Best sleeping bags 2021: stay cosy while camping

We walk you through the best sleeping bags to suit any season and budget

best sleeping bags: Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20F
(Image credit: Kelty)

If you're heading on a camping trip, you won't regret investing in one of the best sleeping bags. It's easy to underestimate how cold it can get outdoors at night, and trying to nod off when you can't get properly warm is the absolute worst. In this guide, we've rounded up the best sleeping bags for camping, to ensure you stay cosy, comfy, and ready to tackle whatever outdoor adventure you have planned.

So what do you need to know? First, pay attention to how many seasons the bag is designed to be used in, as well as the temperature ratings, to make sure it suits your trip. There are a few names to keep an eye out for. For our money, the best sleeping bag brands include Thermarest, Rab, Vango, Mountain Equipment, Mountain Hardware, Montane, Mammut, Patagonia and North Face. These brands will not only have wide ranges to choose from, ensuring you get the ideal spec and sizing for you, but they also have strong environmental pedigrees.

While there are some particularly advanced models on the market, sleeping bags tend to rely less on technology, per se, and more on high quality materials. That said, there are a range of outershells, down treatments and heat-capturing trickery that are worth keeping an eye out for. Filling-wise, the choice is between a down vs synthetic sleeping bag – down is both lighter and warmer than synthetic, but takes more looking after (if it's portability is paramount, you'd be better heading to our best lightweight sleeping bag guide for more specialist options). 

Read on for our pick of the best sleeping bags to buy now. Our handy tool will pull in all the best prices, so you can be sure you're not overpaying. Pair your purchase with one of the best camping mats, or even a quality camping bed for ultimate comfort under canvas.

The best sleeping bags to buy now

best sleeping bag: Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20F

(Image credit: Kelty)

1. Kelty Cosmic Ultra 20F

The best sleeping bag for most people

Weight: 2.4lbs / 1.09kg
Filling: 800 fill DriDown
Temperature: 31.0°F / -1.0°C (comfort), 20.0°F / -7.0°C (limit)
Shape: mummy
Reasons to buy
+Reasonably compact and light+Internal phone pocket+Water-resistant
Reasons to avoid
-Nylon outer smells a bit odd

The reasonably priced Kelty Cosmic Ultra is a great all-rounder, and will keep you comfortable through three seasons of camping trips. While this isn't a particular specialism, it's reasonably lightweight and packs down pretty small (the stuff sack is 8 x 13in / 20 x 33cm). This mummy style bag uses 'trapezoidal baffle construction' designed to retain heat, and in our Kelty Cosmic Ultra review our tester found it cosy and comfy. A PFC-free water-repellent coating is a practical addition, as is the internal zippered pocket for stashing valuables, and it's available in a few shapes and sizes to fit different bodies. There are more specialist options around, for the average camper this would make a great choice.

best sleeping bags: Rab

(Image credit: Rab)

2. Rab Mythic Ultra 180 sleeping bag

The best premium sleeping bag

Weight: 400g
Filling: 900+ fill power European goose down
Temperature: 0°C (lower limit)
Shape: mummy
Reasons to buy
+Absurdly light+Titanium coating+Super packable
Reasons to avoid
-Overkill for casual campers-Very short zip

Technically impressive, bewilderingly light and warm, the Rab Mythic Ultra 180 is the best premium sleeping bag around now. Weighing in at 400g, which is only slightly more than a full standard can of Coke, it's no surprise that this model also tops our best lightweight sleeping bag guide. Rab has packed the ultra with high-loft 900+ fill power European goose down, meaning that it’ll pack down extremely well, before lofting into a beautifully comfy slumber-hug. With a comfort rating of zero degrees, the Mythic Ultra 180 takes warmth to weight ratio to new levels. Rab has managed this by dropping a world-first: Thermo Ionic Lining Technology (TILT) adds a titanium coating to the inner lining, which reflects heat back towards your body. This amps up the warmth rating with very little weight penalty – ingenious and technically impressive. The downsides are a relatively fragile ripstop 7D outer, and a very short 1/8 length zip, both weight-saving compromises that we’re happy to sacrifice to the gods of heaviness.

