The Ultimate Buying Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag for Camping
There are many reasons why you may need a sleeping bag and the most obvious one is when you are out camping. We all love the feeling of safety when we are asleep and the need for this feeling becomes even more profound when we are in the wild for reasons well known to you.
But which are the best backpacking sleeping bags to buy? Which are the most suitable for camping? Which are the most affordable, and which ones are the most durable? The answers to your many questions are provided in this fool-proof article which frankly reviews and rates the best of sleeping bags for camping.
The Best Sleeping Bags of 2018
|Sleeping Bag Name||Single/Double||Best For:||Price||Link|
|Ohuhu Double Sleeping Bag||Double||Backpacking for two||$$||Check Price|
|Wenzel Grande Sleeping Bag||Single + Versatile||Cold weather camping||$$||Check Price|
|Slumberjack Country Squire 0 Degree Sleeping Bag||Single + Versatile||Best cold weather sleeping bag, period!||$$$||Check Price|
|Kelty Callisto 20 Degree Sleeping Bag||Single + Versatile||Outdoor camping in the cold||$$||Check Price|
|TETON Sports Celsius XL -18C/0F Sleeping Bag||Single||Best for all seasons||$$||Check Price|
|Coleman Dunnock Sleeping Bag||Single||Cooler to warm weather||$$||Check Price|
|ALPS Mountaineering Crescent Sleeping Bag||Single||Best summer sleeping bag||$$||Check Price|
|Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame 20 Sleeping Bag||Single||For tall/big guys in cool to warm weathers.||$$$||Check Price|
|Marmot Trestles 15 Synthetic Sleeping Bag||Single||Use in temperatures over 15 degrees celcius||$$$||Check Price|
Ohuhu Double Sleeping Bag (With Two Pillows and a Carry Bag)
For a long time, the Ohuhu double sleeping bag has been a camper's favorite and it continues to be so for the simple reason that it is for two. There are still many reasons why it has been and continues to be the preferred choice. In addition to being a double sleeping bag, it has got two pillows in-tacked and the sleeping bag set has each got its own zipping.
High-quality material has been used in crafting the Ohuhu double sleeping bag; 210T polyester shell, T/C lining, and cotton filling. This ensures that the inside of the sleeping bag is warm, soft and comfortable.
The sleeping bag has two separate sleeping bags which can be used individually or connected and combined for use as one big sleeping bag for two or more people. It has zippers on each side which enable easy entry and exit.
- The bag is warm, soft and comfortable.
- Two in one use.
- An additional 4-piece set with two pillows and one carrying bag.
- The sleeping bag is designed to withstand extremes of cold of up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (-100 Degrees Celcius).
- The sleeping bag is light and it fits snuggly into the carrying bag thus portable.
- Easy entry and exit from the bag.
- The sleeping bag is comparatively expensive.
Despite its comparatively higher price, the Ohuhu sleeping bag is a cut above the rest. This is due to its undoubted quality in terms of crafting and design, comfort, warmth, utility and portability. If you are in for the best lightweight sleeping bag that will never disappoint you, don't think twice about the Ohuhu double sleeping bag.
Wenzel Grande Sleeping Bag
Another top pick in the sleeping bag business, the Wenzel Grande is a rectangular, warm sleeping bag with a rugged cotton duck shell and soft flannel lining.
It is comfortable, cozy and warm. Designed mainly for the purpose of cold weather camping. Its extra length makes it considerably warmer for tall people and allows one to tuck their head away inside.
The cotton blend flannel liner of the Wenzel Grande is a major comfort plus. The flannel material is so cozy especially in cool weather. The soft flannel lining and cotton shell fabric can be comfortably spread on the ground during picnics or lounging.
A two-way designed zipper pull allows you to open the foot and chest area of the sleeping bag at the same time. The zipper is big and heavy duty therefore zips up easily and smoothly. It neither has a sewn tape backing nor a draft tube behind it and this allows cold air to creep in through the zipper by your feet and along your side.
Two large loops sewed into the foot of the bag can be used conveniently to hang up, dry or air the sleeping bag.
The Wenzel Grande is a luxurious sleeping bag; on the other hand, it is not very comfortable for big bodied people due to its narrower design. However, it is lighter and more versatile for the occasional countryside trip.
