Camping Blanket Vs Sleeping Bag - Which Wins?

If you click and purchase with one of our links, we earn a commission. Thanks.

When you are heading out on a camping adventure, you want to take the optimal gear for the occasion. When camping, there is a lot to consider when you are choosing between gear. Finding the gear that offers the best balance between practicality and portability is usually key. After all, you will be carrying the gear around with you everywhere you go. Therefore, you likely want something that isn’t going to weigh you down or that will prove to be unnecessarily bulky. While you may be able to get away with not carrying some essential gear, something to sleep with isn’t one of them. No matter what, one of the essential pieces of gear you will bring along with you on every camping trip is something to keep to warm at night. Two of the most popular options in this regard are sleeping bags and camping blankets. While they each come with their inherent pros and cons, non-enthusiasts may have a difficult time fully understanding the differences between the two at first glance. Below, you will see some of the pros and cons of each.

What Is A Sleeping Bag?

Even if you aren’t an enthusiast, you are likely well aware of what a sleeping bag is and what it isn’t. After all, they have been in use among campers for a long time. While sleeping bags used to be somewhat basic, brands have been innovating upon them for years and years. Nowadays, you will be able to find the optimal sleeping bag for the exact condition you will find yourself camping in. With sleeping bags, you can find different bags with varied temperature ratings. These ratings will tell you what temperature the bag is rated for based on the average sleeper. Therefore, you should be able to find the right bag for the right climate that you intend on camping in. Because you can find different shapes, different insulation, and features, they make for a very good option for all kinds of campers.


1. Options and Features

Perhaps one of the best things about sleeping bags for camping is the endless amount of options available in the marketplace. Because sleeping bags are synonymous with camping, you can find the perfect/ideal bag for virtually any situation and for any body type. Being able to choose from the countless options makes it a good choice for most because you can find one that can offer the optimal sleeping experience.

2. Full Body Protection

A sleeping bag is going to wrap around you completely. As a result, it is going to provide total body protection. When everything else is equal, a sleeping bag is always going to be the warmer option of the two when comparing sleeping bags to blankets. After all, you can find sleeping bags that extend to wrap around the head which can further insulate your entire body during sleep.

3. Easy To Use

A sleeping bag is very simple to use. Sleeping bags are already ready to use right out of the box. All you need to do is unravel/unstuff your bag and hop in it. Whereas, with a sleeping pad, you really have to configure it to your own body type and your respective situation in order to get the same kind of insulation, comfort, and overall sleeping experience. That being said, configuring a camping blanket isn’t difficult at all. But, there is something to be said for the simplicity that a sleeping bag offers. For those who don’t necessarily want to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up everything, it may be worth the trade-offs to opt strictly for a sleeping bag.


1. Weight and Bulk

This is easily the biggest drawback of a sleeping bag. There is no getting around this. When it comes to sleeping bags for camping, you will have to deal with the inconvenience of having something less portable. While you can certainly find lightweight and less bulky sleeping bags on the marketplace, they typically sacrifice insulation for it. Therefore, it negates the advantages in the warmth department. Because of this, you should always prepare to have something much heavier and bulkier if you choose to go with a sleeping bag over a blanket.

2. Might Be Too Hot

This will really vary depending on the situation. A sleeping bag comes with the ability to keep your warm, but that could be a disadvantage if you are going to be heading out to warmer climates. However, most sleeping bags do allow for you to unzip them to help you cool off. Therefore, it shouldn’t be considered a necessary deal-breaker and you could always go for a bag with a Summer Season temperature rating.

3. Can Be Uncomfortable

This one is subjective. Some people who don’t enjoy having their body restricted while they are sleeping may find sleeping bags uncomfortable. It’s something to keep in mind when you are looking at your options. If you are someone who enjoys moving your legs around or sleeping with your legs in specific positions, a sleeping bag may restrict your natural sleeping position.

Read our complete guide to learn how to choose a sleep bag.

What Is A Camping Blanket?

A camping blanket is one of the lightest options you will find on the marketplace. Typically, they are one of the better choices for summer camping or for camping in warmer destinations. Like sleeping bags, camping blankets can be found in a variety of different materials. Because of this, they can be very useful for those who are looking to bring along a much more versatile offering with less bulk.


1. Lightweight and Compact

A camping blanket’s best trait is a sleeping bag’s biggest pitfall. A camping blanket is going to be much easier to carry around with you during your camping trips because it is not only lighter, but it is much less bulky. While you can find lightweight sleeping bags, they aren’t going to be as light nor will they be as compact as a camping blanket.

2. Versatility

A camping blanket is generally more versatile than a sleeping bag because it can be used for various purposes. For one, it can be used to keep yourself warm at night while camping in the summer specifically. However, it can also double as an added liner for your sleeping bag if you are camping in a much colder climate during the winter. Also, they can be used for backpacking or even when you are just sitting by the fire. Also, when paired with a sleeping pad and a conversion kit, it can turn into somewhat of a makeshift sleeping bag. Therefore, it is generally always good to have a camping blanket on your gear list.

3. More Freedom Of Movement

For those who feel constrained and restricted while sleeping with a sleeping bag, you would likely feel like a camping blanket provides a much more optimal sleeping experience. After all, you aren’t going to be confined to a sleeping bag which will allow you to move around freely at night and to get into your optimal sleeping position.


1. Limited In Warmth

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of camping blankets is that they aren’t designed for single environments. As a result of their versatility, they don’t perform as well in colder environments. They don’t trap heat like a sleeping bag would. Because of this, they aren’t the best option if you are primarily a winter or cold climate camper. However, for cold climate campers, they can be useful when used as a sleeping bag liner. This way, you can wear the blanket around camp and simply use it for added warmth during the night along with your sleeping bag. However, they are much better suited for summertime camping or warmer camping climates.

2. Can Require Setup

As mentioned, the setup process is fairly simple, but it does require more effort than a sleeping bag. Therefore, it should be noted. To use it as a sleeping bag, you will need to set it up with a foot box and a sleeping pad in order to provide the same sleeping experience.

Which Is Better?

It really comes down to your specific situation and your preferences. For those who primarily camp in above freezing temperatures and for those who really want the warmest possible sleeping experience, a sleeping bag is going to win-out. After all, a fully-featured and no-compromise sleeping bag offers the biggest range of temperature ratings. Therefore, you will be able to find a bag that is suitable for the exact climate you are planning on camping in. For those who are much more geared towards camping in warmer climates or during the summer, your choice is much more difficult. In warmer climates, you could argue the camping blanket offers numerous advantages that make it the superior option. After all, it offers much greater versatility and better performance in the warmer climates without the added weight or bulk of a sleeping bag. Therefore, it might be in your best interest to purchase a camping blanket. As long as you do your due diligence when shopping for the one you end up choosing, you should be able to find one that is capable of offering you an optimal sleeping experience for your respective use-case as they each come in countless variations of materials and styles to choose from.