The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping of 2022: Staff Picks

Our experts are serious about their slumber.

Ken Knapp | Published July 27, 2022

7 reviews with an average rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars
Two campers chilling in their sleeping bags outside their REI Co-op Half Dome 2+ tent.

Editor’s note: Supply chain issues might cause some products in this gear guide to be out of stock when you read this. We’re striving to ensure that’s a temporary situation, and we apologize for any inconvenience or disappointment our inventory challenges might cause.


“I’m obsessed with this bag” is not a typical conversation starter, unless you happen to be a camping specialist at REI. For this article, we spoke with three outfitters at the co-op: Sarah Miller, who works at the REI Plano, Texas, store; Karen Cutter, who works at the REI Knoxville, Tennessee, store; and Zach Matthews, who works at the REI Portland, Oregon, store. As you might expect, they didn’t always agree with one another, which is part of the fun when you talk with folks who love to geek out on gear.

The sleeping bags in this article range from consensus choices to the most persuasively argued pick from multiple options available at REI. In some categories, like best budget bag, an affordable price is the key metric. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for the most comfortable bag, the feature set will be more luxurious.

As we note in the buying advice section, minimizing weight and bulk isn’t a big consideration for most camping-bag shoppers. Our bag roundup instead focuses on sleep sacks that offer a just-right combo of versatility, ingenuity and comfort.

 

Staff Picks

For quick recommendations, check out our favorites here, or scroll down for more in-depth reviews.

 

Outfitter Sarah Miller confessed that she’s obsessed with this bag, and it’s easy to understand why. The Argon 25 from Marmot does everything one might ask of a camping bag, and a little bit more. It’s warm and roomy, like one would expect from a top-tier bag. The zipper arrangement on the Argon 25 also allows you to cool things off and open things up.

The bag’s insulation is an ingenious mix of 650 fill-power down blended with a synthetic fill. The down is also treated for added water repellency. So you get the premium warmth and packability of down, along with the affordability and wet-weather dependability of a synthetic.

Miller also likes the bag’s semirectangular shape: “It keeps you warm yet you’re still optimizing your space.” Miller goes on to describe the shape as “looking like a nice, warm hug.” She also loves that the Argon is a multifunctional piece of gear. “It zips fully open for use as a comforter. On some bags that might compromise warmth, but this still retains heat well in bag form. You can use it as a blanket by the campfire, then turn it into your sleeping bag at bedtime.” The Argon’s footbox also has a zipper—handy for venting a little excess body heat if things ever get too toasty at night.

Because the Argon comes in three sizes, it’s also a good fit for a broader range of folks than other camping bags that come in only one or two different lengths.  Buy here.

 

When they created the Jazz 30, the design wizards at NEMO set out to offer a bedlike sleeping experience in a camping bag. Outfitter Karen Cutter called it a truly impressive engineering feat: “Oh, my gosh. I don’t own this bag—yet—but I want it really badly. I think this bag would absolutely offer the most comfortable sleep.”

The Jazz 30 even comes with its own silky-soft bed sheet (made out of recycled polyester to help you sleep a little more soundly at night). You can also remove the sheet to simplify laundry chores. NEMO designers added recycled materials throughout the bag, too: in the shell, lining and synthetic Stratofiber insulation.

It doesn’t end there: NEMO also gave a lot of thought to your mattress needs, souping up the Jazz with an integrated sleeve that can securely cradle the camping pad of your choice. It’s big enough to accommodate a 78-inch-long, 30-inch-wide, 4-inch-thick mattress (the size of the extra-large NEMO Roamer sleeping pad, which won an REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award last year). The insulated underside of the bag also has a soft quilted layer that’s reminiscent of your mattress at home.

Outfitter Zach Matthews’ love for the Jazz revolves around its roominess: “It’s the most comfortable because it’s the most spacious bag—by far.” He also notes that the hood is equally generous in size, easily swallowing a pillow for all-night cushion. “I also like that it’s got double zippers so you can vent on whatever side you like,” Matthews says.

Inside the Jazz is a recycled Stratofiber synthetic insulation, which offers reliable all-conditions warmth. The 30° F (lower limit) temperature rating is legit, too, because this is the rare camping bag that’s been through rigorous ISO testing. Even the bag’s “comfort rating” comes in at 32° F, which suggests its warmth level is consistent for a wide range of body metabolisms. Buy here.

 

For many people, the word “budget” simply means the lowest-priced item. It’s a reasonable assumption, though it’s also important that a product offer a baseline level of quality. “Kelty does a great job of giving you good bang for your buck,” notes outfitter Karen Cutter. Affordable quality is the brand’s specialty, which is why the Catena was the unanimous budget pick of our trio of staffers. Customer reviewers agree: “A great entry-level bag, especially for car camping.”

