How to choose a sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is probably the second most important item to buy after your tent. Sleeping bags can be of many types; depending on personal preference and outside temperature. The shape, size, room to move, and feel of the fabric should be tested, just as you would a mattress for your bed at home.

Weather conditions can also determine what type of bag you’ll need, if any. In hot, dry conditions, you may just need a lightweight ‘bed bag’ or fleece bag. At other times, cool night air will indicate the need for a warmer bag or a combination of warm clothing and a warm bag.

style and shape

Unless your camp involves a lot of long-term backpacking, where weight plays a big role in determining the shape and weight of your bag, you can choose the style of sleeping bag you want. Most manufacturers offer two basic shapes, rectangular and mummy, along with a few modifications for each style.

The most common sleeping bag is a rectangular bag, which has been around the longest. It’s a spacious and comfortable interior, with ample foot room. Due to its shape, it can be unbuttoned and used as a quilt on warm nights. Some rectangular bags can be opened and joined to form a double-sized bag, ideal for very young children and especially good for parents!

The most modern mummy-style sleeping bag is designed to wrap tightly around the sleeper, so it will generate the maximum amount of warmth using substantially less material. If you camp a lot in cold weather, in temperatures of 40 degrees or below, you should consider purchasing a mummy bag. This heating efficiency will also keep the weight of the bag to a minimum, making it the optimal bag for backpacking. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone likes the constricted feel of a mummy bag, so you should definitely give one a try before committing to buying one.

Variations of the mummy include the “barrel” shape, a mummy bag with extra space in the middle. This is a great option if you prefer the warmth of the mummy bag, but want a little room for comfort. There are also mummy bags that have drawstring tops to pull the opening in to help keep in heat, and modified mummy bags with slightly larger top openings.


All bag styles can typically be purchased in three lengths: junior or child, standard, and extra long. Juniors are for young children. If weight is not important, I suggest you get a standard length for your child. That way, the bag will be a reliable piece of equipment longer, and the junior-sized bag can quickly outgrow, depending on the child.

The extra long size is usually advertised for people over six feet tall. In some cases, the extra length may be appreciated by shorter people who crave the extra room. It just depends on what makes you feel more comfortable.

Another dimension of great importance is the circumference. Girth is the interior space of the bag, measured around the sleeper’s waist area. As I mentioned earlier, mummy bags have the smallest circumference and rectangular ones have the largest.

temperature rating

Manufacturers often advertise temperature ratings: 0 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees, etc. Consider these ratings as a guide only. Your body may sleep warmer or cooler than someone else’s. These guidelines seem to assume that you’ll also be wearing warm clothing (in fact, I recommend sleeping in as few clothes as possible, if not completely stripped down; bag and evaporate). If you’re a novice camper, chances are you can use any bag rated for summer temperatures, since you’ll most likely be camping during the warmer times of the year.

There are several ways to heat a bag. A common method is to include a “liner” bag. These bags are placed inside the bag, similar to adding an extra blanket to your bed. These bags are available ready to go, or you can make one at home by placing a blanket in your bag with safety pins. If you want to carry the extra weight, you can also cover yourself with a blanket while you sleep, instead of putting it inside. If necessary in cold conditions, two summer bags can be placed one inside the other.

It’s extremely easy to make a lightweight sleeping bag warmer, so start with a warm-weather bag rated 40 degrees or higher, depending on your location.

insulation materials

Good quality sleeping bags. [] used to rely on premium goose down for insulation. Down is still used in highly specialized mountaineering bags where extreme dry cold and the need for lightweight gear are major concerns. However, the cost of down and the difficulty of washing it make it an impractical option for most average campers.

Modern synthetic fibers have been developed that have reliably replaced down as a great source of warmth for sleeping bags. Synthetics cost less, wash easily, and can retain warmth as well as or better than down, especially when conditions are wet or snowy. For most family camping, any of the synthetic fillers will suffice.

Zippers and Collars

You must ensure that the bags have a good quality zipper; one that won’t pinch or snag the fabric when you try to close the zipper. Must have two zipper pulls to allow inside or outside zipper operation. If you plan to connect two similar bags to make a double sleeping bag, make sure the zippers are compatible.

Other options

Choosing a sleeping bag is quite easy. In fact, you may not need a sleeping bag. Many campers started and continue with a sleeping bag. You can make your own sleeping bag by taking sheets and blankets and making a bed like at home. Add more blankets or a comforter for cooler weather. A sleeping bag will work best, for comfort, if it has an air mattress. [] to place your sleeping bag.