If you’re going to spend a lot of nights sleeping under the stars, treat yourself to this luxury hotel in sleeping bag form.
It’s hard to believe you can get a sleeping bag that’s this good for less than $60. Wait––is this a dream?
If I had to pick one sleeping bag for all my adventures, I’d choose this one. In fact, I did.
In today’s edition of the most luxurious overnight destinations, we’ll be leaving the hotels and rental homes far behind. Some of the best places to spend the night are the parks, forest areas, and campgrounds around your house. With the right gear, you can turn a hike and a campsite into an unforgettable experience.
One of the most important pieces of gear you can bring is your sleeping bag. Take it from someone who’s learned the hard way — spending a little money for a quality sleeping bag is worth every cent. Still, there are quality options for just about every budget as long as you have realistic expectations.
We scoured the internet for some of the best sleeping bags for casual overnight stays indoors, backpacking, and hardcore exploration. There’s also enough background information here to help you make an informed decision and take care of your gear once you buy it and put it to use.
Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom Alpine sleeping bag was built for climbers who need premium features with as little weight as possible. It’s priced above most of the bags on this list, but it justifies that premium with impeccable materials and build quality.
The 10-denier nylon shell keeps weight down, while high-wear areas in the foot area and bottom of the bag get more durable 20-denier nylon. Insulation comes in the form of natural 850-fill goose down. This natural fill isn’t as moisture-resistant as treated down, but Mountain Hardwear gave the exterior a water-repelling treatment to keep you dry. Dual zippers on both sides will let you use both hands while keeping the rest of your body inside the bag.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find something as capable as the Phantom Alpine. Once you give it a try, it will be hard to use anything else.
One of the warmest and lightest bags on this list
Incredibly compressible 10-denier shell saves space
Water-repellent treatment added to exterior
Zipper pulls glow in the dark for easy exits
Priced well above most three-season sleeping bags
Zippers don’t extend all the way to the food box
The hood’s draft collar could be better
The Coleman Silverton is proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get quality gear for your outdoor adventures. It earned its spot on this list by punching way above its weight, offering the features you’d find in high-end sleeping bags at a fraction of the price.
The Silverton is rated for temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. That’s enough to qualify as a legitimate four-season sleeping bag. Polyester insulation is an appealing alternative for anyone looking to avoid goose down. Features like a padded zipper baffle, draw-string hood, and roomy foot box make us wonder how this sleeping bag can be priced so low.
One of the tradeoffs of using more affordable materials is extra weight, and the Silverton weighs in at more than five pounds. If you’re going to be hiking very far to your destination, that’s something worth considering.
Ample Coletherm insulation is adequate for year-round use
Extra length is great for taller campers
All-polyester construction will please animal-conscious buyers
Affordable without sacrificing the features we want
“Big and tall” is the only size available
More than twice as heavy as many other sleeping bags
Great for tall campers, but too snug for bigger campers
Sometimes adventure looks like a rocky campsite 10 miles into California’s Desolation Wilderness. Other times it looks like a questionable short-term rental with a fold-out couch and no sheets. The Blue Kazoo is versatile enough to get a cozy, restful night out of both.
The North Face offers sleeping bags for all kinds of weather, and the Blue Kazoo occupies the middle ground as a three-season sleeping bag that’s tough enough for camping and light enough for backpacking. Premium features like an insulated zipper baffle and oversized, glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls make a bigger difference than you might think. Every component is well-designed and well-built.
The Blue Kazoo is one of the pricier three-season sleeping bags out there, but it’s a perennial favorite among campers, climbers, and backcountry skiers. Four sizes are available, although somehow they’re all silver. At least the inside is still blue.
Light and strong thanks to the 20-denier shell
Water-resistant coating keeps moisture out
ProDown stays warm like natural down but dries faster
Packs down smaller than a soccer ball
The aggressive mummy shape might feel snug around the knees
Not the most cost-effective option
May lead to binge-shopping The North Face gear
Camping doesn’t always happen after a hike. Sometimes it involves a trailer, RV, or cabin. In that case, the sleeping bag you need looks pretty different from many of the rugged sleeping bags you see on this list. It looks like the Coleman Palmetto.
