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Essential Sleeping Bags for Sustainable Camping Trips

by | Oct 29, 2020

Looking to camp sustainably? Start with a sustainable sleeping bag. We’ve rounded up 12 of the best for your next National Park camping trip.

Sleeping bags have come a long way. If you’re in the market for a new one, there are plenty of options to consider from companies that now make sustainability a priority. From responsibly-sourced down to recycled materials to fair-trade products, it’s possible to find the perfect bag to suit your needs and feel good about your purchase at the same time. We’ve picked the best, for every type of camper. 

Sleeping Bag Basics

Top-level considerations for your new sleeping bag should start with temperature rating, fill, and shape. Unless you’re planning dead-of-winter camping, a three-season bag should cover you in temps of roughly 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re camping during chillier weeks or shoulder seasons, you can always add a liner for additional warmth. The style of bag boils down to personal preference—bags are made in mummy, semi-rectangular, rectangular, or double-wide options. Also, note that some single bags are made to zip together to create a double. 

How Do You Know the Sleeping Bag Is Sustainable?

You may be asking: How am I to know which bags are made responsibly? It’s a fair question—and it’s why the outdoor gear industry has created certifications and standards to let consumers know what they’re buying, and where it comes from. 

For down sleeping bags, the acronyms to know are: Responsible Down Certified (RDS) and global Traceable Down Standard (TDS). For sleeping bags with synthetic fill, at least 50 percent should be from recycled materials. There’s also a criteria known as “bluesign approved,” which refers to ethical and responsible production of textiles across the manufacturing supply chain. And, of course keep an eye out for materials that are fair-trade sewn. 

Whether you’re looking for a backcountry bag, one that’s more ideal for car camping, or one that works for both, here’s a roundup of the best sustainable sleeping bags across categories to take along on your next camping trip to a National Park.


Best Overall Sustainable Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Magma 30

Buy Men’s: REI.com
Buy Women’s: REI.com

Price: $329
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified; bluesign-approved materials
Weight: 1 lb. 6.5 oz (Women’s); 1lb. 3.8 oz (Men’s)
Fill: 850-fill-power goose down
Shell material: 15-denier ripstop nylon
Dimensions: 66″L x 60″W (Women’s); 72″L x 63″W (Men’s)

If your goal is to buy one eco-friendly sleeping bag as an investment purchase, look no further than REI-Co-op’s Magma. It has an impressive weight-to-warmth ratio—less than a pound and a half, with 850-fill-power goose down—plus a smart cut, with contouring at key points to maximize comfort and minimize heat loss. It also has multiple certifications for sustainability and ethically responsible manufacturing practices.

Other major highlights of the bag’s design are the crossbody front zipper, easy to open and close without twisting or shimmying from side to side, and the roomy trapezoidal footbox. and There’s also a contoured hood, which cinches tight with dual drawstrings to block the cold yet still has enough space for a small, low-profile pillow. Your neck and shoulders won’t be chilly either, thanks to an insulated yoke to buffer drafts.

“We just got back from a rainy/snowy spring trip in Bryce Canyon where temps dropped down to the low 20s and we were plenty warm with just our base layers on in the bags,” says one five-star reviewer. “At one point we zipped together (which was very easy and quick to do) and stayed just as warm. The hood cinches down well and the draft stop works perfectly. The perfect bag for most occasions!”

“Good sleeping bag for the price!” says another pleased customer. “This was my first sleeping bag for backpacking that I purchased. Overall I’m very pleased with it so far. I took the sleeping bag with me to Big Bend National Park for a camping trip.”

Runner Up: NEMO Disco 30

NEMO Disco 30 sleeping bag

Buy Men’s: NEMO Disco 30
Buy Women’s: NEMO Disco 30

Price: $259.95
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified
Weight: 2lbs. 5oz (W Regular); 1lb. 15 oz (M Regular)
Fill: 650-fill-power down
Shell material: 30-denier ripstop nylon
Dimensions: 66″L x 62″W (W Regular); 78″L x 66″W (M Long)

Innovative, purpose-drive design and attractive features are what set NEMO’s gear apart from the pack. The brand’s sleeping bags have a luxurious look and feel, yet are as durable and rugged as they come. The ultra-plush, ever-popular Nemo Disco bag offers considerable comfort and warmth, with a rooomy cut overall, but contours in key places for maximizing thermal efficiency.

It’s made with RDS-certified, 650-fill-power down that’s PFC-free (that’s per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, in tech speak), with a fold-down collar that tucks in and draft protection along the full length of the zipper. The footbox is crafted from material that’s breathable, yet waterproof, and there’s an integrated pillow pocket inside the hood.

