The Best Budget Sleeping Bags of 2020
Among a crowded field of affordable sleeping bags, the Redcamp Cotton Flannel sets itself apart. At a price only slightly above rock bottom, it offers an impressive trifecta of warmth, comfort, and versatility in a package that still feels well-made. The simple rectangular design offers spacious interior dimensions to ensure an unrestricted night's sleep. Plus, you can keep your phone battery warm (and holding a charge) by keeping it inside the small velcro stash pocket.
Our complaints are relatively minor. The zipper isn't the strongest we've seen. However, it still held up in our zipper durability test. We measured the bag's overall length at 70 inches which won't be quite enough to cover the shoulders of the tallest shoppers. Nevertheless, we love this bag. And in addition to being our favorite single person bag, it's also our top choice for an affordable two-person option. Simply buy two and zip them together.
The Oaskys Three Season is far from perfect, but one thing that is, is its price. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better deal on a full-size adult sleeping bag. We were pleasantly impressed with its overall performance and astonished by how small we could stuff it. The rectangular shape provides adequate roominess while the attached hood lets you nestle in on colder nights. There are certainly better sleeping bags, but none at the same price.
Our largest concern is the finicky zipper which failed near the end of our durability test. You need to be willing to take it easy when opening/closing or this sleeping bag will soon be a blanket. Another drawback is the polyester lining. This fabric is light and affordable, but our testers prefer the softer feel of flannel for maximum comfort. Despite these issues, we're still fans and we believe this bag could be the best choice for shoppers on the tightest budgets.
Teton Sport's Celsius XXL distinguishes itself two ways: luxurious dimensions and exceptional warmth. With 39 inches of width, it is the widest single sleeping bag we bought for testing. This fact goes a long way towards negating the common complaint that sleeping bags feel too restrictive. In our view, most temp ratings are overly optimistic, but this bag's 0°F rating feels borderline accurate. It's filled with plenty of hollow fiber insulation and sports a legit draft collar and hood to seal heat in. The brushed flannel lining of the Teton Sports bags is also our lead tester's favorite.
Like most things in life, the benefits come with drawbacks. The ample insulation doesn't pack down small so be sure you have plenty of extra room in your car and attic. Realistically, its 0°F temp rating is also too warm for most American campers in the summertime, so it's better suited for high-elevation or spring, fall, or even mild winter excursions. Considering this bag's high quality, its price presents an awesome deal. However, there are several cheaper bags that could meet the needs of most people, especially when the warmth of this bag isn't necessary.
If you're in the market for a great two-person bag, the Mammoth is our top pick. 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, if you get sick of your sleeping mate, you can unzip this bag into two separate blankets.
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 their lanterns and stoves. Further down the list are their tents, and further still are sleeping bags. Nevertheless, we were pleased with the simple Palmetto. At an affordable price, it delivers reasonable levels of comfort, warmth, versatility. 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. And we didn't experience the same issue with other flannel bags. Just the Coleman. This could still be a great bag for sleepovers or RV camping, but if you take it anywhere wild, expect to do some cleaning.
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.
The simplicity and extra legroom of a rectangular bag are appreciated by many people, but mummy-shaped bags have their own advantages. Their tapered shape means that less material is needed, which is partly why this HiHiker weighs in at 4 lbs 6 oz despite a toasty 20°F temp rating. A sarcophagus design is also more efficient for keeping you warm because there is less excess internal space for your body to heat.
While these advantages are certainly desirable when ounces and packed size matter, they're much less important when car camping. And this bag is plainly too heavy and large 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. So if a sleeping bag is going to be limited to car camping, we would prefer a less restrictive rectangular shape.
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 along with 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.
Our hands-on testing, however, concluded that this bag isn't close to warm enough to match its 32°F. 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).
If your only criterion is price, this Revalcamp offering could be the winner. 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. For the rare camping trip, this can serve as an acceptable sleeping sack.
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. For some people, this bag's simplicity, small packed size, and bargain price could be worth the drawbacks. For most campers, however, 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, as well as 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 mean the temperature at which a specific sleeping bag will keep you warm. Although official standards have been devised for consistently measuring temp ratings, the added costs of such independent testing means 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 warmest bags we tested were the Teton Sports Celsius XXL and Coleman North Rim, which are both advertised with 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.
More moderate warmth is provided by the Redcamp Cotton Flannel, HiHiker Mummy, and Teton Sports Mammoth. 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. That's OK though because 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. Sleeping bags, with their confined spaces, scratchy fabrics, and annoying drawstrings, have spoiled more than a few campers' nights. We endured all of these issues while testing these bags and we're eager to share our findings so you won't have to do the same.
One of the biggest factors affecting comfort is the lining of a bag. 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.
Another big influence on comfort is the roominess of a bag. Most people are likely to find spacious dimensions more comfortable than overnight confinement. That's why our testers prefer the wider 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. When car camping, however, ounces don't really matter, so we suggest campers go with a rectangular model.
Rectangular sleeping bags are not all the same size, but we found the manufacturers' listed dimensions to generally 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. These wide dimensions, combined with its soft flannel, 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 additional 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. Hoods and draft tubes enhance a bag's capacity to trap heat, while long zippers ensure you don't overheat on warmer nights. Two of the best bags in this regard are the Oaskys Three Season and Teton Sports Celsius 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 all the way around the foot of the bag. Mummy bags, in contrast, like the HiHiker or Coleman North Rim, cannot unzip to become an ordinary blanket. Many rectangular bags also have the added benefit of allowing them to be zipped together 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. In our zipper durability test, for example, 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 bags 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 include 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). Five of the bags in this review do not clearly state whether they meet this standard. These are the HiHiker, Sleepingo, Revalcamp, Oaskys, and Redcamp bags. Unfortunately, the 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 they meet fire resistance standards (CPAI-75).
A secondary characteristic to consider when selecting a sleeping bag is how well it packs down, and thus, how much space it will take up in your car, attic, or suitcase. By and large, the packed sizes we measured corresponded closely with warmth—warmer bags were larger and colder bags packed smaller. Variation between similarly warm bags seems to be small enough that it shouldn't greatly influence a purchasing decision. However, there are two exceptions worth discussing.
The Teton Sports Mammoth is our favorite dedicated two-person bag, 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 do get the bag inside the sack, it remains roughly two times larger than any other bag we tried. This still probably won't be a huge problem for most people, but could be a concern for those with limited space.
The Revalcamp, in contrast, distinguishes itself with how impressively small it can stuff down. We measured its minimum volume at 8.5 liters, which is 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 a perfect sleeping bag 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 of the others. We simply hope that the information provided in this review helps you obtain the ideal bag for you and your specific needs.
— Jack Cramer