Kelty Callisto 30 Review

  • Car Camper

Kelty Callisto 30 Overview

Once a beautiful forest nymph, Callisto was transformed into a bear after conceiving a child with the Greek god Zeus. She was then set among the stars as Ursa Major to be forever immortalized as a constellation in the night sky.

How this story relates to a sleeping bag — I don’t know, but you can ponder that thought as you rest comfortably beneath the stars in the Kelty Callisto 30.

A car-camping staple, the Callisto sleeping bag has a rectangular shape that provides roomy comfort for side-sleepers and those of you who thrash about in the night. The CloudLoft synthetic fill encases your body in a pillow of warmth that, unlike down, will keep you warm even if it gets wet. In mild temperatures you can unzip the bag, turning it into a wide blanket that can be shared. You can even zip two of them together and snuggle up under the soft 190T polyester taffeta lining— perfect for couples and families.

Rated at a reasonable 30-degrees, the Kelty Callisto will work as a three season bag, though it’s best in above-freezing conditions. That, plus it’s very reasonable price from a respected manufacturer, is why we’ve awarded the Kelty Callisto 30 our Budget Pick for the Car Camper.

Check out our comprehensive sleeping bag Guide to learn which type of outdoor sleep system best fits your needs. Continue reading below to see why we recommend the Kelty Callisto 30.

Callisto 30 Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 4 lbs 2 oz. (1.9 kg) A standard weight for a synthetic car camping sleeping pad. Not light, but not egregiously heavy either.
Type Rectangular Bag This bag doesn’t taper at all, and actually opens up wide into a blanket. More on sleeping bag types in our Guide.
Sizes Regular, Long, Women’s We tested the size Regular, which works for both genders and is 6 feet long. It’s also offered in a Long, which is 6 feet 6 inches. The women’s is 5 feet 8 inches.
EN Testing/Temperature Rating 30°F (-1°C) The Callisto 30 is not EN tested, but rather assigned an in-house temperature rating. It works down to freezing temperatures, but you’ll probably be a bit chilly below 35. More on sleeping bag temperature rating in our Guide.
Insulation Type Synthetic CloudLoft Insulation Synthetic insulation means it’s better when wet but heavier and loses insulative properties over many years. More on sleeping bag insulation in our Guide.
Water Resistant? Yes Synthetic insulation makes this bag versatile in rain, and the outside has a coat of DWR.
Fill Weight 2 lbs 9.3 oz (1.2 kg) The fill weight is how much insulation is in the bag, and how much that insulation weighs. More than half this bag is insulation, which tells you it’s decently warm, but that it has burly fabric.
Shell Fabric 190T Polyester Taffeta Shell and Liner Decently durable fabric on the exterior and interior. Taffeta is usually softer, and used for comfy sleeping bags. More on sleeping bag shell fabrics in our Guide.
Baffle Pattern Horizontal Basic horizontal baffles on this sleeping bag.
Zipper Type Opens Completely, anti-snag design You can unzip this bag to make it into a blanket. Nice functionality for car camping. Zipper also has anti-snag design.
Draft Tube? Yes A basic draft tube blocks cold air from getting in through the zipper.
Hood? No This sleeping bag does not have a hood, which is common in rectangle bags meant for car camping. Bring a beanie if you run cold!
Pocket? Yes Small pocket for storing an item throughout the night, like a smartphone or headlamp. Handy, but not huge.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Kelty offers a lifetime warranty on all its products for manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship. If something breaks when it shouldn’t, or it doesn’t work when it should, submit a claim.
Retail Price $59.95 A super low price for a warm car camping bag that doubles as a huge cozy blanket. Often on sale, too.

Gear Review of the Kelty Callisto 30 Sleeping Bag

Origins: Easing You In

My style of car camping has changed over the years. When I was younger it was the kind where a large group of family and friends drove to a riverside campground where we proceeded to set up a fortress of over-sized tents, tarps, and tables. An entire home kitchen would get unloaded from various trunks, complete with a full assortment of pots and pans, enough cooler space to accommodate a grocery store butcher, and a grill worthy of a king’s banquet.

