Choosing the right sleeping bag might seem simple – but, thanks to all the options available, making the right choice can be difficult.
We’re here to help you find the perfect sleeping bag for car camping. Our top recommendations are based on comfort, warmth, packed size/weight, and durability.
Start with our favorite sleeping bags for 2021 – or jump down to our car camping sleep bag buying guide below.
Also looking for a new tent? Our best tents guide is the best place to start!
The Best Car Camping Sleeping Bags for 2021
There are so many great sleeping bags on the market today, so we narrowed down a list of about two dozen to just 7 of the absolute best.
1. REI Co-op Siesta 25 Sleeping Bag
The REI Co-op Siesta 25 is our favorite sleeping bag for car camping in 2021.
Last year, our top pick was the REI Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag, which is sadly no longer available, although the Siesta 25 is perhaps even better.
The two bags are quite similar and even cost about the same (just a hair over $100), but the REI Siesta 25 has a few additional features we really like.
Most noticeable is the insulated hood. It helps retain warmth on cold nights and is actually large enough to fit a standard pillow from home.
But what I really like about this REI sleeping bag is its roominess. It’s spacious enough for side sleepers and doesn’t get twisted and bunched up if you’re a restless sleeper like me.
Although the REI Siesta 25 is rated for 25° F, it’s best to take this temperature rating with a grain of salt. Like any sleeping bag, add about 10° to 15° F on top of that.
I’ve used this bag in temperatures down to about 40° F at night and was plenty warm, although I’d be hesitant to camp with it in anything colder.
2. Kelty Catena 30 Sleeping Bag
The Kelty Catena 30 is our number one pick for the best budget sleeping bag for car camping.
At just $50, it’s a solid choice for anyone that’s new to camping. It’s an awesome bag for camping in the summertime and should also work well in mild spring or fall weather.
We like this bag because of its roomy rectangular shape. This is perfect for campers that like to spread their legs out at night, rather than keep them tight together.
This Kelty sleeping bag is comfortable, made of high-quality materials that should be durable, and packs down quite small into the provided stuff sack.
The Kelty Catena 30 replaces our top budget choice from 2020, the Kelty Discovery 30 Sleeping Bag, which sadly no longer seems to be available in 2021.
3. The North Face Dolomite One Sleeping Bag
One of the most unique sleeping bags on the market, The North Face Dolomite One remains one of our favorites in 2021.
What makes this bag so unique? Most important is the two-layer design which allows the Dolomite One to act like three sleeping bags in one.
You can sleep with one of the two layers or the other to adjust the warmth to the temperature. Or, use both layers at once on those colder nights.
Combined, both layers have a temperature rating of 15° F. The heavier layer on its own has a temperature rating of 30° F while the lighter layer is rated for 50° F.
This unique design is perfect for car campers that want just one sleeping bag but camp in a wide range of different weather conditions.
Aside from the two-layer design, we like this bag because it’s very comfortable and has a wrap-around zipper so you can open it all the way up and lay it flat.
4. Exped MegaSleep 25/40 Sleeping Bag
The Exped MegaSleep 25/40 is another super comfortable sleeping bag with a multi-temperature design.
Instead of using multiple layers like The North Face Dolomite, this Exped each side of this sleeping bag actually has a different temperature rating.
Sleeping with the dark blue side up boasts a temperature rating of 25° F while using the light blue side up has a temperature rating of about 40° F.
This makes the Exped MegaSleep Sleeping Bag a great choice for car campers that value a lot of versatility.
Other highlights include the quick-drying microfiber insulation which not only dries quickly when wet, but also keeps the bag’s weight down. In fact, at just 1 lb 14 oz, the MegaSleep isn’t all that bad a choice for backpacking.
5. Coleman Brazos 30 Sleeping Bag
Another budget-friendly sleeping bag, the Coleman Brazos 30 is an excellent choice for those that are new to camping.
It’s an excellent beginner sleeping bag not only because it’s so cheap (under $50), but also because it’s extremely roomy and comfortable.
That said, this Coleman sleeping bag does have some drawbacks. Namely, it’s quite heavy at 5 pounds, although this is no problem for car camping.
The other downside is temperature rating. Coleman claim’s the Brazos 30 is rated for temperatures down to 30° F. However, we’ve found that it’s a much better summertime sleeping bag for temperatures roughly 50° F or above.
6. The North Face Eco Trail Bed 20 Sleeping Bag
Still haven’t found the right car camping sleeping bag for you?
Then The North Face Eco Trail Bed 20 is worth a look. It’s a solid option for those that don’t want to break the bank – but still prefer a bag that will last them for years to come, despite regular wear and tear.
This bag is honestly quite warm. While I wouldn’t use it in 20° F weather, it definitely holds up well down to around 32° F.
A huge highlight is the fact that the Eco Trail Bed is made from 100% recycled fabrics, making it great for environmentally-conscious campers.
7. Sea to Summit Traveller TrI 50 Sleeping Bag
The Sea to Summit Traveller TrI 50 is by far the lightest sleeping bag on our list for 2021.
Although the weight savings is nice, the downside is that bag isn’t very warm with a temperature rating of just 50° F.
Of course, this might be all you need if you’re looking for a car camping sleeping bag for summertime. This Sea to Summit bag is also a good choice for backpacking in summer.
We also love the fact that this sleeping bag is something of a mix between a mummy bag and a standard rectangular bag in terms of shape.
It doesn’t have a hood, but it does taper down towards the feet to help save on weight and make for a smaller packed size.
2021 Sleeping Bag Buying Guide
Here are the most important things to know when research the best car camping sleeping bag for you.
