How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag


Regardless of whether you are camping during winter or summer, one thing is true. The weather outside is not always friendly. For this reason, you have to ensure that you do your best to make your camping nights are as comfortable and restful as possible. The best way to do this is to carry a good sleeping bag with you.

Before buying one, you have to keep in mind is that not all sleeping bags are the same. Consequently, you ought to be well-informed and careful before you buy one.

In this guide, you will learn about the things you need to consider before buying a sleeping bag.

What Things Should I Consider When Buying a Sleeping Bag?

  • Insulation
  • Temperature ratings
  • Shape
  • Weight
  • Zipper

These factors should give the right balance between comfort and convenience in terms of the bag’s portability. Here is a closer look at each one of the factors that you should consider when buying a sleeping bag:

How Does Insulation Affect My Sleeping Bag Choice?

As far as insulation is concerned, you will have to choose between down or synthetic fill. Down (goose, eider, or duck) insulation is the better option if you are after a sleeping bag that compresses small for portability while providing great warmth.

Synthetic fill (artificial fibers) is the best option if you are after affordability while still getting the same amount of warmth that you get with down. Even though synthetic-filled sleeping bags don’t pack small for increased portability, they retain their insulation power even when wet.

What Do Temperature Ratings Mean?

The temperature ratings of a sleeping bag typically imply the temperature range within which the bag will keep you warm. As far as temperature ratings are concerned, there are three main varieties to consider:

  • Comfort ratings – This refers to the minimum temperature range within which the bag can keep you warm. If you use the bag in temperatures that are lower than the comfort rating, you will more than likely feel the cold.

  • Limit rating – the ‘Limit temperature rating’ of a sleeping bag means the lowest temperature at which you can keep warm while using the bag in a ‘curled up’ position.

  • Extreme ratings – This rating indicates the survival temperature of the bag. It’s the temperature limit at which the bag is capable of keeping you alive or protecting you from hypothermia.

How Do I Know What Sleeping Bag Temperature to Get?

You need to find a bag that is rated for the lowest temperature that you will encounter during your trip. It’s advisable to use the comfort temperature ratings. This is the temperature at which the bag is designed to keep you warm and comfortable.

What is the Ideal Weight For a Sleeping Bag?

The perfect sleeping bag weight will depend on your preferences and needs. As a common guide, however, the ideal bag features a low weight to warmth ratio. Given this, the sleeping bag you choose should provide high warmth while being light and compressible enough to pack small.

What Kind of Zipper Should I Go For?

The sleeping bag that you choose should preferably feature a two-way zipper. With a zipper that opens the length of the sleeping bag, you can always vent your feet if need be for added comfort. Also, be sure to confirm that the bag has a good-sized baffle of fabric and fill behind its zipper. The extra insulation behind the zipper is important in keeping out draughts.

How Much Does a Good Sleeping Bag Cost?

The amount that you spend on a sleeping bag depends on various factors that will include your budget plan, comfort requirements, portability, and more. However, here is a quick guide on the amount that you should set aside to buy your sleeping bag:

  • $300 – $500 for a good winter bag
  • $150 – $250 for a compact and lightweight fall/spring bag that will keep you warm
  • $50 – $100 for a comfortable and portable summer sleeping bag

What are the 5 Types of Sleeping Bags?

Sleeping bags are mainly categorized based on their shapes and styles. As you may expect, each type comes with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. The following are the six most common types of sleeping bags:

  • Rectangular – This is the ideal type of sleeping bag for the camper who prefers to have a lot of space to move around when sleeping. However, the extra space robs the bag of its insulating properties, which is why it’s commonly used for warm-weather camping.

  • Barrel-shaped – Also known as ‘semi-rectangular’ or ‘modified mummy shape’ sleeping bags, these are designed to offer the right balance between roominess and warmth. Since they are warmer than rectangular-shaped bags but not as warm as mummy sleeping bags, they are a perfect choice for cool-weather camping.

  • Mummy – Mummy sleeping bags are designed to fit snugly for maximum warmth in colder conditions, just as their name suggests. Since they are not roomy in any way, that means that you cannot shift or move around when sleeping. However, their lightweight design and warmth make them a common choice for backpackers.

  • Double – This type is the perfect option for a couple that prefers to snuggle when sleeping. Such bags are spacious enough to fit two adults. Some double sleeping bags even come with a zipper that allows the two bags to be detached and used separately.

  • Elephant’s foot – This type of sleeping bag is a good choice for minimalist backpackers and mountaineers due to its compact size and shape. It has a tapered shape that makes it look more like a mummy sleeping bag, but it lacks a hood. Since it’s a little bit shorter than other kinds of sleeping bags, the user has to wear an insulated jacket to keep the upper part of their body warm.

  • Kid-sized – These bags are shorter, smaller, and more affordable compared to adult-sized bags. They are available in mummy, barrel, and rectangular shapes, just like sleeping bags for adults. These bags feature colorful patterns and fun prints, which means that your young one can choose a bag that meets their taste and interests.

How Do I Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag?

A sleeping bag works as a cooler in the sense that if you put hot things in it, they stay hot, just like cold things stay cold. If you want to stay warm when using a sleeping bag, one thing you should aim to generate enough heat to warm the air inside the bag.

To generate enough warmth, you must eat a good meal before going to bed, in addition to ensuring that you are hydrated enough. On top of that, going to bed before the temperatures start to fall can allow you to retain your warmth in the bag.

Should I Wear Clothes in a Sleeping Bag?

Wearing many layers to stay warm does not work for sleeping bags. If you have to wear many layers to keep warm in a sleeping bag, it’s either the result of choosing the wrong sleeping bag or having a bad sleep system.

You should wear a thin layer or have nothing on you to avoid sweating a lot, which will lead to getting wet and miserable. If the temperatures call for it, however, be sure to wear a hat.

How Do I Use a Space Blanket with a Sleeping Bag?

If you want to use a space blanket to intensify the warmth that you are getting from the sleeping bag, one thing to keep in mind is that these blankets work by preventing heat loss through radiation and convection. As such, the best way to use a space blanket would be to wrap it around your body so that the heat from your body is reflected.

However, since space blankets are not breathable, using a space blanket inside a sleeping bag can result in condensation. This is not a good thing in a cold environment. Given this, the best way to use a space blanket would be to wrap it around the sleeping bag to reflect the heat being radiated from the bag, hopefully.

How Warm Will a Space Blanket Keep You?

If used in a sleeping bag, a space blanket will sure keep you warm enough to sleep comfortably. However, using a space blanket this way will often result in too much condensation, which can ruin your comfort.

Conversely, wrapping the space blanket around your sleeping bag would theoretically reduce the heat lost from the bag hence keep you warm without condensation. However, there would not be a huge difference in warmth when using a space blanket to prevent heat loss from the sleeping bag.

Final Thoughts,

If you are in the market for a sleeping bag, you need to take your time to consider the different options available. There are countless options to choose from. However, this guide’s information should make it easier for you to find the bag that suits your camping conditions and individual needs.

Recent Posts