Hikers, campers, and backpackers may debate over what the most important items are for having a successful a trip. While hikers may suggest the importance of the right hiking boots, backpackers might focus on the proper bag and weight of your gear; meanwhile, people who just want a relaxing camping trip will be more interested in luxury camping items. However, pretty much anyone who likes spending a night or two outdoors will agree on the importance of one item in particular. You can’t have your best trip without the best sleeping bag. But exactly makes one sleeping bag better than another, and how do you know which one to pick. Well with our help, you’ll have no trouble finding the best sleeping bag. Take a look at these tips on how to choose a sleeping bag and a special guide to the best sleeping bags of 2017.
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How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag
It may sound a little theatrical to say that there is a method to choosing something as trivial as a bag that you sleep in when you’re away from home, but there are actually some very important things to keep in mind when you are in the market for a sleeping bag.
These are things to keep an eye on:
1. Size – How big (or small) is your sleeping bag? You’re going to need a bag that you can fit in comfortably and move around in, but if you are planning to take your sleeping bag on a backpacking trip then you won’t want anything excessive in weight. When shopping check the bag’s length and width as well as weight to determine if you’ll fit comfortably and if the bag will be light enough to carry around during a lengthy weekend of hiking. Of course if you don’t plan on picking up camp every day then you larger bag shouldn’t be much of an issue.
2. Features – What additional features do you need from your sleeping bag? If you plan to be sleeping outside or don’t have a very weather resistant tent then you might want a sleeping back with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. This should help keep you dry (but is not a substitute for a shelter). Also, bags with a full length zipper are good choice to allow you to vent your bag during the night to compete with changing weather. If it gets too hot it helps to be able to unzip your bag and cool down, but if it gets cold you can zip back up and stay insulated. Short, quarter or half-length zippers may leave you feeling a little warm but serious backpackers will appreciate the cut in weight that bags fitted with these zippers offer.
Overall when it comes to features, the three most important talking points are weight, warmth and comfort. A sleeping bag that offers all of these factors is worth your time.
3. Material – There are two key words to be aware of when talking about what your sleeping bag is made of. “Down” is a material made from feathers that is known for its
warmth, while “synthetic” material is man-made and intended to replicate the warmth of down. This biggest distinction between the two is that sleeping bags made from down will likely promise a bit more warmth while bags made of synthetic material will be a bit cooler, yet withstand wet conditions better.
4. Price – Campers will be shocked to see how expensive sleeping bags can be. What’s important to remember is that if you are a serious adventurer and plan to be sleeping outside or in a tent on the ground often then you’ll need a high quality sleeping bag. However, you shouldn’t overpay. You should judge the value of your sleeping bag by its qualities and how it suits you rather than by the price tag. You’ll likely get what you pay for.
Keep in mind that the sleeping bags that are on our radar are in the several hundred dollar range because they are meant for active backpacking and similar activities. A cheap bag from a supermarket will get the job done for a short family camping trip, and if that’s what you are looking for then you’ve come to the wrong place, but if you’re interested in the top sleeping bags of 2017 then go no further.
10 Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking and Camping
These are the best sleeping bags on the market right now, listed in no particular order.
|Model||Weight||Temp. rating||Our Score|
|Brooks-Range Drift -10||43 oz||11.6 F||4.8|
|Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3||39 oz||16 F||5.0|
|Marmot Col-20||59 oz||-20 F||5.0|
|The North Face Inferno -20||52.5 oz||-20 F||4.8|
|Western Mountaineering Versalite||20 oz||10 F||5.0|
|Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt||22.5 oz||45 F||4.7|
|NEMO Rave 15 Sleeping Bag||31.95 oz||15 F||5.0|
|Sea to Summit Traveller TR1 Sleeping Bag||13.7 oz||50 F||4.5|
|Nemo Mezzo Loft Synthetic Sleeping Bag||50.7 oz||30 F||4.6|
|REI Co-op Trail Pod 29 Sleeping Bag||45 oz||30 F||4.6|
1. Brooks-Range Drift -10 – Well-balanced and Great for any Kind of User Looking for a Serious Bag
While the Brooks-Range Drift -10 offers just about everything you need in terms of warmth, weight and comfort, it isn’t the best in any of these categories. This is a good bag for those who travel in a variety of conditions and is certainly one of the top sleeping bags on the market. A true shortcoming however is that this is a pricey bag. At $750 budget, just a ‘well balanced bag’ isn’t exactly the best option.
The $750 likely comes from the fact that this is one of the warmest bags around that weighs in just over 3 pounds.
2. Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3 – Great for Cold Weather Backpackers
Although not the lightest sleeping bag on the market but it’s light enough and is a solid winter bag with a nice hood design to keep you warm and snug during your cold adventures. It rates as slightly heavier and just slightly cooler than the Brooks-Range bag above, but it is significantly less expensive as a trade-off.
3. Marmot Col-20 – One of the Warmest Sleeping Bags on the Market
This sleeping bag might be a bit too heavy for backpackers, but anyone who plans on sleeping in the coldest of weather will really enjoy this bag. This bag combines the weatherproofing and warmth with its weatherproof shell and a down interior to rest across the core of your body.
