When it comes to sleeping comfortably when you go camping or hiking, there is nothing more important than choosing a good quality sleeping bag. If you are new to camping or spending time outdoors, you may make the mistake of thinking that any sleeping bag will do. This is however not the case. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right sleeping bag for you like shape, size, insulation level, weight and more.
Different types of sleeping bags
You may be surprised to know that there are many different types of sleeping bags that have specifically been designed to suit different types of outdoor trips. Depending on the season, a summer sleeping bag and winter sleeping bag have different features. A sleeping bag is not “JUST” a sleeping bag.
For summer camping and hiking, a lightweight version of a sleeping bag that’s made from nylon or polyester is perfect. These types of sleeping bags also tend to be very lightweight and will save you some space in your backpack.
Winter sleeping bags are designed to have different levels of insulation making it suitable for winter camping and hiking. It’s important to look at the sleeping bags rating which tells you the temperatures it’s suitable for.
Sleeping Bag Shapes
- Rectangular Sleeping Bag
- Semi-Rectangular Sleeping Bag
- Mummy Style Sleeping Bag
Why is shape important?
The shape of a sleeping bag greatly contributes to the warmth and comfort levels. A rectangular sleeping bag may be more suited to summer camping as the loose fit is less restrictive and allows for more comfort than insulating. A mummy-style sleeping bag may be more suited for colder temperatures where you need a tighter fit for extra warmth and insulation. This is a popular fit for many campers due to its efficient design and lightweight structure. The semi-rectangular sleeping bag is a combination of the previous 2 sleeping bags allowing a little more warmth than a standard rectangular sleeping bag without the constricted feeling of the mummy sleeping bag.
It all comes down to performance vs comfort
Why is the sleeping bag temperature important?
Each sleeping bag has been specifically designed to be used in different weather conditions. When shopping for a sleeping bag the temperature rating will give you an indication of the min temperatures it’s suitable for as well as the maximum temperature. If you are planning a hiking trip in a mountain where temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius, you would want to choose a sleeping bag that can accommodate those temperatures so that you don’t have to carry any additional clothing or blankets. If you are camping in a warmer area, you don’t want a sleeping bag that will make you sweat and feel uncomfortable.
Types of sleeping bag materials
Down sleeping bags are a favourite for avid campers and hikers due to the insulation to weight ratio. These sleeping bags are more expensive than synthetic types of sleeping bags. Synthetic insulation works the same as a down sleeping bag but is heavier and less compressible. Synthetic sleeping bags are more affordable than down sleeping bags.
Choosing the size of your Sleeping bag
Size does matter when it comes to the comfort level of sleeping bags. If you have done extreme diligence in choosing the right shape, material and temperature rating but it’s too snug or too loose you may have a problem. Always look at dimensions of the sleeping bag to be sure it fits the way you need it to.
The Final Checklist
In summary, here is a checklist you can use when shopping for a new sleeping bag:
- Size – will it fit like you want it to?
- Shape – does it suit my comfort needs?
- Temperature – will it be warm/cool enough?
- Weight – am I able to carry/pack it?
- Price – is it in my price range?
Finding the right sleeping bag for you
Like any other piece of clothing, a sleeping bag has to have the right fit. It may take some trial and error before you find the perfect sleeping companion for you. If you are still unsure on how to choose the right sleeping bag, ask you camping friend and family on how they found the right sleeping bag for them
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Have you seen our other blogs on camping?