There is nothing more exhilarating than spending a night in the great outdoors. If you are planning a camping trip, there are three things that you are going to need to get a good night of sleep:
- Shelter from the elements
- A protective barrier between the ground and you
- Insulation from the cold air
In order to achieve two of these goals, you are going to need to have a good sleeping bag. When it comes to buying a sleeping bag, it can be a bit challenging. There are so many options, and you want to make sure that you choose the best one for your specific needs and one that will ensure you have the protection and the warmth that you need. With so many choices, how do you know which sleeping bag is the best one for you? To help answer that question, we have put together this hand buyer’s guide. This guide highlights everything you need to know about buying a sleeping bag, including the different types of sleeping bags, the factors to consider when choosing one, the different features they can offer and the best sleeping bag brands. With the information in this buyer’s guide, you will have all of the knowledge you need to find the best sleeping bag for your specific needs.
Types of Sleeping Bags
In order to find the best sleeping bag for your specific needs, you first need to understand that there are different types of available. You need to understand the difference between each of types of sleeping bag so that you can make the best decision for your needs.
There are four main types of sleeping bags, which include:
- The mummy sleeping bag
- The rectangular sleeping bag
- The semi-rectangular sleeping bag
- The woman’s sleeping bag
Each of these types offers different benefits. Here’s a breakdown of each type so you can choose the best option for your needs.
The Mummy Sleeping Bag
If you want the ultimate in protection from the elements and you want to stay as warm as possible, the mummy sleeping bag will help you achieve both of those goals. Thanks to its form fitting design, this type of sleeping bag is specifically designs to maximize your warmth, making it the ideal choice if you are going to be sleeping outside in cold temperatures. The shape of the mummy sleeping bag creates less dead air space, which makes it an excellent choice for the cold weather. Its design includes an insulated hood, which creates added warmth. In addition to the warmth it provides, the mummy sleeping bag is usually lighter in weight than other types of sleeping bags because they have less material. On the downside, a mummy sleeping bag can be a little bit restrictive, which some people may find uncomfortable.
The Rectangular Sleeping Bag
If you want more space so that you can move around with ease and change your positions while you are sleeping, a rectangular sleeping bag is a great choice. This type of sleeping bag doesn’t hug you like a mummy, which means it is less restrictive and easier to move around in, which means more comfort. Additionally, the rectangular sleeping bag is usually less expensive than the mummy sleeping bag. On the downside, because it is less form fitting, the rectangular sleeping bag creates dead air space, which means your body needs to heat up more of the space around you. Because of this, the rectangular sleeping bag isn’t a great choice if you are planning on sleeping outside in cold conditions. Another downside is that the rectangular sleeping bag tends to be heavier and bulker because it uses more material, which can make it difficult to tote around.
The Semi-Rectangular Sleeping Bag
Often referred to as hybrid sleeping bags, the semi-rectangular sleeping bag are a cross between the mummy sleeping bag and the rectangular sleeping bag. This type of sleeping bag is wider at both the shoulders and the hips, and it tapers down toward the feet. If you want to feel less restricted and want space to move around while you sleep, but you also want the protection that a snug fit can offer, a semi-rectangular sleeping bag is a great choice. While it does create dead air space, it doesn’t create as much as the rectangular sleeping bag, which means your body won’t have to work as hard to heat it up when you are inside. Also, because of the tapered design, the semi-rectangular sleeping bag is lighter and less bulky than the rectangular sleeping bag, making it easier to transport.
The Woman’s Sleeping Bag
A woman’s sleeping bag is usually narrower at the shoulder and a bit wider at the hips when compared to men’s and unisex sleeping bags. This design helps to create a more comfortable fit for a woman’s body, as their bodies tend to be narrower than men’s. The design also creates less dead air space, which means it is easier for a women’s frame to heat up the interior of the sleeping bag.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Sleeping Bag
In order to buy the best sleeping bag for your specific needs, there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration before you choose one. By considering these factors, you will be able to find a sleeping bag that will provide you with the most comfort and protection possible. Some of the factors that you are going to want to consider include the fit and the temperature rating, among other things. To learn more about the factors that we think are the most important when choosing a sleeping bag, please keep on reading.