Though it’s adult sized, many parents send the Catena with their kids to summer camp. (It fits a twin mattress perfectly.) Mild-weather summer campers also are drawn to the Catena because it features the classic rectangular shape most of us envision in a sleeping bag—a shape that offers ample room for arms and limbs to stretch out and relax. The rectangular shape and zipper design also allow the Catena to be flayed open fully for use as a comforter. (Zip two Catenas together and you’ll have yourself a sleeping bag for two, a leading contender for the title of “best budget double bag for camping.”)

Even though the brand offers the Catena at such an alluring price, Kelty doesn’t skimp on the bag’s materials. The Catena features a durable polyester shell and liner, along with a Cloudloft synthetic fill, materials that wear well and can handle mild spills and damp conditions. Buy here.

 

Exped might have more aptly named the MegaSleep Duo the “Quatro”: You’re getting a bag that can be deployed as 25° double bag, a 40° double bag, a 25° single bag and a 40° single bag. It’s another consensus pick among our outfitters, too, and it’s easy to see why a bag that offers this much versatility would garner this much love.

Outfitter Karen Cutter explains why this bag’s concept works so well for her. “I did this exact same thing in the past by buying two sleeping bags with different temperature ratings. Depending on the weather, we’d flip the warmer side up or down. I loved that versatility.” Cutter also adds: “With the Exped, you can also create two separate sleeping bags, which you can’t do with a traditional double bag. So, the fact that you can create two separate bags and you have the temperature range—I just think that’s awesome.”

Outfitter Zack Matthews agrees, and is especially impressed with the simplicity of temperature adjustment: ”All you have to do is flip it on over.” Matthews also approves of the brand’s performance over the years: “Exped’s quality shines in all their gear.”

Outfitter Sarah Miller points to the story the specs tell: “Width can really play into how much people like a double bag, and this is one of the widest options (126") available.” Miller adds: “And the fact that it only weighs 5 pounds is awesome for portability.” The bag’s microfiber insulation is indeed extraordinarily light and compressible for a synthetic fill.

“It also has a fun little (duffel bag) carrying case,” she says. “Who doesn’t love that?” Buy here.

 

Buying a single bag for both camping and backpacking makes perfect sense when it’s a kids’ sleeping bag. A child’s preference for camping over backpacking—or vice versa—isn’t fully formed yet. They’re also going to outgrow any gear you buy in a few years. REI Co-op’s venerated Kindercone backpacking bag is the perfect answer—it comes with built-in growth-spurt insurance. The included stuff sack, which is attached to the bottom of the bag so you won’t lose it, can be cinched to make the bag shorter when your child is younger; as your child grows, simply move the cinch point down to lengthen the bag.

Kindercone, which in various iterations has been in the REI Co-op bag line for more than two decades, has just the right mix of toughness and tech required in a kid’s bag. The sturdy shell and two-way anti-snag coil zipper resist rough use, while its polyester materials offer resistance to spills and drizzle. The Kindercone is estimated to provide warmth down to 25°F, which should help kids stay comfortable, even on a cool-weather trip. Outfitter Sarah Miller points out, too, the bag’s mummy-bag shape—one of it obvious backpacking features— is key here: “The slim shape isn’t merely a backpacking advantage, it’s also a warmth advantage because a kids’ small body doesn’t have to work so hard to heat the bag up.”

Because the sleekly built Kindercone tips the scales at just a hair over 3 pounds, budding backpackers should also be able to carry their bag—just like their adult trip leaders.

Even the material choices in the Kindercone consider your child’s future. Both the shell and lining are recycled polyester that’s certified to meet bluesign® criteria. Buy here.

 

Admittedly, a blanket is an outlier in an article devoted to sleeping bag picks, but Rumpl has created such a beloved piece of gear that we couldn’t leave the brand’s blankets out of our roundup. Campers use them as a campfire shawl, an impromptu ground cover and, of course, another layer of warmth in their sleep systems. Wheelchair campers often use blankets for their sleep setups, too, because sleeping bags can be hard to manage with limited leg mobility.

Outfitter Sarah Miller also points out that a Rumpl works just about anywhere: “It’s a camp blanket and it’s an office blanket.” Miller also explains that Rumpl’s many water-resistant flavors work well in both environments: “I spilled so much stuff on that blanket, and still it has persisted. You just wipe it right off and continue.” (Miller also got a Rumpl for her partner to use in his office.) The Original Puffy version is machine washable.

Outfitter Karen Cutter says that her Rumpl was one of the first purchases she made after becoming an REI employee. She loves the blanket’s practicality: “Because it’s a sleeping-bag material, it’s great around camp because it doesn’t pick up any dirt or grass.” Cutter is also impressed with the warmth: “The second you put it around your body, you can feel it starting to heat up. It’s super cozy.”

