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How to Choose Your Next Sleeping Bag

By Edited Dec 20, 2013 1 0

If you are in the market for a new sleeping bag, you will need to answer a few questions before you make your purchase.  Use this list below to help you find the best sleeping bag for your situation. 

You must first answer these questions:

What kind of a backpacker are you?

When will you go camping?

Are you tall, large, restless, or female?

What is your budget? 


What kind of a backpacker are you?
Sleeping Bag(41346)

The Avid Backpacker:

If you go camping frequently throughout the year, you need a sleeping bag that is reliable, durable in all weather conditions, and light.  You will use your sleeping bag in all kinds of weather, including rain and snow. This requires high-quality down insulation, which can withstand moisture very effectively.  It would also be smart to purchase a sleeping bag with a waterproof outer shell.  Be mindful  of where you will be camping and find the lowest possible temperature at these locations.  This will determine the temperature rating of your sleeping bag.

The Infrequent Backpacker:

You must choose a bag that is in the middle of the pack. Since you will probably only camp during summer, you do not need a sleeping bag with a low temperature rating.  However, you should still choose a bag that will withstand the elements and will last many years. You probably do not need to spend extra money for an ultralight model, but there may be some comfort features you want in your sleeping bag that will increase the overall price.

The Car Camper:

You go camping a few times a season and do not need a sleeping bag of superior quality. If you take care of your sleeping bag, it should last many years.  Synthetic fill may work well because size and weight are not major issues to factor into your purchase. 

What season will you be camping?


If you just go camping in summer, you probably do not need a sleeping bag rated to below 30 degrees. If you go camping in warmer climates where frost is not possible, synthetic and down insulation will be too warm for you. Remember, you can always sleep on top of your sleeping bag if the weather gets too hot.

Late Spring to Early Fall

You will surely camp in freezing temperatures and should be looking for temperature ratings between 10-30 degrees.  Again, keep in mind the weather of where you will be camping to determine the temperature rating on your bag.  You will probably encounter more extreme weather conditions and should consider a bag with a waterproof shell.


Depending on the climate, you will probably need a sleeping bag rated 10 degrees or lower. No model will keep you warm in winter and cool enough in summer because of dramatic temperature fluctuations. This more than likely means you will need to buy two sleeping bags. However, you may be able to simply purchase a liner to compensate for the colder temperatures, which is a much cheaper option than buying another bag.

Keep in mind with temperature ratings... the values of the temperature ratings assume you are dressed in the appropriate sleeping apparel and use a sleeping pad to separate you from the ground.

Are you tall, large, restless, or a female?

You are Tall

Beware, if you are six feet tall or more, you will need to buy a long sleeping bag.  Most sleeping bags are usually offered in a number of different sizes, and a long bag usually costs a few extra dollars.

You are Female

There are sleeping bags designed specifically for women that are wider at the hips and have extra insulation at the shoulders and feet.  Naturally, these bags are designed for optimal comfort for female campers. 

You are a Heavy Set or Restless Sleeper

On camping trips, the mummy bag usually provides the most warmth and least weight.  However, if you have a larger frame or are a restless sleeper, the mummy bag will not be very comfortable.  Look instead for semi-rectangular or rectangular bags. 

What is your budget?

You can buy sleeping bags with either down or synthetic insulation. The down sleeping bag has numerous advantages over the synthetic bag, including a smaller size and superior warmth.  Down bags, however, are generally much more expensive and that can be cost prohibitive.  Keep in mind that down sleeping bags tend to last longer than synthetic ones keeping difference in cost over time minimal. 



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