Posted on

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

The right sleeping bag can make the difference between a great camping trip and a miserable one. If you get cold and wet, the right bag can also ward against hypothermia. 

It is important to choose a bag that will keep you comfortable. If you’re normally warm, choose a bag rated about 10 degrees lower that the lowest temperature you will be camping in. If you’re normally colder, choose a bag that is rated at 20-25 degrees lower than the lowest temperature you will be camping in. 

Sleeping bags can vary in price anywhere from $20 to 700 depending on a variety of factors such as temperature ratings, insulation, weight, shape and construction. 

Temperature Ratings

Sleeping bag temperature ratings identifies the temperature at which the bag is intended to keep the average person warm. When a bag is described as a “0-degree bag”, it means that most users will be warm when the temperature goes no lower that 0 degrees. Important: manufacturers assume the camper is using a camp pad and wearing a layer of long underwear while using it. These ratings are not a guarantee of comfort, but a guide. 


There are 2 types of insulation: synthetic & goose-down. Many campers choose the synthetic insulation for the price and versatility. Synthetic insulation is less costly than it’s goose-down counterpart and insulates even when wet (it also dries quickly). If you camp with kids or animals (many dogs love camping!), the synthetic insulation filled sleeping bag will hold up better. One downfall to synthetic insulation is that it does not compress down as much as goose-down which makes it less desirable for backpack camping. 


Weight is usually only a factor when backpack camping. When car-camping it doesn’t really matter how much your sleeping bag weighs, because often times the cot, dutch oven and other comforts usually weigh more! Sleeping bags that are lighter and have higher quality insulation will cost more, but bringing the right bag for the conditions will help you trim bulk and weight. 


The way a sleeping bag works is that once you’re inside, the bag traps the non-circulating air inside and your body heats it, keeping you warm. The less air inside, the quicker it will warm and less time for you to not be comfortable. Sleeping bags come in 3 basic shapes: rectangular, semi-rectangular, and mummy.

-Rectangular bags are by far the most common shape of sleeping bag. This shape bag offers the most comfort and roominess. With all that “roominess”, it will take longer to heat the non-circulating air and therefore rectangular bags aren’t as efficient. One thing you can do with rectangular bags is zip two of them together (if they have the same size zipper) and make a double person bag. 

-Semi-rectangular bags, or barrel shaped bags, have a tapered shape and are more efficient than the rectangle shaped bags. These bags still offer comfort and roominess; just not as much as the rectangular bags. 

-Mummy bags have a narrower shoulder and hip width and taper down even at the feet. These bags are designed for the backpack camper as they are usually lighter and more efficient. Many people find it difficult to get comfortable in a mummy bag. 

-Double wide sleeping bags are basically rectangle shaped but are sold as basically 2 rectangular bags together. Many can be unzipped to make 2 separate rectangle bags. If you put a double-wide sleeping bag on a queen sized air mattress you and your sleeping partner are sure to be comfortable. 


Your sleeping bag’s outer shell is usually made out of nylon or polyester and the inside lining is not. The shell is designed to deflect water and the lining is designed to disperse body moisture. Some outer shells have a waterproof coating which can be tested with a wet cloth. Rub the wet cloth across the lining; and if the water beads, your bag has the waterproofing! A bag with high quality horizontal baffles are usually warmer and don’t have air leaks and keep you warmer. 

Additional Features

There are some bags that have some pretty cool features to help keep you warm and comfortable. Some of them are:

-Sleeping bag hood. Since campers loose the most heat through our heads, some manufacturers’ semi-rectangular bags have a built-in hood that is cinched with a drawstring to help keep you warm. If your bag doesn’t have a hood and you’re doing some cold weather camping, consider a fleece hood. I have one that is basically a hood that I can wear to help keep my head (and therefore the rest of me) warm in colder temperatures. 

-Sleeping pad sleeve. Some bags have a sleeve built-in to slide your sleeping pad in and not have to worry about slipping off the pad at night(something I seem to always do). 

