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Sleeping Bags for Warm Weather: What to Look For and How to Stay Cool

Summertime is a great time for camping! The weather is perfect and there are so many fun things to do. But if you’re not prepared, summer camping can be really uncomfortable and hot. Other times the nights can cool down more than you expect, making at least a lightweight sleeping bag necessary for your packing list. The best summer sleeping bag should be light and breathable, helping to keep you comfortable while protecting you from the elements and giving you some sort of protection if the temperatures dip.

Girl sitting on picnic table with 1 beige sleeping bag next to her and 3 more on the benches.
So many sleeping bags to choose from!

Knowing what to look for in a warm weather sleeping bag is tricky, that’s why we’ve put together this list of the best summer sleeping bags for warm weather. With one of these sleeping bags, you’ll be able to sleep comfortably even on the hottest night. So don’t let the heat stop you from enjoying a great camping trip – just make sure to pack one of these sleeping bags!

How to choose the perfect summer sleeping bag

Most often people look for winter sleeping bags to help them stay warm instead of sleeping cooler. You’re probably wondering “How do I know which warm weather sleeping bag to get?” and feeling overwhelmed with the options. Here are the things we consider when looking for the best summer sleeping bags.

Gear Quality

When choosing a summer sleeping bag the quality of your investment matters. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money. In fact, when it comes to camping gear sometimes the budget sleeping bag is the best. Keep in mind that outdoor gear is not a daily use item so they tend to hold up better even when you choose a budget-friendly version. When shopping online for sleeping bags we always check the reviews to be sure that the brand we’re looking at doesn’t have a lot of complaints. Pay particular attention to if the fabric is soft and breathable but also able to hold up to twigs without snagging. The quality of the zipper is vital for having a sleep system that can last for years. A small flimsy zipper won’t last.

High Temperature Rating

Good quality sleeping bags are given a temperature rating. This is the temperature that the bag can handle while protecting you from the cold and elements. For fall, spring and winter camping you generally want to go with the warmest bag possible. In the summertime, these sleeping bags are likely to overheat you, especially if you sleep hot. Instead, look for sleeping bags that are rated slightly higher (10°F) than the lowest temperature you are expecting on your camping adventure. This will keep you comfortable on a cool summer night while not putting your health at risk if the temperatures stay hot overnight. Most warm weather sleeping bags are rated for 30 degrees or 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Look for a sleeping bag with a bit of extra room

When it comes to picking summer sleeping bags you want to look for one that has a bit more room than you need. This will allow warmth to escape from around your body so you do not overheat. Choose a sleeping bag that is a size larger than you normally would for a winter sleeping bag (you want winter bags to be tight against your body to help trap the body heat). This is when a rectangular sleeping bag is the best option for having a cool but cozy spot to sleep during summer camping trips. Mummy bags and semi-rectangular sleeping bags are better for cold weather because they wrap you fully to trap in body heat. 

If you’re a cold sleeper you may want to stick with a mummy bag or at least a warm sleeping bag with a tapered foot box or a relaxed mummy shape. On cool nights you’ll want to reduce heat loss and the best way to do that is to reduce wiggle room at the bottom of the bag.

Consider the weight

When you go camping in the summer you do not want to be camping and hiking with big heavy sleeping bags that will weigh you down and make you feel far too hot. A lighter-weight sleeping bag is a better option for warm summer weather. If you are backpacking, a lightweight sleeping bag is your most packable option for bedding and you want to ensure that it will protect you without dragging you and your hiking pack down. Whether you’re camping in hot or cooler weather, you always want to think about the warmth to weight ratio.

Amazon disclaimer

The BEST summer sleeping bags

Here are our favorite picks for summer sleeping bags. Use our tips above to figure out which one is going to be the best fit for you and the way you sleep.

Kelty Rambler 50 degree

Kelty Rambler Summer Sleeping Bag

Kelty makes some of the best sleeping bags, and the rambler is no exception. This ultralight bag unzips to lay flat as a blanket and is amazingly packable. The Kelty Rambler will be perfect for any hot weather camping expedition. If you’re looking for the lightest weight sleeping bag, this is your best choice.

Marmot Always Summer 40 degree

Marmot Always Summer 40 degree sleeping bag

Marmot is the other sleeping bag brand trusted by Camping Critterz. The Always Summer 40 degree sleeping bag is a great summer sleeping option. This mummy bag has an internal stash pocket for your phone or head lamp and their fold-down secondary zipper allows you to get more air into the bag. It also has a heater pocket if you want it to be a more versatile bag.

Kelty Mistral 40 degree

Green and dark green Kelty Mistral Sleeping bag 40 degree rating
Kelty Mistral 40 degree mummy bag

This Kelty sleeping bag is the best option if you’re looking for a great deal. It’s the lowest-cost on the list and is still a great sleeping bag. It’s a mummy style, but has enough room to keep you cool and comfortable under the stars.

