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Modern sleeping bags are no longer the simple zippered comforters many of us remember from childhood camping trips or sleepovers. They are now often considered vital pieces of survival equipment, with insulation ratings as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit and body-hugging "mummy" designs.
There are hundreds of sleeping bags available on the consumer market, so how do you tell which is the right one? With so many kinds of options, it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff. That's where we come in! At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the perfect sleeping bag.
We're dedicated to writing the most honest and unbiased reviews out there. We never accept free products from manufacturers. Instead, we buy products off of store shelves, test them in our labs, consult experts, and examine feedback from product owners. Our ultimate goal: to become your go-to source for trustworthy product recommendations whenever you’re faced with a buying decision.
We examined dozens of the most popular sleeping bags and compiled a list of the five top contenders. Whether you are a casual weekend warrior or an extreme sports enthusiast, we believe that these modern sleeping bags should suit your particular needs. These highly rated products all qualify for our top-contender list.
Many modern sleeping bags use materials generally found in winter jackets and/or high-end comforters. Gore-Tex is a popular choice, along with nylon for water resistance and goose down for insulation. In some cases, manufacturers add special hydrophobic polymers to the down for improved dryness or flame-retardant chemicals to the shell for additional safety. Some sleeping bags are completely waterproof, while others should be considered water-resistant or quick-drying at best. Overall weight and compression are also serious considerations for hikers and campers.
Every sleeping bag works differently when it comes to insulation. Some have multiple liners that create varying levels of insulation in combination. Others use one layer of insulation to cover a wide range of outside temperatures. A few of our top contenders can handle outside temperatures as low as -40 or -50 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the clothing worn by the user. Others are light enough to provide just enough insulation for summer camping trips or overnight visits. We note the insulation ratings of each top contender, and when possible, we provide insight into how manufacturers arrived at those numbers.
Amy is an outdoor addict who began her love affair with nature as a tiny 3-year-old running the trails of Nova Scotia with boundless energy. She has continued to live in close harmony with the outside world ever since, growing up hiking and camping on the East Coast. She moved to Los Angeles after college and lost no time exploring the infinite adventure opportunities that the Southwest offers. She is now a backpacking guide with TSX Challenge on their Eastern Sierra and Grand Canyon routes. She adores nerding out about anything to do with gear, camping, or backpacking in general.
Some of our top contenders use the traditional zippered comforter design. Others use a more form-fitting "mummy" style for additional insulation. Indeed, some consumers prefer have room to maneuver in their sleeping bag while others prefer the body-hugging fit of a mummy bag. There are advantages and disadvantages to both designs, and we discuss these pros and cons as they relate to each of our top contenders. We also examine design elements that are unique to each sleeping bag model.
Generally speaking, investment in a higher-end sleeping bag means increased insulation ratings, higher down fill-power, and better weatherproofing. However, there are times when a higher retail price is connected to a particular manufacturer's brand name or market dominance. Some economy-priced sleeping bags deliver the same level of performance as their more recognizable counterparts, and some higher-end sleeping bags do not hold up well under real-life conditions. We mention retail prices as a consideration for consumers, but we still emphasize performance over cost when it comes to our rankings.
The Kelty sleeping bag uses a tightly woven nylon shell and a polyester "micro pongee" liner material to create a truly waterproof outer layer. We recommend investing in special strapping (not included) that will bind the Kelty's outer shell to a sleeping pad for improved comfort and water resistance. The bag's interior also includes several different kinds of loops for added security and suspension. The box-stitched inner lining is stuffed with 600 fill-power natural down that has been treated with a water-resistant polymer. Simply put, any moisture that manages to penetrate the Kelty's outer shell will not be absorbed by the inner down lining.
The US Military Modular Sleep System consists of four separate pieces designed to be used in various combinations according to weather conditions. There are actually two mummy-style sleeping bags, one rated for mild summer or spring weather and another for harsher fall and winter conditions. Both have a rip-stop nylon shell and a water-resistant polyester fiberfill interior. These sleeping bags will fit inside a special protective cover called a bivy. The bivy itself features three layers of Gore-Tex, the same material often used in winter jackets and snow suits.
Some of the main specs to keep in mind while shopping for sleeping bags are: gender, temperature rating, seasons, weight, and primary use (backpacking, car camping, etc.)
The TETON Celsius XXL sleeping bag's outer shell is made out of a taffeta material rather than the more common ripstop nylon or Gore-Tex. It provides solid insulation and protection from the elements without being too slick or noisy. We note the use of a cotton flannel inner lining in the TETON Celsius XXL; many users extol this lining for its comfort and warmth. The filling is a proprietary polyester fiberfill that provides a significant amount of loft, but potential buyers should know that this loft will not survive machine washing. A snag-resistant, self-healing zipper is a plus in our book, as are the generous interior dimensions of this bag. (Dimensions are very similar to that of a twin bed mattress.)
