available for both men and women and can be bought in either regular or long sizes. Also, they come in either 15 degrees or 30 degrees temperature ratings. With that many options, you’ll most likely get exactly what you’re looking for.
Inspired by the curvy shapes of wooden ice cream taster spoons, Nemo’s “Classic Spoon” shape is a fresh take on the good ole semi-rectangular form in sleeping bags. Ideally, the design is meant to deliver body-contouring comfort and fit as well as improve on overall packability of the bag.
Its hour-glass style makes it a treasure for the stomach, bent-knee, and side sleepers. Furthermore, the Disco 15 provides plenty of room at the elbows and knees so you can move and turn freely just as you would in your home bed.
Contextually, the men’s regular sleeping bag has a length of 78 inches, shoulder and hip girths of 64 inches and 59 inches, plus a wide 62-inch footbox. That’s plenty of roomy to support most sleeping positions and to comfortably sleep in taller persons.
The Disco 15 also has other clever features such as the blanket fold in the hood section and thermal gills in the mid-section.
The sleeping bag contains 1.38 pounds (22 ounces) of hydrophobic down with a fill power of 650. The insulation should suffice at keeping you warm even when it gets a bit damp but it’s always better to avoid getting your sleeping bag wet.
Moreover, the fabrics making up the shell and lining have been DWR-treated to ensure moisture stays out of the insulation layer. The shell is made of a durable 30-denier ripstop nylon fabric while the inner lining comprises a 30-denier nylon taffeta material.
40-denier ripstop nylon fabric has been used on the footbox to make it a little more protective and resilient.
A blanket fold has been integrated with the hood section to provide extra snugness and temperature control. The included Thermal Gills, which are essentially zippered vents, also do a great job of venting out excess heat.
Unlike opening the main zipper, the vents don’t let in too much cold air. However, if you are still too warm then the full-length zipper system should come in handy in cooling you down.
The Disco 15 sleeping bag delivers plush comfort and great temperature control all while maintaining a reasonable backpacking-friendly weight and travel size. Weighing in at slightly less than three pounds with a packed size of 12 inches long and 9 inches in diameter, the bag is not too heavy or bulky for light camping trips.
However, if you compare other backpacking options, the Disco 15 would be among the heavier sleeping bags on the list. Also, you may want to grab a better stuff sack since the included one doesn’t have compression straps to fully compact the bag.
Although you’ll be paying a premium, all the lots of useful features included in the Nemo Disco 15 sleeping bag are well worth every penny. The bag’s spoon shape should be reason enough to make it the go-to option, especially, amongst side and stomach sleepers.
While it may not be as lightweight or portable as other down bags, the Disco 15 will knock your socks off when it comes to providing warmth and comfort.
The last thing you want getting in the way of your time outdoors is jammed zippers. One sure way of getting rid of this inconvenience is by completely removing zippers from the equation. Sierra Designs have done just that with their zipperless Cloud 800 sleeping bags.
The mummy-shaped bag has a crescent-shaped opening with a comforter extension to stand in for the zipper system. The flap opens to one side and has an integrated shoulder pocket to help keep the comforter wrapped around you all through the night.
Unlike most mummy bags, you won’t feel too constricted inside the Cloud 800 sleeping bag. The large opening and comforter work to your advantage regardless of the sleeping position you adopt. You can wrap the comforter under your head, pull it to the side with one hand, or just have it under your arm.
The Cloud 800 sleeping bag is available in regular and long sizes for either the 20-degree or 35-degree-rated options. Aside from the lack of zippers, the bag will delight you with its high-performance insulation, nice and comfy interiors, and useful accessories.
The bag is loaded with almost a pound of hydrophobic down, which incidentally has an incredible fill power of 800. The insulation provides just enough loft for ultimate comfort without adding too much weight.
To make the natural filling moisture-resistant, Sierra Designs used a molecular level polymer on the down feathers. The resulting DriDown ensures your bag will loft better, stay dry for longer, and dry faster than regular untreated down.
Moreover, a 15-denier ripstop nylon fabric has been used to make the shell and inner lining of the bag. While nylon tends to be more durable than polyester, a higher denier option would have provided better performance.
The Cloud 800 sleeping bag has a few ventilation options but they don’t compare to those in zippered bags. When it gets too hot, excess heat can be vented out by either pushing away the opening/comforter to the side or putting your legs through the handsfree slit in the footbox.
The hood also has a drawstring to help cinch up the opening around your face when more heat retention is desired. However, the effectiveness of the drawstring is solely dependent on you pinning down the comforter/closure flap beneath your shoulder.
