How to Choose a Sleeping Bags for Camping?

How to Choose a Sleeping Bags for Camping

Sleeping bags can mean the difference between waking up shivering and having a great night’s sleep. It’s important to make the right choice although it can be challenging. Designs and features are plentiful, making it difficult to choose. You’ll learn how to tell a box wall from a stitch-through, and what is a 1-season bag from a year-round cocoon with this guide.

Climate and Comfort Ratings

If you’re thinking of buying a sleeping bag, you need to think about what type of weather you’ll be using it in. Seasonal ratings are assigned to sleeping bags in order to help you determine the right bag for your needs.

What are season ratings?

Although it may seem obvious, a bag that is comfortable in the summer may not be appropriate for use when it is colder. Additionally, a large, thick bag will cause you to sweat year-round.

A one-season sleeping bag is ideal for warm summer nights, or for use indoors such as in hostels. You ought to get a 2-season sleeping bag for nights from late spring through early autumn, when you won’t be sweltering but are unlikely to experience freezing temperatures. 

Three-season sleeping bags – perfect for mild to cold nights without frost, but with temperatures below zero. Four-season sleeping bags – specially designed for extremely cold winter nights when you’ll be likely to experience frost and snow. The bulkier bags can provide you with comfort in temperatures as low as -10°C.

Sleeping bags are rated as ‘4+ seasons’ – some sleeping bags are rated as ‘5 seasons. In extremely cold climates, this bag type is best suited for extreme expeditions and it will often be filled with down insulation.

How do comfort ratings work?

The climates of different parts of the world vary with the seasons. It is hard to compare the extreme temperatures of the Australian summer and those of the Norwegian summer. Using EN 1357 comfort rating system can provide numerical results that are applicable to any climate. Learn about it here.

There is an upper and lower limit for your comfort level – the temperature you will be comfortable at night. An overnight bag will be more versatile when these two numbers differ greatly.

Rating for extreme comfort – used for emergency situations in which a woman can survive in this bag at the coldest temperature possible. Nevertheless, bear in mind that we are not simply talking about ‘comfort’ as we normally understand it. Once this rating is reached, the bag provides no more protection.


Cold is more sensitive for some people than for others. Depending on your susceptibility to cold, adjust the lower comfort temperature by 3-5°C. Remember to factor in the altitude of the area where you’ll be camping as well. Higher altitudes result in cooler air temperatures, so increase by -1°C for every 150 meters.

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Insulation types

The type of insulation in the bag is the factor that most affects your comfort and warmth (and the cost). Generally, we have synthetic and down insulation options. A down feather is a fluffy feather found in waterfowl, most often in geese or ducks. Synthetic insulation is designed to replicate this natural insulation.


Down insulation sleeping bag

It is the most natural form of insulation available. Nothing humans have been able to create in a laboratory comes close to it. This is because it naturally expands to trap warm air between its fibers. The result is that it is warmer than synthetic materials. Moreover, it is extremely light, providing a great heat-to-weight ratio and compacting into a small space.

The problem with the down is that the fibers clump when wet and the loft collapses during wet weather. Down-filled bags will require more care when being washed and stored, and they are also more expensive than synthetic bags.


Synthetic insulation sleeping bag

The advantage of poly fibers is they are cheaper than down. The insulating properties of synthetic insulation are also more effective when damp, retaining at least 50 percent of their insulating properties, and are easier to clean and store.

As far as warmth is concerned, synthetic has historically been less efficient than down. Adapting the construction to mimic natural loft, labs have improved the strength-to-weight ratio in recent years. While it is generally slightly less compressible and insulating than down, it is still somewhat less compressible than down.

Sleeping Bags Shape

The shape of a sleeping bag influences its potential to provide warmth and comfort. The two main types of sleeping bags are rectangular and mummy, though within each of these categories there are a few smaller varieties.


Rectangular sleeping bag

Bags with a basic rectangular shape and thick padding are sometimes called a “square” bags. Rectangular bags usually are more spacious and cheaper than round ones, giving you room to move and a non-restrictive night’s sleep. You can also unzip the files and create a “duvet”. This would be great for summer or indoor purposes.

