No matter where you find yourself laying your head for the night, a good night’s sleep is essential for enjoyable and productive daytime activities. Just because you are outdoors and away from your comfortable bed doesn’t mean you have to endure miserable nights. If you’re an avid outdoor adventurer, a quality sleeping bag is a must have and one of the best things you can bring along on your excursions.
After an enjoyable but tiring day of trekking, hiking, biking, kayaking, or any other exploration, you will be able to get a good and relaxing night’s sleep and wake up ready to go again and get the most out of your favorite pastime. Because quality sleep is very important and a sleeping bag lasts for years, investing in the best sleeping bag you can afford is well worth it.
Find the perfect sleeping bag for warm and cozy nights away from home among the top picks we’ve reviewed below. They range from the most comfortable sleeping bags for car camping to snugly, packable and lightweight sleeping bags that strike the perfect balance between warmth, weight, and suit backpacking and hiking. All are highly rated by outdoor enthusiasts and offer great value for money. Our buying guide explains the specifications and features you will come across when evaluating different options and offers guidance on making the right choice.
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How To Choose A Sleeping Bag – Buying Guide
Sleeping bags come in all kinds of materials, designs, shapes, weights, and sizes. Different bags are designed to suit different applications and environments. Choosing the right sleeping bag involves evaluating a number of specifications and features to ensure you choose the right sleeping bag that will suit your personal needs, outdoor activities and the environments you will be using them in. When choosing a sleeping bag, consider the following aspects in order to make the best investment that will serve you satisfactorily for years:
Comfort is essential for a good night’s sleep especially when you’re sleeping in a tent under the stars. Comfort, is, therefore, the number one consideration when buying a sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag feels good on your skin and creates the ideal conditions for you to fall asleep no matter how cold it is on the outside.
First of all, ensure it is adequately insulated to keep you comfortably warm and dry in the temperatures you will be sleeping in. The challenge you face here is that the most comfortable bags are usually the heaviest.
If you’re car camping, space and portability aren’t limiting factors and you can bring along a large, fluffy and heavily insulated sleeping bag that is as comfortable to sleep on as your bed is. You can choose rectangular bags or spacious mummy bags. For backpacking and hiking, you need a comfortable sleeping bag that strikes a balance between weight and warmth and is packable. A slender, form fitting mummy bag that is lightweight and compressible is ideal. If you will using your bag in the summer, a lightweight and thinly insulated sleeping bag will be the most comfortable.
The materials a bag is made of also affect how comfortable it is. Ensure the inner lining is made of a material that feels soft and comfortable on the skin and helps wick away perspiration. Some sleeping bag materials such as down, wool, and cotton are known to cause allergies. If you’re sensitive to any of these or any other fabrics, check for their presence in the sleeping bags you’re considering.
The design of a sleeping bag plays a very important role in the warmth and comfort it provides. Traditionally, sleeping bags for camping have a roomy and comfortable rectangular shape that offers plenty of room for turning and tossing. Most can be unzipped to form a large blanket or function as a quilt. They suit warm environments best as they have less efficient insulation and don’t have a hood. Their large size and weight suits car camping and indoor use for guests or fun snuggles with kids.
Mummy sleeping bags are innovatively designed to maximize on warmth and comfort while keeping size and weight down. They get their name from the integrated mummy hood they feature, which keeps the head warm. Their snug fit provides excellent insulation as there is little space for warmth to escape or cold air from the outside to get in. They are ideal for cold, freezing and windy conditions. The tapered design with narrow shoulders, hips and legs widths trims down material keeping them compact and lightweight for ease of packing and transport. This is the best type of sleeping bag for backpacking, hiking, mountain climbing, and traveling. The downside is that the contoured design and tight fit can feel restrictive.
There are some hybrid types that combine the best of both rectangular and mummy bags. These have a semi-rectangular or barrel shape. They are more efficient at trapping warmth than rectangular bags and roomier and more comfortable than mummy bags. They suit both camping and backpacking.
