How to Choose the Right Sleeping Bag 

If you’re seeking to understand how to choose the right sleeping bag? Well, you may want to read this post, because ending up with the wrong one at the wrong time and place can be every avid outdoor person’s worst nightmare.

Several factors make a sleeping bag the ideal go-to option for outdoor lovers; from flexibility to efficiency, ease of packing and transportation, and of course, comfort and warmth.

 However, finding the right one is usually easier said than done, and if you’ve made a mistake in the past, you understand too well that spending your money on an unreliable one is never an option.

We too know just how inconvenient that might be for you, so we took the time to put together some of the things that you need to be keen on to get the best value.

Keep scrolling to find out what makes a good sleeping bag, and how to choose a good one.

how to choose the right sleeping bag-sleeping bags in a tent

The different types of sleeping bags

To begin with, let’s set a few things straight when it comes to the different types of sleeping bags and where best to use them.

Camping sleeping bags

If you decide to go for a camping sleeping bag, you need to be sure you won’t need to haul it around over long distances. These bags can be a bit bulkier and heavier than most others, but they are very good for comfort.

For those of you who are family camping and car camping adventures, maybe with your partner, or you just like the extra room then the Sleepingo Double sleeping bag may be a perfect pick on several levels. 

However, if you want to go light and fast, then this may not be such a favorable choice. Besides, it’s also crucial to ensure you check that the temperature rating is just right, especially when camping in extreme conditions.

Backpacking sleeping bags

As the name suggests, if you are backpacking then this is the sleeping bag for you. What’s more, these ones are designed to use as minimal space as possible, so they turn out to be very compressible as well.

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on the warmth, and manufacturers know that too, so most of the sleeping bags in this tier are built to offer you the best of all these, just make sure to keep an eye on its temperature rating.

To cut as much weight as possible while retaining the warmth, you should consider going for the low denier shell and high fill power bags.

Any option weighing 2lbs or less should make a good choice, as long as it delivers the warmth you need in the area in which you intend to visit. Take a look at the Outdoor Vitals Summit this is an excellent sleeping bag.

Mountaineering sleeping bag

What makes this type worth a good look is that you have to get the warmth and water resistance performance right there are no two ways about that.

However, you still need to ensure it is lightweight enough that it doesn’t bog you down.

To keep you comfortable warm in such extreme conditions, these bags are designed with top quality insulations. In addition, the shell material is usually both breathable and waterproof, since moisture level at high altitude can be a real concern.

This comes with a twist though, since the design makes these sleeping bags more expensive than the others. The higher cost would be a small price to pay for your health and safety.

Getting the size right

Not that you see the different types of sleeping bags out there, let’s take a look at how to go about finding the ideal size sleeping bag.

It’s simple though, you need to choose according to your own sizes, such as the length and width.

A sleeping bag that’s too large, for instance, will mean leaving a lot of dead space, not to mention that you’ll need a significant amount of energy to heat it up.

Get one that’s too small and you could have to press against it, compressing its insulation and compromising its efficiency.

Granted, you might still consider going for a slightly larger one if you have some gear that you want to keep inside the bag to keep them warm.

That said, here are some of the sizes that you can choose from depending on your own size.

  • Men’s regular sleeping bags; ideal for people up to 6 feet, these ones are 78 inches long
  • Men’s long; great for taller guys about 6ft 6 inches, these bags are 84 inches long
  • Women’s regular; these are ideal for petite women about 5 feet 6 inches, and they measure 72 inches
  • Women’s long; designed for taller women up to 6 ft, these bags are up to 78 inches long.

how to choose the right sleeping bag-tent on a hill at sunrise

Which shape suits you best?

Now that you have an idea of the size to go for, the next challenge is about finding just the right shape for your preference. The good news is, sleeping bags come in an array of shapes that you can choose from, each with its own perks and drawbacks of course.

  • Mummy sleeping bags

Let’s start off with some of the most common sleeping bags around, the mummy sleeping bag. And there’s a reason these ones are a favorite of most outdoor lovers.

