If you’ve ever been camping, you know that being cold or wet is no fun. What’s worse is trying to get warmed up in a sleeping bag that isn’t up to the task. 

I know from personal experience that there are far too many poorly designed sleep sacks on the market that allow cold air and moisture to penetrate flimsy materials. Plus, they’re often full of unlabeled toxic chemicals like water-repellant PFAS or flame retardant chemicals like PBDEs. 

To avoid that situation, you need to be prepared with one of the best non-toxic sleeping bags that’s proven to perform. And since you usually have to use a pad to prevent the ground’s cold and dampness from seeping through to you, add a non-toxic sleeping pad to your shopping list of non-toxic camping gear. (I’ve got recommendations for safe camping pads below, too!)

In this guide, I’m giving you my top picks for non-toxic and organic sleeping bags and pads for camping. Plus, if you’re looking for overnight gear suitable for indoor sleepovers, you will love our lineup of organic sleeping bags and pads made of all-natural fabrics and without toxic chemicals!

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This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

Featured Image Credit: Keena for Fortland Productions via Nemo

Do Sleeping Bags Contain PFAS (or PFCs?)

Sleeping bags labeled as water, stain, or oil resistant without clearly stating which chemical(s) provides that characteristic most likely contain PFAS or PFCs.

Short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are known to persist in the environment without ever breaking down into harmless substances. This feature gives them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

PFAS build up (bioaccumulate) in larger organisms, including humans. In people, they cause serious health problems including cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive harm.

A more general acronym, PFC, stands for perfluorinated compounds, or alternatively, perfluorinated chemicals. PFAS are included in this class. These days, the term “PFAS” is used more often than “PFCs,” but just know that if you see either one of these terms on an outdoor brand’s website, they essentially mean the same thing.

What to Know About PFAS, Outdoor Gear, and Your Health

PFAS chemicals in the waterproof coating of your rain jacket, shoes, and other outdoor gear may be poisoning you and the environment. Learn more about these toxic chemicals, what’s being done about them, and how best to minimize your exposure.

How Can I Tell If A Sleeping Bag Contains PFAS?

To be safe, it is a good idea to ask the company directly. Be specific in your question and ask if either long- or short-chain PFAS are used in the sleeping bag.

Short-chain PFAS are believed to be less harmful to human health than long-chain PFAS. While this is true to some extent, exposure to all PFAS is associated with adverse health outcomes.

Because of public pressure on many industries—including the outdoor gear industry—to end the use of PFAS on their products, companies who use alternatives often voluntarily include this information in their marketing. But keep in mind that it is not required by law to list any chemicals.

Companies may use the newer acronym, NFC, on their sleeping bags. I was told by numerous customer service reps that NFC stands for no fluorocarbons. Even with this assurance, it’s still a good idea to ask!

To be totally sure a sleeping bag doesn’t contain PFAS, you may wish to inquire individually about the outer shell, inner lining, and fill of a sleeping bag. One or more of those components may have been treated with PFAS in their place of origin. This is possible especially if they’re made in another country. 

The U.S. company that sells you their bag made of imported materials may not know for sure. So, you may ask if they get their products independently tested once they—or their components—arrive at their factory or warehouse. If so, ask to see the test results. Also, inquire about the test sensitivity. Ideally, you want to see measurements in ppt (parts per trillion), but may only receive results in ppb (parts per billion).

You’re looking for tests for all types of fluorinated compounds. And of course, you want to see negative results (which will usually show up on the results page as “none detected”).

Do PFAS Contribute To The Climate Crisis?

Recent data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) revealed that during PFAS manufacture, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon called HCFC-22 is released. This gas is roughly 1,800 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, contributing to the climate crisis. 

HCFC-22 also destroys the ozone layer, which protects all life—including humans—from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The ozone hole has been a health and environmental concern since it was first discovered in 1981. (The good news is that it does appear to be healing, several decades after certain ozone-depleting chemicals were banned globally!)