best sleeping bags: Vango

(Image credit: Vango)

3. Vango Cobra 400 sleeping bag

Everything you could want from a Spring/Summer sleeping bag, at a great price

Weight: 920g
Filling: 90/10 Goose Down
Temperature: -1°C (comfort), -8°C (limit)
Shape: mummy
Reasons to buy
+Relatively lightweight+Solid build quality+Great 3-season warmth

The Vango Cobra 400 has all the features you could want in a Spring/Summer sleeping bag, at a wallet-friendly price. The 20D 380T Nylon Outer Shell Fabric will hold up to general abuse well, and Vango has pulled out all the technical stops to create a bag that’ll keep you in comfort below zero, yet weighs less than a kilo. Heat retaining tricks include an aluminimised layer that reflects heat back to the sleeper, a shoulder baffle to trap that hard-won warm air inside, while there’s also a full-length zip (with 3D baffle) for ventilation on warmer nights. 

Vango has deployed many of the modern tricks of the sleeping bag design trade here, with an ‘Arrow’ footbox for comfort, ‘Omega’ shaping on the upper bag (which reduces seams over core areas), as well as 3D mapping – all designed to make sure down is in the right places and giving maximum warmth. The big warming element here is of course the down, which is premium-quality 90/10 700 Fill Power Goose Down – hydro-treated to resist damp – and it is ethically sourced to boot. Overall the Vango Cobra 400 is impressively specced and has a build quality that’ll keep going and going, just like a premium sleeping bag should. Happy camping!

best sleeping bags: Mountain hardware

(Image credit: Mountain Hardwear)

4. Mountain Hardware Lamina 30F -1C Sleeping Bag

The best UK autumn bag for all eventualities

Weight: 995g
Filling: Thermal.Q
Temperature: -19°C (lower limit)
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Excellent in damp conditions+Impressive build quality

The MH Lamina range can be a bit bewildering in itself, with a wide range of similarly-built bags with different insulation weights, delivering very different results ‘in the field’. However, the 30F -1C is a particularly strong choice for the autumnal UK adventurer with a downright impressive sub-kilo weight, this is a bag that won’t weigh heavy as the day draws on. Although the three-season rating is technically enough for Autumn anyway, these bags are excellently designed for heat retention. Fully zipped up, tailored hood neatly arranged, draft collar deployed this little bag can take a deep dive to an extreme temp of -19C - although that won’t feel like any kind of fun.

Even more impressively, this is an artificial insulation bag, which usually means bulkier and heavier than a down equivalent, but does mean that it’ll still keep you warm in damp conditions. UK autumn conditions are almost entirely ‘damp’, again making this an excellent choice. Finally, the build quality of the MH Lamina’s is strong - they really feel like tempting places to sleep, silky materials, roomy at the toe, lots of insulation in the hood all add up to confidence for a good night’s sleep ahead - what more could you ask for?

best double sleeping bag: Vango Homestead double sleeping bag

(Image credit: Vango)

5. Vango Homestead Double sleeping bag

The best double sleeping bag for summer trips

Weight: 3.2kg
Filling: 60% Single Hole siliconised hollow fibre/40% polyester fill
Temperature: 8° (comfort), 4° (limit)
Shape: square
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of room for two+Smart and stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Summer-weight only-Doesn't fully unfold

If you fancy cosying up with your camping partner, there's always the option of doubling up. For summer trips, one of the best double sleeping bags we've found is the Vango Homestead. This 150x208cm square bag has plenty of room for two, and for a low RRP delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The soft lining feels lovely to touch, and it's pleasingly breathable (although be aware that this is strictly for summer adventures). It also looks super smart – as well as campervan or car camping trips, you could use it for guests coming to stay in your home. Head to our Vango Homestead double sleeping bag review to find out more.

