I think we all can agree: sleep is pretty dang important. This is doubly so out on the trail, where your body has little time to recuperate from what was likely a grueling day of hiking. That’s why it’s so important to choose a backpacking sleeping bag that provides not only the warmth needed to get through the night, but the comfort required to get through it without waking up, not to mention the packability and lightweight design that all backpackers are looking for.
It’s no longer true that you need to spend hundreds to make this happen. In fact, modern advances in fabrics and insulation and well as innovations in construction techniques have allowed a whole new generation of versatile bags to emerge that provide all of this and more without breaking the bank. Selecting the best backpacking sleeping bags that are also affordable doesn’t have to be a chore, because we’ve done most of the work for you.
Here is our complete guide to selecting the best & most affordable backpacking sleeping bag for you:
Lucky you, we’ve done all the legwork. Let’s take a look at the 7 Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags Under $100…
- Temperature Rating 32 F
- Pack Weight 6.0 lbs
- Capacity 2 person
- Dimensions 86.6 x 59 x 59 in
- Extra Large
- Suitable for doubles
- Can be separated into two bags
- Too thin for anything below 40F
- Pillows are small
- Temperature Rating 20 F
- Pack Weight 4.2 lbs
- Capacity 1 person
- Dimensions 13 x 7 x 8 in
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Warm construction
- No zipper guard
- Exterior fabric doesn’t hold up to repeated use
- Temperature Rating 0 F
- Pack Weight 5.1 lbs
- Capacity 1 person
- Dimensions 16.9 x 11.8 x 11.4 in
- Temperature Rating 0 F
- Pack Weight 7.0 lbs
- Capacity 2 person
- Dimensions 17 x 12.5 x 12.5 in
- Extra roomy
- Zippers on both sides
- Actual temperature rating closer to 30F
- Bottom doesn’t have a zipper
- Temperature Rating 40 F
- Pack Weight 2.4 lbs
- Capacity 1 person
- Dimensions 87 x 32 x 4 in
- Temperature Rating 50 F
- Pack Weight 1.6 lbs
- Capacity 1 person
- Dimensions 2.9 x 1.6 x 12.2 in
- Very compactible
- Very affordable
- Poor temperature tolerance
- Not breathable
- Not machine washable
- Temperature Rating 25-35 F
- Pack Weight 3.0 lbs
- Capacity 1 person
- Dimensions 17.8 x 10.5 x 8.7 in
- Very packable w/o included compression bag
- Zipper gets stuck
- Uter shell is ‘slippery’ against a sleeping pad or tent floor
Sleepingo Double Sleeping Bag XL
Pack Weight: 6.0 lbs
Comfort Rating: 32 F
The folks over at Sleepingo have only one goal: to offer the most affordable and comfortable queen sized sleeping bag ever, and it looks as if they’re succeeding. As well they should; the SLEEPINGO DOUBLE Sleeping Bag XL is seemingly the only product that they make. The idea here is pretty simple. This bag is actually two smaller bags that zip together to provide the extra space needed for two people. Adventurers not so interested in cuddling are able to separate the two pieces and zip them up individually. Yet still this bag packs down to a size that is both smaller and lighter than two separate sleeping bags.
Sleepingo lists the comfort rating for this bag at 32F, but in actuality it’s probably more like 40F, so it doesn’t hurt to pack an extra layer with you if you’re going to be in anything below that. Of course, snuggling always helps. The exterior is made of a pretty strong camping grade polyester which is supposedly completely waterproof, though ‘highly water resistant’ might be more appropriate here. As is the case with thinly-woven polyester shells, it is not very breathable at higher temperatures.
The principal drawback of the Sleepingo Double Sleeping Bag XL might be that doesn’t quite live up to its comfort rating, though it would certainly get the job done in summer temperatures. It comes with a pair of camping pillows, but honestly these are two small to be effective in any way. Backpackers would do better to rest their heads on a stuff sack filled with extra clothes, and car campers should do themselves a favor and just bring a full size pillow.
One of the best things about purchasing from a small company is that you are usually getting a better customer service experience, and that certainly seems to be the case with Sleepingo. Their website offers a direct link to submit your feedback, and chances are you will get a reply from the owner himself! How cool is that?
ABCO Tech – 4 Season Sleeping Bag (Single)
Pack Weight: 4.2 lbs
Comfort Rating: 20 F
There isn’t much to be found online about ABCO Tech’s manufacturing practices when it comes to outdoor gear. From what I can tell, they seem to be a multi-faceted tech retailer and not a manufacturer at all. There is always a little trepidation when purchasing outdoor gear from a company that does not specialize in outdoor gear, however, in this case, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
The ABCO TECH 4-Season Sleeping Bag stays well beneath the sub-$100 limit and still manages to be a warm, waterproof, and comfortable bag. According to ABCO Tech, the bag’s significant warming properties are a result of the S-stitching pattern, but something tells me it has more to do with the double-stuffing. For this reason the bag is not as small as some of its competitors, but it certainly can hold up to more extreme temperatures than many of them.
100% polyester lining means comfort for many, except those who prefer interior fabric lining. However it also means that this particular bag is not as durable as those made with more tightly woven fabrics. In fact, after only a few uses this bag showed some wear and tear on the exterior lining. In addition, ABCO Tech seems to have forgotten all about installing a top-to-bottom zipper guard, a feature that has become more and more standard as the years go by and could make thig bag even warmer than it already is.
Of course this is one of the few bags in this price category that comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, meaning that if you have any issues with it at all you should be able to return it for your purchase price (which, again, is quite inexpensive).
Coleman North Rim Mummy Sleeping Bag
Pack Weight: 5.1 lbs
Comfort Rating: 0 F
The experts at Coleman are at it again with the NORTH RIM mummy-style sleeping bag. With a comfort rating of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, this has got to be the warmest sleeping bag in its price range. Just how do they make it so warm? Well, the mummy-style construction helps, which is a feature not usually offered with budget bags. The tapered shape of the bag means that there is less room down near your feet, and less room makes it easier to retain precious heat. You can tell from lying in this thing that it is one of the fluffiest, most plush bags in its class. It features a 100% synthetic fill but you absolutely cannot tell considering how comfortable and soft it is. Once you crawl in you hardly want to get out.
The drawstring around the head area is key for keeping warmth from escaping. This is something that some of the other bags in our lineup don’t have, and their heat retention suffers as a result. No stranger to outdoor products, Coleman has somehow figured out how to construct a sleeping bag zipper that is smooth and practical, yet doesn’t get stuck on excess fabric (which is by FAR the most frustrating thing about sleeping bags!
As comfortable as it is, it might be no surprise that this is one of the heavier backpacking sleeping bags that we reviewed. At 5.1 lbs it is beyond disqualified for the ultralight category, but then again, so are most of the sleeping bags in this price range. In addition, the packed dimensions of the Coleman North Rim are too great to be an effective travel bag, as it simply takes up too much room in the backpack.
Teton Sports Celsius XXL Sleeping Bag
Pack Weight: 7.0 lbs
Comfort Rating: 0 F
The CELCIUS XXL is hands down the roomiest, most luxurious sleeping bag in this category. It’s made by the folks at Teton Sports out of Utah, which is a smaller company that has remained privately owned which is a good indicator of its construction quality. It’s 90” long, which means that even the tallest adventurers can climb into this thing and be completely, comfortably enveloped. In fact, it’s so big that you can actually fit two people inside this thing (as long as you’re not afraid of a little snuggling). The bag itself is rectangular in shape, which can lead to some temperature loss, but they’ve included a curved mummy-style hood which is perfect for keeping your pillow in place while rolling around in the night.
Added bonus: zippers on both sides! This is incredibly helpful for someone like me who is tossing and turning for most of the night and likes to have the added convenience of being able to undo the zipper from either side. If only the bottom had a zipper as well, then this could be used like a quilt, but that is a minor note that doesn’t affect the overall quality.
The CELCIUS XXL does however need to be called out on its comfort rating, which is nowhere near 0F. In actuality this bag performs to about 30F before getting considerably drafty. That is, of course, unless you have two people inside it keeping each other warm. This is one of the main drawbacks of an XXL bag: all that extra space can zap the body heat right out of you, and you’ll wake up cold.
My other qualm is fairly common when it comes to sleeping bags under $100, but the stuff sack is poorly stitched and showed signs of failure on the third re-pack. Once I got it in the stuff sack, however, I found the dimensions to be smaller than anticipated, which was an unexpected bonus. Still, at 7 pounds, this is one of the heavier bags on the market and might be better utilized for car-camping.
Teton Sports TrailHead Scout Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Pack Weight: 2.4 lbs
Comfort Rating: 40 F
The Teton Sports TRAILHEAD SCOUT is the perfect bag for anyone who is just getting into backpacking or long distance adventuring and needs a sleeping bag that is both warm and light. At 2.4 pounds the TrailHead Scout sleeping bag is not much heavier than sleeping bags that are much more expensive, making this perhaps the most cost-effective bag on our list. Mummy-style construction is a good sign that it will be able to retain heat around both head and toes, so there should be no worries about waking up in the middle of the night with all your heat having escaped out into the night air.
The Scout’s outer layer is water resistant to a point, but hey, that’s what tents are for, right? It also allows a high degree of breathability which is exactly what you want for a good summertime bag. Make no mistake, this is not the warmest bag out there (Teton Sports offers a “Survivability Rating” of 20F, which means a comfort rating closer to 40F) but for its comfort, weight, and style, it offers a pretty good bang for your buck.
The only other drawback to this bag would be that it can be a bit tight for larger adventurers, or indeed anyone looking to add a bag liner, sleeping pad, or additional layers of clothing to boost the overall warmth. But again that’s the tradeoff we get when we ask for a bag that is as lightweight and compact as the TrailHead Scout.
Pros: Ultralight construction, compact packability, comfortable micro-fiber interior lining
Cons: Tight (not a whole lot of room), not very warm (suitable for summer camping only)
ECOOPRO Warm Weather Sleeping Bag
As the name suggests, the ECOOPRO Warm Weather Sleeping Bag is not built for extreme environments. It won’t keep you warm in the dead of winter, or even on a chilly autumn evening, but as far as summer temperatures are concerned, this bag is a real bargain. It’s also remarkably lightweight and compact for a sleeping bag at this price range, making this the ideal choice for someone just getting into camping or someone who just wants something to wrap around themselves when it’s time to put on a movie and or kick pack with a glass of wine under the stars.
Another thing the ECOOPRO Warm Weather bag might be good for is if it were used as a liner inside another sleeping bag, which is not an uncommon way to double up on heat and comfort.
If this sleeping bag is lacking in any area, it’s thickness and comfort. There isn’t a whole lot of fill to this one, which can make for some uncomfortable sleeping unless you’re on ground that is already soft. In addition, the nylon interior is not very breathable. Even in cooler weather this bag has a tendency to get a little clammy at night.
Best feature is the heavy duty straps on the stuff sack. You don’t usually see these on the more affordable sleeping bags. They are quite helpful in getting the bag to compress even further than its original size, making it a breeze to fit into a backpack or the back of your car for a cross country adventure.
Winter Outfitters Mummy Sleeping Bag
Pack Weight: 3.0 lbs
Comfort Rating: 25 F or 35 F
Relative newcomer Winner Outfitters throws their hat into the low-cost sleeping bag ring with their sleek mummy style sleeping bag, a good blend of practicality and cost effectiveness. It’s the only bag in the price range that comes in so many colors, which is a good thing for the discerning adventurer looking to personalize their gear collection. It also comes in two different hollow-fiber cotton fill varieties for a 25F or 35F comfort rating depending on your preference. The best part? They’re both under $50.00!
Seeing as how the outdoors can be a pretty dirty place, having a sleeping bag that you can simply toss in the wash is a valuable feature, and Winner Outfitters has you covered on this one. It’s fully machine washable. At this point you probably already know what I feel about mummy-style sleeping bags (I am pro) and this one nails that design with double zippers and a nice tight hooded area to keep my face warm.
The one issue with this bag is that the fabric is so lightweight and airy that it often gets caught in the zipper as it’s being pulled shut, causing it to stick often. While it’s possible to get it unstuck by going the other way, it happens so often that it’s worth mentioning. Overall, a great little lightweight bag for the price.
What Makes a Great Backpacking Sleeping Bag?
Backpackers and long distance hikers are about two things: going far and going comfortably. How does this relate to sleeping bags, you might ask? Well going far is all about how small and light the packed sleeping bag can become. As anyone who has ever hauled their campsite around on their back can tell you, the less weight you are carrying the better. The same goes for the amount of space in your pack. In fact, the less space you need, the smaller backpack you will require, which means you can ditch even more weight from your back.
Going comfortably is all about how good you can feel with your product, and when you’re talking about sleeping bags, you’re most likely talking about warmth and breathability. Whether you’re camping high up in the Rocky Mountains or down on the desert floor, getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important.
Before we look at the best backpacking sleeping bags, let’s take a quick look at the factors that determine what makes them so great.
Construction Material & Insulation
While the less affordable, premium backpacking sleeping bags are often made with natural materials like wool and down, the varieties that are less than $100 are almost exclusively made with synthetic materials like nylon and polyester to achieve a product that is effective in terms of temperature, weight, and cost. However there is a great variety to how these materials are used to construct the different sleeping bags on the market.
Some sleeping bags feature the same outer material on both the inside and the outside of the bag, and most often this is a thinly woven nylon which gives it that ‘sliippery’ feel and makes it more windproof. Some sleeping bags however utilize a micro-fiber or micro-polyester interior which has more of that fleece feel and is far more comfortable on the skin.
Waterproof and water-resistant sleeping bags feature more tightly woven materials that are designed to keep moisture out, and for this reason, they tend to be quite good at keeping moisture in as well. If you are using a tent then there is little need for a waterproof sleeping bag. Investing in a waterproof stuff sack is a much better way to ensure that everything stays dry when you are out on the trail.
SHORT GUIDE: How to compress and stuff a sleeping bag
Comfort (Temperature) Rating
Possibly every outdoor adventurer would agree that if given the option, we’d prefer not to freeze out butts off out there. Staying warm in the wilderness is all about selecting a bag with the proper comfort rating for the season and environment. A comfort rating is a number that is almost always provided in the product specifications for your sleeping bag, and is usually the first piece of information you will see.
A sleeping bag’s comfort rating can let you know at what temperature the bag will maintain a steady temperature equilibrium, in other words, when the bag will be most comfortable. Of course, personal preference and body type plays heavily into how well a sleeping bag will keep you warm, so it is important to get an idea for what kind of rating is best for you, and this is all about experiencing it firsthand.
Shape & Dimensions
The size and shape of your sleeping bag have a lot to do with how warm it is going to be. For instance, mummy style sleeping bags are wider at the top and more narrow at the feet (just like us humans are) in order to minimize the amount of extra airspace inside the sleeping bag, and therefore, increase heat retention and keep everything nice and toasty.
Size & Weight
Backpacking is all about cutting back on unnecessary ounces, so it will come as no surprise that long distance hikers are always looking for sleeping bags that are not only lightweight, but small enough that they are not going to take up too much valuable room inside the backpack. Both the pack-down size and the total weight of the sleeping bag are determined by what kind of fabric was used in construction and just how much of it was used. This is why the size and weight of a sleeping bag are so closely linked with its comfort rating.
Generally speaking, the warmer the bag, the heavier it will be.
Choosing the Right Backpacking Sleeping Bag for You
Planning a summer-long trip out on the Appalachian Trail? Or perhaps you’re doing some early-season trekking through the Rocky Mountains in the midst of some spring snowstorms?
The nature of your adventure will determine exactly what kind of backpacking sleeping bag you need to buy. Factors like comfort rating, breathability, size, weight, shape, and construction materials all come together to determine how a particular model will perform under certain circumstances. Choosing the best backpacking sleeping bag for you, then, is all about knowing what kind of conditions you will be facing.
In selecting a backpacking sleeping bag for less than $100, some concessions will have to be made in terms of warmth, weight, and size. Because premium materials like down fill are not available in the price range, many of these bags have to choose which elements to sacrifice for the sake of affordability.
Fortunately, advances in both technology and construction process have paved the way for a plethora of high-quality sleeping bags that will keep you warm without breaking the bank.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Which Sleeping Bag Fabrics are Breathable? Which Are Not?
A: While most sleeping bag fabrics are designed to allow more moisture out than in, some are considerably more moisture resistant than others, which can cause the bag to get moist or clammy during the night. Generally speaking a bag that advertises itself as “100% waterproof” will be the least breathable, as it was specifically designed with an advanced moisture barrier. “Water resistant” will be more breathable but still somewhat clammy, while bags with a thinner nylon weave will allow air to move more freely in and out of the bag.
- Q: Can Sleeping Bags be Washed in the Washing Machine?
A: Whether or not a sleeping bag can go into the washing machine is dependent upon a couple of factors including both construction materials and construction technique. While most of the best backpacking sleeping bags under $100 can indeed be put through a washing machine, the bag you choose may have certain restrictions as to whether or not it can handle a normal cycle or if it would do better with a cold-water wash. When in doubt, check the tag on the sleeping bag, and if that is not available, consult the manufacturer for more information.
ProTip: While many sleeping bags can handle at least a gentle wash cycle, they are generally not too good at handling a trip through the dryer without significant bunching, shrinking, or expanding of the fill material. If this happens, your sleeping bag might not be as warm as it was originally, and it might void your warranty! Air drying is by far the best way to dry out your bag.
- Q: Are There any Water/Wind Proof Sleeping Bags?
A: Yes! Many outdoor suppliers these days are offering backpacking sleeping bags with tighter nylon weaves or specialty spray-on coatings that increase the water repulsion properties of the exterior. While this can be a handy feature for those camping in inclement weather conditions, it can also lead to a bag that is less breathable (and therefore less comfortable). Remember that a sleeping bag is mostly designed to keep you warm, while the tent is what has been designed to keep you dry.
- Q: Which Sleeping Bags are Suitable for Winter Camping?
A: Choosing a sleeping bag that is suitable for winter camping is as easy as checking the product specifications before purchase. Because all sleeping bags come with what is known as a comfort rating, it is possible to get a good idea of what temperatures the bag will be able to handle before becoming too cold.
In addition, sleeping bags are most often designated with a season rating. This is a number usually included in the product title that lets you know what time of year the bag is designed to be used. For instance, a three-season bag will be adequate for chilly spring and fall conditions, but not quite warm enough for year round use. Intrepid adventurers looking to do some camping in winter will want to consider a four-season bag.
- Q: What’s the Best Sleeping Bag for a Tall Person?
A: The rule of thumb for sleeping bags is to select one that provides an adequate amount of room so that your head is not sticking out the top uncovered, but not so much space that the interior becomes airy and therefore cold. Check the product specifications before purchase, and look for a bag that is around 7 to 9 inches longer than you are tall. That way, you’ll have all the space you need without losing too much body heat.