Who doesn’t dream of hopping in their car and driving off into the sunset on the weekends?
If you’re like me, even the welcoming call of the interstate can be drowned out by the idea of sleeping fitfully in the back of my car.
That’s why I set out to find the best sleeping bag for car camping in 2021. If you’re tired of back pain and cold nights, keep reading for cozy options to fit any budget.
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- TOP 7 Best Sleeping Bags for Car Camping 2021
- Your Guide to Buying the Best Sleeping Bag for Car Camping
- Let’s Hit the Road!
TOP 7 Best Sleeping Bags for Car Camping 2021
On my quest for the best sleeping bags for car camping, I kept several things in mind.
You’ll see a table with each product that provides a quick glance for the temperature rating, material used for the filling, and the sleeping bag’s packed size and weight.
First, all sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, which I’ve put in Fahrenheit. That number represents the lowest temperature that you’re advised to use the sleeping bag in. A 15degree F bag would be great for winter, while a 40degree F bag would be more suitable for winter.
Second, sleeping bags are filled with either synthetic or organic materials – usually polyester or down. You can see at a glance what type of fill each bag has, so keep allergies and skin sensitivities in mind. Synthetic materials always make the more affordable choice.
Last, I’ve included the size and weight of each sleeping bag. If you’re like me, you might find yourself limited on space or hoping for an options that’s great for car camping and backpacking. Without further ado, let’s look at the first ideal sleeping bag for car camping.
Interested in even more info? Check out the detailed buying guide at the end of this article. Enjoy!
Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1
- Temperature Rating: 0° F to 60+° F
- Material Used for Filling: SuperLoft Elite 4-Channel Hollow Fiber
- Packed Size and Weight: 17.5” x 12” x 12” | 6.5 lbs
It was immediately clear to me that the Teton Sports Polara 3-in-1 could be a great fit for my car-camping adventures. I never know when the inspiration to travel will strike, so versatility is my best friend.
I honestly think the 3-in-1 title undersells the multitude of ways you can transform this sleeping bag. You can configure it five different ways for a single person and two different ways if you’re sleeping double. Numerous zippers and Velcro straps make switching things up fast and simple.
What does “3-in-1” reference?
It refers to the three layers of this sleeping bag. The inner bag and outer bag can be added or removed to the middle section. Each layer is soft and comfortable, and putting all three together keeps you warm in 0° F temperatures.
- Comfortable in the car or on the ground.
- Water-resistant for damp conditions.
- Regulate temperature with draft tubes, zippers, and drawstrings.
- Weight of 6.5 lbs isn’t ideal for backpacking.
- Fleece lining is clingier than flannel.
Big Agnes Dream Island
- Temperature Rating: 15° F
- Material Used for Filling: Recycled FireLine Max synthetic material
- Packed Size and Weight: 22” x 17” x 14” | 7.5 lbs
Sometimes you want to bring someone along with you. In that case, the Big Agnes Dream Island is the best double sleeping bag for car camping.
This sleeping bag really is a dream for couples who want to be close, but not so close you don’t have room to stretch out. Its 6’6” length is perfect for tall campers who might struggle to find foot space in similar models.
How comfortable can we get in Dream Island?
This sleeping bag is designed to out-fit you and your co-sleeper in total comfort. You can drawstring a dual hood to hug you close or use the added hand pockets to pull the inner corners around your shoulders. There’s even the option to unzip the top of the bag for a comforter adaptation.
A secure pocket to stuff your pillow adds to the comfort – I know mine often slips away in the night. One drawback is that you’ll need a sleeping pad to sleep well, which adds to the cost. There is a secured pocket for the sleeping pad though, so it won’t slide away either.
- Roomy and warm option for tall campers.
- Moderately light at only 7.5 lbs.
- Inner loops to hold a liner, outer loops for drying.
- Expensive model for synthetic filling.
- Need to purchase a sleeping pad, sold separately.