Although the bag only weighs 1.94 pounds, Sierra Designs were still able to sneak in a few useful accessories and features. The Cloud 800 as sleeve sew-in on the back to help secure the bag onto your favorite sleeping pad.
Simply slide it onto your pad to reduce any risks of rolling off while you move or switch sides in the sleeping bag. However, you’ll note that the back has lesser insulation than the front part of the bag so using a suitable sleeping bag is less of an option and more of a necessity.
In addition, the shaped footbox helps keep your feet nice and toasty while lying in a natural position.
The Cloud 800 sleeping bag is the most affordable, high-quality zipperless bag you’ll find today. Although the main closure flap could use some tweaking in later versions, the bag will provide you with warmth and comfort just as in other classic mummy bags.
A simply-designed, warm, and comfortable sleeping bag from the camping gear experts – Coleman. While their similar-looking Big and Tall are more suited to persons taller than 6 feet, the Sun Ridge would be ideal for you if you’re shorter than 5 feet 11 inches.
The Sun Ridge sleeping bag is rectangular-shaped and only available in a pastel blue color. The bag has a very roomy interior given its generous dimensions measuring 33 inches wide and 75 inches long.
The bag features a continuous full-length zipper system that can be fully opened to transform it into a blanket. The zipper system is also compatible with most bags so you can easily turn your two bags into a large double-wide sleeping bag.
While it is probably the most affordable bag on our list, Coleman has gone ahead and added many useful features to ensure you get the most value for your money.
Firstly, all the materials used in the bag are synthetic thus you can easily machine wash the bag without fears of damaging it. There’s also a Zipplow zipper guide that helps prevent zipper jams by pushing the fabric away from the zipper teeth.
Secondly, to help improve the packing and hauling process, the bag employs Quick Cord and Roll Control features. The Roll Control component helps keep the bag straight as you roll it up by locking the bag’s edges together.
Further, the Quick Cord system eliminates the need for knotting or tying the rolled-up bag using easy snap and lock doodads.
The Sun Ridge sleeping bag is rated for temperatures up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which means the bag is best suited for warm seasons such as summer, early fall, and late spring. It has up to 3 pounds of synthetic insulation namely the ThermoTech polyester fill.
While the insulation is winter-capable, the lack of a hood, the large interior, and polyester fabrics dock it down into a two-season bag. However, we love that there is an included zipper baffle aka the ThermoLock to keep out the cold drafts.
Lastly, the polyester fabric used to make the shell and lining are durable but not very comfortable. The inner lining especially feels a bit too rough.
The Sun Ridge is a simple warm weather sleeping bag meant for campers shorter than six feet. It’s truly one of those “you get what you pay for” kinds of products but with some included convenience-oriented features.s
Yet another mummy-style sleeping bag, the KSB 20 has a few tricks up its sleeves to help keep you warm and cozy. The bag is lightweight, comfy, and durable for your three-season camping trips in the boonies.
The Klymit KSB 20 is one of the most affordable good quality down sleeping bags you’ll find in the market today. Its distinct stretchy baffles work wonders at maximizing the interior space while allowing for freer movements inside the bag.
The sleeping bag is available in Large and XL sizes, which have different widths but similar overall lengths. While our review mainly focuses on the 20-degree-rated bag, all the other KSB sleeping bags – the 0°F, 15°F, and 35°F – have pretty much the same features.
The Klymit KSB 20 makes camping in the shoulder seasons a bit more bearable thanks to its lofty, warm, and breathable down filling. The bag also has several insulative features that work hand in hand with the down to keep nice and toasty.
The bag is loaded with well over a pound white duck down at a fill power of 650. The down provides just enough loft to promote optimal heat retention while maintaining some extent of breathability.
You also get a draft collar, a cinchable well-insulated mummy hood, and an overstuffed foot box to help keep out the cold drafts and provide comfort.
The KSB 20 sleeping bag has a very roomy interior with a length of 82 inches and a width of 30 inches across the shoulders. Further, the chest area is slightly expanded to offer even more room for easy movement inside the bag. There are also the flexible baffles as we had discussed earlier.
A 3-quarter-length zipper has been used to allow for improved accessibility and offer some ventilation when slightly unzipped. You can also shorten the length by up to 15 inches to deliver a snugger fit to people with heights of up to 5 feet 3 inches.
The draft collar also has an integrated stash pocket to keep your phone, wallet, headlamp, or other small-sized valuables closer to you.
Apart from its good thermal efficiency, the KSB 20 sleeping bag is also made of robust materials that can take on most terrains and climates. The shell is made of a 20-denier ripstop nylon fabric that has a thread count of an incredible 400 units.
Its soft but tough inner lining is also made of a 20-denier rated nylon fabric that has been DWR-treated to keep out moisture.