Coleman is a well-respected brand name in the camping industry, and the North Rim sleeping bag is worthy of that respect. Both the outside shell and inner layer are made from polyester and lined with nylon for comfort. The filler is a special polyester material the manufacturer calls "Coletherm," and the sleeping bag is stuffed with 60 ounces of it. The double-zipper is snag-free and self-healing, and it is possible for users to unzip either the top or bottom section for ventilation. The mummy design could be constrictive for some users, but the hood is designed to fit very snugly during extreme weather conditions. A spacious foot box provides extra room for campers to wiggle their toes or shift sleep positions. Because the Coleman is not completely resistant to water on its own, we recommend purchasing a waterproof bed roll or air mattress to accompany this sleeping bag.
The Suisse Sport Adventurer sleeping bag uses standard ingredients such as a nylon shell, nylon inner lining, and polyester fill. It is a decent mummy-style sleeping system with the ability to morph into a comforter when fully unzipped. The Suisse Sport Adventure excels in one particular area, and that is compaction and storage. This ultra-lightweight sleeping bag can be compressed into a 12 by 6-inch stuff sack (included). Our only major concern about construction and durability is the quality of the zippers. Some users report the sleeping bag's plastic zippers have a tendency to snap off or break under moderate pressure. We suggest that users adjust the sleeping bag fully before putting any force on the zippers. Care should also be taken when stuffing the sleeping bag back into the compression sack for storage.
Summer bags are rated at 32°F, 3-season bags are rated between 10° and 32°, and winter bags are rated at 10° and lower.
As advertised, the Kelty Tuck 22 sleeping bag has a low temperature rating of 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Users say this rating can be extended through the use of insulating clothing and a wind-breaking shelter. The Kelty's mummy bag design traps body heat very efficiently, and some users even report becoming too warm after a few hours of use. We recommend the Kelty as a three-season sleeping bag; it's more than adequate for spring, summer, and fall outings, but it is not quite warm enough for extreme winter conditions. We do appreciate the inclusion of a tube that draws out cold air from the bag's inner layer.
Because the US Military Modular Sleep System allows for different combinations of sleeping bags and a bivy, the insulation ratings vary. The lightest sleeping bag by itself can generally handle outside temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The heavier bag is designed for typical fall and winter conditions and should provide comfort down to -10 degrees on its own. When both bags are used in combination, the insulation rating falls to around -30 degrees (and improves even more if the bags are placed inside the bivy). The absolute lowest insulation rating for this particular sleep system is approximately -50 degrees, but this is assuming that the user is also wearing insulated underclothing and other personal winter gear. The bivy works as both a wind-breaking tent and an additional layer of insulation.
You are actually best off wearing as little clothing as possible while in a sleeping bag. They are designed to use your own body heat to help insulate you.
The TETON Celsius XXL is advertised as a "0 degree Fahrenheit" sleeping bag, although some satisfied customers have reported using it under much colder conditions. We would describe the TETON Celsius XXL as a three-season sleeping bag, but the mummy-style hood and drawstring do provide additional warmth and protection in winter temperatures. The top and bottom sections can be unzipped to provide some ventilation if the interior becomes too warm. The baffling stitches along the zipper and hood are designed to keep cold air out, but some users report feeling a draft under certain conditions. Two people could occupy the same bag for additional heat, or two bags could be zipped together.
Although Coleman advertises the North Rim as a "0 degree" sleeping bag, its stated insulation rating is around 15 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more of a three-season model. Some users report 32 degrees as a more realistic temperature rating (unless the user wears additional winter clothing and adds more insulating material to the bag). The hood can be cinched very tightly around the user's head and face, and a special tube helps to remove any cold air that happens to penetrate the shell. Potential buyers could also invest in a supplemental bivy, a contoured sack that provides additional protection from the elements. Some owners also report an increase in insulation power with the addition of Mylar emergency blankets on the ground and top of the bag.
The Suisse Sport Adventurer sleeping bag is rated to about 30 degrees, although we have heard the level of comfort drops off considerably below 40 degrees. Based on a number of user reviews, we would describe this sleeping bag as a two-and-a-half season model. The mummy design and adjustable hood both enhance heat retention, but users should consider adding additional layers of insulating materials (flannel liner, Mylar emergency blanket, long underwear, etc.) during cold weather. The bag does have a draft tube for additional cold air ventilation -- a plus when it comes to mummy-style bags.
There are many different fills for sleeping bags, from goose down to synthetic to everything in between. Take the time to research each fill to find out which is best for you.
The Kelty sleeping bag uses a mummy design, which means the user can cinch the entire bag tightly around his or her head and body for extra heat retention. This form-fitting design, however, also restricts the user's movements and ability to shift positions during sleep. This shouldn't be too problematic for those who are natural back sleepers, but it could prove uncomfortable for those who sleep in other positions or tend to toss and turn. One design element we really appreciate about the Kelty sleeping bag is its zipper release system. Because of this "easy escape" system, users will not feel "trapped" inside -- even if the zipper compartment is completely closed. We also note the inclusion of a compression bag, which can reduce the total size of the sleeping bag to less than a square foot.