A double sleeping bag has double the standard width and enough space for two adults to comfortably fit and sleep side-by-side without feeling restricted. Most can separate into two individual sleeping bags making them versatile. They are great for couples and families.
Comfort and weight are among the most important consideration when selecting a sleeping bag. The ideal sleeping bag would be both lightweight and comfortable. This would make it easy to pack and carry and comfortable to sleep in at night.
The problem is that these two factors usually have an inverse relationship. With the exception of hot weather sleeping bags, the more comfortable the bag the heavier it is. There are ultralight sleeping bags that weigh just over 1 pound, lightweight sleeping bags that weigh 2-3 pounds and heavy ones that weigh more.
If you’re car camping, the weight of the bag won’t be a big issue. You can choose a large, fluffy and heavy rectangular bag that will offer you the most comfort. This also applies to bags for cabin camping, backyard adventures, and for sleepovers.
If you’re a backpacker, traveler, biker, hiker or climber, a lightweight and compressible sleeping bag that packs down small, fits in your pack and doesn’t strain your back is ideal. When you’re trekking miles a day, every once counts and a heavy and bulky bag will be a burden. You will want to look for a bag that achieves a comfortable balance between warmth and weight so you can still sleep comfortably at night. A down insulated mummy offers the ideal combination of warm, comfortable, lightweight, and packable.
The type of insulation a sleeping bag has also affects the weight. Down weighs a lot less than synthetic insulation and is compressible. Synthetic sleeping bags utilize thicker fabrics and more insulation so they tend to be larger, heavier and less compressible.
Check the product specifications so you know how heavy the bag you’re considering is and whether it will suit your intended applications.
It is your body, not the sleeping bag, that generates warmth when it is cold. A sleeping bag keeps you warm by trapping and holding a layer of warm air around your body. Your body warms this surrounding air and the bag prevents it from escaping to the outside while also keeping cold air from getting in. How efficient a sleeping bag will be at keeping you warm depends on the type and level of insulation it is equipped with.
There are two types of sleeping bag insulation. Down fill insulation has a fantastic warmth to weight ratio, is compressible, and more durable. The luxurious warmth of down is hard to beat especially for cold weather camping. Being lightweight and compressible, it is also ideal for backpacking and hiking. However, it is more expensive than synthetic insulation. Another negative is that down absorbs moisture and loses its insulating ability in wet conditions. To overcome this weakness, some manufacturers add a water resistant polymer treatment.
Synthetic fill insulation dries quickly and performs well in wet conditions and is less expensive than down. On the downside, it isn’t as warm as down and is bulkier, heavier and doesn’t compress well for packing and transport.
The design of a sleeping bag also affects its insulating ability. A form fitting mummy design with an adjustable neck and hood has excellent insulating properties as there is less air space to heat so you warm up fast and stay warm well. A roomy rectangular bag has less efficient insulation as there is a lot of air to heat. It takes longer to heat up and the body has to work harder to generate more warmth to stay warm.
The quantity of insulation determines the conditions a sleeping bag is ideal for. Sleeping bags with more insulation are very efficient at preserving warmth. They suit cold weather conditions. Lightly insulated sleeping bags are designed for summer or indoor use for sleepovers where a lot of insulation is not needed.
A sleeping bag is an item you will have for years. Investing in a high quality one will ensure that it will serve you well for a long time. Pay attention to the quality of a sleeping bag to ensure you spend your money wisely.
Weight and price often indicate the level of quality. It is worth spending more on a sleeping bag that will keep you comfortable and ensure you sleep well. However, the best sleeping bags aren’t always expensive. There are also quality sleeping bags that are affordable and a fantastic value.
To ensure you order a quality and durable bag, pay attention to the materials used in the bag’s construction and the quality of stitching and zippers. A tough outer fabric that can resist the elements is a must have. Read user reviews and check the kind of warranty the manufacturer offers. The longer the warranty, the higher the quality level.