But the raddest extra on this bag—and a real fan-favorite—can be found front and center: Two vertical slits, appropriately referred to as “gills” used for venting to let warm air out but block cold air from coming in. Rounding out the list of nice-to-haves is an inner slip pocket for a cell phone or other quick-grab items and a full-length, double-slider zipper.

“Purchasing this bag was a game changer,” says a happy reviewer. “I have since used the bag on camping trips in Joshua Tree & Big Bear where the nighttime temps were in the 40’s. I was totally comfortable … I definitely recommend the sleeping bag…”

Another customer pens an equally enthusiastic review: “I just tested the Disco 30 on a Yosemite trip and I will never go back to a traditional mummy bag again! Best sleep ever on a backpacking trip, and I was able to switch positions without twisting the bag into a knot.”


Best Value

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 30 sleeping bag

Buy Men’s: Mountain Hardware Bishop Pass 30
Buy Women’s: Mountain Hardware Bishop Pass 30

Price: $200—$210
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified
Weight: 1lb. 15 oz (W Regular); 1lb. 13 oz (M Regular)
Dimensions: 68″L x 60″W (W Regular); 72″L x 62″W (M Regular)
Fill: 650-fill-power-down
Shell material: 20-denier ripstop nylon

Mountain Hardware is by no means a budget brand, but for quality and features, their Bishop Pass 30 sleeping bag is a relative steal at around $200.

Overall, the bag offers reliability and solid performance, plus comfort and some nice extras for the price. It rivals other, more expensive options in its category across the board, and it’s an excellent choice for those who’ve previously had a synthetic bag and are looking for an upgrade.

The 650-fill-power-down is RDS-certified and fluorine-free, and the bag has a draft tube that runs the length of the zipper to prevent heat loss. A roomy footbox at the bottom conforms to the shape of your feet and has a two-way zipper to add ventilation without having to open up the rest of the bag. Bonus for the glow-in-the-dark zipper pull for those late-night trips to the loo.

“I think this bag is a steal at the list price and highly recommend it,” says a five-star reviewer. “I own four other bags and this is my new favorite for solo 3 season use.”


Best Kids Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Kindercone 25 Sleeping Bag (Kids)

REI Co-op Kindercone Sleeping Bag Kids

Buy Now: REI.com

Price: $69.95
Sustainable attributes: contains bluesign materials
Weight: 3lbs. 4 oz.
Dimensions: 66 x 50 inches
Fill: Synthetic
Shell material: Ripstop nylon

REI’s Kindercone bag offers solid value, with an adjustable length for growing kiddos to extend years of use and a temperature rating of 25 degrees fahrenheit. It has a synthetic polyester fill that’s extra plush, a cozy-looking polyester plaid liner, and the shell’s durable, water-resistant ripstop nylon is bluesign-approved.

Other highlights among features include an adjustable hood with an added elastic band around the edge to keep out the cold, a two-way coil zipper designed to prevent snagging, and an attached stuff sack at the bottom.


Best Synthetic Option (Especially for Campers with Allergies)

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30

Marmot Trestles Elite Eco Sleeping Bag

Buy Men’s: Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30
Buy Women’s: Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 30

Price: $148
Sustainable attributes: Made with recycled materials
Weight: 2lbs, 5 oz (Women’s Regular); 1lb. 14 oz (Men’s Regular)
Dimensions: 66″L x 58″W; (Women’s Regular); 72″L x 62″W (Men’s Regular)
Fill: Synthetic
Shell material: 20-denier ripstop polyester

Down sleeping bags don’t suit all campers. People who are allergic to duck and geese feathers will likely go for synthetic fill. Sneezing aside, down bags are typically lighter and tend to be pricer, and may not make sense for those who camp infrequently, are on a budget, or only go car camping, where a weightier bag is less of an issue. The good news? Unless you’re camping in the extreme cold, a synthetic bag can be just as warm as down.

Enter Marmot’s Trestles Elite Eco. Its fill is a blend of three fibers to maximize three sleeping bag essentials: loft, warmth, and comfort. (That is, without adding weight or sacrificing compression capability.) Among top features is a short zipper on the opposite side of the main zipper so arms can extend out, along with an oversized hood and roomy footbox.

“Plenty of room in the shoulders, very light and packs down excellent,” says one customer who gave the bag a five-star review. “Got down to 35 degrees and I was plenty warm with only sweats, a tee and socks. I’d definitely buy the bag again at this price point.”


Best Lightweight Bag for Easy Backpacking

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 32

Therm-a-Rest-Hyperion Sleeping Bag

But Now: Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 32

Price: $359.95 (Regular)
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified
Weight:
1lb
Dimensions: 72″L x 57″W
Fill: 900-fill-power goose down
Shell material: 10-denier ripstop nylon

Weighing a mere pound, the ultralight Hyperion 32 is ideal for backcountry adventurers or frontcountry campers who are already hauling a ton of gear in their backpacks and don’t want to be further bogged down. It comes from Therm-a-Rest, a Seattle-based company that turns out high-quality, U.S.-made products including sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and cots.

