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One of the best parts of heading out on a summer backpacking trip or snagging a rare July night at your favorite campground is how comfortable sleeping outside can be during the warmer months. Even in the Northeast. Hot days capped with cool evening and early morning temps makes for perfect sleeping weather—so long as you’re not trying to catch some Zs in your usual cold weather sleeping bag. For summer camping, you need a seperate sleeping bag specifically rated for warm weather.
To help point you in the right direction, we’ve put together the following guide of tried and true, test and approved summer sleeping bags (no cut rate Amazon specials here). Read on for some helpful info, or just scroll past the nitty gritty to get to our top 8 picks for the best summer weight sleeping bags.
Why do you need a summer sleeping bag?
Having a lightweight sleeping bag that’s less insulated is key to sleeping well without overheating. Not only will using a bag that’s too warm make it difficult to sleep, you’ll also generate a lot more perspiration—and if the temperature does drop just before dawn, that perspiration will make you unusually cold. Plus, a damp sleeping bag will need to be naturally dried before being packed away in a compression sack. Now, some winter weight bags can work for summer camping, especially if you expect low nightime temps and your bag can be fully unzipped and used as a blanket—though a proper outdoor blanket will do the job even better.
What temperature rating do I want?
It depends on the climate where you live, but you don’t want anything rated any colder than 30 degrees. Often 40 or so is a good benchmark. Remember that sleeping bag ratings are based on the minimum temperature the insulation can keep you warm—but not necessarily comfortable. In fact, many sleeping bags have multiple ratings: a base rating (the primary rating), a comfort rating, and a warm rating. So a sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees may actually be more comfortable in 38 or 40-degree weather unless you’re wearing long underwear underneath.
Also remember that sleeping bag temperature ratings are generally based on men’s temperatures, and men tend to run cooler. So women buying a men’s bag may want to add five to 10 degrees to the degree rating to accurately gauge how warm they’ll be.
Anything else to look for in a summer bag?
A good perk reduced insulation (be it goose down or equivalent synthetic insulation) of summer bags is that they’re lighter and smaller, which means they usually take up less space in your bag, but are still plenty roomy inside. This even goes for cheaper bags. Nearly all the sleeping bags on the list weigh in at below two pounds and pack up much smaller than typical three-season bags, which should help you dip your toes into ultralight backpacking (or at least save some space in the trunk of your car).
The 8 Best Summer Sleeping Bags
Best for Super-Hot Weather: Marmot Always Summer 45
What we like: Large front panel folds down, footbox fully unzips, under two pounds
Choosing the right sleeping bag for extremely warm weather can be tricky. Sure, you can probably skip the sleeping bag all together if the nighttime low is going to be 80 degrees. But if you’re looking at a forecast closer to 60 or 70 degrees, it can be hard to know what to bring, since most people do tend to get chillier when you’re not moving (i.e. sleeping). Rated to 45 degrees with a vague mummy sleeping bag shape, it featurings a massive footbox zipper and top half that can be folded down, this clever, versatile design will keep you cozy, or cool, in a range of environments.
Insulation: Certified 650 fill power down
Weight: 31 ounces
Packed size: 7.5 x 16.1 inches
Best Lightweight Option: Eddie Bauer Flying Squirrel 40
What we like: Extremely lightweight, built-in stuff sack, internal “handles” for cocooning
A true ultralight backpacking sleeping bag will actually be a quilt. But if you’re looking for something similar light but traditionally shaped, try the Eddie Bauer Flying Squirrel 40. It’s one of the lightest bags on the market thanks to the total lack of zippers or snaps. The large flaps overlap and wrap cocoon-style—pure versatility. The lack of hardware brings this bag down to just one pound and a half, and it folds down into its own footbox so you don’t need an extra stuff sack. (The new UL Patagonia kit gets an honorable mention in this category, too.)
Insulation: 850 fill Responsible Down Standard (RDS) down insulation
Weight: 23 ounces
Packed size: 9 x 11 x 4 inches
Most Packable: Sea to Summit Traveler Sleeping Bag & Blanket
What we like: Doubles as an outdoor quilt, very light, saves weight by cutting hood
When selecting the best backpacking gear, size and packability is key. The Sea to Summit Traveler Sleeping Bag and Blanket packs down impressively small—so you might have room for that fancy titnaium french press afterall. Designed without a hood, it’s more of a quilt than a sleeping bag, though the drawcord does work similarly if you need to synch it up around the neck. But it’s a great alternative to a summer sleeping bag if you only need a very light layer that’ll easily fit in even the smallest backpacks.
