Finding just the right sleeping bag can feel like a tall order. We wrapped up for the night in one after the other to figure out which keep you the coziest. After researching the top options available, we bought the best and lugged them from one campfire to another, conducting rigorous experiments along the way. We used a laser thermometer to test warmth, exposed ourselves to cruelly cold temperatures, and even performed the infamous ice block test. These bags capitalize on comfort. With spacious cuts, thick and warm fabrics, and thoughtful features, they do their best to guarantee a restful night beneath the stars. But, you wouldn't want to stuff many of them into a backpack. If you want a lighter, less luxurious option, see our Backpacking Bag Review.
The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping
We just tested the doublewide Kelty Tru.Comfort, updated Kelty Callisto, and North Face Homestead alongside our longtime favorite sleeping bags. While none of these additions takes top price, each covers a niche of the car camping, backyard sleepover world.
Our Favorite Bag
Hats off to the Wenzel Grande for taking the cake for the second year in a row. One of the biggest models we tested (and by far the coziest), the Grande is the warmest, most comfortable bag we've reviewed. It's kind of like being rolled up in a heated cinnamon roll. What it may lack in fancy features, it makes up with its hardcore warmth and comfort capabilities. When it comes down to it, we felt warmth and comfort were by far the most important features of any bag. After all, you're not going to care too much about an interior pocket or an over-sized, industrial zipper when you're snuggling down for a long night in the mountains and the temps are starting to plummet.
With its large size comes storing and cleaning challenges. To wash this bag, you'll most likely head to a laundromat with a large front loader. If you're tight on space on your camping trip, this is not the ideal bag. Even if you have plenty of space, it is still a massive bag that takes time to roll and store. That said, when you combine its incredible warmth and absolute comfort with its price tag, the Wenzel wins.
Read review: Wenzel Grande
High Marks for Warmth, Versatility and Features
TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1
All about the bells and whistles? The Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1 may be the bag for you. Slated as our Top Pick For Overall Versatility and Features, this monster of a bag is chocked full of loops, snaps, zippers, pockets, drawstrings and several versatile options for nearly every season or camp setting. The Polara's detachable fleece liner give campers a bag that is the perfect combination of your favorite couch-potato-movie blanket and a hardcore, cold-weather, camping bag. It's rugged and mean but also soft and very cozy.
If you're a busy sleeper and tend to twist and turn often, this bag may seem a bit confining in certain situations. Even though it's one of the larger bags we tested, when fully equipped with its very toasty polar fleece liner, some campers may feel too cocooned by the grabby nature of the lining material. Overall, it's a toasty bag with lots of layering options.
Read review: Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1
A Great Value
Kelty Callisto 30
The Kelty Callisto 30 is not the cheapest bag we've tested, but its combination of comfort and warmth in a reasonably compact design make it the most bang for your buck. It earns our Best Buy Award. We found the silky interior of the Callisto easy to move around in and feel its overall construction and size lend it a tremendous value. It's one of our favorite general-purpose bags.
This bag is on the narrow side, however. It also has a pretty thin zipper baffle that doesn't retain heat well. It's a warm weather bag, and we wouldn't bring it along if the temps drop near freezing. In the end, the bag's price tag, quality, and general-purpose design help outweigh the negatives.
Read review: Kelty Callisto 30
A Snuggler's Paradise
Kelty Tru.Comfort 20 Doublewide
Are you a snuggler who's ready to break with tradition? If so, the Kelty Tru.Comfort Doublewide has the features, size, weight, and warmth to them you reconsider zipping two bags together the old-fashioned way. This bag comes complete with a revolutionary zipper system, built-in blankets, and an ample hood design to hold pillows in place. If you're a dedicated cuddler, this bag is the bomb.
If want to maximize your money, this bag may be little pricey. You can purchase two of our Editor's Choice bags for the same price, having two bags for the price of one made it difficult to quantify the Tru.Comfort's true value. However, it's still a cool bag with really warm features and packs up smaller than two Wenzel's would.
Read review: Kelty Tru.Comfort 20 Doublewide
The Lap of Luxury
Slumberjack Country Squire 0
If price isn't a factor, the Slumberjack Country Squire is one of the most luxurious camping bags on the market. It's massive, warm, comfortable and rugged with a zip out liner that makes doing a quick washing simple and gives you the sensation of being snuggled up at home in your bed sheets. This bag is full of unique features, including a zip-off storage bag that can be used to carry tons of camp items from the car to the tent or trailer.
