sidebar

OutdoorGearLab Home

search
Review | Ratings | Buying Tips | Testing

The Best Camping Sleeping Bags of 2017

The Strato Loft (left) next to the Editors' Choice Slumberjack Country Squire. The Squire uses ample cotton fill for a heavy flannel-feeling comfort. The Strato Loft is more like a backpacking sleeping bag on steroids: roomy but still composed of slick nylon material.
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor
Monday
Our mission: find you the best camping sleeping bag for road trips and backyard camping. We analyzed 50 top contenders and selected 12 for detailed hands-on tests. After over 200 hours of camping, we reveal which bags are the best value and which are the warmest and most comfortable. After many toasty nights and a few frigid ones in ten campgrounds and on many living room floors, we found some bags were dramatically more comfortable and durable than others - irrespective of price. Our selection focused on the bigger plush models that may be bulky, but deliver nearly double the room of a traditional mummy bag. And they come with much cozier and less expensive materials. We cover lighter mummy bags in our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review.

Spring 2017 Update
We just added a new award winner for luxury travel: NEMO Strato Loft. Camping sleeping bag technology does not change often, but in this case there is both a new hood and zipper system that allow you to comfortably roll around and keep the drafts at bay. More details below. We also double-checked pricing, available and color changes of the other bags in our review.

Best Overall Camping Sleeping Bag


Slumberjack Country Squire 0


Editors' Choice Award

$217.03
at Amazon

Very warm
Largest and most comfortable bag tested
Removable cotton sheet
Very strong zipper
Duffel bag storage
Heavy and bulky
Not appropriate for warm or wet weather
Expensive
After one night in the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, many of our testers wanted to sell their old mummy bags they had been using for car camping and couch surfing. If weight and space are no concern, you should be sleeping in the Squire or a bag of similar size and cozy materials. How cozy? The Squire feels like being a bed with warm, thick blankets. It's amazingly luxurious and also rustic. The Country Squire is the largest bag we tested, both longer and wider than its competitors; it fits people of all shapes and sizes and even has space for two average-size people! Enjoy it for yourself or spoon with someone else. There's so much insulation we comfortably slept on the ground and floors with no pad. This zero degree version kept us warm into the teens, and we loved the removable cotton sheet, a unique feature. This is the premium general purpose bag for those that value comfort, warmth, and quality. The lighter, Slumberjack Country Squire 20 has the same excellent features and comfort.

Read full review: Slumberjack Country Squire 0

Best Bang for the Buck


Kelty Callisto 20


Best Buy Award

$63.96
at CampSaver

Warmest camping bag relative to weight
Adjustable top opening
Full synthetic construction
Widest temperature range
Not as comfortable as wider bags
With a price tag of $80, the Kelty Callisto 20 is not the cheapest bag we tested, but its combination of comfort and warmth in a fairly compact design make it the best value of the bags we tested. While most of the rectangular bags we tested are large enough to squeeze two people into, the Callisto's narrower design is still plenty comfy for one person, and much lighter and more compact when packed. The Callisto is also sold as a "two pack," or double wide. While we enjoy the larger rectangular bags that you can squeeze into with your cuddle buddy, two Callistos zipped together in double wide mode are far more comfy for two people.

Read full review: Kelty Callisto 20

Top Pick for Warmth


Wenzel Grande


Top Pick Award

$79.33
at Amazon

Warmest bag for the price
Soft flannel lining
Best packing straps with a nice handle
No draft tube behind the zipper
Heavy
The Wenzel Grande is by far the warmest bag we tested for the price. We found this large rectangular bag almost as warm as the Editors' Choice Slumberjack, and we love the feel of the poly/cotton flannel liner. This is our favorite bag to unzip into a big blanket. Soft flannel makes it great in the house, and the rugged cotton shell doesn't mind being on the dirt and leaves. Consider this bag if you sleep cold or plan to camp in freezing weather, and don't want to cough up the extra cash for the Country Squire. This bag offers the most warmth for the lowest price.

Read full review: Wenzel Grande

Top Pick for Luxury Travel


NEMO Strato Loft 25


NEMO Strato Loft 25
Top Pick Award

Light and compressible
Great leg room
Best hood of all the bags
Expensive
Doesn't unzip
The Strato Loft is the lightest and most compressible bag we tested. It's our favorite pick for airplane travel or road trips where space is tight. We would also take it on short backpacking trips where weight is not an issue. It has the massive leg room of a traditional rectangular bag but uses 700-fill down to cut down on weight and bulk. The only downsides to the bag are it does not have the cozy flannel feel of cotton bags. It also doesn't complete unzip or join with other bags.