When it is time to ship out, the KSB 20 bag packs down into a manageable bundle measuring 13 inches long and 8.5 inches in diameter. The weight of the bag is also a mere 2.75 pounds, which is lightweight and portable enough for any backcountry backpacking adventure.
However, the included stuff sack is quite small so it can be a pain trying to get the bag into it.
The KSB 20 simply excels at being comfy and room than in any other aspect. The clever use of stretchy baffles ensures that any movements inside the bag are less constricted giving the illusion of a very roomy interior.
We were disappointed that the down filling couldn’t compress down further and that the stuff sack was a little too small. Replacing the stuff sack with a suitable compression sack might get a smaller, more compact packed size.
The Riff 15 is yet another masterpiece from Nemo Equipment featuring one of their iconic “Ultralight Spoon” designs. The bag is available in men’s and women’s sizes and can only be bought in either the 15-degree- or the 30-degree-rated variants.
The bag will suffice for your three-season camping needs owing to its down insulation and outstanding build quality.
The Riff 15 sleeping bag offers a good blend of comfort, insulation, effective ventilation to help stay warm and cozy outdoors. Firstly, the bag has insulation made of highly packable, hydrophobic down with a fill-power of 800 and a weight of 1.19 pounds.
The added waterproofing helps maintain the heat retention properties of the down filling even when the bag gets damp. Moreover, the footbox in the Riff 15 is breathable and waterproof to not only keep moisture out but also help prevent condensation build-up on the lining.
The footbox is made of a robust and moisture-resistant 40 denier ripstop nylon fabric.
Like in the Nemo Disco, the Riff 15 also comes with a blanket fold system that allows for easier temperature regulation and comfort. Also, the vertical baffles help eliminate cold spots by reducing the movement of filling across the bag.
However, as with most down bags, you can expect some minor down leaking over the life of the Riff 15 sleeping bag.
That said, the DWR-coated 20-denier ripstop nylon shell and 30-denier nylon taffeta lining do a great job of protecting the insulation layer.
Secondly, venting out excess heat is made super easy and convenient by the included zippered vents located in the mid-section. The Thermo Gills won’t let in too much cold air as would be the case if you opened the full-length zipper.
Lastly, the Nemo’s Ultralight Spoon shape provides more elbow and legroom so you can toss and turn freely and unencumbered. The company also claims that the shape saves on weight but we’re not too sure about that.
In a sea of similar-looking sleeping bags, the Riff 15 stands out above the rest by including many nifty little accessories and features. A good example of this is its full-length burly zippers that can be opened fully to allow for easy access or help improve airflow.
Additionally, the zippers come with a snag guard built into the bag’s draft tube to allow for butter-smooth operations. You can also zip up two opposite sleeping bags to get extra sleeping space for you and your partner.
The Riff 15 also comes with an integrated pillow pocket which you can insert some clothes or a travel pillow to support your head and neck.
With a weight of only 2.38 pounds and a compact packed size measuring 12 inches long and 7.5 inches in diameter, it is safe to say that the Riff 15 can be easily backpacked. Plus, it comes with an included compression stuff sack and large mesh storage bag to help haul or store the bag.
However, if you want it to pack more compactly and minimally, you may want to get a compression sack with compression straps.
Lastly, its zippered stash pocket is the cherry on top as you can use it to keep your phone, wallet, and other valuables.
As we’ve seen with many Nemo products, the Riff 15 is a good quality sleeping bag that will see you through many three-seasons camping trips. It comes with plenty of handy features and accessories to not only help improve its usability but also deliver comfort and warmth.
Aside from its higher pricing and slightly large packed size, you can’t go wrong with the Riff 15 or even the 30-degree-rated version.
The only double-wide sleeping bag to make it on our list of the best sleeping bags, the Mammoth 20 is all about space. Available in 20-degree- and 0-degree-rated options, the bag offers up to six color options to choose from.
The Mammoth Double sleeping bag is the more popular sibling to the slightly heavier Fahrenheit Mammoth Double sleeping bag. It is usually the preferred option for couples, small families with kids, and even most individuals.
The bag is slightly larger than a queen-size measuring 94 inches long and 62 inches wide, which means it is roomy enough for one couple or even the entire family. Two small kids and one adult or two adults and one small child – is the sweet spot.
Further, the Mammoth 20 Degree sleeping bag comes with three snag-free zippers. The two side zippers allow for easy in/out access and ventilation without having to disturb anyone. Meanwhile, the bottom zipper is used to split the oversized bag into two quilts.
With the two comforters, you can stargaze the night away while hurdled around the campfire with your smores and hot chocolate. Since the bag is not machine-washable, the separation allows you to wash the bag more conveniently.
