Summer sleeping bags: 10 best lightweight and comfortable
Summer sleeping bags: features to consider
With this article, I'd like to list all the main features to consider before purchasing one of the many summer sleeping bags on the market, in order to choose the right one for your next adventure. As you noticed, I'm talking about summer sleeping bags, because the purchase of this accessory depends on the very first distinction you want to make: when and where are you going to camp?
Unfortunately, the perfect product for all the seasons and occasions doesn't exist, so depending on the answer you'll give to this preliminary question, you'll be able to choose between a lightweight sleeping bag or a winter one. We leave for the future an article about this second kind, focusing instead on the warmer season, taking into consideration some products specific for summer but which could save you even during spring or autumn climates.
If you're planning a summer trip, or towards a warm destination, I suggest choosing a lightweight and compact sleeping bag, in order to occupy less space in your bicycle touring panniers, or in your hiking backpack, and travel light. Alternatively, if you're going to travel in spring or autumn and you don't want to buy a specific winter sleeping bag, you can consider buying a medium product, protecting you from spring's and autumn's "temperate" cold, but still could allow you to survive the summer's warm.
Anyway, to perform the best choice in terms of summer sleeping bag, you'll have to consider these (fundamental, in my opinion) features:
- temperature range;
It's not a difficult concept to understand, even if sometimes it's totally underestimated: a sleeping bag does not create warmth. Our body does! The purpose of a sleeping bag is to keep it or disperse it, depending on the season. Considering summer sleeping bags, the second option is what we're looking for. The narrower a sleeping bag is, higher will be its ability to keep the body warmth, because lesser is its dispersing surface.
It's pretty easy to understand that for a winter sleeping bag you are aiming for ergonomy, while for a summer sleeping bag you're looking for transpirability. Following this rule, we can understand that the shape of a sleeping bag is very important. On the market, you can find two main shapes: mummy sleeping bags and quilt (rectangular) sleeping bags. You can easily understand that the mummy family is more suitable for winter (having a better insulating power) and the quilt one is suitable for summer.
One of the easiest parameters to consider, but also one of the most delicate! If you're buying one of the best summer sleeping bags, you'll notice a tag with some temperature ratings on it. The European regulation ISO 23537-1:2016 allows identifying comfort and extreme temperatures of a sleeping bag. In particular, these temperatures are:
- Upper Limit Temperature: it's the maximum temperature a male can sleep at without sweating, with hood and zippers open and his arms outside of the bag.
- Comfort Temperature: this is when a female can comfortably sleep in a relaxed position.
- Lower Limit Temperature: - the temperature a male can sleep uninterrupted for 8 hours in a curled position.
- Extreme Temperature: this is the minimum temperature for a female for 6 hours without the risk of death from hypothermia - albeit a touch of frostbite is still a possibility.
As it's easy to understand, these values represent esteem, and obviously vary from person to person. In general, I suggest considering the Comfort Temperature as ideal. Unfortunately, you'll have to be very careful, because sometimes summer sleeping bags companies may display only one value, the Lower Limit Temperature, so you'll have to add 5-6 degrees in order to understand which is the perfect temperature.
In the table down below listing all the best summer sleeping bags you'll find the Comfort Temperature as shown by the product tag, so take into consideration this aspect before purchasing, in order to verify whether this data is the Lower Limit or the actual Comfort Temperature.
This is one of the most important parameters to take into account, together with the size, when choosing your summer sleeping bag, especially when you'll use it to travel by bike or to mountain or trail hike. The weight of a summer sleeping bag is influenced by its material. In synthesis, there are two insulating materials for sleeping bags: down or synthetic insulation.
Down is more expensive but has a great advantage: it offers a better warmth/weight ratio, other than a higher compression ability. Its main disadvantage is that it loses loft and insulation ability when it gets wet. Finally, if you're aiming to ultralight summer sleeping bags, down sleeping bags can perform better, but nowadays the synthetic materials reached high-level standards (think about synthetic fibres allowing compression and insulation similar to down).
