You can’t camp without a sleeping bag. Whether you’re gearing up for a multiday backpacking adventure, planning a long-distance bike ride, or keeping it simple with a weekend car-camping trip to the nearest state park, you need a weather-appropriate, water-resistant wrap to keep you comfortable through the night.
Choosing the best sleeping bag means assessing the range of conditions you’re likely to encounter when you camp. If you’re outdoorsy year-round, you probably need two bags: a lightweight or even ultralight option for temperate (or downright muggy) evenings and a heavier choice with enough goose down or synthetic insulation to keep you safe when the mercury plunges.
Other factors come into play too, including weight and packability. Serious hikers prefer specialized backpacking sleeping bags that pack down to nearly nothing and avoid adding unnecessary weight. Car campers, by contrast, feel less pressure to choose the lightest bag possible.
Either way, the right sleeping bag makes all the difference when night falls, whether the weather is cold or warm.
Features of the Best Sleeping Bags
High-quality sleeping bags are highly specialized and have a common vocabulary to match. Camping novices can use this abbreviated dictionary to bone up on sleeping bag lingo.
- Comfort Rating. The comfort rating is the lab-tested (albeit inherently subjective) minimum temperature at which most sleepers will feel comfortable (if not necessarily toasty-warm) in the bag. Manufacturers market the comfort rating as the minimum recommended outdoor-use temperature for women’s bags, according to REI.
- Limit Rating. The limit rating is the lab-tested minimum temperature at which cold-hardy sleepers will feel comfortable in the bag. It’s not technically the minimum safe temperature, below which you shouldn’t use the bag, but cautious campers can feel free to interpret it as such. Manufacturers market the limit rating as the minimum recommended outdoor-use temperature for men’s bags, according to REI.
- Temperature Rating. The temperature rating is a round and even more subjective measure that always falls between the comfort and limit rating, though not always right in the middle. Many manufacturers place this number in bag names — for example, the Kelty Rambler 50 and the Nanowave 45-Degree.
- Fill Power. Fill power describes the amount of space (cubic centimeters or inches) occupied by 1 ounce of the bag’s filling. It loosely correlates with the filling’s insulating potential. Higher fill power means better insulation.
- Loft. Loft is a measure of bag insulation’s fluffiness and is often used interchangeably with fill power. Higher loft means better insulation.
- Mummy Bag. This tapered bag design is snug and thermally efficient. Wider at the top and narrow toward the feet, it’s designed for campers who prefer to sleep on their backs but can accommodate stomach sleeping as well.
- Square Bag. This traditional sleeping bag design is better described as rectangular. It’s not as snug as a mummy bag, but it can comfortably accommodate any sleeping configuration and may be preferable (depending on the camper) in warmer weather.
- Hybrid Bag. This gently tapered design is a mummy-square hybrid. It’s less snug but more forgiving than a true mummy.
- Side-Sleeper Bag. This bag conforms to the shape of a human body on its side and can be quite snug in that configuration. It’s not as comfortable for back- or stomach-sleepers.
- Overbag. You can attach an overbag to a compatible “base” bag to add warmth or use it on its own in more moderate weather conditions.
- Stuff Sack. A stuff sack is designed to hold rolled-up sleeping bags when not in use. Compression stuff sacks have special drawstrings that tightly compress the bag, saving backpack space.
- Draft Tube. The draft tube is a specialized length of insulation that runs along the inside of the zipper and prevents drafts from entering. It’s standard in cold-weather bags but may be absent from lighter warm-weather options.
- Draft Collar. Like the draft tube for the zipper, the draft collar is a specialized circle of insulation that prevents drafts from seeping into the bag’s neck hole. It’s standard in cold-weather bags and often absent from warm-weather bags.
- Hood Tube. This cold-weather bag feature surrounds the sleeper’s head, insulating the head itself and reducing drafts down into the bag’s cavity.
- Shoulder Pocket. This mummy bag feature provides extra insulation around the sleeper’s shoulders.
- Foot Box (Toe Box). This cold-weather bag feature conforms to the sleeper’s foot shape, keeping the toes warm. It may include a pocket for toe-warming heating packs as well.
- Baffles. These internal dividers segment the sleeping bag’s insulation layers into multiple horizontal compartments. Baffles prevent insulation from shifting during sleep or transit, preserving insulating power throughout the entire bag. Foot boxes may have secondary toe baffles to reduce insulation loss around the extremities as well.
Depending on when and where you plan to camp, some of these features may be more important than others. The best sleeping bag has the features you need for your specific camping needs, whether you camp in warm or wintry weather.