The links between PFAS, the climate crisis, and ozone layer destruction reveal how truly toxic PFAS are to the environment. Purchasing only PFAS- and PFC-free sleeping bags and pads from our list below is one way outdoor enthusiasts like you can protect the outdoors to enjoy on future camping trips. 

What Is DWR?

DWR stands for durable water repellent.

It’s a general term for a class of chemical mixes of unknown components that make water form beads and roll off textiles instead of being absorbed into the fabric. DWRs are commonly applied to outdoor gear, including sleeping bags.

Does DWR Contain PFAS? 

DWRs may contain PFAS. Or it may not!

The problem for shoppers trying to avoid toxic PFAS is that you can’t know for sure if a certain DWR on a product you’d like to buy contains one or more PFAS. 

Some companies have patented their DWR formulas. So, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to find out exactly what’s in it even if you asked. Companies will say their recipe is proprietary and aren’t required to tell you its components. Remember that PFAS or PFCs may or may not be present in a DWR. Do not assume that DWRs are PFAS-free.

It’s important to note that there are no governmental or industry standards requiring PFAS in any product, including sleeping bags. Nor are there any regulations about the term DWR.

While doing research for this article, I heard a few companies call the DWR they use a “C0” compound. (That’s a zero, not the letter o.)

This term is used to differentiate it from C8 or C6 chemicals. The numbers refer to the number of carbon atoms in the PFAS molecule. The longer-chained compounds are more toxic than the short-chained compounds.

C0, then, by this logic, implies the chemical has no carbon and is non-toxic. 

But according to what I’ve been told, a C0 compound has no fluorine atoms, making it fluorine-free or PFAS-free. It seems like carbon is in DWR, but I couldn’t find anyone who knew—or who would tell me.

So, I looked into C0 to see if there was more information about it. This is what I found on a textile company’s site: “DWR is also called C0. This name is not entirely correct because, despite being much better for the environment, the substance still contains carbon. The carbon does not have fluorine on it, however, but water-repellent end-groups which are waxy and therefore automatically repel any water. The finish is PFC-free…but does not repel oil like the C-series did. A small sacrifice considering the substantial benefits of DWR regarding the environment and our health.”

The upshot of this investigation is that although it may be true that C0 is fluorine-free, it contains carbon. This means it is likely derived from fossil fuels.

It’s still unclear what exactly it is… could literally be one of thousands, if not millions, of different chemicals. 

And it is a fact that some fossil fuel-derived chemicals are toxic, including carbon-containing carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. And only a handful (literally!) of the 90,000+ fossil fuel-derived chemicals have undergone any toxicity testing at all. Yet they’re in most of the products you use every day. 

So, without knowing its identity, I cannot say definitively whether C0 is toxic or not. Keep in mind, also, that there are many different DWRs on the market. I don’t know whether they all contain the same C0. If we get a reply from a DWR manufacturer, we’ll be sure to update this article.

We plan on doing more extensive research on C0 in the future, so stay tuned!

How Can I Find Out If PFAS Are In a Company’s DWR?

The most effective way to find out if PFAS are in a particular company’s DWR is to ask what’s not in their DWR.

Unless they’re using the “DWR” term to hide PFAS, companies should willingly tell you that PFAS are not present if, in fact, they aren’t using them. 

Alternatively, you could ask specifically whether any short- or long-chain PFAS (or PFCs) are in their DWR. If a company hedges a response, it’s prudent to err on the side of caution and assume PFAS are likely present.

In at least some cases of DWR (like Teflon and Gore-Tex, for example), PFAS are present. So, it’s more useful to look for labels like “PFAS-free” or “PFC-free” on a sleeping bag label to know if forever chemicals are present. Those are clear statements. The term “DWR” does not give you the same assurance. 

(Note: If a company says their product is “PFOA-free” or “PFOS-free,” that’s a red flag. These are two specific types of PFAS chemicals (out of literally thousands). You want to look for products that are free from all PFAS, not just specific ones.

Do Sleeping Bags Contain Chemical Flame Retardants?

In addition to PFAS, sleeping bags may contain chemical flame retardants.

