Best Budget Sleeping Bag of 2020 | Expert Advice
If you quickly want to find out which is the best budget sleeping bag, I’d recommend the Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag.
Finding cheap sleeping bags within your budget can easily become overwhelming.
When price is your primary concern, it’s extra important to make sure you don’t compromise on warmth or comfort of the bag.
Don’t worry, we have done the research for you.
We have put down some solid buying advice, the best way to use them followed by a list of backpacking sleeping bags on a budget.
Our Top 5 Budget Sleeping Bags of 2020
We've created a comprehensive Sleeping bag buying guide along with some tips on how to use them.
How to choose the best sleeping bags?
European Norm (EN) is a standard for temperature ratings of sleeping bags. But not all companies use EN ratings.
The number listed with most sleeping bags (example: Magma 10) is the EN Lower Limit, which is usually 10-15 degrees lower than the EN Comfort Rating.
Choosing a temperature rating
Sadly, choosing a temperature rating isn’t an exact science because the ratings by the manufacturers don’t tend to be accurate. They only give you a ballpark estimate as to what you can expect out of the bag.
If a bag comes with a temperature rating of 20F, it means that it will keep you alive down till that temperature, and not that you would be still as warm at 20F.
Always go for a bag that’s warmer than you would want it to be. Eg, one that is roughly 10 degrees lower than the temperature you’ll be sleeping in.
Increasing temperature rating
Always know that you can increase the temperature of a sleeping bag with the help of sleeping pads, liners, jackets etc for winter weathers.
Carry one or more of them if you are going to be camping in very cold weathers.
Fit – Mummy bags or Quilts?
This is a personal preference for many.
There are many factors that contribute to this choice – the sleeping positions you change, your physique, your gender, claustrophobia, etc.
True to their name, mummy bags enclose you tightly like a mummy with not much space left inside the bag. This less area heavily contributes to the warmth of the bag by trapping the heat generated by your body better.
Mummy bags are relatively heavier than quilts, and they come with or without hoods. They come with full length, half length or ⅓ length zippers.
If you don’t toss & turn in your sleep, or if you are comfortable with cozy settings, Mummy bags should be your pick.
Quilts/ Rectangular bags
Quilts are an alternative to those who don’t prefer constricting spaces. They have a larger area and allow for generous sleeping positions.
It may not be as warm as a tightly enclosed mummy bag, because the heat from your body is spread across a larger area in this case.
Quilts don’t come with hoods and don’t have zippers. That’s the reason they are lightweight as compared to Mummy bags.
This is one of the most important factors to consider before choosing a sleeping bag, because it decides how warm you’ll be through out the night.
There are mainly two types of insulation materials in sleeping bags:
Down bags are the popular choice among backpackers, because of the excellent weight-to-warmth ratio they provide. They also compress more and are expensive as compared to Synthetic bags.
Down Fill Power
Down fill power simply means the loft or fluffiness of down. The higher the down fill power of a bag, the higher the quality of insulation.
The down fill power is the reason for the unmatchable weight-to-warmth ratio of down bags. Bags with higher down fill powers are preferred for winter weathers.
This is the new type of down to make the bags a little water resistant. They are made of down insulation materials that resist water 30% more than untreated down. They also dry faster.
Synthetic insulation is a cheaper alternative to Down. They weigh more and compress less. On the brighter side, they overtake down in their performance when wet, and also dry faster.
Most of the sleeping bags in this article are synthetics, taking price into consideration.
It won’t take long to get sick of a bulky bag during backpacking, so you’d need to factor weight heavily into consideration. If it’s a car camping trip, you need not worry too much about weight. You can focus on the other aspects like price, warmth, etc.
Synthetic bags are heavier in comparison to Down bags. Backpackers usually go for Down to cut pack weight, and synthetics come as the economical & heavier options, best suited for car camping.
Between Mummy bags or Quilts, mummy bags are heavier because of the tightly woven fabrics that are fluffy & keep you fully enclosed.
Warm When wet
No sleeping bag is practically “warm when wet”. Even if the bags say that they are waterproof, they aren’t in real time.