-Small pocket. Some sleeping bags have a small pocket sewn into them for keeping your glasses, phone, flashlight, or whatever you need close by. 

-Inside collar. Some colder weather bags have an inside collar with an elastic drawstring designed to bring the lining around you and keep the warmed air inside. 

-Pillow pocket. There are some bags that have a pocket in them that is for inserting clothing to act as a pillow. I suppose you could also insert your camp pillow int one of these pockets as well. 

Sleeping Bag Accessories

There are some accessories available that make caring for and transporting your sleeping bag easier. 

-Stuff sacks. Many bags come with a stuff sack, but in case yours didn’t, they can be purchased so you can easily transport your sleeping bag. Tip: Get a stuff sack that’s a little larger than what you need and throw your camp pillow in it. It won’t get lost that way!

-Storage sacks. Instead of storing your sleeping bag all rolled up or stuffed into a stuff sack, hanging your sleeping bag fully unrolled will help prolong the life of the bag. When you store the sleeping bag in the stuff sack or rolled up, the insulation compresses and becomes less effective over time. 

-Sleeping bag liner. Sleeping bag liners can add to the warming effectiveness of your bag. They can add as much as 15 degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag! If you’re camping in really warm weather, leave the sleeping bag at home and just use the liner!

The Bottom Line:    

Get a sleeping bag you can afford. A borrowed bag or inexpensive bag will still get you outside and camping. That really what matters! A $600 bag will make camp a little more luxurious, and if you can do it, by all means do. The most important thing is to be out there!

38 thoughts on “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

  1. I intended to create you this very small remark in order to give thanks again considering the superb advice you have discussed on this page. This has been really remarkably generous with you in giving unreservedly precisely what some people could possibly have made available as an e-book to earn some money for their own end, particularly given that you might well have done it in the event you considered necessary. Those guidelines likewise acted to be the easy way to understand that other individuals have the same keenness like my very own to find out somewhat more related to this condition. I think there are many more pleasurable occasions in the future for those who find out your blog.

  2. Thanks for your own efforts on this web site. My mum takes pleasure in participating in research and it’s really easy to understand why. We know all of the dynamic manner you create very helpful tips and hints through your web site and in addition foster participation from visitors on this issue and our simple princess is understanding so much. Take advantage of the rest of the new year. You are always doing a superb job.

  3. My wife and i got fortunate Albert could complete his analysis using the precious recommendations he grabbed using your site. It’s not at all simplistic just to possibly be releasing solutions which usually some other people may have been making money from. And we also take into account we need you to be grateful to because of that. The specific explanations you made, the simple web site navigation, the relationships you give support to promote – it is many sensational, and it’s helping our son in addition to the family feel that the article is amusing, and that’s exceedingly mandatory. Thanks for the whole thing!

  4. My spouse and i felt so more than happy that John could finish up his investigations through the entire ideas he discovered out of the blog. It’s not at all simplistic to simply continually be handing out helpful tips which often some other people have been trying to sell. We really discover we need the blog owner to be grateful to for that. Most of the explanations you made, the straightforward blog navigation, the friendships you help to foster – it’s got everything awesome, and it’s aiding our son and the family believe that the concept is pleasurable, and that’s unbelievably indispensable. Many thanks for everything!

  5. I’m writing to make you know of the remarkable encounter my wife’s princess encountered visiting your site. She mastered several pieces, which include what it is like to possess an ideal giving style to have men and women easily learn about some multifaceted things. You really did more than our own expected results. Thanks for rendering those warm and helpful, safe, revealing and fun tips about this topic to Tanya.

  6. I must express appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this difficulty. Just after looking through the the web and meeting basics which are not helpful, I was thinking my entire life was well over. Existing devoid of the answers to the problems you have resolved through the article content is a serious case, as well as ones that would have badly affected my career if I hadn’t noticed your blog. Your own know-how and kindness in touching the whole lot was very useful. I am not sure what I would have done if I had not come upon such a point like this. I am able to at this point look forward to my future. Thank you so much for your reliable and sensible guide. I will not be reluctant to refer the website to anyone who desires support about this issue.

