Sleeping bags are an essential part of any camping trip. Not only do they provide you with a comfy night’s sleep, they also act as an extra layer of protection between you and the elements of nature. When most people think of sleeping bags, they think of heavy, down bags that are made to keep you warm on cold winter nights. While many sleeping bags are constructed with warmth in mind, there are just as many that are meant for camping in warmer climates.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable sleeping bag to accommodate your summer camping trips, look no farther. This guide will help you choose the best summer sleeping bag that will keep you sweat-free during your next summer camping trip.
Below you will find tips on what to look for when choosing your next sleeping bag, how to care for your sleeping bag once you’ve bought it, and a list of the top summer sleeping bag choices available. It can be easy to avoid restless nights and sweaty mornings with a versatile, temperature rated sleeping bag. Ensure that your next summer trip will leave you with cool and comfortable memories with these best sleeping bag options.
What to Look for In a Sleeping Bag
There are several factors that you should think about when looking for a summer sleeping bag. Not all sleeping bags are made equally, and different situations can call for different kinds of sleeping bags.
Take into consideration the factors below to find a sleeping bag that is comfortable and suited for your individual needs.
There are two general types of insulation that sleeping bags are made with: synthetic and natural. Below we lay out the pros and cons of both, and which you should choose for your sleeping bag depending on your camping needs.
- Synthetic: This is the choice insulation of most campers because of its durability and budget-friendly nature. It’s also non-allergenic, making it a great choice for campers who are sensitive to other materials. The downside to synthetic insulation is that it doesn’t compact down to a very small size when compared to the natural down insulation. This makes it harder to stuff inside a backpack when going on longer hikes.
- Goose-Down Insulation: This insulation material is made of natural goose feathers, and is often more expensive than its synthetic counterpart. Goose-down insulation is great because of its insulation abilities and the fact that it can be easily compressed into a compact size perfect for backpackers. The downside is that it’s not water-resistant, and therefore not great for all weather conditions. Although in recent years, some goose-down sleeping bags have been treated with water-resistant protection to help protect your sleeping bag from rain and moisture.
The temperature rating of a sleeping bag is meant to tell its users what the lowest temperature it will be able to keep you warm and comfortable in. Although there are many factors that go into this temperature rating, including your body size, metabolism, and the additional features you use with your sleeping bag such as a pad, warm clothing, etc.
There are three generally accepted temperature ratings for sleeping bags outlined below.
- Summer (+35°and higher) – These sleeping bags are meant for warmer weather and terrains where you don’t have to worry about the temperature dropping overnight. They are perfect for the warmer summer and spring months, and not meant for harsh winter conditions.
- Winter (+10°and lower) – Sleeping bags rated at this temperature are constructed with extra insulation and will keep you warm through the coldest of nights. Although if the conditions you’re camping in are below 10 degrees, then you may want to consider adding extra layers and pads for guaranteed protection from the cold.
- 3-Season (+10°to +35°) – Multi-season sleeping bags are the most versatile in their ability to keep you comfortable during a variety of weather conditions. These sleeping bags are the most useful during mild spring and fall nights, when the weather is cool but not cold.
How much your sleeping bag weighs is something you need to think about if you are planning on going on a backpacking trip, where you’ll be carrying it in your sack all day. Most sleeping bags weigh in at around 1-4 pounds, depending on the construction and insulation. Some sleeping bags are more compact than others, making them easier to fit into your backpack. Think about what kind of camping trip you are going to be taking, and take into consideration how much your sleeping bag is going to weigh you down before you choose the right bag for you.
Choosing the correct shape of bag for you is a critical step when buying a sleeping bag. If your sleeping bag is too big, or has too much room you could be sacrificing warmth and insulation. On the other hand, if your sleeping bag is too small or tight, it could lead to an uncomfortable and cramped night’s sleep.
Below are some of the most common sleeping bag shapes that you can consider.