The Palmetto’s traditional shape leaves more room than other sleeping bags, which is especially great for people who don’t get a great fit from fitted mummy-style bags. Its temperature rating of 30 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient for most campers who have access to a shelter. Its all-polyester construction and simple design also saves a lot of money.
While this sleeping bag is a massive upgrade over a bare cot or mattress, it wouldn’t be my choice for anything involving a pack. It’s just too bulky. If you want to save money and forget about washing sheets on vacation, it’s the way to go.
Designed to roll up easily with integrated straps
Two Palmetto sleeping bags can be zipped together
Not cut out for hike-in camping or challenging weather
Campers taller than five-foot-eleven are out of luck
Doesn’t hold insulation in place as well as higher-end options
The North Face has all kinds of awesome sleeping bags, and the Cat’s Meow hits the sweet spot in terms of versatility, price, and quality. Its shape is tailored to provide women with a better fit and uses the perfect amount of insulation to be comfortable during spring, summer, and fall camping trips.
The 20-denier taffeta shell is light and soft. Heatseeker Guide insulation stays dry and holds heat when you need it, then packs down incredibly small for storage when you don’t. It’s also made from 50 percent recycled materials, so you can sleep soundly knowing the bag is a little easier on the environment.
For the type of camping most people do, this is a fantastic choice that lives up to its name. If you want something even lighter, check out this bag’s sister, the Hyper Cat.
Synthetic insulation uses 50 percent recycled materials
External loops hold a sleeping pad in place
Compacts to an even smaller size than the last version
Fitted hood and insulated zipper baffle retain heat
Affordable, but outshined by the Hyper Cat
For the size, it’s not exactly lightweight
Compression sack could be a lot smaller
Outdoor adventure doesn’t have to end when the snow starts falling. I’d even argue that winter is the best time to get outside and enjoy nature. The folks at Marmot must agree because the Lithium cold-weather sleeping bag makes winter camping borderline luxurious.
All the features you’d want from a high-end sleeping bag are here: lightweight fill, two-way zippers, draft protection, a roomy foot box, and even a stash pocket for small valuables. Warmth comes courtesy of 850-fill down treated to resist moisture. Marmot even added a secondary zipper to increase ventilation in case you get too warm––at temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit.
This bag is overkill for most people, in which case it doesn’t make sense to spend the extra money. It was built for those of you who shovel snow to create your campsite.
Extreme-weather capability without extra weight
Down Defender protects fill against moisture
Multiple baffles prevent heat from escaping through the hood opening
Internal stash pocket keeps valuables close
Less versatile than three-season bags
Use a sleeping pad to protect this bag’s 20-denier nylon
More orange than a traffic cone
Mummy-style sleeping bags are popular for a reason, and the Kelty Cosmic earns this spot on our list for doing everything well at a great price. The people at Kelty claim that trapezoid baffles make this sleeping bag extra warm––we don’t know about that, but whatever they’re doing is working.
Inside the 20-denier nylon shell is 550-fill DriDown that’s protected against moisture. Polyester taffeta keeps the lining soft and smooth. Kelty emphasizes the use of sustainable materials, which is always nice when you’re packing gear into the wilder parts of nature.
If you haven’t used a mummy-style sleeping bag before, the shape might take some getting used to. We think you’ll love it though because it does a great job of retaining body heat and keeping weight down. On top of that, it’s a lot less likely to get tangled up every time you roll over.
Top-shelf features at a bargain-basement price
DriDown resists moisture to stay warm and sanitary
Versatile enough for three-season camping
Kelty has been building quality, affordable gear since 1952
Not the most compact once you pack it away
Hood isn’t exactly roomy
Stash pocket may be too small for some phones
Save room for your camping partner in the queen-sized Fahrenheit Mammoth. Two-person sleeping bags aren’t as warm as individual bags, but this bag wasn’t meant for extreme cold, anyway.
The Fahrenheit Mammoth features a flannel lining that feels warm the second you crawl in. Lots of polyester fill keeps temperatures nice and warm. The hood isn’t particularly effective at keeping heat inside, but at least it’s a soft place to rest your head. At 94 inches long and 62 inches wide, this sleeping bag is even roomy for taller campers. Unzip the top and bottom to make two comforters or wash separately in a standard washing machine.