The Mammoth 20 Double sleeping bag has synthetic insulation made of SuperLoft Elite Hollow fibers. Further, the shell is made of a tough taffeta fabric while the lining comprises a brushed bedsheet-soft poly-flannel cloth.
The included draft tubes can be cinched accordingly to block any cold drafts from getting in the bag through the neck and shoulder region.
However, the bag is not remotely lightweight or even too portable as compared to other sleeping bags. You’ll want to stuff it back into the included sack gently and by beginning at the corners else it will prove a chore.
Since the bag is quite heavy, we found it to mimic the comfort and feel you’d get in your home bed with a comparable comforter.
Teton Sports’ Mammoth 20 sleeping bags are perfect for anyone looking to share their outdoor experiences as a couple or family without having to compromise on warmth and space. The bag is as customizable and expandable as you want it to be.
However, do keep in mind that oversized sleeping bags will always be heavy, bulky, and sometimes challenging to pack away. Also, the fact that it can only be hand-washed will be a bummer for most people.
Where to begin – baffles, are they necessary? Should you go for down or synthetic-filled sleeping bags? Selecting the ideal sleeping bag can be a grueling and tedious task, especially when you’re just getting into camping the first time.
However, by only focusing on what matters then you’ll land on a good quality sleeping bag that meets your needs in no time.
These ratings help you know at what temperature or season the sleeping can be used. The bags will either have the EN or ISO temperature ratings or the less-common season ratings prominently displayed.
The “EN” stands for European Norm and “ISO” is the abbreviated form of International Organization for Standardization, which are both standard-setting bodies in their respective jurisdictions.
You’ve most likely stumbled upon bags with units such as “comfort ratings/limits” or “lower limits” listed in the specifications. Well, that’s an indicator that the sleeping bag adheres to EN/ISO international standards.
The ISO 23537 is the current international standard for categorizing sleeping bags by temperature ratings. It supersedes the EN 13537 standard, which came into effect in 2005. The EN and ISO tests are typically conducted by third-party laboratories.
Most manufacturers conform to either test, which makes it super easy and convenient to compare different brands of sleeping bags.
The EN standard test offers up to four temperature ratings namely the EN Upper Limit or Maximum Temperature, EN 13537 Comfort rating, EN Lower Limit, and EN Extreme, with the middle two being the most relevant.
The Upper Limit refers to the temperature at which a standard man can sleep in the bag without sweating too much. At such a temperature, he would have his arms outside the sleeping bag and the zippers and hood open.
At the “Comfort” temperature, a standard female is expected to sleep inside the bag comfortably in a relaxed natural position. The assumption here is that women will generally require more insulation than men.
On the other hand, the Lower Limit is the lowest temperature that a standard male can sleep in a curled position for up to eight hours without waking up.
Lastly, at the “Extreme” temp, we can expect a standard female to sleep for at least six hours without risking death resulting from hypothermia. You’ll want to steer clear of camping in such extreme temps as frostbite can also happen.
You have to consider that the “standard male” being referred to is assumed to be 25 years old, weighing 161 pounds, and with a height of 5.68 feet. While the “standard woman” is presumed to be 25 years of age, about 5.25 feet tall, and weighs close to 132 pounds.
So, always consider other factors other than the temperature ratings when evaluating which sleeping bag to get.
A replacement to the EN 13537 standard, the ISO 23537 still involves tests with a thermal manikin but with easier to understand results. The lab tests offer three results/temps including the Comfort, Limit, and Extreme temperatures.
The Comfort temperature is the minimum temp at which a cold sleeper would still be comfortable. Next, the Limit temperature is the lowest temp that a warm sleeper would still be feeling comfortable.
Like the EN European standard, the Extreme temperature refers to the range from Limit to Extreme where the user gets increasingly colder. Using the bag at those temperatures or beyond poses severe health risks and could result in hypothermia, frostbite, or even death.
Season ratings are slightly more straightforward to understand, unlike the technical-sounding EN/ISO metrics. Sleeping bags are categorized by season name or number as detailed below:
1-season and 2-season sleeping bags are meant for warmer summer or spring nights. Higher up the ratings, the 3-season and 4-season sleeping bags are designed to withstand the frigid temperatures during the winter season.
Keep in mind that higher elevations always demand a very insulative sleeping system to fight the cold. Also, always go for the bag with a rating that’s just a few degrees cooler than the minimum temperature of where you intend to camp.
The 1-season sleeping bags are ideal for warm, summer-like nights and near sea-level camping trips. They are also passable for attending festivals and indoor sleepovers for kids or adults, especially at temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0°C).