Not to say that doesn’t still happen every so often, but nowadays I tend to car camp by myself or with my wife, and we pack light. I usually bring my backpacking supplies and some food to cook over a campfire. No tiki torches, no propane tanks — I like to keep it simple.

The Kelty Callisto 30 is just that. Simple. It’s a no frills sleeping bag that does exactly what it advertises and doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. I took it out on a couple of trips around Mt. Hebo in the damp forests of the Oregon Coast Range along with the REI Trekker Self Inflating sleeping pad and The North Face Dryzzle rain jacket. In reviewing those products I discussed the weather and scenery at length, so I’ll spare you now, but just keep in mind that spring on the Oregon Coast is cold and wet.

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Cold, wet, and beautiful. Coastal Oregon is worth a visit.

Sticking with the minimalist approach, I have a Tarptent Double Rainbow that my wife and I share, the same tent that I used for my entire thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a backpacking tent, and an ultralight one at that, which means it’s small. The full-sized rectangular design of the Callisto was intended for a more spacious enclosure than what I provided, but I made it work!

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The Callisto 30 fits easily in this small backpacking tent, but to really spread out you’ll want a car camping tent.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

Jill and I pitched two tents for our overnight at Hebo Lake. One for us and one for our dog, Huckleberry. We set the separate, small, one-person tent right next to ours with the door meshes facing each other. Huck got her own space (filled with fuzzy blankets) while Jill and I squeezed into the Double Rainbow.

Like I said, this tent is small for car camping. We have our tiny, ultralight sleeping pads and tight mummy-style down sleeping bags that we always take on our backpacking adventures, but this time I had a larger REI pad and rectangular Kelty Callisto sleeping bag.

When we first crawled into the tent we couldn’t get comfortable. Rain drops fell as we floundered about trying to fit everything inside without rubbing up against the wet walls, all while Huck was curled up in the lap of luxury inside her own tent like a little doggy princess. The Callisto was just too wide and floppy for such a small tent and two people, but then I remembered that it could be opened up into a blanket.

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The Kelty Callisto 30 unrolls into a blanket on warmer nights or when you want to snuggle. The Swiss cheese sleeping pad on the right is the Klymit Inertia Ozone, a unique ultralight sleeping pad.

We shoved Jill’s sleeping bag near our feet and laid the Callisto on top of ourselves, folding the sides under the edges of our sleeping pads. Magic. Our pads kept us off the cold ground, and we quickly warmed up under the Callisto.

It dropped to the lower 40s that night and the rain continued falling well into the early morning. I always wake up with the dawn light when I’m in a tent, and this time was no exception. The first thing I noticed was everything in the tent was damp. It was time to seal our Rainbow’s seams again, apparently. There were a couple of spots I could tell had been dripping through the night.

The Callisto had not completely soaked through, but it’s outer surface shined with moisture and there were a couple spots where my shirt did get damp. But the Callsito’s CloudLoft synthetic fill kept both of us comfortable despite the chill and rain. Our down sleeping bags would likely have not been as successful in these conditions, and I’m glad we were able to huddle together for warmth under the blanket that night.

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The Kelty Callisto 30 posing for a picture.

Huck’s tent didn’t leak, by the way. Lucky dog.

Digging Deeper

I had another wet evening to deal with — that’s Oregon for you — and didn’t have someone to share body warmth with this time. It was comforting to know how well the Callisto had worked for me in bad weather on the previous outing. This weather was set to be a few degrees colder, and windier.

After a hike and some fishing I crawled into my tent to escape the rain, adorning a thin, long-sleeved wool shirt, a pair of sweatpants, and some wool socks. The Callisto unrolled into like-new condition. It had gotten pretty wet on the last trip and I had to dry it at home, but the quilt construction kept the CloudLoft fill from moving around the bag, locking the insulation into place. No cold, uninsulated spots for me!

The zipper was large and easy to grab, even in the middle of the night. It’s touted as having an “anti-snag” design, though I still got it caught on the fabric a couple of times, but never so much that the material got tangled with it. Tearing a bag with its own zipper is the worst, trust me. I once tore a six-inch hole in a brand new down bag because of a cheap zipper. You don’t need to live through that, and I don’t think you ever will with the Callisto.

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Large, yet basic zippers and an “anti-snag” design that works about as well as any other basic zipper.

