How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Camping

By | May 6, 2021


Slipping into a warm and comfortable sleeping bag is one of the greatest pleasures of countryside camping. In order to keep the night chill at bay, you need to choose a sleeping bag of the right temperature rating, insulation and shape. Other factors to consider may include cost, roominess and features that add to comfort and convenience.

Temperature rating

This is determined by the season when you are most likely to use the bag- summer, winter or when the temperatures are moderate. In most cases the bag’s name gives an idea about its rating, for instance Marmot Plasma 15 bag is one rated to a temperature of +15F. In case you like camping during winter, choose a bag rated at below 0F while a bag suited for summer camping is rated +35F and higher. Many people go for the 3-season bag with a temperature rating of +10F to +35F because it is suitable for varying seasons.

Type of insulation

The majority of sleeping bags come in three types of insulation – synthetic, down and the water-repellent down. Down bags are filled with duck and goose feathers. They are compressible, durable, light and breathable. However they are relatively expensive and can be allergic to users. Synthetic insulation is relatively cheaper, quick-drying, insulates even when wet, and has considerable durability. However, synthetic insulation is not compressible and thus occupies larger room when packaged. The water-resistant down insulation on the other hand is relatively cheaper, quick-drying, insulates even when wet and has considerable durability. However, down and synthetic fillings will loose their insulating capacity when wet.


Many sleeping bags are designed to reduce condensation due to trapping of condensation due to breathable space between the sleeping bag and the air outside. Venting of the sleeping bag through the use of a vent in the cover or a zipper will reduce the amount of condensation due to the damp ground and will allow cooler air to Companion the bag.

Cover and Insulation

The types of materials used in a sleeping bag’s cover can be either down or synthetic. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the synthetic bag is lighter. Moreover, they dry faster than down. But down bags are very good at absorbing water. This means that they are a good choice for people who frequently travel in wet conditions. On the other hand, they are relatively cheaper than the synthetic ones. And most synthetic bags are very light and so compressible. They also do not retain heat like down.

Shape and Clearance

The size of the sleeping bag is a very important consideration while deciding its warmth and comfort rating. The outer shell of a sleeping bag should be of non-cotton material and should be of a durable material. The bag should have a comfortable round size and should be of a regular shape. If the bag is too big then the heat from your body will escape through the zipper. Hence, the importance of finding the right size sleeping bag is extremely important. In case the bag is too small, then the heat from your body will have a chance to escape. Hence, the importance of choosing a sleeping bag which is comfortable round the size of your body.

Durability and Heat Generating Capability

Sleeping bags are graded using a scale of “Extreme”, “Extra Cold”, “vernier” and “Three-Season”. These ratings may be misleading. Unless you are dealing with a sub-zero bag, the ratings of the bags will be quite meaningful. A “Four-Season” bag with a rating of “2” to “3” is actually good for three-season use. It is not good for winter camping. And never buy a sleeping bag with a rating above “4” unless you are absolutely sure that it is suitable for winter camping.

Lightweight and Compactness

Most sleeping bags are made from natural and synthetic materials. The superior quality sleeping bags are usually made from down. Synthetic bags are usually cheaper than down. But they are heavier and bulkier. Down bags are lighter and compressible. They also generate heat better than synthetic bags. But they are extremely expensive. The lightweight bags are considered the best in terms of warmth and compactness. In addition, they compress better and weigh less.

Bag Shape

mummy bags are considered the best in terms of both style and size. They are fitted with a sack which is snug enough to hold warm air as well as keep the bag in place. The bags meant for cold weather are usually insulated with a plastic sheath.

Rectangular bags are somewhat traditional, but they are not as popular with campers as they were years ago. They are more straightforward to carry around and are usually found in army surplus. They have no zippers and are not as sturdy as synthetic bags.