4. The North Face Inferno -20 – Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather Backpackers
This North Face sleeping bag is just as warm as the Marmot Col -20 and yet it’s lighter. The catch, so to speak, is that it’s a little bit more expensive. Depending on how much you value the 10 ounce difference between the two bags will likely determine which one you pick if you are debating on the two.
5. Western Mountaineering Versalite – This is One of the Lightest Bags in Its Class
There are plenty of good winter-backpacking sleeping bags but this one is very warm for its weight and incredibly light. At hardly over 2 pounds, this bag comes in at a weight that you’d expect from warm weather bags.
6. Therm-a-Rest Corus HD Quilt – A Great Warm Weather Bag, It also Boasts a Great Price
Being a warm weather bag, this bag is perfect for conditions in the plus 45 degrees range. It promises comfort, versatility and is lightweight. It is also significantly less expensive than its winter weather cousins.
7. NEMO Rave 15 Sleeping Bag – Women’s – One of the Best Women’s Sleeping Bags on the Market
With extra room at the elbows and legs due to the award winning spoon shape of the bag, you can count on sleeping comfortably in the NEMO Rave 15. The bag also comes with Thermo Gills which allow you to unzip your bag on warmer nights to let the heat out while still keeping you protected from the occasional cool breeze.
8. Sea to Summit Traveller TR1 Sleeping Bag – This Bag is Great for Wet Conditions
If you are planning on camping out in a location that’s known for rain or condensation then this sleeping bag may be a great choice for you. This sleeping bag is fitted with a Ultra Dry Down water-repellent treatment. Though it is a primarily summertime bag, it is a very warm bag for its weight.
9. Nemo Mezzo Loft Synthetic Sleeping Bag – One of the Most Comfortable Sleeping Bags Around
Warm and fitted with an adaptive comforter and a spacious interior, the Nemo Mezzo Loft Synthetic bag also comes with a zipper on either side or a comfortable hood. Consider this bag if you are a luxury camping or are into the fad known as “glamping”.
10. REI Co-op Trail Pod 29 Sleeping Bag – A Great Three Season Bag with an Awesome Price
A relaxed mummy shape, water resistant synthetic material and a 29 degrees Fahrenheit rating are what make this sleeping bag a promising one for three season conditions. You wouldn’t want to even think about bringing this bag along with you during the coldest months of the year, but it is a versatile bag otherwise and is worth looking into because of its price.
Tips on Using Sleeping Bags
Using a good sleeping bag is a great way to make your next camping trip a lot more comfortable, but some campers find that a sleeping bag isn’t enough to keep them warm and comfortable at night. To get the most out of using a sleeping bag you should consider these tips.
- Lay your sleeping bag on a mat or some kind of cushion. Although sleeping bags can be rather thick and soft, you’re still going to feel the surface beneath them. A firm but forgiving mat
or cushion will feel a lot nicer on your back.
- Use a liner. They are cheap, they are easy to pack, and they are really useful. Not only will a liner add another barrier between you and the wind, it will also help you keep your sleeping bag clean.
- Sleeping bags can be cozy, but it’s a good idea to wear layers to bed as well. If it gets too warm then you can just peel some clothing off. This is a much better method than just hoping your sleeping bag will provide the proper amount of warmth. A warm pair of socks in particular is a good choice because your feet are more likely to get cold at night.
- Zip your sleeping bag up carefully and avoid getting the zipper stuck on the fabric. A zipper that won’t budge can ruin the purpose of a sleeping bag.
- Make sure the bag is fully zipped, carefully folded, and flattened so that any excess air is pushed out when you are trying to put your sleeping bag away. A compact, well contained, and properly folded bag is a lot easier to put away and can save you some frustration.
- Don’t sleep in jeans, cargo pants or similar pants and tight clothing. This should be a little obvious, not to mention these types of clothing aren’t usually the most practical for trips that call for a sleeping bag, but it’s worth noting that anything that’s normally uncomfortable to sleep in will be even more uncomfortable if you are stuck in a sleeping bag and you are wearing something that is difficult to take off. It’s a good idea to wear layers; just make sure that they are practical layers.
- Make sure to do a little scouting before buying a sleeping bag. Check out reviews and ask your camping friends about their favorite sleeping bags and where to buy them. You’re bound to keep a focus on price and comfort but also keep durability in mind. You don’t want to have to replace a sleeping bag that you just bought because it ripped or the zipper broke.
Sleeping in a sleeping bag certainly isn’t like lying under a warm comforter on a king-sized bed, but it doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience by any means. Camping supply companies and similar brands are making some pretty nice sleeping bags nowadays and if you match them up with these tips then you should find yourself sleeping pretty comfortably on your next overnight camping adventure.
Keep Eye Out for Great Deals
With summer camping in full swing right now, warm weather sleeping bags are flying off the shelves, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to look around for a winter sleeping bag as they aren’t exactly a hot ticket item right now. Sales may be going on at some of the best retailers online and it’s worth taking a look.
Hopefully you’ve found a sleeping bag that suits your needs and you will be able to focus on putting together the rest of your gear for your next adventure. Remember that the sleeping bags are top rated and although they certainly are special, there may be other bags out there worth your time. Just remember when shopping to visit back here so you’ll be sure that you know how to choose the right one.