If you plan on summer and off-shoulder season camping then a 2-season bag is just what you need. Whether you’ll encounter cooler summer nights or slightly colder spring temps, a 2-season sleeping bag will help you stay warm.
The bags in this category are best suited for use in late autumn, early spring, and a few days into winter. Generally, 3-season sleeping bags can be a good option in temps between 32- and 20-degrees Fahrenheit (0°C to -7°C), particularly when there’s no frost.
3-Season bags are typically the go-to options for weekender campers as they can be used almost all year-round.
A winterproof sleeping bag is a must-have if you want to take on expedition camping, mountaineering, or winter camping. 4-season sleeping bags are the best suited for extreme cold and frost or snow-laden terrains.
If the temperatures dip below 20-degrees Fahrenheit then a four-season sleeping bag will be ideal. Further, you will need a beefier 4-season bag (also known as a 5-season, 4-season mountain, or 4+ season bag) to be able to explore and camp in areas with temps ranging from -14 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, the star of the whole show – insulation. As it’s been for decades, you’ll be faced with a choice of either down or synthetic fillings for your sleeping bag.
The insulation factor ranks highly just as the temperature ratings so take your time understanding the key concepts on the topic.
The never-ending debate of which insulation is superior is not limited to sleeping bags alone. You’ll have to go through the same debate when shopping for sleeping pads or even pillows. That said, the consensus has always been in favor of down insulation that’s despite the many unique benefits of either.
Down bags aren’t made of feathers, well at least not entirely. The down material is a lightweight fluffy coating often found underneath the feathers of waterfowl such as ducks, geese, or swans.
Down has no quills and is typically used as thermal insulation and padding in bags, pillows, and even sleeping mats.
While goose-down bags might be more expensive than duck-down ones, there’s little to no difference between the two in terms of performance. The only reason for the difference in pricing is perhaps that down insulation was originally only sourced from geese.
In general, down insulation offers plenty of benefits such as being super lightweight, highly compressible, durable, and relatively breathable. It also delivers the best warmth to weight ratio when compared to synthetic insulation.
That said, the most important elements to look out for when gauging a down sleeping bag include the fill power, fill weight, water resistance, as well as safety and ethical issues. You may also want to double-check the down-to-feather ratio if needed and ensure the down material is on the high side.
Fill weight refers to how much down is in the sleeping bag.
The fill power, or simply the fluffiness or loft of the down product, refers to the volume in cubic inches that an ounce of down filling occupies. Higher fill power usually means more loft to trap air and hence better insulation efficiency.
The high fill-power also indicates that the down bag is high quality and won’t be a pain to compress down. A bag with a fill power of 850 would be more insulative than a bag with a similar weight and a fill power of 600.
Perhaps the biggest letdown of down insulation is that it loses its effectiveness when it gets wet. However, most manufacturers have figured out a workaround to this problem namely hydrophobic down.
A water-resistant treatment is applied to the down at a microscopic level to give it some level of water repellency. The treatments could be anything from wax-based, silicone-based, to PFC (perfluorinated chemicals)-based solutions. Hydrophobic down repels water, dries quicker, and maintains loft even when damp.
With that in mind, it doesn’t mean that the insulation will hold up in very wet conditions, plus the treatments used aren’t very environment-friendly. For instance, exposure to PFCs (Perfluorinated Chemicals) such as those used in down sleeping bags and other products has been linked to causing several health complications in unborn children and infants.
Therefore, take a closer look at the overall construction of the sleeping bag instead of over-relying on the hydrophobic element of the down insulation. Also, always opt for PFC-free down bags whenever possible.
Other disadvantages of down insulation include the following:
Speaking of which, there have been many reported cases of animal cruelty over the years regarding how down is sourced. In extreme cases, the down might be live-plucked from the various birds.
Sleeping bags or down products with certifications such as the Responsible Down Standard or the Global Traceable Down Standard signify that the down was sourced from birds that were not subjected to any unnecessary harm.
If you don’t want to get lost in the rabbit hole that is picking out down sleeping bags, then synthetic-filled bags are what you need. They shine over down alternatives in the following ways:
Synthetic insulation is mostly made of polyester fibers or similar materials.
The only issue you might encounter with synthetic-filled bags is that they compress less compactly and are slightly heftier than down bags. Although some synthetic bags will pack very small, it’s often at the expense of loftiness and insulation.
That said, synthetic bags are versatile, affordable, and perfect for camping in snow and rainy destinations.
You may also be lucky to find sleeping bags with down/synthetic insulation, which is meant to bring you the best of both worlds. Sleeping bags with hybrid insulation will come with proper indications of the percentages of either insulative fills.