The bag boasts of good design packaging and carrying straps that make it easy to assemble and carry the bag.
- The Wenzel Grande is a warm sleeping bag.
- Can be used during picnics and lounging as well.
- An affordable alternative compared to its bulkier counterparts.
- The bag can be easily unzipped to be used as a blanket
- The Wenzel Grande is a heavy sleeping bag.
- It is narrow and thus not comfortable for people with big bodies.
- It can only accommodate one person at a time.
If you are looking for a warm and affordable dedicated general use bag, look no further. The Wenzel Grande is a good choice. It is warm enough for the night made possible by the spacious and cozy flannel lined interior.
Slumberjack Country Squire 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
Another people’s favorite. The Slumberjack Country Squire 0 is a warm and comfortable sleeping bag which is well crafted and designed to stand extremes of cold.
The bag is also extra roomy in width and this makes it great for people that toss and turn very frequently while sleeping. The removable sheet makes it possible for two or more people to fit in the same sleeping bag.
The Slumberjack country squire 0 comes in an oversized duffel bag. This makes it convenient for one to carry the rolled up sleeping bag and in some instances extra clothes, pillows, sleeping pads as well as other personal belongings.
- It is a warm sleeping bag that can withstand extremes of cold.
- The sleeping bag is comfortable.
- Strong and durable zipper design.
- Large duffel bag storage making it portable.
- Has extra room to accommodate personal belongings.
- It is heavy and bulky.
- The warm conditions of the bag make it unideal for use in warm weather.
- The design of the sleeping bag makes it inappropriate for use in wet weather.
- The Slumberjack Country Squire 0 is an expensive sleeping bag.
Kelty Callisto 20 Degree Sleeping Bag - Regular RH
The Kelly Callisto 20 is a cozy warm sleeping bag that is an enabler of a good night’s sleep in low temperatures without lots of warm clothing.
The bag is rectangular in shape and narrow compared to similarly shaped models, but it has adequate room for an averaged sized person.
The bag’s hooded design minimizes on weight and thus makes an easy to carry bag.
The sleeping bag has loops for securing it to the bottom.
The synthetic material used in its design makes it appropriate for country side use.
The Kelty Calisto’s good all round bag features, synthetic materials and relatively light weight enable you to go beyond the campground or van.
- Very warm to sleep in.
- Its comfort is on the high.
- Has an adjustable top opening and hanging loops at the foot.
- It is significantly lighter.
- It is not as comfortable as wider bags.
The Kelty Callisto is one of the sleeping bags with the broadest range of uses. This makes it one of the best, if not the best in the business. It should definitely feature as an option when looking for a camping sleeping bag.
Teton Sports Celsius XL 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
An inexpensive, all synthetic, rectangular bag with a number of nice features. The sleeping bag boasts of a draft collar and hood which help seal in warmth during cold weather. A draft tube to back the zipper and an adjustable neck collar to reduce air flow are additional designs that help maintain the warmth of the bag.
The synthetic lining is soft and designed from brushed polyester. The brushed polyester lining, as well as two-way pulls, allow you to ventilate along the side of the sleeping bag. This adds the much-required need for comfort.
The zipper cannot extend along the foot of the bag and thus cannot be opened flat into a large blanket. Regardless of this, it still comes in handy as a sleeping bag.
The bag has a lot of room for an averaged sized person thanks to its rectangular shape.
Two large webbing loops on the foot of the bag provide for easy hanging. Compression straps cinch the sleeping bag down smaller and double as carrying handles.
- Has the ability to preserve warmth.
- It is comfortable.
- The bag is easy to carry.
- The sleeping bag design doesn’t allow for it to unzip to a blanket.
Bar poor quality construction, the Teton Sports Celsius XL 0 is a great choice for a sleeping bag and should definitely feature as one of your choices when looking for a sleeping bag.
Coleman Dunnock Sleeping Bag
The Coleman Dunnock is a simple rectangular camping sleeping bag. It has wide dimensions that make it nice and roomy inside.
In addition, the bag boasts of a slightly modern design of a smartphone pocket inside.
People who toss and turn frequently during sleep find this sleeping bag less restrictive. It is a camping bag designed and preferred for warm weather car camping. Two small toggles and loops along the sides help in securing a sleeping pad with a string.
