Today’s sleeping bags are more technologically advanced than ever, which means sleeping under the stars has never been so comfortable. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend in the woods with your family or embarking on a backcountry trek, these are the best sleeping bags for every camping adventure.
Take a look below at quick info on the top-performing bags, then keep scrolling to read helpful buying advice and full reviews of these and other solid options.
Differences in Shapes and Sizes
One of the first choices you have to make when shopping for sleeping bags is what shape you prefer. Mummy bags have a hood and a tapered design that narrows at the feet, whereas rectangular bags have more space for you to move around in but often no hood. Less common are semi-rectangular designs that typically have hoods like mummy bags but aren’t quite as constrictive.
Mummy and semi-rectangular bags are better for colder nights in spring, fall, and winter because they have smaller openings and their hoods provide greater protection against the cold.
But if you hate feeling penned in or mostly sleep on your side or stomach (for which having a bit more room is better), a rectangular shape might be more comfortable.
Companies also often make the same sleeping bag in a variety of lengths. A bag measuring closest to your height will keep you warmer than a looser option, which could have more space for air than your body can heat up.
Most regular bags are 72 inches from hood to foot box, and long sizes are around 78 inches. Women-specific sizes are shorter (generally 66 to 73 inches for regular lengths), skinnier in the shoulder, and wider at the hips.
These sleeping bags also have more insulation, which is frequently added to the chest and foot box to account for the physiological differences between men and women, who typically run colder.
The Ins and Outs of Insulation
Whether a sleeping bag has down or synthetic insulation, the way they keep you warm is similar: Still, the air between the fibers and filaments of the materials traps the heat coming off of your body.
“We know the air is the best insulator on earth,” says Hsiou-Lien Chen, a textile researcher and associate professor at Oregon State University. “If you can create more spaces to trap that air, the material will have better insulation.”
The naturally clustered shape of goose and duck down creates a loft where air can stay trapped. But if exposed to moisture, those clusters collapse, and their insulating power vanishes. Some brands, such as Kelty, waterproofing brand Nikwax, and insulation company DownTek, have sought to correct this by treating down with hydrophobic compounds. Many sleeping bags also have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the shell for even more protection, which you can also apply yourself.
In synthetic insulation, the straight polyester threads are crimped to produce loft. Occasionally, manufacturers use hollow fibers to create more space for trapping air and to reduce the overall weight of the insulation so it can maintain better loft, Chen explains.
Even with this technique, synthetic insulation is heavier and generally doesn’t compress as well as down because it’s constructed as a slab of fibers. But these materials are cheaper to produce and better at retaining their insulating power when wet as compared to down.
A down sleeping bag can be a better choice when backpacking because of its high warmth-to-weight ratio. But if you anticipate camping frequently in humid environments or are concerned about cost, choose a synthetically insulated sleeping bag.
Pro tip: Store sleeping bags in a large cotton or mesh bags (or hang them up) to preserve the insulation’s loft.
Both down and synthetic insulation is measured so consumers can assess their relative quality. The fill power of down refers to the loft of a one-ounce cluster, and a higher fill equates to a better quality down that has more space to trap air.
Most down used in sleeping bags ranges from 600- to 900-fill. Synthetic insulation is rated based on its weight per square meter, though these numbers aren’t normally advertised by brands. The greater the weight, the thicker, and warmer insulation will be.
But when it comes to buying a sleeping bag that will keep you warm throughout the night, you shouldn’t rely on these metrics alone. Even the highest quality down can lose its effectiveness and loft if too much of it is compressed within baffles that are too small.
What You Need to Know About Temperature Ratings
The quality of insulation is just one factor that determines a sleeping bag’s overall insulating ability, as reflected in its temperature rating. How much insulation and where it’s distributed matters, as does the shape and fit of the bag, and the amount of stitching and zippers (where warm air has the potential to escape).
The other materials and design elements also factor in. To combat heat loss, some sleeping bags are designed with internal draft collars around the neck and draft tubes, or insulated fabric flaps, along the zipper.
