The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping of 2017
With so many choices out there and such a wide range of adventures, choosing the best sleeping bag can be a challenge. To help, we analyzed nearly 80 top contenders, selecting the best 8, putting them to the test via side-by-side testing in the lab and in the field. Our mission is to find you the best traditional sleeping bag for road trips, campgrounds, and backyard camping. We selected traditional and rectangle sleeping bags and then we hit the road and visited all five of Utah's National Parks. During our trip we put these bags to the test, comparing our findings. In short, we didn't give a single bag the slightest break. We knit-picked each and every bag to death to find you the best of the best - and what we found may surprise you.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
May 2017 Update
We've updated our sleeping bag review with fresh products for the 2017 camping season. We have a new Editors' Choice winner, along with a variety of new Top Pick winners that will hit the spot for a wide range of applications.
Best Overall Camping Sleeping Bag
After several years of testing traditional sleeping bags, we feel we've found a new leader that's worthy of the title Best Overall Bag. Hats off to the Wenzel Grande - the first bag in a long time that we feel had the brawn to edge out the Slumberjack Country Squire. One of the largest bags we tested (and by far the coziest), the Wenzel Grande is the warmest bag we reviewed and the most comfortable kind of like being rolled up in a warm cinnamon roll. What this bag may lack in fancy features, it easily makes up with its hardcore warmth and comfort capabilities. When it came down to it, we felt warmth and comfort were by far the most important features of any bag. After all, you're not going to care too much about an interior pocket or an over-sized, industrial zipper when you're snuggling down for a long night in the mountains and the temps are starting to plummet. When you combine its incredible warmth and absolute comfort with the Wenzel's price tag, this bag simply takes the cake.
Extremely plush and comfortable
Rugged exterior lining
Soft flannel interior
Perfectly doubles as a quilt or ground cloth
Heavy and bulky
Not appropriate for warm or wet weather
Somewhat difficult to roll up
Read full review: Wenzel Grande
Best Bang for Your Buck
Kelty Callisto 20
With a price tag of $80, the Kelty Callisto 20 is not the cheapest bag we looked at, but its combination of comfort and warmth in a fairly compact design make it the best value of the bags we tested. This bag is lighter than traditional flannel bags, but its roomy design along with its thick, pillowy insulation, make it one of our favorite general-purpose bags. We found the silky interior of the Callisto easy to move around in and feel its overall construction and size make it a definite good bag for your buck.
Adjustable top opening
Full synthetic construction
Large and roomy
Thick pillowy insulation
Not as comfortable as wider bags
Thin zipper baffle
Read full review: Kelty Callisto 20
Top Pick for Overall Luxury
Slumberjack Country Squire 0
Let's face it, if price isn't a factor, the Slumberjack Country Squire 0 still sets the bar for the most luxurious camping bag on the market. It's massive, warm, comfortable and rugged with a zip out liner that makes doing a quick washing easy and gives you the sensation of being snuggled up at home in your own bed sheets. This bag is chuck full of unique features, including a zip-off storage bag that can be used to carry tons of camp items from the car to the tent or trailer. The Slumberjack's overall quality and construction, including its 12oz Cotton Duck rugged exterior, makes this a bag that could last a lifetime.
Massive, luxurious bag
Several unique features
Removable cotton liner
Convenient zip-on duffel bag
Not water resistant
Cream-colored interior prone to stains
Read full review: Slumberjack Country Squire 0
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
At a price tag of just under $35, we didn't expect much from the Coleman Brazos. However, although cheap, this bag pleasantly surprised us when it outperformed more expensive bags during two of the most extensive, side-by-side warmth tests we've ever done. When it comes to keeping your piggies (and the rest of you) warm, this bag really does the trick. The Brazos is a great grab if you're looking for a bargain bag that gets the job done. One thing to consider: This bag is one of the smallest bags we tested, so if you're over 6 feet tall and have a larger than average frame, you'll still hit your budget, but you're going to be uncomfortable.
Warmest bag for the price
Patented zipper system reduces zipper snags
Not very roomy
Catchy/scratchy interior lining
Read full review: Coleman Brazos
Top Pick for Luxury Travel
NEMO Strato Loft 25
Want the lightest and most compressible bag we tested? The Strato Loft 25 is for you. 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.
Light and compressible
Great leg room
Best hood of all the bags
Read full review: NEMO Strato Loft 25
Top Pick for Best Multi-Purpose Bag
REI Siesta 30
Love the conveniences of frontcountry campgrounds but are curious at trying your hand in the backcountry? The REI Siesta 30 is the lightest bag we tested and could be argued to have the most design features of all the bags we looked at. The Siesta is a perfect warmer weather bag that could easily be shoved into a compression sack or bag compartment of most backpacks. While heavier than many backcounty bags, the Siesta is still light enough to allow you use it on a multi-day, summer backpacking trip. Of all the traditional, rectangle designs we studied, the Siesta is the perfect multi-purpose bag.
