Best Budget Sleeping Bag for Adults of 2021
The Redcamp Cotton Flannel is a gem in the field of affordable sleeping bags. This bag offers a trifecta of warmth, comfort, and versatility in an overall spacious sleeping experience — and all of this at a reasonable price. It even sports a convenient velcro stash pocket to keep your phone warm (and holding a charge).
We found only minor annoyances. While the zipper passed our durability test, it is not the strongest we tested. Also, the bag's overall length will be too short for the tallest sleepers' shoulders, but at a measured length of 70 inches, it will be sufficient for many. Still, we love this bag. It is our favorite single-person bag, and you can easily turn it into a double bag by buying a second one and zipping them together.
If the perfect price is what you are looking for, the Oaskys Three Season is an excellent deal. This sleeping bag's performance impressed us. Its rectangular shape is roomy, yet its stow size can be quite small, and the attached hood is a plus for colder nights. While there are definitely better sleeping bags out there, we didn't find any at this price.
The biggest drawback we found is the zipper, which can be difficult and failed towards the end of our durability test. You'll need to be careful when opening and closing to avoid issues with the zipper. Our testers also didn't love the polyester lining, generally preferring the softer flannel options. However, polyester is light and affordable. Despite these issues, we believe this bag could still be the best choice for those shoppers on the tightest budgets.
The Teton Sport's Celsius XXL sets itself apart with luxurious dimensions and exceptional warmth. It was the widest single sleeping bag we purchased for testing, with a significant 39-inch width that does a lot to negate the common complaint that sleeping bags feel too confining. While most temperature ratings feel overly optimistic to us, this sleeping bag's 0°F rating seems pretty close to accurate. It's filled with hollow fiber insulation and has a draft collar and hood that help keep heat in. The Celsius XXL also features a brushed flannel lining, our lead tester's favorite.
There are some tradeoffs to consider with this bag's benefits. The ample insulation means the sleeping bag does not pack down small. You will need to have sufficient car and storage space. Also, its 0°F temp rating is likely to be too warm for many folks who like to camp in the summertime, making it better suited for those camping at high-elevation or in the spring, autumn, and some mild winter conditions. The Celsius XXL is an excellent deal when you're taking quality into consideration, but there are still cheaper bags out there that will meet most people's needs, especially when conditions don't merit the warmth of this bag.
The Mammoth is our top pick for those in the market for a great two-person bag. Like its cousin, the Teton Sports Celsius, it features our tester's favorite brushed flannel lining. This supple lining is combined with spacious interior dimensions to provide remarkable comfort. We also think it has plenty of insulation to live up to its 20°F temp rating. Finally, you can unzip this bag into two separate blankets if you find yourself getting sick of your sleeping mate.
The issues with the Mammoth are minor. The six drawcords used to adjust the hood and draft collar seem a bit excessive. We also worry it could be too warm for hot summer nights. Finally, the higher price tag may make some shoppers hesitate. If that's the case, you can save some money by picking up two Redcamp flannel bags and zipping them together to make a more affordable double bag.
Coleman is a company best known for its lanterns and stoves. Further down the list are their tents, and further still are sleeping bags. Nevertheless, we were pleased with the simple Palmetto. It delivers reasonable levels of comfort, warmth, versatility, all at an affordable price. We also suspect most shoppers will prefer the instantly warm feel of its flannel lining compared to more advanced fibers like polyester or nylon that take a few minutes to feel warm.
Unfortunately, the same flannel that we love for being so cozy is cursed with an astonishing ability to retain dirt and pine needles. We didn't experience the same issue with other flannel bags — just the Coleman, so if you take it anywhere wild, expect some cleaning. However, this could still be an excellent bag for sleepovers or RV camping.
The North Rim has the sarcophagus shape of a traditional mummy sleeping bag. While this shape is ideal for minimizing weight during human-powered backcountry adventures, our testers consider it unnecessarily constrictive in a car camping bag. And make no mistake, at 6 lbs 3 oz, this is a car camping bag, not a backpacking model.
Apart from this main drawback, the North Rim feels well executed. Its legit draft collar and sturdy hood ensure that it lives up to its 0°F temp rating. We also like the interior stash pocket for storing a phone or headlamp so you can protect your batteries throughout any frigid night. Finally, the Coleman zippers are some of our favorites, and this bag sailed through our zipper durability test with ease.
Many people appreciate the simplicity and extra legroom of a rectangular bag, but mummy-shaped bags have their advantages. Their tapered shape means that less material is needed, which is partly why this HiHiker model weighs in at 4 lbs 6 oz despite a toasty 20°F temp rating. A sarcophagus design is also more thermally efficient since there is less excess internal space for your body to heat.
While these advantages are undoubtedly desirable when ounces and packed size matter, they're much less important when car camping. The HiHiker is just too big and heavy for us to recommend for backpacking. To solidify this stance, it features a fragile zipper that we wouldn't want to rely on when we're miles from our car. We would also suggest a less restrictive rectangular shape if a sleeping bag is limited to car camping.
