The Best Camping Sleeping Bag Review

What the best product for general-purpose uses like camping and sleepovers? To find out we tested over 70 different models— all types, sizes, and styles— in an epic multi-year camping spree. This review compares 15 general-purpose bags for car camping, crashing on your friend's living room floor, and sleeping out of your '73 EuroVan. We ranked each bag on comfort, warmth, features, and packed size. Our awards identify the best all-purpose, the best value, and the warmest bag for its price.

Going fast and light? Check out our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review, which compares 37 of the highest quality lightweight bags available. Also check out our Women's Sleeping Bag Review.

Read the full review below >

Review by: and Max Neale

Top Ranked Camping Sleeping Bags Displaying 1 - 5 of 15 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Slumberjack Country Squire 20
Slumberjack Country Squire 20
Read the Review
Video video review
Wenzel Grande
Wenzel Grande
Read the Review
L.L. Bean Katahdin 20
L.L. Bean Katahdin 20
Read the Review
Marmot Trestles 15
Marmot Trestles 15
Read the Review
Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award       
Street Price $175
Compare at 1 sellers
$85
Compare at 1 sellers
$180Varies $95 - $129
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $112 - $140
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
89
100
0
80
100
0
78
100
0
75
100
0
62
Editors' Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
100% recommend it (2/2)
Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
Pros Impressively warrm, widest and longest bag tested, most comfotable bag tested, room for two people, removable cotton sheet, zips to another bag for double width fun, very strong zipper, canvas shell fabric is less slippery than nylon or polyester, duffelWarmest bag for the price, adjustable straps secure bag for storage and travel better than most other bags.Warmest general purpose bag tested, better materials and construction than most other synthetic mummy bags, passive draft collar seals out cold air.Two zippers gives mated bags ecellent ventilation.Lightweight, inexpensive, anti-snag zipper.
Cons Heaviest sleeping bag tested, canvas shell material is less water resistant than polyester or nylon, rolls into a large duffel bag but can pack twice as small, no hood or neck drawcord, can get twisted in removable sheet.Flannel lining can be too hot for warm summer nights, lack of draft tube on zipper lets in cold air.Cut is wide in the chest and tight in the legs. Most expensive general purpose bag tested.Very heavy, very bulky, other general purpose bags offer better value.Budget rectangular bags offer better value.
Best Uses Camping, around the house, as a queen sized blanket.Cold weather camping, around the house, as a queen sized blanket.Cold weather car camping.Car camping, general use.Budget car camping and backpacking.
Date Reviewed Sep 14, 2012Oct 20, 2012Oct 30, 2012Nov 07, 2012Nov 07, 2012
Weighted Scores Slumberjack Country Squire 20 Wenzel Grande L.L. Bean Katahdin 20 Marmot Trestles 15 Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
Warmth - 35%
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
Comfort - 35%
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
5
Packed Size - 10%
10
0
2
10
0
3
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
Features - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
Product Specs Slumberjack Country Squire 20 Wenzel Grande L.L. Bean Katahdin 20 Marmot Trestles 15 Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Wenzel Conquest
$60
100
0
62
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Wenzel Grande
$110
100
0
80
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
REI Travel Sack 55
$60.00
100
0
37
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
L.L. Bean Katahdin 20
$180
100
0
78
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
$80
100
0
62
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Marmot Trestles 15
$100
100
0
75
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Eureka Dual Temp 30/50
$100
100
0
49
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
REI Siesta 35
$79
100
0
47
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
REI Polar Pod 25
$90
100
0
59
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Kelty Mistral 20
$70
100
0
52
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Slumberjack Esplanade 20
$80
100
0
53
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Kelty Eclipse 30
$90
100
0
47
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Sierra Designs Wild Bill 20
$119.95
100
0
58
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Coleman White Water Cool Weather 40
$60
100
0
34
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Product Selection
This review aims to identify the best all-purpose product for use everywhere, and anywhere, except on multi-day backpacking trips. We tested fifteen bags of a variety of types and styles. All bags have synthetic insulation, weigh three pounds or more, and cost less than $180.

