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The Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack

After countless hours in specialty gear shops and on the trail spent timing switchbacks, testing base weights, and fitting straps, we are now ready to recommend the best ultralight hiking backpack for your next outdoor adventure. If you’ve read any of our other camping gear articles, you’ll know that we are big fans of getting out and hitting the trail year-round. At the end of the in-depth reviews, you’ll also find a helpful buying guide and Q&A section to help you with all the specifics you need to make fitting and shopping for the best ultralight hiking backpack as easy as possible.

No single piece of gear has a greater impact on your comfort (other than your shoes) during a multi-day backpacking trip than your backpack. The weight distribution and fit of your backpack impact how much you can carry and how long you can hike between rests. A sore back or hips make everything from sleeping to climbing more difficult.

My favorite hiking backpack for fit and features is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00E0LGGTY’ text=’Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d0d244a7-5719-11e8-9e52-c3779269baa3′] because of Osprey’s incredible customer service and the overall quality of the backpack’s details and fit.

Our Top Pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00E0LGGTY’ text=’Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dce47a8f-5719-11e8-a3f8-bfea8be86559′]

Osprey’s Exos Series has been a favorite among backpackers since its introduction in 2008. I find this to be the most comfortable backpack on the market under 65L capacity. Osprey offers Exos backpacks in smaller weights, but I find 58L to be a perfect size for my needs.

Ventilation and Fit

I live and hike in hot, humid weather most of the year. A unique tension in the back panel keeps the weight of the pack off my back. The extra airflows keeps me cooler than other backpacks I’ve worn in similar conditions. Even if you are hiking in cooler climes, you will still appreciate the way the mesh back panel keeps sweat to a minimum even during all-day hikes.

Three Size Options

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00E0LGGTY’ text=’Exos 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a79ca116-579a-11e8-9814-6dcc5f483781′] comes in small, medium, and large to better match different torso lengths. As a short-statured woman, I wear a small, which is actually a 55L pack and weighs 2.63lb empty. The standard (medium) backpack is 65L, but surprisingly weighs only 0.02lb more (2.65lb total). If you have a larger torso, the large gives you 61L capacity at 2.68lb. Whichever size you choose is designed for a total load capacity of 20-40lbs.

Extra Features

What ultimately brings me back to my Exos time and time again is the versatility.  The removable, floating lid lets me pack as much or as little as I need without carrying anything extra. The sleeping bag and compression straps are also removable, which reduces the weight even further on trips when I don’t need either set of straps.

Versatile Storage

Stretch pockets and compression straps all along the pack are perfect for stashing water or essentials without rearranging everything inside the backpack itself. When I’m hiking with trekking poles, there is even a perfect spot for stowing my poles when I need both of my hands-free. The built-in hydration sleeve holds up to a 3L bladder. I have never needed the safety whistle that comes standard on the sternum strap, but I appreciate the fact that it’s there.

The most recent version of the Exos 58 lacks pockets on the hip strap. For some backpackers, that might be a dealbreaker, but I have not had a problem fitting everything I need in the other pockets around the pack.

Legendary Warranty

As with most ultralight equipment, you get what you pay for in a hiking backpack. Osprey’s “All Mighty Guarantee” is another reason I felt comfortable shelling out money for a serious backpack.

Warranty details vary worldwide, but the U.S. policy is simple and straightforward: If anything is defective or damaged, Osprey will repair the bag. Forever. If they can’t fix what’s wrong, they will replace the backpack for free.

Any company willing to stand behind their products with such a guarantee is worth a second look. Osprey’s reputation for stellar customer service should put your mind at ease when shopping for the best ultralight hiking backpack.

The Specifics

Volume:
S 55L
M 58L
L 61L
Weight:
S 2.63lb.
M 2.65lb.
L 2.68lb.
Load range:
20-40lb.

[amazon_link asins=’B0784KJ4M7′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’d4ae9b01-5a31-11e8-9834-0582acbdb95c’]

Our Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MTFHLWE’ text=’Granite Gear Crown2 60′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5a94ef2d-579a-11e8-bae0-dd295193a2a2′]

Another extremely popular option among ultralight backpackers is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MU0CQ7K’ text=’Granite Gear Crown2 60′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’92b14083-579a-11e8-88fc-dfacb2e5916f’]. This is an extremely comfortable backpack made from durable nylon treated with NeverWet water-repelling coating. The dual density shoulder straps are designed to lift the load, while the dual density hip belt features the patent pending Re-Fit design for a completely custom fit anywhere from 28-40 inches.

Weight

Out of the box, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MU0CQ7K’ text=’Crown2 60′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9bf0a6b8-579a-11e8-991f-c75cbfcd1f69′] weighs only 2.2lbs. Granite Gear is serious about reducing bulk and weight with this backpack, however, and gives you options to further reduce weight. The sternum strap, hip belt, and lid compartment are all removable for times when you want a pared-down backpack. Even the frame sheet comes out, giving you the option to cut back another 2.8 ounces or replace it try the pack with another frame.

The 360-degree compression system makes this in an incredibly versatile backpack. You can use it at full capacity with extras attached to the side and back, or you can load it up more lightly and roll the top down for a smaller overall pack. Other thoughtful features include dual hip belt pockets, a roll-top compartment that keeps things dry when you’re hiking without the lid, internal hydration sleeve with port, and multiple stretch pockets and compression straps around the outside of the pack.

The Specifics

Torso length:
S 15-18″
M 18-21″
L 21-24″
Weight (including lid):
S 2.26lb.
M 2.36lb.
L 2.46lb.
Internal dimensions:
23.5″x13″x8″

An Even Lighter Option: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01IGE6YBA’ text=’Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35L’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b1f4c2fd-579d-11e8-8293-03444e6d4ad6′]

On single-night backpacking trips or excursions where you will be running more than walking, look for something even more compact. The best ultralight hiking backpack I’ve found for running trails is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01IGE6YBA’ text=’Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35L’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cef36692-579d-11e8-91c0-116bc6eb994a’]. Everything you give up in design and versatility is made up in the way this backpack stays in place while you jog up and down the trail.

You will find many of the same features as on other ultralight hiking backpacks with a few exceptions:

  • The sizing options are limited to S/M and M/L.
  • The fabric is water resistant (but not waterproof).
  • No optional top to expand capacity.

Design

Some hikers will find the minimalist design to be ideal, especially those who prefer a simple, compact backpack. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01IGE6YBA’ text=’Fastpack 35L’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’909de287-57a0-11e8-8793-8738f4637822′] is so light that you will barely be able to feel it on your back when empty. Even with a slimmer design, you can still fit a hydration bladder of up to 3L in the special bladder sleeve.

Other features include daisy chains for securing gear, mesh pockets for better visibility, a removable front belt, and large front pockets. I really appreciate having a front pocket large enough to hold a water bottle. Although I usually hike with a hydration pack, I like having the easy access to a water bottle as well.

The Specifics

Sizing at chest:
S/M 66-112cm
M/L 76-127cm
Weight:
24.85 oz
Dimensions:
27.6″x11″x11″

Specifically for Women: [amazon_textlink asin=’B078SNC43R’ text=’Osprey Packs Eja 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6cdc5afa-57a9-11e8-9ed2-253325b68b36′]

I started with my first Exos pack long before Osprey released its Eja line designed specifically for women, but I can’t wait to give the [amazon_textlink asin=’B078SPVL7L’ text=’Eja 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’08155a23-57a4-11e8-9a83-cff1e3b16a10′] a try.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B078SPVL7L’ text=’Eja 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4c5f2266-57aa-11e8-a31a-55d8b9bc5061′] has all of the features I love in the Exos line scaled down for a smaller frame. You can expect the same quality craftsmanship, versatile storage options, and comfortable fit that makes Osprey a top brand for ultralight backpackers year after year.

As with the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00E0LGGTY’ text=’Exos 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3d1bf89f-57aa-11e8-9f05-670c91cd10c1′], the lid, sleeping bag straps, and compression straps are all removable to cut down on bulk and weight. Once again, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B078SPVL7L’ text=’Eja 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’43933db3-57aa-11e8-b354-7d1b7fff6ac4′] is backed by Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee—if you ever have any problems with your pack, Osprey will make it right. With three sizing options (extra small, small, and medium), there is a perfect bag for every hiker on the trail.

The Specifics

Volume:
WXS 52L
WS 55L
WM 58L
Weight:
WXS 2.5lb.
WS 2.53lb.
WM 2.56lb.
Load range:
20-40lb.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Hiking Backpack

When shopping for the best ultralight hiking backpack, fit is the number one consideration. Nothing else matters more than how you feel carrying the backpack. No fancy material or webbing can make up for a backpack that makes you sore every time you try to hike. Ultimately, it is more important to find a backpack that fits you than it is to purchase a particular brand or style. Other factors to evaluate are the weight of the pack, the total capacity each pack can hold, and any extra storage or special features.

Finding the Best Fit

The best way to fit a hiking backpack is to try it on. Some hikers even prefer to borrow a friend’s backpack for a few excursions before committing to a purchase since there is nothing quite like trying it out on the actual trail. Either way, look for a backpack that is sized appropriately for your torso height. All of the backpacks on our list come in multiple sizes, so you should be able to find one to fit your body length. Check the product specifics for exact sizing information, especially if you are ordering a backpack online and need to measure the fit remotely.

The second most important part of fitting a hiking backpack is finding a hip belt that fits comfortably across your hips. The vast majority of the backpack’s weight will be carried by your hips as opposed to your shoulders or back. This is incredibly important; if your hip belt does not fit properly, you risk injuring your back and shoulders with the weight of the pack.

Most hip belts are adjustable, which will help you find a good fit. Be aware that it’s not just the length of the hip belt that matters. You will also want to find one that feels comfortable across your hips in regards to width and padding. Some brands also include pockets in the hip belt itself. If you are considering purchasing a backpack with hip-belt pockets, make sure you can unzip the pockets with one hand. If you need both hands to unzip a pocket, there is no real benefit to putting it right at hip level.

Although not as critical as how a backpack fits on your torso and hips, the load-lifter and sternum straps should also fit comfortably in an ideal hiking backpack.

How Heavy is too Heavy?

This article focuses on ultralight hiking backpacks, but even within the ultralight classification, weights range widely. Ultralight backpacking is more about an approach to packing than any specific weight. Your overall goal should be to pack only what you need and nothing else. Ultralight backpacking will let you move faster and get packed up in less time each evening. For the purposes of this article, I’m only including backpacks under 3 pounds total.