Read full review: NEMO Strato Loft 25

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Manufacturer Rating Shell Material
85
Slumberjack Country Squire 0 $260
Editors' Choice Award
Rectangular 0 12 oz. Cotton Duck
83
NEMO Strato Loft 25 $350
Top Pick Award
Rectangular 25 40D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR
82
Wenzel Grande $90
Top Pick Award
Rectangular 0 8 oz. cotton
79
Kelty Callisto 20 $80
Best Buy Award
Rectangular 20 50D polyester taffeta
76
Marmot Trestles 15 $109
Mummy 15 Polyester DWR
75
Teton Sports Celsius XL 0 $110
Rectangular 0 Taffeta
71
Marmot Mavericks 30 $109
Semi-Rectangular 30 70D polyester taffeta
68
Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame $109
Mummy 20 75D Plain Weave Nylon
68
ALPS Crescent Lake 20 $80
Mummy 20 210T Polyester
63
Coleman Dunnock $75
Rectangular 20 Cotton
60
REI Polar Pod 25 $90
Mummy 25 Polyester taffeta
59
Wenzel Conquest $60
Rectangular 25 Poly/cotton

Analysis and Test Results


While fun times around the campfire and discovering new trails are often the highlights of a weekend camping trip, getting a good night's sleep is key to having a great time. Camping sleeping bags have a lot more room inside than products designed for backpacking, and are less restrictive and therefore more comfortable. When camping close to your car or truck, your sleeping bag's weight is less important than how comfortable and warm it is. The products tested here are warm, comfortable, and affordable options for those trips when weight doesn't matter. These are the kind of affordable, easily laundered bags that can withstand a few sparks from the fire, a spilled mug of hot chocolate, or getting dragged through the dirt by the kiddos. Save your lightweight, and pricey, down bag for backpacking trips, and enjoy the coziness of one of these bags when car camping.

All the products we tested packed and secured. From the 14 lbs Country Squire 0  down to the about 4 lbs mummy shaped models  there's a big range of best uses for these.
All the products we tested packed and secured. From the 14 lbs Country Squire 0, down to the about 4 lbs mummy shaped models, there's a big range of best uses for these.

Our Buying Advice article discusses construction, design, and temperature ratings in more depth, and answers key questions to help you decide between the differing shapes and temperature ratings of these products. The individual review for each model identifies its best uses, details the score in each performance metric, and compares and contrasts each product to similar competitors. You'll find a thorough description of the evaluation metrics below, and the top scorers in each.

Different Types


This review seeks to identify the best all-purpose products for use everywhere, and anywhere, except on backpacking trips. We tested nine bags of a variety of shapes and styles - all have synthetic insulation, weigh close to four pounds or more, and except for the Editors' Choice winner, cost less than $120. They are ideal for car camping, picnics, or just keeping in the closet for the unexpected guest. Lighter, more compressible bags with down insulation can be found in the several additional sleeping bag categories we test.

Camping Bags


Camping sleeping bags come in rectangular and mummy shapes, but all focus on comfort and warmth at an affordable price. Rectangular bags are the largest, heaviest and most comfortable type. With lots of room inside, these are perfect for folks who move around a lot in their sleep. Mummy shaped bags have a hood to seal in warm air, and a tapered cut that saves weight and makes the bag more thermally efficient. For most general use applications, we feel rectangular bags offer greater performance than mummy bags, and, more often than not they're also a better value. There are two main reasons to choose a general use mummy bag: (1) warmth without bulk, because mummies are warmer for their weight, and (2) packed size, because the smaller the bag, the more room you have in your car for other things. Otherwise, rectangular bags are more comfortable and usually unzip to make a big, warm blanket.

Backpacking Bags


Kelty Cosmic Down 20
When you have to carry everything for your camp on your back, especially when that's for many miles or many days, weight and packed size are far more of a concern than when car camping. All the products we test in our backpacking bag review have a mummy shape for greater thermal efficiency relative to weight. While most of the bags in the backpacking category have down insulation, two bags insulated with high-quality synthetic insulation appear in this lineup as well. If you are considering one of the mummy shaped bags we tested here in camping, take a look at the more technical and pricier synthetic bags in the backpacking review as well.

