Whether you’re climbing a mountain or enjoying a family getaway, you need comfortable sleeping bags to keep everyone warm. Here’s how to find that ideal sleeping bag for your next outdoor adventure.
A sleeping bag for every season
Sleeping bags are classified by shape and rated for different seasons. Here are the most popular types to help you choose the one right for you.
- Rectangular bag: The standard rectangular sleeping bag is roomy and comfortable. Rectangular bags tend to be suited for moderate temperatures and are usually heavier because of their shape, which is fine if you’re travelling in a vehicle.
- Mummy sleeping bag: These tapered bags are widely used for cold weather expeditions. The shape conforms to your body to keep cold air out and conserve heat. Mummy bags are ideal for winter camping.
- Double sleeping bag: These bags are extra wide to accommodate two people. Most double bags are heavy and impractical for hiking or colder temperatures, but nice when you’re camping with a partner.
Sleeping bag features
Beyond shape, there are other features to consider that affect comfort and portability.
- Insulation: Insulation is either down or synthetic. A down-filled sleeping bag is light, durable, easy to pack and traps heat better than any synthetic. Down can lose its insulating properties when wet. Bags with synthetic insulation are slightly heavier and wear out faster but are more affordable and quicker to dry.
- Size: A compact sleeping bag can be compressed without losing its loft, which makes it better for multi-day hikes where saving space is a priority. If you want to pack a conventional sleeping bag for hiking, consider using a compression sack, which can make your bag small enough to fit into your backpack.
- Pocket pillow: Common in compact sleeping bags, this sewn-in sleeve can be stuffed with clothing to make a comfortable pillow. Many compression sacks have soft, lined interiors to double as a pocket pillow.
Other factors to consider that really matter
Think about these factors to get the right bag for your adventures.
- Age group: The difference between kids’ sleeping bags and adult sleeping bags is size. When buying a child’s bag, leave a little room for growth unless it’s for winter camping when too much extra space can be a drawback.
- Gender: Women’s bags are designed to fit the contours of the female body to trap heat more effectively. They tend to be a bit shorter, narrower in the shoulders and wider in the hips.
- Weather: For winter camping, look at four-season bags rated for sub-freezing conditions. For warm weather, a single-season bag with adequate ventilation is all you need.
Unless you’re serious about winter camping, a good three-season sleeping bag is fine for normal conditions. Consider a lightweight, compact bag if you’re backpacking and a down-filled bag for toasty warmth in extreme cold.