Best sleeping bag: North Face Gold Kazoo

6. The North Face Gold Kazoo

A versatile, middle-weight sleeping bag for summer to autumn camping

Weight: 850g (regular), 907g (long)
Filling: ProDown 700+ Fill
Temperature: 2°C (comfort)
Shape: mummy
Reasons to buy
+Damp treated+Draft collar prevents heat loss

The North Face Gold Kazoo is a solid choice for 3-season requirements, it’s got some different design cues to mark it out from the crowd, and neat touches that will keep you warmer and happier than a cheaper competitor. The ethically approved 700 fill ProDown is hydrophobically treated, keeping it drier and warmer for longer, while anti-compression pads are designed to keep you more insulated from the ground – a cunning plan, as that’s where you lose most heat. A well-thought out fitted hood and zipper baffle combine with a draft collar to combat heat loss for minimal weight too, and there are even pad loops to connect the bag securely to a pad, making it ideal for springtime bivvying.

Best sleeping bags: Vango Nitestar Alpha 350 in blue

(Image credit: Vango)

7. Vango Nitestar Alpha 350

A reliable budget sleeping bag for spring summer camping

Weight: 2,000g
Filling: Insulite Alpha
Temperature: -1°C (comfort), -7°C (limit), -25°C (extreme)
Shape: mummy
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of warmth for 3-season camping+Internal pocket for small items

Those of you seeking a comfortable sleeping bag that does away with needless frills in order to keep the cost down will love the Vango Nitestar Alpha 350. We’ve tested Vango’s budget sleeping bag during late spring through summer camping and found it reliably warm and comfortable to sleep in. It’s soft and snug once you’re inside, and Vango has designed it with a two-way auto-lock zip so that it doesn’t unzip itself in the night while you’re sleeping – no-one wants to be woken up by a draft during the wee hours.

This Vango sleeping bag packs down reasonably small into a 4-strap compression stuffsack, so it won’t take up much room at all in your car, if car camping. That means it won’t add much weight to your pack when backpacking either. Vango has used an insulated zip baffle to retain heat when the temperature drops, so you won’t encounter any nasty cold spots in the sleeping bag. Instead, you’ll continue to feel warm and cosy throughout the night – the ideal scenario for a good night’s sleep. Need to air it? The Nitestar Alpha 350 has a hanging loop exactly for that purpose.

Best sleeping bag: Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame

8. Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Flame

The best sleeping bag for soggy camping trips

Weight: 1,105g (regular), 1,190g (long)
Filling: Thermal.Q 100g/m2
Temperature: 0°C (comfort), -6°C (limit), -23°C (extreme)
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Body-mapped insulation+Comfort footbox

The HyperLamina Flame is an excellent choice for potentially rain-lashed camping, as the synthetic insulation keeps you warm regardless of how wet it is. This sleeping bag is no technical slouch either, packing in a half length centre zip, a face gasket and Lamina welded construction. Another reason why it's routinely considered to be one of the best sleeping bags money can buy is something called mapped insulation. This clever design works to keep heat in and weight down. 

Best sleeping bag: Therm-a-rest Hyperion

9. Thermarest Hyperion 32F/0C Sleeping Bag

The best sleeping bag for those seeking minimum pack load, big warmth

Weight: 425g (small), 453g (regular), 510g (long)
Filling: Nikwax Hydrophobic Down 900 Fill
Temperature: 5°C (comfort), 0°C (limit/transition), -15°C (extreme/risk)
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly lightweight+Tiny packsize+Nikwax-treated

The Thermarest Hyperion is squarely aimed at those covering ground, where weight is of vital importance. Lightweight and with the pack size of a large water bottle, this is one for the fast and light crowd, as well as anyone who doesn’t like lugging heavy loads. Why else does it top our best sleeping bag buyer's guide? Well, the massive 900 Fill Power ethically sourced Nikwax Hydrophobic Goose Down ticks all the boxes, while a RipStop shell and inner lining, which also has ThermaCapture Lining to trap more heat all add up. Finally, neat touches like the synergylink connector, which straps the sleeping bag to a camping mat, really make this particular wonder stand out.

