Sleeping Bag

                 How To Make The Right Choice

Camping Sleeping Bags come in various styles, including Rectangle /Blanket, Tapered and Mummy.  Styles also include for men, women, and children, double or single.  Designed, and filled of various materials, which accommodate ones need for comfort, warmth, and space.  Comfort is what you are looking for, protection from cold, and dampness will gauge your sleep comfort.

Part of that comfort is staying warm, accomplished by the right Sleeping Bag for the environment.  Body heat warms up the enclosed area, which in turn confines the heat around you.  Extra clothing or blankets are not the answer, but the temperature rating is, and should be a factor in your purchase.

Rectangle / Blanket Style Sleeping Bag

Rectangle Sleeping Bag

The Blanket style is one that everyone is familiar with and is more versatile, yet the drawback is that depending on temperature rating, can be bulky.  Most can be zipped together to make a double bag when needed.

Tapered Sleeping Bag

Tapered Sleeping Bag

This is a mid shape between rectangular and Mummy, taking the best of the rectangular and mummy.  The tapered design reduces the interior space, shortening the time for heat to build up.

Mummy Sleeping Bag

Mummy Sleeping

The Mummy style not only utilizes body heat but also reduces space.  When retention of heat is a concern, this is the best bet.  Reduction of overall space allows heat to be created quicker especially at the foot end.  Second feature of the Mummy bag is not the zipper but the drawstring, which closes the bag around the head preventing valuable heat from escaping.  This is the ideal bag for extreme cold weather camping.

In addition to the style, consider the length, and width.  Having enough room is just as important as not having too much.  The right size allows you to move and stay warm.  Men's will need larger than women will; older people will need warmer than younger.

Sleeping Bag Fill

The Fill is also important, especially if the need for warmth is a factor.  Down and synthetic are the two most popular fills for Sleeping Bags, both having their advantages and disadvantages.

Synthetic is lightweight and builds up heat quicker.  Other advantages are that it will dry faster and will hold up much better then down during regular cleaning and abuse.  This type is very popular for the novice, especially with children.  Down side of this type is that it does not compact as well and will break down faster than a down.  Although it dries quicker, does not do well in keeping out the dampness.

Down filled are easier to compress and take up less room and retains heat better.  With proper care the life of the Down filled Sleeping bags are longer.  To increase longevity, store in a larger storage bag when storing for a long period of time.

Caring for your Sleeping Bag

Storing in the tight (original) bag for long period could cause the down to not retain original thickness and hinder performance.  Hanging the bag when not in use, is the best way to extend the life.  Although the new bags have a water resistant shell, it is advisable to prevent the bag from getting soaked.  The thickness of down filling is call loft which ranges on the average from 600 to 850 the higher the number, the higher the price.


The shell of the bag can be made of different fabric, which is part of what determines the temperature ratings.  The shell is not only a covering with a zipper but a vapor barrier.

Temperature Ratings of Sleeping Bags

Temperature ratings will be a consideration when choosing the type for the camping trip you are planning.  It is wise to consider the temperatures in the area you will be going.  Backpackers are more conscious of the temperature rating, because of their exposure to the elements.

The ratings are estimates based on being used by a person under 40, in good health as well as being block from the wind.  If there is a variance of either of these, you may want to adjust accordingly.  It is better to have one that may get a little warm at night than one you shiver in, you can always unzip if you get warm.

These ratings include:

    * Upper Limit - the temperature at which a standard man can sleep without excessive perspiration.  It is established with the hood and zippers open and with the arms outside.

    * Comfort - the temperature at which a standard woman can expect to sleep comfortably in a relaxed position.

    * Lower Limit - the temperature at which a standard man can sleep for eight hours in a curled position without waking.

    * Extreme - the minimum temperature at which a standard woman can remain for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia (though frostbite is still possible).

Here is an easy reference:

    Use                                   Comfort Ratings
    Summer/Indoor-------------- +40°F or higher
    3-Season Bag -------------- +15°F to +40°F
    Spring to Fall --------------- +15°F to +40°F
    Summer High Altitude------ +15°F to +40°F
    Winter Camping------------- -10°F to +15°F
    Polar/ Extreme Alpine------- -10°F or lower

Men's Bag Length

  • Short: For up to 5'6"
  • Regular: For 5'7" to 6'0"    
  • Long: For 6'1" to 6'6"

Women's Bag Length

  • Regular: Up to 5'6"
  • Long: 5'7" to 6'0"

This is where serious thought is important.  Consideration of where you will be and the time of the year are two factors in determining what temperature rating needs to be.  The temperature rating will affect the cost along with the weight and space.  For Backpackers and Motorcycle Camping Motorcycle Camping this will be important.

A few things to think about after you purchase your sleeping bag is the care.  As stated before washing / cleaning reduces life expectancy.

Inserting a washable liner will help keep it clean.  If it does not come with a removable liner, you can make one yourself.   Simply purchase two sheets slightly larger than your bag.  Cut around the sheets approximately six inches larger on all sides.  Hem the top edge of both pieces of sheets and double stitch down one side and bottom.  Turn inside out and slip the liner inside.  This will allow getting in and out and keeping the inside cleaner.

So what should be considered when purchasing?

    1. Temperature or comfort rating - consider the night temperature
    2. Total overall weight - very important to backpackers
    3. Size when compressed as much as possible
    4. Overall size - room to move, yet minimize area for warmth
    5. Type of insulation - down or synthetic
    6. Type of compression bag included - rain proof etc.

Now that you have an idea of what you needing check out our Camping Store page for a wide selection.

If your question didn't quite answered or you now have questions about what you found, email us using the Contact Us page.

Sleeping Bags