The temperature ratings on sleeping bags indicate the kind of conditions they are made for. They translate the level of insulation offered into a temperature range. Sleeping bags are rated based on the lowest temperature they can keep a camper warm enough to survive the night or warm enough to be comfortable. To standardize these ratings and make it easier to compare different sleeping bags, most brands use the European Norm (EN) rating system. There are three EN temperature ratings:
The comfort rating is the lowest temperature at which a sleeping bag will keep a cold sleeper such as the average woman comfortable. It is the ideal temperature at which to use the bag in order to stay comfortably warm. The lower-limit rating is the lowest temperature a sleeping bag will keep a warm sleeper such as the average man comfortable. The upper limit is the temperature at which the average man can sleep inside the bag without getting too hot and sweaty. The extreme rating is the lowest temperature a bag can keep a cold sleeper just warm enough to survive the night without freezing and getting hypothermia.
Summer and warm weather bags feature ratings of +32°F (0 C) and up. 3-season bags are the most versatile and usually have ratings between +10° to +32°F (-12 C to 0 C). Winter sleeping bags for camping in the snow, mountain climbing and for freezing environments are rated +10°F (-12 C) and lower.
To decide what temperature sleeping bag to choose for the environment you will be camping in, first determine the coldest temperature you’re likely to encounter in the night then choose a bag with that temperature as its comfort rating. However, most bags indicate the lower limit rating. In this case, go lower by 10-15 degrees. This is because EN lower limits tend to be on the low side and indicate the minimum temperature at which you can survive in the bag without freezing. Manufacturers also make assumptions that the sleeper is well hydrated, has layered up for warmth and laid a sleeping pad. It is better to err on the warm side than on the cold and miserable side.
Also, make sure you factor in issues like age, whether you are a cold or hot sleeper, where it is windy, the kind of sleepwear you will be using and the sleeping pad insulation. Beware that many hot or warm places by day turn extremely cold in the night.
The materials a sleeping bag is made of determine its comfort, weight, quality, and durability. The outer sleeping bag fabric is usually a weather resistant ripstop nylon or polyester for durability. With many synthetic bags, this shell has a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment that makes water bead up and slide off rather than soak through.
As for the insulation material, you have synthetic and down. Down sleeping bags are better than synthetic sleeping bags when it comes to warmth, weight, comfort, and packability but they are more expensive than synthetic ones and don’t perform well where conditions are wet. To overcome this issue, manufacturers are adding water resistant polymers to the down.
Synthetic sleeping bags are more affordable than down and since synthetic materials are fast drying, they insulate well in wet conditions. In most cases, they also feature a water resistant exterior shell. However, synthetic fill is heavier, doesn’t compress well, and doesn’t feel as warm and luxurious as down. Synthetic materials like nylon also tend to get feel slick and uncomfortable on the skin.
The best material for the lining should be soft and feel good on the skin and promote wicking of perspiration. Cotton, polyester/microfiber and flannel are all soft and feel good on the skin. Polyester has excellent breathability and moisture wicking properties. Cotton doesn’t handle sweat well and flannel is very warm and comfortable but on the heavy side.
To sleep comfortably, most people need to lay their head on a pillow. Bags with elevated pillow designs keep your head off the ground. With some bags, the pillow design offers a space to insert a separate pillow or stuff in clothes to create an elevated and cushioned place for the head. Ensure the sleeping bag you get has the ideal pillow design for you depending on whether you prefer to bring along your own pillow or prefer a lifted pillow design.
If you’re looking for the best backpacking sleeping bag for hiking or climbing, portability will be a very important consideration for you. You will need an ultralight sleeping bag that is compressible and packs into a small package that can fit in your pack or you can attach to a loop on your pack without it making your pack bulky.
You have limited storage space and the need to keep your pack light. A mummy style down sleeping bag is the best for backpacking. It is warm and comfortable yet lightweight and compressible. Make sure you check the weight and packed size of a bag before you order it to ensure it will be easy to carry.
For car camping, cabin camping, sleepovers or bags for guests, portability isn’t a limiting factor. Go ahead and choose a big, fluffy and roomy rectangular sleeping bag that will be as comfortable as a bed.