They can be a little water resistant though with the help of a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. It doesn’t make a bag anywhere near waterproof but it’s a good feature to have.
However, synthetic bags have a slight advantage here since they resist water and retain heat a little better than down bags. This isn’t a significant feature to choose synthetics over down, though.
What’s the best way to use Sleeping bags
Air out the bag
It’s recommended to air out the bag daily for at least 10 minutes, especially when it’s in active use. This evaporates the condensation, perspiration or dew collected in the bag and makes it dry again.
Make sure the bag is not exposed to harsh sunlight for too long, that might damage the outer coating of the bag.
If the bag has gotten wet, it should be aired out for several hours.
- Be careful with the zippers. One of the most annoying things I’ve heard people say is the zippers snapping in brand new bags. While not all sleeping bags come with good quality zippers, it only takes a little extra care while zipping to prevent it from breaking.
- If you have kids jumping around and on sleeping bags, know that it might cause the loft to get unevenly distributed and damage the down.
- Don’t take it too near a campfire, even a tiny flame of fire can damage the bag.
Sleeping bag liner
Consider using a sleeping bag liner. It can be of cotton, linen, silk or any lightweight thin material. They ensure that the sleeping bag doesn’t get dirty.
You only will have to wash the liner after use and not the entire sleeping bag, so it makes it more durable.
They also provide you with 5F to 15F of additional warmth that might be useful in colder weathers.
Store when dry
How you store your sleeping bag largely decides its lifespan. Make sure to air out the bag well, and store it in a loose storage sack. Most of the bags come with one, but if not you can buy one separately.
Storing it inside the stuff sack is a bad idea since it eventually damages the fill because of the compression.
Sleeping bag accessories
- Sleeping bag liners
- Storage sack
- Stuff sack
While most bags come with compression sacks, and might or might not include storage sacks, storage sacks are very important to extend the life of your sleeping bag.
Now, let us delve into in depth reviews of some of the best budget sleeping bags we have tested in our trails.
Top 5 Budget sleeping bag Reviews
- Excellent value for money
- Good warmth-to-price ratio
- Keeps you warm upto 20F
- Decent weight-to-price ratio
- Comfortable and fluffy
- Packed size is not compact
- Narrow & snug inside for bigger people
- Zipper issues
A long lasting best budget sleeping bag for backpacking. Ensures super comfort.
- Cost effective option
- Feels comfortable & soft
- Excellent weight-to-warmth ratio
- Has a zippered opening near the footbox for warmer weathers
- Good compression size
- Keeps you warm from 30F to upper twenties
- Not for winter weathers
- Doesn’t pack small
The perfect blend of warmth & compressibility in the under $100 range.
- Keeps you warm & cozy upto 20F
- Fluffy loft with a lot of breathability
- Good packed size
- Easy to slide into the bag
- Has a handy pocket inside of the bag
- Best value for money
- Tad heavy for backpacking
- Poor zippers
Best weight-to-warmth ratio at an affordable price.
- Keeps you warm in the 30F – 40F temperature range
- Comes with a hood
- Lighter as compared to other products in this price range
- Very affordable pricing
- Can be used as a blanket by unzipping it & flipping it over
- Snug fit for bigger people
- Bulky for backpacking
- Doesn’t come with a compression sack
Chosen for quality, weight-to-warmth ratio and affordability.
- Best for backpacking trips
- Has a high loft synthetic insulation for warmth in cold nights
- Retains moisture in wet conditions
- Keeps you warm down upto 30F
- Comes with a stuff sack
- Bright colored and visually appealing
- Good compression size
- Constrictive spacing
- Not suitable for winter weathers
A lightweight, 3 season backpacking bag with moderate warmth & comfort.
Our pick from the list for the best budget sleeping bag is the Kelty Cosmic 20 degree Sleeping bag.
It’s hard to find a sleeping bag with the weight-to-warmth ratio that the down insulation provides. Finding another bag with the same down fill power at this price range, isn’t easy. Also, Kelty is well known for the quality of sleeping bags they manufacture.
Overall it’s a good option for backpackers, as it offers a decent weight-to-warmth ratio at a reasonable cost.
Which one did you pick? Let us know in the comments 🙂