Choosing A Sleeping Bag

Choosing the right sleeping bag is an important part of preparing for your camping trip – after all, you'll be sleeping in it every night you're on your trip. There are several things you should consider when choosing a sleeping bag, including the temperature rating, filling material, style and price.

If you've ever set foot in a sporting goods store, you already know that sleeping bags come in all shapes and styles. But there are a few things you'll want to take into consideration before you rush in and pick out the first one you see in your favorite color. Do your research before you buy, and you'll wind up much happier with your final purchase and your camping trip in general.

Temperature concerns

Before you start shopping, research the average nightly temperatures of your camping destination. If you'll be camping in the northern parts of the country, or if you plan to camp in the spring or fall, you may be surprised to find average nightly lows of 20o or lower. When you go to purchase your sleeping bag, check the label on the sleeping bag to find its temperature rating. Typically, these ratings represent the lowest temperature the sleeping bag will be comfortable in, so you might see ratings of 40o, 20o, 0o or even -20o. If your anticipated nightly temperatures fall near one of these ratings, go for the next lowest temperature – it's better to be too warm than too cold!

Sleeping bag filling


Another thing you'll notice is that sleeping bags come with many different filling materials, including down, cotton or synthetic fibers. To some extent, the filling you choose is a matter of personal preference. Obviously, if you're allergic to down, you'll want to choose a different option. However, there are a few other advantages to consider. Sleeping bags filled with down or synthetic fibers tend to be warmer than those made with cotton, so you may want to choose one of these options if you'll be camping in a colder climate. Sleeping bags filled with synthetic fibers also tend to dry more quickly if they get wet, so they may be a good choice if you'll be in a rainy area.

Style and shape

The two main types of sleeping bags are the rectangular shape and the mummy bag. Typically, mummy bags are tapered at the end, whereas rectangular sleeping bags are the same width at the top and the bottom. Again, the style you choose is primarily a matter of personal preference. If you're a claustrophobic person, you may want to avoid the restricting feel of a tapered mummy bag. On the other hand, many people believe that mummy bags are warmer, so they can be a good choice for cold weather campers.

Find the best deal

Sleeping bag prices vary widely – you could spend $20 on a lightweight rectangular bag at a local department store, or you could drop more than $200 on a top of the line, heavy-duty synthetic fiber filled sleeping bag. However, since you'll be entrusting your comfort to your sleeping bag every night, it's important to invest in a good quality sleeping bag that meets your needs. If you find that the prices are too high for you, ask around to see if any local sporting goods stores or specialty camping shops will be holding sales on their sleeping bags any time soon. If you've decided on the specific sleeping bag you want to purchase, you can also check the internet – many times, online stores offer much lower prices on camping goods since they don't have to deal with the overhead expenses of traditional stores.