Companies apply them, usually to the outer surface of sleeping bags, because they believe the chemicals slow down or prevent the burning process if a sleeping bag should catch on fire. Whether they do or not is debatable.

However, manufacturers are required to ensure that their products pass a flammability test before going on the market. The American Standard Test Method of Flammability (ASTM F1955-20) outlines the process. It is technically equivalent to the Canvas Products Association International standard, CPAI-75. The only difference is that one uses the metric system of measurement, while the other uses the English system. 

Interestingly, CPAI is an organization that got its name at a time when tents were made of canvas. They were coated with paraffin wax thinned with gasoline to make them waterproof. That combination made canvas tents quickly burn down if a fire broke out. What an important lesson for all campers!

To pass the flammability test required today, a sleeping bag must not be consumed by flames faster than six inches per minute. Do you think that’s hard to meet?

Well, I found an insightful comment by REI, a major outdoor company, on its website blog about this rule: “This standard is easily met in most sleeping bags without the application of flame retardants.”

In other words: In most cases, sleeping bag brands do NOT have to apply toxic flame retardant chemicals to their products in order to meet federal flammability standards.

Unfortunately, sleeping bag manufacturers may still coat their products with a large class of chemical flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) or similar compounds containing chlorine. Alternatively, they may purchase their products from other countries that apply chemicals—including chemicals banned in the U.S.—liberally to products. They do this as a way to “meet” the safety regulations for sleeping bags, even though it may not actually be necessary.

Just as I noted in the section above on PFAS, U.S. companies may purchase product components—outer or inner linings or fill—from other countries. They may not know if chemical flame retardants had been applied at the time of manufacture. You’d hope that a merchant would inform their customers, but we can’t really have any assurance of that. Although a U.S. company may not coat their sleeping bags with PBDEs, they could already be on the materials.

So, the only way you can be sure is to ask to see independent third party test results of the final sleeping bags after assembly. You’d like to see, for example, if halogenated compounds, which include bromine, chlorine, and fluorine, are present. A test sensitivity in the ppt (parts per trillion) range is excellent, although you may get only a ppb (parts per billion) sensitivity. “None detected” is the result you want. 

Note that tests for specific, individual chemicals are not really useful since there are so many PBDEs. A sleeping bag could test negative for a specific compound, but still contain other PBDEs untested for. This is why tests for total halogens are more informative. 

(Something else you could ask about is whether or not the brand has control of its entire supply chain. The more hands-on they are about their sourcing and materials every step of the way, the more likely they’re going to be able to tell you whether or not flame retardants are used in the different components.)

As we outlined in our article on flame retardants in mattresses, several U.S. states have banned numerous PBDEs and related chemicals because they are extremely toxic. Many are known carcinogens or cause reproductive harm. So, we will never recommend a sleeping bag coated with these kinds of chemical flame retardants.

Some natural materials, such as down or wool, are not flammable. They make great sleeping bag fill, too, keeping you warm.

Are There Any Certifications For Non-Toxic Sleeping Bags?

There are a few non-profit organizations that certify certain types of products as non-toxic, but sleeping bags are not included at the time of writing. MADE SAFE and its parent group, NonToxic Certified are a couple of sites that certify products as non-toxic… But unfortunately, they don’t have any certified sleeping bags as of right now!

If you’re looking into down sleeping bags, a product certified with the Responsible Down Standard ensures animal welfare is considered, but is silent on chemicals. The bluesign certification refers to the sustainability of products and does ban or restrict certain chemicals.

The other standards on the list below apply mostly to organic and all-natural non-toxic sleeping bags. I contacted all of these certifiers about PFAS/PBDEs and included their responses below.

Responsible Down Standard (RDS): According to the website, this certification verifies that “…down and feathers used for padding elements are obtained from aquatic birds (goose and duck) or terrestrial (e.g. chicken and turkey)  that have not been subjected to treatments that cause pain, suffering or stress.”

Bluesign: I received a detailed reply from Dr. Michal Sabo, Head of Chemical Services, at bluesign. He wrote:

“We do not allow any PFAS, PBDE flame retardants and tris chlorinated substances in bluesign approved chemicals. We deleted all PFAS-based chemistry from our publicly available database by July 1st, 2023.

