If you’re in a rush, the best budget sleeping bag in 2021 is the Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag: 20F Synthetic.
Looking forward to a lazy weekend camping trip? Or maybe you’re planning a hiking expedition through the mountains? Either way, getting a good night’s sleep is the key to having a positive experience in the great outdoors.
So, what’s the key to getting a good night’s sleep? Well, the first thing you’re going to need is a sleeping bag.
Any camper will tell you that a good sleeping bag is essential. Choosing the right one is your ticket to staying warm and sleeping like a baby all through the night.
If you haven’t got a very high budget, don’t worry. There are plenty of great sleeping bags out there that are reasonably priced. If you need more tips on keeping camping costs low, check out this guide I put together for camping on a budget.
I spent a few days reviewing a vast array of sleeping bags and thoroughly researching their materials and insulation. The list I’ve come up with features the ones that really stood out to me in terms of warmth, durability, breathability and water resistance.
Let’s jump straight into it.
Best Budget Sleeping Bag: Our Top 5 Choices
- Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag: 20F Synthetic (Overall Best Budget Sleeping Bag)
- Marmot Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag: 30F Synthetic (Most Versatile Budget Sleeping Bag)
- REI Co-op Groundbreaker 30 Sleeping Bag (Best Rectangular Sleeping Bag)
- Coleman Brazos 30 Sleeping Bag (Best Super Low Budget Option)
- ALPS Mountaineering Blue Springs Sleeping Bag: 35F Synthetic (Best Value For Money)
Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag: 20F Synthetic
Wow! Talk about value for money! This Kelty Cosmic sleeping bag is packed with sweet perks at an even sweeter price.
It performs well in a wide range of weather conditions, with a temperature rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The shell fabric is nylon taffeta with an eco-friendly PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) finish. This protects against moisture and tearing, without harming the environment or your health.
The thing that makes this sleeping bag really stand out from the rest is the CirroLoft synthetic insulation. It traps warmth, making the most of your body heat to keep you nice and toasty, and it stays warm even when wet. So, if your sleeping bag does get a little bit of rain/snow/your spilled tea on it, you won’t be doomed to spend the night shivering and shaking.
- Traps heat and stays warm even when wet, thanks to CirroLoft insulation.
- Suitable for camping trips in cold weather, with a temperature rating of 20 degrees.
- Water and tear resistant material with an eco-friendly DWR finish.
- Ultralight and small when compressed, making it backpacker friendly.
- A little bit pricier than some but still very reasonably priced considering the specs.
Best for: campers and backpackers seeking a budget friendly sleeping bag that still has all the perks.
Marmot Trestles 30 Sleeping Bag: 30F Synthetic
You’ll be snug as a bug in a rug in this Marmot Trestles 30 sleeping bag. For this price range, it’s made exceptionally well and is loaded with amazing features.
It’s got a tough and water resistant polyester shell and SpiraFil 120 synthetic insulation that stays warm even if it gets wet. These factors, along with a temperature rating of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, make it a true 3-season sleeping bag.
It weighs 3 lbs 1 oz and compresses down to a fairly small size. There are some lighter and more compact sleeping bags on the market, but it’s still not too heavy or bulky to take on a hiking trip.
- Suitable for 3-season use with a temperature rating of 30 degrees.
- Stays warm even when wet, thanks to SpiraFil 120 insulation.
- Snagless draft tube that traps warmth, keeping you extra cozy.
- Water resistant and durable 70D polyester shell fabric.
- Compact and lightweight, so it’s great for ultralight backpackers.
- Zipper gets stuck easily, which can cause damage to the lining.
Best for: campers and backpackers looking for a sleeping bag that performs well in a range of weather conditions.
REI Co-op Groundbreaker 30 Sleeping Bag
If a mummy sleeping bag isn’t your thing and you want a nice, rectangular sleeping bag that won’t break the bank, check out REI Co-op’s Groundbreaker 30.
With a temperature rating of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll be able to use it in most places from spring through to fall. Its polyester hollow-fiber fill will keep you cozy and warm all over.
The ripstop shell has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish, which shields from light moisture and stains. It’s a tough fabric, so the chances of it getting caught on a sharp rock and tearing open are slim.
What’s great about the classic shape is that it’s versatile. Unzip it and voila, now it’s a blanket. Got two of these babies? Zip them together and you get one big double sleeping bag that can fit two people. You know, in case you’re a cuddler.
- Great 3-season sleeping bag with a temperature rating of 30 degrees.
- Filled with polyester hollow-fiber synthetic insulation to keep you warm.
- Protection from water, stains and tearing, thanks to the ripstop shell with DWR finish.
- When fully unzipped it can be used as a blanket or joined with another sleeping bag.
- Even with an anti-snag strip, the zipper still gets stuck easily.
- Lightweight but not as compact as a mummy bag.
Best for: campers seeking a high-quality rectangular sleeping bag.
Coleman Brazos 30 Sleeping Bag
If you’re on a tight budget, I’ve got great news. The Brazos 30 sleeping bag from Coleman will keep you rugged up all through the night for next to nothing.
It’s a true 3-season sleeping bag, featuring tricot lining, Coletherm synthetic insulation, a polyester shell and a temperature rating of 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
As with most rectangular sleeping bags, it’s a bit on the bulky side when compressed. It also weighs 5 lbs, which is quite a bit more than any other sleeping bag I reviewed. If you’re looking for an ultralight backpacking sleeping bag, you might want to give this one a miss.
On the upside, its rectangular shape means you can unzip it and use it as a regular blanket. Plus, if you get lonely in your sleeping bag and would rather snuggle up beside your tent buddy, you can. By zipping 2 of these together, you get a double sleeping bag for 2 people.
- Temperature rating of 30 degrees, making it suitable for 3-season use.