The bag’s 900-fill-power goose down is strategically placed within the baffle construction to cover areas of the body that typically get colder, zoned for where it’s needed most—70 percent on the top and sides and 30 percent on bottom. It’s this efficient use of materials that make it exceptionally lightweight.

As for keeping moisture out, the down is coated with Nikwax (yes, the same bottled weatherproofing stuff used on winter boots and outerwear) and the bag’s 10-denier ripstop nylon shell is also treated with water repellent. Underneath, there are straps designated to be attached to a coordinating ground mattress (sold separately) to add extra comfort and warmth.

“Hands down the lightest, most packable bag I’ve ever used without sacrificing warmth or comfort,” says a five-star reviewer. “It basically packs down to a size that resembles a Nalgene.”


Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Down Time 0

REI Co-op Down Time 0 Sleeping Bag

Buy Now: REI.com

Price: $259 (Regular)
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified; bluesign-approved materials; fair trade
Weight: 3lbs. 14 oz.
Dimensions: 72″L x 62″W
Fill: 650-fill-power duck down
Shell material: 30-denier ripstop nylon

If winter camping is your jam and you enjoy walking up to snow on the ground—but aren’t hardcore enough to brave negative double-digit temps—a bag rated to zero degrees Fahrenheit is the way to go. (Most diehard cold-weather campers will have a second or even third sleeping bag to cover the other seasons.)

In addition to delivering serious warmth and comfort in cold-weather conditions, the REI Co-op Down Time gets high marks for sustainability. The 650-fill-power duck down is RDS certified, the bag contains materials that carry bluesign certification, and it’s fair-trade sewn.

Other major highlights include an oversized face muffler for cuddling down as temps drop, an insulated yoke to cover the neck and shoulders, and a contoured hood to protect your head from the elements and ward against heat loss. A full-length draft tube ensures the cold won’t seep in through the zipper.

“I used this on my trip throughout the Utah national parks during the winter,” says a customer who gave the bag five stars. “It was great for car camping, hammocking, and tent camping (will soon use it for backpacking)…”

Another customer was particularly pleased with the bag’s spacious construction: “I just did an overnight winter backpacking trip in Yosemite …I found that I had plenty of room to role [sic] from side to side throughout the night. I also found the face opening to be shaped just right.”


Best Extra-Wide Option (Great for Slide Sleepers)

Big Agnes Echo Park 20

Big Agnes Echo Park 20 Sleeping Bag

Buy Now: Big Agnes Echo Park 20

Price: $199.95
Sustainable attributes: Contains recycled materials
Weight: 4lbs. 12oz
Dimensions: 78″L x 80″W
Fill: Synthetic
Shell material: Ripstop nylon

For campers who have a bit of claustrophobia when it comes to mummy or semi-regular sleeping bags, but still want a relatively snug fit for warmth that’s hard to get from a fully rectangular bag, this bag is the perfect compromise. It’s made by Big Agnes, a small company based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, that tests much of their gear outside in the mountains surrounding their headquarters.

The Echo Park 20 is essentially a one-person sleeping bag that’s as close as you can get to having the comfort of a single bed in the great outdoors. Even the liner is as cozy as bedsheets you might have at home, made with a poly/cotton blend. Also, the fill is made with 50 percent post-consumer recycled materials.

In addition to its extra-wide width, other notable highlights include a generously cut hood that won’t strain behind the neck if you prop up your head, and has a low-profile cord-lock that can be unclasped with one hand. At the very top of the bag are two corner pockets for slipping hands inside to wrap the entire bag around you like a quilt. Rounding out the list of nice-to-have features is a dedicated pillow slip and a flex pad sleeve underneath to accommodate a sleeping pad (sold separately).

“Absolutely hands down the best sleeping bag I have purchased,” says a recent five-star reviewer.


Best Extra-Tall Option

Patagonia 850 Down

Patagonia 850 Down Sleeping Bag

Buy Now: Patagonia.com

Price: $251.40 (on sale)
Sustainable attributes: Traceable Down Standard (TDS) certified; fair trade sewn
Weight: 1lb. 13 oz
Dimensions: 86″L x 60W” (Long)
Fill: 850-power-filled down
Shell material: 15-denier nylon

Patagonia didn’t start making sleeping bags until 2018, but considering that the brand has turned out high-quality down apparel and other gear for more than 40 years, they know a thing or two about keeping outdoor enthusiasts warm in the elements.