Lightest bag we tested
Chucked full of features
Fits in a backpack
Doesn't stand up to colder weather
Read full review: REI Siesta 30
Analysis and Test Results
Zipper draft tubes, 12-ounce duck cotton, shoulder baffles, multiple-layer off-set construction, continuous-filament insulation, cotton-poly flannel liners blah, blah, blah. Yes, all of these features (and many more) are important things to consider when purchasing a sleeping bag. But when it all came down to it, we mostly cared about two things when the sun went down and the cool mountain air began to settle: will it keep me warm and is it comfortable? In the end, a bag can have a zillion bells and whistles, but if it doesn't swallow you up like your favorite down comforter, and if it doesn't keep you warm, what's the point of forking over your hard-earned cash to buy it?
For this very reason, we weighted warmth as the highest priority when it came down to our scoring, followed closely by comfort. But we just didn't do a few subjective, personal opinion tests. We took each bag and got an idea of how we felt about it, and then compared our opinions to basic science. And we weren't nice. We were tougher on these bags than ever before, and we were even harder on the few bags that we were testing for the second and third time in the last few years.
Have you ever heard of a homeowner changing the insulation in their home as the weather changes? For instance, Summer is over, so the insulation that was keeping your home cool needs to be swapped out for different insulation that will keep your home toasty on cold Winter nights. Does that sound right to you? Of course not.
When it comes to thermal insulation, it doesn't matter whether it's keeping something cool or something hot, it all works the same way — by trapping temperature in dead air space.
Of course, with the sleeping bags we looked at, we only cared about how warm they kept us — especially when we visited Bryce Canyon National Park, where the nighttime temps were still nearing the teens.
To get our results, we ran the bags through several different types of basic scientific tests to determine their ability to effectively retain temperature and then we compared these results to what our guts told us. In one specific test, we left the bags outside to cool down to 19 degrees and then got inside each one for 10 minutes. During this test, we rated the bags based on how warm they felt to us and compared that to the actual interior temperature of the bags that we obtained with our laser thermometer. Then we combined our results for an overall warmth score. Our warmth scores accounted for 35 percent of each bag's overall score. For more on this test, check out our How We Test section.
In an effort to double check our warmth tests, we decided to try a little reverse psychology on the each bag. We figured if they could keep things (us) warm, then they should be able to keep things cold. If our theory proved to be correct, the bags that kept us the warmest at night should also keep a massive block of ice the coldest our hunch was right. Check out more about our ice test in our How We Test section.
For us, the Wenzel Grande handily outperformed the all the rest in all of our warmth tests, followed closely by the Slumberjack Country Squire 0. If all the elements of the perfect cup of hot chocolate could be turned into a sleeping bag, the result would be the Wenzel Grande. Its overstuffed design proved to be extremely cozy and warm. In fact, we found it a challenge to want to unzip and get up for the day after sleeping toasty in the Wenzel all night.
The bag that surprised us the most was the Coleman Brazos. Tipping the scales at just under $35, we were prepared to be underwhelmed. Boy were we wrong. While not the warmest bag we tested, the Brazos warmth ratings outperformed several other bags that cost three times as much, like the REI Siesta, Kelty Callisto, and The North Face Dolomite, while going head to head with the NEMO Strato Loft and TETON Sports Celsius XXL 0.
Did you ever play with those balsa-wood, rubber band airplanes when you were a kid? Remember winding up the propeller until the rubber band was in a myriad of knots?
Have you ever felt like that rubber band after trying to get a good night's sleep in a sleeping bag that's the size of a shrunken wool sock and has the surface friction of sandpaper? Maybe we're erring on the side of dramatic, but you get our drift, right?
When you're already far from the comforts of home — camping in a trailer, tent, or car — nothing's worse than being trapped like a buried mummy all night. That's why we tested all of our bags for more than one type of comfort. Yes, bigger bags offer more roomy comfort, and the Wenzel Grande, Slumberjack Country Squire 0 and the Teton Sports Celsius XXL all took the gold in this measurement. But size isn't the only thing that matters. A bag can have enough room for two people, but if the interior lining is grabby, your normal tossing and turning during the night may turn into a never-ending wrestling match with a life-size cocoon. For this reason, we decided to squirm back and forth, over and over, in each bag for what seemed like an eternity to find out which allowed us to toss and turn with the most ease.
The Slumberjack Country Squire 0 scored the highest in our twisting-turning test. Its bed-sheet-like interior allows for ease of movement even with clothes on. Which one performed the worst? The Coleman Brazos. We found its interior to be extremely uncomfortable, which is not what we're looking for when trying to get the best night's sleep for the early next day start.
Another area of comfort we tested was each bag's overall thickness and loft. To us, nice puffy, thick bags just felt better on cold nights. They also offer more natural padding. To determine which bags were "full of it," we spent a considerable amount of time inside each bag, lying around on hard, flat, bare sandstone rock. Trust us, we now know which bags have the most natural padding, and we have the hip and shoulder bruises to prove it. In this area, the Wenzel Grande and the Kelty Callisto 20 scored the highest for their overall coziness.