All that luxury makes this beast the most massive single bag in our review. If you're tight on car or closet space, this is not the right choice. Its huge packed size can fill most of the trunk space of a small car. The Slumberjack's overall quality and construction, including its 12oz Cotton Duck rugged exterior, makes this a bag that could last a lifetime. However, all of this luxury and does come with a larger price tag.
Read review: Slumberjack Country Squire 0
A Wallet Friendly Favorite
At such a low price, we didn't expect much from the Coleman Brazos. However, although cheap, this bag pleasantly surprised us when it outperformed more expensive bags during two of the most extensive, side-by-side warmth tests we've ever done. When it comes to keeping your piggies (and the rest of you) warm, this bag does the trick. The Brazos is a great grab if you're looking for a bargain bag that gets the job done.
One thing to consider: This bag is one of the smallest bags we tested, so if you're over 6 feet tall and have a larger than average frame, you're likely to be a bit uncomfortable. With that in mind, this bag's price tag and warmth rating still make an ideal buy for a large portion of cost-conscious buyers.
Read review: Coleman Brazos
A Budget Bag for Two
We bought this bag with some skepticism. How can two sleeping bags cost $50 and come with two pillows? But after many car camping trips, we determined that it's the top value for two people. Did you get into a fight over who forgot camp fuel for the trip? No problem, the bags zip apart into two single bags for more personal space. In a sense, it's one of the top deals for a one person bag (each one only costs $25). Most two-person bags overwhelm standard washers. You have to use a giant front-loader at a laundry mat. With this bag, you can wash each one individually in most standard home washing machines.
This bag is not warm. Even with two people in the bag, most will be cold when the temp drops below 40. The miserable quality stuff sack is thin and tears easily, and it's cumbersome to get the bag back in the stuff sack. We recommend using a big long pillowcase or a duffel. This bag is cozy, but nearly as snug as the Wenzel Grande or the Country Squire. Other than those little gripes, this is a beautiful value.
Read review: X-CHENG Double
Analysis and Test Results
Of the four metrics we tested, we care about two of them the most. When the sun goes down, and the cool mountain air begins to settle, the all we want to know is, will it keep me warm and is it comfortable? A bag can have a zillion bells and whistles, but if it doesn't keep you toasty or swallow you up like your favorite down comforter, what's the point of forking over your hard-earned cash to buy it?
For this very reason, we weighted our warmth scores the most heavily, followed closely by comfort. But we didn't do a few subjective tests. We took each bag and got an idea of how we felt about it, and then compared our opinions to basic science — and we weren't overly nice.
Hover over the blue dots in the value chart to see our award winners. The Wenzel Grande is not only the highest scoring bag — its price tags rivals nearly every bag we examined, giving it a higher degree of value. Only one model, the Country Squire breaks the bank. The Kelty Tru.Comfort is also pricey, but it is two bags in one. The rest of the bags are closer in cost but excel in many different applications.
When it comes to thermal insulation, it doesn't matter whether it's keeping something cool or something hot, it all works the same way — by trapping temperature in dead air space.
We used this concept to try a little reverse psychology on each bag. We figured if they could keep things (us) warm, then they should be able to keep other things (a large block of ice) cold. If our theory proved correct, the warmest bags should also keep a massive block of ice the coldest. Our hunch was right. Check out more about our ice test in our How We Test section.
In short, we conducted several tests to determine each bag's ability to retain temperature. We used laser thermometers to help us determine how each performed. Then we compared these results to what our sleeping tests told us. Our warmth scores accounted for 35 percent of each bag's total rating.
For the second year, the Wenzel Grande handily outperformed the all the rest followed closely by the Slumberjack Country Squire, TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 and the TETON Sports Celsius. If all the elements of the perfect cup of hot chocolate were turned into a sleeping bag, the result would be the Wenzel Grande. Its overstuffed design proved to be incredibly cozy and warm. In fact, we found it a challenge to want to unzip and get up for the day after sleeping in the toasty Wenzel all night.
The bag that surprised us the most was the Coleman Brazos. Since it's the cheapest bag we looked at, we were prepared to be underwhelmed. However, the Brazos warmth ratings outperformed several other bags with double or triple the price tag. It beat the REI Siesta, Kelty Callisto, and The North Face Dolomite, and nearly tied bags like the TETON Sports Celsius .
Did you ever play with those balsa-wood, rubber band airplanes when you were a kid? Remember winding up the propeller until the rubber band was in knots? Have you ever felt like that rubber band after sleeping in a bag that's the size of a shrunken wool sock? When you're already far from the comforts of home, nothing's worse than being trapped like a buried mummy all night. That's why we tested all of our bags for more than one type of comfort.