  7. I have to point out my appreciation for your generosity supporting persons that require guidance on this important subject. Your real dedication to getting the message all-around came to be certainly valuable and has regularly allowed girls much like me to achieve their objectives. Your insightful useful information denotes much a person like me and still more to my mates. Warm regards; from all of us.

  8. Thanks a lot for giving everyone such a breathtaking possiblity to read critical reviews from this web site. It really is so pleasant and as well , packed with amusement for me personally and my office acquaintances to visit your web site a minimum of three times in 7 days to find out the new issues you have. Not to mention, we are certainly amazed for the breathtaking information served by you. Some two points in this article are really the very best I’ve ever had.

  9. I am commenting to let you be aware of of the fine discovery my daughter had viewing your webblog. She figured out such a lot of details, not to mention how it is like to have a wonderful helping nature to have certain people with ease thoroughly grasp various impossible issues. You actually exceeded my desires. Many thanks for showing the insightful, trustworthy, educational and even fun tips on that topic to Lizeth.

  10. I simply desired to thank you so much yet again. I’m not certain the things that I might have carried out in the absence of the entire techniques revealed by you regarding this problem. It has been the fearsome situation in my position, but viewing your expert strategy you treated it made me to weep with fulfillment. Extremely grateful for your guidance and thus pray you know what a great job you are doing instructing people by way of your site. I’m certain you haven’t come across all of us.

  11. I truly wanted to write down a remark to be able to say thanks to you for those nice strategies you are writing on this site. My extended internet search has at the end been honored with awesome tips to talk about with my visitors. I would mention that most of us readers actually are definitely fortunate to be in a fabulous site with very many marvellous professionals with very beneficial points. I feel pretty privileged to have seen your entire site and look forward to so many more awesome moments reading here. Thanks a lot once more for all the details.

  12. My wife and i have been cheerful Michael could do his survey from the ideas he grabbed from your own web site. It is now and again perplexing just to choose to be offering hints which usually people might have been trying to sell. Therefore we do understand we have the blog owner to appreciate for that. All the explanations you have made, the easy website navigation, the relationships you will make it possible to instill – it’s got everything powerful, and it’s helping our son in addition to the family understand that subject is enjoyable, which is certainly seriously essential. Many thanks for everything!

  13. I am glad for writing to make you know what a incredible encounter my cousin’s girl gained reading through yuor web blog. She mastered so many details, which include what it is like to possess an awesome giving mindset to make a number of people without difficulty learn about certain specialized matters. You really did more than people’s expectations. Many thanks for offering the helpful, healthy, revealing and even unique tips on that topic to Janet.

  14. I not to mention my pals came studying the great secrets and techniques from your site and so immediately I got a terrible suspicion I never thanked you for those strategies. The young men became certainly excited to learn them and have in effect very much been tapping into these things. Thank you for indeed being very thoughtful and then for having certain very good themes most people are really needing to discover. My very own sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  15. I intended to post you that little word to help thank you so much as before considering the splendid secrets you’ve contributed on this site. It is simply open-handed of you to deliver extensively what exactly some people would’ve supplied for an e book in order to make some profit for themselves, especially considering the fact that you could have done it if you ever desired. The secrets also served as the easy way to understand that other individuals have similar eagerness similar to my very own to figure out a little more concerning this issue. I’m certain there are several more pleasant opportunities up front for people who take a look at your blog.

  16. My wife and i ended up being so lucky that John could finish up his reports using the ideas he had through the web site. It’s not at all simplistic just to always be giving out information and facts the others could have been trying to sell. Therefore we see we’ve got the writer to give thanks to for this. The illustrations you made, the straightforward website navigation, the relationships you give support to instill – it’s got mostly spectacular, and it’s really facilitating our son and the family reckon that this subject matter is excellent, which is truly important. Thanks for the whole thing!

