How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bags for Camping?

To enjoy a night outside in nature, the right sleeping bag is essential. Choosing the right sleeping bag can be a daunting task with all the choices available. Here are a few ways to determine how to choose the best sleeping bags for camping?

Quick Comparison Of Some Good Choices

What activity do you need a sleeping bag for?

Sleeping bags come in multiple varieties, so the first question you need to answer is what activity you need a sleeping bag for. Most people either need a sleeping bag for camping or backpacking. Backpacking involves carrying all your gear in a pack to your campsite.

Backpacking trips can vary from just a few miles on an overnight trip to 1,000s of miles on a month-long excursion. A sleeping bag used for backpacking should be lightweight and compress down to a small size to take up less room in your pack. Backpacking sleeping bags are usually smaller and less comfortable than a camping sleeping bag.

Camping entails driving a car to a campground or other camping area and setting up camp near your vehicle. Sleeping bags used for car camping can focus on comfort and since you don’t have to carry all your gear to your campsite, can be heavier and bulkier.

What temperature rating does your sleeping bag need?

How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bags for Camping?

Sleeping Bag

Now that you’ve determined what activity you want to undertake, let’s focus on where you’re going. What temperatures might you encounter on your excursion? Picking the sleeping bag with the right temperature rating is the difference between a great trip and a severely uncomfortable night’s sleep.

As you can always unzip a sleeping bag if you’re a little too warm, opt on the side of safety and choose a bag with a lower temperature rating than you think you will need. Research the lowest nighttime temperature you might encounter based on your location and time of year and make sure your bag’s temperature rating is significantly lower than that temperature.

As a general rule, safe bets are sleeping bags with a 30 degree F rating or higher for summer, 15 to 30 degrees F for the shoulder seasons, and 15 degrees F and lower for winter.

Temperature comfort while sleeping can also be affected by your sleeping pad, base layers, metabolism and other environmental factors like wind and humidity.

Choosing Your Sleeping Bag’s Shape

Sleeping bags come in multiple shapes and styles. Each has its best uses and advantages.

One of the most common sleeping bag shapes, especially for car camping, a rectangular sleeping bag allows plenty of room for a camper to stretch out their arms and legs and can often be completely unzipped for use as a comforter. The extra room comes at the cost of a bulkier, heavier bag.

A middle ground between rectangular and mummy, the semi-rectangular sleeping bag is a compromise between the warmer mummy style and the roomier rectangular sleeping bags. This sleeping bag style is recommended more for car camping than backpacking.

The Mummy-style sleeping bag is the go-to option for backpacking. This bag fits snugly around your body, optimizing warmth and minimizing weight and space.

Double bags are made for two people (or a person and a pooch) planning to share a sleeping bag. They are usually rectangular in shape and come in both heavy, car camping options and lighter backpacking styles.

Down or synthetic sleeping bags?

Sleeping bags come with one of two fill options: down or synthetic. Each has specific advantages and disadvantages.

Down-filled sleeping bags are the choice of most backpackers because they are lighter, durable, and compress down to a much smaller size than synthetic material. Down has the disadvantages of clumping up if it gets wet, drying slowly, and because some people are allergic to the material.

Synthetic sleep bags are advantageous because they are hypoallergenic, dry fast, and still provide insulation if they get wet. Synthetic bags are usually heavier and do not compress very much, making them an awkward choice for backpackers with limited space in their packs.

Additional Features To Consider in a Sleeping Bag


Some sleeping bags, especially in the mummy-style, come with an attached hood that encircles your head while you sleep. A snug fitting hood can make a big difference on a cold night and are more likely included on bags with lower temperature ratings.


Zippers can be on the right or left side. Some bags come with multiple zippers for ventilation; you may want your bag closed at the top but slightly open at your feet. A zipper guard can be an advantageous addition to prevent your zipper from catching on and ripping your sleeping bag. A zipper cover can keep a draft from entering your sleeping bag.


Some sleeping bags have a small zippered pocket near the top to stash small items like money or chapstick.

Sleeping Bag Accessories

A compression sack will compress your sleeping bag down to a fraction of its size to save you room and help keep your pack organized. Waterproof compression sacks can ensure your sleeping bag stays dry even in the worst rainstorm or accidental river-dunking and are highly recommended for down sleeping bags in particular.

Sleeping bag liners can help keep your sleeping bag clean and some brands add extra warmth to decrease the temperature rating of your sleep system. In hot weather, a sleeping bag liner could be used instead of a sleeping bag.


Choosing a best sleeping bag can seem like an overwhelming decision with all the options available. Take your time to assess your needs and budget, visit a store and try them out, and you will be on your way to a comfortable night spent in the great outdoors.

Camping or outdoor activities require a lot of tools, one of them is pillows. Find out the article 10 Best Camping Pillows Review in 2019 to be able to choose the pillows you like

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