A 3 season sleeping bag for camping is usually referred to as a suitable sleeping bag for Spring, Summer and Fall. They are designed to withstand the wind and rain, while keeping the base weight of a backpack down. This is why 3 season sleeping bags are most often made of lighter fabric.
But how might you choose between all the 3 season sleeping bags for camping?
It depends on how you intend on using it.
Are you backpacking or staying at a campsite? Are you wanting something especially small and light? What kind of budget do you have? These are just a few things you need to have in mind.
In this post, I will try to help you pick the best 3 season sleeping bag for camping.
Quick Answer: The Best 3 Season Sleeping Bags for Camping
About the Temperature Ratings on Sleeping Bags
To compare the warmth of 3 season sleeping bags for camping, check the temperature rating. Many brands use a standard rating which is illustrated with a comfort, limit and extreme temperature rating.
Comfort rating – The temperature a “standard female” can sleep in a comfortable manner.
Limit Rating – The temperature a “standard male” can sleep without waking up to the cold.
Extreme Rating – The temperature a “standard female” can last six hours without hypothermia.
Example: Comfort Rating: -1ºC Limit Rating: -4.6ºC Extreme rating: -21.9ºC
It’s a bit of a weird system if you ask me but people come in different shapes and sizes so there needs to be some kind of way to help measure the performance/temperature.
The most important rating from the three above is the limit rating. Most sleeping bags in Europe have a limit rating of -5ºC and this is always displayed on a 3 season sleeping bag for camping.
Next thing we need to do is consider the type of material.
Down Sleeping Bag or Synthetic Sleeping Bags
Weight is another critical factor.
Sleeping bags are filled with either duck down feathers or synthetic material.
Down insulation is lighter and warmer and most often packs down smaller too. However, it loses insulating abilities when it gets wet which is something to avoid.
Synthetic sleeping bags are bigger and heavier but then also more affordable. They will also retain insulating properties when wet and get the job done in general.
The main difference between these two?
Aside from the price, down sleeping bags are often preferred by those who want to cut down on the weight or size of the camping gear they carry. It means paying more for lighter, smaller gear but down and synthetic sleeping bags can be high quality.
I won’t go into much more detail but there are still a couple of things to explain.
The quality of a down sleeping bag is measured by “fill power”. The higher this number, the higher quality the bag. This means a sleeping bag with a 300 fill power will need more duck down fill to offer the same warmth as a 600 fill power bag. I know this might sound a little confusing so the only thing to remember is this:
A higher fill power number will mean the bag is lighter, smaller and more pricey.
Down sleeping bags come in different shapes too. Some have a hood and others feature a foot box that offers more warmth. I always recommend looking for a sleeping bag with a full length zipper because this stops the duck down insulation from clumping together and leaving cold spots in parts of the sleeping bag.
I hope this explains the ratings and types of bag to keep in mind.
Now, let’s get on with the best 3 season sleeping bags for camping.
The Best 3 Season Sleeping Bags for Camping
1. Marmot Hydrogen 30
Fill Power: 800 Goose Down
The Marmot Hydrogen 30 has a high fill power and an inner lining which is both soft and breathable. Marmot also use a durable water-repellent treatment to make sure any moisture doesn’t get into the down. Further, they use another hydrophobic treatment called the Down Defender which helps 3 season sleeping bags perform better in damp conditions. Extra ventilation comes from a short zip on one side, while the hood design has a toggle that can draw the bag around one’s face. It’s one of the best 3 season sleeping bags for camping on the market and very light for something this impressive.
2. Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass
Fill Power: 650 Goose Down
This 3 season sleeping bag for camping by Mountain Hardwear is also treated with DWR (Durable water repellent) and has a big draft tube which reduces heat loss. With 650 fill power, this is also a warm sleeping bag that should be suitable for most of the Spring and Summer months at the very least. It’s advertised to keep the user warm even below freezing but this is not a winter sleeping bag as such. There is a warm hood and this 3 season sleeping bag is ergonomic which means it forms around the shape of the body. This helps to keep warm air inside the bag. It’s definitely a bit heavier in terms of weight but it’s also a more affordable and a high quality 3 season sleeping bag.
3. Thermarest Questar 32 Long Sleeping Bag
Fill Power: 650 Goose Down
The Questar three season sleeping bag for camping is the lightest model in the Thermarest range. The hydrophobic down is said to dry “three times faster” than a standard sleeping bag, while absorbing 90% less water. The shape and fit of the bag allows for multiple sleeping conditions without affecting the temperature efficiency. There is also an ergonomic foot box that helps keep the feet warm and mesh walls that minimize cold spots while maximizing loft at the same time. It’s suitable for both campsites and camping and packs down reasonably small as far as three season sleeping bags go.
4. Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
Fill power: 550 Goose Down
The Kelty Cosmic is a 550 fill power sleeping bag with a nice chunky hood and draft collar. It offers a decent amount of warmth and comfort that you should expect with a 3 season sleeping bag. Much of the fabric is sourced responsibly and Kelty treats these bags with the durable water repellent treatment. There is a two way zipper which is anti snag and a natural sized footbox to keep things cozy. It’s a light and very compressible sleeping bag and the trapezoidal baffle construction helps it retain heat. Overall, a warm, light and decent option among the 3 season sleeping bags!
5. Robens Unisex’s Icefall Sleeping Bag Pro 600
Weight 1.45 kg
Fill Power: Synthetic Fill
You might notice this is somewhat heavier than the other 3 season sleeping bags above. However, it offers enough insulation for the summer months and manages to compress down to a small size. The thermal collar ensures a comfortable fit up top and insulated layers make sure there are no cold spots no matter which position you sleep. The Icefall sleeping bag is good value for money and although a synthetic fill, it somehow mimics the properties that you find in a down feather sleeping bag.
6. Sea to Summit Spark SPII -2 Degrees Down Sleeping
Fill power: 850 Goose Down
Sea to Summit Spark sleeping bags are known to be ultralight and this is certainly true about this one. The Spark series is designed to withstand the weather, while keeping the bag durable and comfortable but not at the expense of weight. They were able to do this by using very high quality material and the 850 fill power rating means it performs well in colder weather. There is a mummy shaped contour and an ultralight zip system and all of this compresses down to an incredibly small size. This is a super small and lightweight sleeping bag for camping if I ever saw one!
7. Mountain Hardwear Lamina 30F/-1C Regular
“Lamina” refers to a type of construction that Mountain Hardwear use to increase the loft of the insulation and eliminate potential cold spots. They use a synthetic Thermal-Q synthetic insulation and it has a low weight profile in spite of providing a decent amount of warmth. It’s not the largest 3 season sleeping bag so taller individuals may want something slightly bigger . It also doesn’t stuff down quite as well as some of the other 3 season sleeping bags on this list which might bug those who want to reduce their pack size. But overall, the Lamina is warm, comfortable and a nice option for the spring and summer months.
As always, this is just my opinion and you’ve always got to do what’s best for you!