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The 8 Best Sleeping Bags For Camping
Remote campgrounds, tranquil lakeshores, far-flung mountaintops – wherever your camping adventures may take you, one thing is for certain. You need a sleeping bag to keep you warm and cozy at night.
As someone who has slept in tents, trailside lean-tos, and in my car more times than I’d care to count, I can tell you that a warm sleeping bag is your best friend and greatest asset. I can also say with confidence that not all sleeping bags are created equal.
Different situations (and different climates) call for different sleeping bags. If you’re hiking to a backcountry campsite, you need something lightweight and compact that you can fit easily in your pack. But if you’re car camping, you can forget about weight and go for full-on comfort.
Regardless of where and when you find yourself in the great outdoors, the most important thing is that you definitely don’t want to skimp on a quality bag. These are the best sleeping bags for camping in 2021.
1. The North Face One Bag Sleeping Bag
I’m prone to saying things like, “there’s no one sleeping bag for every situation.” Well, the North Face One Bag Sleeping Bag comes pretty close to proving me wrong. It might be the most versatile sleeping bag on the market.
The secret to what makes the One Bag so special is its 3-in-1 sleeping system. It has interchangeable layers, with zippers that make it simple to configure it for 5°F, 20°F, and 40°F temperatures.
The bag has a lightweight, synthetic outer layer as well as a removable goose-down inner layer. You can use both layers together for maximum warmth, or choose one or the other as conditions require.
That means you can essentially take the North Face One Bag camping or backpacking in any season. It weighs as little as 2 lb 3 oz or as much as 3 lb 12 oz, depending on the configuration. It might just be the only sleeping bag you’ll ever need.
2. Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Sleeping Bag
A great choice for overnight adventures in cool climates, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Sleeping Bag is a trusted companion in a chilly tent or lean-to. It’s rated to 15°, making it ideal for just about anywhere this side of Antarctica.
The Phantom 15 has a snug mummy cut that maximizes comfort and warmth, with a draft collar that blocks warm air from escaping. It comes with a nylon compression sack that compresses the sleeping bag down to a compact size perfect for backpacking.
The bag tips the scales at a fairly trim 2 lb 1.2 oz thanks to its lightweight nylon shell and 850-fill goose down insulation. It’s certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).
Overall, the Phantom 15 is one of the best sleeping bags available for spring, fall, and winter hikes. You probably wouldn’t find it comfortable on a hot summer night, but when the mercury falls, you’ll be more than happy in this bag.
3. Coleman Green Valley Sleeping Bag
When you need an all-around solid piece of budget-friendly camping gear, you can always turn to Coleman. The Green Valley Sleeping Bag is no exception, with a cozy cotton flannel liner that makes it eminently soft, plushy, and warm.
Coleman Green Valley Sleeping Bag is perfect for spring and fall camping trips when temperatures are between 30°F to 50°F. It has a spacious rectangular shape and is machine washable for easy cleaning.
This bag is, it must be said, far too bulky and heavy for backpacking. But it’s really perfect for car camping when you want to create a warm nest for yourself in your tent. A draft tube around the zipper helps eliminate leaks and lock in even more warmth.
You can also zip two Coleman Green Valley Sleeping Bags together to form a giant, extra-cozy two-person sleeping bag. The only real downside of this bag is that if you’re six feet tall or more, you might find it a little short.
4. Nemo Forte 20 Sleeping Bag
The Nemo Forte 20 Sleeping Bag is equally at home in the backcountry or a modern campground. It’s rated to 20°F, making it a great three-season bag, and has a water-resistant finish to shed moisture. It does what every sleeping bag should do: keeps you warm, dry, and comfy.
The Forte 20 comes in two sizes: regular (2 lb 14 oz) and long (3 lb 2 oz) so it can accommodate most body types. The PrimaLoft insulation has a great warmth-to-weight ratio and is made from 80% post-consumer recycled material.
One of the best features of the Nemo Forte 20 Sleeping Bag is that it’s designed with extra room at the elbows and knees to make it more comfortable for those of us who like to sleep on our sides.
