Whether you’re trekking through the Alps or camping locally in the UK, when it comes to pitching your tent at the end of a long day outdoors, a warm and dry night’s sleep is at the forefront of every camper’s mind. This is why choosing a sleeping bag that’s best suited to your needs is so important.
When shopping for a sleeping bag, there can be a lot of terminologies to make sense of, and, faced with thousands of models to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best sleeping bag for your needs.
To help you find the best sleeping bag for your next trip, The Recommended spoke to an outdoors expert to explain everything from synthetic and down fillings to temperature-specific options and the pros and cons of different bag shapes. In line with this advice, which you can read at the bottom of this page, we’ve compiled a list of the best sleeping bags to suit every camping trip.
The best sleeping bags at a glance:
- Best two-season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar Alpha 250
- Best three-season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar Alpha 300 Quad
- Best 3-4 season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar 350
- Best sleeping bag for side sleepers: Outwell Oak Supreme Sleeping Bag
- Best sleeping bag for hikers: Hyke & Byke Eolus Goose Down Sleeping Bag
- Best hydrophobic sleeping bag: Therm-a-Rest Questar Down Sleeping Bag
- Best premium sleeping bag: Rab Alpine Pro 600
- Best mid-range sleeping bag: Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5 Degrees
- Best budget sleeping bag: Milestone Camping Insulation 26700 Sleeping Bag
- Best two-person sleeping bag: Active Era Double Sleeping Bag
The best sleeping bags
Best two-season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar Alpha 250
Great for mild weather
Our outdoors expert says this two-three season, mummy-shaped sleeping bag is a great option for campers in mild weather who feel the cold more than the average person.
Designed for use in temperatures ranging from -2 to 20 degrees Celsius, this sleeping bag features a double off-set layer construction and an adjustable shoulder baffle to stop heat from escaping. It is filled with quick-drying silicone insulation and lined with a microfibre fabric designed to provide comfort and breathability. It also comes with a four-strap compression stuff sack that packs down to 29 x 20cm.
Best three-season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar Alpha 300 Quad
Spacious feet area
Recommended by the Scout Association and the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, this three-season sleeping bag is suitable for use in temperatures running from -2 to 18 degrees Celsius.
This sleeping bag combines a mummy-style upper area designed to keep heat in with a spacious, square bottom for those who don’t want their feet to feel restricted. The bag itself is filled with a siliconised hollow fibre and features horizontal stitching to ensure the filling remains evenly distributed. It comes with a compressions stuff sack that packs down into a size of 33 x 27 cm.
Best 3-4 season sleeping bag: Vango Nitestar 350
Great for chilly nights
Designed to keep you warm throughout summer, spring and mild winter nights, this three-four season, mummy-shaped sleeping bag is suited to temperatures ranging from -5 to 18 degrees Celsius.
This sleeping bag has a two-layered, off-set construction, which means that the seams of the two layers don’t match, helping to stop cold air from getting inside. It also comes with a four-strap compression stuff sack for portability.
Best for side sleepers: Outwell Oak Supreme Sleeping Bag
Filled with down and polyester
This hourglass-shaped sleeping bag is designed to provide added shoulder and knee support to side sleepers and has offset dual zips to avoid campers from lying on them.
This two-season sleeping bag is best suited for use from late spring to early autumn and is filled with a mixture of quick-drying polyester and lightweight duck down. The upper section of this sleeping bag features a flap panel, which can be adjusted to provide additional warmth or comfort.
Best sleeping bag for hikers: Hyke & Byke Eolus Goose Down Sleeping Bag
Lightweight and compact
This four-season, mummy-style sleeping bag is filled with a hydrophobic goose down and weighs 1.18kg, making it a great lightweight option for backpacking.
This sleeping bag features a water-repellent nylon liner, anti-snag zips and comes with a compression stuff sack for storage. It is available to buy three sizes – short, regular and long – as well as five different colour options.
Best hydrophobic sleeping bag: Therm-a-Rest Questar Down Sleeping Bag
Absorbs less water than traditional down
This mummy-style sleeping bag is filled with hydrophobic down, which the manufacturer claims absorbs 90% less moisture than traditional, un-treated down, and dries three times faster.
This three-season sleeping bag has a number of handy additional features, including a draft collar designed to trap heat, a rollable hood, snag-free zipper, and a draught hose. It also comes with three removable straps for attaching the sleeping bag to a mattress, ensuring that you don’t slip off it during the night. This sleeping bag is designed for use in temperatures as low as -6 degrees celsius.
Best premium sleeping bag: Rab Alpine Pro 600
Built for mountaineering and use in remote areas, this 650FP duck-down sleeping bag weighs 1050g and has a temperature limit of -9 degrees celsius.