Best Warm-Weather Sleeping Bags for Camping
The temperature ratings on these lightweight sleeping bags won’t break any records. With breathable fabrics and ample venting, they’re designed for comfort and durability in relatively warm weather, though some do qualify as three-season bags. Most are appropriate for backpackers and car campers alike, but heavier entrants might not be comfortable to haul on rough terrain.
1. Marmot Nanowave 45-Degree Mummy Bag
Weighing in at just over 1 pound and listed at about $80, the affordable, water-resistant Marmot Nanowave 45-degree sleeping bag is ideal for warm-weather outdoor adventures where weight control is paramount, such as canoeing and kayaking voyages, backpacking journeys, and multiday road biking trips.
High-loft synthetic insulation and a compression stuff sack allow the Nanowave to pack down to nearly nothing, enabling storage in tight spaces like your kayak’s stern or hiking pack’s inner compartment.
A full-length zipper provides ample ventilation on warm evenings, while a snagless draft tube prevents heat loss on chilly nights. Two hang loops allow for easy hang-drying at the campsite and home.
2. Kelty Rambler 50 Hybrid Bag
The Kelty Rambler 50 is another light entrant that’s ideal for warm-weather trail and water adventures. At about $60, it’s even cheaper than the Nanowave, though its nominal minimum temperature rating (it doesn’t have an official comfort or limit rating) is a comparatively balmy 50 degrees F.
The Rambler weighs in at just over 2 pounds, an acceptable heft for long-distance pack use, and the compression stuff sack is welcome when space is at a premium.
The full-length zipper turns the Rambler into a blanket-like covering, a feature that comes in handy on muggy nights. And the hybrid shape is comfortable for campers eager to stretch their feet during the night.
3. REI Co-op Helio Sack 50 Mummy Bag
The REI Co-op Helio Sack 50 sleeping bag weighs in at just over 1.5 pounds, packs down nicely in the included stuff sack, and boasts a temperature rating of 50 degrees F. With a retail price between $70 and $80, it’s as affordable as it is light, and REI Co-op members get 10% off sticker price as a perk of membership.
The mummy-style Helio Sack is cleverly designed too. The full-length zipper transforms the bag into an airy quilt on warmer nights, while the short-side zipper provides ventilation and enables arm movement for restless sleepers not sold on the snug mummy design.
The water-repellent finish doubles as a stain guard — a must at muddy campsites. And the stuff sack’s expandable mesh ensures breathable, low-odor storage on longer trips.
4. Nemo Tempo Synthetic Sleeping Bag Side-Sleeper Bag
A side-sleeper bag with roomy cuts at the elbows and knees, the Nemo Tempo synthetic sleeping bag is a comfortable alternative to mummy bags like the Helio Sack and Nanowave.
Despite enviable packability, the Tempo has a generous pillow pocket and snug blanket-fold draft collar for nights that dip near its 45- to 50-degree minimum temperature rating.
At 2.5 pounds, the Tempo’s weight won’t win any awards. But the additional features, including small interior pockets for electronics and other valuables, more than justify the $100 retail price.
If you’re camping with a partner, opposite-sided zippers on the men’s and women’s models make for easy joining into a double-bag configuration. (Same-sex partners will need one men’s and one women’s bag to double up, bearing in mind that women’s bags are 6 inches shorter than men’s.)
5. Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy 45 F Mummy Bag
The mummy-style Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy 45 F sleeping bag might not hold up in the frigid wastes of outer space as the name suggests, but it’s a solid choice for earthbound adventures in relatively mild conditions (as low as 45 degrees F).
The retail price of $140 to $160 (depending on sizing) is justified by a layered insulation system that keeps weight well under 1.5 pounds and clever integrations that allow you to hook the bag to an air mattress or external blankets for added comfort or warmth.
Use the standard storage sack for car camping trips and the compression stuff sack when every cubic inch of space matters.
6. Western Mountaineering EverLite Mummy-Style Overbag
The mummy-style Western Mountaineering EverLite is a stripped-down option that’s rated as low as 45 degrees F when used as a primary bag. It can safely trim another 10 degrees F when used as an overbag (second layer) with another mummy bag.
At just 14 ounces, the EverLite is one of the lightest summer sleepers on the market, despite a durable full-length zipper that turns the enclosure into a blanket and adjustable neck and foot draw closures that reduce heat loss on chillier evenings.
The biggest drawback here is price and convenience. Western Mountaineering retails through a network of third-party dealers that charge $315 to $335 per bag, depending on sizing.