As materials improve, ultralight gear is getting lighter and lighter. Top-of-the-line backpacks from a decade ago are now being replaced by entry models when it comes to weight. It is wise not to focus on the numbers alone when making a backpack purchase, but they can give you an idea of what you can expect from your backpack. Most of the backpacks on this list are designed to carry 20-40 pounds of gear (including the weight of the backpack). All backpacks will be more comfortable if you do not fill them to their very limit.

I would recommend aiming for closer to 20 pounds than 40 with any of the backpacks on this list. Of course, your ideal pack weight will be different from mine or any other hiker on the trail. As with all aspects of fit, you will need to decide what works best for you. The easiest way to make that decision is to try multiple options on an actual backpacking trip. There is no simulation or measurement as exact as evaluating how you feel at 4 pm on an all-day hike.

Total Capacity

Capacity and weight are closely related. The more your backpack can hold, the heavier it will be when fully packed. Your ideal capacity will also depend on how long you will be backpacking and in what conditions. Some gear requirements, such as a sleeping bag or hammock, are the same for trips of any duration.

Other supplies, such as food and water, change dramatically with the length of your trip. If you will be hiking for a week in hot, dry weather, you will need to carry significantly more water than you would on an overnight trip in the fall.

For most backpackers, a 40-50L backpack should be more than enough for a weekend trip (1-3 days). If you prefer to follow ultralight packing procedures, that same backpack may be able to hold adequate supplies for up to 5 nights in the right conditions.

All of the backpacks on this list fall in the 35-60L range. Like I mentioned earlier, your backpack will be much more comfortable if you avoid packing it to the very brim. Even if you want to aim for 40L, a 55L backpack will give you some wiggle room for winter camping—when you will need bulkier clothes and blankets—or trips where you need to carry extra water or food.

Extra Features

The best ultralight hiking backpacks often come with special features. Use this list of some of the most common so you can decide what you need (and what you don’t):

  • Panel access: Some backpacks include a zippered side panel that allows you to reach items in the middle of your backpack without unpacking everything from the top down.
  • Removable lid: The option to add or remove the pack lid gives you even more flexibility when it comes to the weight and capacity of your overall setup. Many of the removable lids double as day packs or waist packs for short trips away from camp.
  • Attachment points and pockets: Look for a place to hang or store your trekking poles, ice axe, cell phone, and a water bottle. Even though the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35 is the smallest backpack on this list, it does have an exterior pocket big enough for an extra pair of shoes—perfect for switching between hiking boots and running shoes mid-trip.
  • Hydration sleeve: If you already have a water bladder, it may fit inside a special hydration sleeve inside your new hiking backpack. The best backpacks also feature a port where the tube can slide out of the backpack without getting in the way.
  • Bear box: Do you need to carry a bear canister? If you are hiking in certain areas, bear-proof containers are a must for your food and toiletries. In that case, look for a backpack with a wide enough design and a large enough capacity to hold the bear box of your choice.
  • Sleeping bag straps or compartment: Some bags come with special straps below the backpack for wrapping around your sleeping bag. Choose a backpack with removable straps. That way, you can use them when you need them and ditch the weight when you don’t. Another option is a sleeping bag compartment that functions like a stuff sack built right into your backpack. 

Wrapping Up

In the end, you will need to choose the hiking backpack that best fits you: your torso, your hiking style, and your goals for capacity and weight. If you are in the market for an ultralight hiking backpack this season, start with the four fabulous backpacks on this list. Chances are you will find just what you need in the 35-60L range.

Q&A

Q: Can I buy a hiking backpack online without trying it on?

Yes! Most of the best ultralight hiking backpacks are available online directly from the manufacturer or through third-party sellers. Online shopping makes it possible for you to get specialty camping and hiking gear anywhere in the world. As someone who lives in a rural area, I can appreciate how nice it is to have access to niche gear that I’d never be able to find in my local community.

That said, do take care if you are ordering a backpack sight unseen. Finding a backpack that fits your torso and hips is incredibly important. No matter how comfortable the reviews claim a bag is, you need something that is comfortable for you. Getting the proper fit online requires careful measuring and research. If you can’t try a backpack on before ordering, be sure you know what the return and exchange policy is in case you need a different style or size.

Q: What is the best brand for ultralight backpacking gear?

There is no single best brand. The best brand for you will have a lot to do with your budget and item availability in your area. When I shop for quality gear, the first place I start is with a brand’s reputation and return policy. I need gear that will stand up to many years of serious use. As a result, I’m much more willing to spend my hard-earned money on something that comes from a company that backs up its products with a generous return policy.

Fellow backpackers will also tell you how they feel about their gear and experience with a particular brand. I have gotten quality brand recommendations from friends and complete strangers on the trail. If a company makes quality products and takes care of its customers, you will hear about it.

When it came to the best ultralight hiking backpack, I ended up choosing the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00E0LGGTY’ text=’Osprey Packs Exos 58′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9469697f-57c5-11e8-970d-d9821ec60473′] over other fantastic backpacks because of Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee.

Q: Is there a right way to pack my gear?

Yes! Learning to pack your hiking backpack effectively will go a long way to making the pack sit more comfortably and your gear easier to find when you need it. Contrary to what you might think, packing your bag is more complicated than simply organizing your gear by what you will need first. Weight distribution is very important as well. Aim to have your heaviest items in the middle of the backpack. The bottom is a good place for bulkier items you’ll use at camp. The very top works well for items you will need during the daytime hike. Save the outside pockets and attachment points for bulky, unusually-shaped, or frequently-used items. If you need more help, search for a step-by-step video tutorial online.

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The Ultimate Sleeping Bag for Year-Round Camping

After a long day of hiking, setting up camp, and a relaxing meal around a campfire, there is nothing so wonderful as climbing into my sleeping bag and falling asleep – as long as I’m warm enough to fall asleep, that is. If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a cheap or inadequate sleeping bag, you know how long and exhausting a night camping can be. But how do you go about shopping for a sleeping bag when the item descriptions are filled with terms like loft, temperature rating, and continuous baffles? That’s where this guide comes in. I will help you find the best sleeping bag for your situation by reviewing four of our top picks for the best 3-season down sleeping bags that will keep you warm and dry for years to come.

My Experience That Led To Finding a Great Sleeping Bag

I grew up camping and have continued the tradition with my own young family. We’ve camped in the backyard, in the desert, and in the mountains. I’ve led scout troop campouts and even spent one wedding anniversary camping in the snow because we couldn’t wait for the weather to warm up any longer. Almost all of the camping I’ve done has been tent camping, so I am no stranger to sleeping on a thin pad on the ground. After many years of using a basic, run-of-the-mill sleeping bag I’d been given in college, I was ready to purchase a sleeping bag that would last for decades.

Our top sleeping bag pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I7PHDE’ text=’Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’950c7b78-435e-11e8-84d9-273fa9f08f9e’]

sleeping bag

In all of my research, I found person after person recommending Western Mountaineering sleeping bags and gear as the best purchase they’d ever made. Western Mountaineering is the gold standard in camping and backpacking gear for good reason: their sleeping bags are some of the lightest on the market (thanks to highly-compressible goose down) and use the highest quality materials and construction. Western Mountaineering sleeping bags are not cheap, so I had to be sure I was getting the right bags for my needs. Although I have gone with whatever I could find for the best price in the past (we all have to start somewhere!), I was ready to make a long-term investment this time. As a result, it was very important to me to choose a product that would last and a company that would stand behind their work.

I knew I wanted a sleeping bag I could use even in my hot, Southern summers—where nighttime temperatures are often upwards of 65°F—but that would also keep me warm on cool spring nights. I ultimately decided that a 20°F rating would be perfect for my situation. It is what I recommend to most campers shopping for a sleeping bag of their own. I’ve found my [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I7PHDE’ text=’Alpinlite 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cba7f8ed-435e-11e8-a265-f5431a24bf92′] to be the perfect level of warmth for camping during most of the year.

What I Love

One thing I love about this sleeping bag is its ability to both retain heat and compress down to fit in my pack. I love the fact that I do not have to sacrifice space for warmth, especially on longer backpacking trips where I am carrying my gear all along the trail. I was also pleasantly surprised by the design of the hood; it lies flat as opposed to curving up around my head. Since I often sleep on my stomach and side, this is a feature I do not want to be without. The draft collar and zipper tubes keep warm air from escaping out the top of my sleeping bag or through the zipper. I really appreciate these features on cold nights. I can be warm on both sides without my needing to flip over in the night to rotate which side lies next to the zipper opening.

Another design feature I have come to really love is the way the goose down is stuffed into the sleeping bag shell. Thanks to continuous baffles (the way filling is stitched into the shell) throughout the sleeping bag, I can move them down slightly to provide more or less warmth throughout the bag. For campers that toss and turn a lot at night, however, the continuous baffling can be more frustrating than helpful. 

 

[amazon_link asins=’B015I5TTLW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’ed33eed9-44ab-11e8-8fb7-0f214b49c0be’]

Our runner-up sleeping bag: [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Big Agnes Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’31d448f4-435f-11e8-ac0f-dfc2fbdfe240′]

sleeping bag

Big Agnes is a favorite brand of sleeping bags and camping equipment for people who want a little more room or to share with a loved one. Big Agnes makes quite a few double sleeping bags, although, for the purposes of this article, I’m focusing only on the single, 3-season bags. Even with a single bag like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’467189ae-435f-11e8-9c9d-15b1c341170f’], you will find a bit more shoulder and hip room than in a standard mummy sleeping bag without adding extra bulk to your pack.

Although I have not personally had a problem rolling off my sleeping pad, I know fellow campers who do. Rolling off your pad onto the cold, hard tent floor is an unwelcome surprise. Even if the drop in temperature doesn’t wake you up in the night, you will certainly feel the stiffness in the morning. To combat that problem, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5f325c4a-435f-11e8-a392-01ae371a54c7′] comes standard with a sleeve to keep your sleeping pad snugly attached to your sleeping bag all night long.

Other Features

Another great feature of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’671da4da-435f-11e8-8d04-4d291e15abc2′] is that it unzips from all sides, meaning you can get in or out on either side. Double zippers also let you vent from either the top or bottom (or both) if you get too warm during the night.

