How to Choose the Best Sleeping Bag for Camping

Having the right gear can mean the difference between having an amazing journey into the great outdoors or a miserable one. Choosing the right and best sleeping bag for camping will be a key factor in what kind of trip you have.

You don’t want to have a sleeping bag that won’t keep you warm enough, or that is so uncomfortable that you can’t rest well at the end of a long day. So how do you go about choosing the right sleeping bag?

Keep reading and learn everything you need to know about how to choose a sleeping bag.

Tips to choose the best sleeping bag for camping

One of the first things that you need to decide about your sleeping bag, is what shape that you would like it to be.

The shapes that sleeping bags come in include rectangular, semi rectangular, mummy, and double bags. 

Rectangular sleeping bags

Rectangular sleeping bags are the traditional sleeping bag shape, and they are the best choice for those who need plenty of room to move their legs and arms around a lot in their sleep. 

Semi rectangular sleeping bags are semi rectangular, and also may be referred to as a barrel shaped bag, or a modified mummy sleeping bag. These sleeping bags are a cross between the rectangular sleeping bag and the mummy sleeping bag.

This type of sleeping bag offers both warmth and the ability to move around. 

Mummy sleeping bags

The mummy style sleeping bag offers a lot of warmth, but not a lot of room. This bag is meant to roll over with you if you toss and turn when you sleep.

It is a compact sleeping bag and is often the first choice of hikers and backpackers. 

Double sleeping bags

Double sleeping bags are designed for two people to sleep inside them, which can be perfect for couples who want to share a sleeping bag or parents who are camping with their children. 

sleeping bag temperature ratings

One of the next things that you need to consider before choosing the best sleeping bag for your needs is where you will be using it the majority of the time.

Keep in mind the temperature, elevation, and climate of where you will use the sleeping bag. 

What is the average temperature going to be where you will be sleeping? You can always unzip a sleeping bag if you get too warm but staying warm when the temperature drops can be more challenging.

Your sleeping bag should be rated for a lower temperature than what you expect the lowest nighttime temperature to be where you plan to camp. 

What will the climate be like where you will be using the sleeping bag? Will there be dry, wet, or damp conditions?

The climate is important because certain sleeping bag materials perform better in wet or damp conditions than others will.

You don’t want to wake up wet and freezing in the middle of the night because you chose the wrong sleeping bag. 

down fill or synthetic sleeping bags – which is better?

The next decision that you need to make when it comes to choosing the perfect sleeping bag for you is what kind of fill you want. The fill of the sleeping bag is what makes the sleeping bag soft and keeps it warm.

Your two choices are down fill or synthetic fill and there are pros and cons to each choice. 

pro’s of down fill sleeping bags:

  • Lightweight
  • Compresses down small for packing
  • Durable- down filled sleeping bags if taken care of can last for decades
  • A higher warmth to weight ratio than synthetic fill

cons of down fill sleeping bags:

  • More expensive than synthetic sleeping bags
  • Loses it’s insulating warmth features when it gets wet, and takes a long time to dry
  • Not hypoallergenic (not an issue for many)
  • Cleaning down sleeping bags requires special carefully

pro’s of synthetic fill sleeping bags:

  • Synthetic materials are water-resistant and will work to insulate you even when it is wet. 
  • More affordable than down sleeping bags. 
  • Dries fast if it gets wet
  • Hypoallergenic

cons of synthetic fill sleeping bags:

  • Less durable than down, you will lose some of the warmth over time
  • Heavier than down insulation
  • Less warmth for its weight than down 

Sleeping Bag Features

Some sleeping bags come with additional features and those features may help you to decide between one bag or another. 


Some sleeping bags come with more than one set of zippers. These zippers can be used to zip and unzip as needed to increase or decrease the circulation inside of the bag to keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Some bags come with additional zipper features like a guard along the length of the zipper to prevent snagging or even have a cover for the zipper itself. 

Sleeping Bag Shells 

Some sleeping bags come with a removable sleeping bag shell. This can come in handy if you camp in different locations with varying temperatures.

You can add the shell on cooler nights, and remove it when you camp in warmer locales. 


Some sleeping bags come with pockets built into them so that you can stash away your headlamp, watch, or phone right inside of the bag with you so that you don’t have to worry about them getting lost in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. 

Sleeping Bag Hood 

Sleeping bag hoods are a feature that you will often find in cold weather and extremely cold weather sleeping bags.

It is a hood that you can use a drawstring to tighten around your head and neck to prevent any cold air from seeping into your sleeping bag. 

Now you have all of the information that you need to help you choose the perfect sleeping bag for all of your outdoor adventures.

What kind of sleeping bag do you think that you will purchase for your needs, and where do you plan to use it first? 

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