Don’t just pick any sleeping bag for your next camping trip! It’s important to know the different factors you must consider when purchasing the best sleeping bag since the right one will give you a restful, and more peaceful sleep, whatever the season, temperature, or location is.
When deciding on a sleeping bag, consider these factors:
The temperature rating is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a sleeping bag. Comfort ratings and extreme ratings are the two factors that manifest the sleeping bags’ temperature.
The ‘comfort’ rating refers to the optimum temperature you will feel warm and comfortable sleeping in when in a rolled-up position. It is likely that you will feel colder at any temperature when the bag is below the comfort rating. This is relative since people respond differently to temperatures.
On the other hand, the extreme temperature rating is the survival temperature. This is the limit at which your bag will keep you alive (not comfortable!) without frostbite.
The season ratings of sleeping bags range from season 1, for summer camping, to season 4, for cold winter nights. Season 1 bags are ideal for festivals and indoor use, like kids’ sleepovers.
On the other hand, season 2 bags are for early autumn and late spring in the UK where nights get cold. It’s also perfect for those who feel cold even during the summer.
Season 3 bags are for cold winter and autumn nights without the snow, while season 4 bags are for use on cold winter nights where there may also be frost or snow on the ground.
There are two main types of insulation when it comes to sleeping bags. The first one is the down insulation, which is lightweight, easy to compress, and perfect for cold and dry conditions. This one may be pricier than the average synthetic insulations because it is lightweight and more compressible. It can also retain a more consistent level of warmth for more years.
On the other hand, synthetic insulation is more affordable and it can insulate when it’s wet because of the polyester material. This means that it’s perfect for the damp weather.
Whatever the type of insulation you choose, it’s more important to consider the distribution of insulation between the bag’s liner and outer shell. Down bags use baffling constructions, while synthetics cobble together sheets of batting. Your goal should be to get an even distribution around you and to avoid cold spots.
Like shoes, sleeping bags have different dimensions too. There are three categories to consider here. First are the bag sizes themselves. These come in regular, long, and short sizes. When picking a size, try to go one size bigger for comfort, and one size smaller for extra warmth.
Women’s sleeping bags also have their own sizes as they are designed to fit an average woman’s contours. Take note that they are usually shorter and narrower.
Kids’ sleeping bags are simply shorter and smaller, making them more affordable. Brands still provide an estimated temperature rating for kids’ bags, even though ISO and EN testing can’t be done on them.
Weight and Shape
Of course, the weight of your sleeping bag is an important factor when you’re carrying it in your pack. Insulation fill weights tell the weight of your bag. More efficient insulations, like advanced synthetics and high-fill-power downs, will deliver greater warmth for less weight than less efficient fills.
The shape is also an important aspect since sleeping bags can only warm a small space up more than an expansive one. This is because they work by retaining the heat emitted by your body. The three basic shapes of sleeping bags are mummy, semi-rectangular, and rectangular.
Other important features you may want to consider are:
- Left and right-hand zips
- Zip baffle
- Zip cover
- Inner pockets
- Stuff sack
- Inner linings
- Outer fabrics