I have written a comprehensive and in-depth review of a Mummy style bag, it is the Coleman sleeping bag. It is a cheap sleeping bag and a good option if you are a beginner camper and just want to go camping for the weekend.

They have a tightly sculpted construction that makes them very lightweight as well as ensuring they’re very efficient at keeping you warm since there’s next to no dead spaces inside.

One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that these sleeping bags can be uncomfortable for some, and others think they’re very claustrophobic.

When choosing, make sure the one you go for isn’t too tight, you still need some air circulation in there, and this can be very important if you are wearing some layers when sleeping to enhance the warmth.

  • Rectangular sleeping bags

Sleeping bags with this shape are common among recreational campers, thanks to their comfortable shapes since they offer sufficient wiggle room where you can spread out and sleep without feeling constricted.

Be sure to take a look at the very good Conway sleeping bag for a reliable rectangle bag suitable for all 3 season car camping.

Another great thing about these bags is that you can totally unzip and use it as a blanket if need be, or you could easily combine two of them together to create a double sleeping bag.

That’s the bright side, but these sleeping bags also have a downside, which is their heavier, bulkier design from their extra material.

Besides, all that room allows for dead spaces to develop, which diminishes the sleeping bag’s efficiency when it comes to keeping you warm.

  • Double sleeping bags

If you intend on camping or taking on alpine climbing as a couple, then these sleeping bags would make a great choice for you.

Although they definitely have more than enough space inside to allow for the development of dead space, their design allows the two of you to share each other’s body heat, thus allowing you to keep warm.

On the flip side, however, these ones are a bit bulkier and pack in more weight than the other types of sleeping bags, so keep that in mind too.

  • Specialized shapes sleeping bags

It turns out mummy, rectangular and double sleeping bags aren’t the only options out there.

There are also semi-rectangular sleeping bags that come in between mummy sleeping bags and their rectangular counterparts. 

These are a great pick if you are considering shedding off some weight without sacrificing the sleeping space inside.

Then there are spoon bags, which feature a kind of hourglass design shape that is great for side sleepers. If you want a bag that offers some extra comfort without having to worry over extra weight, then this should be a perfect pick.

Another type of different bag is the quilts, which pretty much work with a sleeping pad instead of being a stand-alone sleeping bag. 

  • Women’s-specific sleeping bags

To cater to the woman’s body shape, these sleeping bags differ from the unisex type in that they are narrower around the shoulder area while being wider in the hip section.

Most of them are also short and have extra insulation since women are usually cold sleepers when compared to men.

  • Kid-size sleeping bags

Just as the name suggests, these are built for the kids. They’re smaller and shorter but built to deliver just as great a performance as the adult ones.

how to choose the right sleeping bag-person hiking on a track

The shell and lining material

Having decided which type of sleeping bag is good for your needs, the next thing to think of is whether it’s material has what it takes to keep you warm when out there.

For durability and cutting off as much weight as possible, most sleeping bags out there sport ripstop nylon on the shell and the liner.

Along with a DWR treatment, these materials also offer a great deal of comfort and protection from the elements.

Besides, nylon takes the cake thanks to its ability to stay cooler in humid conditions and dry faster when camping in damp areas.

With a lighter and thinner fabric, the cost of the sleeping bag increases, but so does the comfort and protection that you can get with it.

Also, it’s important that you ensure your sleeping bag has a high “D” also known as denier rating, a 10D would be more favorable than a 4D, for instance.

Also, make sure to check how water-resistant the sleeping bag is, after all, the last thing you want is to sleep in a soaking one. Best Sleeping bags is an article I wrote about a number of good choices.

Temperature rating

Speaking of temperatures, most people find themselves scratching their heads trying to figure out which temperature rating is best suited for their needs.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth mentioning that you can always adjust the temperature inside your sleeping bag by simply unzipping it, or get one with a hood that you can cinch around your head and face.