Synthetic-insulated mummy bags are a good match for folks that camp a lot, but want an inexpensive bag suitable for the occasional short backpacking trip.

Winter Down Bags


Western Mountaineering Antelope MF hood
For expedition use or winter backpacking with temperatures well below freezing, nothing beats a high quality, super lofty, moisture resistant, down bag. The state-of-the-art down models we test in our winter bag review represent the best available. While the award winners will set you back upwards of $500, these are the bags you want for backpacking in winter conditions.

Ultralight Bags


Katabatic Gear Palisade
Sometimes, nothing is more important than saving every ounce possible. If backpacking hundreds or even thousands of miles in one go is in your future, you'll want to find the lightest sleeping system possible that keeps you warm enough to sleep. Our review of ultralight bags includes advanced down quilts and hybrid down system bags, many of which weigh just a little more than one pound.

Ladies, you'll want check out our review of the Best Women's Sleeping Bags. Mummy bags designed for women are not only shaped a bit differently than men's bags, but spread the insulation around in proportions unique to a woman's need for warmth.

Best Uses


Big, roomy, comfortable, and affordable…. these bags are a great choice for general use. If you need a sleeping bag, and you are not carrying it in a backpack into the backcountry, we feel the bags in this review are the best and most affordable option.

Car Camping


Even those of us that go on a lot of backpacking trips, often spend time camping right by our ride. Which means we get to enjoy luxuries: a big cooler and camp kitchen, cozy camp chairs, books, and a camping tent with standing room. Why not enjoy a roomy, cozy sleeping bag as well? Save your expensive, down backpacking bag for when you need it to head into the backcountry, and snuggle up in a comfy camping bag.

On any given weekend, there are likely 100 people camping close to their cars for every one person who hiked miles into the wilderness to camp and explore. Whether you're in a tent in the campground in one of our National Parks, or set up beside your truck and toy hauler out in the middle of nowhere, camping close to your ride means you can bring the luxuries. Why squeeze into an expensive, constricting, down bag when you have the room to bring a big 'ol comfy bag? Bring a camping mattress or a camp cot and live large. That's part of the fun of car camping.

Sometimes you want to just pull into your campsite and crash. We spent several nights in each bag  under the stars  in close to freezing or colder weather to understand their warmth range.
Sometimes you want to just pull into your campsite and crash. We spent several nights in each bag, under the stars, in close to freezing or colder weather to understand their warmth range.

RV, Van, or Truck


Travelling and living in a recreational vehicle has never been more popular. Nothing beats an extended road trip…and nothing is better than having a house on wheels to do it. The bags we tested in this review are perfect for extended travel. Unzipped to make a queen-sized comforter, they make a great cold weather blanket on your RV bed, and are simple to launder. Clear weather making you want to sleep under the stars? Zip it up, take it outside and enjoy some fresh air. Need a blanket for a quick lunch picnic, or a comfy spot for your morning yoga? The rectangular bags we tested are perfect for that.

Cabin or Home Use


Unexpected house guests? More people than beds at your ski cabin for the weekend? The kids keep bugging you to sleep in the backyard for the weekend? These bags are perfect for that too. Unzipped, the bags make a cozy queen sized comforter for your futon or bed. The Slumberjack Country Squire and the Wenzel Grande have insulation so thick use without an air mattress or sleeping pad is reasonable. Either of these bags on a carpeted floor, or even the back deck, provide enough cushioning for a good night's sleep.
Rectangular shape doubles as queen sized blankets. The Sumberjack County Squire  shown here  has a removable sheet and serves as a warm winter blanket for house guests  or for you.
Rectangular shape doubles as queen sized blankets. The Sumberjack County Squire, shown here, has a removable sheet and serves as a warm winter blanket for house guests, or for you.

Criteria for Evaluation


Most of these products are very heavy and bulky compared to models designed for backpacking. Generous dimensions and boxy shapes are so comfy because they're not restrictive.
Most of these products are very heavy and bulky compared to models designed for backpacking. Generous dimensions and boxy shapes are so comfy because they're not restrictive.

