The Top 10 Best Sleeping Bags Under $200
If you’re going to be spending a night outside, your sleeping bag is probably the most important piece of gear you’ll have with you. This means it’s really important to choose the right sleeping bag for your purposes.
But, luckily for us frugal campers, sleeping bags don’t need to leave your wallet feeling painfully empty. There are some fantastic budget options out there that should keep you feeling warm and snug on your adventure. Luckily for you, we’ve researched the best 10 sleeping bags under $200 so that you don’t have to.
Read on to find out everything you need to know when choosing the best budget sleeping bag and get the inside scoop on the best sleeping bags under $200 on the market right now!
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Sleeping Bag?
Down Versus Synthetic Filling
The type of insulation used in your sleeping bag is probably the most significant choice you’ll have to make when choosing the best sleeping bag for your budget.
Goose and duck down insulation used to be limited to expensive products. While having the downside of being less effective when damp and useless when wet. Nowadays, down is often treated with moisture resistance in order to remain effective when damp. Great leaps have been made with synthetic insulation making it warmer and less bulky than ever before. Synthetic insulation used to use limited to cheaper, bulky products with inferior warmth. But, the original pros and cons still stand, to a degree.
On the whole, down is more expensive but warmer, lighter and smaller when packed but useless when wet.
On the other hand, synthetic is cheaper and still provides a little warmth when wet, but is bulkier and heavier.
Some choose to avoid down for ethical purposes. However, most reputable outdoor companies are taking steps to ensure that their down is ethically sourced. If you’re interested in reading more about it, check out the Responsible Down Standard website.
When considering sleeping bags in this price range, some synthetic options use cotton as their lining material instead of the common nylon used in backpacking sleeping bags. This is something to be aware of, as regardless of the insulation type, once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. Purchasing a sleeping bag with a cotton liner makes you much more vulnerable to cold temperatures once moisture gets thrown in the mix.
Sleeping bags with cotton-based linings and outer layers should only be used in conjunction with very good tents that will guarantee no chance of getting wet.
Most sleeping bags under $200 will be 2 season or 3 season. Any 4 season sleeping bags this cheap will be synthetic and extremely bulky. 4 season sleeping bags are rated to be comfortable in +15 ˚F and below. 3 season sleeping bags are designed to cope with temperatures between +15 and +30˚F, while 2 season sleeping bags shouldn’t really be used in temperatures under +30 ˚F unless you have access to extra layers or an external heat source.
However, more sleeping bag manufacturers are starting to use the EN rating system instead of season ratings.
There are three ratings: EN Comfort (average female can comfortably sleep through the night), EN Lower Limit (average male could sleep through the night) and EN Extreme (female could survive for 6 hours without dying of hypothermia).
Obviously, the first two ratings are the most useful, and for most of us, the Extreme rating is irrelevant. But, as it can be hard to tell which rating manufacturers are referring to when they just list a temperature, some common sense is required! No sleeping bag will keep you comfortable by itself in temperatures below freezing. There are so many other factors involved that it can be very dangerous to base your sleeping bag choice on the manufacturer’s temperature rating.
Moisture levels, the quality of your sleeping mat, whether you’re on the ground or sleeping above the ground on a cot or inflatable mattress, the quality of your tent, and what other clothes you’re wearing all play huge roles in deciding how warm you will be. For most people going car camping in the summer when you have the option of packing extra blankets and warm clothes, a 2 season sleeping bag is adequate.
However, if you’re going to be backpacking, it’s always better to be safer than sorry. In this case, you’ll definitely want to make sure you purchase a 3 season sleeping bag.
Size and Shape
Size and shape (packed and unpacked) depend on how you’re going to use your sleeping bag. If you’re going to be car camping, size isn’t such an issue and you can save precious dollars by purchasing a bulkier sleeping bag. But if you’re going to be backpacking, you’ll definitely want a sleeping bag that takes up as little space as possible in your pack.
It’s highly recommended to stick to down if you’re going to be backpacking, as synthetic sleeping bags in this price range are generally too large when packed to allow space for much else in your backpack. They are also usually much heavier. However, the size and shape of the unpacked sleeping bag also play a significant role. If you’re a taller or larger person, you’ll obviously want to make sure that your sleeping bag is going to be large enough to accommodate your whole body. But, there is such things as a sleeping bag that is too big.