A puffy draft tube lines the entire zipper track from head to toe. It kept my warmth from leaking out and stopped the gusting winds from sneaking in through the zipper’s teeth. My down Zpacks sleeping bag doesn’t have this feature, so on windy nights I have to sleep with its zipper pressed between my body and the ground. No need for such concerns with the Callisto.

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The draft tube also has the name and temperature of the bag printed on it. The tube runs the length of the bag and works well.

The rectangular design stays true all the way to the top of the bag with no taper. There’s no hood, which works fine for camping — I just wore a knitted hat. I had the Regular size, which can fit a person up to 6’0 in height. At 5’10 I had the extra room to cover some of my head while still being able to wriggle my feet around.

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There’s no taper in the Kelty Callisto 30. No hood either.

There’s a little media pocket inside near the head of the bag that was a nifty addition. It’s a great spot to keep a cellphone so that it’s easily accessible at night and safe from the weather.

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The media pocket is just big enough for a smartphone. Could fit a headlamp in here too.

All in all the Callisto kept me dry and warm for another night. It was very easy to roll up and slide into its stuff sack. At 4 lbs 2 oz. it’s not lightweight, but it’s not overly bulky either. I carried it under one arm to and from the car without a hitch.

Kelty-Callisto-30-review-size-comparison
Don’t mistake the Callisto 30 for a backpacking sleeping bag. It’s large, but not any larger than your typical camping bag. For reference that’s a 32 oz. bottle next to it.

Comfort

It felt like I was wrapped in an all-over body pillow with a soft, silky lining. The luxurious amount of legroom makes this sleeping bag fit for a god, or, perhaps, a forest nymph.

Warmth

The Callisto worked well as a blanket and moisture shield. Kelty did well in creating a draft-proof zipper and solid insulation, but it seems they forgot about the part where your head sticks out. I stayed plenty warm but had to put extra effort into keeping the breeze off of my shoulders.

Durability

Solid construction is easy to see. I haven’t had the Kelty Callisto for a long time, but the quality stands out. The zipper is strong and sturdy. The polyester lining will hold well under normal wear and tear. At such an affordable price I couldn’t ask for more.

Fit

It’s a big rectangle that will fit just about anyone, especially since there are three sizes to choose from. The Callisto is wide enough that while sleeping you can flip, flop, and reenact silent film era slapstick comedy to your heart’s content.

Grievances

The Kelty Callisto 30 is a great bag at a fantastic price from a reputable brand. This sleeping bag was designed to be simple, but if I could get one more feature added it would be a drawstring at the shoulder to cinch it tight against my body.

It really was the only issue I had with the bag. The rectangular shape provided plenty of room for my limbs to move around, but it wasn’t adjustable in the slightest. A cord, a button — anything would have been great to help keep gusting winds from sliding into the top of the bag.

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You can see how wide the bag is up top. There’s nothing to pull it closed agains your shoulders and neck. Cold air can flow in through this point easily.

When I slept alone I woke up a few times during the night to roll over, and each time this happened I had to scrunch the opening of the sleeping bag into a lump under my head to the keep the wind from blowing in.This made the sleeping bag feel more like a big bedroom comforter I had wrapped around myself rather than a fluffy cocoon.

Final Word

The Kelty Callisto 30 is a classic car camping sleeping bag with a modern touch. Wrap yourself in its luxurious comfort or transform it into a snugly blanket that you can share with another. Snuggle-bots, roll out!

Where to Buy Kelty Callisto 30

The Kelty Callisto line of sleeping bags got an update for 2017. This is the newest model, and is considered unisex by Kelty. It’s offered in a Regular-sized 30 degree bag, which is what we tested, and a Long version, which is the same except 6 inches longer. It’s also offered in a women’s specific model, which is 5’8″, and still has a 30 degree rating.

We’ve listed the Kelty Callisto 30 regular below. If you see ads for the Callisto 20 (or other degrees), know that those bags are the old versions.

arthur mcmahon outdoor gear reviewer

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets-- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures on Instagram. As much as he enjoys exploring the real world, Arthur also ventures into the worlds of fiction. You can learn more about Arthur's science fiction novels and his Paracosms podcast on his website.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.