The textile article manufacturers received a transition period for production of articles with PFAS-based chemistry until July 1st, 2024. Most of our 570 textile manufacturers already switched to fluorine-free chemistry. However, there are still some…textile mills where the phase-out and replacement with F-free chemistry is in process…

Then the bluesign certificates for textile articles will expire automatically after July 1st 2024. We informed all our customers and stakeholders about this process already in May 2022. Statements can be found in our LinkedIn profiles.

There is still a discussion in the industry on how to deal with PTFE-membranes as well as PFAS-based chemistry used in military clothes, work wear & personal protective equipment (esp. in hospitals) as well as textiles related to public procurement. The EU is preparing an amendment to Reg. (EU) 2016/425. This is still in progress.

PBDE flame retardants and tris chlorinated substances were banned in bluesign approved chemical products as well as articles in the past. No approval for PBDE and per-Cl-substances is possible with bluesign.” 

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A GOTS rep told me by email that PFAS are “absolutely not” in any textiles that carry their certification. When I asked her about PBDEs, she directed me to their Standard. Section 4.2.2.3, titled Prohibited and Restricted Chemicals, identifies all PBDEs, related chlorinated tris compounds, as well as other chemical flame retardants as prohibited.

OEKO-TEX: On the consumer FAQ page, a question on whether PFAS are allowed in certified OEKO-TEX products appears. Here is their response:

“We issued a general ban on PFAS in textiles, leather, apparel and footwear. This applies to product class 1 as of April 2023. The transition phase for the product classes ends in 2024.”

I asked OEKO-TEX what their position was on PBDEs and received this reply:

“The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is a test for harmful substances. As such, in the OEKO-TEX Standard 100, only flame retardants or biocides that have been reviewed and approved by our toxicologists are allowed to be used. These can then be used for articles following annex 4 and annex 6 as long as they have been approved by OEKO-TEX prior to use and their application on textiles does not exceed the limit values set by those annexes. In the case of PBDE, this is the quantification limit of 10 mg/kg. The list of accepted flame retardants can be found here: https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/apply-here/active-chemical-products/accepted-acps. You can find the full list of tested flame retardant substances in our standard under ‘forbidden flame retardant substances.’ Moreover, when an active chemical product (flame retardant or biocide) is applied on a certified article, this must be notified in the scope of the certificate which you can find by entering the label code into the label check.”

UL GREENGUARD: This certification verifies that the product meets their volatile organic chemical (VOC) emissions standards. As far as I know, it does not have any restrictions on PFAS or PDBEs. I did not receive a reply to my email from UL GREENGUARD.

Best PFAS-Free Sleeping Bags

Fortunately, there are a few companies that make non-toxic sleeping bags without PFAS and PBDEs, which are also suitable for outdoor use and are relatively affordable.

Note that most of these sleeping bag options are made of fossil fuel-derived ingredients such as polyester and nylon. However, they are generally less expensive than all-natural or organic products. Plus, they tend to be a more durable option for those on outdoor camping trips who want some water repellency (which 100% natural sleeping bags can’t offer).

Without further ado, here are my recommendations:

Lucky Sheep

Price Range: $527-1,075
PFAS-Free Options: All

Lucky Sheep offers all-natural sleeping bags made entirely of wool and cotton. They use beeswax as a water repellent. You can select 2-5 inch-thick wool batting as fill.

One of their bags is suitable for cold weather, and the other is more lightweight and suitable for warmer weather.


Nemo

Best PFAS-Free Sleeping Bags NEMO

Price Range: $60-$650
PFAS-Free Options: The Forte Endless Promise sleeping bags are 100% PFAS-free. The other varieties do not have a PFAS coating on the fabric, nor in the DownTek filling. However, they are also not 100% PFAS-free yet because of the small hardware (like clips). They are in the process of transitioning all sleeping bags to being 100% PFAS-free.

Nemo has a unique hybrid sleeping bag featuring a synthetic bottom to avoid compression when you’re lying in it, and a wool top for warm loft. Each bag and pad has its own PDF product manual with materials information, specs, and warmth ratings.