This sleeping bag features a wind-resistant outer material made from recycled nylon, which is great for using with a bivvy. It has a mummy-style shape to retain warmth, as well as trapezoid boxwall baffles, which Rap says allows the down in the sleeping bag to fully loft, eliminating cold spots.
Best mid-range sleeping bag: Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5 Degrees
Unique s-shaped zip design
A mid-range sleeping bag offering great value for its price point, this mummy-style sleeping bag has a polyester filling and is suitable for use in temperatures up to -5 degrees celsius.
This three-season sleeping bag has a unique s-shaped zip which is designed to make it easier to open and close. Made entirely from polyester, this sleeping bag should retain its insulating properties even after getting wet.
Best budget sleeping bag: Milestone Camping Insulation 26700 Sleeping Bag
Great for festivals and garden camping
Great for campers on a tight budget, this two-season sleeping bag is filled with a 150gsm polyester fibre, which is suitable for use during warm summer nights.
This sleeping bag is envelope shaped, which is great for campers who don’t like the restrictive feeling around the feet that you get with a mummy-shaped sleeping bag. It also has a full-length, double-sided zipper, which means that it can be fully opened into a blanket. When folded away, it packs into a 33 x 15cm stuff sack.
Best two-person sleeping bag: Active Era Double Sleeping Bag
Ideal for couples
Designed to sleep two adults, this queen-sized sleeping bag has independent zips on either side and can also be separated into two individual single sleeping bags.
This is a three-four season sleeping bag designed for comfortable use in temperatures ranging from 0 to 10 degrees Celsius, but the manufacturer says that it can also be used in extreme conditions up to -5 degrees celsius. It is filled with a 250GSM polyester inner.
Our camping expert
David Scotland is the owner of Outdoor World Direct, a Yorkshire-based, family-run camping equipment online retailer. David has been in the outdoors business for the past 16 years and is highly experienced in all things camping. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with customers to ensure they have the best camping experience possible.
What should you look for and avoid when buying a sleeping bag?
What features to look out for all depends on what you want from a sleeping bag, says David. “Pay attention to temperature and season ratings. One-two season sleeping bags are suitable for warm summer nights, while a four season will keep you warm in the winter months.”
He also recommends looking for sleeping bags with a “mummy”-like design. “These ones cocoon your head and feet to trap heat,” he says, “but they also don’t provide much room for movement, so if you’re a fidgety sleeper, you may feel restricted, but they do offer more warmth and a smaller pack size.”
For couples, David suggests a double sleeping bag such as the Vango Homestead. “They usually have a zip on each side, so you don’t disturb the other person when getting in and out,” he says.
What are the best sleeping bags for winter, and which are best suited to warmer weather?
According to David, “three-four and four season sleeping bags are the best for winter while one-two and two season are lightweight and ideal for summer nights”. He says that a good option for autumn and milder winter nights is the Vango Nitestar Alpha 350, while the Vango Nitestar 250 is well suited to summer camping.
“It’s also worth bearing in mind that some people are warm sleepers and some cold,” says David. “If you’re someone that feels the cold, then perhaps it is better to go for warmer. Everyone is different – so it is often hard to measure. Use the temperature gradings as a rough indication.”
How to wash a sleeping bag
Before washing your sleeping bag, it’s worth checking the care label on the bag for specific instructions on the best method to wash. In general, David recommends washing most sleeping bags at 40 degrees Celsius, using normal detergent, and avoiding using fabric softener and tumble drying.
Which is better: down or synthetic filling?
Sleeping bags are filled with either synthetic insulation, down insulation, or a combination of the two. While they both serve the same general purpose, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Down-filled sleeping bags
Down is a natural thermal insulator found beneath the feathers of birds. Manufacturers of outdoor products use goose (and sometimes duck) down to fill their sleeping bags. Down fillings are more compact than synthetic fillings when packed down and retain their shape better over long periods.
Down is also more lightweight and has a better warmth-to-weight ratio than synthetic sleeping bags, making it a popular choice among backpackers. The main drawback of down-filled sleeping bags is that they lose some of their insulating properties when they get wet, which limits their suitability in wet or snowy conditions.
Some sleeping bags are filled with hydrophobic down (regular down that has been coated with a water-repellent chemical) to combat this, but some manufacturers claim that this loses some of the down’s insulating properties as a result.
Synthetic sleeping bags
Synthetic sleeping bags, on the other hand, are filled with polyester fibres, which are quick-drying and retain less moisture than down-filled sleeping bags, making them a popular choice for wet and snowy weather.
While synthetic sleeping bags are cheaper than down sleeping bags, their main drawback is that synthetic filling is not as compact as down. They also have a worse warmth-to-weight ratio and lose their shape more quickly after repeated use.
If you want to read more expert-recommended round-ups and product guides, check out our Camping page, where you’ll find more home recommendations, including the best camping tents, the best camping beds, the best camping stoves, and the best camping chairs.