One of the most important pieces of kit when it comes to camping is your sleeping bag. Choosing the right sleeping bag can provide you with warmth, comfort and a good night's sleep.
So, whether you are looking for something to keep you warm during a big expedition or you need something for your upcoming family camping trip, here’s everything you may need to consider before you buy.
The Different Types of Sleeping Bags
You’ll find that sleeping bags are available in all different styles, but what will matter to you most will most likely be weight, size and fill.
If you’re out in the wilderness or making an especially long trip, there’s a lot to be said for lightening the load and particularly the volume that a sleeping bag or quilt will take up in a backpack or kit bag.
If you’re heading out with a full complement of kit, then it’s advisable to think about a packsize that’s under 35cm, any more and you risk only being able to fit your sleeping bag in a pack and not a lot else. Your tent, any cooking equipment or supplies will have to take a back seat to your sleeping bag or quilt and that’s not ideal.
When seeking out a sleeping bag or quilt in terms of weight, anything around 1kg is amazing, but if you’re really serious about not having much in terms of weight on board then a round 600g or less could well be a good call.
Synthetic vs Down
One thing many do not consider when it comes to picking their bag is the filling. Do you go for down, made of feathers and lightweight naturally, or do you go for engineered synthetic material which simply mimics down with polyester?
The advantages of down mean you have a durable, long-lasting sleeping bag that provides a lot of warmth for a very low weight.
Synthetic bags are cheaper, but provide less advantages for warmth and weight. In wet conditions, synthetic material dries much faster than down as it does not rely on the air or direct sunlight to eliminate moisture. A decent synthetic bag will also cost about as much as a down version too, so there’s really not a gulf between the two options except where you end up taking them.
What Else to Consider
The style and design of your sleeping bag are important, but there are a few other things you should consider before buying. Here’s a few pointers:
- Baffles: These are the compartments in your sleeping bag that hold the filling in place so you are sure of an even distribution of comfort. Heat can easily be lost through zips on a sleeping bag, an insulated zip baffle that sits behind can help reduce heat loss.
- Two Way Zip: A two-way zip is useful for easy opening when ventilation is required. Zips can be full length or just half way. Two-way zips can also be used to create a double sleeping bag if you buy two of the same style.
- Hood: A good proportion overnight through your head, so a shaped hood will help keep in heat. Ensure you have a draw cord closure and this will allow you to pull the hood tight against your face for that added bit of warmth.
- Inner Lining: This is an important factor to consider. Fine nylon or polyester are often used in lining sleeping bags. Flannel or cotton are also increasingly used for sleeping bag linings, although lightweight and breathable cotton can lock in moisture which means you might struggle to use them comfortably in extreme cold.
- Left & Right Hand Zips: Sleeping bags are sold with zip openings on sides. To make it easier to unzip while wrapped up, it’s best to choose a bag where the zip opening is the opposite side to your leading hand. If you are right handed choose a left bag and if you are left handed choose a right bag.
Stuff Sack: Mummy sleeping bags will come with a stuff sack with a drawstring closure. Unlike a rectangular bag that can be folded, a mummy bag can simply be stuffed into its bag. Compression straps can also help reduce the size of the packed bag.
- Draft Collars: An insulated draft collar (at the base of the hood) helps to stop body heat escaping from the bag and keeps out the cold around neck and shoulders. Most draft collars will have an adjustable draw-cord to tighten too.
- Inner Pockets: A luxury for some, these are found near the top of the bag. Handy for keeping valuables such as wallets and phones safely tucked away.
Brands we Stock
This mummy-style bag is perfectly proportioned for a warm night even if the temperature outside is freezing. With tubic chambers to trap warm air this is the perfect lightweight option for a competitive cost.
An incredible option if the temperature is going to be changeable, this combination sleeping bag and quilt can be quickly adapted to cope with whatever life throws at you. Combine with a floor mat and you get the added insulation added in.
Like sleeping on a cloud, this zipperless sleeping bag is one of the best options for pack size and weight.
Featherlight and incredible in terms of performance, this Therm-A-Rest bag is one of the best options for weight, but with a comfortable, performance-led design.
This synthetic option has all the features of a down quilt and is perfect for those whose feet always get cold. Incredible levels of comfort and packs down small due to no zipper or hood.