Click to enlarge
General purpose = four types, left to right: rectangular (most comfortable), hooded rectangular (moderately warm), hooded mummy (warmest), and hood-less mummy (moderately warm, least comfortable)
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Different Types
General purpose models come in mummy and rectangular shapes. Rectangular bags are the largest, heaviest, and most comfortable type of bag. Mummy shaped bags generally have a hood to seal in warm air and a tapered cut that saves weight and makes the bag more thermally efficient. For most general use applications we believe rectangular bags offer greater performance than mummy bags, and, more often than not, they're also a better value. We believe the two main reasons to get a general use mummy bag are: (1) warmth, because mummies are warmer, and (2) packed size, because the smaller the bag the more room you have in your car for other things. Otherwise, rectangular bags are more comfortable and can be nearly as warm. We also tested several semi-rectangular bags, which aim to combine the the efficiency of a mummy bag with the comfort of a rectangular bag.

Synthetic Insulation
All bags tested here use synthetic insulation- made of thin polyester filaments. Synthetic insulation is heavier, bulkier, and less durable than down. It's the insulation type of choice for general purpose bags because it's much more affordable than down and can be washed in any washing machine without expensive detergent made specifically for down. If you aren't carrying the bag backpacking, then there's no need to pay top dollar for low weight and compressibility.

Click to enlarge
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park.
Credit: Max Neale
Criteria for Evaluation
We evaluated each product based on its comfort, warmth, features, and packed size.

Comfort
Comfort is king with general-purpose bags. Almost all of the models tested are equally if not more comfortable than the most comfortable backpacking and winter bags we've tested. This is primarily due to the fact that, with general use bags, weight is not an obstacle for design. The wider and longer, the more comfortable it is! Insulation on the bottom of the bag also contributes to comfort by adding cushion to your sleeping pad. The most comfortable bag we've ever tested, by a long shot, is the Slumberjack Country Squire. This bag is wide enough (42") to fit two cozy people inside and long enough (84") to cover the heads of our six-foot tall testers. The County Squire is also the only bag we've tested that has a removable cotton sheet, which is an excellent feature for hot summer nights and keeping the bag clean. The REI Travel Sack, occasionally used indoors, is least comfortable bag tested.

Click to enlarge
The Slumberjack County Squire, the most comfortable bag we've ever tested, fits two people and has a removable sheet.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Warmth
The majority of contenders tested here are not as warm as their manufacturers claim. Without clothing they're best for summer use. A few, however, are capable of keeping you cozy below freezing. The primary three factors that influence warmth are loft (depth of insulation), shape (mummy or rectangular), and construction type (sewn-through or not). Although some types of synthetic insulation are warmer, more durable and more hydrophobic than others, more loft is always warmer than less loft. The contoured shape of a mummy bag is warmer than a rectangular bag because it reduces dead air spaces that form when a bag is too big for you. The warmest bags are those that leave only a small amount of space for you to move around in. (The less air you need to heat up the better, yet a bag that's tight and restricting wont loft properly.) Most of the mummy bags tested here have hoods, which add warmth and reduce the need to wear hooded clothing or a hat when temperatures approach the bag's limit. Rectangular shaped are the coldest type of bag, so wearing a hat, hood, or tucking your head into the bag can be key to staying warm when it's cold out.

Construction type also contributes to a bag's warmth. "Sewn-through" bags, the majority of those tested here, sandwich insulation between two pieces of fabric and have stitching that pierces the bag's three layers. This is the fastest, lightest, and most cost effective way to make them(and any insulated garment), but it's also the worst at you keeping you warm (air escapes through the seams and there's less loft around the seams). Alternating the stitching, so that the seams don't line up, or laminating the insulation to the shell fabrics, which eliminates the need for stitching entirely, are two warmer ways construct them. Although other bags claim to be rated to fifteen degrees, we found the L.L. Bean Katahdin 20 to be the warmest bag tested in this category. The REI Travel Sack was the least warm. OutdoorGearLab is in the process of designing and developing quantitative methods to test insulation values through a combination of manikin skin-temp probes (inside the test piece) and thermal imaging to look at heat loss (outside surface of the bag).