In cold weather, the additional space can be an issue since cool air has more room to circulate. The mirrors themselves are heavier and therefore take up more space.


Mummy sleeping bag

The bags are named for their resemblance to Egyptian mummies, which are wide at the top and tapered around the bottom and legs.

Having a snug fit means less room for cold air in the bags, making them more suitable for cold weather. As opposed to rectangular bags, which expose the head, the hood provides additional thermal insulation. In addition, Mummy bags are lighter and less bulky, which makes them great for trekking and backpacking.

They can be restrictive, leaving less room for movement. In order to get the sleeping bag open, you will have an awkward shape for a duvet.

Shapes based on gender

Sleeping bags for mummies are sometimes built in a specific shape for each gender. Specifically designed for women’s sleeping bags, the bags are more insulated in areas of higher heat loss since women typically sleep colder than men. Also, the bag length and shoulders of these bags are shorter to reduce excess weight and bulk, preventing unwanted heat loss. Many of these bags are available at premium prices.

Maintenance & Aftercare

Keeping your sleeping bag clean will extend its lifespan. You should definitely take good care of an expensive bag if you plan on spending serious cash on it. In order to care for a technical bag, you can’t just stick it in the wash, but with the right process, it won’t be that demanding either. 


Make sure your washing machine’s drawer and drum are clean. Then, all contaminants from previous cycles will not be transferred to your wash.

Ensure the type of cleaner you choose is appropriate for your bag. Different products are appropriate for synthetic bags and down bags. While Down Wash is an effective single solution for down sleeping bags, Tech Wash is an effective two-step process for cleaning and preserving synthetic bags. However, there are a number of alternative cleaners available as well. You should always ensure that the bag they are designed for is suitable for them.

Chemicals found in household products should be avoided. These can do irreparable damage to the materials in your sleeping bag, and they can strip any water-repellent treatments from them.

It is recommended that you wash bags at 30 degrees for 30 minutes. Follow this by spinning them quickly. You can use washing balls to ensure that the insulation is thoroughly cleaned during the wash.


In my opinion, this is the most important element of sleeping bag maintenance, so it’s important to follow the right steps.

Put the dryer on medium heat and tumble dry. The bag should spin for 20-30 minutes before being taken out of the dryer and shaken. This process should be repeated as necessary. Once the insulation feels completely dry, give it another hour to dry and ensure it doesn’t clump.

Does air drying work? Try rotating the bag every hour and shaking it thoroughly. You can continue to tumble dry the bag once it feels fully dry for another hour.

The time it takes for a synthetic bag to dry can range from 4 to 6 hours. Those with down can take between 8-10 hours to dry.


Neither down nor synthetic bags will benefit from proper storage, but down bags will because the insulation will be properly lofted.

To hang your sleeping bag properly, you should hang it fully. Although you will be sacrificing some space inside your wardrobe, keeping the bag at its optimum will be worth it.

When space is limited or you are storing the bag for an extended period of time, stuff sacks are an option. Ensure that the stuff sack is made of breathable mesh material.

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Sleeping Bag Liners

An additional way to extend a sleeping bag’s lifespan is to use a liner.  This prevents tears and other problems from occurring. Furthermore, it will keep it cleaner and make your bag warmer at night. Liner materials include cotton, silk, or fleece. 


Cotton liners are inexpensive and quite durable. There is not a lot of thermal benefits they add to a sleeping bag, even if damp. They also weigh a lot and are large and bulky.


The pros of this bag are its lightweight and small size. The advantages over cotton are their greater thermal boost and the fact that they are quick-drying, maintaining their warmth even when wet. The cons of this product are that it is quite expensive and that it is not as durable as cotton.


Provides increased warmth from 5-6°C, increasing the comfort of your sleeping bag. Despite their moderate price tag, they are quick drying and keep their thermal properties when damp.

During warm nights you will be overheated if you use them. Therefore, the sleeping bag will only be protected when the lining is added to make it warmer on cold nights. In addition, fleece liners tend to be bulkier and denser than silk.

Hello, my name is James Tinnin and I am an outdoor enthusiast, writer, and avid camper. I have always had a deep appreciation for the great outdoors, and my passion for nature has only grown stronger over the years.