The downside of a sleeping bag this big is weight. The Fahrenheit Mammoth combined with its stuff sack weighs 15 pounds. That basically rules it out for backpacking, but it’s great for RV camping or keeping on hand for house guests.
So much room for activities
Cotton lining feels warm right away, unlike synthetic materials
Unzips into two pieces for easy washing
Comes with a much-needed compression sack
Extremely heavy compared to any two sleeping bags here
Flannel lining will require more frequent cleaning
Hood is far less effective on a double sleeping bag
Do a quick search for kids’ sleeping bags, and you’ll be greeted with a long list of cartoon-themed options that are useless outside of slumber parties. Thankfully, Marmot looks out for kids who have the same adventurous spirit we do.
The Trestles offers many of the same features you’d get in a three-season adult sleeping bag in a length that’s perfect for campers under five feet tall. Marmot’s Spirafil synthetic insulation stays warm in temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and the 70-denier nylon shell is tough enough to handle the wild outdoors. At 2.6 pounds, it’s light enough for a kid’s pack, too.
Construction and features aren’t quite what you’d get from an adult bag, but they help keep the price low ($66 at the time of writing). That’s important for kids who outgrow their gear before it wears out.
Legitimate, quality camping gear sized for kids
Rugged, 70-denier nylon exterior is tougher than most
Synthetic fill wicks moisture faster than down
Bottom lining is blanket-soft, top is extra light
Not as warm as many adult three-season bags
Narrow even for a mummy bag
Kids will wonder why all their gear isn’t this good
When every ounce and cubic inch counts, the Marmot Voyager 55 is a fantastic lightweight sleeping bag. It’s good for weight-conscious campers and even better for those of you traveling by bicycle.
No matter what you compare it to, 1.5 pounds is a seriously light sleeping bag. Because Marmot cut weight without cutting corners, you’ll still get a quality mummy-style bag that’s meant to be used. The 55-degree rating means this bag is ideal for warmer regions where three-season tents will leave you sweating.
This is also a fantastic piece of gear to throw in your bag when you’re on the road. Hostels and travel lodges don’t always have bedding (or bedding you feel comfortable using), and this is the perfect backup.
Packs down to the size of a football
Cool enough for warm-weather camping
Full-length, two-way zipper for easy access
Surprisingly durable, thanks to the 50-denier nylon shell
Cutting weight makes this a relatively no-frills bag
Might be too snug for larger campers
Don’t push the 55-degree rating; this isn’t a three-season bag
Zippers are functional but they aren’t always the most comfortable thing to sleep on. The Sierra Designs Night Cap uses a folding design that provides just as much heat retention without any hard components.
The Night Cap’s unique shape seals in heat and feels like a traditional comforter, which makes a surprising difference in how cozy it feels. It uses the same kind of hood and mummy shape as other sleeping bags and comes in three sizes. One thing you won’t find on other sleeping bags is the pad sleeve that holds sleeping pads in place so you don’t slide off in your sleep.
This bag is also made from recycled plastic, making it one of the most environmentally conscious sleeping bags you can get. It still holds up to Sierra Designs’ high-quality standard and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Integrated pad sleeve is a game-changer
Insulation, liner, and shell are made from recycled plastic
Regular, long, and women’s sizes are available
Oversized flap feels like an internal comforter
Not as easy to get into as a zippered bag
Recycled plastic is eco-friendly, but so is natural down
Pads wider than 20 inches won’t fit in the sleeve
During one particularly frigid training evolution in my Marine Corps experience, my issued sleeping bag was one of the most cherished pieces of gear I had. Even when nighttime temperatures dipped into the teens and a humid wind cut through the Virginia trees, I could end each day by sliding into it and becoming toasty warm in minutes. I’ve also done camping and traveling on my own. My personal sleeping bag is a lot newer, lighter, and infinitely cleaner than the one I used back then, but I love it just as much. Your sleeping bag should be one of your favorite pieces of gear. A bad one will leave you miserable and counting the minutes until you can get back home. I’m here to help you find a winner.