- Hidden pockets that can be used to keep valuables.
- Comfortable for warm weather camping.
- Spacious for those who like turning while asleep.
- The bag does not have loops at the foot that can be used to hang it up.
- The zipper is prone to snagging.
- The packaging system of the sleeping bag is poor.
- It is bulky and not as warm for the weight.
The Coleman Dunnock is roomy and comfortable and can unzip to form a queen sized warm blanket. It is, therefore, a good alternative for a sleeping bag and it should without doubt be among the options when shopping for a relatively cheaper sleeping bag.
ALPS Mountaineering Crescent Lake +20 Degree Sleeping Bag
The Alps Crescent Lake 20 is a mummy style camping sleeping bag which is affordable, made of synthetic insulating material and can be used for general use. The synthetic insulation, a polyester shell and an inside taffeta lining enable the bag to deliver warmth as stipulated in the manufacturer’s suggested temperature rating.
The mummy shape of the bag is not without short comings but it is in some ways better. It is thermally efficient and the hood design means that you do not need a hat for cold nights. A fat insulated neck collar and large insulated draft tubes stop cold air along the zipper sealing in warm air. This in effect aids in the thermal efficiency of the bag.
The insulation’s compression may not be the very best but this makes the bag light. Slippery synthetic bag lining also makes the bag light but has a course feeling on bare skin. It is therefore among the lightest sleeping bags in the market.
Two large webbing loops sewn into the foot of the bag allow for hanging.
- The bag is very warm.
- It is a light sleeping bag.
- Has restricted room space.
- Not very comfortable.
The Alps Crescent Lake 20 is a bit more expensive but the synthetic insulation makes it more durable. It is a good and warm bag that is justified to be among the best that there is.
Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame 20 Sleeping Bag
Another hooded mummy design sleeping bag. The Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame is designed with generous dimensions for the shape.
This bag is a little roomier compared to its mummy design counterpart the Alps Crescent Lake 20 and more comfortable as well.
The light and compact design of the bag gives you the capability of using the bag for backpacking.
The bag lacks a draft collar at the neck. This in effect reduces its ability to preserve warmth.
- The Bozeman Flame is a comfortable sleeping bag for most of the time.
- Has good dimensions for the shape.
- It is relatively light and compact for camping.
- The sleeping bag is not very warm.
A roomy, light and compact mummy design sleeping bag, the Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame is a good choice for crossover camping and backpacking use. The roomy dimensions also make this bag an affordable choice for bigger individuals looking for a budgeted sleeping and backpacking bag.
Marmot Trestles 15 Synthetic Sleeping Bag
The Marmot Trestles 15 is a warm synthetic bag that boasts of 35 ounces of insulation. This therefore provides ample cover between you and the elements thus enabling warmth preservation.
The sleeping bag design allows two zippers: a full length and a quarter length zipper. This feature provides vast ventilation options which is unmatched and thus make the sleeping bag comfortable for extended stays in a tent.
The sleeping bag’s insulation is thick, heavy and not compressible. It is also not as light as some of its counterparts, it is heavy and not flexible. The hood design is not only bulky but also claustrophobic when fully cinched.
A mate – able primary zipper as part of the bag’s design enables you to attach two bags and make a doublewide compartment for possibly more than one person.
- Provides good ventilation.
- Provides enough warmth and comfort.
- It is relatively light and compact for camping.
- It is a relatively heavy and bulky sleeping bag.
The Marmot Trestles 15 is no doubt among the best sleeping bags in the business despite its weight. It serves best during car camping due to the connected sleeping bags.
Choosing the Best Sleeping Bag: What Should You Consider?
Camping sleeping bags have always been there and continue to be produced and upgraded vastly on a regular basis. People are often misguided by the fact that they have no in-depth knowledge of the different types of sleeping bags there are. Choosing a sleeping bag can be a tiresome and gruesome process without the right information and on the other hand, it can be a very simple process. On the most basic level, one needs to choose a warm, comfortable and roomy sleeping bag that can accommodate you the way you like to sleep.
