Choosing the right sleeping bag doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take a little bit of research and thought ahead of time to to make sure that you pick one that’s right for your specific needs. Make sure to take the following factors into consideration and chances are you’ll find a bag that is perfect for you.
Think about the main ways you’re going to use the sleeping bag. There’s a huge difference between bags made for winter camping, from normal camping sleeping bags, and from sleeping bags designed to be carried by backpackers & ultralight thru-hikers. If you’re only using the bag for one of these scenarios that really narrows down the options but if you need something multi-use then that will take a little bit more research.
The warmer the better, right? Not so fast! Having a bag that is too warm for your needs can be just as bad and uncomfortable as one that isn’t warm enough. Most standard sleeping bags are good down to 40 degrees with many of them good down to 30 degrees. That will be good for most campers, but for individuals who winter camp in really harsh settings or who want a true emergency survival bag, you’ll want to look at Arctic sleeping bags which can be good up to an insane -40 or -50 in some cases.
If in doubt get a sleeping bag good for 10 degrees colder than you’ll need but not much more. If you try sleeping in an Arctic sleeping bag in the middle of summer, you will be extremely uncomfortable. Get a bag as close to the right temperature range as possible. However, if you are planning to do winter camping, then check out our article on extreme cold sleeping bags.
Different people prefer different shaped sleeping bags and truth be told, depending on your body size or shape you may find some designs better than others. There are classic rectangular sleeping bags, semi-rectangular sleeping bags, mummy shaped sleeping bags, and even the large double bag. All of them have advantages and disadvantages. If you like a tight fight the Mummy is a good way to go. Rectangular gives some more room but is harder to shift for side sleepers, and double bags are great for room but won’t keep in as much body heat with just one person.
Do you prefer actual down or synthetic materials? Are there certain linings that just don’t feel as comfortable to you as others? Getting the right combination of materials makes a huge difference when it comes to getting a sleeping bag that is warm, comfortable, and personalized to help you get the best sleep possible.
There are certain “specialty bags” or features out there that some people may like. One of the most popular recent add on features are sleeping bags with “hoods” that allow you to wrap up your head at night. There are also sleeping bags that feature an additional outer waterproof shell, as well as some with “stash pockets” for small items like keys, lip balm, or a watch. This aren’t ideal for glasses as you can still roll over them at night.
Take each of these points under consideration while searching for your perfect sleeping bag and you’ll be much more likely to find something that really truly fits your needs.
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