Nemo Forte 20
- Temperature Rating: 20° F
- Material Used for Filling: Nemo Ultralight Synthetic
- Packed Size and Weight: 11.5” x 9” | 3 lbs
I never know what my trips might bring, and the idea of a mixed car-camping and backpacking sleeping bag sounds excellent. My search led me to Nemo Forte 20 which clocks in at a mere 2.3 lbs. for the long (6’6”) model.
This is a mummy-style, or spoon-shaped, sleeping bag. That means there’s extra room around the elbows and knees, which is a must-have if you toss and turn at night. It hugs you close in synthetic plush that’s guaranteed to keep you warm in temperatures as cool as 20° F.
How good is it at temperature adaption?
There are a couple of added features to help you warm and cool as needed. If you’re running too hot, you can unzip vents to let out heat through the top of the bag. When you’re feeling a little chilled, there’s a comfortable built-in blanket to tuck around the front of your neck.
Perhaps you don’t know where you’re headed but want to cover your bases. It’s certainly the case for me. The versatility makes this one of my top choices for the best sleeping bag for car camping in 2021.
- Available in standard or long models.
- Roomier than most mummy bags.
- Adjustable vents for temperature regulation.
- Expensive option.
- Not lightweight enough for dedicated backpacking.
ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood
- Temperature Rating: -10° F
- Material Used for Filling: TechLoft single-hole synthetic
- Packed Size and Weight: Not stated | 11.7 lbs
Bells and whistles are fun and add versatility. But, for those occasions when you want to be swathed in total warmth and comfort, there’s the ALPS Outdoorz Redwood.
If you know you’re staying in your car somewhere chilly, pack this along. It’s rated for -10° F temperatures and promises to keep you snug and comfortable no matter what.
How warm and cozy can one bag be?
To start with, this is an intentionally oversized bag. It’s meant to be weighty and give you plenty of room to move around in, which is perfect for restful sleep. You couldn’t beat it by putting an air mattress in the back of your car.
The lining is made of a 100% cotton flannel liner that’s supposed to be soft on your skin. The outside is made of rugged canvas material and packs up with 3 straps. You’ll need it with this monster-sized bag, which weighs in at 11.7 lbs.
- Designed for total comfort.
- Heavy materials and a lot of space.
- Perfect for cold-weather camping
- Heavy and bulky to pack.
- Not good for camping in warm temps.
- Cotton design can soak up moisture.
Marmot Trestles 15
- Temperature Rating: 15° F
- Material Used for Filling: Polyester SpiraFil
- Packed Size and Weight: 14L (dimensions unavailable) | 3.4 lbs
The Marmot Trestles 15 might be the best 3 season sleeping bag for car camping. As you’re about to find out, it’s suitable for a wide range of adventures.
This sleeping bag is an affordable option that still offers high-quality design. The outside finish can stave off dampness (and the cold) if you venture out of the car for a night. In fact, it’s suitable for weekend backpacking at 3.4 lbs.
What are my options for temperature regulation?
This is a mummy-style sleeping bag that’s meant to keep you snug. Even so, I found there’s a fold-down second zipper to allow heat ventilation. You can stretch out your feet in the 3D footbox to make sure your toes have a little breathing room.
Two insulated draft tubes add to the warmth for chillier nights. For all seasons there’s an added layer of padding underneath to protect your back from an uneven car space or ground.
- Light enough to carry for casual backpacking.
- Protects against cold and damp conditions.
- Affordable for such a versatile sleeping bag.
- Only suitable for temps above 15° F.
- Too heavy for dedicated backpacking use.
ExPed MegaSleep Duo 25
- Temperature Rating: 25° F or 40° F
- Material Used for Filling: Texpedloft Polyester
- Packed Size and Weight: 27.6” x 22.8” x 11.8” | 5.1 lbs
First, I showed you the Dream Island double for spacious co-sleeping. Now I want to show you the highly adaptable ExPed MegaSleep Duo. It’s so spacious you can even sleep alone.
What was that? Yes, the Duo can actually be separated into two separate sleeping bags, even though it’s sold as a unit. The top and bottom can be detached and turned into individual sleeping bags.