Q:What’s The Difference Between A Car-camping Sleeping Bag And A Backpacking Sleeping Bag?
A: A car camping sleeping bag and a backpacking sleeping bag differ in terms of size, weight, design, and packability. These differences are there because of the different space and portability requirements.
When car camping, storage, and portability isn’t an issue. Car camping sleeping bags can be wider, roomier, and heavier than backpacking ones. Most of them have a rectangular design just like a bed. Car campers can choose either synthetic or down insulation.
When backpacking, storage space, and portability are major concerns and backpackers need compact, lightweight and packable sleeping bags that don’t sacrifice warmth and comfort. The best backpacking, traveling, and hiking sleeping bags are mummy style down filled bags, as they are light in weight and compressible yet warm and comfortable even in extremely cold weather conditions.
Q: Should I Buy A down Or Synthetic Sleeping Bag For Car Camping?
A: With a vehicle, transporting your camping gear will be easy. Since size and weight are not a concern, whether you should buy a down or synthetic sleeping bag comes down to the climate, budget, and personal preference.
You can choose down for its luxurious comfort and warmth but be ready to pay a premium for it. A down sleeping bag is the best for cold weather conditions.
A synthetic sleeping bag is practical, affordable, and withstands wet and humid camping conditions better. It is not as warm as down but offers sufficient insulation for warm and moderate temperature conditions. It will keep you warm during the spring, summer and fall months.
Q: What’s The Difference Between Men’s And Women’s Sleeping Bags?
A: The difference between men’s and women’s sleeping bags is based on the physical and temperature differences between the genders.
First of all, they differ in size and shape. Men’s sleeping bags tend to be broader and longer than women’s bags that conform to a woman’s contour and tend to be wider at the hips and narrower at the shoulders.
Men tend to be hot sleepers while women tend to be cold sleepers. The ideal temperature rating for the two genders will, therefore, differ by 10 to 15 degrees. Women’s sleeping bags tend to be warmer than men’s. Some sleeping bags for ladies also have extra insulation in the upper section and a foot warmer.
Some manufacturers offer gender-specific sleeping bags while others offer unisex models with women’s styles having shorter lengths and feminine colors.
Q: How Do Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating Systems Work?
A: It would be impossible to tell what temperature conditions a sleeping bag can withstand just by looking at its thickness or based on how snugly and cozy it looks. Sleeping bag temperature rating systems translate insulation value into a temperature range to help campers and other shoppers determine the ideal sleeping bags for the kind of temperature conditions they will be using the sleeping bag in. They offer a general guide and basis of comparison to make it easier to choose a sleeping bag with an adequate level of insulation.
The rating systems usually have a lower limit and comfort rating. The comfort rating indicates the ideal temperature a bag is designed to be used in. The lower limit indicates the lowest temperature in which a sleeping bag can keep the sleeper warm enough to not get hypothermia. Most brands use the European Norm (EN) rating system but there are some that don’t use this system and just indicate the ideal and lowest temperatures their bags are suitable for.
However, the rating systems aren’t hard truths, as there are many factors that affect how warm one is while sleeping. They are meant to offer general guidance. Most ratings tend to be on the low side and based on the assumptions that there is a sleeping pad underneath and the sleeper is dressed up warmly. After determining the coldest temperature you will be sleeping in, we recommend getting a sleeping bag whose lower rating is 10 to 15 degrees lower than the minimum temperature you might encounter.
Q: What Temperature Rating Do You Need If You’re Car Camping?
A: To determine what temperature sleeping bag you need for car camping, find out how low temperatures in your camping location dip in the night and choose a sleeping bag whose minimum temperature rating is about 10 to 15 degrees lower than this temperature so you will be warm enough to be comfortable even if the temperature takes an unexpected dip.
Generally, +32°F (0 C) and up is the temperature rating for locations where even nighttimes are warm. Versatile 3-season bags that suit most seasons and conditions are rated between +10° to +32°F (-12 C to 0 C). Car camping in the winter and in freezing cold environments calls for +10°F (-12 C) and lower temperature ratings.
Q: What Is Down Fill Power?
