The thing with camping is that everything has to be right.
Of course, you can strap anything and everything to your bike for an overnight trip. But if you’re going for an extended period, your motorcycle camping setup is critically important.
And along with your tent, your motorcycle camping sleeping bag is up there with the rest of the priorities.
After all, you need good sleep – you simply can’t function without it. So after covering hundreds of miles making your way from one country to the next, you need a motorcycle camping sleeping bag that will afford you a decent nights rest so you can do it all again tomorrow.
But where the hell do you start?
The industry is awash with new products and new technologies. And newer, lighter, and more advanced ones are coming out all the time.
Do you go with a technical, expensive choice? Or do you go with a cheaper option that saves on price but adds a bit more weight?
In this post, we’ll look at motorcycle sleeping bags, what you need to consider when buying one, and then unburden you with our top 9 available on the market today.
Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
On your hunt for the perfect sleeping bag, you’ll undoubtedly stumble across temperature ratings – which can seem confusing.
In a nutshell, you’ll see three numbers:
- Comfort rating
- Limit rating
- Extreme rating
The comfort rating refers to the temperature at which a ‘standard female’ can sleep comfortably.
Limit rating refers to the temperature that a ‘standard male’ can sleep in without waking.
And the extreme rating is the temperature at which a ‘standard female’ can remain for 6 six hours before risking hypothermia.
It’s not a perfect system. But it allows standardisation across the board and gives you a solid basis for comparison between products.
Should I Choose A Down Or Synthetic Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag?
Along with the textiles vs leathers debate, this is an argument that has been going on for decades between staunch advocates in both camps.
For mere mortals like us, however, the gap between down and synthetic is narrowing year on year.
The Pros & Cons Of Down
Traditionally, down sleeping bags have always been considered the better option. Namely, because they have the most warmth in relation to their weight.
In other words, they’re warm and lightweight.
There is a problem though. If down sleeping bags get wet, they lose their insulating properties. Plus, they can be hugely expensive.
The Pros & Cons Of Synthetic
On the other hand, synthetic motorcycle sleeping bags are heavier and bulkier. But they do a better job in the wet, and will still insulate after a soaking.
Conversely, they’re also way cheaper than down. So if you’re on a budget, synthetic is the way to go.
Down vs Synthetic: The Gap Is Narrowing
The performance between the two is narrowing as technology advances.
Many manufacturers of down motorcycle sleeping bags are now treating their products with durable water repellent (DWR). And this allows them to insulate even when wet.
Similarly, synthetic manufacturers are getting ever closer to emulating the properties of down synthetically. And this makes them lighter and warmer.
That said, synthetic is still cheaper (on average) than down.
Down Sleeping Bags: The Meaning Of Fill Power (FP)
Yet another number you’ll stumble across when buying down sleeping bags is Fill Power.
All you really need to know about Fill Power is that a higher number is better than a lower number.
So a down sleeping bag filled with 600FP will need more down to generate the same amount of warmth of an 800FP sleeping bag.
And if it needs more down, that means the weight and the bulk will increase, too.
Ultimately, the 800FP motorcycle camping sleeping bag will be lighter. And it will compact down into a more packable size.
But it will also be more expensive.
Our Top 9 Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bags
So now we’ve got all the technical stuff out of the way, here are our top 9 motorcycle camping sleeping bags. They take into account price, insulations, value-for-money, and technical components.
And with our choices ranging from £53 to £385, there’s a motorcycle camping sleeping bag here for everyone!
- Rab Alpine Pro 600
- Sierra Designs Cloud 800
- Alpkit PipeDream 400
- Therm-A-Rest Questar
- Rab Solar 4
- Snugpak Softie Expansion 4
- Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5
- Vango Nitestar Alpha 300 Quad
- OMM Mountain Raid Sleep System
1. Rab Alpine Pro 600 Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £295
- Weight: 1173g
- Pack size: 31 x 22 cm
- Key points: It’s warm, lightweight, and weatherproof
This Alpine Pro 600 by Rab is a lightweight, three-season motorcycle camping sleeping bag that is warm enough for year-round use.
It has a 650FP DWR-treated duck down fill paired with a Pertex Quantum Pro face fabric. And this means it’s warm and protective from the wet stuff.
The fitted mummy-style bag elevates warmth and insulation which makes it perfect for UK trails.
Ratings: Comfort: -3°C, Limit: -10°C, Extreme: – 29°C
2. Sierra Designs Cloud 800 Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £265
- Weight: 850g
- Pack size: 18 x 33 cm
- Key points: Zipless, foot vents, and a quilt-style opening
One of the things we like about the Cloud 800 is the zipless, quilt-style opening that wraps around you. Not only does it keep you toasty warm, but it makes it easy to get and out of, too.
There is a clever sleeping mat ‘sleeve’ on the base that does a great job of stopping your mat from drifting away during the night.
For those who get hot feet in the night (as is often the case with mummy-style bags), the Cloud 800 has self-sealing foot vents. These allow you to slide your feet out, or periodically let cold air into the bag.
As a result of being zipless, the -3°C comfort rating on this products seems a touch far-fetched. We recommend it more for moderate spring/summer months.
Ratings: Comfort: -3°C, Limit: -10°C, Extreme: – 29°C
3. Alpkit PipeDream 400 Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £229
- Weight: 865g
- Pack size: 14 x 19 cm
- Key points: Affordable, temperature ratings above its pricepoint
A 750FP down sleeping bag that weighs in at 865g and only costs £229 is pretty impressive – whichever way you look at it.
The down fill is ethically sourced (always a good thing in our book), and Alpkit has gone to the trouble of weatherproofing it with Nikwax.
Further, the weatherproofing is bolstered with a DWR-coated face fabric.
