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Sleeping Bag Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right sleeping bag will help you get a good night’s sleep on your next camping trip.

After a long day of hiking, biking and other camping activities, it’s time to retire for some much-needed shuteye. Climbing into a comfortable sleeping bag is one of the best parts of camping. But how do you know which sleeping bag is right for you? Use our sleeping bag buyer’s guide to pick out one for your next camping trip.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating

Sleeping Bag Buyer's Guide
Having the right sleeping bag can make or break any camping trip. Find out which sleeping bag is right for you.

When you’re choosing a sleeping bag, think about where and when you’ll be camping. Having the right camping gear and sleeping bag is essential for staying warm through the night. If you’re camping in the summer, you’ll only need a sleeping bag with a 35 degree or higher rating. Three season sleeping bags come with a rating of 10 degrees to 35 degrees. If you’re camping in the winter, or in cold conditions, look for a sleeping bag with 10 degrees and lower.

These are just general guidelines made for the average sleeper. Your sleeping metabolism can make a huge difference in which temperature rating you choose. Using a camping pad puts a layer between you and the ground, also changing the temp. A tent will also keep you warmer, compared to sleeping under the open sky.

It’s always safest to pick a sleeping bag with a slightly lower temp rating than what you plan to encounter. This is especially important when you’re camping in colder conditions. If you get too hot, you can always vent your sleeping bag or take off layers.

Sleeping Bag Insulation

Next you need to think about the insulation. Choices can differ if you’re backpacking or just camping.

Synthetic

Sleeping bags with synthetic insulation are usually made from polyester. They’re known for their durability and ability to quickly dry. They’re also the least expensive kind of sleeping bag. However, they’re not ideal for backpacking trips. They don’t fold down as easily as down-insulated sleeping bags, making them bulky and harder to carry.

Goose or Duck Down 

Sleeping bags insulated with duck or goose feathers are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. If a down sleeping bag gets wet, it won’t keep you warm. However, some down sleeping bags are treated to be water-resistant. They’re more durable and are easier to fold down than synthetic sleeping bags.

Sleeping Bag Shape

Mummy

A mummy bag is tapered through the legs and feet. This helps contain body heat and keeps you warm. The shoulder and torso are wider with plenty of room to move around. However, some campers may find the tapered end uncomfortable. Mummy bags are ideal for backpacking because they’re lightweight and easy to pack.

Rectangular

Rectangular bags are wider than mummy bags. They may be more comfortable, but they also don’t retain as much heat. They’re best used for tent camping or a backyard camp out.

Semi-Rectangular

A semi-rectangular bag is in the middle of the mummy and rectangular bags. They aren’t as confined as a mummy bag, but will still keep you warmer than a rectangular one. They are bigger and heavier than a mummy bag, but you’ll have more room to move around.

Once you have the right sleeping bag, don’t forget your other camping gear. For more tips on the spending the night in the great outdoors, check out our camping blog.

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