Best sleeping bag: Mountain Equipment Iceline

10. Mountain Equipment Iceline

The best sleeping bag for winter camping

Weight: 1,650g
Filling: 90-10 800 Fill Power Russian Goose Down (fill weight 994g)
Temperature: -30°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Multi-baffle design for maximum warmth+Highly breathable+Rain resistant

It’s not a new sleeping bag, but the classic Mountain Equipment Iceline has graced many an expedition to very cold places, and rightly so. Designed to keep you warm down to a 'good night's sleep temperature' of -30°C degrees, with 994g (minimum fill power 800) of 90-10 Russian Goose Down, and all wrapped in a rain-resistant and breathable Gore Thermium 10D outer shell. All that makes this the best sleeping bag for cold weather camping. 

Mountain Equipment has gone to town with the baffle design, packing in a variety of shapes in different areas to maximise loft to keep you warm. An anatomically shaped hood hugs your head, and a neck collar provides a snug yet soft fit. The fact that the Iceline comes ‘expedition fitted’ (so it’s roomier than usual) is another reason why this serious bit of camping gear is top of our best sleeping bags list. When you’re done using it, just roll the bag into the supplied waterproof roll-top stuff-sack.

best sleeping bags: Snow Peak Bacoo 550 Sleeping Bag

(Image credit: Bacoo)

11. Snow Peak Bacoo 550 Sleeping Bag

The best waterproof down bag compromise

Weight: 1,120g
Filling: Duck down and feather
Temperature: -7°C
Shape: Mummy
Reasons to buy
+Decent insulation+Waterproof outer+Light weight for the warmth

The Snow Peak Bacoo 550 packs in the warmth with a solid 800 fill power of duck down (cut with 10% feathers, unfortunately), which is how it gets a -7C rating. That’s a solid winter rating, and usually there’d be a caveat here about mixing down and UK wetness, but Snow Peak have used waterproof and breathable fabric for the outer, heading off down-clumping unpleasantness. 

This combination could well prove to be a real winner, giving a winter-warm bag at only slightly over a kilo, which is pretty light for the warmth. The breathability should mean that moisture-laden air can also escape, keeping that down in premium condition all night. Other neat touches include separate shoulder and hood drawcords, and a headlamp pocket, which will also be useful to stop phone or GPS batteries from freezing and discharging overnight. 

How to choose the best sleeping bag for you

The best sleeping bag for you will depend on a variety of factors, the big two being how warm it needs to be, and how lightweight it needs to be. Usually, the warmer the bag, the heavier it is, although the latest and best technical sleeping bags manage to deliver warmth for very little weight.

However, there will be compromises. For example, lighter weight materials will often wear out faster and need more care and attention to keep them undamaged in normal use. While a winter sleeping bag (for the UK) should be comfortable well below zero, spring and summer bags can have a comfort rating of zero and up, although bear in mind it’s usually easier to fix being too warm rather than being too cold at night. 

Not all sleeping bags need to be super-light, especially if you’re car-camping for a night or two, but if you're trekking or hiking to your campsite – or wild camping – then shaving those extra grams off will pay dividends. If hiking with your sleeping bag is on the cards then looking at packability is sensible – you'll need something that fits comfortably into your hiking backpack, with all your other gear. Cheap synthetic sleeping bags being the most bulky, and expensive goose down compressing for travel the best. 

Are the temperature ratings accurate?

Be wary of taking minimum temperature ratings literally, as these results are achieved in a lab and are therefore only guidelines - real-world variables will impact a sleeping bag’s temperature performance. 

Most sleeping bags state an EN rating, which is a European standard (EN13537) covering four temperature ranges. These are: upper limit, comfort, lower limit, and extreme (a survival only rating and not to be followed for normal use).

On a related note, check the fit of a sleeping bag before you buy, as different lengths and chest sizes are often available. The better the fit (you want it to be snug but not tight), the warmer you’ll be. Don’t be tricked into thinking you’ll be wearing more than just base layers in a sleeping bag, either, as extra clothing changes the fit of the bag and sometimes makes it colder. If it's nippy out, lay your jacket on top.

Mark Mayne
Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.