- Mummy: Named after the shape of a tightly wrapped mummy, these sleeping bags are often narrower at the shoulders and hips to provide optimal insulation. These bags are more restrictive and may not be comfortable for all types of campers’ body sizes and sleeping preferences. The upside to mummy shaped sleeping bags are they are the most lightweight and compact, making them ideal for backpackers.
- Rectangular: This is the most traditional shape for sleeping bags, and often the most comfortable. Theses sleeping bags don’t offer the most warmth and insulation, but are praised for their comfort and versatility. Most campers don’t have a problem fitting into this shaped sleeping bag, and they work for taller and shorter campers alike. If you’re looking for a roomy option, or are interested in joining multiple sleeping bags to create room for more than one person, the rectangular shape is a great option.
- Barrel: These sleeping bags are similar to the rectangular shaped ones, but boast a more tapered design. Barrel shaped bags are somewhere in between a mummy and rectangular shape, and give you warmth and insulation without sacrificing roominess. Barrel shaped sleeping bags are beloved by larger built campers who find the mummy sleeping bags too restricting.
- Double-wide: Double-wide sleeping bags are made for two campers to sleep in together. This shape is ideal for couples or families who prefer sleeping together. Double-wides can also be created by combining two rectangular shaped sleeping bags with opposite facing zippers. Most sleeping bags that are sold as double-wides come a part into two individual bags, making this shape versatile for a multitude of camping needs.
While most sleeping bags come with a variety of additional features to ensure a comfortable sleep, here are some common features that are particularly useful when searching for the perfect summer sleeping bag.
Shell and Lining
It’s important to make sure that your sleeping bag’s lining is water resistant. Most sleeping bags come with a standard lining made of synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Higher-quality sleeping bags come with shells treated with a durable water repellent finish or DWR. These DWR finished sleeping bags are the best option for repelling water and keeping you and your sleeping bag dry throughout the night.
Some sleeping bags feature internal pockets that are perfect for keeping small items close at hand such as cell phones, glasses, keys, books, etc. Stash pockets are great for items you want to ensure won’t get wet, and keeping valuable items like jewelry and money safe and close-by throughout the night.
Pillows aren’t something you often think about when camping in a sleeping bag. Since sleeping bags don’t come with pillows, it’s a great idea to look for one with a built in pillow pocket. This pillow pocket allows you to stuff clothing or a blanket into it to create a make shift pillow that will support your head and neck while you sleeping. You can also purchase a specially made camping pillow that will fit into most pillow pockets.
Sleeping Bag Liner
While most sleeping bags come with a built in liner, if you’re looking to keep your sleeping bag extra spotless and add in some additional warmth and comfort, a sleeping bag liner is a great option for you. These liners slip into your sleeping bag, and act as an extra layer of warmth. They are great for turning a sleeping bag into a versatile piece of camping gear that works in a variety of a temperatures and climates.
How to Care for Your Sleeping Bag
A good quality sleeping bag can last you for years if you take the time to care for it properly. Follow these steps below to ensure that your sleeping bag will last you for many camping trips, and keep its quality and comfort season after season.
Keep it Dry and Off the Ground
If you’re using your sleeping bag in a tent, you don’t have to worry about it touching the ground. But if you plan on using your sleeping bag to sleep out in the open, it’s important that you use a sleeping pad to protect your sleeping bag from the damp and dirty ground.
Go to Bed Clean
Crashing in your sleeping bag after a long day of hiking can seem tempting, but the dirt and oils from your clothes and skin can ruin your sleeping bag’s quality and insulation over time. It’s important to take the extra step to change out of your muddy and dirty clothes, and wipe off any sweat, sunscreen or bug spray that is lingering on your skin.
Hand Wash and Dry on Low Heat
When your sleeping bag starts to smell, or get grimy after a couple of uses, it’s time to wash it. Washing your sleeping bag is essential for keeping it in tip-top shape. If it’s not too dirty, you can simply spot wash it with cool water and let it air dry.
But if it’s due for a full bath, then hand-washing your sleeping bag in a tub of cool or warm water and gentle soap is the best option. Letting it soak for an hour in the water, and then drying it on low-heat or air-drying it will ensure that your sleeping bag stays fresh for a long time.
