Camping is a favorite activity of many adventure seekers all over the world. However, this hobby comes with a major concern – getting a good night’s rest. And when it comes to sleeping under the stars, two options are usually available: the bedroll vs sleeping bag.
So, which one of these two options should you go with? To help you out, we’ve decided to take a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages that come with using a bedroll and a sleeping bag. We’ve also added a couple of products to make shopping for one of these options a bit easier.
What’s a Bedroll?
In simple terms, this is just a durable outer layer that can be used in two ways – you can either lay your sleeping bag on top of it or put it inside of it. Bedrolls are typically made out of exceptionally durable materials that are, in most cases, coated with a waterproof finish. Due to this, they easily withstand daily wear and tear and successfully protect one’s sleeping bag.
Bedrolls are very easy to transport – you can just roll them up and tie them down. Many models feature clasps and similar fastening features that make packing up these convenient products effortless.
As far as we’re concerned, bedrolls are a must only when you have to use your sleeping bag on exceptionally rough terrain. They can be used on their own, too, but only during summertime. This is because most of them sport thin internal layers and are incapable of providing enough warmth for cold-weather sleeping.
In addition, a vast majority of bedrolls come without comfortable internal fabrics, which means that using them on their own requires the use of pillows and blankets. A lot of campers try to make their sleeping areas more comfortable by combining their bedrolls with tarps and pillows.
Although very simple in construction, these products can be very expensive, depending on the material and design. That is precisely why a lot of outdoor enthusiasts (particularly the more experienced ones) make their own bedrolls out of various heavy-duty fabrics.
Pros of Using a Bedroll:
- Easy to roll up and store away
- Easy to carry in a bag
- Made out of tough, durable materials
- You can make one by yourself
Cons of Using a Bedroll
- Offer minimum insulation and comfort
- Can be quite pricey
If you’re on a budget, your best bet is to make your own bedroll out of some tough, waterproof fabric. If you, however, want a premium-quality bedroll for your next outdoor adventure, check out these models:
Duluth 83-Inch Pack Bedroll
This bedroll is a phenomenal choice for the long summertime camping trips and a long-term investment you certainly won’t regret making. Duluth 83-Inch Pack Bedroll is a canvas bedroll that comes with an insert for the user’s sleeping bag.
As such, it’s not the best choice for hikers – it’s quite heavy at 15 ounces. But this shouldn’t worry you if you’re not planning to attach it to your backpacking backpack. The model features well-made zippers and is made out of heavy-duty fabric with durable stitching. As such, it easily withstands daily wear and tear.
Furthermore, Duluth 83-Inch Pack Bedroll includes a special pocket (with its own zipper) for your pillow. Once it’s rolled up, the model can be sealed shut through the use of premium-quality buckles and straps. Last but not the least, this bedroll was manufactured in the United States.
Montana Canvas Outfitter Bedroll
Just like Duluth’s popular model, this bedroll is also a US-made product. It comes together with a durable tarp and, as such, is one of the best options for folks looking to protect their sleeping bags from rough terrain.
The model’s dimensions stand at 46” x 96”, which means that it can accommodate people who are no taller than 6’4”. The fabric out of which this bedroll was made is very durable and works great with all sorts of comfortable fabrics and sleeping bags.
Although it comes at a very reasonable price, this bedroll is not the best choice for hikers. This is because of its weight – just like the Duluth 83-Inch Pack Bedroll, this model also weighs 15 ounces and can be difficult to carry if you’re a backpacker.
What’s a Sleeping Bag?
When it comes to sleeping under the stars, no tool is as commonly used as the sleeping bag. Although they’re available in a number of designs and styles, most backpacking sleeping bags wrap around the user’s body to trap the body heat. For insulation, a sleeping bag will use either a down or synthetic fill, and each type of insulation has its strengths and weaknesses.
Synthetic fill is water-resistant and capable of delivering a decent amount of warmth even when it’s completely soaked. It also dries much quicker. Down fill, on the other hand, is better at trapping body heat but loses its insulating properties upon coming into contact with water.
While they certainly beat bedrolls in terms of comfort and warmth, sleeping bags are not as durable. Furthermore, some of them need to be compressed for transport. For example, only the rectangular-style sleeping bags can be rolled up like bedrolls – mummy-style models have to be stuffed into their compression sacks.
We should also mention that a lot of sleeping bags come with cord locks and head drawstrings to prevent possible heat loss from the top. Still, most models can be used the moment you get them out of their sacks – you only need to unzip a couple of zippers, get inside, and then pull up the zippers back again.
While entry-level models can be obtained at genuinely low prices, premium-quality sleeping bags are really expensive. However, keep in mind that the advanced models hold up incredibly well in freezing weather, much better than the best bedrolls.
Pros of Using a Sleeping Bag:
- Offer excellent insulation and comfort
- Soft & body-hugging inner layer
- Advanced models offer many convenient extra features
- There’s a sleeping bag for everyone’s budget
Cons of Using a Sleeping Bag:
- Most models need to be compressed for transport
- Not as durable
Best Sleeping Bags
If you decide to get yourself a sleeping bag, you’ll notice that the cost of a particular model typically depends on its temperature rating and the materials used in its manufacture. For this comparison, we’ve chosen two models that are guaranteed to keep you warm during your backcountry nights.
Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
Kelty, one of the world’s most famous sleeping bag brands, calls this particular bag a 3-season model with a 20°F rating. It weighs 2.8 pounds and is 5’8” long and, as such, isn’t the best choice for taller outdoor enthusiasts.
However, it features a phenomenal moisture-wicking technology that is bound to keep you dry and warm in cold and wet environments. Just like the TETON sleeping bag that we’ll analyze below, this bag also includes a hood that zips and tightens.
Finally, Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree sports down insulation – you won’t have to worry about comfort. Although it comes accompanied by a compression sack, this bag does an excellent job of fluffing back after only a few minutes of airing out.
TETON Sports LEEF Mummy Sleeping Bag
Just like Kelty, TETON is a reputable outdoor brand that has a plethora of phenomenal sleeping bags on offer. Their LEEF Mummy model comes at a reasonable price – you won’t have to break a bank to own a brand-made sleeping bag that will keep you warm and comfortable.
This model is an ideal choice for both camping and backpacking as it weighs only 2.9 pounds. Its dimensions, on the other hand, stand at 87” x 32”. And just like the Kelty sleeping bag, LEEF Mummy also has a cushioned hood for extra warmth and comfort.
Another great thing about this TETON sleeping bag is that it includes an internal storage pocket. As you can already guess, this will allow you to keep your essentials (such as your water bottle, smartphone, or flashlight) close by while you’re sleeping. Finally, this product is one of those rare sleeping bags that come accompanied by a lifetime warranty. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?
Bedroll vs Sleeping Bag – The Verdict
It goes without saying that there are no two campers or hikers with identical needs. Therefore, it’s impossible to say that a bedroll is a better choice than a sleeping bag, and vice versa.
For those who prefer simplicity, this is a no-brainer – the only thing they need is a quality bedroll. The same goes for folks who often camp in areas with rough terrain during warm summer nights. On the other hand, if you’re an avid wintertime camper/hiker and you need something that provides both warmth and comfort, you should get yourself a good sleeping bag. I would also argue that a bedroll is easier to wash than most sleeping bags.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that sleeping bags and bedrolls nicely complement each other. If you have the money and prefer camping over hiking, get yourself both of these products. In that way, you’ll never have to worry about losing body heat or about rough terrain under your back ever again.
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I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.