Awesome Sleeping Bag Alternatives

When it comes to summer camping a sleeping bag is not your only option. Do you even need a summer sleeping bag? Most often, the answer is no. Sleeping bags tend to pack down nicely into compression sacks and are all you need to be comfortable, but there are many other warm weather options that aren’t traditional sleeping bags. 

  • Sleeping bag liner

The first option is a sleeping bag liner. (Our favorite here) Liners usually come in many thicknesses and fabrics, so you have many options. Used alone, it’s enough to keep you from feeling exposed while you sleep, but not enough to make you overheat in the summer. The benefit of the liner is that it can be used inside your sleeping bags on colder trips, or on vacation if you don’t trust the motel’s housekeeping standards.  

  • Packable quilt
Rumpl Quilt

We’ve also used a packable lightweight quilt. In the summertime, it is so warm that you likely would be just fine with a flat blanket and sheet to keep you warm at night. With just a quilt you will want some sort of sleeping pad under you to help keep you comfortable from the hard ground but this can be done with anything from a camping sleeping pad to a thick yoga mat.

Rumpl is our favorite brand, our Rumpl quilt has come in handy many times when car camping, picnicking or any other outdoor adventures. It packs down very small in a compression sack and has two hang loops if you want to use it to create a shade canopy.

  • Blanket and sheets

We also have a double sleeping bag that came with camping sheets. So we usually lay on top of the unzipped bag and use the sheets to cover us. This was what we did in Havasupai AZ when the low each night was 80°F (27°C). 

If you are on a budget and are going camping without temperature extremes you really can get away with just about anything that can provide you coverage should the temperatures take a dip while protecting you from insects and other pests that you are likely to encounter overnight.

Tricks to Help You Sleep Cooler

Starting the night too warm can leave you unable to sleep, or make you sweaty and if the temperature drops later in the night, that moisture will make you quite chilly. I’ll also be honest, I think sleeping too warm gives me bad dreams. Here are our favorite tips to help you sleep cooler so your camping trip will be the most comfortable trip ever.

  • Cots
Coleman camping cot with side table and cup holder
Coleman Camping Cot

A cot that will protect you from the ground paired with a blanket will often do the trick in warm weather situations. For really hot summer nights a cot will get you up off the ground to allow air to flow under you. If you pair this with an amazing fan, you’ll be all set.

  • Hammocks
Camping Hammock
ENO Camping Hammock

Another great alternative to help sleep cooler is to sleep in a hammock. Like a cot this allows the air to flow around you to help keep you cool but a thickly woven fabric will provide you with some protection from the elements. A hammock can be set up on a stand inside your tent or even be strung up in the trees for camping without a tent if your campsite allows this.

  • Get more air flow in your tent

If you’re sure it’s not going to rain, a lot of tents have a removable rainfly that can be taken off of the tent to maximize airflow. We actually slept without the rain fly for most of the nights spent in Havasupai, and it was really amazing to be able to see the stars through the top of the tent.

If you can’t remove the rainfly, make sure the windows are open to get a cross breeze. If needed, turn your tent to make sure the prevailing winds blow through your tent windows.

Ryobi Battery powered fan for camping in hot weather
Ryobi Battery powered fan

Bring a battery powered fan, or an electric fan with a power bank. There are many great options for camping fans, and the added air flow and white noise is a game changer for getting good sleep while camping.

Most sleeping bags have a double zipper, and unzipping your bag at the bottom can help create air flow and help you sleep better when it’s super hot out.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is cooler, sleeping bags with down insulation or synthetic sleeping bags?

I’ve found synthetic sleeping bags to feel slightly cooler than down sleeping bags and I’m usually a warm sleeper. Synthetic insulation tends to be cheaper than down insulation, but a synthetic sleeping bag won’t pack as small, so you’ll have to get a larger stuff sack. Down insulation also makes some of the lightest sleeping bags, so if weight is a factor you may want to avoid synthetic insulation.

  • What kind of summer sleeping pad is best?

You’ll want to avoid super insulated sleeping pads for hot summer camping. I love my Ex-Ped synthetic insulated mattress, but this is the time where a standard air mattress may be best.

When picking out hot weather sleeping bags, there are a few key things to look for. Make sure your summer sleeping bags are lightweight and made of a breathable fabric. Be sure to check the temperature rating to find one that will be comfortable in the summer months. The best sleeping bag will be the one that is tailored to your specific needs and sleeping style. With these tips, you’re sure to pick out the perfect sleeping bag for your next warm weather camping excursion!

Now that you’ve picked the perfect sleeping bag, grab a cold drink from your cooler and enjoy the weather!

Happy Camping!

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