When it comes to evaluating camping sleeping bags there are many factors that you’ll want to review and evaluate before you buy one. It’s a choice of comfort and climate. Pick the sleeping bag that is right for you. If most of your campouts are summer outings and hikes, an 800-fill down sleeping bag might not be the smart choice. On the other hand, if you’re doing a winter weather campout, that cotton flannel-lined sleeping bag that’s rated to 40 degrees F will leave you shivering all night!
Aside from the price of camping sleeping bags, you’ll want to evaluate factors such as the material, the temperature rating, the durability, the size, and the weight. Compare these factors and determine where, when, and how often you’ll want to use your sleeping bag. Knowing this will help you get the most bag for your buck!
Below are some factors to consider for your camping sleeping bag purchase:
The high-quality camping sleeping bags will usually have a shell made of rip-stop nylon with a hatched fiber pattern. This is a very durable material that will keep the sleeping bag insulation materials in and the moisture and dirt out. Sleeping bags of lower quality will use thin, lighter weight nylon or polyester materials. The shell material, the zipper type, and the sewing of the seams are all good areas to evaluate for durability. For the annual one-night camping trip, the lower quality bags work out just fine. For extended trips and frequent use, factors like the shell material could make the difference between a sleeping bag that lasts…and one that does not.
Pound for pound, down insulation will keep you warmer than synthetic fibers. However, down feather quills can have a way of poking through in lower quality sleeping bags and when damp or wet, down loses more of its insulation quality than synthetic fibers. If choosing a down sleeping bag, look for bags with down-proof shells, high density nylon, and other indicators of high quality materials that will isolate the down feathers. If you’re hiking or camping in rainy or humid climates or around streams and rivers, synthetic insulation is probably the better choice. Synthetic insulation works very well, even when damp, but is slightly heavier than a sleeping bag with down-fill insulation.
Many hikers and campers will tell you that the temperature ratings of sleeping bags are hogwash. I prefer to think of them as an approximation. Everyone is different. Some are comfortable sleeping with socks and layers of pajamas…others are not. Metabolism can make some warmer than others. Women tend to lose more heat during sleep than men. And the list of differing comfort factors goes on. Choose a camping sleeping bag that suits your needs. If you’re going on a campout where the temperature might dip into the 30s, look for a sleeping bag rated to 20F. If you get too warm, you can always unzip the bag a bit, but there’s no easy solution if you get too cold!
Size & Shape
A sleeping bag’s size and shape can have just as much impact on comfort as its temperature rating. Make sure that your sleeping bag is long enough for YOU and choose the shape that fits your sleeping style. For example, I like the room of the rectangular bags on summer campouts so that I can toss & turn, but I prefer the mummy style bags on cold weather camp outings when I’m trying to stay warm. Pay attention to these factors, as a short or overly-restricting sleeping bag could make for a miserable outing.
The weight of your sleeping bag is more of a factor for backpacking and hiking trips, than it is for the mini-van camping trips. Having a sleeping bag that’s a pound or two less than another one can be a big deal if you’re carrying all of that weight on your shoulders day after day. The down-filled sleeping bags are typically lighter (and more expensive) than their synthetic-fiber counterparts, but as discussed above there are pros & cons to both insulation types. Take a look at the sleeping bag’s weight when comparing them, as it could be an important factor.
It can be overwhelming when trying to pick out the right camping sleeping bag. Don’t worry. Just take some time to choose the right one for you. If you’re choosing one for a 1-night scout outing in the middle of the summer, a sleeping bag rated to 40 degrees F might be the best economical choice for you. If you’re looking for something to endure multiple outings, backpacking, and cold-weather trips, you might want to look at spending some more money on a lightweight, durable, cold-weather product. Now that you know the factors to consider, best of luck on your purchase!