What sort of car camping is it good for?
You can enjoy chill to warm weather camping in this double sleeper. To make things even easier, the outer shell is color-coded. If you’re sleeping in temps above 40° F, flip the bag so the lighter blue is facing outward. Switch to dark blue for cooler temps, down to 25° F.
It’s filled with polyester to maintain a soft texture. I’m personally excited about the draft tubing that runs along the entire zipper length to keep out drafts.
- Design pulls apart and turns inside out.
- Lightweight at only 4.5 lbs.
- Fabrics are ideal for people with sensitive skin.
- Doesn’t pack down small – 14 L volume.
- Not ideal for backpacking.
- Not good for winter car camping.
Kelty Galactic 30
- Temperature Rating: 30° F
- Material Used for Filling: 550 Fill Dri-Down
- Packed Size and Weight: 15” x 7.5” | 2.7 lbs
This is hands-down the best car camping sleeping bag for a down-filled option for a backpacking crossover. The Kelty Galactic is stuffed with warm, 550-fill Dri-Down.
Dri-Down is coated to stop it from absorbing any dampness. It’s not flawless though, so I would suggest keeping this in the car or using it for drier climates when backpacking. In fact, it’s a good sleeping bag for summer camping.
What special features are there?
I’m excited that there are three different lengths available, as opposed to the standard two. You can purchase a short, regular, or long bag. The height range is 5’8” to 6’6”, so there’s something suitable for everyone.
The cinch cord and down filling means this bag can keep you plenty warm. The down also provides a good amount of cushion to save your back in the car or on the trails.
- Very affordable for a down-filled sleeping bag.
- Lightweight – 2.7lbs perfect for backpacking.
- Zips together easily with matching bags.
- Not suitable for people allergic to down.
- May need to purchase compression bag.
- The provided stuff bag doesn’t pack down small.
Your Guide to Buying the Best Sleeping Bag for Car Camping
If you want to keep exploring your options, I’d like to extend a few tips. These are the guides I followed and resources I used.
Ready to dive in a little deeper?
Where do You Plan to Drive and Sleep?
The first thing to consider is what climate you’ll be sleeping in. As I mentioned earlier, there are temperature ratings for each sleeping bag.
Do you plan to drive to a cold and windy coastline or camp out in the middle of summer to see the stars?
You can opt for a single-season, three-season, or even a four-season sleeping bag. This short video from REI can give you a quick visual overview of your options.
How Much are You Willing to Spend?
If you’re on a budget, as many of us are, keep that money mind. It’s easy to long for the high-end gear that costs a pretty penny, but you don’t have to fork over a bundle of cash for a good night’s sleep
I found there are plenty of options under $100 that met my needs.
There are two major factors in determining cost: fill and versatility. Expect organic materials and adaptable sleeping bags to cost you a little extra.
Do You Intend to Use it for Backpacking?
I love backpacking on the trails, so I kept my eye out for a crossover sleeping bag. If you have similar intentions, remember to check out the weight and packing sizes of each option.
Weather-proofing is also crucial since most trips have damp moments.
This post explains the basics of packing for backpacking trips and the importance of choosing a small, lightweight sleeping bag for your next adventure.
Will I Need to Purchase Additions?
Most sleeping bags come with a stuff sack, which keeps everything together.
Think about what other additions you might need for a good rest and ultimate comfort. Most options comes with longer models or brand-name add-ons, too.
What Shape of Sleeping Bag Will be Most Comfortable?
I personally need a lot of foot room to sleep well. Do you? If so, keep an eye out for rectangular-shaped bags. I’ve included a couple of mummy-style bags that offer increased foot room.
What’s the benefit of each?
In short, rectangular bags are better for legroom, while mummy bags are better for preserving heat.
Let’s Hit the Road!
I hope this has helped you narrow down your picks for the best sleeping bag for car camping in 2021. If you’d like, please leave a comment down below to offer any feedback.
I’d also recommend that you download this e-book on traveling safely when solo before you head out on your next trip.
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