After testing 14 fabulous sleeping bags for caravan holidays, Practical Caravan's reviewers give their expert verdict on the Coleman Vail Comfort
Many people reject the idea of using sleeping bags for caravan holidays, thinking that they'll feel confined and claustrophobic inside one at night. Distant memories of teenage backpacking trips using the smallest possible mummy-shaped duck feather and down sleeping bags in chilly one-man tents haunt some adult caravanners to this day.
So, having dismissed the idea of using any sleeping bags, if you're not careful what you end up with is a caravan full of duvets and blankets, crammed into every locker by day, then spilling over the edges of every bed you make up at night. Perhaps you've tried rolling yourself up in a duvet to sleep? In that case you will have ended up with something a bit like a sleeping bag, but not quite as good! So, unless you have the fantastic luxury of a permanently made up fixed bed in your caravan, we think that it's an excellent time to take another look at the latest sleeping bags on the market.
Modern sleeping bags have many desirable features that we looked for in our Practical Caravan sleeping bag test of 14 products. We appreciate the sleeping bags offering comfort, softness in fabric and fillings, warmth, insulation, hoods, draw strings, extra cosy collars at the top, zip baffles, pillow pockets, basically any features that help to keep out the draughts round your neck. As a bonus, some sleeping bags have a tiny hidden pocket for your valuables. We also like bags that come with their own storage sack, especially ones with compression straps.
We need our sleeping bags to be family-friendly, so we really like machine washable bags that you can stick in the tumble dryer on a campsite. Spillages and mishaps do happen during family caravan holidays, and few things are more distressing and off-putting than cold wet bedding.
Rectangular sleeping bags provide a wonderfully gentle transition for anyone going from duvets to bags, because this shape means that they are less confining that all the papoose shaped or Egyptian mummy shaped sleeping bags that taper down at the foot end.
The rectangular Vail Comfort sleeping bag from Coleman is a good example, because it combines high quality materials with an oversized design, offering a warm and comfortable night’s sleep during longer family holidays. It's one of the sleeping bags tested, and here's what our experts discovered.
This is a lovely warm, spacious sleeping bag, with many thoughtful features. We love the squishy softness, the Coletherm insulation properties, the auto-lock zip, draught-proof zip baffle and extra foot-room.
The Vail’s soft yet durable polycotton shell easily stands up to the exertions of life outdoors while the double layer, high-performance Coletherm® insulation ensures campers remain warm and cosy throughout the night.
One thing letting this sleeping bag down is the fact that if you buy one for each person in the family you'll still have a bit of trouble stuffing these bulky bags into your caravan lockers during the day. The other major issue is that you can't machine wash and tumble dry them. To get round this, you could use light Polyester/cotton sleeping bag liners, which are easy to wash and dry between trips.
Testing so many sleeping bags at once is very revealing and the differences between the brands might seem subtle, but they could make a difference to your comfort on holiday. Of the mummy shaped bags we have a soft spot for the Robens Trailhead 1500 sleeping bag, which offers the best thermal insulation and warmest design possible, for £50, and the much cheaper Easy Camp Cosmos sleeping bag, £23. And if you want something different, how about a giant snowsuit style sleeping bag, like the Musucbag Lite sleeping bag or the Summit Motion Sac, £50.
The most expensive and warmest sleeping bag we reviewed was the Robens Trailhead 1500 at £75, which is ideal for winter camping and caravan holidays.
The Coleman Vail Comfort sleeping bag reviewed here has a lot going for it, but it's not the best. It's beaten by another rectangular sleeping bag, the three-star Vango Serenity, £41, which is roomy, well insulated and designed for machine washing and tumble drying. Both the Vango and the Coleman Vail Comfort are beaten by our test winner, the five-star Outwell Campion sleeping bag – which combines the best features of rectangular sleeping bags with the cosy hood and drawstring of a mummy shaped bag, all for a bargain price of £25 at the time of our test.
The Vail Comfort sleeping bag is wonderfully roomy and stuffed with Coleman’s superb Coletherm® hollowfibre filling, so we certainly can’t say that it doesn’t justify its somewhat premium price. This is a traditional-looking bag with the same phenomenal thermal characteristics as many advanced tapering mummy sleeping bags.
The things letting it down are a very large pack-down size and the more challenging aftercare: machine-washing and tumble-drying are out of the question. For these reasons we have awarded this sleeping bag two stars out of five.
- Roomy rectangular shape
- Beautifully insulated
- Enough depth and height for feet not to feel squashed
- The zip has a baffle and auto-locks so it won't unzip in the night
- Higher price than rivals
- Bulky when packed down
- Not machine washable