For the filling, they use PFAS-free DownTek coated with a C0 DWR.

The outer fabric is also treated with a PFAS-free C0 coating for water-resistance.

I asked them what’s in the DWR and they said “While we do use DWR on our sleeping bags, it is a ‘C0’ compound which does not break down to PFAS or PFCs. In addition, we do not use flame retardants on our sleeping bags.”

Then I followed up with Nemo for more information on their C0 compound. They responded with “A C0 compound means there is no carbon chain in there, which is the chemical required to create PFCs. In most cases the DWR used on our sleeping bags is silicone-based; some use a polyurethane base.” 

(Side note: It’s not super relevant here when it comes to PFAS, but I did inform Nemo that both silicone and polyurethane are plastics that contain carbon chains, since that info they gave me was not entirely correct.)


Feathered Friends

Price Range: $599
PFAS-Free Options: Fir colored YF sleeping bag (with more options to come, as they are transitioning)

Made of down imported from Eastern Europe, all the sleeping bags made by Feathered Friends are certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). They told me by email: “We are working with our vendors to transition to fabrics that are NFC. At the moment, the three season sleeping bags made with the YFuse fabric in Fir are 100% NFC (both lining and outer fabrics).”

In a followup email in October 2023, they stated: “Pertex (the company that makes our fabric) is definitely experimenting with C0 (PFC-free) DWR treatments.

We are currently adopting fabrics into our lineup as Pertex makes them available to us, so currently the Fir color YF bags are PFC-free, while some of the other colors have not been shifted over yet. Our Iris color is being shifted over sometime this month—feel free to check in every once in a while if this is the one you’re waiting for. We are hopeful that most, if not all, of our fabrics will be switched over to PFC-free by mid next year…

An NFC fabric is a non-flourocarbonated fabric. We are transitioning away from these with the PFC-free fabric mentioned above (it’s the same treatment, just a different way to explain it).”

Because I know the term carbonated has to do with dissolved carbon dioxide, I asked again for clarification. This was the reply I received: “We use the terms PFAS-free, NFC and C0 (“C zero”) interchangeably, all referring to non-fluorocarbon-treated fabrics. (I added the “-ated” and you’re right, it is just non-fluorocarbon)…I don’t know the exact chemical makeup of the NFC DWR from Pertex (this is proprietary information for most companies), but this shift is part of a larger movement in the outdoor industry to remove PFAS from our products to reduce chemical harm.

As far as PBDEs go, we do not use it or any other flame retardant…”


Fjällräven

Price Range: $160-400
PFAS-Free Options: All

This Swedish company has a helpful store locator on its site for U.S. retailers who carry their products.

I’m pretty impressed by their Chemicals Guide which gives detailed information on all the toxic chemicals, such as PFAS, PBDEs, and chlorinated tris compounds, that they do not allow in any of their outdoor products, including sleeping bags. They also rate their materials: “We divide our materials and fibers up as follows: excellent, like recycled wool, organic hemp and tencel; good, such as recycled polyester, G-1000 Eco and traceable wool; OK, like polyamide, cotton, metal buttons; and those we don’t use, such as PFCs, PVCs and angora wool.”

(Note that in the past, Fjallraven had written about their trouble getting PFAS out of their zippers, even after they’d removed it from everything else. We’re happy to report that the brand has since told us they have now transitioned to PFAS-free zippers! That means their products no longer contain any PFAS.)


Big Agnes

Price Range: $55 (on sale) – $1,000
PFAS-Free Options: All

Big Agnes states they are PFC-free on their sustainability page. They use PFC-free DownTek.

In an email, Big Agnes told me: “We are actually using the DownTek PFC-Free water repellent down. They have 2 versions of their product. Both with and without PFC.” So then I reached out to DownTek to find out what they use instead of PFAS, but unfortunately I have not received a reply.

