Spending time in the Great Outdoors is a great way to refill your energy and get some fresh air. However, getting the gear might be a daunting mission. A night of good sleep is essential to keep you sharp and energized for daily activities. So, you probably wonder if the best budget sleeping bag would suffice, or you should go for expensive, high-end models? The truth is that the quality of the equipment immensely affects your ability to enjoy your outdoor adventures. And high-quality gear can cost you an arm and a leg. Just think about it: boots, clothes, a backpack, a tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, and I am just getting started. It’s easy to imagine your budget skyrocketing and your enthusiasm fading away.
Fortunately, when it comes to sleeping, budget picks can provide warmth and comfort without breaking the bank. So, let’s break it down and find out about the best budget picks.
- Are Budget Sleeping Bags Good Enough?
- What to Consider When Buying a Sleeping Bag
- Our Top Picks
Are Budget Sleeping Bags Good Enough?
The simple answer is – yes, they are. But it’s not that simple. Let’s be honest, budget picks have limits. If you’re an avid winter hiker, or you plan a trip to Himalaya, you will need more expensive and advanced gear, sleeping bags included. High-end sleeping bags are expensive for a good reason. When you have to sleep in harsh, freezing conditions, any malfunction can lead to hypothermia. So, these bags have to be made of high-tech materials and undergo strict testing to provide safety for extreme adventures.
However, most of us won’t climb Mount Everest or go hiking in the Alaska wilderness in the middle of the winter. If you’re an average 3-season camper or backpacker, there’s plenty of affordable sleeping bags that would provide excellent comfort and a good night of sleep on your trips. Actually, most high-end sleeping bags would be an overkill for average Joe’s adventures.
So, the ultimate answer depends on your camping/hiking habits and preferences. Expensive sleeping bags can offer some advantages even for summer trips, but you can be fine without them as well. And if you’re on a relatively tight budget, it’s better to invest in top-quality hiking boots and backpack. As an avid camper, I would always trade a top-notch sleeping bag for a decent coffee maker or propane burner. The size (when compressed) and weight of a sleeping bag affect the price a lot. But, if you’re just pulling it out of your trunk, weight and size won’t bother you that much. So, you can save some money while still staying warm and comfortable.
What to Consider When Buying a Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Bag Types
There are three basic types of sleeping bags: summer, 3-season, and winter sleeping bags.
Summer sleeping bags are usually lightweight and they are designed to provide comfort during hot and humid nights. They can also keep you warm in moderate weather conditions. These sleeping bags are the best choice for those living in warmer climates and camping on the beach and other relatively warm places.
3-season sleeping bags are the most popular type due to their versatility. A quality 3-season bag will keep you warm when needed while allowing you to stay cool in warmer weather.
Winter sleeping bags are more insulated and therefore heavier and bulkier. On the other hand, they are necessary to keep you warm in low winter temperatures.
It is the warmth or the lack of it, that affects your sleep the most. So, this is a pretty crucial feature for sleeping bags. Most of them have a temperature rating, but take it with a pinch of salt. Usually, the allocated number means that the bag will keep you alive but not warm and comfortable. However, it gives you a rough estimation of your bag’s capability to retain heat.
Typically, sleeping bags come in two shapes – mummy and quilt (rectangular). It pretty much comes down to your personal preferences and sleeping style. A mummy-style bag retains heat more efficiently, while rectangular bags allow you some movement and positioning inside the bag.
Obviously, if you’re a back sleeper that doesn’t move much, a mummy bag would be a better choice.
But, if you’re a restless sleeper and you toss and turn throughout the night, a rectangular bag will provide better comfort for you. Some quilt-style bags can be unzipped and unfolded and used as a blanket.
You can choose between down and synthetics.
Down filling has an excellent weight-to-warmth ratio, hence these bags are lighter and more compressible. On the downside (pun intended), it is a more expensive material, and it doesn’t repel moisture very well. However, many models come with treated down that solves the moisture problem.
Synthetic filling is a more affordable alternative to down. It can provide the same level of warmth but it will be heavier and bulkier.
Ideally, you want a lightweight sleeping bag that will keep you warm. However, it’s not easy to achieve both qualities. For hikers and backpackers, this is a crucial feature as every ounce of weight counts. As for camping, weight is not that important so you can focus more on warmth and comfort.
Once again, hikers and backpackers need to consider packability more than their camping counterparts. Down is way more compressible than synthetic so down bags take less space. Campers, on the other hand, can save a few bucks if they don’t mind a couple of extra square inches.
Our Top Picks
OneTigris Light Patrol Down Sleeping Bag
This is a great 3-season sleeping bag. No matter how hard you try, it is difficult to find the downside of this great product. Seriously, there’s always room for improvement, but for the amount of money – no way. A mummy-style and 90% down filling will keep you reasonably warm even at low 30’s.
It is extremely lightweight and compact. A double YKK zipper that goes all the way down, ensures easy slipping in and out. It is breathable and it will repel water to a certain extent (I am not talking about rain). There’s also a convenient pocket inside of it for your smartphone, headlamp, or whatever you like to keep at your disposal. Multi-line stitching and ripstop nylon outer shell, provide durability and strength.