Big Agnes is another company with a reputation for standing behind their gear. Since I was looking for a sleeping bag that would last me for fifteen years or more, I limited my search to bags and companies with solid customer service, superior construction, and stellar reviews. In the end, I ended up choosing the [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I5TTLW’ text=’Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20 ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7bbce12d-435f-11e8-bcca-299018ed713e’]instead of the Big Agnes Summit Park 15 because I did not need the extra width and I wanted the highest-quality goose down. But I’ve met other campers that love their Big Agnes bags—both down-filled (like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6f5b2b5b-435f-11e8-b732-e18a666c2fe7′]) and the styles with synthetic filling as well.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B013PYDU6S’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’21d5aecf-4714-11e8-a4ef-11e63e2f1549′]

Our most versatile sleeping bag choice: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’Sierra Designs DriDown 800-Fill Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e0cfd19b-435f-11e8-88bd-99cf1bfb1b16′]

sleeping bag

One of the more unique styles in the down-filled sleeping bag market is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fa412eb8-435f-11e8-b4c2-3568ae054588′]. Instead of a zippered side, you slip in and out of the enlarged opening at the top.

An incorporated quilt combined with the enlarged opening make this design incredibly versatile: If you’re too warm, fold the quilt down to let air flow into the sleeping bag. Wrap the comforter tightly around yourself to prevent heat from escaping on nights when you need help staying warm. Most mummy sleeping bags are really only suitable for sleeping on your back, but not the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’DriDown Backcountry Bed!’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’071d1ddc-4360-11e8-baf6-3f4ce273cf5e’] Side and stomach sleepers like me will especially appreciate the ability to lay the blanket across their shoulders and still stay warm at night.

Things To Consider

One major disadvantage of a mummy sleeping bag is that my feet often get too hot when I’m camping in warm weather. One solution is a double-zippered bag like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Big Agnes Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1e816d59-4360-11e8-ad0e-5bffe216a8d7′]. Another option is a foot vent like in the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’DriDown Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1498a71b-4360-11e8-8b86-27fe5f29ff4b’]. If you feel too hot, simply slide your feet out of the foot vent to cool off. When you’re ready to warm back up, tuck them back inside.

The same comforter that allows you to modify your sleeping style and warmth level can be removed and used alone around camp. Deep pockets inside the blanket keep your hands and arms warm and let you keep the quilt in place whether you have it wrapped around yourself or are using it with the sleeping bag.

All in all, this was the most unique and versatile sleeping bag I considered and one I would really love to see in action on the trail. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBFZDI’ text=’800-Fill DriDown Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7706dcf4-4360-11e8-b0c1-d7cd4a41f0ca’] is the closest to what I was looking for in a long-term sleeping bag, but Sierra Designs does offer variations of this same sleeping bag in different fill materials and loft heights if you want to try the design but need something a little different than I do.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00HGB9Z84′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’69c49963-4714-11e8-9580-31df00e0081d’]

An intermediate sleeping bag option: [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’98faba47-4360-11e8-bc24-5339fb762726′]

sleeping bag

If you are looking for a high-quality down sleeping bag, but you aren’t ready to invest in one of the amazing bags on our list so far, consider the [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown sleeping bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a2d3a223-4360-11e8-9221-ab0df0fea49d’]. The price point is often less than other down sleeping bags with the same features, making it a great option if you are just getting started with year-round camping.

In general, continuous baffles are considered a high-end feature, but some campers prefer filling that stays put all night. If you don’t need or don’t care for adjustable filling, you will appreciate the quilt-through construction that holds everything in place. The proprietary down insulation is water resistant and designed to dry more quickly than other down-filled bags. The ripstop shell is made from the same material as most tents, so it will be durable and repel water.

Features and Options

Kelty offers a long, regular, and short version of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Cosmic 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bfdb4626-4360-11e8-9e8e-d7655e005b32′] as well, in case you are looking for the best sleeping bag for your particular height. In general, campers at or above 6 feet tall will appreciate the long, while those below 5’5″ might prefer a short model.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Cosmic 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cc082fdd-4360-11e8-95df-3b62abda7891′] is heavier than comparable sleeping bags and is made from slightly less durable materials, but it is still far and away better than the sleeping bags most people have sitting in the garage or basement. If you are ready for a sleeping bag upgrade but not to commit fully to one of the other amazing bags on this list, start with the Kelty Cosmic 20. You will be hard-pressed to find another sleeping bag of this quality for the price.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B014JQA9VU’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’83abc2fe-4714-11e8-afb5-097d3ad92d3e’]

Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag

How did I decide which sleeping bags to include on this list? My goal was to offer four outstanding options that met the needs of most campers during the majority of the year. The three main factors I considered when choosing a sleeping bag were temperature (or season) rating, fill material, and size.

Temperature/Season Rating

In general, the temperature rating of a sleeping bag will tell you the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep an average sleeper comfortable. Temperature rating should be used as a general guideline instead of a specific guarantee. Every camper has a slightly different idea of the ideal sleeping temperature and the temperature rating process varies by manufacturer. Give yourself some wiggle room when identifying your ideal temperature rating. Choose a sleeping bag that is rated just a little lower than what you expect to encounter for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

The most versatile sleeping bags, known as 3-season sleeping bags, have a temperature rating (in Fahrenheit) of +10° to +35°. Summer-only bags are rated above +35°, while winter-only bags are rated below +10°. For most campers, a 3-season sleeping bag is the most versatile option. On the rare occasions that you will be camping in warmer or cooler temperatures, you can modify your sleeping situation to accommodate the weather without having to buy separate sleeping bags for each season. All the bags on our list are 3-season sleeping bags with a rating around 20°F because they meet the needs of almost all campers in most situations.

Understanding EN Testing Standards

Thanks to a 2005 law (EN 13537), European testing standards are the most closely regulated. As a result, you can expect a more uniform result with any sleeping bag that undergoes the EN test. Although each sleeping bag manufacturer can decide how to rate its own sleeping bags, it is worth knowing the basics of the EN test before you shop for a sleeping bag since many companies are adopting the EN test to make worldwide sales easier.

The EN test assumes that each camper is sleeping in one layer of thermal underwear and a hat with the sleeping bag over a single sleeping pad. If you sleep in more (or less) clothing when you camp or generally feel hot or cold when you sleep, use that information to adjust your ideal rating accordingly.

Upper Limit describes the highest temperature an average male can comfortably sleep with the bag zipper open and his arms outside of the bag. If the nighttime low is any higher than this, you may find the sleeping bag too warm for a comfortable sleep.

Comfort Limit is a mid-range temperature that is comfortable for an average female. I prefer to use the comfort limit when evaluating sleeping bags because it sits between the high and low extremes.

Lower Limit is the temperature at which an average male can sleep for eight hours without waking. Most campers will not be comfortable at the lower limit unless they sleep hot in general or use some other method of warming themselves (such as wearing more clothing to bed or sleeping on a thicker pad).

Fill Material

Sleeping bags are filled with synthetic (often polyester) insulation, duck and/or goose down, or a combination of synthetic and down filling together. The type of insulation greatly influences a sleeping bag’s price and effectiveness.

Down filling is the warmest for its weight and lasts the longest, which makes down-filled sleeping bags popular for anyone trying to conserve weight or space. You will pay more for a down sleeping bag, but with proper care, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. When your down sleeping bag seems to lose some of its loft (height), simply follow the manufacturer’s directions for washing and drying the bag. Once the down is fully dry again, your sleeping bag will be as good as new.

Synthetic insulation weighs more than down but costs less. In addition to saving money, there is one other reason you might choose a synthetic filling: if you expect that your sleeping bag will often be wet. Synthetic filling dries much faster than down and is not as heavy when wet. Some synthetic sleeping bags are also better than down for campers with severe allergies. As long as you can keep your sleeping bag dry, however, and have no allergies to down, down filling is almost always worth the cost.

Loft

With down sleeping bags especially, the loft is a good measurement of how much warmth you can expect from the sleeping bag. When comparing two sleeping bags of the same weight, the bag with the higher loft will be warmer. The smaller the down that is used to fill the sleeping bag, the more air it can trap inside to act as insulation. If you are comparing sleeping bags that list fill instead of loft, a higher fill number denotes down filling that expands to a greater volume. With either fill or loft, larger numbers equal a warmer sleeping bag.

Size and Shape

When it comes to bag shape, the two main varieties are mummy and traditional. Mummy sleeping bags narrow closer to the feet, while traditional sleeping bags are the same width all the way down. Mummy bags are much warmer than traditional or box-style sleeping bags. If you want the warmth of a mummy bag but need a bit more legroom, look for a wider or relaxed-fit bag.

Most high-end sleeping bags are mummy-style bags. Mummy bags are much warmer than traditional sleeping bags, although the shape does limit the sleeper’s ability to move around. There is some variation in bag width, however, which can be useful if you have especially broad shoulders or are very tall or short. No matter what online reviews say, the best sleeping bag is the one that fits YOU!

Weight and Bulk

Another consideration is the weight and bulk of a sleeping bag. If you will be carrying your gear long distances in a pack, saving even a few ounces or inches is a big deal. This is another reason they fill many high-end sleeping bags with down or down-synthetic blends: down insulation is much lighter and easier to compress than synthetic filling. And when you unpack the sleeping bag, down filling fluffs up to its original loft faster and for many years longer than synthetic filling. Aim for a sleeping bag that weighs 2 pounds or less if you will be doing backpacking or need an ultralight pack.

Wrapping Up

If you read our recent article on the best family camping tent and are ready to head out to the mountains this summer, you will need the best sleeping bag as well. For the most durable and lightweight option, look for down filling or down alternative if you have any allergies to down. A mummy bag will keep you the warmest for the weight and size of the sleeping bag. A higher loft and/or fill number will translate to a higher-quality sleeping bag. When you are ready to upgrade to the best sleeping bag for your needs, start your search with the four excellent bags on our list.

Q&A:

Q: What is the best temperature rating for a sleeping bag?

A: That will depend on where and when you usually camp, as well as whether you are usually warm or cool when you sleep. In general, a sleeping bag rated for 20-30°F should keep most campers comfortable in most situations, especially if you have access to a tent fan in the summer or an additional camping quilt in the winter. In the end, the best sleeping bag rating will vary with your specific situation.

Q: How can I tell what a sleeping bag’s temperature rating is? 

