Outdoors - Recreation and Sports

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

A good sleeping bag can mean the difference between a comfortable night's sleep and a sleepless, restless night spent tossing and turning.

Deborah Clarke
Sep 30, 2022
2 min read
How to Choose a Sleeping Bag | Photo by Felix M. Dorn / Unsplash 

Sleeping bags are one of the most important pieces of gear for campers and backpackers, yet it's often an afterthought for many people. That's a mistake!

A good sleeping bag can mean the difference between a comfortable night's sleep and a sleepless, restless night spent tossing and turning.

First and foremost, you'll need to decide what kind of camping you'll be doing. Are you planning on backpacking? If so, weight and packability will be important factors to consider. You'll also want to make sure that your sleeping bag has a temperature rating that is appropriate for the climate in which you'll be camping.

On the other hand, if you're planning on car camping or family camping trips, weight and packability won't be as big of a concern. Instead, you'll want to focus on finding a sleeping bag that is comfortable, warm, spacious and machine washable.

There are a few things to consider when selecting a sleeping bag. Perhaps the most important is temperature rating, which is the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep you warm. Other factors to consider include the shape of the sleeping bag (rectangular or mummy), the type of insulation (synthetic or down), and the weight and packed size.

Temperature Rating

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a sleeping bag is temperature rating. Temperature rating is the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep you warm.

Sleeping bags are typically available in three different temperature ratings: summer, three-season, and winter.

Summer Sleeping Bags

Summer sleeping bags are designed for use in warmer weather; they typically have less insulation and are lighter in weight.

Three Season Sleeping Bags

Three-season sleeping bags are versatile and can be used in a wide range of conditions, from cool spring nights to chilly fall evenings.

Winter Sleeping Bags

Winter sleeping bags, four season sleeping bags, are designed for use in very cold weather and usually have more insulation to make sure you stay warm all night long.

Shape

Sleeping bags also come in two different shapes: rectangular and mummy. Rectangular sleeping bags are roomy and comfortable but can be bulky and heavy, making them less ideal for backpacking.

Mummy sleeping bags are more form-fitting and therefore warmer, they often have head cover with ties to tighten around your face to keep you warmest.

Synthetic vs Down Insulation

The next factor to consider is insulation type. Sleeping bags usually have either synthetic or down insulation. Both have their pros and cons.

Synthetic insulation is less expensive but not as compressible nor as warm as down insulation. Down insulation is more expensive but warmer and more compressible, making it ideal for backpacking.

Weight & Packed Size           

Last but not least, you'll want to consider the weight and packed size of your sleeping bag. If you're planning on backpacking, weight and packed size are especially important because you'll have to carry your sleeping bag with you on your hike. Fortunately, there are now many ultralight options available that won't weigh you down or take up too much space in your pack.

With so many factors to consider, choosing the right sleeping bag can seem like a daunting task—but it doesn't have to be! By taking into account your specific use and preferences, you can narrow down your options and find the perfect sleeping bag for your next camping or backpacking adventure.

So what are you waiting for?  Click the button below to check out our FavReview article "Camping in Comfort in a Flannel Lined Sleeping Bag."  Happy shopping!

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