Sleeping Bags Vs Duvets – Find Out Which Is Best For Camping

Camping trips are a great option for a staycation. Simply pack up the car or campervan, the kids (and the dog) and you’re all set for a mini-break surrounded by nothing but nature. 

If you haven’t yet thought about your sleeping arrangements, then now is the perfect time. Read on to find out whether it is best to take a sleeping bag or a duvet when out on the road.

Sleeping Bags Vs. Duvets: Comparing The Two


To begin with, the first thing you need to consider is the climate at your chosen camping spot. Are you roughing it in poor conditions? Or are you travelling to a place where glorious sunshine is guaranteed (which is probably not in the UK!). Either way, knowing this is the first step in deciding whether to choose a sleeping bag or a duvet. 

Sleeping bags generally have three temperature ratings which are:

Comfort Temperature - This is the temperature at which a person can sleep comfortably.

Lower Temperature - This is the lowest temperature at which an individual can sleep in a curled position.

Extreme Temperature - This is the lowest temperature at which an individual can survive. In extreme temperatures, yoru risk of hypothermia is increased and a miserable night’s sleep is most probably on the cards!

There are also other ratings to look out for such as season ratings which tells you which sleeping bag is best for certain times of the year. 


Secondly, will  you be sleeping inside a tent or a campervan? Outdoor conditions are magnified when staying in a tent. When it’s cold, it’s cold and when it’s hot, it’s pretty hot! A campervan provides more insulation when weather conditions are poor - although it can still get quite stuffy in high temperatures. 


Many sleeping bags are designed using nylon (is nylon waterproof?) shell or weather-proof polyester (is polyester waterproof?) with a down or synthetic filling. 

The materials used in a duvet vary widely from real bird feathers, cotton, silk blends, microfibre and suede.


Sleeping bags usually weigh less than a duvet as they are designed for travelling with. Most sleeping bags have features, such as a bag or a hood that zips up, that enable users to fold them up easily into a more compact product.

The weight of a duvet varies greatly depending on what size bed it is for and how thick it is. Duvets are definitely heavier than a sleeping bag and are not usually taken out of the house. 

Size and Shape

Sleeping bags are designed to fit quite perfectly around the human body and there is quite a variation when it comes to size and shape which makes them extremely versatile. The four main shapes are: rectangular, mummy, semi-rectangular and even double! There is a size for everyone when it comes to a sleeping bag, you can even purchase tiny sleeping bags for babies (however these are for cot use only). 

A duvet is available in at least four different sizes as they are created to fit across a range of mattresses. These include single, double, king size and even queen size mattresses. Toddler duvets are also a thing! 


Sleeping bags tend to be more expensive than duvets and many have certain features as they are designed to be used outdoors. If you are on a budget then a duvet might be your best bet, however cheaper sleeping bags are available that won’t break the bank and do just as good of a job.


While you won’t find many features in a typical duvet, sleeping bags have a selection of them that you might want to look out for.

Features such as snag-free, two-way zips and cinched hoods are all advantages when purchasing a sleeping bag to help you enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep when camping. 

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags have been around since the 1890’s and were originally mass produced for the Russian army in the battle against the Turks at Plevna. Since then, the good old sleeping bag has been tweaked to become moisture resistant, breathable and comfortable all at the same time. 

Today, the camping market is simply brimming with all kinds of sleeping bags that range greatly in price depending on what you might need one for. The main factor to consider when purchasing one of your own is the climate. If you will be camping in an area where the weather is extremely cold, then it is worth investing in a suitable sleeping bag that is going to be warm enough.


Duvets are typically used inside the home, however that is not to say they cannot be taken out. Maybe you are about to embark on a last minute camping trip, or your budget might not stretch any further. If this is the case, then taking a duvet is perfectly reasonable and will keep you warm enough. 

You may even take a duvet as well as a sleeping bag for extra comfort. This is a good idea if you are camping in a tent and do not have an inflatable bed. 

Pros and Cons of a Sleeping Bag


  • Sleeping bags are lightweight and you won’t have to worry about finding room in your car, campervan or caravan when packing.

  • Depending on how often you go camping, a good sleeping bag will last for years, if not a lifetime. 

  • A sleeping bag fits perfectly around the human body and zips up. Therefore, you won’t have any body parts hanging out when the temperature plummets throughout the night!


  • They can be expensive and may be unaffordable, particularly if one is needed for each family member.

  • You may feel restricted when zipped up inside of one and it can get uncomfortable if the weather is warm. 

  • They are not ideal if you are hiking for long periods of time as they can start to feel heavy.

Pros and Cons of a Duvet


  • You won’t need to fork out for a new one as you are most likely to have one at home. 

  • A duvet can add extra support to your sleeping arrangements.

  • Less restrictive as they do not fasten around the body.


  • They will take up a lot of space when travelling as they are bulky.

  • Not ideal in cold climates as they do not fasten around the body.

  • Duvets do not have added features like sleeping bags do and nobody wants to take a soaking wet duvet home!


Is a sleeping bag warmer than a duvet?

Yes, sleeping bags are designed to keep individuals warm when camping outdoors. Some are designed for extreme weather conditions to keep the body warm in sub-zero temperatures. 

A duvet on the other hand, is designed for indoor use and therefore does not require special features.

Which one is best for babies and young children?

A sleeping bag is the best option when thinking about babies and younger children. This way, they are less likely to catch a chill as even in the warmest of climates, the temperature during the night drops quite dramatically. 

In this case, a duvet should be considered for extra comfort either underneath or over the sleeping bag for extra warmth. 

What If I Am Still Cold In My Sleeping Bag?

If you still feel a chill when inside your sleeping bag, try putting on some more clothes or putting your duvet over your sleeping bag. 

It must be noted that sleeping bags are extremely flammable so be sure to avoid any campfires or other naked flames.

How Many People Can Fit In One Sleeping Bag?

A sleeping bag usually fits just one person inside. However, an adult bag may be big enough for two small children. 

The beauty of a duvet is that you can fit as many people under it as you want!

How Can I Make My Sleeping Bag Warmer?

Still feeling chilly inside your bag? Try putting another layer of clothing on, or placing a duvet over your sleeping bag. 

Fashion is not important in the world of camping. So packing lots of warm clothes is recommended. You’ll thank us later!

Decision Time

It is clear to see that a sleeping bag is a much better choice than a duvet when deciding which one is best to take on a camping trip. Not only do sleeping bags weigh less, they fold up easily, they are durable and certain special features make them warmer than a duvet. 

The only downside is that they are extremely flammable but as long as you avoid sitting near any open fires then it is unlikely that your sleeping bag will go up in flames. 

As discussed above, it is perfectly acceptable to take a duvet on a camping trip. Maybe they should be packed in the vehicle first to avoid an argument!

The Verdict

While we believe a sleeping bag is the best choice when packing for a camping staycay, the choice is really yours. There are pros and cons to both items and as long as it keeps you warm then that’s all that should matter! We hope this article has helped you decide which one might be best for you.