A: Not all down sleeping bags are created equal. Down insulation in sleeping bags varies in quality. Down fill power tells you the kind of down quality you’re getting by giving you a measure of the loft or fluffiness the down clusters have. The highest down fill power is 900 and the lower end is about 500.
The higher the fill power, the more the fluffiness, the better the insulation, and the more lightweight and compressible the bag is but the higher its price tag. The lower the fill power, the more it weighs but the lower its price. For bags with the same down fill power but composed of a combination of down and feathers, the better quality down insulation is the one with a lower feather composition.
Q: How Can I Make My Sleeping Bag Last Longer?
A: Sleeping bags generally last for a long time. How you use, care for and store your sleeping bag can extend or shorten this lifespan. Here is how you can extend the life of your sleeping bag and ensure it provides maximum warmth for as long as possible:
Use It Well
Consider using a sleeping bag liner as a barrier to protect your bag from body oils, sweat, dirt, and wear. Air it out in the sunlight during the day. After your outdoor excursions, hang your sleeping bag in a closet or garage to air it.
Care for It Well
Frequent washing isn’t necessary. Once a year or once every other year is sufficient depending on how gross and smelly it is. You can get rid of dirty spots on the outer shell by spot cleaning using mild soap, a soft-bristle toothbrush, and a wet sponge. When it is time for a full cleaning, follow the bag’s washing instructions then dry it thoroughly before you store it. Some sleeping bags are machine washable. For others, machine washing would destroy the insulation and void the warranty. This is why it is important to check and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Store It Properly
Before storing your sleeping bag, ensure it is completely dry to keep mold and mildew at bay. Hang your sleeping bag in a closet or garage or drape it over a chair or railing. You can also fold it loosely like a blanket and store in a roomy sack or pillowcase or on the shelf with nothing heavy on top. Always store your bag in a cool, dry place. The worst you can do is store your bag in a compressed form, as this will cause the insulation to deteriorate.
Q: When Should I Replace My Sleeping Bag?
A: Sleeping bags last for many years, even decades. With good care and maintenance, you should be able to use the same bag for a really long time. Unless you want to get a better quality sleeping bag, it should be years before your bag needs replacing because of wear and tear. Minor rips, tears and zipper issues can be fixed easily using patches, glues, and repair kits. More severe damages can be fixed by the manufacturer or a sleeping bag specialist.
Q: What About Sleeping Bags Without an EN Rating?
A: The European Norm (EN) or EN 13537 is a rating system meant to keep temperature ratings in sleeping bags standardized. It is just a general guideline and comparative system and its application is optional. Most brands use it but there are some companies that don’t. Such companies will still indicate the range of temperatures their bags are made to be used in.
Companies assigning their own ratings actually tend to offer more realistic temperature ratings for comfort than EN ratings which are usually on the low side. Lack of an EN rating does not mean that a bag is of inferior quality or insulation and the presence of one isn’t an indicator of superiority.
Globo Surf Overview
When you love outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, climbing, backpacking, kayaking, and mountain climbing, a sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear. Having a high quality bag adds to the overall experience. It keeps you warm and comfortable enough to sleep well. After a long day on the trail, a good night’s sleep is the ultimate luxury and it ensures you will have more fun the following day. Because sleep is very important and a sleeping bag is a long-term investment, it is always wise to get the best sleeping bag for your money.
We hope our sleeping bag reviews and buying guide will help you find the best sleeping bag to fit your needs and budget. All the items in our list are high quality, lightweight, well insulated, comfortable, and highly rated for their performance. As long as you select one that suits the kind of temperatures you will be camping in, you can rest assured it will serve you well for years. For even more comfort and warmth, don’t forget spread a good ground tarp, add a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag, layer up for warmth and stay hydrated. Happy Camping!
- Sleeping Bags Care and Maintenance , www.rei.com
- EN Temperature Ratings for Sleeping Bags , thermarestblog.com
Which of the sleeping bags on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the sleeping bags for camping we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!
Globo Surf Sleeping Bags Reviews