How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

After your tent, your sleeping bag should be the second most important. There are many options for sleeping bags, depending on your preference and the outside temperature. You should test the fabric to see how it feels, its shape, size, movement, and feel, just as you would with a mattress at home.

The type of bag you need will depend on the weather conditions. You might only need a lightweight blanket roll or fleece bag in warm and dry conditions. Other times, cool night air might indicate the need for a warmer bag.

Style and Shape

You can choose any style of sleeping bag unless your camping involves a lot of long-term backpacking. There are two main shapes that most manufacturers offer: rectangular and mummy. Each style can be modified to suit your needs.

A rectangular sleeping bag is the most popular and has been around for the longest time. The inside is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of space for your feet. It can be used unzipped to provide comfort on warm nights because of its shape. You can open some rectangular bags and zip them together to create a double-sized bag. This is great for very young children and particularly for parents.

Modern mummy-style sleeping bags are designed to wrap tightly around the body of the sleeper. This will ensure that warmth is generated while using less material. A mummy bag is a good choice if you plan to camp in low temperatures (40 degrees or below) and are prone to cold weather. The bag’s heat efficiency will keep it light, making it ideal for backpacking. You should try the bag out before you commit to buying one.

There are many variations on the mummy, including the barrel shape, which is a mummy bag that has more space in the middle. If you like the warmth of a mummy bag but still need some comfort, this is a perfect choice. Mummy bags can also have drawstring tops that allow you to pull the opening open to keep your warmth in, as well as modified mummies that have larger top openings.


Most bags come in three sizes: standard, extra-long and junior. Juniors are suitable for children under five years old. If your child isn’t concerned about weight, you can get a standard-length bag for them. The bag will last longer and be trusted equipment. A junior-sized bag can be easily outgrown depending on the child’s size.

For those who are over six feet tall, the extra-long size is often advertised. Some people find the extra length to be more appealing for those who are shorter and want the extra space. It all depends on your preference.

Girth is another dimension that is very important. The interior space of the bag measured around the waist of the sleeper is called girth. As I said, rectangular bags have the greatest girth, and mummy bags the smallest.

Temperature Rating

Manufacturers often advertise temperature ratings, such as 0°, 20°, 40°, etc. These ratings should not be considered as a guideline. You may find your body sleeping differently than someone else. These guidelines assume you will wear warm clothes. I actually recommend that you sleep with as little clothing as possible. Your sweat won’t absorb into your clothes but will wick through good bags and evaporate. You will be able to use any bag that is rated for summer temperatures if you are a novice camper.

There are many ways to make your bag warmer. A “liner” bag is a common way to make a bag warmer. These bags can be placed inside the bag and are similar to adding a blanket to your bed. You can buy these bags ready-made or make your own by attaching a blanket with safety pins to your bag. You can carry extra weight by putting a blanket on top of you while you sleep. Two summer bags can be used together if necessary, even in cold conditions.

It is very easy to make lightweight sleeping bags warmer. Choose a bag that has a 40-degree rating, or higher depending on where you live.

Insulation Materials

High-quality sleeping bags use prime goose down as insulation. It is still used for mountaineering bags that require extreme cold conditions and lightweight equipment. It is not practical for the average camper because of the high cost and difficulty in laundering.

Synthetic fibers are now able to replace down as a source of warmth in sleeping bags. Synthetics are cheaper, washable, and retain warmth better than down. Any of the synthetic fills are sufficient for most family camping.

Zippers and Collars

The zipper should be of good quality and not catch or pinch the fabric while you zip it up. You should have both an inside and outside zipper pull. You should ensure that the zippers of two identical bags are compatible if you intend to connect them together to create a double sleeping bag.

Other Options

It is easy to choose a sleeping bag. You might not even need a sleeping bag! Many campers start with a bedroll and then continue on. Make your own bedroll using sheets, blankets and pillows. For cooler temperatures, add more blankets and a comforter.

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