Sleeping bags can be designed for different uses but in most cases, they are inter-usable. Each sleeping bag design is fitted with special features that make it appropriate for the intended use. They could either be for car camping, backpacking or general use and lounging. Sleeping bags designed for general use are often heavier, cheaper, use more comfortable material and have shapes that allow for more room inside and thus make it comfortable for sleeping.
Before delving into detail on the factors to consider before choosing a sleeping bag, you ought to know the differences between a camping bag and a backpacking bag. Backpacking bags are generally lighter in weight compared to camping sleeping bags. The former are usually designed as slim fitting and down insulated whereas the shape of a camping sleeping bag is restrictive but warm and downright claustrophobic for some. The pricing of camping sleeping bags is higher than that of backpacking bags. Last but not least, camping bags are mostly roomy inside, insulated with relatively inexpensive synthetic fibers making them heavier but also more comfortable.
- Type of Insulation
- Weight and Packed Size
Sleeping bags come in different shapes: large rectangular shape, semi- rectangular and mummy shaped. These shapes, as you will see, shape the weight and warmth of the different sleeping bags. Generally, the warmest of the sleeping bag shapes are those that leave only a small amount of space for you to move around inside.
Large rectangular sleeping bags are the most comfortable, owing to the extra room inside and lack of a confining hood at the top. Fully zipped rectangular sleeping bags offer exclusive warmth.
Semi-rectangular shaped sleeping bags taper width dimension towards the foot of the bag for the main purpose of saving on weight but still have wide dimensions through the shoulders and hips.
Mummy shaped bags are generally cut with more several inches in girth than the average mummy bag for backpacking. The contoured shape of a mummy bag makes it warmer than a rectangular bag because it reduces the amount of unused space and in effect leaving the bag warmer.
Backpacking bags need to be very light or as light as is feasible. Most are insulated with down, a fluffy under a layer of feathers from birds, commonly geese and rarely ducks. It is the loftiest insulator available and the warmest for its weight. Despite down being the warmest synthetic fiber for its weight, it is expensive but most notably loses its loft and warmth when it gets wet.
Camping sleeping bags, on the other hand, use layering butts, blankets or polyester fiber type of insulation to hold in the warmth created by your body. The thickness of the insulation is commonly referred to as the loft. Regardless of the type of insulation used, the greater the loft or thickness, the warmer the sleeping bag will be. Simply put, the more insulation you stack up inside the bags, the inner lining and outer shell, the warmer and heavier the sleeping bag is going to be.
The synthetic insulation used in camping sleeping bags is heavy and bulky compared to down used in backpacking bag design. In some instances, synthetic insulation is used in backpacking bags if one is certainly going to get wet since it is waterproof but it will certainly be heavier and less compressible than an equally warm down insulated product.
Camping bags are usually small and light enough to be carried on brief backpacking trips.
What Types of Sleeping Bags Can You Choose From?
Moving on, the next section of this article focuses on the various types of camping bags that exist and what makes them worth considering when choosing a camping sleeping bag.
- Rectangular bags with cotton materials
- Rectangular bags with all synthetic materials
- Synthetic mummy bags
A camping bag with the cotton material is an added advantage in a sleeping bag. Cotton is heavy and sucks your warmth if it gets wet and is slow to dry but cotton and polyester or cotton blend linings are much cozier and comfortable than nylon or synthetic linings. Cotton duck shells, in addition, can be rugged and durable. The right cotton lining, be it flannel or standard can feel like bringing your favorite bed sheets outdoors. These types of bags are very good for camping, can also be used around the house and for lounging. Cotton material makes very good, if not the best, sleeping bags for temperatures below freezing.
These bags incorporate a roomy rectangular shape but include an outer synthetic shell and lining fabrics that are more functional if wet and are comparatively lighter than cotton. Synthetic shell and lining fabric are not as comfortable as cotton next to skin but they soak up a little moisture and are lighter than cotton. These models dry out much faster than products made of cotton lining and shell. A bag with all synthetic materials, bar comfort, is a better alternative to cotton material sleeping bags. All synthetic sleeping bag material can also make roomy sleeping bags though not as warm and cozy as its cotton counterparts. A tapered semi-rectangular shape makes an all synthetic material sleeping bag comparatively light and compact.