If you strip away all of our differences, most people are kind of like cats. We like to be doted on and tend to whine until someone takes care of us; we hate getting wet (swimming and skinny dipping aside), and we like to be clean — at least most of us do.
In all, there were 11 features we explored with each bag. For a list of all of them, stop by our How We Test area to read more. Out of all 11, we felt there were three that were the most practical and important; we are going back to the cat thing here.
Warranty - We like to be taken care of when we buy something. The Kelty Callisto 20, The North Face Dolomite 20, Teton Sports Celsius XXL and the Slumberjack Country Squire 0 all boast limited lifetime warranties. The Wenzel Grande has a 10-year limited warranty, while the Coleman Brazos has a 5-year limited warranty. The REI Siesta 30 is believed to have some sort of warranty, but when we checked their website, the warranty information was vague. REI's standard return policy is one year, to our knowledge.
Water Resistance - Nothing is worse than sleeping in a wet sleeping bag. Outside water sources like a heavy downpour can make for a miserable night. A leaky roof or trickling groundwater can lead to being cold and wet.
We found the synthetic bags, the Kelty Callisto 20, The North Face Dolomite 20, REI Siesta 30, and Teton Sports Celsius XXL performed brilliantly in our water tests. Left way behind in the pack were the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, the Wenzel Grande and the Coleman Brazos, with the Slumberjack showing virtually no resistance to water (at least in the tests we did).
Ease of Cleaning - We won't sugar coat it for you we were disappointed pretty much across the board. The instructions on every bag we tested said they had to be washed in a front-loading washer. Almost all the instructions said that both the washer and dryer needed to be commercial grade, which means you're headed to the laundromat every time you want to clean your bag. No dry cleaning allowed either. We figured that since this was the standard for most bags, that it really wasn't that big of a drawback. Just a little time-consuming. The bag that we gave the worst score to in this area was the Teton Sports Celsius XXL. Its instructions specifically detail washing the bag by hand and laying flat to dry. Its instructions also state that machine-washing the bag voids its warranty.
There were many other features we looked for in each bag. Some of them are zipper function, interior pockets, and adjustable shoulder baffles. Our How We Test section further details the steps that we took when comparing the contenders side-by-side.
Traditional sleeping bags are known for being a little "big-boned," so packed size was not a complete deal-breaker for us. However, whether your backpacking in the Tetons or Car camping through Yellowstone, space still comes at a premium, so we still rated each bag according to its stowed size but we investigated a little further for you.
Traditional bags are known for being large and roomy. The second largest one we tested, the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, comes in at a whopping 84 inches long and 42 inches wide. And of course a bag this size isn't going to conveniently slide into a dainty, compression stuff sack.
That being said, the important question we posed is "Does the bag fit in its designed storage bag?" And even more importantly — "Does it fit easily into its storage bag?" There's nothing worse than when stowing your bag has more action than an MMA fight. Most of the bags fit easily into their storage bag, and surprisingly, we felt the largest bag, the Slumberjack Country Squire 0, was one of the easiest to stow. Testing determined that the Wenzel Grande and the Teton Sports Celsius XXL the most difficult to store, but with a little elbow grease, we were able to get them back into their storage devices.
When it came to packed size, a third thing we looked at was the question of whether any of the bags had a small enough packed size, meaning that they could double as a backcountry bag on a multiple day backpacking trip. And we found a few that legitimately could fit the bill. The best of which were the REI Siesta 30 and the Nemo Strato Loft 25. Weighing in at 3 lbs. 9 ozs., the REI Siesta is not the lightest bag on the planet, for this, check out the Backpacking Sleeping Bag or Ultralight Sleeping Bag reviews. However, we feel the REI Siesta 30 would do the job in a pinch or for someone who is trying backpacking for the first time and doesn't want to invest a lot of money on new gear. The Strato Loft, on the other hand, was the most expensive in the review. It's for if you want a big, roomy, lightweight bag and are willing to pay for it.
The Strato Loft, REI Siesta 30 and the The North Face Dolomite 20 pack up tight enough that they both can easily fit into the bag compartment of nearly any backpack (we stuffed them into several, all the way down to a 58-liter pack). Of course, the one thing you will sacrifice with these smaller, lighter bags is warmth. However, for most late Spring and Summer camping and backpacking, a 20 to 30-degree bag will suffice.
Throughout our review, we didn't give these bags any leeway. Regardless of price or prestige, we held all of the bags to high standards, and we were not afraid to score them according to their performance. We researched everything we would want to know if we were buying these bags for ourselves. In the end, we hope our efforts will benefit you in your decision making.
There's a lot to consider when buying a traditional sleeping bag. Hopefully, you've gained an insight into what we felt were the most important features of any traditional sleeping bag. When the rubber hits the road, we feel the two most important considerations are warmth and comfort. The bags we liked the most were the ones that swallowed us up and kept us toasty all night. If you'd like to view a more detailed overview of each bag, we've done that for you too. All you have to do is click on each bag for more individual details.
— Jason Wanlass
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