How to Choose Sleeping Bags

How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Camping

There are so many camping sleeping bags to choose from. It can be hard to find the right one for your needs.

Whether you’re a camper who loves backpacking or just looking for something lightweight and compact, we have you covered!

In this article, we’ll help you to how to choose sleeping bags for camping.

We will also go over what makes a suitable sleeping bag for camping and some essential features that should be considered when purchasing one.


Rating: How to Choose Sleeping Bags Rating?

Sleeping Bags Ratings scaled
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Have you ever woken up cold at night? If so, the wrong sleeping bag rating can keep that from happening.

When people sleep, they are mostly inactive and rely on their body heat to maintain comfort levels.

When your body’s temperature dips below what is necessary, it will wake you up because of shivering or discomfort, leading to waking too early in the morning before sunrise.

This effect makes camping more uncomfortable for people who don’t know how to choose their correct sleeping bag rating when buying one for camping purposes.

There are two general guidelines for beginners: “Bigger is better” and “Down-fill power matters.”

The first guideline has been around since down bags were invented decades ago; if someone buys an oversized bag, their body heat will be able to heat it better.

The second guideline is newer and means you should get higher down fill-power sleeping bags because they are lighter, more compressible, and efficient than lower quality bags.


Temperature Ratings: How to Choose Sleeping Bags Temperature Ratings?

Sleeping Bags Temperature Rating 1 scaled
Photo by Alex Gorham on Unsplash

The temperature model refers to how warm a bag can keep you.

It is expressed as a numerical value, such as “comfortably cold” or “totally warm.”

Temperature ratings are given in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit depending on where you’re coming from but basically what it boils down to is a temperature rating of 18°C (64°F) represents a summer camping bag, one at 0°C (32°F) represents winter camping.

Anything lower than -0°C (-18°F) would need some emergency pack inside with additional layers to keep warm enough overnight.

Every sleeping bag includes a detailed temperature level score, letting you know the variety of conditions that carry out the most effective.

According to the EN/ISO standards, all sleeping bags are now individually tested and receive a convenience and temperature limit score.

You need to select a sleeping bag with a lower temperature level than the lowest nighttime temperature level you anticipate where you prepare to camp.

If you certainly utilize your bag right into the cooler months of the year, consider bags that can deal with lower temperature levels:

What Temperature Rating Sleeping Bag is Best for Camping?

When considering the temperature rating of a camping sleeping bag, it is important to know what environment your trip falls under, warm or cold weather.

For people who want the best of both worlds, we recommend a sleeping bag that’s rated for around 0°F.

This will be warm enough for winter camping and cool enough to use during summer without feeling too hot.

Camping in winter temperatures will require a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating than camping in summer.

Temperature ratings are given on the EN13537 standard and indicate how warm your sleeping bag should be for different conditions.

  • Winter Camping -0°C (34°F) or less: A minimum insulation value of 18 is recommended to maintain warmth at night, but this can vary depending on your needs, experience level, and activity levels during sleep time.

This one-bag system has a built-in down filling that provides excellent thermal properties as well as being fully compressible, so it packs up quite small, which would make it great for car campers who want something quick and easy to get out of their trunk when arriving at their campsite.

  • Summer Camping 12°C (54°F) or less: The temperature rating for summer camping is usually about a 0-degree rating where it’s warm enough to wear your top and bottom layers of clothing with the sleeping bag as an additional layer on top without feeling cold.

If you’re comfortable wearing just your base layers, then a lower insulation value can be used; this will save weight in what you need to carry but may not provide sufficient warmth if the weather changes unexpectedly during the night, making those lightweight bags (TETON Sports TrailHead) Sleeping Bag more susceptible to colder conditions than heavier ones would be.


Sleeping Bag Shape

Sleeping Bags Shapes

The shape of a sleeping bag is critical because it will dictate what position you can sleep in.

This is why numerous outdoor camping bags have a straightforward rectangle-shaped style.

Well, It’s hard to predict if you feel a bag is roomy enough without zipping on your own inside a bag.

Sleeping bags or Camping bags have been readily available in 4 basic shapes.

  1. Rectangular: Rectangular sleeping bags are the most popular type of bag. They’re usually long and wide to give you a bit more space inside than other types do, but they still have enough room that your arms won’t get too cold when lying on them while asleep. Our picks: TETON Sports Regular Sleeping Bag, Coleman Duck Harbor
  2. Semi rectangle-shaped: Semi-rectangle-shaped sleeping bags work best for those who like something smaller or want to save as much weight as possible by cutting their packing size. The shape is just about right: it’s not too big, not too small, so you can sleep in any position without feeling cramped up after a few hours, which makes these perfect for solo campers or couples with one person carrying the load while two people share this rectangular (or semi rectangle) style of camping bag. Our picks: Coleman Big Basin,
  3. Mummy: Mummy-style sleeping bags are the most restrictive and constrictive of all, but they’re also lightweight, which is why many backpackers choose this bag to reduce their pack weight. These bags have a hood at one end with a drawstring that can be tightened around your neck or head while you lie down inside it, so there’s no space for cold air to get in from outside; an opening on either side where you put your arms through then attach the zips when cinched up tight enough just below your chest and waist. Our picks: TETON Sports LEEF Lightweight Mummy Sleeping Bag, Kelty Tuck Synthetic Mummy Sleeping Bag
  4. Dual bags: Bags created 2 are the very best bet for pairs who prepare to sleep together. Dual camping sleeping bags work well if you want some extra warmth without taking up too much room or adding more weight than necessary because it’s two single bags sewn together into one more giant bag so you can use it as one or zip them apart for two individual bags. Our picks: TETON Sports Mammoth Queen-Size Double Sleeping Bag

What Sleeping Bag Shape is Best for Camping?