Air it Out
You should be airing out your sleeping bag every day you use it to avoid excess moisture from ruining it. To do this, turn your sleeping inside out and hang it in sunlight. Although it’s important not to leave it in direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours, as the UV rays will destroy the sleeping bag’s fabric and insulation.
When you’re finished with your camping trip, and it’s time to store your sleeping bag away you should remember to let it breath. Never store sleeping bags compressed or folded tightly. Air the sleeping bag out before storing it, and fold it loosely to avoid long-term damage. Cotton, mesh, or other breathable sacks are a great place to keep your sleeping bag to avoid moisture and mildew.
Top Summer Sleeping Bag Options
Slumberjack Lil Scout 40 Sleeping Bag 2015
Dimensions: 2 x 16 x 8 inches
Specific features: 100% Polyester lining, built-in pillow pocket, interior pocket, a snug hood, two-layer off-set construction to prevent cold spots, Slumberloft Synthetic insulation, draft tube zipper, 40° temperature rating, trapezoidal footbox
Best use: For children, indoors, outdoors, warm summer nights
The Slumberjack Lil Scout Sleeping Bag is made for children under the height of 55 inches. It’s perfect for frequent campers or scouts who go on camping or backpacking trips during warmer months. Weighing only 2.2 lbs, it’s a great option for kids to carry around all day. Although it is light, the Slumberjack tends to be a bit bulkier, making it harder to stuff into smaller backpacks.
The zipper is strong enough to survive the pulls of rowdy children, but should still be handled with care to prevent ripping. Even though this sleeping bag is meant for kids, it boasts a lot of the same great features that adult sleeping bags do. Including a high-quality and durable Slumberloft Synthetic insulation, a flip over hood with space for a pillow, and interior stashing pockets.
The rectangular shape allows for more room so children can wiggle about while sleeping, while still being tapered enough to keep them warm. The 40° temperature rating is perfect for camping in the summer months, keeping your kids cool in the heat. The Slumberjack is a great summer sleeping bag for beginning campers who want to explore the great outdoors.
Big Agnes – Spike Lake 15
Dimensions: 25 x 10 x 10 inches
Specific features: DownTek insulation, no-draft technology, exterior loops, fitted hood
Best use: Summer camping with cooler nights, outdoors
The Big Agnes – Spike Lake 15 is a mummy shaped sleeping bag, that has an impressive 15° temperature rating. It’s a very versatile sleeping bag that will keep you as cool on summer nights as it will warm on winter nights. This is mostly thanks to its 600-fill DownTek water-repellent insulation, and water resistant shell.
The insulation is made with natural goose-down and treated to ensure a waterproof sleeping bag. Because of its insulation, the Big Agnes is in fact big. It weighs 4 lbs, one of the heavier sleeping bags we’ve listed here. This means it may not be suitable for longer backpacking trips, as its ability to fold down into a lightweight, compact package is nonexistent. But what you lose in compactness you gain in comfort and extra features.
The Big Agnes comes with a collar and zipper that covers your body from the chin down, wrapping you up in a warm cocoon of comfort. It also has nifty exterior loops that make airing out and drying your sleeping bag a whole lot easier.
Nemo Tango Solo 30
Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.9 x 17.5 inches
Specific features: Works with any 25-inch sleeping pad, backless design
Best use: Under-the-stars camping, backpacking
Nemo Tango Solo 30 is a down sleeping bag with 30° temperature rating, making it perfect for warmer weather camping trips. It’s also rather lightweight for being a down-filled insulated sleeping bag, weighing in at 2.58 lbs. This is because of its backless design.
Not having any down on the backside of the Nemo Tango may seem odd to some campers who are used to having all-over cushion and insulation. But this feature allows for the sleeping bag to be more lightweight, and recognizes the issue of down losing its insulation ability when compressed. Just slip any standard 25-inch sleeping pad under the Nemo, and you’ll be sure to sleep soundly through the night.
