How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag (For You)

A good sleeping bag is a staple for even the casual camper. Here are our top 6 criteria to consider when choosing yours:

1. Price

Like we always say, price is going to be your first criteria when choosing a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags range from about $20 to $200+.

2. Activities

Once you have a budget in mind, think about what you will be doing on the trips where you will use your sleeping bag. This will determine what features you need to look for such as weight, size, shape, temperature rating, insulation type, etc. For example, if you will be doing a lot of hiking, you will want to opt for a lightweight sleeping bag that can be folded up into a small pack. Or, if you do most of your camping in the winter, you will want one with a 3-season or winter temperature rating.

3. Insulation

There are two types of sleeping bag insulations to choose from:

  • Synthetic. Synthetic insulation is the more affordable of the two options. It is also hypoallergenic, will continue to insulate even when damp, and dries quickly.
  • Down. Down insulation is the most lightweight of the two options. It is the best choice for camping in cold, dry weather and if you will be doing a lot of hiking because it compresses into a smaller size.

4. Temperature Rating

Sleeping bags come in three temperature categories:

  • Summer bags are rated for temperature of 30 degrees and higher.
  • 3-season bags are rated for temperatures from 15-30 degrees.
  • Winter bags are rated for temperatures below 15 degrees.

Consider when and where you will be camping, typical weather conditions, your own temperature preferences, how you will dress, and the sleeping pad you will use with the bag when deciding which temperature rating to go with.

5. Shape

Sleeping bags come in three basic shapes:

  • Double. These sleeping bags are made for two people and work best for couples who want to sleep close together while camping.
  • Mummy. If you need a warm, lightweight sleeping bag, mummy style is the way to go. They are designed to fit snuggly and allow you to roll with the bag instead of inside of it.
    • Modified Mummy. If you aren’t quite ready for the restrictedness of a mummy style sleeping bag, check out the modified mummy (also known as semi-rectangular or barrel), which is a good compromise between mummy and rectangular.
  • Rectangular. If you like to feel free and be able to stretch in your sleeping bag, opt for a rectangular shape. Some sleeping bags in this style can be unzipped to use as a comforter.

6. Extra Features

Extra features commonly found on sleeping bags include:

Nylon or polyester shell. Outer shells made from these materials will be durable and water resistant.

Hood. Hoods add a layer of warmth to sleeping bags, so you will likely find this feature on bags rated for low temperatures.

Zipper. There are different zipper features you may come across on sleeping bags, such as multiple zippers to allow for added ventilation, and zipper guards or shields to prevent snagging.

Pockets. Some bags come with pockets to store important items close to you while you sleep.

Before you invest in a sleeping bag, we recommend identifying different options at a reputable shop to get a feel for which features are most important to you.

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