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5. Rei Co-op Siesta Hooded 25 Double Sleeping Bag
Get ready to get cozy. Made specifically for car-camping couples, the REI Co-op Siesta Hooded 25 Double Sleeping Bag is one of the warmest, snuggliest two-person sleeping bags on the market.
Dual two-way zippers allow you to zip and unzip each side separately, and the insulated hood is designed to hold two pillows in place while adding warmth. The bag is rated to 25°F, with excellent heat retention from its polyester synthetic fill.
The Siesta Hooded 25 Double Sleeping Bag comes in “regular” and “long” sizes, both of which weigh in the neighborhood of eight pounds. So it goes without saying that this is not a sleeping bag for backcountry use. But for a cozy night in a campground? Yes indeed.
6. Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Sleeping Bag
With a unique trapezoidal shape and plushy baffle construction, the Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag goes the extra mile to keep you warm. It also has an internal zippered stash pocket and a little extra wiggle room for your toes, which is a nice feature.
The insulation in recent models of this bag has been changed from polymer-treated DriDown to traditional down. The upshot of that is that it’s slightly heavier, but also compresses down to a smaller size.
If you’re a backpacker, you may have to ponder that trade-off for a while, but for car-campers, it doesn’t much matter. The Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag is warm and comfortable and does a great job keeping you cozy at temperatures down to 20°F.
7. Sea To Summit Traveller TrI 50 Sleeping Bag
The trouble with a lot of three-season bags is that they’re far too warm to realistically be used in the summertime. With its 50°F temperature rating, the Sea To Summit Traveller TrI 50 Sleeping Bag does not have that problem.
This is the perfect bag for summer camping trips, with a lightweight nylon shell and DriDown insulation that keeps you just warm enough. And as great as this bag is for car camping, it’s even better for backcountry campers.
The “regular” size Traveller TrI 50 weighs a dainty 14.8 oz and compresses down to just 1.6 L (the “long” size is only slightly larger and heavier) so it slips into your hiking pack practically unnoticed. It’s the perfect trail companion on summer backpacking trips.
8. Patagonia Lightweight Sleeping Bag
Not to be outdone in the featherweight class, Patagonia offers up the aptly-named Lightweight Sleeping Bag. It weighs a mere 11.8 oz and comes with a nylon stuff-sack so that it compresses down incredibly small.
This sleeping bag doesn’t seem to have an official temperature rating, but suffice to say it’s a minimally-insulated bag that’s best for sleeping out on warm summer nights. The insulation is PrimaLoft, a type of light synthetic microfiber.
The Patagonia Lightweight Sleeping Bag is thin and light enough that it can be also used as a liner inside another bag in colder conditions. It comes in medium and large, and the medium size is ideal for anyone under six feet.
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Sleeping Bag FAQS
The number one thing to look for is a sleeping bag’s temperature rating. This will tell you the coldest external temperature at which the bag can be expected to keep you comfortably warm. Look at a sleeping bag’s length too, especially if you’re tall enough that you might not fit comfortably in smaller sleeping bags.
You may also want to pay attention to a sleeping bag’s weight and packed dimensions, depending on its intended use. These are more important considerations for backcountry campers and backpackers. But if you’re car camping, they’re less likely to be of great concern.
Sleeping bags come in a wide range of shapes, but most can be broken down into two basic categories: rectangular sleeping bags and mummy-style sleeping bags. Rectangular bags are larger and often heavier. They’re good for car camping and are better choices for anyone who likes to have more space.
Mummy-style sleeping bags are more form-fitted and often offer better insulation in colder weather. Their close fit does a great job heaping heat from escaping. The only disadvantage is that some people, especially those with a huskier build, may find them constricting.
Natural down insulation is made of the very light, fluffy bird plumage (in most cases geese, but occasionally ducks or other birds) that acts as a natural insulator. Synthetic sleeping bags, on the other hand, have insulation made from any number of man-made materials. Synthetic insulation has all kinds of fancy names, but it’s basically made of very fine plastic strands.
The advantage of down is that it has an excellent weight-to-warmth ratio. As a result, down sleeping bags are highly insulated while also being lightweight. Down is comfortable too, but its downside is that it loses its ability to insulate when wet. Synthetic sleeping bags retain more of their insulating properties in wet conditions and tend to be less expensive than down bags.