That said, here’s a rundown of the different temperature ratings for different types of sleeping bags according to season.

  • Summer season sleeping bags – These ones are usually designed with a temperature rating of at least +30-degrees or higher.
  • 3-Season bags – Sleeping bags built to keep you warm in temperatures between +15-degrees and +30-degrees.
  • Winter sleeping bags – These are capable of taking on +15-degrees or lower.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that in some extreme cases, these ratings could mean the temperatures at which the sleeping bag could keep you from health problems such as hypothermia and not toasty warm.

The different insulation types

Most (if not all) of the sleeping bags you’ll come across will have either synthetic insulation or down fill. So, why should you go for any of these?

  •  Synthetic insulation offers a fair number of perks, including being affordable, fast-drying design, and non-allergenic, not to mention its ability to continue insulating even when damp.
  • Down insulation on the other end is great for its lightweight design, awesome performance in both cold and dry conditions, weather-resistant treatment, easy compressibility, and durability.

Check out this site Responsible down to get a glimpse of responsible sourcing of down from animals. the other thing worth checking out is what a down measurement means and how to make the right decision. And just so you know, there’s a wide spectrum to choose from!

First up is the 550 to a 600-fill sleeping bag, which is the most affordable option out there, great for most mild season camping but that comes at a cost, as they can be pretty heavy, and difficult to compress too.

However, down still beats synthetic fills when it comes to compressibility and being lightweight. But down does not like getting wet and it will perform poorly if it does.

Then there’s the 700 fill, which is the mid-range option, with an impressive balance when it comes to cost and lightweight design.

This range would be suitable for most 3-season camping and will keep you warm on the coolest of nights.

Then 800, 850, 900,1000 fill power are on the upper end of the spectrum. These will definitely cost you more, and for a reason.

They’re not only super lightweight, but they also are super easy to compress to compact, packable sizes, and of course, the performance is very impressive.

High performance come with a high cost and a sleeping bag with an 800 fill or higher down filling would not be necessary unless you are visiting extreme climates.

how to choose the right sleeping bag-man sitting up in a sleeping bag

Other features worth considering

The list of things that you need to be keen on when shopping for a sleeping bag is a long one. But besides the one we’ve discussed, you also should be aware of these too.

A hood could make a world of difference with that extra coverage for your head and face. A snug-fitting one would be definitely worth the money.

Stash pockets also come in handy at helping keep personal effects such as a watch, map, phone, and others safely inside the sleeping bag.

Zippers also count a lot, as these allow you to get in and out of your sleeping bag as well as zip it up to retain heat.

But there’s more, remember to look for any design that helps prevent zipper snagging, especially with a guard along the length of the zipper, it could save you lots of frustration.

Moreover, some have a left-hand zipper, while others have a right-hand one, so choose depending on your dominant hand.

The foot box is another great feature that we can’t afford to leave behind, as sleeping bags with this design help keep your feet warm, which could mean a great deal of difference, even help you fall asleep faster.

Baffles count too, especially when using a down fill sleeping bag. These come in either vertical or horizontal type and help you stay warmer in extreme conditions.

Draft tubes also add to the performance that you can get with your sleeping bag, as they run the length of the bag’s zipper, thus minimizing any chances of cold air coming in or warm air escaping the bag.

A sleeping bag liner goes a long way to keeping your sleeping bag clean, and it adds some warmth as well. But the best part is that during the hot season you could just use it instead of the sleeping bag.

A carry bag is yet another feature you might not think of until it’s time to head out. However, it’s every bit as important as just any other feature, helping you store and transport your sleeping bag conveniently.

Final Thoughts

Shopping for a sleeping bag? We know as you do that it isn’t an easy feat, There are so many choices designs and styles for different situations.

But after reading through just about everything you need to know, we are positive that this is going to be easier for you.

It’s important to make sure you get a piece of gear that offers you the best value for your money.

We’ve all had our fair share of frustrating experiences with crappy items, but the quality ones always make the hunt worth the while. 


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