Insulation: 750+ RDS down
Weight: 15 ounces
Packed size: Roughly 8 x 5 x 5 inches
Best for Occasional Campers: Montbell Burrow Bag #5
What we like: Great price, fairly warm, stretchy fabrics
The Burrow Bag is an excellent synthetic sleeping bag for occasional campers or new backpackers who don’t want to drop too much money on gear. For under $150, buyers of the Burrow Bag get a summer-rated bag with some smart features like an adjustable hood and seamless baffles, which reduces cold spots. It’s actually one of the warmer summer sleeping bags on this list, and could serve as an all-season bag if you tend to camp in generally milder climates.
The trade-off to getting those features while keeping the price low is the stuffed size, which is one of the largest on this list.
Insulation: EXCELOFT synthetic insulation
Weight: 28 ounces
Packed size: 6.3 x 12.6 in (this is the reported size, though I have a feeling it’s hard to get it this small)
Best Two-Person Summer Sleeping Bag: Therm A Rest Double Vela Quilt
What we like: Good warmth rating, fits two people, footbox to stay in place
If you like to snuggle with your partner—or perhaps share your sleeping bag with a four-legged friend—you may prefer a double sleeping bag. The semi-rectangular Therm-A-Rest Double Vela Quilt is full-length and sized for two but still measures it in a reasonable sub-three pounds. That’s mostly because of the high loft down insulation that allows it to compress easily while still providing enough warmth for fairly chilly evenings—especially if you have the body heat of two people keeping it toasty.
Though primarily a quilt, there is a foot box to help keep it from fully falling off at night. Best if paired with a summer rated sleeping pad. A version of this quilt has been our go-to for years now, so trust us on this one—Seattle-based Therm-a-Rest is OG and their experience shows.
Insulation: 650 fill power water-resistant hydrophobic down
Weight: 48 ounces
Packed size: 16 x 9 x 9 inches
Most Versatile Summer Sleeping Bag: Big Agnes Roxy Ann 3-in-1 Bag
What we like: Modular design offers various options for multiple temperatures, recycled materials, can attach to sleeping pad, good for side sleepers
If you’re backpacking in different conditions throughout the year, where most every night is different, try the Big Agnes Roxy Ann 3-in-1 bag. The unique, modular design integrates a mummy bag for standalone use on cooler temps and a lighter, larger sack to go around it for warm nights. On their own, they are rated to 45 and 55 degrees fahrenheit, respectively. Layer ‘em up, and together they’re rated to 30 degrees—perfect for shoulder season camping trips. The third portion of the bag design integrates with sleeping pads to ensure you don’t slip off during the night. If you like the idea, there’s also a version rated to 15 degrees that would work better for three-season camping.
Insulation: 650 fill power water-resistant DownTek
Weight: 40 ounces
Packed size: 8 x 17.5 inches
Best Wildcard: Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt
What we like: Multiple sleep options, works as a quilt or sleeping bag, optional hood/eyehole combos
The Sierra Nitro Quilt really earns its wildcard designation for summer nights in the backcountry (or campground), but it may be the perfect thing for campers who like to switch up their sleeping styles. The bag/quilt blend has a footbox to keep your dogs warm—but it’s up to you how you use it. You can use the hand pockets to wrap the side flaps around your chest like a cocoon, leave the front open and use it like a quilt, or (weirdly) wrap the flaps around your back and use the inside out hood-type thing, breathing out of the well-placed nose flap. Odd, but maybe just right?
It’s best to watch the Sierra Designs produced video to get a better sense of how it works, but it’s a clever option for non-traditional sleepers. Choose the 35-degree option if you’re using it mostly for summer camping.
Insulation: 800 fill power PFC-free DriDown
Weight: 24 ounces
Packed size: 13 x 7 x 7 inches
Best Liner/Bag Hybrid: Patagonia Synthetic Liner Bag
What we like: Very lightweight, doubles as a liner, packs very small, recycled fabrics
On nights when it’s really hot, a full summer sleeping bag may even be too much. If you camp in desert climates or extremely warm weather (or tend to run very hot), consider the breathable, Synthetic Liner Bag from Patagonia. It’s not quite a standalone sleeping bag, but it’s a lot thicker than a sleeping bag liner (which are often used inside a sleeping bag to add warmth). With 40g of synthetic insulation, this Patagonia option is a very light fill, and feels akin to sleeping under a high-quality sheet. It may be too little for campers in the mountains, but for hardcore ultralight backpackers, thru-hikers, and those simply looking for a light bag for summer it might just do the trick. And, as bonus, it doubles as a comfy liner during those late-fall stargazing sessions.
Rating: Not rated
Weight: 12 ounces
Packed size: 6 x 10 inches