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sleeping bag and pad suggestions for hiking/camping

Hey! I'm spending the Summer in the Rocky Mountains and I was just looking for some advice on a good sleeping bag and sleeping pad to invest in! 

6 Replies


"Rocky Mountains" covers a lot of territory and you don't mention your activities.  Will you be car camping or backpacking.  What temperatures will you experience?  Looking beyond this summer, how will you use this equipment?

Good equipment costs money and this is especially true of quality sleeping bags.  You will spend a few hundred for a top quality bag and it will be money wisely invested.  If you are just car camping, bags will weigh more for equivalent warmth and can cost less.

I would recommend a mummy style bag rated to a comfort rating of 20 degrees.  For backpacing, it should weigh no more than three pounds, and preferably less.  Probably will have down fill.

Sleeping pad - I recommend a closed cell foam pad.  combine with an inflatable air mattress if you like.


Lots of

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Hey @Ari - @hikermor notes a couple of key things: car camping/backpacking (and continued use after this trip) as well as where in "the Rocky Mtns" you are going.

You also don't indicate whether you're a restless or side sleeper (and beyond that is TMI, so no worries).

If you are strictly car camping then you don't need to worry as much about bag weight. It comes down to whether you tend to sleep warmer (throwing blankets off) or colder (grabbing anything you can at 3:00 AM to keep warm). In either case, you'll do fine with a bag that is rated to about 15-20degF. There is a rating system that bags use and it has become fairly standardized in recent years, so you'll be getting about the same warmth regardless of the bag. And I'd say you can get a good synthetic-fill bag for a fair price (like under $200). There's plenty of options on the website here.

That being said, here's a couple of other considerations:

  • Side sleepers tend to sleep more comfortably in "spoon" bags as opposed to standard rectangular or mummy-type bags.
  • Both Nemo and now Kelty have good options here.
  • You will probably be more comfortable sleeping with your regular pillow.
  • You will probably want a comfortable beanie (like a 250-weight Smartwool one) if you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night cold

If you ever plan on carrying your bag further, then you may want to consider spending another $100-150 to get a good down bag. It's much lighter and packs more tightly so you can easily get it into your backpack. It also keeps you warmer (usually). The "down" side (can't resist the pun) is that the down does not dry out quickly if it gets wet, while a synthetic bag can usually keep you warm even if it gets wet.

If you are one of those folks who likes everything to fit together, check out some of the BigAgnes products. Many of their bags have an integrated sleeve that's designed to hold a sleeping pad (so you are far less likely to roll off the pad during the night). And there are plenty of pads that you can get which could fit that sleeve.

Again, though, the choice of pad is driven by whether you're car-camping (tenting) or backpacking.

So if you give us a bit of an idea of what your plans are, you'll probably get better answers than these. But either way, enjoy your trip!

Hey @Ari my recommendation for a great sleeping pad would be anything from Therma-rest. I personally have tried their trail scout (the regular size weighs 22 ounces, is a self inflating foam matt, and comes with a nice stuff sack.) I have used it for two and a half years now and it is very comfortable, it quickly self inflates (with that in mind remember you still need to give it two or three breaths afterwords), and the build quality is amazing. I know others who use other therma-rest pads but the trail scout is a more budget friendly option by a good brand. I would also like to mention you may want to consider your pillow options as their is the possibility to bring a lightweight one from home, camping pillows that come in a stuff sack, and inflatable pillows. I have tried a sea- to - summit inflatable pillow and it is a constant struggle for me to find the right level of comfort with it. I still use it though, as I often forget my regular pillow when car camping.  It is very lightweight and doesn't take up much room in the backpack either. 

As for sleeping bags you probably want to look for something by a well known brand that will stand by it's product. As other's mentioned a 20 degree bag is a decent bag for a wide variety of temps. You will definitely want down if you are aiming to travel light, but keep in mind it doesn't hold up well to moisture. There are alot of different types of bags; mummy, rectangular, quilts, etc. Down quilts are great because you can use them as a sleeping bag on cold nights and undo them into a quilt, allowing more airflow on hotter nights. 

hope this helps

@hikermor @JoeH @matt2001 

Thank you!! These are all great! It's closer to Jamestown CO - not exactly in Rocky Mountain national park itself. I'll be sleeping outdoors, not car camping..either hammock or sleeping bag, but I'm leaning more toward the sleeping bag. From what I've been told nights can fall between 20-40 degrees, especially in the earlier parts of the summer (May/June). 

I am more of a side sleeper so to know that a spoon bag is good for that is awesome. I'll be using this equipment everyday during the summer and after when I have time to make trips. I'll be backpacking a bit but definitely taking several day/summit hikes. 

@Ari -If you're going the hammock route then using a quilt is probably the best option all around. Be sure to use an underlayer for warmth. And in the hammock your need for a pad is decreased.

Whatever you end up choosing, I'd try it out in the backyard before you go, both to determine whether it works as well as to figure out how to put all the pieces together.

Happy trails!

Hi @Ari 

For summer camping I usually use a foam pad, whis a lot can be found here at REI.  In the cold or winter, I use a blow up pad because it offers more insulation.  For a sleeping bag, I reccomend a rectangular, 40 degree sleeping bag.

Kyle M |
Have a Great Day, and make your best adventure yet.