Staying warm and cozy on cool camping nights is central to your enjoyment of your camping trip. Choosing the appropriate sleeping bag isn’t rocket science, but does require a bit of research and thought. There are many choices in the sleeping bag world and a bag to suit every need. This particular camping gear purchase will ensure your comfort in any kind of nighttime weather.
Comfort rating: Before heading out to purchase a new sleeping bag, it’s important to focus on a few key components. One of the most central is the temperature rating you need your bag to be. Sleeping bags come with a “comfort rating” based on the lowest temperature they will keep an average sleeper warm. A bag rated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit should keep you warm in temperatures at or above that temperature. Consider both the altitude and the season that you tend to camp in. Higher altitudes translate into colder nights. Some dry desert locales also tend to have colder than average nights. You can get a back rated as high as 55 degrees for extremely mild camping, or one that goes as low as -40 for extreme winter and high altitude camping trips. Generally, the lower the rating, the more expensive the bag will be. Try to aim somewhere in the middle to offer yourself some flexibility for a variety of locations and seasons.
Stuffing: Sleeping bags generally come with a synthetic or down stuffing. The advantage of down is that it is extremely light and compressible. A down bag can stuff into a relatively small stuff sack and leave plenty of room for other camping gear. The disadvantage of down is that if it gets wet, it doesn’t work as well to keep you warm. Down feathers generally lose their warmth factor when wet. Synthetic bags do a better job of providing warmth when wet, like if your tent leaks during a big storm. However, at the lower comfort ratings, the synthetic bags will tend to be heavier and bulkier. They may not pack down as small. This will generally only matter if you plan on backpacking and carrying your sleeping bag in a pack. In that case your goal is to get a bag as light as possible.
Bag shape: Next you should take the shape of the bag in mind. Sleeping bags come in a more traditional rectangular shape, or a tapered or “mummy” shape. Each sleeping bag will state which type it is, and will also provide you with shoulder and hip girth measurements. If you are a larger person, you should make sure to get a bag designed for your size. Sleeping bags are even now being designed especially for men or women. There are many different types of sleeping bags just for children, too. Mummy bags allow less space for movement inside the bag, and have a much closer fit to your body for warmth. Rectangular bags are much more spacious inside for movement, but allow extra air inside so they can be colder.
Test it out: When you are shopping for your sleeping bag, take time to get inside the bags. Lay on all different sides of your body, and in your favorite sleeping position. Test out the zipper and the hood for your head—if it comes with one. Some manufacturers are now making glow in the dark zippers so you can easily adjust them at night. Take into consideration the weight, and the size it is when packed into its stuff sack. Also, if you are planning on buying a sleeping bag for you and your partner, many bags are able to be zipped together. If this is important to you, ask if the bag you are interested in comes with this feature. Warm camping nights are just around the corner with you sleeping comfortably in your cozy new sleeping bag.