The best shape for a camping sleeping bag is rectangular.

Rectangular sleeping bags provide the most room and are often more versatile as they can be unzipped on one side so you can open them up flat when not in use.

  • Benefits: More versatility, provides the most amount of space.
  • Drawbacks: Difficult zipping in cold weather, may not have thermal qualities that some mummy shapes will offer but this depends on what your needs are.

Sleeping Bag Insulation: How to Choose Sleeping Bags Sleeping Bag Insulation?

When checking out your favorite brands’ websites or catalogs, remember these three numbers–temperature classifications range from summer-weight down jackets (e.g., 0°F) up to arctic-rated winter coats (~0°).

Finally, keep in mind that this number isn’t going to tell you everything about how well a sleeping bag will work for any given season; instead, it’s a general guideline.

There are two types: synthetic materials such as polyester fleece or other fibers; natural down feathers like ducks, geese, eider ducks, etc.

For example, if you’re camping in the summer with this sleeping bag rated at 0 degrees Fahrenheit but get to be 30 degrees outside, then that means you’ll need to adjust your sleepwear accordingly.

Below is a run-through on the advantages of each insulation:

Down Insulation vs. Synthetic Insulation

Down Insulation

Down insulation is the most popular type of material for camping sleeping bags.

It’s a natural insulator that feels warm but also lights to carry and is easy to pack up when not in use because it can be compressed into tiny spaces.

Down feathers are significant, fluffy clusters that give loft the idea that they’ll trap more air molecules between them than synthetic materials, creating warmth without the added weight or bulkiness like with synthetics.

They come from waterfowl such as ducks and geese where parents live near lakes and ponds, so their downy feathers keep them insulated against cold temperatures while providing enough buoyancy to allow the birds to stay; afloat on top of the water during extended periods without drowning!

Synthetic Insulation

Synthetic insulation options such as polyester fleece offer more warmth when wet than natural insulators like goose down (although still not at the same level).

Synthetics might be better if you’re going on an overnight hike where there will be less opportunity for drying off any moisture since they’ll retain heat even after getting damp from rain or snowfall!

If you’re looking for something that will still be warm when wet but can keep you cool as well, then head over to the section on air construction sleeping bags!

They have two layers of insulation, the inside is made from synthetic materials, and there’s an outer layer with a “breathable” material like nylon or mesh.

You’ll stay nice and toasty while also being able to adjust your level of ventilation depending on how hot it gets outside.

Which Sleeping Bag Insulation Type is Best for Camping?

Down insulation is best because it offers the most warmth for its weight.

Down sleeping bags can be more challenging to maintain. They also offer less durability as down feathers are fragile but provide a lot of warmth, making them ideal for camping where you will sleep in one location or car camp with limited movement.

The main disadvantage to down insulation is that the feathers are fragile and can shift out of place, ending up in your face or sticking you with a sharp edge.

It also doesn’t provide as much warmth to weight ratio as synthetic materials because it’s mostly air inside, but this isn’t too big an issue for most people who want something lightweight but warm enough to last throughout winter camping.

  • Benefits: Provides the most warmth for its weight, durable so it won’t be crushed when you pack your sleeping bag away, and unzipped side design makes them ergonomically comfortable as well as easy to get into.
  • Drawbacks: Down sleep bags are more delicate than synthetic alternatives, so they need more maintenance, care, and attention than synthetics. They are expensive too, but if packed up correctly, they should last multiple years before needing replacement or repair.

Synthetic insulation provides more protection against cold weather than natural materials do, so synthetic may be better suited to your needs if you’re going on an expedition in cold weather camping.

Synthetic insulations are also easier to clean and dry out faster than their natural counterparts.

However, synthetic sleeping bags tend not to pack up quite compactly, which means that when space-saving is essential (car campsite) or there’s little room (trekking), synthetic insulation may not be the best choice.

  • Benefits: Warmth, Durability, Cleaning ease and faster drying.
  • Drawbacks: Packs up larger than down for packing purposes as it doesn’t compress well, less warmth per weight of material used so if you’re going on a colder expedition then natural materials will perform better.

Final Thoughts

Picking the right sleeping bag can be a daunting task because there are so many options. Hopefully,

this article has helped you narrow down your choices and find one that is perfect for you!

If you’re still not sure or would like more information about choosing a camping sleeping bag, feel free to reach out to us on social media or leave us a comment below. We’d love to help!