At approximately ten pounds, the US Military Modular Sleep System is among the heaviest of our top contenders, but users do have the option of using only one or two components at a time. The system also comes with a compression sack for easier transportation and storage. Owners tell us that when both sleeping bags are inserted into the bivy, this product is very comfortable under most weather conditions. (We highly recommend purchasing a separate bed roll to prevent cold air from leaking into the bag from the ground.) The mummy-style design may feel restrictive to some users, but it does help trap additional body heat. The bivy has a hood that users can pull down over their faces to protect even more skin from exposure to the elements.
When a bag is rated to a certain temperature, this is not actually the lowest end temperature the bag can handle. It is the temperature at which the bag works to optimum effect.
Because it utilizes a traditional rectangular design (except for the hood), the TETON Celsius XXL is exceptionally comfortable for users who tend to shift sleep positions throughout the night or simply enjoy some extra room for stretching. The soft cotton flannel inner lining is also more comfortable than some abrasive nylon or polyester linings used in other sleeping bags. We praise the TETON XX-L for its exceptional loft as well. We wish this sleeping bag were machine washable, but an occasional hanging should help air out the shell, and the interior can be treated with a microbial spray. Taller users will also appreciate the over-sized dimensions of this roomy bag.
The Coleman North Rim sleeping bag is relatively bulky compared to other contenders, but this is a good thing when it comes to user comfort. The additional loft provides some much-needed cushioning for casual campers who may not be accustomed to sleeping in form-fitting mummy bags. Satisfied users say they do not feel completely smothered in the Coleman North Rim bag, unlike some models designed for extreme conditions. One concern we have is ease of storage, however. The North Rim does come with its own stuff sack, but it is more like a laundry bag than a proper compression sack with straps. This is not a sleeping bag we would recommend for hiking or biking expeditions, but it can be compressed enough to fit in a camper storage unit or car trunk.
The Suisse Sport Adventurer sleeping bag is ultra-lightweight and compact, but we wouldn't necessarily call it "ultra-comfortable." The synthetic fill does develop some loft over time, but it does not reach down-filled comforter levels. The nylon inner lining may be a little abrasive on its own, which is why we recommend the addition of at least a cotton flannel lining or a softer blanket. The Suisse Sport Adventurer is nearly seven feet in length -- a definite plus for taller and users. However, the narrow width of this mummy-style bag could be a little problematic for heavier adults. We praise the Suisse Sport Adventurer for its portability, but potential buyers should note that it might not be the best purchase for cold-weather camping.
Over-compression can actually be bad for your sleeping bag. Pack your bag to only that small a size as specified by the company, else it will flatten too much and be less heat conservative.
At $67, the Kelty sleeping bag is among our more expensive contenders, but the extra upfront cost is definitely an investment in quality. Unlike other sleeping bags we examined, the Kelty truly is waterproof. The down inside each boxed chamber is treated with a special water-repellent polymer called "DriDown," and the outer shell is parachute-grade nylon. Consumers will not find all of those elements on bargain-priced competitors, and no one wants to sleep in a waterlogged sleeping bag.
The United States military has very high standards when it comes to survival equipment for its troops. Finding this caliber of extreme weather sleep system at only $195 is a great deal for customers, and we highly recommend it for hikers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. However, it is important to remember that this gear has been previously issued to active military members, so condition will definitely be variable. Potential customers may have to do some minor repair or maintenance work before using the sleep system for the first time.
Take into consideration what sort of trip you will be using it on and buy accordingly. Rectangular bags could be cheaper, but they're heavier take up more space, and may not insulate very well.
At only $84, the TETON Celsius XXL sleeping bag is among the most affordable of our top contenders. It offers more interior space than many expensive mummy-style models. It may be heavier and bulkier than other sleeping bags designed for extreme conditions, but casual users shouldn't feel shortchanged. The TETON XXL comes with its own compression sack for easy storage. It also features a special pocket sewn into the inner lining for personal items (wallets, cellphones, maps, etc.).
At the notably affordable retail price point, the Coleman North Rim hits almost all of the marks of more expensive contenders without sacrificing quality. While it may not be quite as waterproof or as lightweight as the Kelty or US Military Sleep System bags, it is more than suitable for casual campers who need affordable outdoor bedding. The Coleman North Rim's insulation rating is comparable to three-season sleeping bags that cost three times as much. The extended toe box provides additional wiggle room not always found in higher-end mummy bags. The fact that the Coleman North Rim is machine washable also means savings in the long run, since it will not require special dry cleaning. We wish the Coleman North Rim were more waterproof and a little easier to store, but it is still a great deal for those who aren't seeking extreme adventures in sub-zero weather.
The Suisse Sport Adventurer is a true steal at the price of $99, especially for those who seek a compact sleeping bag that will fit just about anywhere. More expensive contenders may have lower temperature ratings, but they are also more difficult to carry than the ultra-lightweight Suisse Sport Adventurer. The interior dimensions are spacious compared to other mummy-style bags, allowing users to stretch out or change sleep positions easily during the night. At this affordable price, a customer could keep one Sport Adventurer bag stored with a backpack and another stored in a camper for impromptu weekend outings or hunting trips. The Sport Adventurer provides all the benefits of a mummy sleeping bag while taking up less space than a typical bedroll.
The US Military 4-PC Weather Sleep System is a durable three-season sleeping bag that withstand the most extreme conditions.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.