Let's come back to the weight, the psychological limit which I took into my consideration while choosing the best summer sleeping bags is 1 kg. There are some sleeping bags valid also above this threshold... but I had to make a choice, don't you think?!?
Together with weight and price is, in my opinion, the most important parameter to take into account when choosing the infinite list of summer sleeping bags. As I already told, down has a better compression ability compared to synthetic, but the price goes up too, so you'll find products from each category, looking for a kind of balance between the two categories. Once again, each one of us can make his/her own choice, based on the budget and the space dedicated to your "bed" in your luggage.
In this evaluation of the best summer sleeping bags, we couldn't avoid taking into consideration this parameter: the price. Yes, unfortunately sleeping bags aren't cheap like many outdoor activity technical products. Anyway, since the Comfort Temperature requested during summer, we could consider also many products which are not highly technical, and consequently, you'll find affordable summer sleeping bags, which are usually cheaper than winter sleeping bags.
My advice is to consider two options: save money on your summer sleeping bag, maybe choosing a cheaper one (even Decathlon summer sleeping bags are ok) and spend a little bit more money on a good winter sleeping bag, or a product which could be used all year long, sleeping with zippers open during summer and sleeping dressed appropriately. This will depend on the use you're going to do with your summer sleeping bag.
The best summer sleeping bags
Finally, you are thinking. We finally came to the list of the best 2020 summer sleeping bags. Here you can find our choice, based on the features listed above: temperature, weight, size, comfort and price.
Summer sleeping bag
Active Era E-200
I start this list of some summer sleeping bags with the cheapest I've found. Surely, this young company, Active Era, can fight the market war with its competitive prices. We personally used their auto-inflating sleeping mat during our one-year-long European trip and I must admit I have no regrets (it actually got a puncture after 150 nights of usage).
This rectangular sleeping bag Active Era E-200 is very cheap, but it's suitable only for summer and mid-seasons (there's also a lighter E-100 version). The declared Comfort Temperature is 15°C, while the Limit is 10°C (in these evaluations I don't consider the Extreme Temperature). It's made in Polyester with 200 GSM fibre fill, and its size isn't huge (186x75cm), but sufficient for most people, while it weighs around 1 kg, even if it's pretty high for this kind of product, making it suitable for bicycle touring, bikepacking or for hiking.
Milestone 150 Envelope
This summer sleeping bag is pretty cheap and very lightweight. In this case, when opened the size it's smaller (170x70cm) and the Polyester fill is 150 GSM. It's suitable for summer, it can be used during the mid-seasons only if you're willing to sleep with some more clothes on. The declared weight is pretty tempting (200g), while the finishing is in line with the price. You can open it on both sides, to be used as a summer quill even at home or in a shelter.
Queedo Light Hitazo
Ferrino Levity 01
Marmot Nanowave 45
Another mummy-type summer sleeping bag, to be used especially during the mid-season or during fresh climates. This Marmot Nanowave 45 has a hood, a Comfort Temperature of 11°C and it's made of Polyester. The zippers have double pulls, allowing opening it completely. The standard size is 183cm, but there is a second size of 198cm, a bit more expensive. It weighs around 820g and, like the previous cases, has a compression bag with compression stripes.
Queedo Asaka L
Marmot Micron 40
Another summer sleeping bag from this American company. This lightweight sleeping bag has a down fill, allowing to decrease the weight to 620g. Once again, this is suitable for three seasons, with a Comfort Temperature of 8°C and a length of 183cm. It's made of Polyester and has got an internal pocket, a compression bag, hooks to hang it and double-sided zippers which allow opening it completely and using it as a quill. The price isn't as competitive as others, but it's made of down and it allows the use with low temperatures, so it's a valid product for bicycle touring and excursions even out of season.
Salewa Micro 850 Quattro
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