What makes the difference between a great camping holiday and the worse backpacking vacation ever? A decent sleeping bag of course. Gone are the days where you were limited to one fabric and shape, these days there are all kinds of materials that are lightweight and warm. There are even sleeping bags shaped like coats now that you simply wrap around yourself, or ones with hoods to keep your head warm.
When buying a sleeping bag keep in mind the weight, will you be backpacking or travelling in a car or bus for instance? Will you have to carry it for long periods of time? Also are you likely to be using it more in the summer or colder seasons where you’ll need one to keep out the cold temperatures. How tall or wide are you? How you do normally sleep in a bed? If you are a typical starfish sleeper it might be wise to buy an extra=large sleeping bag designed for ample space.
The material is also very important; synthetic insulation tends to keep the heat in even when wet and is much easier to clean and dry. They are also cheaper than down, which works well to retain heat and is a good option for both summer and winter.
If you are thinking about buying a sleeping bag here are our recommendations:
Argos Big Sleep 250GSM Single Cowl Sleeping – £14.99
This is the ideal sleeping bag if you want a spare or one that is inexpensive and does the job on light summer nights. We like the fact that it is wider than most bags, which is perfect for those who find it difficult to sleep in strange places, and the loose shell and soft inner provide comfort and warmth.
Traveller 50 Sleeping Bag – £19.99
This sleeping bag is both windproof and breathable which makes it ideal for the spring and autumn seasons. It is designed as a ‘mummy’ shape and includes an inside pocket for your valuables. Good all-rounder.
Image Coat Crime Scene – £27.50
An amazing sleeping bag here that can be used as a fully-insulated coat or a sleeping bag. Just zip off the legs and shoulders and it transforms into a funky coat with a crime scene design, then later when it is time for bed, zip the bottom back on and zip up the shoulders and it is now a sleeping bag, suitable for cool summer nights.
Snugpak The Navigator Basecamp – £34.95
A very affordable price here for an innovative sleeping bag that features a medium weight material that keeps you warm without feeling too heavy. The bag can be unzipped and used as a quilt for warmer nights which makes it very versatile. The outer is soft and the inner is made using synthetic fibres that are designed to last for years.
Hi Gear “The Beast” Extra Large Sleeping Pod™ Sleeping Bag – £39.99
If you don’t like sleeping bags because you can’t stretch your legs out then this aptly named ‘beast’ from Hi Gear might do the trick. Specifically designed for those who have trouble getting comfortable, it is roomy and well insulated.
Vango Sonno Comfort – £50.00
Made with comfort in mind, this sleeping bag from Vango has ample room and space for the most fidgety of sleepers. The square shape allows for more movement than a standard rectangle, and there is a pillow situated in the hood for extra comfort.
Outwell Camper Lux Sleeping Bag – £74.99
This is almost the same as sleeping at home in the comfort of your own bed, it is so luxurious. Features an integrated duvet with isofil insulation and a soft polycotton outer. There’s also a hood that you can zip on or off, and easy-glide zip system.
Jack Wolfskin Smoozip +3 – £80
This sleeping bag has a number of innovative features that caught our eye. It has a zip that can be open and closed in one seamless movement, there is extra insulation around the areas of the body that tend to feel the cold, i.e. the head, torso and feet, and the fabric is breathable so you won’t wake up in a sweaty heap.
Nordisk Oscar +10 – £170.00
This has to be the lightest sleeping bag we have tested so far, weighing in at an impressive 350g, making it super easy for just about anyone to carry. Made using synthetic material it features a front zip, handy for sitting with it half on, and keeps you warm down to -6 Celsius. Perfect for backpacking in the summer or autumn months.
Vango Fuse -12 – £220
A lightweight sleeping bag here that is perfect for serious backpackers as it contains innovative insulation fibre, which works to retain the heat by trapping air within channels in the bag. We like the fastening around the neck which prevents heat leaving the head and the material is treated to be water-resistant.