Camping vs Backpacking Sleeping Bags
Car camping sleeping bags are generally much heavier and bulkier than backpacking bags.
The trade-off is increased comfort. Most backpacking bags are quite restricting with minimal space to move around in.
Car camping sleeping bags, on the other hand, are generally rectangular shaped with plenty of room to move around in. You can even sleep on your side with ease!
Temperature rating is perhaps the most important factor to consider when buying a sleeping bag.
The manufacturer’s temperature rating is the lowest temperature at which the average user will be comfortable inside the bag.
However, we recommend adding at least 10° F if not 15° F to a bag’s temperature rating to ensure you stay warm enough.
For example, a 30 sleeping bag will probably chilly in 30° F but will be perfectly warm in 40° F weather. For 30° F weather, you probably want a 20 sleeping bag or even lower.
It’s better to select a bag that’s too warm rather than too cold. If you’re too warm in your bag, just unzip the side to increase ventilation.
Insulation type is the primary factor that dictates a sleeping bag’s temperature rating.
- Synthetic – Cheap, durable, and non-allergenic. These stay warm and dry out quickly, but they’re heavy and bulky.
- Goose-Down – Quite compressible and very durable, but lack insulating power when wet. Also expensive.
- Water-Resistant Down – Basically special goose down, but the feathers are specially treated for better water resistance.
All of these insulation types work well for car camping.
Sleeping Bag Shape
Here are the four main sleeping bag shapes:
- Rectangular – Comfortable and spacious, but least efficient for heating and warmth.
- Semi-Rectangular – Also known as barrel-shaped, these are still quite roomy but are tapered to shave off weight and improve their heating efficiency.
- Mummy – Most popular for backpacking, but still work well for car camping, especially if you go backpacking on occasion. They are lightweight and the most heat efficient but can feel restrictive because of their narrow design.
- Two-Person – Designed for two people at once. Best for couples that want to share the same sleeping bag.
We prefer rectangular sleeping bags for car camping since they are roomier, more spacious, and most people find them more comfortable.
Packed Size & Weight
Packed size and weight aren’t hugely important for a car camping sleeping bag.
That said, a lightweight sleeping bag is still beneficial for car campers, because you can use it for backpacking if you ever want to.
A semi-rectangular sleeping bag strikes a good balance between weight, comfort, and warmth.
Here are a few additional factors to consider when choosing a sleeping bag for camping:
- Length – Most adult sleeping bags are available in regular plus long sizes. Some brands also make short (or petite) models.
- Zipper Compatibility – Some sleeping bags can be zipped together to create a two-person bag. Look for bags with zipper compatibility if you want to do this.
- Hood – You lose a lot of heat through your head. A sleeping bag with a hood is ideal for cold weather camping.
- Stash Pocket – These small interior pockets help keep important items (phone, watch, wallet, etc) close at hand.
- Sleeping Pad Sleeve – Certain camping sleeping bags are designed without insulation on the underside. Instead, you slip an insulated sleeping pad through a bottom sleeve to ensure you don’t roll off the sleeping pad at night.
- Pillow Pocket – A pillow pocket allows you to ditch an actual pillow. Instead, just stuff extra clothes into your sleeping bag’s pillow pocket to create a comfortable makeshift pillow.
Best Sleeping Bag Accessories in 2021
Here are some common sleeping bag accessories to make your next car camping trip even better:
- Stuff Sack – A small, compression sack with drawstrings to store your sleeping bag inside.
- Storage Sack – A loose, roomy sack (usually made from mesh) to store your sleeping bag inside at home.
- Sleeping Bag Liner – A soft cloth to slip inside your sleeping bag to increase comfort, make cleaning your bag easier, and add up to 15° F of warmth.
A sleeping pad is another accessory to consider adding to your camping gear list. A camping cot is a good alternative.
How to Care for Your New Sleeping Bag
Because buying a new sleeping bag is a big investment, here are a few care and maintenance tips to keep it in good shape for years to come:
- Keep Clean – A clean sleeping bag lasts longer. Always wear clean clothes in your bag if possible. A sleeping bag liner also helps keep the dirty at bay.
- Air Out – Air your sleeping bag out each morning. Just a few minutes will do. Remember not to leave it out in the sun for too long!
- Spot Cleaning – Spot clean your sleeping bag after each trip. A toothbrush and a mixture of laundry detergent and water works well.
- Limit Washing – Spot cleaning should keep your sleeping bag mostly clean. If you need to deep clean, use our sleeping bag cleaning tips or hire a professional cleaner.
- Hand Wash in Tub – Don’t want to dish out for a professional cleaning job? Then hand wash your sleeping bag in the bathtub instead. Use warm water mixed with special laundry detergent for down-filled items. Work gently with your hands, let soak, and rinse with cold water. Hang dry until completely dry.
- Proper Storage – Air out your sleeping bag after every trip. Then store loosely – not stuffed into a stuff sack. Either hang your bag or store in a special sleeping bag storage sack.
- Repair Promptly – Small tears and broken zippers are the most common damages. Use nylon repair tape in the field. Send your bag to a professional for more serious repairs.
What Car Camping Sleeping Bag Are You Using in 2021?
In our opinion, the REI Siesta 25 is the best sleeping bag for car camping in 2021.
We love it because it’s comfortable, spacious, and has a roomy hood that fits a full-sized pillow. Its 25° F temperature rating is perfect for spring and fall as well as mild winters. Sleep in it unzipped for summertime comfort.
But, now we want to hear from you.
What sleeping bag are you using for car camping in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!