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The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

One of the most essential pieces of camping gear is a good sleeping bag. After all, you need a place to rest your head at night while you’re enjoying the great outdoors!

But with so many different types and brands of sleeping bags on the market, it can be tough to know which one is right for you.

Most sleeping bags are designed for specific temperatures, so it’s important to choose one that will keep you warm enough for the climate you’ll be camping in.

If you tend to get cold easily, or if you’ll be camping in an area with cool evenings, you’ll want a bag with a lower temperature rating.

On the other hand, if you’re a warm sleeper or you’re planning to camp in a warmer climate, you’ll need a bag with a higher temperature rating.

Sleeping bags for camping
The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Most sleeping bags have a temperature rating of +15°C or above, which is adequate for most camping trips

If you plan to camp in cold weather or at high altitudes, however, you’ll need a bag with a lower temperature rating.

There are also different shapes and sizes of sleeping bags, as well as special features to consider.

To help you make the best decision, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to choosing the perfect sleeping bag for your next camping trip!

Types Of Sleeping Bags

Your choice of sleeping bag is incredibly important. There are two main types of sleeping bags to choose from: down sleeping bags and synthetic sleeping bags.

They each have their own benefits. The choice will depend on several factors, including the weather and your own personal preference. 

Seasons

The weather is really important; if you are camping in the summer, the warmer weather will likely mean that you could get away with using a thinner sleeping bag. Obviously, in the winter, you will need a warmer sleeping bag. 

Sleeping bags for wild camping
The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Most of the time, when purchasing a sleeping bag, it will tell you what it is suited for. For example, summer sleeping bags are lighter. Three-season sleeping bags can go through most seasons except winter.

Winter sleeping bags are designed with more insulation, they are heavier, but they keep you warm in extreme cold. Finally, four-season sleeping bags are designed to be used year-round.

Synthetic

Synthetic sleeping bags are arguably the most common form of sleeping bag on the market. They are cheaper because they are made of synthetic materials. They work by trapping warm air, and they tend to be pretty durable, making them more resistant to wear and tear.

That being said, they do tend to be a little bulkier and weigh more than down sleeping bags.

Down

Down sleeping bags are slightly less common, but they are just as effective. Down sleeping bags are often better for winter camping because of their warmth. However, they are more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags, and they are less durable.

They can also have different ratings and ratios depending on the fill. 

Shapes, Pack Size & Weight

In addition to thinking about the filling material, you also need to consider the shape, pack size and weight. These can all affect your comfort when camping as well as carrying your gear to your campsite too. 

Sleeping Bag Shapes

When it comes to sleeping bag shapes, there are several shapes to consider. Firstly, there is the mummy, named because it resembles the shape of a mummy’s sarcophagus. This shape is often easy to pack into a rucksack because it is smaller.

A mummy sleeping bag fits the body more snugly, tapering down by the feet, which allows it to retain more heat. 

The rectangular-shaped sleeping bags are again aptly named; the bag is the same width throughout. More often than not, they have zips all the way along their edges which allows them to be unzipped into a duvet of sorts.

They are not as warm as other sleeping bags, which makes them better suited to summer camping. 

Sleeping bag shapes
The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Finally, there is the double bag which is essentially a rectangular sleeping bag that is twice as wide. Designed for two people to use, it eliminates the need to buy and carry two separate sleeping bags, but they are bulkier because of this.

They also allow the inhabitants to share body heat which can be advantageous when camping in colder weather. 

Pack Down Size

The pack down size refers to the size of the sleeping bag when it is packed away. Most sleeping bags can be packed away in a bag, and they can often get pretty small.

That being said, some are bulkier than others. If you are purchasing a sleeping bag in person, you will see the pack down size. If you are buying online, most retailers will list the pack down size, so be sure to double-check this. 

Carrying Weight

If you are camping at a designated campsite that allows you to park pretty near to where you want to pitch your tent, then the total weight of all of your things isn’t necessarily an issue.

However, if you are wild camping, hiking or otherwise travelling to your campsite, then you need to think about the weight of your equipment because you will have to carry it over that distance.

Again, when purchasing in person, you can get a feel for the weight of the item yourself.

If buying online, most listings will include the weight of the sleeping bag too. 

Packing a sleeping bag
The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Sleeping Bag Features

Sleeping bags have a number of optional extras or key features which may or may not come with your sleeping bag. You will have to decide if these features are advantageous or non-negotiable. Let’s take a look at the main features.

