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The Best Sleeping Bags for Side Sleepers

A new breed of sleeping bag that comes in unusual shapes is making snoozing in a tent more comfortable for those who sleep on their sides.

person sleeping in tent in big agnes sidewinder sl sleeping bag
Big Agnes

A first-time visit to the sleeping bag rack at any outdoor gear store can be enough to induce claustrophobia. The widespread norm in outdoor bedding is the mummy bag — a hooded sleeping bag that tapers from the shoulders to the feet that indeed resembles a sarcophagus. Such a design keeps the weight of a sleeping bag down, makes it easier to pack and more efficient at maintaining warmth but does little to bolster comfort, particularly for side sleepers.

How many of us are side sleepers?

According to a 2017 study on sleeping positions, that's most of us. And while camping and backpacking are often exercises in forgoing the comforts of home, our nocturnal movements are often out of our control. Getting tangled inside a sleeping bag and waking up tent mates with constant shuffling are real concerns, not to mention having to hike miles the next day on a poor night's sleep.

How can side sleepers get comfortable outdoors?

Luckily these issues are also avoidable, thanks to a handful of gear makers that have revisited the notion of what a sleeping bag should look like. Side sleepers and night shifters now have a growing selection of sleeping bags to choose from. With unusual shapes and zipper-free designs, this new breed of sleeping bag allows comfort-first campers to relegate mummy bags — and nights spent tossing and turning in a tent — to the ancient past.

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