A followup from Big Agnes provided further information: “Their new formula is proprietary and I do not know. Each of our products using down will come with a hangtag with a QR code that gives you extensive information on the insulation in that specific product. You can find that either on a product you own, or if  you can find one in a retailer you can scan it.” 


REI

Best PFAS- Free Sleeping Bags REI

Price Range: $70-215
PFAS-Free Options: Kindercone 25 kids’ sleeping bag (fall 2023 colors and later); Exped MegaSleep bags; Kelty Cosmic sleeping bags. (Plus more to come, as REI is in the middle of a years-long PFAS phase-out.)

I reached out to REI for an update on their PFAS phaseout plan (which they initially announced in early 2023).

They replied with a stock response that gave no specific details, so I followed up for more clarification. They replied by saying “None of our sleeping bags have flame retardant finishes (PBDE chemicals or otherwise). Sleeping bags fabric constructions are not flame retardant, either.

Sleeping bags do generally have a durable water repellent finish on the outer and sometimes interior fabrics. This is true for all the REI-branded sleeping bags… All of our sleeping bags for Fall 2023 still use a short-Chain C6 PFAS…except for the REI Co-op Kindercone 25 sleeping bag for kids. Please know that fall colors of the Kindercone are PFAS-free. However, this is a recent change so the spring 2023 and 2022 bags have a PFAS DWR…Other sleeping bags we sell that are PFAS-free are the Exped MegaSleep bags and the Kelty Cosmic sleeping bags.”


Wiggy’s

Best PFAS- Free Sleeping Bags Wiggys

Price Range: $115-295 (on sale)
PFAS-Free Options: All

Offered in a variety of shapes and temperature ratings, you’re sure to find something you love from Wiggy’s.

All sleep sacks contain a synthetic fill. For Wiggy’s view on chemical fire retardants, see their blog post where they state clearly that they never use them.

I asked Wiggy’s if they use PFAS and owner Jerry Wigolow said “none at all.” I followed up with a question on what they use as a water repellent but did not receive a reply. He said that the sleeping bags are not waterproof.

(Note: I don’t recommend Wiggy’s sleeping pad. Wigolow told me it has a urethane coating to make it waterproof. When I asked him if he used urethane on his sleeping bags he said “No. Sleeping bags should never be made from waterproof material,” so there seems to be some contradiction here. You can find out more about urethane in this article.)


Best Organic Sleeping Bags

The small businesses below sell all-natural sleeping bags that aren’t officially certified organic, although they call them organic.

Ranging in price from moderately expensive on up, these small businesses invest a lot of time and care into fashioning truly one-of-a-kind, non-toxic sleeping bags. They will certainly work for indoor use, and, as far as I can tell, outdoors in mild weather. They probably won’t work for extremely wet or cold conditions, though.

Don’t be afraid to check with the company for more details if you have specific questions!

Hemp Organic Life

Price Range: $164-439 (for a double)

Handmade in Ukraine and shipped worldwide, these bags are made of Ukrainian-grown hemp and/or flax. No chemicals or pesticides are used. These products carry no official organic certification, just the company’s promise.

I reached out to this company and received this response: “Our sleeping bags are made without the use of flame retardants. They are made entirely of natural materials and do not have water-repellent properties. We do not state anywhere that we have an organic certificate. We make organic hemp and linen products that do not harm our planet after use. We are not a business manufacturer of fabrics and nonwovens. We are a small workshop that simply sews from materials we buy from manufacturers that have the OEKO-TEX standard (flax) and hemp fiber, (hemp fiber supplier has state quality certificates according to state standards), which are actually grown without the use of chemicals. Hemp does not cause pests, and plants that grow next to hemp are not infected. Due to these natural antiseptic properties, the hemp fiber filler is hypoallergenic and natural. This is organic in its pure form.”


Holy Lamb Organics

Best Organic Sleeping Bags Holy Lamb Organics

Price Range: $589-699

Handmade in the USA with all local and chemical-free materials, the all-natural 100% wool sleeping bag is crafted in a zero-waste facility and shipped without any plastic packaging.


