This article is a guide to non-toxic sleeping gear for camping, including sleeping bags, liners, blankets, pillows, and mats.
For sleeping bags I detail the materials used, the temperature ratings, and costs. When looking for a non-toxic sleeping bag there are different needs for different folks. The aspects to consider are:
- Is it low in chemical odor/offgassing
- Does it have a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) coating that is made from PFCs (perfluorinated compounds aka forever chemicals)
- Is it free of flame retardant chemicals
- Is it made from natural materials
Part 1 of this series looks at non-toxic tents.
This post contains affiliate links. Upon purchase, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Non-Toxic Sleeping Bags
I’m extremely pleased with this TETON sleeping bag which is warm and offgassed after sitting in the sun for a week or so. I never even washed it, and this was when I was very chemically sensitive.
I used this in the summer and some days it was too warm.
TETON sleeping bags, camp pads, and pillows have been tested to verify that they do meet CPAI-75 standard without adding any fire-retardant treatment to the materials.
Temperature rating -18°C/0°F.
Cost: Under 85$
2. Suisse Sport
Many who are super sensitive to chemicals and mold use the Suisse Sport Alpine sleeping bag which might be available in store at Big 5.
Wildkin kids’ sleeping bags (and sleeping mats) are made from cotton and polyester and are flame retardant free. They say they are not treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR). They don’t have a temperature rating as they are advertised for indoor use for kids.
Cost: Between $50-70.
4. Holy Lamb Organics
Holy Lamb Organic sleeping bags are all-natural. They are made with an organic cotton sateen lining, an organic cotton canvas outer shell, and are filled with wool batting. They are flame retardant free. The sleeping bag is rated for summertime use (+32°F).
Kelty makes down filled sleeping bags with a polyester shell. They say the down and shell is PFC-free (perfluorinated compounds aka forever chemicals). They are also flame retardant free. Temperature ratings vary based on selection, down to 0.
Cost: Varies from under $100 to over $400.
Wiggy’s makes sleeping bags filled with a polyester coated in silicone. They are made for the army and for campers. They are flame-retardant free and made in America. Temperature ratings go down to -80F.
Cost: From $115 to $295
7. Jacks ‘R’ Better
Jacks ‘R’ Better makes camping quilts which look like sleeping bags but don’t have a zipper. They aren’t made to go underneath you. The filling is a down that has a hydrophobic treatment (I would guess silicone). They are flame retardant free and made in America. Temperature ratings go down to 0F.
8. Lucky Sheep
These sleeping bags are made with all-natural materials – cotton shell (treated with beeswax, pine resin, jojoba oil and/or lanolin), a wool interior lining, and organic wool filling. They say you can ask them for all wool with no cotton. They do not have any DWR coatings (Durable Water Repellent like PFCs) and they are flame retardant free. Temperature rating down to -5F.
Non-Toxic Sleeping Bag Liners
A silk sleeping bag liner keeps you warm and keeps your sleeping bag cleaner. (It is much easier to wash a liner than the sleeping bag). This will keep the sleeping bag good for longer. I’m using this silk one and it’s quick to dry (surprised by how chemically it smelled for a natural fabric, it needed more washes than most fabrics).
You can also make a liner by sewing a queen flat sheet in half. The polyester sleeping bag liners work well too to keep you warm (I have used those as well).
Using Blankets Instead of Sleeping Bags
In warmer weather, I skipped sleeping bags and used a heated blanket as my only blanket. This worked well when I was travelling and camping in the Caribbean, since I travel with a heated blanket anyway.
Now I like a warm but washable option like these Pendleton Blankets. But, when it is very cold, a sleeping bag is really the warmest option.
Non-Toxic Camping Sheets
I use these AmazonBasics polyester sheets, though there are specific sheets for Thermarests and other brands of sleeping mats. They are also polyester, the only difference is they are fitted exactly for the Thermarest.
You don’t want any cotton in your tent if it’s at all damp – it doesn’t do well outside for long if it’s humid, and it’s terrible when wet.
Non-Toxic Camping Pillows
I bought a polyester camping pillow which is small (and it has cotton on the outside! though it still held up for quite a while).
I use waterproof pillowcases to prevent mold which I aired out and washed before using. They do smell at first, but the polyurethane coating does offgas (to most people’s standards).
I have tried lots of camping pillows from the air and foam ones to the polyester ones, to just using a towel.
Someone super sensitive recommended the inflatable Klymit Pillow X.
You have to figure out which is the most comfortable for you. Some are very small. The air ones can be easy to roll off of. A towel is easy to wash if you need to wash gear often.
Non-Toxic Camping Mats (Low Offgassing)
I started with the Lightspeed air mattress made of TPU, which is the one the folks most sensitive to chemicals use.
It offgassed quickly (2 days in the sun) and felt comfortable. It’s good quality, but I had back problems with it. This can happen to some people on air mattresses.
Many with chemical sensitivities also like the Intex polyester air mattresses.
Inflatable Sleeping Mats
Other very sensitive folks have tolerated the small air mats. I was very impressed with how little this one smelled (less than the air mattress), and it’s a WAY better option to travel with compared to other mats, but I did not find it comfortable enough.
Someone much more sensitive than me recommended the Klymit Static V which comes either uninsulated or insulated (with what looks like polyester fiber, not foam). It seems that this brand is very low in chemical odor (at least compared to others).
Go with the simplest, most compact option that is still comfortable for you.
Open Cell Foam Self-Inflating
I ended up buying the thickest Thermarest instead and LOVING it. This is as comfortable as a bed to me, though many people put Thermarests over a camping cot, that seemed excessive with the MondoKing (though cots can also help you get off the ground which is a benefit when you are preventing mold under the bed).
I’m not that picky about beds so I was surprised that the airbed hurt, and the small air filled mats were impossible to sleep on for me.
The Thermarest has a decent R-value to keep you warm, the more insulation you have under you in the cold the better.
The MondoKing is very comfortable and I usually wake up forgetting I’m in a tent. It has polyurethane foam in it but it offgassed quickly in my experience. I used it after 2 days of airing out (not ideal), in one week I found it to be really good, and one month to be near odorless to me.
This is a super good mat for a trailer or other tiny home as well. It does not contain flame retardants.
I bought the repair kit for the Thermarest as well because this is going to be my main bed in the trailer, I also carry the repair kit when traveling.
I still prefer the MondoKing to any other camping bed, but another good and more affordable (but thinner option) I use is the Lightspeed version.
Closed Cell Foam Pads
For those ultra-sensitive to chemicals, an aluminized Thermarest is probably the safest camping mat.
Sensitive people usually go with the solid foam or the small inflatable mats as they pack much smaller than the deluxe one I bought (and these are more affordable). They offgas less as well.
You can wash these down, unlike many of the other options. Some even pour boiling water on them to clean them and kill bacteria. You can’t do that with all camping mats.
Camping Pads Without Flame Retardants (FR)
- Thermarest Camping pads don’t contain FR. Some have the Prop 65 warning (but for chromium).
- The Exped mats are FR free since the 2015 lot.
- REI brand sleeping mats are not treated with FR.
Non-Toxic Camping Cots
I like this style of camping cot the best because it packs really small, it is relatively flat, works well with a Thermarest mat over it, and it’s low to the ground but high enough to have airflow.
I never put a camping mat straight on the ground anymore. I always want that airflow under the sleeping mat (if you are not using an integrated cot tent).
(I would not say this style of camping cot is easy to take apart and put back).
The Coleman polyester camping cots do not have a water-resistant coating so they may be safer for the very sensitive.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
Leave a Reply