The synthetic insulation is used around the openings, around the footbox, or anywhere that moisture could collect while down makes most of the core insulation. In some cases, the two insulation types are mixed throughout the bag.
Down/Synthetic blends tend to be more compressible and lighter than synthetic insulation. They are also more affordable and water-resistant than down-only insulation. However, the hybrid insulations will be heavier than down, more expensive, and less water-repellent than synthetic-alone.
Lastly, try to keep off cotton or wool sleeping bags as they perform poorer than down and synthetic options. Cotton retains water for long periods and is not lightweight by any measure. Even though wool bags have better water repellency, they would be too heavy and bulky to carry around.
As aforementioned, how the bag is built is just as important as the types of insulation used or the indicated temperature rating. The various features on the bag should be designed to help improve comfort, durability, and ultimately insulation.
The shell houses the insulation filling with the help of baffles so you’ll want to be as protective as possible. A durable water repellent coating on the fabric will be crucial if you are set for damp or humid climes.
While not completely waterproofing the bag, the DWR finish helps keep out most of the moisture and prevents the bag filling from being soaking wet.
Since the shell will take most of the beating so, always go for bags with durable yet lightweight fabrics whenever possible. The fabrics should have a high denier rating, a high thread count, and if possible, feature a ripstop stitching style.
Nylon, polyester, and taffeta are very popular options for outer shells as they tend to be affordable, lightweight, and durable. Cotton or flannel outer shells might be acceptable in cooler temps but we found the nylon option to be the most versatile.
The inner lining should feel silky soft to the touch and provide some level of moisture wicking to address the night sweating issue. In alpine and winter bags, the inner lining may have an extra waterproof/breathable membrane.
The membrane helps wick away moisture and prevent rainwater from getting inside the bag. Also, the inner lining will be made of either fine polyester, silk, or nylon.
They hold the insulation in place and are mainly implemented in three main styles namely sewn-through, box-wall, and shingle.
The sewn-through method has the filling trapped between the outer shell and inner lining via direct stitching. While the insulation is well secured in place, sewn-through baffles create cold spots and promote heat loss through the seam lines.
A bag with sewn-through baffles is best suited for warm weather; else you’ll need a box-wall or shingled baffle bags for the chillier nights. Box-wall baffles ensure the filling can achieve full loft and get rid of the cold spots issue with the roomier boxy (regular box, slant box, or trapezoidal shapes) chambers.
Using a similar overlaying approach as roof shingles, the shingle baffles are made of overlapping sheets of filling sewn into the shell and lining. The overlapping helps reduce the risks of cold spots and heat loss. If you don’t care for any baffles in your bag then you might want to check out options with welded insulation.
The welding approach doesn’t require seams to hold the insulation in place and performs better than sewn-through baffles. Ideally, bags will be lighter, more compressible, and almost free of cold spots.
Other ways to secure the filling include offset quilt layers, V-tube baffles, continuous baffles, and differential cut baffles among others. Additionally, these baffles can either be done vertically or horizontally.
Horizontal baffle offers the best warmth to weight ratio and allows for easier insulation adjustment. Essentially, you can move the filling towards the top or bottom to cater to different temps, especially, if you get a bag with continuous horizontal baffles.
However, baffles that run across your body tend to have less body-hugging comfort and support. Plus, they can be trickier to put together so you can expect them to be priced higher than bags with vertical baffles.
Vertical baffles run lengthwise and are well-liked for delivering body contouring shapes that are guaranteed to offer optimal comfort. People who sleep on their backs will especially love the added comfort.
That said, the baffles require sewn-through meshes to prevent the insulation from bunching up resulting in a slightly heavier bag.
Most premium bags will implement both orientations for various sections of the bag for better distribution of heat and securing of the filling. Plus, good quality bags will also have other secondary baffles such as neck baffles/draft collars and zip baffles/draft tubes to keep out the cold air.
Sleeping bags will come with either full, three-quarters, or half-length zipper systems. Some heat loss might be experienced through the zipper’s teeth so always ensure your ideal bag addresses this issue.
Zipper systems with shorter lengths and draft tubes running along with the zipper work wonderfully at promoting heat retention. They also save on weight as fewer stitching and zipper components are needed. However, this is often at the expense of venting and ease of getting in and out of the bag.
A cover over the zipper system is also desirable as it can help keep out water from getting inside the bag. Other conveniences you should expect in the zipper system include anti-snag features, right/left zips, and two-way zippers.
Anti-snagging solutions such as the use of larger zippers, Y-shaped sliders, zip covers, and stiff backing along the zipper will help you operate the zippers more easily and smoothly. Two-way zippers are always a good add-on as they help give you proper ventilation from top to bottom whenever necessary.