7. Big Agnes Sidewinder Camp 35-Degree Mummy-Style Side-Sleeper Bag
The Big Agnes Sidewinder Camp 35-degree sleeping bag is a proper three-season sleeping bag in most parts of the Lower 48, albeit with less utility in spring and fall at higher altitudes and latitudes.
Though technically a mummy bag, its unique cocoon-like design accommodates side sleepers’ shape and movements without sacrificing the snugness and warmth mummy fans expect. However, because the Sidewinder line is specifically designed for people who sleep on their sides, avoid it if you prefer back- or stomach-sleeping.
At $150 to $160, depending on size, the bag is attractively priced for a three-season bag. It’s also unusually durable, with a water-repellent nylon ripstop exterior and a water-repellent polyester taffeta inner lining. The full-length ambidextrous zipper and cinched insulated hood tube add convenience and comfort on cooler nights.
These features do add to the weight, which tops 2.5 pounds, without making it uncomfortably heavy.
8. Sierra Designs Cloud 800 35-Degree Mummy Bag
The Sierra Designs Cloud 800 35-degree sleeping bag is a zipperless mummy bag with a minimum comfort rating of about 35 degrees F and a minimum temperature rating of 25 degrees F, meaning you might be chilly but not dangerously cold when the temperature falls into the upper 20s. For a 1.5-pounder, it’s impressively sturdy as well.
The Cloud 800 makes up for its high price (about $300) elsewhere too. Its zipperless design and insulated shoulder pocket excel in cooler conditions. The sleeping pad sleeve keeps your padded base in position throughout the night and eliminates the need for bottom insulation, keeping weight down. In warmer conditions, the self-sealing foot vents provide rapid relief without opening the entire bag.
Best Cold-Weather Sleeping Bags for Camping
These cold-weather sleeping bags have low temperature ratings (some bone-chillingly low) and high fill power, meaning their down or synthetic fill insulates efficiently. Some are super-snug mummy bags that hug tight to the human form, while others are roomier but no less comfy.
9. Mountain Hardwear Lamina Minus-15-Degree Mummy Bag
The Mountain Hardwear Lamina minus-15-degree sleeping bag is one of the most affordable four-season sleeping bags on the list. Its thick yet efficiently packed synthetic down fill supports a temperature rating down to minus 15 degrees F, cold enough for high-altitude ski tours and dead-of-winter escapes — at a very reasonable $260.
Beyond the super-snug mummy cut, the Lamina has a gaggle of warmth-preserving features: a shaped draft collar, contoured foot box, tailored hood, and welded construction. At about 4.5 pounds, it’s not super-light, yet it manages to pack down nicely in its nylon storage sack.
10. REI Co-op Magma 15 Mummy Bag
With an impermeable Pertex shell, sumptuous goose down fill, and a supple interior lining, the REI Co-op Magma 15 sleeping bag is nothing if not comfortable. And while its roughly 15-degree temperature rating won’t win over true extreme-weather campers, its sub-2-pound weight makes it a perfect choice for ski-touring and snowshoeing journeys in favorable conditions.
The Magma 15 is no slouch in winter weather. Its cleverly designed toe box baffle points downward, adding warmth to the lower extremities, while the contoured hood uses two drawcords to maximize snugness without sacrificing room for a small pillow. And the diminutive stuff sack fits easily into tight winter packs.
At nearly $400, this bag is pricey, but REI Co-op members get 10% back on the sale.
11. The North Face The One Bag Hybrid
The North Face’s The One Bag is a three-in-one sleep system that’s safe and comfortable down to 5 degrees F with all three layers in place. The intermediate (two-layer) and warm-weather (one-layer) configurations are good down to 20 and 40 degrees F, respectively. If you never expect to encounter subzero conditions while camping, The One Bag could live up to its name.
The One Bag’s weight depends on its temperature rating. The bag weighs in at just under 4 pounds with all three layers in place but strips down to just over 2 pounds on the 40-degree F setting. In warmer conditions, the bottom-most layer rolls into a compact yet comfy headrest, sparing the added expense of a camp pillow.
The whole array clocks in at less than $300 — quite a deal for the one bag you can bring on summer backcountry hikes and icy snowshoe treks alike.
12. Marmot Wind River Minus 10-Degree Mummy Bag
Weighing in at just over 4 pounds, the Marmot Wind River minus-10-degree sleeping bag is surprisingly lightweight for its temperature rating. And at under $400, it’s affordable for a truly winter-hardy down sleeping bag.
