A good sleeping bag is essential for getting quality sleep when camping. It gives you the warmth and protection you need to wake up well-rested and ready for new adventures. As you know, camping conditions are not the same year-round, and temperatures can vary significantly. During the summer even the nights can be warm, so you need a sleeping bag that will give you all-night comfort in warmer temperatures.
Summer sleeping bags are lightweight, breathable, and often very compact so they are easy to take with you. Going from one model to the next, there are many differences between them in materials used, filling, weight, and size when compressed. Our buying guide below is going to give you pointers on how to find the best summer sleeping bags for you and your family. But first, take a quick look at some excellent summer bags we picked out for you.
Whilst a super-light, super-thin sleeping bag may seem like a perfect option for those balmy summer nights, always remember your environmental factors. Being 1000m above sea level can easily mean temperatures are 10 Celsius lower than at sea level and you should always take this into account.
A great summer sleep system won’t have you waking up sweating in the middle of the night. At low altitude, combining your summer sleeping bag with a well-vented summer tent will allow the evening breeze to move the air around you during the night and keep you comfortable. It will also reduce condensation buildup inside your tent.
Packing or compressing down to a tiny size is a real bonus of 2 and 3-season sleeping bags and the higher the cost (usually) the better the compressibility and weight. Using a high quality compression sack (rather than the one provided by most sleeping bag manufacturers) can massively reduce the pack size so its always worth considering also purchasing a compression sack which is smaller than the stated “packed size” of your sleeping bag.
How To Choose A Summer Sleeping Bag – Buying Guide
When choosing any sleeping bag, the most important thing you need to think about is the conditions you’ll be using it in. In the case of summer camping, you need a breathable sleeping bag that won’t be too warm during the night. Also, depending on whether you’re hiking or camping in hot weather, sleeping bag weight and design play a role.
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The shell is the outer layer of your sleeping bag, and its material directly influences both the performance and durability of your bag. Regardless of the temperature, you want your bag to be tough and durable to withstand use in outdoor conditions. This is why summer sleeping bags also need to be made of tough materials.
Manufacturers most commonly use nylon or polyester to make the bag shell. Nylon is very strong and a great choice for rougher use, while polyester is good when you want to additionally reduce weight. Both of these have good breathability, so you don’t get sweaty when sleeping.
Also, many of the summer sleeping bags we featured have an additional DWR (durable water repellent) coating on the surface. It increases the bag’s resistance to water and prevents soaking, which is very useful in wet conditions (either from rain or from condensation inside the tent). Furthermore, sealed seams on the sleeping bag guarantee there will be no leaks inside.
When talking strictly about summer bags, insulation has a less significant role when compared to sleeping bags used in the autumn or winter. Because sleeping bags for summer don’t need to keep you from freezing to death, they don’t have a large amount of filling inside. However, it’s still good to know a thing or two about the different types of filling and how this can be useful to you.
Most sleeping bags are filled with either down or synthetic filling. Down is a natural material derived from ducks or geese and has a fantastic warmth-to-weight ratio. This means that, compared to synthetic insulators, less down is needed to achieve the same level of warmth. It also makes summer down sleeping bags significantly lighter and more compressible. However, down is very expensive, and loses its insulating properties if it gets wet.
In our opinion, the synthetic filling is also a great choice to use in sleeping bags for summer. Since summer bags have less filling, you don’t have to worry about synthetics making them bulky or heavy. Also, synthetics are cheaper, work when wet, and dry off significantly faster. In any case, the choice comes down to what you prefer and how much you are willing to spend. If you want to learn more, read our articles on the differences between down and synthetic insulation.
If you want your new sleeping bag to have maximum comfort, pay attention to the lining used. It should be soft and gentle to the touch, without scratching or irritating your skin when you move. The most common materials used for the lining are polyester, cotton flannel, and various poly-cotton blends. All are great choices, but flannel is perhaps a bit softer.
Also, the best summer sleeping bags have liners that are breathable and prevent you from sweating. Of course, if you don’t like the one that came with your bag, you can always get a replacement sleeping bag liner.
Temperature rating is one of the most important things to look at when buying a sleeping bag, regardless of the season. The comfort rating is the lowest temperature at which the average sleeper won’t feel cold. This means that the specified rating on the label should be lower than the lowest temperature you’re expecting on your trip.
Since we’re talking about warm weather sleeping bags, consider that the model you get can also be too warm for summer camping in your area. As a guideline, summer bags are usually rated 30°F or higher, so models with a much lower rating may be too warm for summer conditions.
Also, all these specified temperatures are calculated based on an average person, and you may feel different if you are a cold or warm sleeper. If you need some more help with this, be sure to read our article on sleeping bag temperature ratings.
Even though this may seem confusing at first glance, season ratings are very helpful when choosing a bag. If you don’t want to dig deeper into temperature and insulation ratings, this can quickly show you whether the bag is suitable or not for what you need.
As we mentioned earlier, the best sleeping bags for summer are thin and light, so they can give you comfortable sleep on warm nights. Most of them are rated as 1-season bags, and best suited for warm weather. With 2-season sleeping bags, you get a bit more versatility for summer nights in colder areas.