The PipeDream isn’t quite as tailored as other more expensive bags. But it’s an extremely good motorcycle camping sleeping bag at an extremely good price.
Ratings: Comfort: -4.2°C, Limit: -10.8°C, Extreme: – 29.5°C
4. Therm-A-Rest Questar Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £240
- Weight: 1100g
- Pack size: 23 x 36 cm
- Key points: Sleep mat compatible, price-to-weight balance
We like the intuitiveness of this motorcycle camping sleeping bag by Therm-A-Rest. Sure, it’s a bit heavier than some of its rivals because it packs 650FP insulation.
But to compensate, the bags SynergyLink connectors attach to your sleeping mat. And this means you don’t end up rolling off your mat in the night.
Additionally, there are also clever loops to which you can attach a quilt. This changes your three-season sleeping bag into one that can be used in the winter months, too.
Ratings: Comfort: 0°C, Limit: -6°C, Extreme: – 24°C
5. Rab Solar 4 Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £150
- Weight: 1510g
- Pack size: 26 x 42 cm
- Key points: Year-round usability, relatively lightweight
For a year-round motorcycle camping sleeping bag, Rab have managed to keep the weight and pack size down by using a 20D ripstop outer with a 20D polyester lining.
It has a blanket base with a shingled upper construction which does a great job of eradicating cold spots. And there is a cleverly shaped foot box that utilises space whilst allowing the bag to remain fitted.
With its Stratus (breathable) polyester insulation, the Solar 4 by Rab makes for a very practical four-season sleeping bag.
Ratings: Comfort: -3°C, Limit: -9°C, Extreme: – 28°C
6. Snugpak Softie Expansion 4 Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £120
- Weight: 1510g
- Pack size: 24 x 28 cm
- Key points: Expansion system, good temperature rating for the price, LED light
Thanks to the ingenious zip system on one side of the back, users can choose to have the bag zipped in tight for warmth, or, open the outer zip for more space and ventilation.
The bag itself is quite bulky, but it’s controlled with a practical stuff sack.
We like that an internal neck baffle is incorporated into the bag. And the hood is fitted with a drawcord to keep things snug.
This motorcycle camping sleeping bag also comes with an LED light that fits into a small pouch in the hood. This eradicates the need to mess about trying to find a torch in the night.
Nice touch, SnugPak!
Ratings: Comfort: -10°C, Limit: -15°C, Extreme: – 28°C
7. Jack Wolfskin Smoozip -5 Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £100
- Weight: 1890g
- Pack size: 25 x 44 cm
- Key points: Ingenious zip design, excellent value for money
For £100, this synthetic motorcycle camping sleeping bag offers great value up to -5°C. It isn’t lightweight and it is bulky. But for the price, it brings with it some good value.
The unique ‘S-shaped’ zips do a reasonably good job of eliminating the dreaded zip snag. And whilst bulky, it’s sort of worth it for the added fleece around the neck, head, arms, and feet area.
It’s not the best bag in the world for wild camping. But if you’re an occasional camper on a campsite, this sleeping bag offers reasonable performance at a decent price.
Ratings: Comfort: -1°C, Limit: -5°C, Extreme: – 22°C
8. Vango Nitestar Alpha 300 Quad Sleeping Bag
- Cost: £100
- Weight: 2000g
- Pack size: 27 x 33 cm
- Key points: Award-winning line, roomy, affordable
Okay, so this motorcycle camping sleeping bag isn’t going to win any prizes for performance. But not everybody has hundreds of pounds to throw at motorcycle camping gear.
As a result, this bag from Vango does a great job of offering something affordable.
And not only is it affordable, but it also comes recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh foundation and the Scouts Association.
As far as sleeping bags go, it’s quite roomy. And it features brushed fabric for a cosy feel that is breathable.
It’s not a sleeping bag for the colder months though. This bag fairs better in the months of summer and spring.
Ratings: Comfort: 1°C, Limit: -5°C, Extreme: – 22°C
9. OMM Mountain Raid Sleep System
- Cost: Jacket £190, Pants £15, Foot Pod £145 (Total £385)
- Weight: Jacket 390g, Pants 275g, Foot Pod 80g (Total 745g)
- Key points: Innovative design, ultralightweight
We wanted to throw this ‘sleep suit’ in as a bit of a curveball for those who are brave enough to try it!
As many of you know, a lot of our motorcycle clothing recommendations come from disciplines such as running, hiking, or cycling.
And this sleepsuit is from OMM (short for Original Mountain Marathon) is designed to be a featherlight sleep system for ultrarunners.
The suit is made up of an insulated jacket, insulated pants, and an insulated foot pod. Combined, they eliminate the need of carrying a sleeping bag at all.
Each element of the suit uses PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation. And whilst it’s not as cosy or warm as a three-season motorcycle camping sleeping bag, it’s certainly lightweight and minimal.
In terms of being on two wheels, though, it’s feasible that you could ‘wear’ your sleeping bag rather than carrying it.
So if a minimal design is key and you’re only camping for a few nights, this could be the perfect setup for you.
Motorcycle Camping Sleeping Bag Conclusion
As mentioned at the head of this post, there is always a compromise to make with motorcycle camping gear.
Indeed, you can spend a fortune on super-light, technical motorcycle camping kit. And it will certainly keep you warm, cool, dry, and ventilated.
Plus, you can have it all packed down into a few hundred grams.
But for most people, the expense of premium equipment far outweighs the practicalities.
From the weight, pack size, temperature insulation, and material, your motorcycle camping sleeping bag is a decision that will straddle a plethora of needs.
So what is the best sleeping bag for camping on a motorcycle?
For us, the Alpkit PipeDream or the SnugPak offer the best of both worlds.
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Title image via Martin Jerberg