When you think camping, you think of many things – going on adventure hikes, gathering around a campfire, roasting marshmallows over a fire, sleeping in a tent, and of course, sleeping bags.
Since sleeping bags can determine how you spend your ? hours, choosing the right sleeping bag for your trip is pivotal for making sure that you have a good camping experience.
Different types of sleeping bags
The type of sleeping bag you select depends on the activity you are undertaking.
There are different sleeping bags for backpacking, mountaineering, and camping.
Sleeping bags for camping might be the ones that are a bit more heavier, but they’re geared towards comfort than sleeping bags made for backpacking. They’re a bit more reasonably priced too, as compared to mountaineering and backpacking sleeping bags. Here are a few other factors you should keep in mind while selecting which sleeping bag to buy for your family camping trips.
Keep in mind the season you are going to go camping
If you feel too hot in a sleeping bag, you can always unzip it. But the vice versa is not true for when you feel cold, so you need to make sure your sleeping bag is made to tolerate lower temperatures.
Sleeping bag temperature ratings represent the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag can be used, and if the temperature dips lower than that, you feel unbearably cold. The ones with the temperature rating of 35 degrees and up are called Summer bags and are the best choice for warm weather. 3-Season sleeping bags are versatile enough to handle temperatures of spring and fall when the temperature can hit 20 degrees or less. But if you love winter and snow, you’ll have to invest in a 10-degree camping bag, more likely, a 0° or lower bag.
So when you are buying a camping sleeping bag, also remember to take into account where you and your family like to travel and what season you will be travelling in.
Choose the Right Sleeping Bag Shape
Camping is a more relaxed activity as compared to backpacking or trekking a mountain, that’s why sleeping bags for campers are made so that there’s room to stretch and sleep more comfortably and come in three basic shapes:
Mummy: This is the most popular style of sleeping bag, and it has a snug fit that tapers towards the feet, making it the warmest option. Since it cuts out access to outside air between the outside and your body, it helps you keep warm. It is also lightweight. But it’s not very comfortable to move around in.
Rectangular sleeping bags: These rectangular sleeping bags are roomier, which means that there is more space for your arms and legs to stretch out, and some of them can also be used like a comforter. These are used for camping in warmer weather.
Semi-rectangular sleeping bags: If you want the warmth of a mummy sleeping bag but still want a bit of comfort, opt for the semi-rectangular sleeping bag which is known as the modified mummy or barrel-shaped sleeping bag. These can withstand 3-4 season campings and can work for trips where the weather is not very cold, plus, it can be taken for shorter backpacking trips since it is not as bulky as rectangular sleeping bags.
Double bags: If you are planning on going camping with your significant other, this bag is the best bet.
Kid-size sleeping bags: These are simply shorter, smaller and more affordable variations of adult sleeping bags.
Choose a Sleeping Bag Insulation Type
The type of filling you use for your bag also depends on the weather, and there are benefits to each type of insulation also:
Down insulation: Down insulation is lightweight, and good for providing insulation in cold, dry weather. It’s highly compressible and it can compress for easy packing.
Synthetic insulation: Synthetic insulation is a more affordable alternative to down insulation, and it is non-allergenic and dries fast. This is the perfect choice if the weather at your camping site means that there is a possibility of rain since it dries really fast.
Additional features you should keep in mind when choosing a sleeping bag.
Now that you have the three main items on your checklist on how to choose a sleeping bag, there are a few additional features that you should look at:
Check the sleeping bag shell: the outer fabric of the sleeping bag is generally made of durable polyester or nylon and will be water-proofed so it can protect your sleeping bag from dampness.
Sleeping bag hood: A snug-fitting hood can help make the bag warmer, so this is a bonus when you are camping in a place with colder weather.
Zipper features: Getting a bag with a zipper slider will help adjust ventilation.
Here are a few sleeping bag accessories that you can invest in:
- A sleeping bag liner will help make sure your bag is clean and acts as an extra layer of protection against the cold. And if you are camping in hot weather, you can just sleep in the liner.
- Get a stuff sack for your sleeping bag, so that it will take up less space in your vehicle.
- But when you are storing your bag long term, this is a better idea since it comes with a large mesh or a cotton storage sack for long-term storage.
When you are choosing a sleeping bag, make sure you take into account the months you are going camping, and the weather at that place to make the right choice.