A: You can find the temperature rating of most sleeping bags on a tag either on the side or inside of the stuff bag. Some tags will have multiple ratings, either for the low- comfort- and high-end rating (as described earlier) or different comfort ratings for men and women.

Q: What does water-resistant down mean?

A: Some companies are offering water-resistant down filling, which is an appealing option if you want a down-filled bag but know you will be camping in wet or damp conditions. Water-resistant down is not waterproof, but it does dry out faster than traditional down filling.

Q: Do I need a women’s or kid-sized sleeping bag?

A: That really depends on what you want out of your sleeping bag. Women’s sleeping bags tend to be a bit warmer and shorter than their male counterparts. Some women’s bags are also narrower at the shoulder and wider at the hip. Many women are perfectly comfortable in a unisex bag or even a children’s bag. High-quality children’s sleeping bags are smaller than adult bags and some include a sleeve for a sleeping pad to keeping children from rolling off their sleeping pads at night.

Q: Can I use my sleeping bag in a hammock?

A: Yes! Sleeping in a hammock is actually my very favorite way to camp. You can climb into your sleeping bag on cold nights or use it as a bottom blanket if the weather is a little bit warmer.

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The Best Family Camping Tent

Planning on going camping with the family? Some may call you crazy. But, I say you’re brave – brave for getting out of the comfort zone of air conditioning and refrigeration. But just because you’re willing to rough it doesn’t mean you should have to rough it in an uncomfortable, cramped tent. A little homework before purchasing a family camping tent for your crew will ensure your family is camping in comfort.

I’ve spent countless summers in tents of all kinds: one person nylon pop-ups, U.S. Army GP mediums, and mind-bending jigsaw puzzle family camping tents. After many camping trips – some great, some miserable – I can tell you without a doubt which tents are best suited for a family looking to have a little outdoor fun. My absolute top pick is the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent.

Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’The Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’df06cfa3-353e-11e8-b77c-6952d37bbe8f’]

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eb0cf6fd-353e-11e8-88bb-8385b54c4027′] is my new go-to camping tent for the family.

It fits my family of six with room to spare. We blow up two queen size air mattresses inside the tent with plenty of room for extra sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and copious amounts of baggage.

Top Features

What makes the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f4b7549d-353e-11e8-8e3f-71c37960d666′] such a great choice for a large family? It’s the top notch convenience factor of course.

We typically get this tent unpacked and set up in less than ten minutes, thanks to its color-coded assembly rods. In fact, on our last summer camping trip of 2017, we finished setting up our tent in under eight minutes. Then we helped my brother-in-law, who was still struggling with his six-person family camping tent that took twice the time to set up.

Break down is just as simple and quick as set up. The tent is essentially a large rectangle, so sweeping it out before break down is a cinch. Once you’ve broken it down, it easily fits into a wheeled storage bag. Just pick up the handle and roll the bag back to the car.

Construction

Coleman has gone crazy with the trademarks. They have trademarked nearly every cool construction feature of this tent. Trademark or not, there’s plenty to talk about.

For starters, the tent is made of welded polyethylene floors and inverted seams for protection against the elements. It’s a cabin style family camping tent, which means there’s 6’8” of height at the tent’s center. So no need to crouch down when you’re moving around.

At 13 x 7 feet, the interior of the tent easily accommodates two queen air mattresses. It comes with two built-in cabinets complete with shelves. The tent material making all this room and shelving possible is coated polyester. Polyester is a popular family camping tent fabric for its durability and ability to hold shape.

Set Up

I admit, I have far from a photographic memory. So each time I set up my tent, it’s like I’m setting it up the first time. But, I can still get it done in a snap, partly because my husband remembers everything, and partly because the set up system on the Tenaya Lake is so intuitive.

This family camping tent comes with pre-attached fiberglass top poles that are color coded to fit with its matching stored steel poles. So, set up is as easy as finding the right colored poles and running them along the correct lines.

The guy lines are a breeze too. They are equipped with another trademarked Illumiline technology so that you don’t go tripping over them in the middle of the night when nature calls.

Ideal Use

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0479735a-353f-11e8-a229-e5615256c3e8′] is perfect for a family that does a moderate amount of car camping each year at sites equipped with spacious, level camping pads.

It’s easy set up of about 10 minutes or less makes it ideal for a family full of kids waiting to bust in and get settled. The room divider gives the grown-ups a smidge of privacy too, but that’s purely optional.

Something To Consider

If you’re a hardcore camping family, then you may want to look for a tent that has a little more durability. That’s not to say this family camping tent isn’t absolutely worth the money, but the velcro components and highly used areas like the door may not be able to stand up to the demands of outdoor enthusiasts year after year.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00S57US34′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’3909f470-3699-11e8-a48f-c7ca73f94bdf’]

The Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’16057c45-353f-11e8-b1b3-870027101912′]

Similar to the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch family camping tent in many ways, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1f88f0b2-353f-11e8-815d-e31969195ff3′] does what it says. Setup is almost instantaneous. And, although the nine-person rating is a bit generous, the CORE is still one very roomy tent.

Top Features

Two huge convenience factors make this family camping tent a great option for big families. The first is in the access to the tent. There are two doors: the large D-door in the front of the tent, and a huge T-door in the side of the tent. It would seem to most of us that one door is more than enough. After all, we’re not moving in permanently.

But, when you’re camping with the family, gear seems to accumulate faster than you know it. The ability to unzip a door the size of the entire side tent panel makes moving sleeping bags, air mattresses, or even cots into the tent nearly effortless.

Another great feature about the[amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’ CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a7e4487-353f-11e8-ab8d-2344561b4480′] is the ventilation. There are windows and vents galore on this family camping tent. All this venting allows outside air to move in from the bottom, while warmer air moves out through the top. Anyone who’s ever tried to take a mid-day tent nap knows the value of a well-ventilated tent.

Set Up

Putting this family camping tent together is amazingly simple and quick. In a few minutes, the tent will go from a lump of fabric on the ground to a polyester fortress. This is all thanks to CORE’s click and lock system.

Setup does require two people. But an extra person shouldn’t be hard to find if you’re using a large family tent like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’33b8f07b-353f-11e8-b16b-15cfd69f9396′] in the first place. As one person stabilizes the tent, the other person walks around, locking elbow joints into place.

Then, once all elbows are locked, the tent behaves much like the canopies you would find at a typical farmer’s market. Extend all the leg poles and lock them into place. At this point, you’ve spent about a minute on set up so far. All you have left to do is set up the rain fly and guy lines.

Construction

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3c141224-353f-11e8-85fd-cf6d1b26eb08′] is like most other family camping tents in its class, made from 68D Polyester. The floor is constructed with 125 gsm P.E. (polyethylene). It’s seams are heat sealed and it’s stakes are made with 7” steel.

Floor size is 14’x9’, which will accommodate two queen size air mattresses easily. They rate this tent for nine people, but I find that’s a bit generous. Sure, if you’re in a pinch, nine people can squeeze in. But realistically, if you want to be comfortable, aim more for seven or eight people.

Ideal Use

Like the Coleman Tenaya Lake, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’448c581f-353f-11e8-b087-2b14dcbed52d’] is ideal for a large family who wants the ultimate in convenience. I’ve found myself rolling late into a campsite many a night due to unplanned pit stops and snack breaks. Having the ability to pitch my family camping tent in under five minutes is an insanely attractive selling point for predicaments like these.

Something To Consider

Watch out for wear and tear on this family camping tent. It’s a great choice for families who camp a moderate amount each year. It is also well priced for the material and features. But, the convenient locking mechanisms may become more difficult to operate after a few years.

That’s not to say they won’t still do their job in pitching the tent quickly. But, if you do have a problem with one of the latches, it won’t be like other tents where you can easily replace a pole.

Best Family Backpacking Tent – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’521a7f50-353f-11e8-b205-c1c106f248a4′]

Yes, there are actually small family size tents you can backpack in with. They’re not too heavy; which is surprising given the sheer square footage of fabric required to temporarily house a family. Trail weighted at 7.8 pounds, any medium-sized member of the family can take turns hiking this to your campsite with a four-person tent on their back.

You can use that extra room in your pack to bring along a high-quality DSLR camera for those beautiful views. Check out this article for help choosing – Which DSLR Camera Is Best For Me?

Top Features

The best part of this tent is that it only takes one person to set it up using just three aluminum poles. So the rest of the family is freed up to gather firewood and start meal prep. Just make sure to lay down the included footprint under the tent to keep it protected from whatever surface you plan to camp on.

The next best part of this tent is the fully ventilated inner tent. So if no rain is on the horizon, keep the rain fly off and enjoy the beautiful night sky and a refreshing breeze while mid-summer camping. Or, throw the rainfly on to protect you and your family from the elements.

The entire tent can be rolled up in a small cinch style duffle that will add just under 8 pounds to your pack. That’s two pounds of tent per person. Not too shabby considering the weight of average one person tents.

And, best yet, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Mountain Ultra’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’61eaf50f-353f-11e8-ab03-21c753f5bae3′] comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Setup

Putting this tent together is an easy one person job. Just lay out the footprint, shiny side facing the sky. Lay out the tent over the footprint, then assemble the orange cross poles. Insert each end into the grommets while the poles are arched.

Clip tent seams onto the poles, then insert the T6 silver ridgeline pole. Drape and secure the rainfly. Guy out, and you’re done!

Construction

The inner tent is made up of a micro mesh to protect you from bugs, and a waterproof oxford bathtub floor that comes up around the edges to properly keep moisture out.

The rainfly is made of ripstop nylon treated with 66D 3000 mm water repellent. The rainstop comes out and over the entrance of the inner tent to keep rain from running onto the inner tent.

Ideal Use

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Mountain Ultra’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’71fb8195-353f-11e8-b0c6-79ccc410ee20′] is ideal for a hardcore backpacking family with minimal luggage. If you hike into your campsite more than you drive in, then you’ll get sick of hauling in a large family tent pretty quickly. The TETON Mountain is a great, affordable choice, for any family looking to go far on a light load.

Something To Consider

When TETON says this is a four-person tent, they mean it. Unlike the generous amount of room a cabin style tent provides, this dome style tent will provide just enough room for four sleeping bags and four packs. Any presumptions that it will hold too much more may land you in a world of disappointment.

