11 best sleeping bags to get you adventure-ready whatever the weather
Make sure you’re well grounded for your next overnight trip outside with one of these camping companions
The right sleeping bag can make or break a camping trip away from home whether you’re canvassing, caravanning or bunking down in a backwoods cabin.
No matter how action-packed your day, if you spend your night tossing and turning then you’re going to wake up groggy and grumpy, rather than raring to go.
So we headed for the hills, well, Dartmoor, with some of the latest sleeping bags on offer to see how well they insulated and aided a good night’s sleep.
Bags come in two shapes (mummy and rectangular) and are often rated by comfort and season. The comfort rating indicates the coldest ambient temperature at which you’ll be comfortable, while the season rating tells you the time of year the bag is most suitable for.
A one-season bag is suited to the summer months, while a five-season bag will get you through any month and will keep you cosy even in extreme cold.
Ultimately, though, we rated our nightly camping cocoons on whether we woke up warm, rested and raring to get out there for another day in the great outdoors.
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Thermarest vesper 32: £294.99, Ultra Light Outdoor Gear
The idea of taking a quilt on a backpacking trip is crazy. However, we’re not talking about your bedroom duvet – this three-season quilt packs down to the size of a small water bottle and is almost as light as a feather. It’s actually as light as a Premier League football – an incredible 15oz, so it will hardly have any impact on rucksack weight.
This lightweight advantage doesn’t mean that you sacrifice anything in insulation, as the superior down filling is comfort rated down to zero degrees and will keep you very cosy when night-time temperatures start to fall. Soft, breathable and well-designed, with a snap neck closure and insulated foot box, which eliminates unwanted drafts, this offers a serious alternative to the traditional sleeping bag.
Coleman big basin: £49.88, Amazon
If you’re tall then this three- to four-season bag is ideal. It can easily accommodate anyone up to 6ft 6in, but you don’t have to be a giant to benefit, as it also offers plenty of room for active sleepers who don’t want to wake up with the bag wrapped around them in the morning. It’s heavy enough to keep its shape and not move with you in the night. However, this means it’s more suited to car camping rather than backpacking.
The rectangular/mummy hybrid shape means that there’s always plenty of bag length to keep you covered, and it’s filled with a synthetic fibre, which did a bang-up job of keeping us insulated. Some nice extra touches too like the zip-plow feature, which stops the zip snagging when you close it up, and an inside pocket to keep things handy in the morning. If you get too hot in the night you also can unzip the bag at the bottom to get some air circulating.
Mountain Equipment dreamcatcher: £295.76, Bergzeit
This three-season, spring-to-autumn bag tailors to the body really nicely when you get in and is very roomy if you’re a squirmer or side sleeper. The guaranteed good night’s sleep temperature of -7C comes courtesy of some superior duck down that is comfortable and thermally efficient, so a cold night passed without waking us up. If things do warm up the inner quilt can be removed easily for a cooler night and the rectangular hood is a good fit for a camping pillow.
Thermarest space cowboy: £119.99, Ultra Light Outdoor Gear
Another supremely light and packable bag that’s built for backpacking or bikepacking throughout the summer, the Space Cowboy is comfort rated to 7C. The synthetic mummy-style sack is top-heavy with polyester and does a great job in keeping you warm in all the right places. The bag warmed up quickly after we’d climbed in and had a comfortable silky feeling with the quilting keeping the insulation where it was needed through the night. The synthetic materials felt really natural and it was the synthetic bag that came closest to mimicking the feeling of a down bag. It has good detailing throughout and there are loops that allow you to pair the bag with a quilt or blanket if you get a bit chilly.
Mammut sphere: £399, Mammut
This lightweight mummy bag is comfort rated down to -7C so you don’t have to worry about staying snug, however, it adapted well to a range of different temperatures because of the well-lofted white goose down. The four-season bag has a nice loose fit for anyone with a wider frame and we liked how we could fully close over the hood to stop any heat escaping and still have a good view of our surroundings. Ideally suited to a spot of cowboy camping – that’s sleeping under the stars without a tent.
Snugpak softie expansion 2: £94.95, Snugpak
This synthetic summer bag was cosy and the comfort rating to 2C meant that it was a good bag for occasional or festival camping. It has an in-built expander panel that can be adjusted to different body shapes or sleeping positions but what we really liked was the inclusion of a detachable LED torch in the hood – which proved very handy for middle-of-the-night trips to the loo.
Vango Aurora double: £130, Vango
This square-shaped double is a three-season offering filled with synthetic fibres that insulate well, especially if you’ve got an extra body in the bag (generating extra heat). If you don’t have to worry about taking up space and weight in a backpack, it’s great for couples, family camping trips or starfish sleepers who feel claustrophobic in other bags.
Vango latitude 300 long: £75, Vango
If you have a longer frame and try and pass the night in a bag that’s too small for you, then you’re only going to feel like human origami come the morning. Also, if your shoulders, hips or feet are constantly pressing against the filling then you’re going to end up compressing it over time and reducing the insulation. You won’t have to worry about that in this synthetic mummy, which offers up 6.8ft of wiggle room and a -1C comfort rating.
Rab mythic 200: £360, Rab
Baffled by baffles? That’s what sleeping bag manufacturers call the down-filled pattern of pockets that make up the exterior of your bag and determine how completely insulated you’ll be on a cold night. The diagonal baffle pattern on this three-season mummy bag ensures the goose down doesn’t settle towards the bottom of the bag and is kept in place around the core for good insulation. Very lightweight and with good detailing, we particularly liked the glow-in-the-dark puller for the zip.
Haglofs lupus -8: £190, Haglofs
This synthetic mummy-shaped bag felt far roomier and more accommodating than other similarly shaped bags on test, without it feeling like we were losing precious body heat every time we moved. This is a great bag if you are a bit of a wriggler because the interior isn’t grabby so you won’t keep waking up because you’ve created uncomfortable ridges inside the bag. With internal pockets for personal items and a pillow, this is a three-season bag that offers really good value for money.
Mammut tyin MTI 5-season: £269, Mammut
If you’re headed somewhere inhospitable then this five-season synthetic filled bag will see you through the night and will keep the heat where it needs to be. Up top, four layers of fibre combine in a “hot head hood” and there is further insulation in the footbox to make sure cold toes don’t interrupt your sleep. Suitable for temperatures as low as -18C and available in 160cm, 180cm and 200cm lengths – this is a bag that is definitely expedition ready.
The verdict: Sleeping bags
If you’re planning some outdoor adventures in the coming months then the Thermarest Vesper 32 is so versatile that it truly is a bag (okay, quilt) for all seasons. Lightweight, supremely insulating and extremely comfortable it can adapt to any kind of trip, from a modest away day under canvas to a week-long wild camp.
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