- Very lightweight
- Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
- 90% down and 10% cotton filling
- 3 seasons
- Suitable for hiking, backpacking, and camping
- Some users ( not many, though) complained about zipper quality
Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag for Big and Tall Adults
Whether you’re a hunter or you like winter camping, this budget option will keep you warm and comfortable. It can fit people up to 6’2”, so it is a little bit longer than most of the competition. The manufacturer claims that it can keep you safe in temperatures as low as 0°F which is pretty amazing. I haven’t tested it in such harsh conditions, but I can promise it will keep you warm at 10°F. It is just an outstanding feature considering the price.
Coleman Mummy North Rim has synthetic insulation, actually a lot of it. The Zipplow system prevents snagging while zipping. You can also unzip it and use it as a blanket. Some people say that it is a winter-only sleeping bag, but you can unzip the lower part to keep cool in mild weather.
Overall, it is a great and affordable option for winter camping. It is not as convenient for hiking and backpacking as it is on the heavier side.
- Very affordable
- It will keep you warm even in very cold weather
- Convenient zippers
- You can use it as a blanket
Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
If you’re looking for an affordable, soft, and comfortable sleeping bag to keep you warm, a new, improved Kelty Cosmic sleeping bag can fit the bill. It is insulated with down which is the best material when it comes to insulation and weight. However, down will not keep you warm if it gets wet, and it takes forever to dry. Well, the use of Dridown technology provides improved water resistance both for the inside and the outside of the bag. So, unless you expose your bag to rain, it will keep you dry and warm.
Since it’s filled with down, you can probably guess that it is lightweight and compact. While 20 degrees might be a bit of a stretch, it will perform well in lower 30s.
- Soft and comfortable
- Affordable price for a down bag
- Water resistant
- Too snug for bigger people
Marmot Trestles 30 Mummy Sleeping Bag
Marmot is one of the leading brands in outdoor clothing and gear. Besides top-quality build and design, Marmot usually offers a wide range of prices which makes some of their products more affordable. While there’s a reason for each price tag, you can be sure that all Marmot products deliver high quality. Trestles Mummy Sleeping Bag is such a product.
It is a synthetic sleeping bag that almost comes with advantages of down bags while being affordable. Weighing 3 pounds, it is as lightweight as a synthetic sleeping bag gets. It is very soft inside and an anatomically shaped box will allow some foot wiggling for better comfort. It’s still a mummy design, so don’t expect to toss and turn in your sleep.
Overall, it’s a great value for money and an excellent 3-season sleeping bag.
- High-quality build
- Relatively lightweight
- Warm (EN rated 30 for lower limit) and comfortable
- Full-length, locking, two-way YKK zipper
- Secondary zipper for ventilation if needed
- A bit heavier than down sleeping bags
TETON Sports Celsius Regular Sleeping Bag
If you’re a restless sleeper this is a great sleeping bag for you. TETON is a renowned outdoor gear company. They make a variety of camping gear from tents and backpacks to sleeping cots, hammocks, and accessories. It is a middle-of-the-road company orientated to produce affordable but reliable, quality equipment.
TETON Celsius is the warmest sleeping bag on our list. The temperature rating of 0°F is just as low as it gets considering the price range. I wouldn’t push it all the way, but all users praise the bag for exceptional warmth. It is a rectangular sleeping bag, so it’s a great choice for stomach or side sleepers. An addition of mummy-style hood provides better heat retention.
- Excellent warmth
- Comfortable and roomy
- Suitable for camping
- It’s a bit heavy and bulky
- Regular size is rather small. However, XL and XXL sizes are available
WINNER OUTFITTERS Mummy Sleeping Bag
This model is exactly what we are talking about today: a great budget sleeping bag. It is by no means the best product on our list, but it is the most affordable one. Of course, a low price is not enough to call it a good choice.
This bag is designed to be used in temperate conditions. It is a synthetic sleeping bag that will keep you warm and comfortable as long as it’s not too cold outside. I was surprised how lightweight it was: under 3 pounds. It is extremely light for a synthetic bag, but there’s a trade-off. It’s pretty thin, so it won’t keep you warm on very cold nights. But, as long as you use it in the designated temperature range (35-40°F low limit), you will be happy with it.
- Very affordable
- Lightweight for a synthetic sleeping bag
- It can accommodate bigger people
- Machine washable
- Not very compact
- Not suitable for very cold weather
Nemo Ramsey 30-Degree Down Mummy Sleeping Bag
This is the most expensive bag on our list, but it’s a great value for money. It offers several clever advantages to improve warmth and comfort. The bag is filled with down while construction features high-quality nylon. So, it will absolutely keep you warm at 30°F.
When it’s warmer outside, you can use Thermo Gills to release extra-heat without being exposed to the breeze and cold drafts. These are sort of pockets that you can open to allow ventilation if needed.
The Blanket Fold draft collar looks a little bit silly, but as soon as you try it, you’ll love it. It tucks very comfortably around the neck providing both comfort and warmth.
- Cinchable hood
- Warm and comfortable
- Ventilation options
- Extra water-resistant head and feet areas
- Large enough for bigger people
- Durable materials
- A bit pricey