Also, going for a bag that matches your laterality will make it super easy to get in and out of the bag. If you’re right-handed then a bag with a zipper on the left will be far much easier to operate than the other way round. And sure, ambidextrous folks can pick whichever option they like.
Accessibility can further be improved by placing the bag to where the tent door is located. You want the bag to open towards the door to allow for easier accessibility.
Some bags will also come with zippers that allow you to connect two bags to form one large double-wide sleeping area. Also, if sitting up while in the sleeping bag matters to you then a bag with centered zippers is the way to go.
Alternatively, you can go for bags with no zippers for arguably better insulation and weight savings.
A fully-adjustable hood with contoured baffles is exactly what you want sealing around your face in frigid temps.
The hood should conform to your head and neck for optimal thermal efficiency and comfort. Most bags achieve the snug fit by having two adjustable drawcords, one for the neck fitting and the other for the hood opening.
Some bags will come with pillow pockets in the hood where you can stuff a few clothes or a camp pillow for head support and cushioning. Similarly, the footbox at the bottom of the bag should feel comfy, insulative, and roomy.
Other sleeping bags will come with stash pockets located either in the hood, side, or chest areas. The pockets can be used to store small items such as watches, phones, wallets, or anything else you want close to you.
First things first, why would the shape of the bag have any effect on the overall warmth and insulation? Put simply, the more room the bag has, the more body heat will be required to heat the space.
Some shapes are built to leave plenty of room inside the bag and hence can perform very poorly on chilly nights. That said, sleeping bags come in three main shapes including mummy, rectangular, and semi-rectangular styles.
Designed to resemble an Egyptian mummy, a mummy sleeping bag has a hood and tapers towards the feet. The mummy shape is one of the most popular shapes in sleeping bags and for good reason. The hood keeps out the draft while the tapered design allows for a snug body-hugging fit.
Mummy bags offer better heat retention as there is little room left inside the bag for “dead air”. They also slightly weigh less and are not as bulky as compared to rectangular-shaped sleeping bags.
However, due to their limited interiors, mummy bags can be very constricted especially for people who toss and turn during sleep. The bag also mostly supports sleeping on one’s back for considerably better comfort.
If you’re looking for a bag that’s roomier and more accommodative to different sleeping positions then rectangular bags might be worthy options.
Ideal for warmer climes, rectangular-shaped bags tend to be bulkier and less thermally efficient than mummy bags. They are perfect for car camping, summer festivals, sleepovers, or any other outdoor activities without weight restrictions.
Some rectangular sleeping bags can be unzipped to be used as a duvet or blanket. These bags prioritize comfort and freedom of movement overheat retention and thus would not be suitable for cold weather camping.
The bags are the perfect middle ground between a mummy bag and a rectangular bag. Semi-rectangular sleeping bags, also known as barrel-shaped or “modified mummy” bags, taper slightly to the feet and head but are wider at the hips and shoulder.
Unlike mummy bags, these bags are slightly bulkier and they don’t come with hoods.
However, you can expect more wiggle room in semi-rectangular sleeping bags as compared to mummy bags. They are ideal for fair weather locales and can hold up as 3 to 4 season camping systems with adequate insulation.
In a nutshell, semi-rectangular sleeping bags are perfect for anyone who fancies the warmth retention in mummy bags without compromising on comfort.
An elephant’s foot sleeping bag tapers towards the feet and has a shorter length almost like a mummy bag but without the tapered head and hood. It’s essentially a half bag meant for lightweight camping so it might require extra layers at the top during chilly nights.
Another creative shape, popularly made by NEMO, is the spoon shape sleeping bags. The bags are wider at the shoulders and leg sections allowing for unmatched comfort, especially for side-sleepers. However, since the bags have plenty of inner space, spoon-shaped bags have poor heat retention than other options.
Sleeping bags are typically categorized in men’s, women’s, unisex, and kids’ sizes. Adult sleeping bags are available in regular/standard, long, and sometimes in small sizes. These standard measurements are mostly about the length of the sleeping bag.
In men’s sizes, the “Regular” is meant for males up to 6 feet tall and “Long” fits males of up to 6.5 feet in height. Similarly, a women’s “Regular” accommodates heights of up to 5.5 feet and the “Long” size fits women of at most 6 feet tall.
Women’s sleeping bags are designed to address body contours so you can expect them to have wider hip girths, narrower shoulder sections, and shorter lengths.
That said, the definitions might be different across brands so it’s important to consider the actual dimensions as well. This will be even more crucial when evaluating fitted bags other than the more straightforward rectangular ones.