The types of sleeping bags essentially boil down to three categories based on their intended use. If you don’t need protection against cold, windy nights, there’s no need for anything more than a basic sleeping bag. If you’re embarking on a wilderness expedition, you need the best there is. Most people need something in the middle.
Entry-level sleeping bags use basic materials and simple designs to keep costs down. Remember the sleeping bag you had as a kid? That’s not too different from what we’re talking about.
Basic sleeping bags’ rectangular shape is nice and roomy, but it’s not very efficient at containing warmth. Padding is also limited, so these are best for temperate climates and indoor use. Materials also tend to be on the inexpensive side and prioritize softness, so don’t expect much in the way of breathability. If you’re essentially looking for portable bedding, these are the way to go. They’re also extremely affordable, so you can outfit the whole family on a limited budget.
Most people in the market for a sleeping bag want gear that can keep them warm and dry on the trail, then pack down to the size of a cantaloupe to fit in the bottom of their pack. It’s no wonder, then, that most of the sleeping bags you see here are aimed at doing just that.
These sleeping bags use high-end synthetic materials that are strong, but light. Their insulation is very good at keeping warmth close to your body while allowing moisture to be wicked away. The mummy shape is common in this category because it’s energy-efficient and saves a few ounces compared to a larger, rectangular sleeping bag. Compression sacks make packing up a stress-free affair. Just cram the sleeping bag inside little by little and use the straps to tighten it into a compact ball.
Most sleeping bags can handle fairly cold weather––as cold as most people will encounter––but you’ll need something built for the cold when temperatures drop below zero. These hardcore sleeping bags are a game-changer.
Cold-weather sleeping bags use good insulation and plenty of it. They’re noticeably thicker and heavier than other sleeping bags. The outer shell may be extra thick to block out freezing wind, snow, and ice. Because of the expensive materials that go into building each one, cold-weather bags can be extremely expensive. That’s ok because they don’t just need to keep you comfortable — they need to keep you alive.
Sleeping bag comparisons begin and end with the insulation. I don’t care how light or soft a sleeping bag is, if I wake up to the sound of my own teeth chattering, I’m going to be upset. More isn’t always better, though, so it’s important to make an informed decision.
Insulation comes in two varieties: natural and man-made. Down has been the preferred insulation for a long time, but some people prefer modern synthetic alternatives. In either case, match your sleeping bag to the type of weather you’re likely to encounter. Most sleeping bags built for the outdoors seem to fall in the 15 to 30 degree Fahrenheit range.
Another huge factor when it comes to comfort is breathability. Would you want to sleep in a plastic garbage bag? Do you want your sleeping bag to smell like someone who hiked all day and didn’t shower before bed? Me neither, so avoid cheap sleeping bags that aren’t breathable.
Sleeping bags from the mainstream manufacturers should all be safe picks. Quality materials and insulation allow moisture (but not heat) to escape without letting dampness from the atmosphere in. As a result, you’ll stay dry and cozy all night long. This is especially important in the case of mummy bags that wrap closely around your nose and mouth.
Back in the day, sleeping bags were all big rectangles. They were roomy, cheap to make, and fit a cot or twin bed well. That kind of thing is still available and works great if you have a bed (or just really nice weather), but they’re not what I’d pick for most outdoor adventures.
Mummy sleeping bags are designed to fit closer to your body, making them broad at the shoulders and narrow at the feet. This doesn’t just cut down on materials and weight, it creates a smaller space for your body to heat. In cold climates, this simple design change makes a huge difference.
In most situations that require a sleeping bag, conserving energy is key. Whether you’re eating calorie-dense food and sticking to an established trail or relying on body heat to stay warm at night, it’s important to be efficient.
A good sleeping bag will trap body heat in its insulation layer to keep the interior of the bag warm. In fact, the less clothing you wear, the better your sleeping bag will work. Quality insulation can be natural or synthetic, and either is worth paying extra for. Burning fewer calories at night will keep you warm without shivering and waking up cold, hungry, and fatigued.
