Choose a Sleeping Bag

You can go camping in the perfect setting, have the proper clothes and shoes for the environment, the best camping stove and food, and even the best tent and backpack, but if you have the wrong type of sleeping bag, your camping experience can go downhill very fast. All sleeping bags are not the same. It’s important that you know what your options are so you can choose the best sleeping bag for your camping experience.

Not all sleeping bags will be comfortable in all seasons. Sleeping bags come with season ratings:

Season 1 is considered Summer
Season 2 is considered Spring, Summer
Season 3 is considered Spring to Fall
Season 4 is considered Winter
Season 5 is considered Extreme Winter 

When shopping for sleeping bags you should also look at the temperatures that are listed for the sleeping bag. One is the Comfort Temperature Rating. The second temperature will be the Extreme Temperature Rating.

The Comfort Rating will list a range of temperatures. These represent what the sleeping bag’s manufacturer believes would be comfortable ambient temperatures for a person using the bag.

The Extreme Temperature Rating is a single temperature, not a range of temperatures. The temperature listed here is what the sleeping bag manufacture believes is the coldest temperature this sleeping bag should be used.

As you can see, you wouldn’t want to choose a Season 4 sleeping bag if you were going to be camping out on hot, summer nights. Likewise, you wouldn’t choose a Season 1 bag if you were going to be camping in the middle of winter in the mountains. Choose a sleeping bag that meets your specific camping experience. If you’re going to be camping year round, you’ll probably need more than one sleeping bag to accommodate the different seasons.

Once you know what season of sleeping bag you’ll need, you need to decide what shape of sleeping bag you want. This decision is purely personal. Sleeping bags come in the following shapes: rectangular, mummy, and semi-mummy. As you might suspect, mummy sleeping bags are the warmest, but the hood on the mummy size sleeping bags can make some people feel confined or claustrophobic. Semi-mummy bags give a camper more room than a mummy shaped sleeping bag—and they are warmer than rectangular bags. All three bags come in extra long to accommodate people that are tall.

Lastly, you need to consider whether you need a sleeping bag that will resist moisture and water. If you’re going to be camping in an area where your bag may get wet, it’s a good idea to opt for a bag that has an outside shell fabric that resists water and moisture.

Once you have chosen the perfect sleeping bag for your camping experience, be sure to take the proper steps to maintain the life of your sleeping bag. Read all of the care instructions that come with the sleeping bag. If you don’t care for your sleeping bag properly you could damage it and shorten its life expectancy.