The primary standard for temperature ratings originated from European Standards (EN) and today are dictated by the ISO or the International Organization for Standardization. There are three types, but brands mostly frequently share the Comfort rating or the lowest temperature that the average woman will feel comfortable sleeping in while using the bag.
The Limit rating refers to the lowest temperature at which the average man will feel comfortable. Lastly, there is the Extreme rating, which represents the lowest temperature at which it’s safe to use a sleeping bag–even then, prolonged use at this temperature could put you at risk of hypothermia. You won’t find any of these ratings on two-person sleeping bags, though, as there is no standardized test for these larger systems.
Keep in mind the rating might not reflect your personal comfort limit. That’s because the ISO-mandated testing conditions which use sophisticated heated manikins wearing thermal underwear, socks, and, in some cases, face masks make assumptions about human and environmental factors that impact thermal regulation, says Meredith Schlabach, the coordinator of testing services at Kansas State University’s Institute for Environmental Research.
The IER, as it’s known, conducts thermal testing on consumer items, including sleeping bags, for major outdoor retailers and manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad. These factors including metabolic rate (people with faster metabolisms generally run warmer) and ground temperature change from person to person and campsite to campsite.
So when in doubt, use a sleeping bag with a temperature rating colder than the weather you plan to camp in. And, good news, many companies offer the same sleeping bag in several different temperature-rated models.
1. NEMO Disco 30 Sleeping Bag
Comfort Rating: 30°F | Insulation: 650-fill hydrophobic down | Packed Weight: 2 lb. 1.9 oz. | Packability: Good
- Spacious space
- Cozy draft collar
- Large hood with a pillow pocket
- Zippers on the chest vents can snag
The Disco is lighter and more streamlined but just as cozy as its predecessor. The sleeping bag now has a touch less insulation (4 fewer ounces in the men’s and 3 ounces in the women’s) and a slight trimmer cut, reducing the overall weight of the bag.
Still, we slept warm enough on near-freezing nights in early spring. By tucking the oversize heat-trapping draft collar inside the bag and occasionally around our face, we didn’t need to cinch down the large hood. We didn’t notice the slightly smaller dimensions of the spoon-shaped bag, either.
This cut, a signature of the brand’s, is narrower at the hip than in the shoulders and knee, which allowed the Disco to retain heat as a mummy bag should without leaving us feeling as constricted. It was easy to move around within and not get twisted in the material.
Other features we liked about the 2019 model also find a home in the new Disco. The hood has a built-in pillow pocket, and there’s a discreet chest pocket that had enough room to fit our phone and keys.
The large draft tube along the zipper is more insulated than on some competitors, and it helped seal in the heat on cold nights. When it’s warmer, you can unzip the two chest vents (or Thermo Gills, as NEMO calls them) to dump excess heat.
Unlike the main zipper that now features a very effective anti-snag plastic housing, the delicate zippers on the Gills were a bit tricky to operate mid-slumber. We suggest opening or closing them as needed before you fall asleep.
The 30-denier DWR nylon ripstop shell gets burlier at the foot box, which has 40-denier fabric to better resist abrasions overtime against the walls of your tent. Performance-wise, we had no major complaints, but if you prefer a synthetically-insulated bag, the Forte offers many of the same features.
2. Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30
Comfort Rating: 36ºF | Insulation: HL-ElixR Eco Micro synthetic | Packed Weight: 2 lb. 3.2 oz. | Packability: Good
- Excellent packability
- Narrow, even for a mummy bag
In the Trestles Elite Eco series, Marmot has avoided the major issue of most synthetic bags bulk. When packed down, the Trestles was comparable in size to many down bags we tested, so you have more room in your truck or pack for other gear.
Marmot manages this feat, in part, by deploying proprietary insulation that uses three different weights of recycled polyester fiber to cut down on the size of the material without reducing warmth. We appreciate the eco-friendly construction, especially because it didn’t negatively impact functionality.
