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/PFAS (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.
It is made of conventional materials. Temperature rating -18°C/0°F.
Cost: Under 85$
Nemo makes sleeping bags with a synthetic bottom and a wool top side. The DWR coating is free of PFAs/PFCs and is made of silicone or polyurethane. They do not use flame retardants on the sleeping bags.
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 and PFAS-PFCs-free. The sleeping bag is rated for summertime use (+32°F).
Wiggy’s makes sleeping bags filled with polyester coated in silicone. They are made for the army and for campers. They are flame retardant-free, PFAS/PFCs-free, and made in America. Temperature ratings go down to -80F.
Cost: From $115 to $295
6. Jacks ‘R’ Better
Jacks ‘R’ Better makes camping quilts that 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.
7. 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, they are totally free of PFAS/PFCs and they are flame retardant free. Temperature rating down to -5F.
8. 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.
9. Feathered Friends
The Feathered Friends sleeping bags are made of down certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). They are transitioning away from PFAS/PFCs. Currently, their season sleeping bags made with the YFuse fabric in Fir are free of PFAS/PFCs. The Iris color will be next and they expect all of their fabrics will be switched over to PFAS/PFC-free by mid-next year.
They are flame retardant-free.
Their sleeping bags are completely free of PFAS/PFCs.
11. Big Agnes
Their sleeping bags are completely free of PFAS/PFCs.
12. Exped MegaSleep 25/40 Sleeping Bag
The Exped Megasleep is free of PFAS/PFCs and OEKO-Tex 100.
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 (but I was 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-sized 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 traveling 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.
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). They use standard DWR coatings but no flame retardants.
Nemo makes Tensor sleeping pads that are free of PFAS (they use a silicone coating instead), and free of antimicrobial treatments.
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 nearly 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.
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 have been 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.