- You’ll be warm all night long thanks to Coletherm insulation and tricot lining.
- Water resistant polyester shell fabric protects from moisture.
- Possibility of using it as a big blanket or joining with another sleeping bag.
- Very budget friendly.
- Not as lightweight and compact as other sleeping bags, so not the best option for ultralight backpackers.
Best for: campers on a tight budget looking for a great product at a bargain price.
ALPS Mountaineering Blue Springs Sleeping Bag: 35F Synthetic
Looking for a budget sleeping bag with a bunch of great features? This fabulous sleeping bag from ALPS will give you a bang for your buck.
It’s got a temperature rating of 35 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a great 3-season sleeping bag. Of course, the weather across different seasons varies greatly in different places. In places with a temperate climate, you should be able to get away with using it from mid-spring right through to mid-fall.
It’s got microX+ synthetic insulation and an insulated hood, so you’ll be toasty warm from top to toe.
Looking for an ultralight backpacking sleeping bag? This one only weighs 3 lbs and packs down to a really small size, so it’s perfect for hiking trips.
Maintaining it is a bit of an inconvenience. Unlike most sleeping bags that you can throw in the washing machine without any problems, this one is hand-wash only.
- Mid-spring to mid-fall use with a temperature rating of 35 degrees.
- Keeps you cozy and warm with MicroX+ insulation.
- Insulated hood stands up on its own, protecting your head from cold winds.
- Compresses well and isn’t too heavy, making it suitable for ultralight backpacking.
- Issues with the zipper getting stuck.
- Hand-wash only, making maintenance less convenient.
Best for: campers and backpackers looking to stretch their dollar as far as possible.
Choosing The Best Budget Sleeping Bag: A Buying Guide
With all the different budget sleeping bags out there, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider:
- Temperature rating
- Comfort rating
- Water resistance
Ask yourself where you plan on using your sleeping bag. What kind of weather are you likely to encounter?
Every sleeping bag has a temperature rating. This rating indicates the lowest temperature at which they can be used. So, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to that.
Many sleeping bags will also have a comfort rating. This indicates the lowest temperature at which you should be able to sleep comfortably if you’re someone who’s sensitive to the cold.
There’s nothing worse than a wet sleeping bag. It’s crucial that the one you end up going for is made of materials that are breathable while still providing some degree of water resistance.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about all these factors to make sure you pick out a sleeping bag that’s going to fulfill your needs.
Let me start by telling you right off the bat, the temperature ratings on sleeping bags can be deceiving. They should never be taken at face value. Instead, use them as more of a general guideline and take the following into consideration when looking at your options.
We all sleep differently. Some people are more sensitive to the cold and need a lot of heat to stay warm. Others are most comfortable sleeping in cooler conditions. This means that what’s warm enough for one person isn’t necessarily going to be warm enough for everyone.
“So,” you ask, “how can I know if a sleeping bag is going to be warm enough for me?” Well, what I would recommend is to think of the manufacturer’s temperature rating as applicable to those who are less sensitive to the cold. If you’re a warm sleeper, you should be right going by the official rating.
If you’re anything like me though, going by this rating could leave you chattering your teeth. Anyone who’s spent a night (or worse, several nights) freezing their cheeks off in a tent can tell you, it isn’t much fun. So, if you are a cold sleeper it’s a good idea to add 10-15 degrees to the manufacturer’s temperature rating.
For instance, if a sleeping bag’s temperature rating is 30 degrees Fahrenheit, I personally wouldn’t take it on a camping trip if I was anticipating weather under 45 degrees. Again, that doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t use it in 30 degree weather and be perfectly comfortable.
In some cases, the manufacturers will have taken this discrepancy into account. In turn, you’ll often see a comfort rating in addition to the temperature rating.
Here’s the difference. The temperature rating indicates the lowest temperature the sleeping bag is suitable for. The comfort rating indicates the lowest temperature at which a cold sleeper should feel comfortable.
Still, I wouldn’t take this at face value either. Aside from whether you’re a cold or warm sleeper, there are a number of other factors that can influence how warm you are in a sleeping bag.
For instance, having additional gear such as a sleeping bag liner or a sleeping pad is going to make a huge difference when you’re camping in cold weather. The clothes you wear while sleeping also play an important role. Believe it or not, even the food you consume is going to have an impact on how warm you are during the night.
It’s also interesting to note that women are on average colder sleepers than men. Because of this, the comfort rating on a men’s sleeping bag will often be equivalent to the temperature rating on the women’s version of the same product.
When it comes to sleeping bags, it’s all about finding the best possible balance between water resistance and breathability.
Because sleeping bags have to be breathable, they’re only water resistant to a certain degree. Still, some sleeping bags provide better protection from moisture than others.
This will depend largely on the material used to make the outer shell of the sleeping bag.
Polyester, nylon and taffeta are all great examples of water resistant materials that aren’t expensive. Ripstop is a class above these materials in terms of durability.
The best materials are highly breathable and water resistant, such as Gore’s DryLoft. However, materials such as these come at a far greater price.
Sleeping bags with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish provide better protection from moisture. This will also make them highly resistant to stains and tearing.
Some sleeping bags, such as the Kelty Cosmic and the Marmot Trestles 30, feature insulation like CirroLoft and SpiraFil, which actually stay warm even when soaking wet.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about picking out the perfect sleeping bag. Hopefully you now have a better idea of the kind of things you need to look out for.
Which one would I go for? It would have to be the Kelty Cosmic. In my eyes, it’s clearly a cut above the rest. It’s warm, ultralight and eco-friendly. No matter what your needs may be, this sleeping bag has got you covered.
It might not be the absolute cheapest, but in this case for just a little bit extra you really do get a whole lot more.