Do You Need A Sleeping Bag For Summer Camping?

A sleeping bag can be a nice addition to your sleep system in summers where the nights are below 55 degrees. You can easily get cold at night, even in the summer, if you are not wearing the right clothes. So you need to keep a good balance between warmth and ventilation. Always choose a bag designed specifically for warm-weather camping. Most people will leave their sleeping at home to shave some weight, but you won’t be carrying a super heavier or inefficient amount of fluff in your car. A summer bag will always be lightweight, minimal, and will provide good airflow to keep you cool as you sleep.

If you are planning to camp in the northern locations, keep in mind these locations can have cold nights early or late in the season. A 3-season sleeping bag might also work in these situations. If you tend to sleep cold, a 3-season bag might be an ideal option and compromise between breathability and warmth.

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Summer?

One of the most common questions I get asked is what is the right type of sleeping bag for summer camping? Now the options really are endless. It depends on what kind of sleep you are, whether or not you sleep really hot or really cold, whether or not you’re a male or a female, what kind of conditions you’re going to be sleeping in, etc.


This is the insulation within the bag. You’ll either find that it’s natural fibers that come from a goose or a duck or synthetic man-made fibers that keep you warm. Each of these things has different benefits but also certain downsides that might affect what bag you choose.

Goose or duck down is great, it’s super lightweight and it will keep you warm. However, when it’s wet, all those feathers and fibers clump together and that’s not going to be great.

Synthetic insulation will work even when it’s wet but it does weigh a little bit more and it won’t pack down small. Synthetic insulation also breaks down over time. Feathers will stand up to pretty much any treatment you can put them through as long as you look after it well at the end of the day.

Fill Power

This is essentially a measure of the loft or fluffiness of a bit of down and it’s loosely related to how warm that down is going to be. So, in short, it’s the warmth-to-weight ratio of a bunch of feathers. Synthetic fill power is essentially based on the fill power of down so the higher the number you see there, the better the warmth to weight ratio it’s going to.


Waterproofing and durability might be important to you but you’ll also find certain ultralight sleeping bag types to keep the weight down. Inside, you’re going to be looking at things that feel comfortable on the skin such as microfiber around the chin guard. Bags designed to keep comfort in mind are going to be heavier.

Women-specific bags

Sleeping bags are gender-specific or at least they’re sold that way. Women tend to sleep a bit colder than men so you have a bit more insulation around the midriff as well as down in the toe box to keep your feet warm. This is by no means the law if you are a man that doesn’t mean you have to sleep in a man’s bag and if you’re a woman that does not mean you have to sleep in a woman’s.

Sea to Summit Spark: Best Summer Bag

Sea to Summit Spark SpI 40 Bag
Weight: 12 oz.
Temperature Rating: 40°F
Insulation Type: Down
Fill: 850+ UltraDry Down

It is a tiny ultralight bag for those that like to run really quickly and stay warm at night. This bag is great for warm weather backpacking trips or thru-hiking. The weather-resistant treated down insulation means this bag compresses down small and weighs less than a pound. To achieve its temperature rating, this bag uses a responsible down certified 850+ fill UltraDry Down insulation. Normal, also called traditional down, turns into a clump of soggy feathers when exposed to wet conditions. A hydrophobic treatment enables UltraDry Down to stay dry longer in wet weather. It can eventually get wet, given enough wet weather but it will dry faster.

The exterior of this bag is a lightweight 10D nylon. It uses both vertical and horizontal baffles as well as sewn-through construction, which gives you the best of both worlds in terms of weight saving and preventing the down insulation from moving around. Inside, there’s a 7D nylon lining. You can use the short zipper to vent if it gets warm or you can use the cinch cord on the hood when the temperature starts to rise. There are small loops on the outside to hang it or attach it to a sleeping pad. Sea to Summit Spark is available in your choice of regular and long. The Spark series bags include a compression sack for backpacking and a cube for long-term storage.

What I like: Truly lightweight, quality zippers, packs down small

What I don’t like: Not super durable if you get this abraded on rocks and bits and pieces there is the potential of it tearing.

See the Sea to Summit Spark SpI

Sleeping Bag Alternatives

A sleeping bag isn’t the only option when it comes to summer camping. You can also get a lightweight backpacking quilt and it will work just fine. A quilt has a construction similar to a sleeping bag except it has less material on the bottom to save some weight. Also, it doesn’t feature any zipper (which is not needed during summer nights) and you may find better warmth to weight ratio.

Finally, a wool blanket is great for summer camping if you are on a tight budget. It is lightweight, easy to carry, inexpensive, and provides enough warmth. This blanket will keep you warm even it is soaking wet. Just make sure the blanket you choose is 100% wool and not the wool-cotton blend.