The Temperature Rating
First and foremost, you are going to want to consider the temperature rating of the sleeping bag. The temperature rating serves as a guide on the lowest temperature that the bag is designed to keep you warm in. So, a bag that has a 30 degree rating should theoretically keep you warm in temperatures that go as low as 30 degrees. Though the temperature rating is supposed to be a helpful guide, it isn’t a perfect science. Not all manufacturers use the same standards or testing methods, which means that the actual level of comfort and protection the sleeping bag will provide may not be what the temperature rating guide indicates. Additionally, different people have different comfort zones; what one person may consider to be warm, you may consider to be cold. When you are shopping for a sleeping bag, consider adding 10 degrees to the factory temperature rating of any sleeping bag; for instance, a sleeping bag that has a temperature rating of 20 degrees should be used in temperatures that are 30 degrees or warmer. Sleeping bags are designed for uses in different climates and seasons, which impacts the temperature rating.
- Summer and indoor sleeping bags usually have a temperature rating of 40 degrees or higher
- Three season sleeping bags (meant for spring through fall) usually have a temperature rating of 15 degrees to 40 degrees
- Winter sleeping bags usually have a temperature rating of -10 degrees to +15 degrees
- Polar or extreme alpine sleeping bags usually have a temperature rating of -10 degrees or lower
The fill that is used to insulate the sleeping bag will have a direct impact on the temperature rating, which will directly impact your comfort level. There are several types of fills that are used in sleeping bags, and each one offers pros and cons.
- Down – Down is a lightweight material, which makes it easy to pack down and compress, and easy to transport. Down also offers excellent insulation, which means it will keep you nice and warm. However, down can be expensive, which is something you may want to consider.
- Synthetic – This is usually a blend of different materials. Polyester is almost always used, which offers a degree of water resistance. However, synthetic fabrics tend not to breathe very well.
- Gore-Tex – This material is both weather and water resistant, which means it will keep you comfortable in extremely cold temperatures or when there is moisture present; however, this fabric doesn’t breathe well, which means that it can retain moisture and can get stuffy.
You also want to consider the fit of the sleeping bag. In order to find the one that will provide the most comfort, you want to choose one that will fit your body well. If you are tall, for example, you want to look for a sleeping bag that is designed to fit your body. Also, sleeping bags can also offer a narrow design, such as women’s sleeping bags, which means that they will be snugger to your body if you have a narrow frame.
Ease of Cleaning
The best sleeping bags are those that are easy to clean. From spot cleaning while you are using the sleeping bag to giving it a good cleaning when you return from your camping trip, you want to make sure that your sleeping bag is as easy to clean as possible. Some can be tossed directly into a washing machine and dryer, which is the easiest cleaning option; however, others will need to be professionally cleaned. Cleaning your sleeping bag is important because it will keep it sanitary and smelling fresh, and it will extend the life of the bag.
The price of the sleeping bag is another important factor to take into consideration. Sleeping bags can vary significantly in price. You want to make sure that you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping so you don’t overextend your budget. Generally, the more features the sleeping bag offers and the lower the temperature rating, the more expensive the sleeping bag will be.
Features Sleeping Bags can Offer
Sleeping bags can offer a number of features. These features are intended to increase the comfort and the protection that the sleeping bag will provide. As mentioned above, the more features a sleeping bag offers, the more expensive the price tag will be. In order to determine whether you want or need certain features, it is important to understand the intended use of these features.
Here is a look at some of the features that sleeping bags can offer.
If you are going to be camping in cold temperatures, a hood is an excellent feature to have. The hood goes over your head and can be cinched with a draw cord, which will trap your body heat inside the bag and prevent it from radiating away.
A Pillow Pocket
This feature allows you to stuff clothing or an actual pillow inside the sleeping bag so you can have your head elevated and increase your comfort while you are camping. Generally, a pillow pocket can be found on sleeping bags that offer a hood.
A Stash Pocket
This pocket is designed to safely store small items, such as glasses, a watch or an MP3 player, so you can have them close at hand.
Sleeping Pad Sleeve
On some sleeping bags, a sleeping bad replaces underside insulation, which means no more rolling off the sleeping pad while you are sleeping.
The Best Sleeping Bag Brands
There are several manufacturers that make sleeping bags, which can make it difficult to determine who makes the highest quality bags. To help you find the best brand, we have done extensive testing, comparing sleeping bags from different manufacturers. We have concluded that the following brands of sleeping bags are the best of the best.
One of the leading names in camping and outdoor equipment, REI produces some of the highest quality, durable and comfortable sleeping bags on the market.
The North Face
Another highly regarded manufacturer of outdoor equipment, the North Face produces sleeping bags that are constructed of high quality materials and offer a range of features that will maximize your comfort.
This company uses high quality materials to expertly craft exceptional sleeping bags. They offer all types of sleeping bags that offer a range of features.
Eddie Bauer is also highly regarded for the outdoor and camping equipment they make. Their sleeping bags are among the best on the market and will offer you exceptional comfort and protection from the elements.