Yes, bigger bags like the Wenzel Grande or Slumberjack Country Squire offer more room. A bag can have enough room for two people, but if the interior lining is grabby, tossing and turning during the night may turn into a never-ending wrestling match with a life-size cocoon. For this reason, we decided to squirm back and forth in each bag to find out which one allowed for the easiest tossing and turning.
The Slumberjack Squire scored the highest. Its bed-sheet-like interior allows for easy movement. Second to the Slumberjack in width, The North Face Homestead Twin also gave us fantastic freedom. Which performed the worst? The Coleman Brazos. Its interior is extremely uncomfortable and grabby. The Teton Sports Polara's fleece lining also tends to latch on to clothing, but not enough to detract from its overall comfort factor.
We also tested each bag's overall thickness and loft. To us, puffy, thick bags just felt better on cold nights. They also offer more natural padding. To determine which bags were "full of it," we spent a considerable amount of time inside each bag, lying on hard, flat, surfaces. The Wenzel Grande and the Teton Sports Polara scored the highest for their overall coziness.
In all, there were 11 features we explored with each bag. (See How We Test for a list.) Out of all 11, three are the most practical and important: warranty, water-resistance, and how easy the bag is to clean.
Warranty — The Kelty, North Face, TETON, Mountain Hardware and Slumberjack bags all boast warranties that last the reasonable lifetime of the product. The Wenzel bags have a 10-year limited warranty, while Coleman options have a 5-year limited warranty. REI has a famously generous return policy, and you can return products with manufacturer defect at any time. REI's standard return policy is one year, to our knowledge.
Water Resistance - Nothing is worse than a wet sleeping bag. Outside water sources like a downpour can make for a miserable night. A leaky roof or trickling groundwater can lead to being cold and wet.
We found the synthetic bags, like the Kelty Callisto, TETON Polara, North Face Dolomite, REI Siesta, and Teton Sports Celsius performed brilliantly in our water tests. Behind in the pack were the Slumberjack Country Squire, the Wenzel Grande and the Coleman Brazos, with the Slumberjack showing virtually no resistance to water (at least in the tests we did).
Ease of Cleaning - We won't sugar coat it for you. We were disappointed pretty much across the board. The instructions on most of the bags we tested preferred a commercial front-loading washer. This means you're headed to the laundromat every time you want to clean your bag. We figured that since this was the standard for most, that it wasn't that big of a drawback. Just a little time-consuming.
The bags that scored the lowest were the TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 and the Teton Sports Celsius XXL. Their instructions specifically detail washing the bag by hand and laying it flat to dry. Its guidelines also state that machine-washing the bag voids its warranty.
One washing feature that impressed us is the increasing popularity of removable bag liners. Both the TETON Sports Polara 3-in-1 and the Slumberjack Country Squire 0 have liners that can be removed from the bag for a quicker option for washing and freshening up a bag. Note, you will still need to wash the Polara's shell by hand.
Traditional sleeping bags are known to be a little big-boned, so packed size was not a complete deal-breaker for us. However, whether you're backpacking in the Tetons or Car camping through Yellowstone, space still comes at a premium, so we rated each bag according to its stowed size.
We asked: Does the bag fit in its designed storage bag? We also questioned: "Does it fit easily into its storage bag? Shoving your bag into its stuff sack should not involve more action than an MMA fight. Most of the bags fit effortlessly into their storage bag, and surprisingly, the biggest bag, the Slumberjack Country Squire, was one of the easiest to stow. Testing determined that the Wenzel Grande and the Teton Sports Celsius are the most difficult to store, but with a little elbow grease, we were able to get them back into their storage devices.
Additionally, we determined whether each bag could legitimately fit on or in a backpack and whether its weight was acceptable to carry. In a pinch, could one double as a backcountry bag on a multiple-day backpacking trip? We found a few that could fit the bill.
The top scorer was the REI Siesta. Weighing 3 lbs 9 oz., the Siesta is not the lightest bag, but it would do the job in a pinch or for a beginner who doesn't want to invest a lot of money on new gear. The runner-ups were The North Face Dolomite, the Kelty Callisto, and The North Face Homestead Twin. All of these bags should only be used be used for warmer weather backpacking.
Throughout our review, we didn't give these bags any leeway. Regardless of price or prestige, we held all to high standards, and we were not afraid to score them according to their performance. We researched everything we would want to know if we were buying these bags for ourselves. In the end, we hope our efforts will benefit you in your decision making.
There's a lot to consider when buying a traditional sleeping bag. Hopefully, you've gained insight into the most important features of any conventional sleeping bag. When the rubber hits the road, the two most important considerations are warmth and comfort. The bags we liked the most were the ones that swallowed us up and kept us toasty all night.
— Jason Wanlass