Extra space inside the sleeping bag will actually make you colder, not warmer. The more air that is inside your sleeping bag between your body and the bag itself, the more your body has to work to warm that air before it can relax and focus on warming itself. This is the reason mummy shaped sleeping bags are the most common shape for sleeping in seriously cold temperatures.
The presence of a hood and the ability for the opening of the sleeping bag to be cinched around your face or neck also makes a big difference. Any openings to the interior of the sleeping bag will let precious warm air out, and horrible cold air in.
So, that sums up the most important factors to consider when choosing your sleeping bag. Read on for the top 10 sleeping bags under $200!
Best Sleeping Bags Under $200
1. Browning Camping McKinley -30 Degree Sleeping Bag
If warmth is your priority and you don’t mind the heft or bulk of it, this Browning Camping McKinley Sleeping Bag will be your best travel companion. This is the warmest synthetic sleeping bag available under $200. It designed for larger people and has a very spacious interior so you’ll have plenty of room to kick your legs around if you feel claustrophobic in mummy style sleeping bags. However, the extra space inside means there’ll be larger air pockets could result in cold spots.
The 210T nylon outer is durable and water resistant and the brushed polyester inner is snug and cozy. The hood design is another definite plus to this sleeping bag, as cinching the sleeping bag around your face does wonders for keeping the warm air inside next to your body, and the icy air out.
However, -30 ˚F is definitely at the extreme end of things (e.g. EN Extreme) and most people wouldn’t be safe sleeping in that kind of temperature without the most top of the line winter gear available. This sleeping bag will be very comfortable in temperatures above 15˚F, but to be safe, avoid temperatures less than this unless you have access to extra sources of heat.
2. ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood -25 Sleeping Bag
The ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood is another sleeping bag that prioritizes warmth over packed size and weight but at an extremely low price point. This sleeping bag is perfect for car camping or hunting in cold temperatures but there’s no way you’d fit it in a backpack. As above, the large size of this sleeping bag will result in cool spots, as your body heat won’t be enough to heat the corners of the bag. The lack of hood means you’ll also need to sleep in a hat and/or balaclava and be careful to cinch the bag around your head as much as possible.
The cotton canvas outer will provide some water resistance and plenty of durability, but the cotton flannel inner is a minor cause for concern. You’ll want to be very sure that you don’t let yourself sweat inside this sleeping to keep it as dry as possible.
As above, -25 rating is more a survival thing, very few people would be comfortable in this sleeping bag at -25. However, this is still one very warm sleeping, likely to be very comfortable in temperatures above 15˚F.
3. Hyke & Byke 650 Fill Power Down Sleeping Bag
As a complete contrast to the two sleeping bags above, this Hyke &Byke 650 Fill sleeping is bag is an ultra-lightweight, compact, 3 season down sleeping bag that is perfect for backpacking. Insulated with 650 Fill Power Duck Down and paired with durable YKK zippers, this mummy-style sleeping bag is incredible value for money.
Weighing between 2.89 and 3.06 lbs. depending on the size, and packing down into a convenient compressible stuff sack, this sleeping bag is ideal for backpackers on a budget. The down isn’t treated for water resistance, but the water-resistant nylon outer helps to make up for this.
In terms of comfort, it’s probably more of a 2 season sleeping bag. Its extreme limit is 15˚F, with a lower comfort limit of 30 ˚F. However, as with any sleeping bag, this depends on other factors like the humidity, the quality of your sleeping mat and tent, and what other clothes you’re wearing.
4. Kelty Cosmic 0 Degree Sleeping Bag
Insulated with 550 fill DriDown, the Kelty Cosmic sleeping bag has the benefit of coping with a little moisture. The hooded mummy shape is extremely cozy and the nylon shell ensures that surface moisture is kept out. It comes in two sizes, regular and long, and weighs just 3.4 lbs. The draft collar adds an extra barrier between the cold outside by cinching up around your neck inside the sleeping bag.
Rated to be comfortable to 0 ˚F, this sleeping bag is another great choice for backpacking that is incredible value for money. However, plenty of warm thermal layers would be needed to stay comfortable in temperatures below 15˚F.
5. TETON Sports ALTOS Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag
The TETON Sports Ultra-light Down sleeping bag is filled with MTN-DRY water repellent down that will keep you toasty in damp conditions, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. It weighs 3.45 lbs. and packs into a compression stuff sack for easy transportation. Durable 20D Micro Rio-stop Nylon protects the down from exterior moisture, and there’s even a pocket inside for your phone!