Warmth


A sleeping bag must keep you warm enough to get a good night's sleep. This is the starting point for selecting the right model for you. While the products we tested are rated from 0 to 30F, and are appropriate for different conditions, we scored each for warmth. You'll find our judgment of the coldest temperatures each model is appropriate for in the individual reviews. You may be asking, can I sleep comfortably in one of these bags rated to 0F when it's actually that cold outside? We think it's unlikely, but you'll probably get some fitful sleep if you are wearing a lot of warm clothing inside the bag. The manufacturer's rating for each of these bags should be taken with a grain of salt…or several grains. A good rule of thumb for these products is to add 20F to the manufacturer's rating. How much clothing you wear while sleeping, along with your tent or other shelter and what you're sleeping on (a pad, mattress, or on the ground), all contribute to warmth as well. Our testing added up to several hundred nights in these products — some in a tent, others right under the stars, and many more in a house on wheels. This real-world testing gave us a much better idea of the warmth comfort range for these products than the numbers in their names. Our rating for warmth contributes 35% of each product's overall score.

For most folks, the warmest of these bags will provide a comfortable night's sleep down into the high teens. The warmest model we tested, the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, proved warm enough when sleeping under the stars with temperatures in the upper teens. The only other models we found just warm enough for these temps were the Wenzel Grande, and (if you wear cozy warm clothes) the Kelty Callisto 20. The Callisto's width is several inches narrower than the Country Squire and Grande, achieving good warmth with less bulk. If you plan to regularly camp when nights are in the 20's or lower, the Country Squire and Grande are your best choices.

With all rectangular bags, wearing a hat, a top layer with a hood, or tucking your head into the bag can be key to staying warm when it's cold out.

The Alps Crescent Lake 20 is the warmest of the mummy shaped bags we tested. The insulated draft tube backing the zipper and ample hood create a warm product that is fairly roomy inside for a mummy bag. The rectangular Wenzel Conquest and the hoodless mummy, the Marmot Mavericks 30, are the least warm models we tested. Both are great choices for summer camping with nights in the 40's or 50's. The Conquest unzips to make a great flannel lined blanket, and the Mavericks 30 is the most compact bag we tested.
The Country Squire is the warmest bag we tested  great for crashing on the cabin porch for some peace and quiet.
The Country Squire is the warmest bag we tested, great for crashing on the cabin porch for some peace and quiet.

Comfort


Comfort is king with these general-purpose bags, and contributes 25% of overall scores. Almost all of the models we tested are equally - if not more - comfortable than the most comfortable backpacking and winter bags we've ever used. This is primarily due to the fact that with general use bags, weight is not an obstacle for design. The wider and longer it is, the more comfortable it is! Thick, synthetic insulation on the bottom of the bag also contributes to comfort by adding cushioning to your sleeping pad. The most comfortable bag we've ever tested, by a long shot, is the Slumberjack Country Squire. This bag is wide enough (42") to fit two cozy people inside, and long enough (84") to cover the heads of our tall testers. Its removable cotton sheet liner is also comfy against bare skin. The Wenzel Grande and its little brother, the Conquest, along with the Coleman Dunnock all have a soft flannel lining, and are practically the same width. There's plenty of room to move around inside, and again, just enough room for two folks to spoon. These rectangular bags received the highest comfort scores we awarded.

Our evaluation of comfort focuses primarily on how roomy a bag is, and how the lining feels next to your bare skin. It is no surprise then that the mummy bags we tested received the lowest comfort scores we awarded. While these models are more generously cut than most backpacking bags, there isn't nearly as much room to move around as a rectangular bag affords. In addition, the synthetic lining materials on the mummy bags just aren't as cozy next to your skin as a soft, cotton lining. The downside to soft cotton blend linings? You do not want to get them wet. When wet, cotton not only sucks away heat, but takes much longer to dry than synthetic fabrics.

Getting our morning sunshine and stretch on before another bluebird day in Red Rock Canyon  NV. These two Wenzel models unzip to make big  comfy blankets  great for picnics  yoga  or...
Getting our morning sunshine and stretch on before another bluebird day in Red Rock Canyon, NV. These two Wenzel models unzip to make big, comfy blankets, great for picnics, yoga, or...

Features


Here we assess important features such as fabrics, zippers, hood design, and pull cords, as well as evaluate the performance of any unique features. While each of these bags is quite similar to several of its competitors, small features can really set a bag apart. Our scores for features contribute 25% to overall scores.

