Gear Test: 5 Comfortable Camp Sleeping Bags
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Mummy-style sleeping bags that pack down to the size of a cantaloupe and whose weight is measured in ounces rather than pounds certainly have their merits. But sometimes you just want to crawl into a spacious, comfortable rectangle bag, size and weight be damned. These three-season bags put comfort and a good night’s sleep above all else.
1. Butler Bags Mild Climate Sleeping Bag
Rating: 32°F; $275; butlerbags.com
Photos by Cliff Gardiner & John Keller
Made in the U.S. by backcountry aficionados (no relation to the author), Butler Bags are built to last. Of the bags we tested, this is the one best suited to being rolled out on the bare ground, thanks to its tough marine-grade canvas exterior and bombproof dual-control brass zipper. At 84 by 41 inches, this bag has room to move, and the flannel lining is soft and pleasant. It comes with a flannel pillow and a canvas storage sack, and the flannel-lined flap can be pulled down over your head for additional warmth. It tips the scales at 11 pounds and will take up half your truck bed, but its toughness and comfort more than make up for its bulk.
**2. Slumberjack Country Squire 20 **
Rating: 20°F; $240; sjkgear.com
At 84 inches long by 42 inches wide, the Country Squire is the largest sleeping bag in the test—you’ll appreciate its ample space as soon as you crawl inside. Both the top and the bottom are stuffed with synthetic insulation that offers substantial padding. The 12-ounce cotton-duck exterior is strong and durable; this is a bag you can sleep comfortably in on the ground. It comes with a handled duffel bag that’s big enough to also carry clothes, a pillow, or a blanket. The bag’s cotton liner can be easily removed and washed to keep the interior clean. The heavy-duty zipper rolls along without snagging.
3. Cabela’s Mountain Trapper 20
Rating: 20°F; $140; cabelas.com
The Mountain Trapper is a great bag to take to the mountains—as long as you’re driving. It weighs nearly 9 pounds, but with the weight come many benefits. At 36 inches wide and 84 inches long, it’s plenty roomy; its rugged, cotton-canvas shell is water-resistant; the heavy cotton-flannel interior is super soft; and the 3-plus pounds of poly insulation ensures warmth. The large YKK zipper is easy to pull, and a guard keeps the fabric from bunching or snagging. The bag rolls up into an attached flap, then cinches down with three 2-inch nylon straps.
**4. L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag **
Rating: 20°F; $260; [llbean.com
Stuffed with premium 650-fill water-repellent down, this bag is very warm and lightweight. There’s ample down on the top and sides for warmth where you need it, but the underside is so thin you’ll have to sleep on a pad or mattress for a good night’s rest. The water-resistant ripstop nylon exterior has a soft feel and withstands punctures by the down. At only 2 pounds 15 ounces, it’s far and away the lightest bag in our test, and it compresses to the size of a basketball. When pulled quickly, the zipper will grab fabric, so take care when settling in for the night.
5. Nemo Mezzo Loft 30
Rating: 30°F; $230; [nemoequipment.com
The Mezzo Loft 30 is the most technical bag in our test and represents the best blend of size, weight, and comfort. At 36 inches wide, it offers ample shoulder room, and at just 4 pounds 4 ounces, it’s reasonably light. This is due in part to a lack of padding on the underside; instead, it has a sewn-in sleeve that accepts a sleeping pad, sold separately. Since we tested the bags on a cot, we didn’t use the pad, but it should be considered mandatory for sleeping on the ground. The hood across the top adds warmth and can also work as a pillow. Two Mezzo Lofts can be zipped together to form a double bag.
How We Test
We selected bags rated for three-season use (+20° F) that measure at least 34 inches across. We set up a tent in a backyard in northern Missouri in early June and slept in each bag atop a Coleman Packaway Cot. We evaluated the comfort, roominess, and ease of climbing in and out of each. The bags were also graded on the quality and durability of materials and construction; how well they pack up; any bonus features; and value.
Test results scores, specs, and prices, at a glance. Click to enlarge