Waterproof

The material that the outer shell of your sleeping bag is made of is important. Some sleeping bags which are more geared towards caravanning are not going to be waterproof because they don’t need to be. However, if you are camping traditionally, then having a waterproof outer shell is definitely recommended. 

Zips

Obviously, zips are an integral element of any sleeping bag because they are what allows you to get in and out of it. However, the zips can serve other purposes.

For example, you can get zips which allow you to open the sleeping bag fully into a duvet or half zips, which allow you to vent the sleeping should you get too hot. 

Baffles

Baffles, on the other hand, are designed to allow you to tighten the sleeping bag and bring the opening closer to your body. This then traps the warm air in to keep you cosier, which is why they are more commonly found on winter sleeping bags.

Pockets

Lastly, interior pockets. Some sleeping bags come with pockets on the inside; they are usually located around the chest or feet.

You can use them to store valuables, or if it is cold, then you can keep your electronics in there, which can help to preserve the battery life. 

Sleeping bag accessories
The Ultimate Sleeping Bag Guide For Campers

Sleeping Bag Accessories

When camping, you are obviously going to need more than just the sleeping bag itself. There are a number of accessories that you will need to go alongside your sleeping bag. For the most part, this means mats, pillows and liners. 

Mats

A sleeping mat serves several purposes. Firstly, it offers more insulation against the cold ground. The padding also makes it more comfortable to sleep on.

Finally, they are much more portable than a camping bed or an air mattress. So while you can certainly camp without them, they make the experience much more comfortable and enjoyable. 

Pillows

If you have the room to do so, you could bring the pillow that you sleep on at home. However, this isn’t always feasible.

Camping pillows are more compact; they can be folded away, which means they don’t take up much space. There are several forms of camping pillow: air pillows, foam pillows, stuff sack pillows and polyester or cotton-filled pillows.

Liners

A sleeping bag liner goes inside the sleeping bag. They come in a range of sizes, shapes and materials. They can help to make your sleeping bag warmer and cosier.

They can also help to increase the longevity of your sleeping bag by adding another layer of protection. 

Caring For Your Camping Sleeping Bag

Looking after your sleeping bag is paramount to its performance and its lifespan too. If you don’t care for your sleeping bag properly, then it won’t last long, and you will end up having to replace it far more often, which can be costly. 

Keep It Clean

You should try not to wash your sleeping bag unless you can help it, of course. For example, sleep in long pyjamas to avoid sweat and dirt into the sleeping bag.

If you do need to wash your sleeping bag for whatever option, you should first check the label on your sleeping bag or any care instructions you have received. Some of them can be washed in a washing machine, and some are handwash only. 

Use Dry Bags

A dry bag – as the name suggests – is a bag that is designed to keep its contents dry. They come in a range of sizes, and they are sturdy enough to withstand even extreme wet weather conditions. Keeping your sleeping bag in a dry bag can help to increase its longevity as well as being practical.

Air Drying

If you do need to wash your sleeping bag or if it gets wet for whatever reason, then it is imperative that you let it air dry. Start by unzipping it as much as possible and leave it lying out on a flat surface.

You should never peg it up because it can disturb the fibres, distort the filling or even put too much pressure on the outer shell – leading to tears. 

Final Thoughts

A sleeping bag is an integral part of your camping kit. It helps to ensure that you are happy and healthy while camping. Make sure that you have done your research before buying a sleeping bag because getting the right one is important.

Remember to consider your destination, the weather and your own comfort too. 

FAQs

How Do I Know What Temperature Sleeping Bag To Get?

Think about where you are camping, when you are camping, and the type of weather that you are likely to experience. This should all inform the type of sleeping bag you need to get. Do some research on your destination, and make sure to read the details of any sleeping bag that you intend to purchase.

What Are The 3 Types Of Sleeping Bags?

The most common types of sleeping bags are the mummy, the rectangular sleeping bag and the double sleeping bag.

What Tog Sleep Bag Should I Use?

It depends on the weather that you are likely to encounter. Most sleeping bags will say on them what weather and temperatures they are better suited to, so be sure to check for this when purchasing a sleeping bag.

What Sleeping Bag Shape Is Best For Cold-Weather Camping?

The mummy sleeping bag shape comes with a hood, it helps to keep the heat in, and the baffles allow you to tighten the openings to keep more heat in too.

What Is The Difference Between A Camping Quilt And A Sleeping Bag?

A camping quilt covers the body as opposed to encasing it as a sleeping bag does. A camping quilt has no zips; sometimes, it does have a foot pocket which attaches to the sleeping mat to stop it from slipping off you as much in the night. Sleeping bags tend to be the warmer option, but camping quilts are more lightweight. 

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