Wild Nights: The 8 Best Sleeping Bags for Camping

Take a good long look – and more importantly, a good long smell – at your current sleeping bag. Has it been moldering away, lo these many years, absorbing groundwater and being stuffed with your masculine musk again and again? Then it’s time you upgraded. While holding on to memories – and your sleeping bag is surely full of them – is fine, you’re denying yourself a good night’s rest when you load a rank bag into your hiking backpack or rooftop camping tent. Remove that downy mass and get something worthy of you.

You wouldn’t waste money on a cheap mattress that leaves you restless night after night, and you shouldn’t accept any less than total comfort from your nocturnal camping cocoon. A quality bag should be capable of keeping you warm during winter trips or ventilated well enough that you can survive the morning sauna that is your tent when the sun strikes it. It should have the proper temperature rating whether you “rough it” in an RV or hang out in a hammock. When you’re ready to kiss that old bag goodnight, consider one of the 8 best sleeping bags for camping as a replacement.

Coleman Trinidad Summer

Coleman Trinidad Summer

Pro: Includes head cuff for colder nights
Con: Square design

Hip to be Square: Buying a camping bag usually means you snap up a single cover for all conditions. If that is you, avoid this bag. On the other hand, if you prefer hot camping or need a sleeping bag in your quiver for the balmy months, this is ideal. Rather than trying to insulate you, this aims to give you just enough heat retention to be comfortable. Temperatures can go as low as 40-degrees without hurting you, or climb outrageously as climate change slowly cooks the Earth. Either way, you’ll find the square design up to the challenge. Insulation stays well in place and fabric doesn’t bunch around the zipper [Purchase: $26]

TETON Sports TrailHead

TETON Sports TrailHead

Pro: Inexpensive
Con: Not extremely warm

Unburdened: Sleeping bags built specifically for camping tend to be a bit heavier and slightly less expensive than typical backpacking bags. Campers who want a fence-straddler that can shrink down tight in case the call of the mountain becomes too much – and only have a couple of bucks to spend – should look at the Sports Trailhead. It isn’t the lightest at 2.9 lbs. but the PolarLite 7-denier insulation is dense rather than fluffy to require less room when mashed down. It still protects against near freezing temperatures comfortably and rolls out wide and long for bigger bodies. Interior pockets for valuables mean more security from those backpacking bandits and thieving wildlife. [Purchase: $60]

Marmot Cloudbreak

Marmot Cloudbreak

Pro: 3D Hood Construction
Con: Feet tend to get cold

Anytime, Anywhere: Marmot is one of the premier brands when it comes to sleeping bags and most other outdoor gear you can imagine. The Cloudbreak isn’t their flagship product, but it performs incredibly well for the camper who might be in their car, on the trail, or at a site. A true three season bag able to cope with 20-degree temperatures, the heat-reflective material can keep you cooking like a camping stove by holding in more warmth than competitors with weightier price tags. Mummy-bag style is compacts nicely without feeling too binding. [Purchase: $198]

REI Radiant

REI Radiant

Pro: Highly durable exterior
Con: Standard mummy bag fit

Most for the Money: Getting a good sleeping bag is easy if you spend enough cash. Finding one that gives you value and allows you to stretch your camping dollar is much more difficult. Here you have a water-resistant 600-fill down inside ripstop nylon with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment that is workable to below 20-degrees, all for about $200. The mummy bag fit is pretty standard, but those who require a little more wiggle room, or are a bit bigger, can get it for a few dollars more. Stuff it into a compression sack and see the 2.5 lbs. shrink to volleyball size. [Purchase: $199]

Mountain Hardwear Ratio 32

Mountain Hardwear Ratio 32

Pro: DWR treated nylon shell
Con: Zipper tends to snag

Rain Gear: Dwellers of the pacific northwest should take note of the Ratio 32. In moist atmospheres, down bags tend to become wet and heavy, making sleeping uncomfortable. Here, the feathers themselves are given their own water-repellent treatment so they stay fluffy and light even when your suspended tree tent is dripping. Diamond baffles keep the 650-fill down in place so it doesn’t shift to one spot, creating hot and cold pockets. Go ahead and ditch the synthetics for a full down experience during a monsoon. Works all the way down to just below freezing. [Purchase: $230]

Sierra Designs DriDown Backcountry Bed

Sierra Designs DriDown Backcountry Bed

Pro: Sleeping pad sleeve
Con: Bulky even when packed down

Terminally Unique: At a glance, this looks like it would be terribly ineffective. It’s a little too big for backpacking. The front has a huge hole in it with an odd, tongue-like flap. It doesn’t even have a zipper. Once you try it, you’ll see the beauty and ingenuity that went into each of these features. No zipper means nothing to snag or waste precious body heat. That flap is actually a comforter lining that can be removed and used alone or swaddle you in warmth for nights as low as 17-degrees. The opening actually creates a seal that uses the 600 or 800-fill DriDown to supreme effect. [Purchase: $300]

Nemo Tango Duo Slim 30

Nemo Tango Duo Slim 30

Pro: Packs down well for a 2-person bag
Con: Only fits 20-inch pads

Honeymooner: A night beneath the stars is the premium aphrodisiac, but being forced to put romance on hold as you settle into separate sleeping bags is the height of frustration. Trying to zip your bags together will only make the situation worse. Instead, get the Tango Duo and let the night blossom. 700-fill down cut into square baffles keeps both parties warm in temperatures below freezing. A backless, comforter construction and footbed work with any 20-inch sleeping pads and keeps the bag anchored. Ripstop nylon on the outside resists water and a taffeta interior promotes comfort as well as warmth. [Purchase: $350]

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800

Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800

Pro: Arm ports
Con: Center zipper can bleed some heat

Wearable: Sierra Designs didn’t reinvent the wheel with the Mobile Mummy, but they did manage to take a whole array of disparate elements and mash them together in a way that makes this the deep fried bacon Oreos of sleeping bags. A center-mounted dual direction zipper avoids the hassles of side-mounted zip-ups and allows for arm holes in case you wanted a tent Snuggie for reading your wilderness survival manual. Flaps close up the holes and make the hydrophobic DriDown comfortable to 15-degrees. Call it a hoodie, a cold weather bag, a bag for back, side, and stomach sleepers, or just call it a game changer. [Purchase: $380]

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