How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Camping


Slipping into a warm and comfortable sleeping bag is one of the greatest pleasures of countryside camping. In order to keep the night chill at bay, you need to choose a sleeping bag of the right temperature rating, insulation and shape. Other factors to consider may include cost, roominess and features that add to comfort and convenience.

Temperature rating

This is determined by the season when you are most likely to use the bag- summer, winter or when the temperatures are moderate. In most cases the bag’s name gives an idea about its rating, for instance Marmot Plasma 15 bag is one rated to a temperature of +15F. In case you like camping during winter, choose a bag rated at below 0F while a bag suited for summer camping is rated +35F and higher. Many people go for the 3-season bag with a temperature rating of +10F to +35F because it is suitable for varying seasons.

Type of insulation

The majority of sleeping bags come in three types of insulation – synthetic, down and the water-repellent down. Down bags are filled with duck and goose feathers. They are compressible, durable, light and breathable. However they are relatively expensive and can be allergic to users. Synthetic insulation is relatively cheaper, quick-drying, insulates even when wet, and has considerable durability. However, synthetic insulation is not compressible and thus occupies larger room when packaged. The water-resistant down insulation maintains insulation even when placed on wet ground.

Shape and loft

Loft is a key issue in determining a sleeping bag’s warmth. It refers to the puffiness or the thickness of the bag (a measure of the outer diameter of the bag). In case two bags have the same features, shape and type of fill, the one that has a higher loft is warmer. Sleeping bags come in three shapes- rectangular, mummy and semi-rectangular. Mummy-shaped bags are tapered at one end in order to concentrate more warmth to the body. Rectangular sleeping bags offer greater room for a user to move their feet. The semi-rectangular bags combine the advantages of the other two and they are more preferable.

Other bag features

It is also good to check bags for zipper compatibility. In case two bags are to be zipped together one should look for a bag with a “right-hand” zipper and another one with a “left-hand” zipper. Other features you can look for include the availability of a built-in hood into which you can stuff clothes to form a pillow. You may also check for a draft tube that runs on the main zipper to increase insulation. It is advisable to check for the presence of a stash pocket into which you can put a watch, glasses, phone or any other small gadgets.


The choice of a sleeping bag is largely dependent on the season in which it is meant to be used. Cost, weight, type of insulation, storage room and the shape are other critical factors that you should consider. Features such as a built-in hood and presence of a stash bag can add to your comfort and convenience.