  17. Thanks for all your valuable hard work on this blog. My mum really likes participating in investigation and it is easy to understand why. Almost all know all of the dynamic tactic you provide useful guides through the web blog and even welcome contribution from people on the concern while our own simple princess is certainly learning a lot of things. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You have been doing a stunning job.

  18. I simply wanted to send a simple note to appreciate you for those awesome information you are sharing here. My time intensive internet investigation has finally been recognized with good ideas to talk about with my two friends. I would suppose that many of us readers are definitely lucky to dwell in a magnificent place with very many wonderful people with helpful hints. I feel very blessed to have encountered the webpage and look forward to plenty of more excellent times reading here. Thank you once more for all the details.

  19. I definitely wanted to write a word to appreciate you for some of the great tactics you are giving at this website. My time consuming internet look up has now been compensated with brilliant tips to exchange with my great friends. I ‘d declare that we site visitors actually are rather blessed to be in a really good community with many marvellous people with very helpful basics. I feel quite privileged to have discovered the website and look forward to tons of more awesome moments reading here. Thanks a lot once again for a lot of things.

  20. I precisely desired to say thanks all over again. I’m not certain what I might have gone through without the actual aspects contributed by you relating to this question. It absolutely was a very challenging condition for me personally, however , taking note of a expert tactic you handled the issue took me to leap over joy. I’m happier for this work and then hope you know what an amazing job you are providing educating the mediocre ones through your webblog. I am certain you haven’t got to know any of us.

  21. I definitely wanted to type a simple remark in order to appreciate you for those splendid facts you are giving here. My rather long internet lookup has finally been paid with sensible insight to exchange with my best friends. I ‘d suppose that many of us site visitors are very much fortunate to exist in a great site with very many wonderful professionals with helpful things. I feel very grateful to have seen the webpages and look forward to many more cool moments reading here. Thank you once again for everything.

  22. I not to mention my pals have already been looking through the good tricks found on the website while all of the sudden developed a horrible suspicion I never thanked you for those tips. All of the men are already happy to read through them and now have truly been having fun with those things. Appreciate your really being quite helpful and also for deciding upon some excellent issues millions of individuals are really needing to understand about. My very own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

  23. Thanks so much for giving everyone such a remarkable opportunity to check tips from here. It’s usually so cool and as well , packed with fun for me personally and my office co-workers to visit your blog at a minimum 3 times in a week to read through the new secrets you have. And definitely, we’re actually impressed for the stunning hints you serve. Certain two areas in this article are really the finest I’ve had.

  24. I simply wanted to appreciate you again. I’m not certain the things that I would’ve taken care of without the recommendations shared by you regarding such concern. It absolutely was a very hard concern for me personally, nevertheless finding out this well-written form you managed that made me to weep over happiness. Now i am happy for the advice and thus hope you find out what a powerful job you’re getting into training people today using your webpage. I’m certain you’ve never met all of us.

  25. Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has
    pretty much the same layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  26. That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for
    sharing this one. A must read article!

  27. I simply could not leave your website before suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual
    info a person provide for your guests? Is gonna be back ceaselessly to
    check up on new posts

  28. Hello there, You have done an incredible job.
    I will definitely digg it and personally suggest
    to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

  29. Incredible story there. What happened after? Thanks!

  30. Wow, superb blog format! How long have you been blogging for?

    you make blogging glance easy. The total look of your site is fantastic, as well as the content!

  31. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
    However, how could we communicate?

  32. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could
    add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest
    twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time
    and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with
    something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward
    to your new updates.

  33. Hi there, its nice article about media print, we all know media is a fantastic source of information.

  34. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely helpful information particularly the
    last section 🙂 I maintain such info a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  35. Your style is really unique compared to other folks
    I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the
    opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

  36. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating
    it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow
    over time.

  37. Link exchange is nothing else however it is simply placing the other person’s blog link
    on your page at suitable place and other person will also do
    similar for you.

  38. This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
    almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to
    say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *