Winter sleeping bag for car camping

The Sportsman Guide house brand -15F sleeping bags are a great bargain for deep winter car camping.

As mentioned previously,  I enjoy car camping trips in deep shoulder season or winter.

The national parks, monuments, and similar areas are a lot less crowded.  Esp in winter, these non-backpacking destinations are often as spectacular as places I have backpacked.

The short days are not an issue.  A partner is not one for long hikes and we are prepared to spend an enjoyable night in the winter.  A two-burner stove makes some yummy food. A fire provides warmth ambianceence.  And having the appropriate clothing is never an issue.    We have enjoyed trips that dipped to low as -7F  with other trips averaging  to “balmy temps” that go to the high single digits at night.

Besides clothing and a good shelter (an REI HooDoo 3  that works beautifully for car camping or we truck bivy if there is snow on the ground), the other component is a good sleeping system.

Ms. A has no interest in winter backpacking and so an expensive winter weight sleeping bag for backpacking would not be a good investment.  And since she sleeps cold, a 0F bag would not cut it for her.  On the other hand, we absolutely need good, warm bags to enjoy these trips.

A few years back, Sportsman Guide had a sale on their house brand “Guide Gear” -15 F semi-rectangular sleeping bags.   Sportsman Guide sells a lot of surplus, hunting equipment and other gear meant for the non-backpacking crowd.  If Sierra Trading Post is a discount L.L. Bean, then Sportsman Guide is a discount Cabelas.  Much like Cabelas, their house brand gear can be rather good.  And, also like  Cabelas, some of the surplus and other clothing can even be used for backcountry activities.


In any case, Sportsman Guide sells these bags for only about $70 ea on Amazon. They are fleece lined, have a draft collar, a draft tube on the zipper and are extremely warm. A true winter bag. Though they are big and bulky, since we are using them for winter car camping, the size and bulk is not as much an issue. As a bonus, they zip together as well to form a large quilt.

We have used these bags a lot over the past few years and absolutely love them.

The major downside of these bags is that they are sized rather large.  The market for these bags is the “husky hunter” types.  If I was a 6’2” burly dude, they’d fit me perfectly. Since I or any partners are not 6’2” burly dudes, there is some empty space to heat up.  A fleece jacket or blanket at the bottom of the bag easily remedies this problem, however.

They are big enough to use as the quilt on a queen sized bed, too. Useful for when the temps dip very low and you do not want to run the heat all night at a tolerable temperature. Naturally, they work beautifully for disaster preparedness, too.

There are similar bags available, too, from other companies. But I’ve been very pleased with the “Guide Gear” house brand gear as affordable, functional and effective gear for this type.

A down -20F mummy bag would be nice. But overall, I find these lower cost bags more suited for this deep winter car camping.  The Guide Gear bags are warm, well-made sleeping bags that have always given us a warm’s night sleep in very cold weather. Want more do we need?

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6 years ago

bargain hunter . totally use thrift stores. wal mart, ect. u can find quality gear at low prices provided you use it in the right situation. great post mags ! I’d love to see you delve into affordable gear to use on a long distance hike. always a big subject every spring as young folks with little resources are trying to scour up gear for thru hikes.

6 years ago

I have one of these Guide Gear -15F bags as well. Keeps me nice and toasty on a cold winters night.