Click to enlarge
Sewn-through construction, shown here on the Western Mountaineering Highlite, is the cheapest and lightest form of construction. Stitching passes through both shell fabrics and doesn't insulate as well as box baffles found on warmer and heavier bag
Credit: Max Neale
Features
Here we assessed important features such as fabrics, zippers, hood design, pull cords, and evaluate the performance of any unique features. Features can turn a good bag into a great bag or reduce the performance of a great bag to a good bag. Zipper quality is critical to the bags tested here. Many of the budget bags, those that cost $50 and under, have low quality zippers that fail faster than better zippers found on backpacking and winter bags. The ability to stuff and store is also important, yet some bags come with inadequate storage sacks. For example, the Kelty Eclipse has a gigantic and only moderately useful duffel style storage sack that's permanently attached to the bottom of the bag. This is the only bag we've ever tested with this feature, and our testers found it to be so cumbersome they cut it off. The bag with the best features is either the Slumberjack Country Squire (which has the strongest zipper we've ever tested, a removable sheet, and a durable canvas fabric that doesn't slip off sleeping pads) or the L.L. Bean Katahdin, which incorporates many high quality features typically found on $400+ backpacking bags.

Click to enlarge
Rectangular shape doubles as queen sized blankets. The Sumberjack County Squire, shown here, has a removable sheet and serves as a warm winter blanket for house guests, or for you.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Click to enlarge
The bombproof Slumberjack County Squire zipper (left) compared to the much less durable, and more prone to getting stuck, zipper on the Kelty Mistal.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Packed Size
Packed size is important because the amount of space inside our vehicles is limited. The most compact product tested here is the REI Travel Sack 50. The bulkiest tested is the Slumberjack Country Squire, which has a packed volume roughly equivalent to the size of three basketballs.

Click to enlarge
size comparison, from left to right: Slumberjack County Squire 20, Wenzel Conquest 30, Kelty Cosmic Down 20, REI Travel Sack 55, and Katabatic Gear Palisade 30.
Credit: Outdoor Gear Lab
Check Out Backpacking Bags Before You Decide
If you think backpacking might also be of interest to you, either now or in the future, we urge you to take a look at our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review, and in particular check out the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 before you make your final decision. The Kelty Cosmic won our Best Buy award for Backpacking, but it also is a terrific choice for camping, a slumber party, or any other general purpose. Reasonably priced, warm, and comfy, it is a model that can handle a wider range of activities than many similarly priced bags found in this category. While we included it in the Backpacking category due to it's high performance design and low weight, it is one bag we think can stand toe-to-toe with the lower cost camping bags. Although, for camping trips, you can spend less and still get what you need, the Kelty Cosmic's higher performance and expanded functionality may well be worth the extra investment.

Editors' Choice Award: Slumberjack Country Squire
Sleeping in the Slumberjack Country Squire is the camping equivalent of checking into the Library Suite at Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel. It's amazingly luxurious and also rustic. The County Squire is the longest and widest we've tested; it fits people of all shapes and sizes and even has space for two average size people! Hog it for yourself or spoon with someone else. Several of our testers used it on hard ground without a sleeping pad- it's that cushy. The twenty degree version kept us warm to around freezing and we loved the removal cotton sheet, a unique feature. This is the premium general purpose bag for those that value comfort, quality, and longevity.

Best Buy Award: Wenzel Conquest
We selected the Wenzel Conquest as our best value winner because it's warmer and more comfortable than all of the other ultra budget bags we tested. This offers substantially more warmth and is much more durable than $20 bags and it's also more comfortable and much cheaper than the "budget" bags from companies like REI. The Conquest offers a comfortable rectangular shape, soft felt lining, and three-season warmth for less than fifty dollars. Keep in mind that this is still a budget bag: it's warm for summer use but not viable in spring and fall nights that dip close to or below freezing.

Top Pick Award For Warmth: Wenzel Grande
The Wenzel Grande is uniquely positioned between the County Squire and the Conquest in that it's capable of frosty mornings and it's also very affordable. Consider this bag if you sleep really cold or plan to camp in the thirties, and don't want to cough up the extra cash for County Squire. This bag offers the most amount of warmth for the lowest price.

Tangential Note: Dream Camping Gear List
Check out our Dream Camping Gear List to see OGL's "dream" camping gear items.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale
Buying Advice
How we Test
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Recent Editor's Award Winners