This Sleepingo model doubles down on the simplicity of a rectangular with increased dimensions that can comfortably accommodate two adults. Our testers appreciated this simplicity and the subtly longer length of the bottom rectangle, which is extended to keep your head and pillow off the ground. We are also impressed that a two-person bag could come in such a small and lightweight package.
However, our hands-on testing concluded that this bag isn't close to warm enough to match its 32°F temp rating. It also wasn't long before we noticed issues with the zipper snagging and getting misaligned. This has caused us to feel considerable doubt about its long-term durability. Although this double bag's price is rather tempting, we think spending a little more money to get two Redcamp flannel bags is a better option (two Redcamps can be zipped together into a double bag configuration).
This Revalcamp offering could be the winner if your only criterion is price. Its no-frills, barebones design corresponded with it being consistently one of the lowest-priced bags we see readily available online. We were genuinely surprised by how small and lightweight it is. Thus, this can serve as an acceptable sleeping sack for infrequent camping trips.
We believe this bag's 40°F temp rating is a bit generous, especially after stuffing and unstuffing it a few times when the insulation starts to lose its loft. The zipper also feels fragile and seems unlikely to hold up well to frequent use. This bag's simplicity, small packed size, and bargain price could be worth the drawbacks for some people. However, for most, we think other bags like the Oaskys or Coleman Palmetto can provide real benefits for just a few dollars more.
Why You Should Trust Us
Lead tester and research analyst, Jack Cramer, has now tested and slept in more than 50 different sleeping bags, ranging from insomnia-inducing cheapos to ultra-premium, down-filled dreams. The knowledge gained from this formal testing dwarfs the experience one might gain from a lifetime of casual camping. For this review, we purchased every bag and brought them through a battery of tests. We measured and weighed each one, followed by repeated warmth testing in a temperature-controlled 48°F room and many nights inside tents. Zipper problems are a frequent complaint among more affordable bags, so we ran each bag's zipper back and forth 100 times to assess whether it had the strength to withstand long-term use.
Analysis and Test Results
To assess these sleeping bags in our hands-on comparison tests, we evaluated them across five metrics: warmth, comfort, versatility, features & design, and packed size. The performance in each is discussed below.
The whole idea of a sleeping bag is conceived around creating an insulated space to keep you warm. Blankets leave gaps where cold drafts can creep in. A closed bag seals them out. When executed well, you're left with a cozy cocoon at an ideal temperature for maximum rest and recovery.
Quantifying sleeping bag warmth is trickier than you might imagine. Generally, it is done by assigning a temperature rating, which is meant to indicate the temperature at which a specific sleeping bag will keep you warm. Although official standards have been devised for consistently measuring temp ratings, such independent testing's added costs mean that they're not conducted for bargain sleeping bags. The advertised temp ratings listed for all the bags in this review are chosen entirely by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, our testing suggests little consistency or reliability in these temp ratings between manufacturers. We observed bags with identical temp ratings feeling substantially different in terms of warmth.
It's also important to acknowledge that maximum warmth is not necessarily desirable. Sweating inside a warm bag can be just as unpleasant as shivering inside a cold one. Instead, it's best to match a bag's warmth with the anticipated temperatures. The Teton Sports Celsius XXL and Coleman North Rim were the warmest bags we tested, both with advertised 0°F ratings. The bags are best suited for the colder nights of spring or fall but could be sweltering on a warm summer night.
The Redcamp Cotton Flannel, HiHiker Mummy, and Teton Sports Mammoth provide a more moderate warmth. They all feature reasonably thick insulation but include additional venting possibilities for the hottest nights. A third grouping of cooler bags is the Coleman Palmetto, Sleepingo Double, and Oaskys Three Season. The insulation on these bags is a little thinner. They should still be adequately warm in the summer but might get too cold during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. Finally, the Revalcamp supplies the least warmth of any bag we tested, but it's still a suitable choice for peak summer, indoor sleepovers, or RV camping.
There might be nothing more maddening than trying to fall asleep when you're uncomfortable. With their confined spaces, scratchy fabrics, and annoying drawstrings, sleeping bags have been the cause of more than a few campers' restless nights. When testing this group of bags, we endured all of these issues, and we're eager to share our findings so you won't have to do the same.
The lining of a bag is one of the most significant factors affecting comfort. Our testers unanimously agree that the soft feel of flannel is superior to the crinkliness of polyester or nylon. The Redcamp Cotton Flannel and both the Teton Sports bags are lined with similarly cozy flannel. The Coleman Palmetto also features flannel, but its particular variety is prone to collecting dirt and sticks, which is sure to reduce your comfort.