Closely confined, generously cut and inexpensive synthetic mummy bags can be great for camping. The mummy, hooded design of these bags is a very efficient design for retaining warmth. With a minimum of insulation and fabrics, roomy rectangular bags are far more comfortable when weight and bulk don’t matter.
Temperature Ratings: What They Mean and How to Understand Them
What do the temperature ratings on these bags actually mean, does a product with a rating of zero degrees mean I can comfortably sleep outside when it is zero degrees?
Apparently not, a majority of sleeping bags are not as warm as their manufacturers claim. With minimal clothing worn to bed, most sleeping bags are best suited for use when the minimum temperature at night is about 20 degrees warmer than the bag's rating. You will need to wear lots of warm clothes to bed inside the bag if temperatures drop close to the stated rating.
You don't want to be too cold to sleep but sweating inside a bag too warm for the conditions is also not something to be fancied. Following the 20-degree rule, and wearing more warm clothing if it is colder, provides the largest temperature range for comfortable use as the season changes.
Some technical sleeping bags will have a set of temperature ratings based on the European Norm standardized test of sleeping bag warmth. Most manufacturers invest in having their bags' warmth tested by and approved by a certified lab but this is not the case for all of the sleeping bags out there. Real world testing, where we can consider how much clothing is worn, and how products are most commonly used, provides us the best information for describing the range of temperatures a sleeping bag will keep most users comfortably warm in.
Should I Consider a Double Sleeping Bag?
Several of these sleeping bags are large enough for two or at most three average sized people to squeeze in together. If you want to regularly share your camping bag sleeping space, two bags zipped together are recommended. The best way to have plenty of space for two people to snuggle when they want to but at the same time claim their own sleeping space is to zip two rectangular bags together. However, zipping two of these large rectangular bags together almost creates too much room inside when it's cold out and this can create big empty cold air spaces.
A major plus for sleeping bags with synthetic insulation is their ease of laundering. Down insulated products need to be washed regularly with down specific detergent but drying and re-lofting the sleeping bags is challenging. Camping bags could be unzipped and thrown in the washer and dryer like any other bulky garment. A large front-load washer is the best choice washing machine for sleeping bags, rather than a machine with an agitator.
The bulky bags take a while to dry. Ideally, you should do your washing on a warm and sunny day and hang the bag out to dry but synthetic bags can also go right into a dryer. While the cotton shelled products can be left to dry on high heat, medium heat is a far better choice across the board. Especially for synthetic shelled bags, medium heat should be used for drying, keeping an eye out to make sure the liner and shell don't get hot to the point of melting before the insulation dries. The bag is usually thrown straight into the dryer after the washer for a short cycle and then hung outside in the sun.
The final step for a completely dry sleeping bag, ready for storage or travel, is a two-phase cycle in the dryer. First, completely zip up the bag and let it dry over medium heat for ten minutes. Stop the cycle, turn the bag inside out, and let it dry for a further ten minutes over the medium heat. It can be difficult to tell if the insulation is completely dry because the shell and lining materials dry quicker. Finally, subject both sides of the bag with the heat, this final step ensures that you have a ready for storage, completely dry sleeping bag.
In conclusion, the article has reviewed various types of sleeping bags from a double sleeping bag to a hooded mummy design sleeping bag. The last section of the article gives an insight on various factors to consider when shopping for a sleeping bag for the ultimate sleep experience in the wild and also at home.
Some camping sleeping bags could be used as general purpose bags and some could even double up as backpacking bags. Warmth and comfort top the list as factors considered when choosing a sleeping bag and this factors are attributed to the kind of material and the design used in the manufacture of a sleeping bag.
The market is without doubt flooded with all sorts of sleeping bags and in the advent of technology, more and more complexly designed bags are being manufactured. It is, therefore, crucial to have in mind the factors attributed to in this article. The pricing of a bag greatly influences the choice of a sleeping bag but quality should not be compromised for the price. In the long run, cheap does end up being expensive. Make an informed decision today, quality uncompromised.
ABOUT DANIEL MSANII
Daniel Msanii is a University student who finds pleasure in outdoor adventures. Camping and hiking are his favorite. During his escapades, he tests and tries out new products the result of which give him pleasure in writing comparisons and reviews of the products to help other outdoor savvy people choose the best. He has a team of friends who help in recommendations and selection of best outdoor products. Read more about us.