Features can turn a good bag into a great bag or reduce the performance of a great bag to a good bag. As mentioned above, the Editors' Choice winner Slumberjack Country Squire has a removable cotton sheet liner that we quite like. Not only is it nice next to your skin, it helps keep the inside of the bag clean. Many of these bags have two loops sewn in at the foot for ease of hanging. Hanging up your bag to air out and completely dry should be a regular part of extended car camping trips. Most of these products have a Velcro flap to secure the zipper when completely closed up, and the best bags have a flap that folds over onto itself to hide away the prickly side of the Velcro when not in use. Draw cords at the top opening or hood allow you to close in more warmth when temperatures drop; however, we noticed that some are easier to operate than others, and we factored issues like this into our scores.

The Slumberjack Country Squire's duffel bag is huge and can be unzipped from the bag to serve as a stand-alone duffel. All this and more can fit inside for a weekend getaway. Sleeping pad  tent  extra clothes  a pillow... we learned to love it for ease of packing.
The Slumberjack Country Squire's duffel bag is huge and can be unzipped from the bag to serve as a stand-alone duffel. All this and more can fit inside for a weekend getaway. Sleeping pad, tent, extra clothes, a pillow... we learned to love it for ease of packing.

Packed Size


While a few pounds makes very little difference when packing for a car camping adventure, everyone seems to run short of space when it's time to put in the camp chairs and games at the end. Whether it's a stuff sack or straps, each of these bags comes with a packing system. The heavy, rectangular bags generally get rolled up and secured with a wrap or strap system, and mummy bags get stuffed into a sack. Ratings for packed size contribute 15% of overall scores.

No surprise, the mummy bags, which are cut for efficiency, pack away the smallest. When cinched down in its compression stuff sack, the hoodless Marmot Mavericks 30, is the smallest we tested. The Mountain Hardwear Bozeman Flame stuffed into its fleece-lined sack is the second smallest. These two bags, along with the warmer Alps Crescent Lakes 20, are your best choices if you are looking for an affordable bag for camping that is also compact and light enough to take on the occasional backpacking trip.

The luxurious Slumberjack Country Squire, rolled up and stowed in the included duffel bag, is twice as big as anything else we tested. While this big duffel can be folded over and tied up to reduce its size, we found it useful for stowing extra clothes and a pillow for travel. For a weekend trip, you can fit all your extra clothes, a book or two, and other odds and ends right inside. There's a lot of extra space in there, which we loved when packing for quick getaways. The next largest models when packed, the Wenzel Grande, Coleman Dunnock, and Wenzel Conquest, are all similar in size when rolled and secured. The roomy, comfortable design of these oversized rectangular bags translates to a bigger, heavier product overall, even when tightly rolled up. In individual reviews, we discuss ease of packing, and whether a convenient carry handle is part of the package.

We previously reviewed two additional mummy bags with hoods in this category. The Marmot Trestles 15 is a favorite of testers for creating a double bag for two people that can have the hoods snugged up for warmth, or the top folded back for warm weather. The latest version of the REI Polar Pod 25 has some great features. A pillow pocket in the hood and a zippered storage pocket inside for keys, wallet, or your phone.

We did it so you don't have to... unless you want. Roughing it under the stars on an early spring morning in the Indian Peaks  CO.
We did it so you don't have to... unless you want. Roughing it under the stars on an early spring morning in the Indian Peaks, CO.

Key Accessories


Sleeping Pad - When car camping, weight doesn't make much difference, and we love having a big, comfy sleeping pad or air mattress to pair with a roomy bag. See our review of the best Camping Pads & Mattresses for our favorites.
Chairs - Car camping means you can bring chairs to sit in. Woohoo! Lounging around the fire is hard to beat. Our favorite models are found in our review of the best Camping Chairs.
Tents - If you are in the market for a new tent for car camping, check out our review of the best Camping Tents.

Conclusion


All the products we tested packed and secured. From the 14 lbs Country Squire 0  down to the about 4 lbs mummy shaped models  there's a big range of best uses for these.
All the products we tested packed and secured. From the 14 lbs Country Squire 0, down to the about 4 lbs mummy shaped models, there's a big range of best uses for these.
It's not easy to select the right product without research, and that's what this review is here for. We hope that our analysis has helped you choose the best product for your needs. Now go pitch a tent and enjoy the outdoors!

Brandon Lampley
  • Share this article:
You Might Also Like


Review Categories

Men's Clothing

Women's Clothing

Shoes & Boots

Camping & Hiking

Biking

Travel

Fitness

Climbing

Snow Sports