Best Family Four Season Tent – [amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7f3fa7f9-353f-11e8-8e1b-21c3301b3cba’]

So far I’ve only listed three season tents. That’s because most tents are built with only spring, summer, and fall camping in mind. After all, most families who tent camp do so when the weather is optimal, lest they endure the grumbles and rumblings of many unhappy family members.

But there are those who love to camp throughout the year, and in regions where cold weather, heavy rain, and snow may come earlier or stay later than other areas. For that reason, I thought it important to include my pick for best family four season tent -[amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’ The Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow Deluxe 8 Person Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8976dbe6-353f-11e8-9300-1d1ec59b4d4c’].

Top Features

The very best feature of this tent is its ability to protect you from the elements. It’s completely waterproof, windproof, and light snow fall-proof. It will keep you warm during the cold winter months, thanks to its heavy canvas construction. But it’ll also keep you cool in the summer thanks to large windows and roof vents.

What else is great about this tent? The roominess. This truly is an eight-person tent with room left for each person’s gear. And there will be no bumping heads on the tent roof; it easily accommodates six-foot tall campers.

Setup

Setup does take a small bit of time, but it can be done with just one person. It really is just a matter of laying out the base and staking it down, followed by insertion of the aluminum poles. Guy it out of course. Make sure you do put the awning up as well, especially if you’re expecting rain.

Construction

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’94ff21d0-353f-11e8-ad8c-5d4ce8e2390a’] will last decades, literally, thanks to its beyond durable 100% cotton duck canvas construction with a silicone finish to keep the canvas rain tight yet breathable.

The floor of this 10 x 14 cabin style tent is made of 16-ounce vinyl. The fully screened windows, doors, and vents are made with no-see-um mesh. And all zippers are UV treated #10 ykk extra heavy molded zippers.

The interior features tons of gear hammocks and pouches so that you can stay fully organized while you’re out camping for the long haul.

Ideal Use

This tent is heavy and expensive. So, it’s really meant to be used for those who are devoted to car/truck camping, hunting, or fishing year after year; those who need something that will stand up to the cold, wind, or rain effortlessly.

Something To Consider

Most canvas tents need to be weatherized before their first outing. Soaking the canvas with a water hose will ensure micro holes around the stitches get closed by the shrinking fabric exposed to water.

Also, this tent is very expensive. So, if you just camp a couple times a year, you may want to consider a less expensive, lighter weight tent to accommodate your family.

What Do You Really Need In A Tent?

Before making any tent purchase, consider what elements are most important to you, how often, and in what kind of environment you’ll most often be using your tent.

Are you looking for a tent for some fun backyard camping with the kids on a lazy summer night? Maybe you’re looking to branch out into light car camping at established campgrounds with well-groomed camping pads. Or maybe you’re ready to go into a full overland move and drag your kids along for the ride.

Knowing just what kind of camping you’re looking to get your family involved in will help determine which price determining factors are most important to you.

Ease Of Use

Setup can be a cinch, or slightly more complicated, depending on the tent. Just because a tent is harder or easier to erect doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. If you’re planning on camping with just the kids, and they’re still on the wee side of growth, then you may want to pay a little extra for a fastpitch family camping tent that can be done by one person.

Durability

There’s no sense paying a lot of money for a highly durable tent if you’re just looking for a good quality family camping tent to take to the backyard or a local campground once a year. Then again, if you’re already a heavy camping family, then there’s a lot of sense in spending more money for more durable tent construction.

Look for features such as double inverted seams, no-see-um mesh, high quality easily replaceable poles, thick bucket style flooring, and smartly designed rain flys.

Wiggle Room

Just because you’re a family of four doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an eight-person family camping tent. Before my second two children came along, we used an eight-person tent. Never did we have to worry about the extra stuffed animals and pillows my oldest two children wanted to bring. Nor did we worry about dragging in extra luggage or blankets.

Conversely, you don’t want to go too conservative on the family camping tent size either. A little extra money is worth getting a slightly larger footprint if you need it. Nothing is worse than trying to squeeze five people in a four-person tent, especially after the once little people have grown larger and your high-quality tent is still going strong.

Price

Luckily, you can find really well-constructed tents at a low price point, especially if you’re looking to camp only a couple times a year. But if you and your family’s main form of recreation is camping, don’t be afraid to save up and invest a small bit of dough in the highest quality tents.

Canvas family camping tents will absolutely last the longest with little upkeep. They are heavy and expensive, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for something that won’t give up.

Price – Least Expensive To Most Expensive (scale of 1 to 10)
Weight – Light To Heavy (scale of 1 to 10)
Durability – Least To Most Durable (scale of 1 to 10)
Ease of Use – Hardest To Set Up To Easiest (scale of 1 to 10)
Capacity – 1 to 10 people

Questions & Answers

Q: What type of fabric is best for a family camping tent?

A: While cotton was the go-to fabric for ages before man-made fabrics made their debut, cotton is still used by many due to its thickness, waterproof nature, breathability, and durability.

More often, though, campers choose tents made of lighter weight material such as polyester or nylon. Nylon is a popular choice for backpacking tents because the fabric is incredibly light but still water resistant.

Polyester is the most popular material for larger, car camping style tents. Whichever material you choose, take a look at what kind of coating has been applied to the material for added protection.

Q: What’s the most important factor to take into consideration when choosing a family camping tent?

A: While headroom and general ability to move about within the tent is important, it’s not a deal breaker. I would rather put more attention to the material the bottom of the tent is constructed in, as well as the style and construction of the rain fly. The easiest way to ruin a camping trip is with water leaking into the tent because of poor design or low-quality material.

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US Bank Club Carlson Hotel Card Review

US Bank Club Carlson Hotel Card Review

What’s your favorite hotel? Where do you feel at home even you’re away from home? If you answered the Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inn & Suites or any other Club Carlson chain hotel, then you should consider the Club Carlson ™ Premier Rewards Visa Signature ® Card and the Rewards Visa Signature Card from US Bank. As hotel rewards cards go, the Premier Rewards card has a fantastic sign-up bonus and a cost-effective points-earning system. If you’re willing to stay brand loyal, this card will prove quite rewarding.

 

US Bank Club Carlson Hotel Card Review

 

Annual Fees

The two cards are very similar, one simply having a higher annual fee and therefore great rewards returns. The Premier Rewards card will run you $75 per year while the Rewards card is $50 annually. The fee is not waived like other travel rewards card, but the fee is much less than hotel rewards similar cards, so if you are keeping the card for multiple years, overall the annual fee is quite reasonable.

Earning Points

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards card earns 10 Gold Points for every dollar spent on hotel purchases within the chain. For everything else, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. The more economical fee card, the Club Carlson Rewards card earns 6 points for eligible purchases, such as a night at a Radisson, and 3 points for other purchases. You also earn points every year for renewing your card. Though that annual fee may hurt a little bit, that pain is eased with a nice 40,000 point bonus for the Premier Rewards and 25,000 bonus for the Rewards card. This is enough four nights free with the Premier Rewards and two nights free with the Rewards card. Not a bad return on your annual fee.

 

Beginner’s Luck

If you’re new to the US Bank Club Carlson cards, the sign-up bonus is a solid one. For the Premier Rewards, if you spend $2,500 on the card in the first three months, you’ll receive 85,000 Bonus Gold Points. What does that many points earn? It’s enough for up to nine free nights at any Category 1 Carlson around the world. If you’d like to splurge, you can also spend 70,000 of those points on one night at a Category 7 hotel, like the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London, England. If you opt for the more economical Rewards card, you need to spend $1,500 on your card in the first 90 days. Your sign up bonus is still a nice 60,000 points, earning you up to six free nights. As far as sign-up bonuses go, the immediate rewards within the hotel chain are well worth it. You’ll have your annual fee returned to you within your free first night, and then you can settle into to enjoy five or seven more.

Flaunting your status

If you’re a Club Carlson hotel fan, you’ll be familiar with the status levels and perks within the program. With this US Bank card, your status will be automatically increased as soon as you activate your card. With the Premier Rewards card, your Club membership will become Gold Elite status. At this level, you’ll receive 15% off of food and drink at hotel restaurants, complimentary room upgrades, roll-over nights and an in-room gift. If you already enjoy all these benefits with your current Gold status, then your card activation will get you 15 qualifying nights towards obtaining or maintaining the Concierge status (75 nights). If you make it to the Concierge status, you’ll enjoy a huge range of perks, including all those listed above as well as free continental breakfast and 48 hour room availability guarantee. If you go for the Rewards card, your card activation will automatically upgrade you from Red to Silver status. At this level, you’ll receive 10% off of food and drink at hotel restaurants, complimentary room upgrades, and roll-over nights. If you’re already a Silver member, you’ll receive 10 qualifying nights towards Gold status (35 nights) and its perks.

Beyond the Hotel Doors Benefits

Both the Premier Rewards and Rewards cards come with the same additional benefits. To make sure you’re safe on the road, the card comes with travel and emergency assistance services, travel accident insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver. In the case of suspicious activity on your card, it offers zero fraud liability. Of course, it comes with online banking and in case you’re forgetful, you can set up automatic bill payment to ensure you don’t unnecessarily pay interest.

However, be careful if you’re staying at a Radisson abroad, as this card does not waive international payment fees. You’ll be paying to pay at international destinations, so be sure to use it only at Club Carlson hotels where the points you earn will offset the fees you pay.

Conclusion

The US Bank Club Carlson ™ Premier Rewards Visa Signature ® Card and the Rewards Visa Signature Cards are a very cost effective option for earning points and free stays at the Carlson Rezidor brand hotels. If you’re already a fan of these hotels, these cards will earn lots of points towards free nights. The sign-up bonus already sets you up to enjoy the perks of the hotel chain. In addition, the upgraded membership status provides another set of benefits that would be appreciated by someone who spends a lot of time in hotel rooms in the run of a year. However, if you can’t remember the last time you stayed at a Radisson or Park Plaza, this card is not for you. While the earning and using the rewards is very favorable, the places where you can do either is very limited. If you like to shop around for hotels or spend your points on flights, this card won’t be much help. However, the inexpensive annual fee and the great sign-up bonus might be worth a try. You just may come to love Club Carlson and enjoy reveling in free nights from the card.

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Is it More Expensive to Fly or Drive on Your Summer Vacation?

Its summer, and you want to take the family out on a vacation that is more than just an hour or two away, but still within the country. This particular kind of vacation presents itself with a question that is worth considering heavily: should I drive to the destination or fly?

