You can’t be a happy camper without a decent sleeping bag, so we’ve hunted for the cosiest, best designed options to keep you snug – but never overheated – while you’re sleeping out in the elements. Whether you’re a festival goer, a family camper or a serious backpacker, our suggestions include something for everyone.
Be sure to check what seasons the sleeping bag is for before you part with your money, as well as finding out how lightweight it is and how small it packs up if you are backpacking (in which case, you’ll also want to check it’s waterproof, especially if you’re carrying it on the outside of your backpack).
Consider whether you want a mummy or rectangular shape – or perhaps you’d like one of the fun options that doubles up as a coat. Do you need a hood that can double up as a pillow? Do you find most sleeping bags feel like a straightjacket, in which case do you want an extra-wide one? Is the zip easy to use and in the most practical place? And are you especially tall? In which case you’ll need to seek out an extra-long one.
Also think about the filling. Down is great for heat retention, warmth to weight ratio, temperature range (so you can use it in both warm and cold conditions) and it has a longer lifespan and is easier to compress and pack up. The pros of synthetic insulation are that they retain insulation better when they’re wet, are easier to clean, dry quicker and are cheaper. We checked out this year’s offerings to find the most effective bags on the market.
1. Vango Fuse -12: £220, Vango
This all-year-round sleeping bag combines duck down and Vango’s new synthetic insulation fibre, which traps air within the bag’s channels. The result is a bag that is warm yet relatively lightweight (it’s 1.5kg). You can fasten the bag at the shoulder to stop heat sneaking out around your neck and there’s an arrow foot-shaped bottom to allow feet to relax naturally, as well as a water resistant finish to protect it from damp conditions. One to take on treks at any time of year.
2. Outwell Campion Lux Double Sleeping Bag: £40, Go Outdoors
This double sleeping bag – which is suitable for all seasons except winter – is soft and cosy, the zip is easily functional and there’s a handy pocket for essentials located inside near the top and by the main zip. You could be forgiven for assuming you’ve been sent the wrong size as it packs up so small in the compression sack – great news for storage saving.
3. Easy Camp Image Coat: £24.99, Easy Camp
You know that feeling at festivals when you want all the warmth of your sleeping bag, but you don’t want to actually go to bed? This sleeping bag can be worn as a coat – and a funky one too, thanks to the skeletal design. When you are finally ready for the land of nod in this summer-use only sleeping bag, simply close up the zips and lie down. Matching tent available.
4. Nordisk Oscar +10: £185, Wiggle
Weighing just 350g, this canary yellow summer sleeping bag is remarkably light, and as it’s synthetic, not down, it is very easy to maintain. And because the zip is at the front, you can comfortably sit up while keeping your feet warm. The pack size is just 13x20cm and this, coupled with the lightness, makes it ideal for backpacking, Nordisk says this one is suitable down to -6 Celsius, but you’d probably need a few layers on at those sort of numbers, but it will work perfectly for summer trekking as long as you’re not going too high.
5. Argos The Big Sleep 250GSM Single Cowl Sleeping: £18.99, Argos
If you want a no-frills, budget sleeping bag for under £20 that will see you through more than one summer and keep you warm without getting sweaty, opt for this. The extra width means it doesn’t get twisted and it’s comfy, simple to wash and soft inside. Give yourself a bit of time to fit it back in the bag after use, though, and use it for spring, summer and autumn, but not winter.
6. Jack Wolfskin Smoozip +3: £80, Jack Wolfskin
Here’s another sleeping bag with an innovative zip system – in this case, meaning you can open and close the zip in one seamless motion. We also like the extra insulation around the parts of the body that tend to feel the cold (head, torso and feet). And the hood is cosy enough to use as a pillow in its own right. For summer use.
7. Vango Starwalker: £47.50, Vango
This innovative, soft-touch, high quality sleeping bag – which is suitable for children aged 5 to 10 – enables you to zip off the legs and shoulders and turn it into a fun, animal-themed coat. Once your child is ready for bed, simply zip the bottom back on and zip up the shoulders. There’s also a panda design available, and you can get an adult version too. Suitable for usage between 8 and 20 degrees Celsius, so it’s one for summer nights.
8. Outwell Conqueror: £149.99, Outwell
If you miss your own bed when you’re camping you’ll love this sleeping bag that has an integrated down duvet and lots of space to move around while you sleep. What's more is that even with all that it packs up compactly and is easy to get back in the bag. Suitable for spring through to autumn, the only zip is a small one at the front to control temperature. Like most Outwell sleeping bags, it’s aimed at family campers, so not suitable for a rucksack.
9. Snugpak Navigator: £31.95, Snugpak
The new Basecamp range are made of soft-touch, synthetic fibres that last well and there’s one for every camping situation. We like the navigator for its reasonable price-tag and the fact that it’s toasty warm, without feeling heavy or sticky. And as it’s rectangular shaped, with a two-way zip, it can also be used as a quilt. It’s not super-light, so is probably better for a camping trip that involves a car, rather than one where you’re carting your stuff for miles.
10. Halfords Orla Kiely: £30, Halfords
It’s beginning to get hard to imagine any item that doesn’t have an Orla Kiely version. We love her stylish sleeping bag, with a stand-out, funky print. The traditional-shaped bag is well-designed to keep you cosy, never sweaty, with hollowfibre filling, although it’s not designed for winter.
The Vango Fuse -12 is an exciting new entry into the world of sleeping bags and does exactly what it says on the tin – fusing synthetic and natural fibres for the ultimate warmth to weight ratio, even in sub-zero conditions of -12 degrees Celsius. For a more budget option, we love the Snugpak Navigator. Also new for 2016, it is part of a wider range of affordable, soft-touch synthetic sleeping bags for every kind of camping trip.
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