Rawganique

Best Organic Sleeping Bags Rawganique

Price Range: $269-299

Handmade in either the USA or Europe, the 100% hemp or 100% cotton sleeping bags are completely toxic-chemical-free. This is a thinner and more lightweight option that’s suitable for warm weather.

The document titled A Beginner’s Guide to Chemical-Free Products on the website serves as a great introduction to products made without toxic chemicals.

I reached out to Rawganique to see if their sleep sacks are waterproof and they said: “Our organic and natural fiber sleeping bags are not waterproof.” In their long reply to whether their products are officially certified organic, they did not state their products meet USDA certified organic standards. So they are using the term organic to mean non-synthetic and all-natural


Best Non-Toxic Sleeping Pads

pfas-free non-toxic sleeping pad from nemo copy
Pictured: the PFAS-free Tensor sleeping pad from Nemo

After investing a lot of time in searching for a non-toxic sleeping bag, you probably don’t want to do the same thing for a non-toxic sleeping pad!

Unfortunately, because the materials are so different, it is a good idea to look carefully at what sleeping pads are made of. In all cases that we’ve seen, sleeping pads are made of fossil fuel-derived chemicals, many of which are toxic to some degree. So, do not assume that companies selling non-toxic sleeping bags are also selling non-toxic sleeping pads. 

I’ve also noticed that some pads contain an antimicrobial coating to prevent mold growth. If the companies responded to me with more details about that, I’ve included that information below.

If you discover a sleeping bag company that you love, you may wish to support them by purchasing their sleeping pad, too, even if the pad is synthetic or contains antimicrobial chemicals inside it. 

After all, some synthetic materials are safer than others.

As a general rule, avoid air mattresses made of PVC. As I explained in another article, PVC is one of the most toxic materials on the planet. Polyurethane foam is another toxic material to avoid, too, in all products, including sleeping pads… That said, it may not always be realistic to avoid it completely!

You will find air mattresses made of TPU like this one from Big Agnes which, as I described in this article, is less toxic than PVC. Big Agnes wrote to me about their sleeping pads: “We just received confirmation from Primaloft themselves that they do not include PFAS or PBDEs across their entire line of insulation products. The insulation used in all of our pads will be free of those chemicals.”

More common, however, is nylon, polyester, or recycled plastic bottles, like some of those from Lightspeed. A Lightspeed rep replied to my email that “the foam inside our FlexForm sleep pads is made of polyurethane.”

The insulated pad from Klymit is made of polyester. They wrote in an email that they use “standard industry DWR coatings” (aka, it’s not clear if they’re actually PFAS-free or not), but no fire retardants.

Nemo offers a number of sleeping pads made with polyurethane polyester. They told me by email that in their Tensor sleeping pad “PCR stands for “Post-consumer recycled content,” as the fibers of the polyester are recycled. No antimicrobials, and no PFAS. There is a DWR on the inside of the pad, but it is silicone-based.”

Final Thoughts On Non-Toxic Sleeping Bags

When you’re far from the comforts of home, don’t risk being caught with a poor-performing sleeping bag—often containing toxic PFAS or PBDEs—that could leave you cold or damp. That’s a recipe for an unhealthy disaster.

To make sure your camping experience is pleasant and toxic-free, choose one of the best non-toxic sleeping bags and pads from our lists. Free of both PFAS and PBDEs, these products will give you peace of mind as well as a peaceful night’s rest in a tent or under the stars.

If your overnight adventure is indoors, an organic sleeping bag and pad constructed of all-natural materials without toxic chemicals are ideal choices. Find our list above!

And to stay updated on the latest tips, tricks, news, deals, and more—sign up for Filtered Fridays!



About Jeanne

Jeanne Yacoubou, MS is an experienced researcher and writer passionate about all things environmental. She's written extensively on renewable energy, sustainability, the environmental impacts of diet, and toxic chemicals in food, water, air, and consumer products. When she’s not tending her organic garden or hanging out with her three teens, Jeanne is blogging about the latest scientific reports on our climate crisis. Jeanne holds master’s degrees in chemistry, ethics, and education. In between her graduate work, Jeanne served as a high school science teacher in Benin, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer for over three years.


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