Both options bearing significant pros and cons, how do you know what to consider to make an informed decision? Below is a breakdown of some of the bigger factors that should be thought out while you decide whether or not to travel by land or by air.

The steep difference between car fuel and airplane tickets.

The biggest difference that is always checked out first is the overall costs, of which the biggest slice of the two pies being gas for those wanting to drive, and airline tickets for those looking to fly. All it takes is a quick Google search to learn that flying will be significantly higher in price than it would cost to drive.

For many, that airline price tag alone is enough to have them loading up the car with the kids and luggage to hit the road, but don’t stop just at the cost of airline admission when considering which option is best. Here are the issues that should be thought out and discussed with any possible travel companions:

 

The case for driving:

  • Know your passengers

The thought of a road trip can be a really great and exciting part of any vacation, as it offers plenty of time for bonding and memory making. It also allows for potential detours and stops along the way for even more connection building to take place within your group of travelers. So for those who are genuinely excited about the concept of a road trip consisting of either your family or group of friends, and you also have the time to kill, then maybe driving to your distant destination may be best suited for you.

On the converse, there are those who simply abhor and dread the idea of being cooped up in a tiny car for multiple back-to-back hours, perhaps even days. Let’s be honest, not many individuals enjoys being confined to a single seat for long periods of time, even if you are riding in a luxury mobile. So if members of your traveling caravan are greatly opposed to the idea of being stuck in a car with brothers and sisters they may not get along well with, or even friends who get along very well but get carsick (don’t forget about carsickness), then keep that in mind when planning.

  • Know your car

If you decide to drive, then you would do well to know your chosen vehicle inside and out, as you will be relying solely upon it to take you and its other occupants all the way to your far off destination and back. You want to make sure that whatever car you choose is in its finest condition, perhaps inspected as close to the day of departure as possible and all of its liquid levels and maintenance procedures checked and double checked. Leave no room for error or surprises when it comes to road trips, because the last thing you want to be is stranded upon a lonesome country road with a blown tire, or a problematic engine. If you thought that long hours of sitting in a single chair was wearing and irritating on your traveling companions, wait until you add that to the car breaking down as a result of your own forgetfulness. Crankiness to the max…

  • Gas

You also want to be mindful and calculating of just how efficient your chosen vehicle is in terms of fuel. If you want to make it across country while avoiding spending a sizeable fortune on gas, then perhaps choosing to use your father-in-law’s Hummer for the trip is not the best choice. Pick the most fuel efficient car for the job, and know exactly how much gas fits into a single tank.

Along with that, plan out a route for the trip and look up what the cost of gas is along the route. Gas prices go up and down depending on location, so you want to scope out the highest and lowest prices that you will encounter beforehand. This information is crucial to know and understand when calculating how much you are going to spend on gas for the trip. To help, AAA has created a special gas calculator for just the occasion. Take advantage of it.

  • Meals

Since you will be going without flight attendants bringing you the Kosher meal as a result of your deciding to keep to the streets, you will need to account the cost of finding and paying for you and your family’s/companion’s meals.

When on the open road, a temptation may be to find a sit-down and waiter service restaurant as a relief to your “I’m sick of sitting in my car” mindset. Try to avoid these kinds of restaurants if you are making multiple day trips as the cost of dining out every time you stop for a meal can add up very quickly without you noticing. Keep it modest while driving to your destination, and splurge on being waited on through fancier dining experiences for when you arrive at your chosen destination.

  • Lodging for overnight

Don’t forget that you need to sleep, and we don’t mean at the wheel. For those who drive all day and don’t have the option of driver swapping (when one driver sleeps in the day and then rotates out to drive while the other goes to sleep at night), then stopping in a hotel or motel along the way adds not only time, but potentially a good amount of cost that should be considered. Think about ways you can cut back on such costs by driver swapping, or how comfortable you are with pulling into a rest stop for the night.

  • Long hours

Not only are you putting down some serious mileage onto your car when it comes to wear and tear, you are also putting a considerable amount of wear and tear onto your mental health. As you may have guessed, man was not designed to sit in a car seat for upwards of 15 hours at a time. Man was also not designed to listen to his young daughters sing along to the “Frozen” soundtrack for those same 15 hours either.

Keep in mind the mental toll that comes along with driving those long hours and being in such close proximity with your travel companions. You’d be surprised as to how much a person can change after being confined to such close quarters for so long.

 

The case for flying

Now onto what there is to know before you decide to book a stack of airline tickets for your family’s vacation this summer. As we mentioned earlier, the biggest difference, even in the face of the all the costs mentioned in the above section, is the cost differential from the airline tickets versus driving. Even with a great deal from a discount airline, the tickets are undeniably more expensive as compared to driving. If you have your own plane and a license to fly, then perhaps it is a different story for you, but for the rest of us who didn’t plan ahead for our lives to include a pilot’s license, here is what you need to know before you fly.

  • Airport parking

Unless you have a friend or relative who owes you a favor (or just likes you enough) to drop you off at the airport, you will have to pay for a taxi or shuttle service to take you to the airport or you’ll have to pay to park your car at or near the airport. If you want to save on this modest fee, start sweet-talking your friends and relatives now, or get your guilt trip speeches ready when it’s time to ask them to help you out with this favor.

  • Airport security

For those of us who are no strangers to flying alone, TSA is a nuisance to go through, albeit a nuisance that keeps us safe as we fly. Despite its actually peace-keeping motivation for being a part of the flying experience, we still like to complain about it.

What you need to keep in mind for those traveling with younger children or just first time flyers is that going through TSA (Transportation Security) is a process, and if its requests are not met quickly as you go though, it can cause some pretty costly time delays. Be sure you’re younger and newer travelers know what to do before you get to the scanning checkpoints or you might risk missing your flight.

  • Baggage fees

Did we mention that flying is very expensive? In case we didn’t, here is us saying it again: Flying is expensive. If you have multiple bags, then be prepared to be asked to check them in for a “baggage check fee”. Some airlines waive this fee entirely, others waive it for qualifying flyers, and other airlines waive the fee if you have a travel card with them.

  • Transportation upon arrival

Another cost that may be forgotten to be factored in is that since you decided to forgo having your own car be available to you at your chosen destination, you must procure your own ride once you touchdown there. Before you depart on your trip, look up and book a rental car service if you are traveling to an area that is spread out or if you are making multiple stops throughout the area. If you are traveling to a condensed area (like NYC or any other urban area), then factor in the cost of taxis or other public transit.

The expense that you pay for (and pay for dearly from your wallet) when it comes to flying is convenience. You are paying for the comfort that comes from making a trip that would take 15 hours by car in 5 hours (give or take), all the while being able to get up, walk around, take in a movie, visit the restroom, and even take a nap –all activities you could not (or should not) do whilst sitting behind the wheel.

 

What is your time worth?

So when it comes to choosing which is best for you and your travel companions, it really is a decision of which is more valuable to you, your time or your money? You can drive and make memories along the way whilst saving money, or you can put the money down on airline tickets and save time and possible sanity. If you’re stuck, try using this handy calculator to help with deciding which may best in terms of cost. Both flying and driving has pros and cons, but the decision comes down to what you wish to gain from the experience. Happy travels!

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Are Gas Prices Going Up This Summer?

Remember when gas prices were as low as $2 at the beginning of the year? If you are like me, you felt like you actually wanted to be the one to volunteer to drive whenever you and your friends had a road trip to plan for. Low gas prices means more cash in all of our wallets, as setting up budgets for fill-ups at the pump is a necessity for car owners.

This window of freedom is sadly coming to a close as we enter into the summer season. With gas pump prices closely tied to the price of oil per barrel, having the barrel prices rise means an inevitable and impending rise in prices for us at the pump. Although we can expect a bump upwards in pricing, what goes up must also come down. Here is what you can expect to see at the pumps this summer.

 

Yes they are, but first-

The bad news.

Yes, gas prices are rising from the unexpected dip that we experienced in and around February of this year, where the national gas price, according to source AAA, was an average of sub $2. Even as low as $1.50 in a handful of states.

This joyous time, as fellow motorists may have noticed is beginning to fizzle out as prices begin to climb upwards as we enter into the warm season of using the summer blend of gasoline. As I write this, the national average for gasoline balances out to a total of $2.375, with highs as far up as $2.81 and lows as far down as $2.01, which compared to the prices we experienced only a few short months ago, has quickly albeit steadily risen.

And now the good news.

There is good news for those of us who are feeling our collars tighten as we read that prices are steadily rising. Like any fever, it gets worse before it gets better again, and that’s just what gas prices will be doing for us as we move through to the end of the hotter months: the price will go back down.

Gasoline is a product like any other, and has price setters and indicators, as well as peak seasons in which it is comparatively in more demand than the other months. Since the beginning of summer is one of the busier times of the year for gas and fueling stations due to all the road trippers, graduation attenders, and overall road warriors due to schools being out and ceremonies to be attended, the price was raised to capitalize on the surplus of gas station fillips, but will return to its already low state and slip even lower.

Good news for all with the exception of – California

The price dropping and staying low is a result of overstock and refinery processes, which is good news for motorists all over the country—with the exception of California.

Due to the refineries around Los Angeles and other metropolises around the state having shutdowns and other difficulties with petroleum refining operations, along with the insanely high demand from the dense populations that surround said refineries, the prices of gas at the pump will remain high, and according to the specialists at GasBuddy.com, will remain high even after the rest of the country’s gas prices drop.

This kind of news is fantastic for those of us who dread filling up at the pump, unless you live on the west coast, of course. With prices that otherwise cause feelings of anger and tension, the price rise does have a finish line quickly followed by a downward stretch. In fact, according to EIA.gov, the price of gas is expected to continue to decrease towards the end of the summer and possibly into the end of the year.

 

Higher prices and the summer travelers.

Although the price of gas is rising steadily as we enter into the season of overheated cars and drivers, the price hikes are actually not a deterrent for those who plan on making road trips this summer. According to a WalletPath study, 64% of participants said that gas prices weren’t a factor in planning their vacation despite driving big cars over long distances.

According to our survey, many motorists are planning on hitting the open road for the long haul this summer, regardless of the highs and lows of the prices, with a staggering 37% or poll participants planning on driving over 500 to 1,000 miles with their vehicles. Despite the number being so high, alongside that fact that gas prices have hit an all-time low compared to the last 12 years, the price to drive off into the sunset with the family in tow actually has not created an issue for motorists in the decision on whether to drive to this summer’s far off destinations or not.