We were toasty on a 53-degree night and liked the internal draft collar and tubing that kept out the chill. Affordable to boot, the Trestle was a bit constrictive, but the secondary left-sided zipper frees up some room at the chest (as long as it’s not too cold outside, of course).
3. The North Face The One Bag
Comfort Ratings: 20ºF (mid-layer) and 40ºF (outer layer) | Insulation: 800-fill down and synthetic | Packed Weight: 3 lb. 12.8 oz. (both layers) | Packability: Fair
- Good value
- Finicky zippers
- Not available in other lengths
We’re wary of gear that promises universal performance, so we were pleasantly surprised by The One Bag, which The North Face says is optimized for every season because of its two completely removable upper layers.
Zip just the lightweight synthetic outer layer to the base in the summer, the 800-fill down mid-layer by itself in cooler temps, or zip both on if you’re braving alpine environments or winter weather.
We liked how precisely we could regulate our temperature when using the two quilts by unzipping the top layer about a third of the way when we got a bit too toasty one cold night.
The mid-layer also doubles as a camp blanket that you can wrap around yourself and snap together at the collar. It was exceedingly cozy as we sat around the campfire while the temperature hovered in the 30s.
As for its faults, we found it was occasionally tough to zip the quilts to the bottom, and the zipper on the mid-layer had a tendency to snag on the draft tube (a critical feature considering the long wrap-around zipper). The One Bag isn’t cheap, but its versatility makes up for the high cost.
4. Kelty Tuck 40
Comfort Rating: 40°F | Insulation: Synthetic | Packed weight: 2 lb. 6.4 oz. | Packability: Fair
- Excellent performance for the price
- Has foot vent for warmer nights
- Uncomfortable hood cinching system
Kelty continues to prove it’s the king of affordable, reliable camping gear in the Tuck. If we hadn’t known the price before we tested the redesigned 2020 model this spring, we might have assumed the bag cost twice as much as it does.
Although we expect to see a hood and draft tube on sleeping bags that are more than $100, these features feel like a bonus on the Tuck. Plus, the new zipper placement, which runs across the width of the bag at the shins, lets you create a foot vent for dumping heat on summer nights.
It was too early in the season for us to take advantage of that feature, but we did appreciate the additional insulation that Kelty added to the foot box. Our toes were quick to warm up when we hunkered down for the night.
Almost semi-rectangular in shape, the Tuck felt plenty spacious. In fact, our tester could fit her torso through the hood opening with the zipper completely closed. She blocked out the resulting draft by cinching down the hood.
This closure system, consisting of a thick cord with a spring button fastener, was the only thing that felt cheap. The fastener didn’t slide as easily along the rough cord as it would have with smoother material, and there wasn’t enough cushion in the collar, which caused the cord to rest uncomfortably against our body when it was pulled tight. If you stick to warm weather camping, you shouldn’t encounter these annoyances. Otherwise, you might find the 20-degree model more comfortable.
5. Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40
Comfort Rating: 40ºF | Insulation: Thermolite Extra synthetic | Packed Weight: 3 lb. 3.2 oz. | Packability: Fair
- Built-in pad sleeve
- Non-technical lining
- Not available in other lengths
The Buffalo Park from Big Agnes is made to fit big and tall campers. Even if that doesn’t sound like you, you’ll find a spacious sleeping bag that reminded us more of a frontcountry bed than a backcountry one. That’s thanks to the wide design and less technical materials.
Big Agnes skipped the popular polyester taffeta lining for a cotton-polyester blend and added long double zippers on both sides, so you can use the top more like a comforter. The bottom of the bag has no insulation, but its exterior has a full pad sleeve to keep a 25-by-78-inch mat in place.
The downside of its large size is that the sleeping bag is drafty. To combat this, Buffalo Park has a cinch cord at the top so you can seal in warm air. We found this cord was the easiest and most comfortable to use out of those on any of the rectangle bags we tested.