If you want to go camping in spring and autumn too, then a 3-season sleeping bag is a good choice. These have enough insulation to keep you warm even if the temperature drops significantly more during the night. Finally, winter sleeping bags are rated as 4-season bags, with thick insulation and additional features to keep you warm. Even though these are rated as 4-season, we would advise against using them in the summer because they will be too warm and uncomfortable to sleep in.
As you probably know, sleeping bags come in several different shapes. Some of the most common types of sleeping bags include mummy, semi-rectangular and rectangular shapes. Mummy sleeping bags have an ergonomic design that follows the contours of your body, meaning it’s narrow at the feet and wider in the shoulder area. It’s very efficient in retaining heat, and what’s even more important for summer camping, very compact and easy to pack.
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Semi-rectangular sleeping bags maintain the contoured shape, but with some additional space to move inside. They present a nice balance between mummy and rectangular bags. Unlike mummy bags, they don’t confine you strictly to sleeping on your back, but don’t offer quite as much space as rectangular models.
Rectangular sleeping bags offer the most space and are generally the most comfortable. While they are not the choice of backpackers, these models are perfect for car camping where you don’t have to worry too much about package size. They are also great for summer camping because they allow your body to breathe inside. Most of these can be fully unzipped and used as a blanket, and some can also be zipped together to create a double bag.
While we’re on this subject, double sleeping bags can also be an excellent choice for summer camping if you want to share them with a partner. They are generally very spacious, and models like the Oaskys sleeping bag we featured have plenty of room for two people.
Depending on your preferred type of camping, sleeping bag weight can play a big role. If you’re car camping, you don’t have to worry too much about it even if it weighs a few more pounds. On the other hand, hikers and backpackers always try to reduce the weight of their gear and cut every ounce where possible.
Luckily, summer sleeping bags are generally pretty lightweight (compared to multi-season bags) because they have less filling and materials used. Still, this can vary significantly between different models, so we included a few ultralight summer sleeping bags in our review section for those of you who need to carry the bag over larger distances.
In addition to being light, the sleeping bag should also be compact when packed. As you know, any bag is pretty bulky when you roll it, and isn’t exactly convenient to be carried that way. This is why most of these come in compression sacks that allow you to make them more compact and easier to carry. Also, it’s a plus if the sack is waterproof because it prevents the bag from getting wet if it rains.
Most of the additional features you find on sleeping bags are intended to improve sleeping comfort. For example, many of the models we featured come with zippered vents (on the sides or at the bottom) which allow you to unzip the bag and cool down quickly. Since the accent here isn’t on warmth, most summer sleeping bags have full-length side zippers that allow you to easily get in and out of the bag.
Depending on the shape you buy, your new bag will come with or without a hood and a neck yoke. These help keep your head and neck warm when you sleep, so they are more common in 3-season sleeping bags. While discussing multi-season bags, many of them also have draft tubes under the zipper (prevents cold air from coming through the zipper). While this is not necessarily useful for the summer, it is a plus if you plan to use the bag in spring and autumn too.
One of the things we like to see in a sleeping bag is a pillow pocket. This allows you to easily slide your camping pillow inside and prevents it from moving. You can also use clothing if you don’t carry a pillow. Furthermore, it’s also useful when the bag has stash pockets (inside and outside) to keep some smaller items close at hand.
Q: Do I Even Have to Use a Sleeping Bag in Summer?
While it’s not necessary, there are many reasons why campers choose to sleep in bags even during the summer. Yes, summer days are often pretty warm (depending on where you are), but the temperature gets lower during the night and it’s easy to get cold. Even though summertime sleeping bags don’t have thick insulation, you will appreciate some additional warmth especially if you’re not sleeping inside a tent.
Q: What are Sleeping Bag Seasons and What do I Need for Summer?
As we explained earlier, season ratings show the periods of the year when the bag can keep you warm. For summer camping, your best choices are 1 and 2-season sleeping bags because they are the lightest and don’t have too much insulation. If you want to camp in spring and autumn too (and use the same bag), 3-season bags are a good choice.
Q: Down or Synthetic Filling – Which is Better for a Summer Sleeping Bag?
Generally speaking, down is a better insulator than synthetics. It’s very efficient in keeping you warm, and it weighs less compared to any other insulator. Also, it’s incredibly compressible so the bag is very small when packed. However, summer weight sleeping bags work great with synthetic insulation too, because they don’t need thick layers of it. While it is bulkier, it’s also much cheaper when compared to down, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Q: How do I Clean a Summer Sleeping Bag?
Most sleeping bags are perfectly safe for machine washing (always check the label first). Before putting them in a machine, always make sure to close the zippers and turn the bag inside out so the lining is washed properly. Afterward, it’s recommended that you put them in a dryer instead of hanging them to dry, so the filling can be readjusted instead of forming into clusters. If you want to learn more, be sure to read out the article on how to wash a sleeping bag.
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To fully enjoy any camping trip, you must think about where and how you are going to sleep. A great sleeping bag is responsible for the comfort and warmth you need, and summer sleeping bags are guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep even in warmer conditions. We hope that our guide has helped you in finding the bag you like, so you can fully enjoy sleeping outdoors.
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