Of the people polled in the WalletPath survey, an average of 30% of participants all stated that the price of gas actually had nothing to do with their decision on whether to road trip or not. Summer being the time that most Americans make the most out of the newfound free time that is gained from schooling sessions being out for the kids, it is not hard to believe that a majority of Americans all intend to take some kind of vacation in their summer season.

Back to the WalletPath poll, participants averaged answers out to a 30.5% confirmation that they will take a summer vacation, regardless of the cost of gas. So no matter how good the prices look up on that roadside sign, the cost of a full tank actually has very little to do with the decision of taking a summer vacation or not.

 

How can we check where prices will be this summer?

For those trying to save the most on money this summer despite the slight inflation of gasoline, the good folks at AAA have devised a gas calculator that can save you money by identifying the cheapest locations for fill-ups. You can check out their handy calculator here, as it can help you figure out any possible routes that have the cheapest gas around as you plan your road trip this summer. 

 

So despite how high the price of gas may be as we enter into the summer months, know that the price will peak and then drop before the end of the warm season, just in time for road trip season.

So in case you were trying to figure out the most cost effective manner of transport for you and your family’s vacation this summer, whether to drive out or fly, you’re decision may have become that much easier to make. See you at the pump!

 

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Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card Review

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards

Do you have big travel plans this year? Or are you always on the road for work? Is so, and if you are a fan of the hotels like the Westin, Le Meridian or W Hotels, the American Express® (AMEX) Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) Rewards card or the SPG business card is a big win for your travel plans. This card pairs up with the existing SPG hotel rewards program to amplify the rewards you collect on eligible purchases. Spend on hotels and flights, accumulate 2, 3, 4, or even 5 points for each dollar, and then take your self on that trip you’ve been waiting for.

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card

Starpoints® Rewards

For every $1 spent on eligible purchases, you earn 2 Starpoints. These points can total to 4 or 5 Starpoints for that same $1 you spend because you receive Starpoints from both the AMEX SPG Card and from the SPG Membership card.

You can use the points to stay at any of the 1,300 participating hotels in over 100 countries. And there are no black-out dates. Instead of blocking off limited rooms for rewards guests, Starwood has a simple policy for booking: if a suite is available and you have the Starpoints, it’s yours. The hotels are ranked by category with the higher ranking hotels requiring more points, obviously. However, for the still very nice category-one Sheraton or FourPoints hotels, you can stay for only 2000 Starpoints on weekends or 3,000 on weekdays. If you’re using your card to book hotels, it won’t take long before you’ll be booking a night or two for free. You can also use the SPG online airline ticket reservation system to book a flight with over 150 airlines. If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program like Delta SkyMiles®, you’ll actually get 5,000 bonus points. It’s nice to have a benefit in transferring for once!

Eligible purchases range from hotel night stays at the Starwood or partner hotels (like Caeser’s Palace or Planet Hollywood) or food and beverages purchased at Starwood hotels. Starpoints can be earned when purchasing flights on Delta or Air Emirates as SPG Rewards can be connected with the airlines’ miles systems, with additional perks available for elite members. You can even earn with Uber! Take Uber for hopping around the city during your stay and you’ll earn Starpoints, too!

The double Starpoints eligible purchases are generally travel-related, however, any purchase will earn you 1 Starpoint for $1 spent. These additional points can rack up and help earn your way to more free night stays.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards

 

One Card Leads to Another

In order to reap the benefits of potentially 5 Starpoints on eligible purchases, you have to be a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program. Conveniently, membership is free, though the level of benefits of Starpoints eligibility per dollar spent is tiered. The Preferred (a.k.a. basic) level is 1 Starpoint for $3 spent. If you have 10 Eligible Stays or 25 Eligible Nights in a calendar year, you’ll become a Gold level member, earning 1 for every $2 spent. If you can’t quite make that level of stays, there’s another benefit of the AMEX SPG Rewards Card in that each year you’ll receive credit for five nights and two stays towards an SPG Elite status. Those bonus stays could put you over the top to your Gold level and extra Starpoints. If you’re a particularly big spender, $30,000 in eligible spending will also up your elite status to the Gold level. There’s also a Platinum level, but the points per dollar are the same as Gold, so although it sounds flashy and has other hotel perks, in looking at pure Starpoints rewards, who cares?

 

A Warm Rewards Welcome

To entice you to sign up, AMEX is providing a welcome offer of 25,000 Starpoints if you spend $3000 on the card within the first three months. The purchases can be made on the main card, or on an additional card if you have one, and purchases from both cards count towards the total.

This welcome offer can translate into a great trip fairly easily. The Welcome rewards can translate into six free nights at a category 2 hotel, such as certain Westin or Sheraton hotels. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can put all your points towards a one night stay at a top category hotel at one of the premier global destinations. If you’re looking at using the points for air travel, the 25,000 Starpoints can pay for a flight ranging from $280 to $345, which could take you on a nice domestic adventure.

The Fine Print

For the first year, the annual fee of $95 is waived. This first year provides a nice trial period to see if the card is a good fit for your travel and rewards lifestyle. You may discover that your travel plans don’t quite match the hotels or airlines offered (unlikely given the global coverage, but anything’s possible!). On the other hand, the Starpoints could add up very quickly with the combination of the AMEX SPG Rewards card and the SPG Membership card, and the year two annual fee could be paid off in one trip.

The annual percentage rates (APR) are fairly reasonable for this credit card. They range from 15.49% to 19.49% depending on your creditworthiness. This card allows a balance to be carried unlike other AMEX cards, and though it is not recommended, a balance without late payments will only accumulate the interest charges and no additional fees.

During international travel, there are no foreign fees charged to the card for use abroad. This perk seems only appropriate given that this card is intended to take you globetrotting. While planning your travel, keep in mind that point transfer to other airlines, or your welcome bonus rewards can take a while to arrive. The transfer can take up to 12 weeks, so be sure to give yourself lots of leeway before booking.

Extra Benefits

As the SPG Rewards card is an AMEX card, it comes along with a number of additional benefits. For insurance, the card comes with a baggage insurance plan, a travel accident plan, as well as extended warranties for purchases. If you’re on the road and something goes awry, there’s the convenient roadside assistance hotline to connect you to a repair truck and help you on your way. If things really go wayside and your rental is damaged or stolen, AMEX provides auto rental insurance. Though all the insurances have their limitations, it’s a reassuring set of tools to literally have in your back pocket in case your travels don’t go according to plan.

Conclusion

The AMEX SPG Rewards Card is a great rewards card for the avid traveler who loves Starwood Hotels. If you enjoy the high-end comfort of these hotels (and who doesn’t?), and spend quite a few nights on the road, the Starpoints will rack up quickly with the combined point system and you’ll be enjoying the benefits. If you don’t stay at Starwood Hotels, this card holds some perks in the airline bookings, but there’s likely a better for a rewards credit card out there. For the Starwood lovers, this rewards card is a great deal.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

With more than 90 flight destinations spanning the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico, Southwest has taken on a large market share of budget-conscious travelers. The company has a strong reputation among its most frequent flyers due in part to its relatively low fares, no baggage fees and a solid rewards program. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers a way to boost frequent flyer rewards over time, making it a sound choice for loyal Southwest travelers.

Southwest RR Premier

Underwritten by Chase, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is one of three rewards cards offered by the airline that provides frequent flyers the opportunity to earn points toward redeemable miles, gift cards, and other cardholder perks. Let’s take a look at the basics.

The Basics

For each dollar spent on Southwest airlines flights or hotel and car rental partners, cardholders earn two rapid rewards points; all other purchases made on the Rapid Rewards Premier credit card earn accountholders a single point. Rapid rewards points can be redeemed for Southwest Airlines flights to any of the airline’s destinations or for international flights offered through more than 50 global carriers partnered with Southwest. Cardholders may also redeem rapid rewards for more than 70 partner merchants for as little as 3,000 points. Points earned on the Rapid Rewards Premier credit card may also be used to redeem hotel rooms or rental cars throughout the United States, or merchandise listed through the Southwest website.

In addition to a robust rewards redemption program, cardholders don’t have to be concerned with rewards expiring after a certain amount of time. As long as the card remains open and in good standing, your rapid rewards remain useable. Credit card holders are also unlimited in the amount of rewards that can be earned over time.

Cardholders don’t have to fret over seat restrictions or blackout dates when rewards are redeemed, and no change fees are assessed if flights have to be changed. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card definitely stands out among similar travel rewards cards in offering these added perks.

Unique Perks

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card has an added rewards bonus equal to 50,000 points for new cardholders who spend a minimum of $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. On top of that boost in rewards, cardholders receive an added 6,000 points at each account anniversary, making it even easier to accumulate rewards.

For frequent Southwest flyers, the Rapid Rewards Premier card is incredibly attractive in that it also offers an additional 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 in purchases, capped at 15,000 tier-qualifying points each calendar year. Travelers who earn at least 35,000 tier-qualifying rewards each year qualify for A-List Status, which provides the following added perks:

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security lane access
  • Priority check-in
  • 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned each flight
  • Priority standby status
  • A-List member dedicated phone line

As if these benefits weren’t enough for the loyal Southwest fan, a companion pass is available for rewards members who earn at least 110,000 points. The Southwest companion pass allows flyers to choose one person to fly with them to any destination, at any time, for a whole year.

The Fine Print

As with any credit card, applicants should be aware of the nitty gritty details. For the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, there is no promotional introductory interest rate, even for the most qualified applicants. The annual percentage rate starts at 16.24% and can go up as high as 23.24% for purchases; the cash advance rate is 25.24%. All interest rates assessed on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card are variable, meaning they will fluctuate with broad market interest rate movements.

For cardholders interested in balance transfers, no promotional interest rate is available at this time. The annual percentage rate applied to balance transfers is the same as the interest rate offered at the time the card is established. However, well-qualified applicants have the opportunity to earn up to 15,000 rewards points on balance transfers successfully completed within the first 90 days of account opening. Cardholders should be aware that a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5 is assessed on the entire amount transferred, whichever is more.

Travel credit cards rarely offer such a variety of perks without a cost, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is no exception to this rule. An annual fee of $99 is charged on an annual basis at the cardholder’s anniversary. Fortunately, no fees are assessed when redeeming rewards.