The roominess of a bag is another significant influence on comfort. Most people are likely to find spacious dimensions more comfortable than overnight confinement. That's why our testers prefer the broader feel of rectangular bags over a tapered mummy shape. A mummy design is useful for trimming materials and weight in a bag intended for human-powered adventure. However, when car camping, ounces don't matter much, so we suggest that campers go with a rectangular model.
Rectangular sleeping bags are not all the same size, but we generally found the manufacturers' listed dimensions to be accurate. Make sure the length is long enough for your height. Beyond that, wider bags will usually feel more comfortable. With 39 inches of width, the Teton Sports Celsius XXL is notable in this regard. Combined with its soft flannel, these wide dimensions lead us to consider it the most comfortable bag in this review.
Sleeping bags can be used for more than just sleeping, and it can be hard to predict the temperature of your next camping trip when purchasing a bag. For these reasons, we tried to evaluate each bag in terms of versatility. This is assessed based on the range of temps a bag can comfortably be used in and whether its design allows for other uses.
A sleeping bag's usable temp range is determined by an interplay between how well it can seal heat in versus how well it can let excess heat escape. While long zippers ensure you don't overheat on warmer nights, hoods and draft tubes enhance a bag's capacity to trap heat. The Oaskys Three Season and Teton Sports Celsius are two of the best bags in this regard because they include the requisite features to adapt to a wide range of temperatures.
One of the most common alternative uses for a sleeping bag is to convert it into a blanket for lounging. Rectangular bags can usually accomplish this with ease, especially if the zipper extends around the foot of the bag. In contrast, mummy bags like the HiHiker or Coleman North Rim cannot unzip to become a fully flat blanket. Another perk of rectangular bags is that many models can be zipped together with a matching bag to create a two-person bag. This is easy to do with two Redcamp Cotton Flannel bags and is our recommendation for an affordable double bag option.
Features & Design
The reality is that when price decreases, quality often does the same. This is certainly true for the top bargain bags in this review. We believe the cheapest bags generally had the most delicate zippers and more glaring stitching mistakes. For example, in our zipper durability test, we ran each bag's zipper back and forth 100 times and observed substantial snagging and misalignment with the HiHiker Mummy Revalcamp, Sleepingo, and Oaskys bags. These models also happen to be some of the cheapest.
On the other end of the spectrum, we noticed burlier zippers and higher quality construction in the pricier models, particularly those from Teton Sports. The Redcamp and Coleman bags didn't feel quite as nice structurally but struck a good balance between quality and affordability.
Related to our observations on quality is the number of features each bag included. More expensive bags are likely to have draft tubes and neck baffles, which you are sure to appreciate on an unexpectedly cold night. Our favorite bags also come with interior stash pockets for storing a phone or headlamp. The Coleman, Teton Sports, and Redcamp bags all come with velcro stash pockets.
The flammability of mattresses and bedding materials is an understandable concern for many people. Regulations are particularly strict for camping tents sold in the US. Rules are generally looser for sleeping bags, but it's still common to see sleeping bags with law labels stating they meet the industry-standard fire resistance test (CPAI-75). The HiHiker, Sleepingo, Revalcamp, Oaskys, and Redcamp bags in this review do not clearly state whether they meet this standard. Unfortunately, GearLab does not possess the resources or expertise to conduct our own fire resistance testing. We can confirm the labels on the Teton Sports and Coleman bags claim to meet fire resistance standards (CPAI-75).
When selecting a sleeping bag, a secondary characteristic to consider is how well it packs down and how much space it will take up. With consistency, the packed sizes we measured corresponded closely with warmth—warmer bags were larger and colder bags packed smaller. The variation between similarly warm bags seems small enough that it shouldn't greatly influence a purchasing decision. However, there are two exceptions worth discussing.
Our favorite dedicated two-person bag is the Teton Sports Mammoth, but it is an absolute pain to pack. Its included stuff sack is borderline too small, and its narrow shape is unnecessarily inconvenient. If/when you finally get the bag inside the sack, it remains roughly two times larger than any other bag we tried. This probably won't be a huge problem for most people but could be a concern for those with limited space.
In contrast, the Revalcamp distinguishes itself with how impressively small it can stuff down. We measured its minimum volume at 8.5 liters, roughly half the size of its closest competitor. And with 2 lbs 9 oz of total weight, this bag is conceivably small and light enough to use for actual backpacking. We must temper this possibility by emphasizing that this bag barely meets its 40°F rating, and the consequences of breaking its fragile zipper miles from your car could be pretty harsh. Nevertheless, you would be hard-pressed to find a cheaper bag that's small enough to take backpacking.
There will never be one sleeping bag that's perfect for everyone. Every material and design decision comes with its own benefits and flaws. Add to that the myriad of uses people have for their sleeping bags, and there is no real hope of ever settling on a single bag above the others. Our hope is that the information provided in this review helps you obtain the ideal bag for you and your specific needs.
— Jack Cramer
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