Every ounce counts when it comes to a camping pack. A cheap sleeping bag and a few blankets might work in an RV or cabin, but they take up way too much room and are far too heavy to be a viable option on the trail.
Most of the sleeping bags on this list are intended for backpacking. They use cutting-edge materials to keep you comfortable while keeping weight to a minimum. Being light and durable isn’t cheap, so expect to pay significantly more than you would for an entry-level sleeping bag. Once you’ve made the investment, you can count on a sleeping bag from a reputable brand lasting several years.
Gear built for the outdoors needs to be tough; plain and simple. Those lightweight materials I wrote about are also surprisingly rugged. Rip-resistant nylon holds up to the realities of life on the trail, although you’ll still want to use a sleeping pad.
Synthetic shells are common, but basic sleeping bags won’t feature the same kind of material as higher-end ones. Pay attention to the denier rating of any sleeping bag you’re thinking about buying. A higher rating indicates thicker (and presumably stronger) material. Some bags also use reinforced panels to strengthen the area that contacts your sleeping pad.
Buying a sleeping bag doesn’t have to cost more than a case of beer. In some situations, that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you haul off on a weekend camping trip.
Budget sleeping bags use minimal insulation and aren’t built to take very much abuse. They also tend to be relatively bulky and heavy. They’re a vast improvement over packing bedding for a night in a cabin or RV, but I wouldn’t put one in my hiking pack. Unless you’re dealing with particularly beautiful weather, my advice is to keep entry-level sleeping bags indoors.
Most of the sleeping bags on this list fall in this happy medium category. Mid-range sleeping bags are built for years of camping, backpacking, and travel. They’re a safe choice regardless of what flavor of adventure you prefer.
Sleeping bags in the $150 to $350 price range use lightweight construction, breathable synthetic materials, and efficient insulation. Some use down, and some use man-made insulation, but they all prioritize keeping heat in and letting moisture out. Compression sacks are generally included to save space in a pack, but air them out for long-term storage to protect your investment. With a little cleaning now and then, you should be set for years to come.
Welcome to the world of rugged wilderness exploration. The very best sleeping bags aren’t built to be cozy a few miles from the trailhead; they’re meant for duty hours away from an emergency extraction by helicopter––weather permitting. They’re the kind of thing hardcore campers use when they set up shop in Antarctica.
To get one of these sleeping bags, you’ll need to be comfortable shelling out more than $1,000. That’s a lot to ask, but you’ll get one of the warmest, most durable sleeping bags in the world. They’re not for everyone, but if I were pushing the limits of human survival, this is exactly where I’d shop.
Our evaluation process for this gear guide was pretty simple. Given a chilly night and a patch of cold, hard ground, would each sleeping bag be something we’d be happy to pull out of our pack? Some are designed for harsher environments than others, but all of them have to inspire enough confidence to earn our trust. Sleeping bags were evaluated in terms of temperature rating, materials, weight, and value. Everything you see on this list was deemed to be one of the best options out there.
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
A: Careful spot-cleaning is usually the best option. When you’re done, hang the bag in a well-ventilated area even if you’re confident it’s completely dry. This is also the best way to store your sleeping bag.
A: As with anything, you get what you pay for. Some entry-level sleeping bags cost as little as $30. That’s fine for sleeping indoors, but you’ll want something warmer for outdoor camping. Some of our favorite sleeping bags cost between $200 and $300.
A: Sleeping bags don’t have a lot of variation in size, but it’s important to find a good fit. The measurements provided by manufacturers refer to the sleeping bag itself, not the person it’s intended for. Measure your height, chest, and hips, then give yourself some extra room.
A: Every sleeping bag will have its own care and handling instructions. Read them carefully to avoid damaging yours.
A: If you visit your local outfitter, you’ll see sleeping bags hanging in the open. That’s not just for display; it’s the best way to preserve the insulation. Hang your sleeping bag in the closet or in a loose, breathable bag rather than packing it away in its compression sack.
A: There are several layers to sleeping bags: a breathable inner layer, insulation, and a more durable exterior. Insulation can be down or synthetic, and the other layers typically use lightweight synthetic materials.
Scott Murdock is a Marine Corps veteran and contributor to Task & Purpose. He’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.
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