Its extreme limit is -29˚F while its lower limit and comfort limit are 7˚F and 19˚F respectively making this a very decent sleeping bag for cold temperatures.
6. Elite Survival Systems Recon 4 Sleeping Bag
The Elite Survival Systems Sleeping Bag is a military style sleeping bag that uses synthetic insulation so it’s a little bulkier and not as warm as the two down sleeping bags above. But, weighing just 3.5 lbs., it’s still a solid choice for campers on a budget.
The mummy shape with an elasticated hood is an efficient way of trapping the warm air close to your body, and the Teflon coated Nylon outer is very durable and water resistant. In a unique design twist, the full length zip runs up the middle of the sleeping bag rather than the side. It has a temperature rating of 14˚F so is likely very comfortable in temperatures upwards of 30˚F.
7. Grizzly Degree Canvas Sleeping Bag
Similar to the first two sleeping bags on this list, this Grizzly Degree Canvas is a heavy, bulky synthetic sleeping bag, but with the bonus feature of a drawstring hood which makes a huge difference from a warmth perspective.
The two-layer offset construction ensures that there are no cold spots from over-lapping seams, and the draft tube prevents cold air from sneaking in through the zipper. It is available in 100% polyester or cotton duck canvas varieties with cosy flannel linings and microfiber insulation.
Not suitable for backpacking, this is a 3 season car camper’s sleeping bag with a comfortable 25˚F temperature rating (providing everything is dry of course!).
8. Klymit KSB 35° Mummy Style Down Sleeping Bag
This Klymit KSB Mummy Down sleeping bag uses responsibly sourced 650 fill down for insulation in a cozy mummy shape. It has a 2-way zipper which makes it a more versatile bag for use in warmer temperatures, allowing you to stick your feet out when you want to cool down. It also unzips completely to be converted into a blanket or for easy airing and drying during the day.
Another unique design feature is its “length locks” which means that shorter people can block off the bottom section of the sleeping bag and convert it into a shorter length to avoid drafts around the feet.
Designed for summer camping, this is a lightweight 2 to 3 season sleeping bag with a EN comfort rating of 32˚F and a lower limit of 21˚F.
9. Nemo Forte 20 Reg
The Nemo Fort sleeping bag uses Stratofiber synthetic insulation in a spoon-shaped mummy design. This means that instead of tapering to a narrow point at the feet, it is very slightly cinched at the hips while allowing a little extra wiggle room for your legs and shoulders, ideal for people who prefer to sleep on their side.
If this isn’t unique enough, it also has zippered vents along the top, allowing for a novel way of cooling off when you start to over-heat, and a drawstring elasticated hood which includes a slip for adding clothes or a small pillow.
Weighing in at 3.01 lbs. for the regular size, this is a reasonably lightweight sleeping bag, but remains pretty bulky when packed. With a comfort rating of 29˚F and an EN lower limit of 18 ˚F, making this a solid 3 season sleeping bag.
10. OmniCore Designs Multi Down Hooded Rectangular Cold Weather Sleeping Bag
The OmniCore Designs sleeping bag is a slightly less common design, being insulated with down, but in a rectangular shape. It also comes as a double, making it the perfect choice for camping with your significant other.
650 fill duck down coupled with synthetic fibres allows for the pros and cons of synthetic versus down to be balanced out, resulting in a warm and snug sleeping bag that falls midway in weight, bulk and moisture resistance.
With a temperature range of -10 ˚F to 30 ˚F when wearing thermal underclothes and a hat, this is a 3 season sleeping bag whose spacious interior may count against it in colder temperatures. However, sleeping with another person will definitely increase the amount of warmth inside the bag so as with all of these temperature ratings, it’s pretty subjective.
So, there you have it! There is definitely something for everyone on the list above. Whether you’re a backpacking ninja looking for a lightweight, compact, down sleeping bag that won’t slow you down, or a car camping enthusiast prioritizing warmth over-weight and bulk, everyone can find their ideal sleeping bag for under $200.
But, don’t forget to be cautious when interpreting temperature ratings and always prepare for the worst. Make sure you bring plenty of thermal clothing and have the option of heating water to fill a bottle in case things get really dire. If you are looking for something a little less costly check out our Best Sleeping Bags Under $50 article!
And on that note, happy camping!