According to Chase, applicants must have outstanding credit in order to qualify for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. This means that a low debt-to-income ratio must be in place for borrowers and co-borrowers, along with no outstanding delinquent credit accounts. Past bankruptcies, accounts in collections, or high revolving debt balance relative to credit limits may disqualify an applicant, or may increase the initial interest rate applied to purchases or balance transfers put on the card.

The Verdict

Southwest Airlines is not every traveler’s cup of tea, but for loyal fans of the cost-conscious airline, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is an exceptional choice for a travel card. Rapid rewards are earned not only on Southwest fares purchased through the card, but also on everyday purchases like gas or groceries and partner purchases such as hotel stays and rental cards. Cardholders have the opportunity to boost total rewards earnings by taking advantage of special balance transfer offers and a 50,000 utilization rewards bonus applicable within the first three months after account opening. Southwest credits another 6,000 rewards each anniversary of account opening simply for being a customer in good standing.

The rewards are a great feature of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card, but frequent flyers also have the benefit of no blackout dates when redeeming rewards for airfare, and no seat restrictions. Rewards never expire, and there is no cap on earnings. Cardholders do need to be aware of the annual fee of $99, as well as the annual percentage rate charged on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. For travelers with excellent credit and a penchant for the Southwest experience, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is a strong contender in travel credit cards.

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Discover it Miles Credit Card Review

Discover it Miles

There’s nothing quite like wanderlust to motivate someone to pack a bag and hit the road. That desire to travel is prompted by a myriad of sources, though, from stress related to the constant grind of work, family pressures or the simple desire to sip a fruity cocktail on a faraway beach without a worry in mind. With a reported average of over 100,000 passenger flights taking off each day, individuals have the opportunity to escape to the getaway of their choice with relative ease. But traveling requires cash-flow, and in some cases, a lot of it. The Discover it Miles credit card is here to help.

 

Discover it Miles

 

Discover’s Miles credit card is a travel rewards card with a number features that makes it stand out among the rest. As a recent spin off of the Discover It rewards credit card, this travel card affords cardholders the opportunity to earn 1.5x unlimited miles on every dollar spent on purchase. The card has both advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed, all outlined below, but it certainly is in the running for individuals seeking a solid travel rewards card to help offset the cash burden of hitting the skies.

The Basics

The Discover It Miles credit card allows cardholders to earn an unlimited number of miles equal to 1.5% of each dollar spent on the card. It is considered a flat rate rewards program, meaning there are no categories to track or limits to total rewards earnings – a great feature when compared to other cash-back or travel rewards credit cards. While the Discover It Miles card may have a lower rate of rewards crediting than comparable cards, cardholders have the opportunity to earn double the 1.5 miles per dollar spent in the first 12 months of account opening. This essentially means 3 miles are credited for each dollar of purchases, which is applied to the account at the end of the 12-month mark.

One of the attributes that makes the Discover It Miles credit card attractive is its introductory offer. Cardholders who qualify experience a 0% APR on purchases made within the first 12 months after the card is opened, after which the standard APR applies. Current standard rates for the Discover It Miles card range from 11.24% to 23.24%. The 0% introductory offer is not applied to balance transfers, although a reduced rate may be available for well-qualified applicants. For cost-conscious travelers, the Discover It Miles credit card is a great choice as it has no annual fee for as long as the account remains open. That’s a challenge to find in the travel rewards card universe!

Redeeming Rewards

The Discover It Miles credit card offers some flexibility in redeeming accumulated rewards, which also differs from other travel credit cards. Cardholders can request a redemption of earned miles at any time as a credit for travel-related purchases made within the previous 180 days, including airfare, hotels or rental cards. Alternatively, rewards may be redeemed for cash back on non-travel related charges, albeit at a lower credit rate. For instance, 100 miles translate to $0.50 of credit for ancillary purchases, compared to the $1 credit when applied toward travel expenses for the same number of miles redeemed. The flexibility in rewards redemption makes the card attractive, but clearly benefits the traveler more so than an individual looking for a pure cash-back rewards card.

Credit Requirements

While the average credit score necessary to qualify for the Discover It Miles card is not specified by the card provider, all new credit card applicants must be able to provide proof that they are a low risk borrower. Generally, this includes a strong credit history in terms of on-time repayment, no collection accounts and responsible use of other credit accounts. Applicants should be aware that while the introductory rate is 0% under the current promotion, the standard APR that applies after the first 12 months of billing cycles may be near the higher end of the spectrum if credit history and score are less than ideal.

Unique Card Perks

The Discover It Miles credit card offers some unique perks in addition to cash-back travel rewards. Cardholders who use the credit card to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi are eligible to receive a statement credit equal to the purchase price of that service, credited with seven business days. The in-flight Wi-Fi credit is capped at $30 per anniversary year, and unused credits are not carried over from year to year.

Discover also offers cardholders the ability to review their FICO Credit Score on each statement or through the use of the online or mobile log-in. Key credit factors compiled from TransUnion are used to determine an individual’s FICO Score as reported by Discover, which may differ from other credit bureau score reporting methods. The FICO Credit Score availability is free of charge to all Discover It Miles cardholders.

Discover also offers free overnight card replacement should the Miles reward card be lost or stolen, as well as a unique feature called Freeze It. When a cardholder freezes a credit card account, Discover essentially stops all future transactions from going through, including new purchases, cash advances or balance transfer requests. The Freeze It feature is incredibly helpful for travelers who may have temporarily misplaced the credit card or who are concerned with fraudulent activity.

Finally, the Discover It Miles credit card allows cardholders the ability to earn and use travel rewards without the annoyance of blackout dates. Most other travel rewards cards have restrictions on how and when a traveler can use earned miles.

The Verdict

The Discover It Miles credit card is a strong contender in the sea of travel credit cards for those always on the go. However, the Discover It Miles credit card is not a great fit for everyone. A strong credit history is required to qualify for the card, and the potential for earning rewards as a travel credit or cash-back are not nearly as high as comparable rewards cards.

But with no annual fee, bonus miles earned within the first 12 months after account opening, and a 0% introductory interest rate, frequent fliers would be hard pressed to find another credit card as appealing as the Discover It Miles offer. The additional perks like in-flight Wi-Fi statement credits and no blackout dates also make the card attractive for cost-conscious cardholders.

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A Review of the Three New JetBlue Cards

JetBlue Plus Card

Anyone who travels frequently knows it can get a bit pricey. This is why major card companies such as Chase, American Express, etc. have come up with a “frequent traveler miles” system that allows a card holder to gain miles to travel with every purchase made; allowing for an easier and more affordable way to travel.

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JetBlue Plus Card
JetBlue Plus Card

One of the most popular airlines known today is JetBlue Airlines. Because this airline is the fifth largest airline in the world, it is no surprise that they have their own “frequent traveler” card. In the past, JetBlue has had a partnership with American Express in order to make this a reality. However, JetBlue has recently announced that they have cut their financial ties with American Express and will be partnering with a new card company. As a result, JetBlue reveled three new cards which are available for commercial use. These three cards will have the same “frequent traveler miles” system as their old cards. When JetBlue had cut ties with American Express the breakup didn’t receive much attention; and after doing so, they teamed up with a company called Barclaycard; a company originating in the UK. Barclaycard was launched on June 29, 1966; and was the one of the first companies to execute the use of credit cards. The Barclaycard company launched Barclaycard US in 2004 and implemented the co-branded card for US Airways in 2005. This was one of the biggest successes of the Barclaycard business.

Now that JetBlue has teamed up with Barclaycard, they have introduced three new cards that are now available to their customers:

 

JetBlue Card

The first of the three is the standard JetBlue Card. This card my not seem like much to the average observer; however, this card has much to offer. This card is especially exciting to any past customers of JetBlue with American Express. Previous card holders were required to pay a $40 annual fee when opening an account. However, unlike those previous card holders, when opening an account with JetBlue and Barclaycard, the card holder will not be required to pay an entry fee or an annual fee of any kind. New card holders also receive 10,000 mileage points on their card after spending $1,000 within 90 days of acquiring the card. Additional benefits include: Earning 3 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases and No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue flights. Points required for an Award Flight vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking. When looking at these rewards, its easy to see that JetBlue and Barclaycard seem to have the better deal compared to when the airline was partnered with American Express.

 

JetBlue Plus Card 

This second card is a card especially exciting for the JetBlue fanatic. With the addition of an annual fee of $99, the card holder can receive more benefits than the customers who choose to stay with the standard JetBlue Card. Customers also receive 30,000 mileage points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of the account’s opening. That’s 20,000 points more than the standard JetBlue card. Other benefits include: Earning 6 points for every $1 spent on JetBlue purchases; 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores; 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases, Free checked bag for the primary card member and up to three companions on the same reservation when you use your JetBlue Business Card to purchase tickets on JetBlue-operated flights. It is clear to see why it may be worth paying the annual fee in order to receive the full benefits that JetBlue has to offer. This is the perfect card for the man or woman who finds themselves traveling more frequently (no pun intended) than those who do not.

 

JetBlue Business Card

This third and final card is the JetBlue Business Card. This card is essentially the same as the JetBlue Plus Card; however, the card holder receives twice the points when shopping at an office supply store rather than a grocery store. In order to receive this card, the $99 annual fee must be paid, and the card holder receives 30,000 points after purchasing $1,000 within 90 days of the account’s opening. Other benefits include: Getting 10% of your points back every time you redeem to use toward your next redemption, no foreign transaction fees, and Earn 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary. With these rewards in mind, it seems to be the ideal card to be used if you hold the title of the “Office Administrator”. Another main use of this card would most likely be when a business needs to purchase new equipment (new printers, copiers, etc.). Not only will you be purchasing new equipment, but you will also be gaining mileage points for travel.

 

Conclusion on the New JetBlue Airline Cards

What is the take away? These three cards are great and have specific uses. If you are a person who is looking for a new card company and love to travel, you should probably go for the standard JetBlue Card. If you are interested in more perks than what the standard card has to offer, you should probably go for the JetBlue Plus Card. And, finally, if you are the business owner who is looking for ways to cut down traveling costs, you should probably go for the JetBlue Business card. Not only does this final option offer the same benefits as the JetBlue Plus card, but it is especially designed for basic business management.