Also because of the sleeping pad, this is a great option for those campers who enjoy sleeping under the stars. The sleeping pad protects your sleeping bag from dirt and moisture that can destroy its shell.
Tough Outdoors 50°F Mummy Sleeping Bag
Dimensions: 86 x 32 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, fits heights up to 6’6, tough construction, compression sack
Best use: Backpacking, hiking, summer camping
Tough Outdoors 50 °F Mummy Sleeping Bag is great for campers looking for something that can easily fit into their backpacks and is lightweight. Coming in at 1.55 lbs, this sleeping bag is impressively large while managing to still be ultra-light. It can easily fit campers up to 6’6 feet tall, and claims to have the longest and widest mummy shaped bag on the market.
Its insulation isn’t too shabby either, with a 60° temperature rating the Tough Outdoors bag is a versatile 3-season sleeping bag. It comes with a soft-woven inner liner, durable and ripstop waterproof shell, a reinforced zipper and a cinch around the face to block windy drafts from coming in at night. This is a great lightweight option for backpackers and campers alike during those warm, summer nights.
Ozark Trail Everest Mummy Bag
Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.9 x 17.5 inches
Specific features: Contoured hood with drawstring, insulated draft tube, chest baffle
Best use: Warm climate camping, casual camping
The Ozark Trail Everest Mummy Bag is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t skimp on the quality. While it should not be used for cold weather climates, or nights below 50°F, this sleeping bag has great insulation and is perfect for warmer nights.
It comes with a contoured hood give you extra support and comfort, as well as a chest baffle that will keep you cozy and warm as you sleep. This sleeping bag is great for casual camping trips in warm climates and will ensure a great night’s sleep for anybody who uses it.
Badlands Cinder Synthetic Sleeping Bag +35
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 13.5 inches
Specific features: Lifetime warranty, DR resistant coating, draft collar, double-insulated foot box
Best use: Camping, hunting, hiking
The Cinder Synthetic Sleeping Bag is a serious sleeping bag made with double insulation and a 35° F temperature rating. It’s perfect for all camping conditions, but is especially designed for hunters in mind. It’s very waterproof with a DR resistant coating, and can withstand the rainiest of nights. It also features great additions like a draft collar and reversible zippers.
It’s a bit bulky at 2.6 inches, and might not be the most ideal sleeping bag for compressing down into a lightweight pack. Although it does come with the Badlands’ Unconditional lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry about quality when it comes to this sleeping bag. But if you find it isn’t the right bag for you, Badlands will happily replace it.
Lightweight Sleeping Bag by RevalCamp
Dimensions: 30 x 71 inches
Specific features: Environment-friendly, good UV radiation, weather resistant, compact stuff-sack
Best use: Outdoor or Indoor, summer camping
Lightweight Sleeping Bag by RevalCamp is a machine washable sleeping bag that is both lightweight, and great for indoor and outdoor use. It has a 40°F temperature rating, making it ideal for summer weather. It’s made with 200g/m2 polyester fiber filling and is weather resistant.
It’s a surprisingly long, traditionally rectangle shaped bag that can even accommodate campers up to 6 feet tall. It compresses down to about 7x7x7 inches, making it ideal for fitting into small spaces when room is tight. This sleeping bag is versatile for everything from camping, to hiking, to sleepovers.
Because of its ability to turn into a two-person bag by zipping two bags together, the RevalCamp sleeping bag is a great option for couples and families who want to snuggle in the great outdoors.
Sleeping bags are a great option whether you’re camping, having a sleep over, or just spending the night in your backyard under the stars. When choosing the perfect summer sleeping bag for you, there are a lot of factors that you need to consider. Make sure you take into account the things this guide has outlined including the temperature rating, insulation and shape, when choosing your sleeping bag.
By following our tips for buying the suitable summer sleeping bag, your next warm weather outing into nature can be a cool and comfortable adventure that you’ll remember for years to come. Do you have a favorite summer sleeping bag? Tell us in the comments below!