Buyer Tips for Sleeping Bags
Aside from a tent, the sleeping bag is probably the item that most people think of when they think of camping. To some, a sleeping bag is a sleeping bag; but choosing the right bag can make your camping or backpacking trip more enjoyable. Below are some things to consider when choosing your next sleeping bag.
Make sure you get a bag that is designed to keep you warm in the coldest temperature in which you plan to sleep. Most have this information stated on the sleeping bag. It is really a good idea to get a bag that is designed to withstand temperatures that are 15 degrees colder than those in which you plan to camp.
The two most common types of sleeping bag materials are down and synthetic. Down sleeping bags are lighter, more comfortable, and they generally keep you warmer. However, down sleeping bags are generally more expensive than other types of sleeping bags. Unless you plan on sleeping in very, very cold temperatures and comfort is of the utmost importance, then I would recommend just getting a sleeping bag made of some type of synthetic material. These work just fine in most situations, and they are by far the most common type.
Make sure you choose a sleeping bag that you can comfortably get in and out of and one that completely covers your body. Check the dimensions on the bag, both the length and width.
Most modern bags are somewhat of mummy style: they are tapered from top to bottom, allowing the maximum amount of heat to be trapped in the bag. Just as the name suggests, these bags resemble a type of mummy case. Many people prefer a more rectangular-shaped sleeping bag so they have more room to move around. These bags are great in warmer weather when you don’t need the tighter fit of a mummy bag.
Check the weight before you buy your bag, and make sure it is appropriate for your purposes. If you are going to be camping close to your car, you can get a heavier bag since you won’t be carrying it as far. If you plan on doing some backpacking though, you will want to invest in a light or ultralight sleeping bag to help reduce the amount of weight you have to carry.
Some bags come with draft collars and other similar features to help retain heat. These are not completely necessary, but something to keep in mind. One thing I do like to have on any sleeping bag that I use is some type of zippered pocket that is close by so I can store my phone and flashlight in a readily accessible location.
Another feature I do like to have with a sleeping bag is some type of compression stuff-sack. Some bags come with a stuff sack, but if not, you can pick one up for under $10. Stuff-sacks allow you to compress the bag down to a smaller size, which is important if you are carrying a lot of gear.
This one is obvious, but worth mentioning. While more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, you do (generally speaking) get what you pay for with sleeping bags. A more expensive bag is likely lighter and made of material that better retains heat. Just decide what your needs are and how often you plan on using the sleeping bag. If you are going to be taking a lot of backpacking trips, it makes sense to invest in a better bag as doing so will likely save you money in the long run. However, if you plan on taking a few camping trips a year, and you don’t need to transport your sleeping bag over long distances, you probably don’t need to spend as much.
Here are two of my favorite sleeping bags. I use the first one when I am going camping at campground for several days, and I use the second one when I go on backpacking trips. They both work great, and they are both affordable.