This mummy-style wrap features an all-but-airtight draft collar, internal stash pockets (for your phone and wallet) and a heater pocket (for toe-warming heating packs), and a multi-baffle hood with an easy-access draw. Ground-level side seams further reduce heat loss as you lie on your back, insulating them against the ground.
13. Kelty Cosmic Down 0 Mummy Bag
The Kelty Cosmic Down 0 is another down-insulation sleeping bag that’s rated for impressive if not truly Antarctic cold — ideal for high-altitude backpacking trips in late fall, certainly.
Still, at less than $230 retail, the Cosmic Down 0 is undoubtedly one of the best budget sleeping bags for cold-weather adventures.
According to Kelty, its secret is an unusual trapezoidal baffle design that conserves heat without adding excess weight (though the 4.5-pound heft is typical for a winter bag). These baffles come in handy when the temperature drops sharply after nightfall.
In such cases, you can leave the side zippers open for ventilation in the evening only to be awoken in the early morning by cold air seeping inside. The trapezoidal shape conserves heat much better than standard square baffle designs, even when the bag isn’t fully closed.
14. NEMO Scout Ultralight Synthetic Mummy Bag
If you don’t let an icy wind get in the way of your backcountry adventures, the NEMO Scout Ultralight synthetic mummy bag could be the best backpacking bag for the money.
With a temperature rating of 20 degrees F and a pack weight under 3 pounds, the Scout is ideal for high-altitude or -latitude overnight hiking, hunting, or angling during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) and for general winter use in milder climates.
This traditional mummy-style bag’s selling points include a super-strong nylon ripstop exterior, thermally efficient patterning that keeps weight in check, and specialized “gills” that vent body heat without drafting in cold air.
Plus, like all NEMO sleeping bags, it’s protected by a lifetime warranty — and surprisingly affordable at about $230.
15. Marmot Trestles 15-Degree Mummy Bag
When it comes to outdoor comfort in the cold season, no sleeping bag outdoes the Marmot Trestles 15-degree sleeping bag at this price point. For a feather-light cost of about $115, the Trestles delivers safe, comfortable sleep down to 15 degrees F courtesy of a blanket-like bottom, super-tight seams, and a water-repellent finish that keeps out moisture (in both frozen and liquid form).
In warmer conditions, open the two-way zipper and loosen the hood to improve airflow, then tighten up when temps drop. Use the stash pocket and compression stuff sack to maximize space efficiency in the bag itself and your camping pack.
16. Big Agnes Cinnabar Minus-20-Degree Mummy Bag
The Big Agnes Cinnabar minus-20-degree sleeping bag begs to be pushed to the limit.
Ranging from about 3.5 pounds to 4.5 pounds, depending on size, this surprisingly light bag can withstand extreme conditions, such as those you might encounter during above-the-snowline mountaineering, trans-tundra trekking, and backcountry ski touring in remote wilderness areas.
Every aspect of the Cinnabar is designed with heat retention in mind, from the insulated upper hood tube to the high-tech, water-repellent Pertex exterior to the oversize draft collar that seals like an air lock.
Use the interior loops to secure your sleeping bag liner and the streamlined exterior loops to hang-dry come daytime. The price tag on this bag is a size-dependent $750 to $850. But if you expect to encounter conditions colder than minus-20 degrees F, upgrade to the Cinnabar minus-40.
17. The North Face Inferno Minus-40 F Mummy Bag
When a standard-issue bag just won’t do, there’s The North Face Inferno minus-40-degree F sleeping bag — a thermal beast of a down sleeping bag built to endure punishing temperature extremes.
Like the Cinnabar, the Inferno is surprisingly light, clocking in at just under 4 to 5 pounds (depending on size). Its temperature rating bottoms out at minus-40 degrees, low enough for the chilliest alpine winter nights. And the unusually wide torso cavity allows for extra padding where you need it most.
And it’s reinforced with NeoVent Air water-resistant fabric on the hood, foot box, and back, the most likely entry points for unwanted moisture.
Given the features, the Inferno is reasonably priced for the extreme-cold category at about $730.
Essential as it is, your sleeping bag isn’t the only indispensable camping gear you need on a camping trip. You also need a water-resistant camping tent with a rain flap and enough sleeping pads for everyone in your party. And don’t forget about lightweight cooking gear, camp furniture, lighting, and weather-appropriate outdoor clothing. And if you plan to hike into your campsite, invest in a durable hiking backpack roomy enough to carry everything you need.
For budding outdoors enthusiasts starting from scratch, it’s an intimidating list. But don’t despair. Choose durable, high-quality gear, and look forward to multiple consecutive camping seasons before you even need to think about replacements. In the meantime, the great outdoors beckons.