Their TDS certified, 850-power-filled down Patagonia 850 bag is designed for people who tend to go for essential-gear-only camping, but it works just as well as a lightweight and ultra-cozy bag in the frontcountry—particularly for those who are well above six feet tall.

This bag’s shell is constructed with the lightest nylon used in any of the brand’s down products. The tightly woven textile increases the bag’s loft, and makes it even more water-resistant, and durable. Plus, it’s fair-trade sewn.

Inside, there’s a super-soft liner, made from the same material as Patagonia’s popular Houdini jacket, which is also quick-drying. The half-length front zipper is another highlight among design features.

“Super light super warm” I am a big guy (6’4″) and bought the Long. It fits perfect, is super warm and I love the custom footbox. The weight is impressive as well, especially if you are looking to go lighter. I also felt like I had enough room in width as well.”


Best Petite Sleeping Bag for Women

Big Agnes Torchlight 20

Big Agnes Torchlight 20 Sleeping Bag

Buy Women’s: Big Agnes Torchlight 20

Price: $299.95
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified; contains bluesign materials
Weight: 2lbs. 13 oz
Dimensions: 65″L x 55-66″W
Fill: 600-fill-down
Shell material: ripstop nylon

Another popular bag from Big Agnes is the relatively new Torchlight 20. It comes in multiple sizes, but its petite length is particularly fantastic for women 5 foot, 4 inches and under.

Its contoured shape maximizes insulation in all the right places and its innovative side panels, when closed, make the bag a mere 55 inches wide. Each side expands up to 10 inches—customizable along the entire length of the bag from shoulder to ankle—to hug curves and accommodate space for extra layers in colder conditions. Even the hood snugly contours to keep drafts out.

The 600-fill-down insulation is RDS certified and PFC-free, plus the bag is made with bluesign approved materials.

“This bag is a game-changer,” says a five-star reviewer “There’s no doubt that Big Agnes makes some of the best camping gear on the planet (both in terms of comfort and performance) and this new line of Torchlite bags sums up everything we love about Big Agnes into one sleeping bag.”


Best Double Sleeping Bag

NEMO Tango Duo Slim 30

NEMO Tango Duo Slim 30 Sleeping Bag

Buy Now: NEMO Tango Duo Slim 30

Price: $399.95
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified
Weight: 2lbs. 10 oz.
Dimensions: 72″L x 70″W
Fill: 650-fill-power down
Shell material: 20-denier ripstop nylon

There are plenty of sleeping bags designed with opposite-side zippers, meant to be zipped with another single bag to create a double. But, for those who know they’ll end up zipping together no matter what, the best bet is to invest in a double-wide bag, like the NEMO Tango Duo Slim 30.

It’s made with RDS certified, 650-fill-power down that’s water-repellent and PFC-free. Snuggling up with a partner always creates more body heat, but the bag’s slim cut and trapezoidal contouring adds extra warmth for the chilliest nights. It’s versatile, too, doubling as a backcountry quilt.

“This is a great sleeping system for 2 for almost exactly the same weight as two individual ultralight bags,” says a pleased customer who gave it five stars. “It is quite narrow, but did an excellent job of holding two sleeping pads together through the night. It was almost like having a full bed at camp… If you are looking for a comfy night of snuggling, this is a great option.”


Best for Shoulder-Season Camping (and It’s Stylish, Too)

Cotopaxi Sueño

Cotopaxi Sueño Sleeping Bag

Buy Now: Sueno Sleeping Bag

Price: $350
Sustainable attributes: RDS certified
Weight: 2lbs. 13 oz
Dimensions: 82″L x 62″W
Fill: 800-fill duck down
Shell material: 20-denier nylon

This attractively designed bag is a great choice for those who love shoulder-season camping. It’s made by Cotopaxi, a small, mission-driven company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, which takes its name from one of Ecuador’s most popular national parks, located just outside the capital city of Quito.

Rated to 15-degrees Fahrenheit, the Cotopaxi Sueño bag has 800-fill RDS-certified duck down and a 20-denier shell that’s durable and treated with a water-resistant finish. The extra-roomy hood is another highlight, and there’s a two-way zipper on the right and half-length zipper on the left, which gives you the option of folding down the bag from the top or completely unzipping it to use as a blanket. Other perks include an insulated media pocket and an integrated pillow pocket, plus it comes in a choice of three bright color combos.

“I must say hands down this is my favorite sleeping bag,” says one enthusiastic customer who gave it five stars. “We visit national parks every other week, so this thing gets used all the time, and has for 2 years. It’s kept me very comfortable in 10 degree temps, and just as comfortable in 60-70 degree temps. It’s super light and compact and fits just fine for our backcountry trips too.”