Take note of your body measurements including your height, shoulder girth, and hip girth then shop for a bag with corresponding dimensions. You may also want to consider the knee or foot girths to get more custom options.
Men’s bags will normally have average shoulder girths starting from 60 to 64 inches. Meanwhile, the shoulder girth for women’s bags ranges from 56 to 60 inches. Similarly, the average hip girth for women’s and men’s bags is about 60 inches and 58 inches, respectively.
If you plan on sharing the sleeping bag with a loved one then you can check double-wide that fits both your dimensions. However, keep in mind that sleeping bags that can be zipped together might be comfier and warmer than a double-wide.
Aside from the tent, the sleeping bag is usually one of the bulkiest and heaviest of all the camping gear. The weight and packability of the bag are important factors to consider especially if you’re a backpacker or an ultralight camper.
The insulation material contributes about 50 percent to the total weight. So, if you are looking for a lightweight bag then it will most likely boil down to which type of insulation you went for.
Down is lauded for its “feathery” weight and higher fill power. Therefore, down bags should be the go-to when looking for a lightweight option. However, be prepared to cough up some more coins for these bags than you would with medium-weight hybrid or slightly heavier synthetic sleeping bags.
Lightweight sleeping bags tend to have trimmer profiles, thinner shell fabrics, and smaller zippers. Most sleeping bags will weigh anywhere between two to five pounds so weight might not be a concern for many people.
You’ll want the bag to pack down nicely into a small compact form for easier storage and handling. Here, down-filled bags will still shine as the material is highly compressible irrespective of its loftiness.
A bag that is easy to move and highly packable will most likely have a lower temperature rating (less insulation), a tapered bag shape, and a highly compressible filling such as down. However, that combination is not always achievable or even practical so just pay close attention to the listed packed size.
Included stuff sacks, compression bags, and storage bags can greatly help reduce the packed size of the bag.
The stuff sack or compression bag uses straps or drawstrings to compress the bag compactly into a small bundle for easier portability. However, do not store down bags in compression sacks for too long as they can get permanently damaged instead, use a storage sack.
A storage sack is much roomier and slightly breathable than compression/stuff sacks allowing the bag to pack loosely for optimal longevity and performance.
Get the most out of your sleeping bag by purchasing additional accessories such as sleeping mats, removable liners, and airbeds among others. The items will help improve insulation and overall comfort.
To complete your sleeping system, be sure to grab a suitable sleeping pad or mat. Sleeping pads will provide you with extra cushioning from the ground and keep you warm through those chilly nights.
They come in different styles such as inflatable pads, self-inflating pads, air mattresses, and closed-cell foam pads. However, the R-value of the pad is what matters in a sleeping pad. The metric refers to the pad’s ability to insulate you from the cold ground.
Your dream sleeping bag should have features to prevent you from rolling or sliding off the pad while sleeping. Such pad compatibility features include pad sleeves, loops, and straps.
A sleeping bag liner is mostly made of soft fabrics such as silk, fleece, cotton, and synthetic materials. It mainly serves four purposes namely cleanliness, extra warmth, a solid standalone sleeping option, and durability.
After a few nights sleeping outdoors will most likely leave your precious sleeping bag dirty and stinky. Removable liners can save you the pain of having to clean all that grime, body oils, and sweat from your bag after every few camping trips.
The result is that you get more life out of your sleeping bag so you can explore even more trails.
On warmer nights, you can toss your bag aside and comfortably sleep in the bag liner especially if it’s the moisture-wicking type. The liners also add some extra insulation so you can get through those unpredictable chilly nights with ease.
Turn your sleeping bag into a luxe experience by adding plush camping pillows and an off-the-ground sleeping platform such as an airbed or camping cot. You may also want to invest in a waterproof or dry stuff sack to keep out the water when hauling the bag in wet conditions.
Compression or stuff sacks and storage bags are essential for hauling and storing the sleeping bag more conveniently. So, be sure to get suitable ones if your bag doesn’t come with them.
Lastly, remember to take care of your bag by washing as per the manufacturer’s instructions and re-waterproofing as needed.
Sleeping bags are the only closest thing to your bed/duvet sleeping system. A good quality sleeping bag that matches your specific needs and usage will, especially, do a great job of keeping you warm while outdoors.
And that’s about it – we hope you are now better versed with all the ins and outs of sleeping bags. If you still don’t want anything to do with sleeping bags then there are a couple of other worthy alternatives you can try.
Quilts are the next best option as they offer just as much comfort and insulation. An airbed and duvet/blanket combo can also be ideal if you have the space and suitable means of transportation.
Either way, be sure to invest in a reliable sleeping system and tent so that you can have plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors.