Have you ever shivered uncontrollably through the night while out camping? Not fun!
Thankfully over the last few years great camping gear has come down in price and you can pick up really quite technical kit for not a lot of money. And the best budget sleeping bags reviewed here prove that you don’t need to pay a fortune to stay cozy and comfy.
This article is split into two sections:
Section 1 looks at the best budget synthetic sleeping bags, which are cheaper than their down equivalents.
Section 2 looks at the best budget down sleeping bags, which are definitely not the cheapest sleeping bags on the market, but represent extremely good value if you have your heart set on a down sleeping bag.
Here’s some of the best budget sleeping bags you can buy today:
- Kelty Tuck – Best Budget Sleeping Bag
- Coleman North Rim 0 – Best Budget Winter Sleeping Bag
- Teton Sports Mammoth – Best Budget Double Sleeping Bag
- Marmot Voyager 55 – Best Budget Summer Sleeping Bag
- Slumberjack Ronin – Best Budget 3-Season Sleeping Bag
Kelty Tuck – Best Budget Sleeping Bag
When it comes to budget sleeping bags the Kelty Tuck is right up there. It’s comfortable, soft, snug, and warm. And it’s one of the cheapest sleeping bags on the market (generally coming in at under $100).
This mummy shape bag is made from from ThermaPro™ Ultra Synthetic Insulation, using 75 Denier Polyester Taffeta for the outer shell, making it breathable and durable. The taffeta-polyester lining makes the inside extremely soft and warm.
They’ve added extra insulation in the hood to make it feel like you’re sleeping on a pillow. It also has storage pockets on the inside that allows you to keep your devices close and safe.
You can choose from 3 temperature ratings: Tuck 40, Tuck 20 & Tuck 0. Each version has a choice of Regular (fitting up to 6′) and Long (fitting up to 6’6″) and all come with a stuff sack.
|Tuck 40||Tuck 20||Tuck 0|
|Weight||3lb – 3lb 3oz||3lb 11oz – 4lb 2oz||6lb – 6lb 10oz|
|Fit Heights of||6′ – 6’6″||6′ – 6’6″||6′ – 6’6″|
|Shoulder Girth||62″ – 64″||62″ – 64″||64″ – 65″|
|Packed Size||8″ x 14″||10″ x 15″||12″ x 18″|
It’s a really solid all-purpose camping sleeping bag. It’s probably best as a cheap sleeping bag for a car camping trip. But you can also use it for backpacking (at a push; it’s actually a bit heavy and bulky as a backpacking sleeping bag). And you can absolutely use it for sleep overs!
So it’s really versatile.
The great thing about the synthetic insulation is that if you’re worried about getting wet, then it will keep you fairly warm. Equally, if you reckon on being hot at night, it has a cool feature that allows you to unzip the bottom of the bag, allowing you to stick your feet out to get rid of excess heat.
The Tuck 40 is a great option for summer camping, especially in warmer climates. If you fancy being a bit warmer at night or want to extend your camping season, the Tuck 20 might be a better fit. And the Tuck 0 performs reasonably well as a cold weather sleeping bag.
All that said, if you can stretch your budget, there are other bags that might be better for you.
The Kelty Tuck is the best overall sleeping bag on this list if budget is your over-riding concern. As regular sleeping bags go, it is a great sleeping bag and the substantial insulation will help you stay warm.
However, if you can stretch into the $100-$200 range, then there are better budget sleeping bags to be had. The Kelty Cosmic Down, for example, is one of the best budget down sleeping bags you’ll ever see. It’s lighter, more compact and warmer. For not much more money…
Coleman has a rich history, having been in business for 120 years. Of those years, 60 have been spent developing outdoor camping gear. They’ve made everything from tents, grills, coolers, and sleeping bags for us to enjoy.
Budget Sleeping Bag Product Range
The Silverton 350 will keep you nice and cozy, even at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It has impressive heat retention due to its Thermolock insulation. It’s been designed so the insulation doesn’t move and has a tube over the zipper to keep sneaky breezes from getting in.
The Autumn Trails Sleeping bag is designed for colder weather, specifically for temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Made with a cotton shell and lined with cotton flannel, it’s super soft. Its design allows you to wrap and roll, making packing up easy.
- North Rim 0 – Best Budget Winter Sleeping Bag.
- Silverton 350 Adult Mummy Sleeping Bag.
- Autumn Trails Cold Weather Sleeping Bag.
Coleman North Rim 0
The North Rim 0 is my pick for the best budget winter sleeping bag; it will keep you extremely warm in colder areas; it features a semi-sculptured padded hoodie and comes with double padding insulation. This mummy-style sleeping bag is waterproof, made from 100 percent polyester, and has 100 percent Coletherm polyester fill.
The stitching will prevent tears to the inner insulation, as it has sectional areas situated across from each other to help reduce cold spots. This adult sleeping bag has wiggle-room at the bottom, due to its box-shaped foot. Its length can easily accommodate someone that’s 6 feet, 2 inches tall.
- Weighs 6.2 pounds.
- Packed size: 12 inches x 12.35 inches x 17.1 inches.
- Unstuffed size: 2 inches x 32 inches x 82 inches.
- Temperature rating: 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- It comes with a five-year limited warranty.
Designed to keep you nice and toasty in cold weather, the North Rim 0 can all but guarantee a good night’s sleep at a campground, inside a car, in a tent, or napping at the beach. Both women and men can use this mummy-style sleeping bag.
The North Rim 0 comes with a stuff bag so you can store it easily. It’s a great sleeping bag; lightweight enough to be easy to take along for a camping trip. Coleman patented the Coletherm fill, which is also hypoallergenic and won’t promote common allergies when out in the wild. Draft tubes keep the warm air inside the sleeping bag and the cold air out, which is exactly what you need in a winter sleeping bag.
Teton started in 2005 with the idea of getting more people to fall in love with the beauty of the outdoors. They’ve created a range of outdoor gear, including sleeping bags, hammocks, tents, and cots.
Budget Sleeping Bag Product Range
The Celsius sleeping bag has double-layered insulation and a durable shell made from taffeta. Its rectangular shape makes it roomy, and the material is extra soft. The TrailHead sleeping bag is super light and has Polarlite insulation.
- Mammoth – Best Budget Double Sleeping Bag.
Teton Sports Mammoth
I love the Mammoth sleeping bag. It’s enormous (even by the standards of other double bags) and it’s my best budget double sleeping bag, perfect for family camping. Whether you just want a bit more room or are keen to share a few cuddles while camping, you’ll want to consider this sleeping bag.
It sports a mummy-style hood that feels like a pillow and has three zips, which means you can add a blanket onto it or separate the sleeping bag into two blankets. Its lining is made from brushed polyester flannel, while the outside is made from taffeta and is non-allergenic. This sleeping bag will warm you up nicely after a day out in the woods.
- Weighs 16.5 pounds.
- Packed size: 28 inches x15.75 inches x 15.75 inches.
- Unstuffed size: 94 inches x 62 inches.
- Temperature rating: +20 degrees Fahrenheit/-7 degrees celsius or 0 degrees Fahrenheit/-18 degrees celsius.
- It comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Rectangular shape.
This sleeping bag can be used for the whole family. It will fit two adults and a child very comfortably, and leave room for rolling around.
The Mammoth is a double bag that can be used when camping in cold weather, but can also be used throughout the year. I’d recommend this for camping, or even for a guest who will be sleeping on the pull-out couch.
If you’re unsure if the camping area you’ll be in will be freezing or temperate, get the Mammoth sleeping bag liner made from double-brushed cotton; this will help add extra warmth, and also keep it clean. The sheet is designed not to twist inside the sleeping bag; it also comes with a hood for a pillow.
The Mammoth sleeping bag will keep you and your loved ones so nice and snug that you may forget you’re not at home in your own bed.
Marmot “Trestles” – Best Budget Hiking Sleeping Bags
Marmot has an interesting history that’s not limited to climbing mountains and being outdoors. Marmot also made 108 “puffy” jackets for the film crew of The Eiger Sanction, starring Clint Eastwood. These jackets came to be known as the Golden Mantle.
Marmot has grown since 1974, but they’re still just as committed to creating the highest-performing camping gear for the intrepid explorer.
|Trestles 45||Trestles 30||Trestles 15||Trestles 0|
|Weight||2lb – 2.9lb||3lb – 3.9lb||3lb – 3.9lb||4lb – 4.9lb|
|Fit Heights of||6′ – 6’6″||6′ – 6’6″||6′ – 7′||6′ – 6’6″|
|Shoulder Girth||62″ – 64″||62″ – 64″||62″ – 70″||64″|
|Packed Size||8″ x 12″||9″ x 18″||9.5″ x 19″||11″ x 21″|
This sleeping blanket is ideal for backpacking, hiking, or camping in spring, summer, or fall. It’s compressible and is so small when folded that you can pack it into your backpack.
All Trestles comes with a convenient travel bag, and you can also grab a sleeping bag liner to go with it; this will help keep the sleeping bag clean. It has a two-way zip, which allows you to adjust the temperature for those hot summer nights easily.
You should be able to buy Marmot Trestles sleeping bags from the following stores:
- Check out prices on Amazon >>
- Check out prices at Marmot >>
- You can find a good range of versions at CampSaver >>
Slumberjack has been coming up with innovative ways to provide the outdoor traveler with a fantastic night’s sleep over the last 50 years. They have a broad product range to cover all of your most enthusiastic camping experiences.
Budget Sleeping Bag Product Range
The Downwind sleeping bag is made from durable nylon taffeta that will allow condensation to bead and roll off of it. It features a curved hoodie that you can turn into a pillow on warm nights and an ergonomic bottom that leaves plenty of room in the foot-box.
The Wheeler Lake sleeping bag is very spacious and will allow you to wiggle and move around freely in the bag. If you have large feet, you’ll love the “Toes-Up” foot-box, which gives you more room for your feet. The counterpane design prevents cold spots, while the synthetic insulation provides a comfortable and homely feel.
- Ronin – Best Budget 3-Season Sleeping Bag.
- Downwind 20.
- Wheeler Lake 20.
The Ronin sleeping bag is my pick for the best budget 3-season sleeping bag. What I really loved about this sleeping bag is the double zip, which allows you to unzip to reveal a hole you can stick your arms through. It also has a full-length zipper, which you can open as wide as you want when you need additional ventilation; this also makes it easier to get in and out.
It has a draft collar that helps to maintain heat around the neck and shoulders, and the hoodie can be turned into a pillow if you don’t need it to warm your head. The shell is made from long-lasting Ripstop polyester with a high polyester filament that’s exceptionally soft to the touch for extra comfort.
- Weighs 4 pounds and 13 ounces.
- Pcked size: 12 inches x 20 inches.
- Unstuffed size: 84 inches x 34 inches.
- The temperature rating: 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Can fit a person up to 6 inches and 4 feet.
The Ronin can be used from spring to winter and allows you to cuddle up with a book during winter without compromising the warmth. In the summer, when temperatures are hot, the zips allow for further ventilation to allow the heat to escape. This unisex sleeping bag has plenty of space to move around.
The Ronin sleeping bag will provide warmth and comfort in spring, summer, and fall. Although not suitable for extreme cold, it’s perfect for warmer nights as you can unzip a portion of it to allow for extra airflow. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Choosing the Best Budget Sleeping Bag
When you’re looking to buy your sleeping bag, there are a few things to take into consideration, such as:
- Temperature Rating
- Fill Type (down insulation or synthetic insulation)
- Weight & Bulk
- Design (eg. mummy bag or rectangular bag)
A sleeping bag’s temperature rating is important to note if you want to sleep comfortably. This partly depends on when you plan to go camping, of course. But it also depends on whether you are a cold or warm sleeper. If you are a cold sleeper, then it stands to reason you will want a warmer bag, probably even in warm weather.
Temperature rating can be a little tricky to understand. Most sleeping bags show a number next to the their name. This is typically a “lower limit” temperature rating, which means you can survive in the bag at that temperature. You might be better off looking for information on the “comfort” temperature rating, as this is a better indication of…well…comfort!
Depending on the insulation and technology used, sleeping bag warmth is often correlated to weight. This is especially true at the budget end because you are not in a position to throw money at the problem. And so if you will typically need to find a balance with this warmth to weight ratio.
If you really can’t afford to spend the money on a bag with a temperature rating that works for you, it’s worth considering that there are other ways to stay warm while camping; including using a well insulated sleeping pad, using a liner and wearing thermals. Also, don’t forget that you don’t have to buy new, as there are plenty of places to pick up excellent sleeping bags if you’re open to buying used gear.
Sleeping bags are insulated using down insulation or synthetic materials or a blend of the two.
Down sleeping bags are generally considered to be better than sleeping bags with synthetic insulation. They are lighter, more compact and really easy to stay warm in.
Synthetic sleeping bags can also be light but they tend to be bulkier, particularly at the budget end of the spectrum.
The problem is that down sleeping bags are almost always more expensive. However, these days there is such a thing as a budget down sleeping bag. Note that we say budget down sleeping bag; there’s no such thing as a cheap down sleeping bag but if you have $150 -$200 to spend, then there is definitely such a thing as an affordable down sleeping bag.
Weight & Bulk
What you intend to use your sleeping bag for will really help determine how much weight and bulk you can tolerate. Most of the cheapest sleeping bags are really quite heavy and bulky, particularly as the temperature rating goes lower. This matters a lot less if you are car camping because when you are car camping you have plenty of packing space. A few extra pounds and litres don’t matter too much.
Backpacking sleeping bags, on the other hand, need to be lightweight, compact and good at retaining your body heat. All things that cheaper sleeping bags tend not to excel at. Which suggests that car campers are much more likely to be satisfied with cheap sleeping bags.
But that’s not completely true, because backpacking bags have come a long way and it is possible to buy an ultralight sleeping bag that’s compactable and has an acceptable temperature rating. The Marmot Trestles, for example, is an insanely high quality sleeping bag at a very affordable price for a backpacking sleeping bag.
As you might expect, sleeping bags come in an array of different shapes and sizes. Most sleeping bags are either mummy bags or rectangular sleeping bags. Some people prefer a rectangular sleeping bag, especially if they are on the bigger side, because a rectangular sleeping bag offers more room than a mummy bag.
We tend to favor mummy sleeping bags, though, because they are lighter and more compressible (and if you’re looking for a backpacking sleeping bag, that’s really important). For side sleepers and bigger folk, it’s worth noting that you can buy roomier mummy style sleeping bags these days. They are a adapted from traditional mummy bags and are typically wider around the hips and shoulders in order to offer more space.
Perhaps for car camping these things are less important. But for most people and most uses, we tend to recommend going with a mummy sleeping bag (or an adapted version).
Together with a sleeping pad, a tent, and a comfy rucksack, a decent sleeping bag is a cornerstone of your camping load-out. And the best budget down sleeping bags are light and warm without breaking the bank.
Given a choice, most campers would pick a down sleeping bag over a synthetic one. Down bags are more environmentally friendly, tend to last longer, and offer better warmth for weight.
However, there’s the cost to consider too.
Time was, if you wanted to go budget, you had to opt for synthetic insulation — and those ultra-cheap $20 gas station bags will still be loaded with low-grade plastic fiber wadding.
But down bags have been getting cheaper for a long time now.
These days you can pick up a seriously decent down bag for a couple hundred dollars. Often, these come from the exact same manufacturers who make those high-end expedition bags — only they’ve realized it’s also worth catering to the entry-level camper who doesn’t mind sacrificing a little warmth or weight if it slices 60% off the purchase price.
Behold! We’ve analyzed the budget lines from five different manufacturers to see what’s good and bad about ‘em.
Best Budget Down Sleeping Bags
Sierra Designs “Get Down” Series – The Best Budget Down Sleeping Bags
The Get Down 20 has a recommended temperature range of 17–29°F, and weighs in at a respectable 2lb 3oz.
Its more packable cousin, the Get Down 35, is significantly lighter at 1lb 12oz, but this comes with some sacrifices in warmth. The Get Down 35 has a comfort rating of 36°F and a lower limit of 26°F for warm sleepers.
Both models use 550 fill-power “Dridown” — which has been treated with a hydrophobic polymer coating. According to the manufacturer, this stays dry ten times longer and dries 33% faster than untreated fibers. The 20D polyester shell also features a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating for added moisture resistance.
The Get Down series has a relatively roomy mummy shape, and is available in regular or long sizes for campers up to 6’5″.
It’s not always true that you get what you pay for. In the case of the Get Down series, for example, you actually get quite a lot more.
At this budget price point, you wouldn’t expect much in the way of waterproofing, yet the Get Down bags come with both a water-repellent shell and hydrophobic down.
Moisture is the big Achilles heel of down products, so this level of water-resistance is a huge bonus.
They’re also pretty lightweight bags, and reviewers have noted how well they compress down for backpacking. Depending on where you live, the Get Down 20 could easily be a solid three-season bag, perhaps even stretching into milder winter conditions if you sleep warm.
Apart from anything else, it’s nice to see a manufacturer that doesn’t try to oversell their temperature ranges. Many gear companies would try to market the Get Down 35 on its lower limit of 26°F, but Sierra Designs resists this, essentially promoting it as the summer version in the series.
It’s a thumbs-up from us. Great value, lightweight backpacking bags with impressive water-resistance. Perfect for long-distance hikers on a budget.
Mountain Hardwear “Bishop Pass” Series
The Bishop Pass series from Mountain Hardwear comes in three different temperature ratings — 30°F, 15°F, and 0°F. They offer ranges for both men and women, with some important differences.
To start with, the women’s models have shorter lengths and more insulation for the same temperature rating, making them slightly heavier — for example, the 15°F version weighs in at 2.5oz more than the men’s one.
Then there are the temperature ratings themselves. As is often the case with sleeping bags, the men’s range is marketed on each bag’s lower limit, while the women’s versions use the comfort rating — so the Bishop Pass 30°F has a recommended range of 30–40°F for men and 19–30°F for women.
This means that the women’s bags are actually a lot warmer.
All models feature 650 fill-power down and are relatively lightweight — the men’s models weigh in at 3lb 5oz (0°F), 2lb 7.9oz (15°F), and 2lb 0.7oz (30°F). The down itself isn’t hydrophobic, but the shell fabric has a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish.
All bags in the Bishop Pass range feature a full-length draft tube along the zipper, while the 15 and 0-degree versions come with a meaty internal draft collar to help keep the heat in.
A shaped footbox also makes for warmer feet in the field, and the fit is relatively roomy for such a packable bag. There’s also an internal stash pocket and an anti-snag “plow” zipper with a glow-in-the-dark pull.
Bishop Pass bags come in regular and long lengths. Maximum heights for women are 5’6 (regular) and 6′ (long), while for men they’re 6′ (regular) and 6’5″ (long).
While the Bishop Pass series is as close as Mountain Hardwear gets to a “budget” line, the build quality and the higher fill-power down mean that the price is edging into mid-range territory.
But if your wallet will stretch that far, then you’re kinda getting a bargain. These bags boast the kind of performance you’d normally find in much more expensive bags.
They’re warm, lightweight, and compact — making them a great entry-level choice for backpackers — and the 15°F model in particular could become a dependable 3-season favorite if you pair it with a decent sleeping pad.
Reviewers have praised the warmth-to-weight ratio, and there’s also a lot of love for the anti-snag plow-style zipper — a little thing that can make a big difference when you’re struggling in the dark confines of a pup tent with a stuck zipper.
Our only slight bugbear is that temperature ranges for each model are hard to find online, and so it’s difficult to make an informed choice about which of the twelve (!) possible options to invest in.
See our buyer’s guide below for more details about temperature ranges, and why a single temperature rating is often misleading.
If you can afford to spend slightly more, the Bishop Pass range is a great choice for the entry-level backpacker. Lightweight and warm, with a large — if slightly confusing — range of temperature and length options.
Marmot “Always Summer” / “Never Winter” Series
Weighing in at 1lb 12.6oz, the Marmot Always Summer bag has a comfort rating of 46°F and a lower limit of 37°F. Its warmer cousin, the Never Winter, is 2oz heavier but has a slightly lower temperature range of 32–41°F.
Both bags utilize 650 fill-power duck down insulation, treated with an eco-friendly “Down Defender” coating. This improves water-resistance, meaning the down insulates better when damp, and accelerates drying times by 30%.
It’s the zipper systems that set these Marmot bags apart.
Rather than the traditional full-length zipper down one side, they’ve got half-length zippers on each side — with extended flaps on the inside so that the open part of the bag can be used similarly to a blanket in warm weather. There’s also a long zipper on the footbox.
Plus, the shell and lining fabrics are both recycled, and there’s a handy interior stash pocket for your cellphone or flashlight.
The 650 fill-power water-resistant down in these two bags from Marmot is better than you’d normally get at this price point, and they’re appealingly lightweight.
Of course, that’s also because they really are summer bags — the temperature ranges don’t have enough play in them at the lower end to use them outside of warm weather.
As dedicated summer bags, though, we think they’re a great pick — partly on account of the unusual zipper system. You can pretty much detach the top half of the bag and use it as a comforter, with a second zipper right down the center of the foot box.
This all adds up to some serious ventilation, and makes the Always Summer / Never Winter feel much looser and less restrictive than traditional mummy bags.
These budget summer bags are best suited to warm-weather trips where you can take full advantage of the fantastic ventilation options.
Ideal for backpackers, but that unusual “bed-like” top flap would also make them great choices for van-lifers and car-campers too.
Kelty “Cosmic Down” Series
With comfort ratings of 48°F, 32°F, and 17°F, the Cosmic Down series offers seriously warm down bags at unbeatable prices.
The downside is the weight and bulk. For example, the warmest model (Cosmic Down 0) has a packed size of 19″ x 10″ and weighs in at a whopping 4lb 9oz.
That’s nearly twice the weight of a high-end equivalent.
All three models use 550-fill duck down, and, while the down itself doesn’t have any form of hydrophobic treatment, there’s a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating on the outer shell.
Kelty claims that their trapezoidal baffle system is more efficient for retaining warmth, and they’ve also included a draft tube along the zipper. At the bottom end of the bag, a roomy foot-box gives your feet more room to breathe and also helps eliminate cold spots.
The full range comes in regular and long sizes — for campers up to 6′ and 6’6″ respectively — while the most versatile Cosmic Down 20 is also available in a short length for campers under 5’6″.
The undisputed champion of cheap down bags, Kelty offers serious warmth at phenomenally low prices.
And these aren’t second-rate bags drop-shipped in from God-knows-where, cobbled together out of cheap materials and low-welfare down from unlucky ducks.
The quality is great for the price, and the 550-fill duck down is Responsible Down Scheme (RDS) certified — like all the bags on this list.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the weight. The warmer versions are hellasuper bulky — even compared to other budget ranges — and will be better suited to car campers than backpackers.
Having said that, don’t forget about the lightest model, the Cosmic Down 40. With a temperature range of 40–48°F depending how warm you sleep, this is strictly a summer bag — but the 1lb 12oz weight makes it a viable option for the budget backpacker.
With the Cosmic Down series, Kelty serves up outstanding warmth and quality for the price — but at a weight better suited to car campers than pack-rats.
The exception is the lighter-weight Cosmic Down 40, which could make a great entry-level bag for summer thru-hiking.
Nemo “Disco” Series
The Nemo Disco is a feature-packed bag with an unusual “spoon” shape that’s supposedly better for side sleepers than the classic mummy style sleeping bag.
Slightly pricier than some of the other bags on this list, it comes in two variants — the Disco 15 (with a temperature range of 15–25°F in the men’s model) and the Disco 30 (30–41°F).
The stuffing is 650 fill-power hydrophobic down, which offers decent warmth for weight. The men’s Disco 30, for instance, tips the scales at a backpack-friendly 1lb 15oz.
Futuristic-looking “Thermo-Gills” allow you to vent heat easily in the night, while the oversized draft collar can be folded out or in for blanket-like comfort. They’ve also waterproofed the foot-box and added an anti-snag plow zipper.
The Disco 15 and 30 are available in both men’s and women’s versions — with the zippers on opposite sides so you can couple them up into a double.
The women’s bags are shorter and contain more insulation — reflecting the fact that women often sleep colder than men. This also means they’re slightly heavier.
The Disco comes in regular and long sizes for campers up to 6′ and 6’6″ (men) or 5’6″ and 6′ (women).
Alright, so the Disco series is nudging mid-range, but only just — and it makes for an unconventional addition to the list.
Nemo claims that their spoon-shaped bags are more comfortable for side-sleepers. And given that an estimated 60% of us get our Zs that way, it’s a factor worth considering. Ditto to those zippered “Thermo-Gills” that give the Disco more versatility in warmer conditions.
Taller campers (like some of us at Effortless Outdoors) may also have suffered wet feet when the end of your down sleeping bag touches the tent wall, so we’re particularly delighted by the addition of a water-resistant foot-box.
Fundamentally, though, these are decent backpacking bags at a very reasonable price point. The weight’s light, the hydrophobic down is a nice bonus, and between the men’s and women’s models you’ve got a great range of length and warmth options.
Lightweight and water-resistant, these innovative bags are specially designed for side sleepers. They’re a great choice for backpackers, but their roomy fit would make them a good pick for car campers too.
How to Choose the Best Budget Down Sleeping Bag
The single most important factor to understand when you’re trying to shortlist the best budget down sleeping bags is the temperature rating.
You might think the clue would be in the product name — if the bag is called a “Snugglebug 15” then it’ll be warm enough to keep you comfortable at 15°F, right?
These days, most manufacturers use the ISO rating system to express the recommended temperature ranges of their bags. This is assessed through a standardized testing process, meaning that you can compare different brands like-for-like.
Because some people sleep a lot “warmer” than others (meaning that they feel the cold less), the ISO rating system expresses the recommended temperature of sleeping bags as a range rather than a single figure.
At the top end of this range is the comfort rating. This is the temperature at which a cold sleeper would feel comfortable in the bag.
At the other end of the range is the lower limit. Below this limit, even a warm sleeper will probably start to feel cold.
Tech specs may also include an extreme rating, at which the bag will probably keep you alive in an emergency, though you shouldn’t try testing it.
The temperature bracket between the comfort rating and the lower limit is often called the “comfort range.” Where along this scale you start to feel uncomfortable will depend on how warm or cold you sleep, and how good your sleeping pad is.
The confusion begins because gear manufacturers usually market men’s and unisex bags based on the lower limit. So that Snugglebug 15 of yours might have a comfort range of 15–24°F, meaning that only the warmest sleepers will actually be comfortable using it at 15°F.
Women’s sleeping bags, on the other hand, are usually sold on their comfort rating. Meaning that exact same bag would instead be a Snugglebug 24 if they were marketing it towards them (perhaps with a pop of pink or “lady purple” in the color scheme).
Women do generally sleep colder than men, but obviously it totally depends on the person.
Whatever the case, it’s always smarter to make your purchase based on the actual temperature ratings rather than the name — and remember, if in doubt, it’s usually better to go warmer.
If your sleeping bag is destined to be used for car camping, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a little on the heavy side. But if you’re planning on taking it backpacking, weight becomes much more of an issue.
Most bags designed for trail use will be somewhere around the 2lb mark. Anything over 3lb is starting to be on the bulky side.
Weight is often where budget bags fall down — because the easiest way for manufacturers to make those vital cost savings without compromising on build quality is to use lower fill-power down.
The upshot is that even the best budget down sleeping bags are likely to carry a significant weight penalty.
Fill power indicates the quality — and thus the cost — of the down insulation. Specifically, it tells you how many cubic inches a single ounce of down will expand to fill.
For example, one ounce of 700 fill-power down will take up 700 cubic inches of space.
This is important because higher fill-power down insulation provides more warmth for the same weight, and you just won’t find top-grade down in a budget bag.
If a cheap bag is light, it’s probably not very warm.
Look at the products we’ve reviewed above, and you’ll notice that the fill power is mostly 550 while the very best budget down sleeping bags are more likely to be 650. Compare this to the lighter-weight models on our Best 0 Degree Sleeping Bag list, and you’ll see that some of those are using 850 fill-power down.
Though this does mean that they cost more than double the price.
In many ways, down is a miracle material, but it has one Bigfoot-sized Achilles heel.
Get it wet, and its insulating qualities are drastically reduced. Not only that, but down sleeping bags also take an age to dry, and it can be really hard to deal with a wet bag on the trail.
Unsurprising, then, that manufacturers have put in some serious R&D looking for a solution.
In some cases, they’ve focused on making the shell fabric waterproof, but they’ve also developed a range of treatments for the down insulation itself. Some of these are so good that the treated down performs almost as well in wet conditions as synthetic bags.
You’d think that this level of water-resistance would be reserved for the most expensive down sleeping bags, but strangely enough that’s not that case — the best budget down sleeping bags (including several bags on this list) feature water-repellent treatments either on the down or the shell fabric.
It’s also worth pointing out that a down sleeping bag without any waterproofing isn’t automatically a dud — you just have to be more careful to keep it dry.
Cost and Compromise
So here’s the thing. A budget down sleeping bag will pretty much always come with some sort of compromise.
In the case of decent manufacturers like those listed above, that compromise will usually be due to the lower quality of the down fill.
With lower fill-power down insulation, the bag can be warm or light, but not both. And, depending on your intended use, that may not be a problem.
If you’re car camping, it doesn’t matter how bulky your bag is, while if you’re only using it for summer backpacking, you won’t need a comfort rating of 20°F.
However, if you’re looking to carry all your gear and push your adventures into the colder seasons, you may have to pay a little more for a bag with a better warmth-to-weight ratio.
Remember that you can also boost the warmth of your bag by using a sleeping bag liner and a sleeping pad with a high R-value.
How Much Should a Good Budget Down Sleeping Bag Cost?
Generally, you can get a decent “budget” down sleeping bag for $200–300, though some manufacturers have managed to produce them even cheaper.
What is the Comfort Rating on Budget Down Sleeping Bags?
The “comfort rating” is the lowest temperature at which a cold sleeper is likely to feel comfortable in the bag.
Should I Get a 15 or 30 Degree Down Sleeping Bag?
It’s always best to look at the actual night-time temperatures that you’re going to be using the bag in, and make your decision based on that. If in doubt, it’s usually best to go warmer.
What is a Three-Season Down Sleeping Bag?
“3-seaon” is supposed to mean a sleeping bag that’ll see you from spring through fall. However, it’s an unhelpfully vague term because shoulder season temperatures can vary hugely depending on where you are.