The Rumpl might also be available in more versions than any other camping gear. The Original Puffy version has a synthetic material and fill, both of which are made using recycled materials. There’s also the NanoLoft Puffy and Down Puffy. Rumpls come in two basic sizes: 1-person (72" x 52") and 2-person (84" x 80"), plus a travel size (52" x 38"). Most of the variations involve pattern and color: The product page looks more like an art gallery than a gear assortment. Buy here.

 

Buying Advice

Two campers standing in their sleeping bags

When the vehicle is doing the heavy lifting, weight is not a pressing issue, which simplifies your choices in a car-camping sleeping bag. You can simply pick the warmest, roomiest bag in your price range. (If you have a small car or a big family, though, then bag bulkiness also merits consideration.)

Many people come to the co-op and ask for a bag that can be used for backpacking, too, which saves money but involves compromised performance for one activity or the other. Your wisest course of action in that scenario is to pick your best bet for backpacking, which will be a bag you can also use for camping. More backpacking bags now offer roomier shapes, too, which many campers prefer. (For a rundown on all the things to consider in a sleeping bag for the backcountry, read How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Backpacking.)

For detailed buying advice for your campground adventures, read How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Camping. Below are some of that article’s primary tips about choosing a camping bag.

 

Temperature Rating

Insulation in a bag is key to how warm it will be, but factors like how snug it fits also matter. (Generally, roomier bags are harder for your body to keep warm.) Bag makers provide temperature ratings, which is helpful, though the ratings you see on camping bags should only be used as a rough guideline. (The NEMO Jazz 30 is an exception to this generalized advice because it’s been through standardized bag temperature testing. For a thorough overview of how bag warmth is measured, read understanding sleeping bag temperature ratings.)

When you shop, look for a bag that will keep you warm at a temperature that’s slightly lower than the lowest nighttime temperature you might possibly encounter on your trips. Many people err on the side of getting extra warmth, too, because they always have the option to shed layers or to unzip their bag in milder conditions.

Perhaps the most common universal complaint is that a given bag failed to keep the customer warm down to its stated temperature rating. A wide range of factors go into warmth, so think of the rating as a guideline rather than an absolute guarantee.

 

Sleep Systems

One of the biggest keys to your warmth is the sleeping pad you pair with your sleeping bag. Your pad/bag combo is your sleep system, which gives a more accurate picture of how warm you’ll sleep.

If you use a less-insulated pad at colder temps, your sleeping bag might not live up to its temperature rating. Outfitter Zach Matthews puts it this way: “In order to get the bag’s tested warmth, you also need to have a sleeping pad with the appropriate R-value rating. If you slept on a rock, you’d be freezing even in the warmest bag.”

To learn more about pad warmth ratings and get a look at how bags and pads work in tandem to keep you warm, read How to Choose a Sleeping Pad.

 

Sleeping Bag Shape

If you’re like most campers, you’ll want a bag that offers room enough to stretch out and roll over. A simple rectangular design works well for that, but camping bags have evolved and you have a variety of shapes to choose from:

  • Rectangular: These bags give your arms and legs plenty of room to stretch out and move around. Our budget bag pick, the Kelty Catena 30, is a rectangular bag.
  • Semirectangular: Also known as a “modified mummy” or “barrel” shape, this designation covers a variety of shapes, all of which offer a compromise between warmth and roominess. Our pick as the most comfortable bag for camping, the NEMO Jazz 30, is a semirectangular bag.
  • Mummy: Found mostly in backpacking bags where warmth and low weight are key factors, this bag style has a snug fit.
  • Double bags: Bags made for two are the best bet for couples who plan to sleep together. Our double bag pick for this article is the Exped MegaSleep Duo 25/40, which also offers the option of turning it into two single bags. (An alternative way to create a double bag is to purchase two bags that are designed to be zipped together.)

 

Type of Insulation

Down or synthetic? Synthetic insulation offers solid performance at lower cost than down. Many campers also prefer a synthetic fill because, unlike untreated down, it retains its insulating ability in damp conditions. Most of the camping bags in this article use synthetic insulations, which is consistent with the overall camping bag market as a whole.

In comparison to synthetic insulations, though, down fills are warmer for their weight, lighter and more compressible—and have a higher price tag. Our best overall camping bag, the Marmot Argon 25, features 650-fill power down that has a water-repellent treatment that makes it a viable all-conditions camping bag as well. (Marmot also blended in synthetic fill to bolster performance in soggy conditions.)

 

Methodology

The REI experts we relied on for this article are all on our Virtual Outfitting team, which specializes in finding just the right camping gear for online customers around the country—and worldwide. We also looked to our customer reviewers for their perspectives.

Our outfitters will be the first to point out that one person’s “best all-around sleeping bag” is often not the same as another person’s. That said, we’re confident that the chosen bag in each category will be an excellent option for any camper.