About Sleeping Bags
When planning your overnight camping adventure, one of the most important pieces of gear you will pack is a camping sleeping bag.
It should go without saying that a sleeping bag can make or break your trip.
If you don’t find the right bag for you, getting a good night’s rest can be a frustrating experience.
A good camping sleeping bag can come in a number of different styles, shapes, weights, and temperature ratings. You can find a bag that works great for both cooler and warmer weather, heavy or ultralight, along with different degrees of water resistance.
As great as sleeping bags are, there are also a number of reliable camping quilts to choose from.
For a deep dive into finding the best sleeping bags available today, be sure to check out 11 Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags.
We’ve also provided a list of our top rated sleeping bags below along with reviews and a buying guide with tips on how to find the best camping sleeping bag for your next adventure.
Best Sleeping Bags - Updated January 2020
Sleeping Bags Buying Guide 2019
How to Pick
Some factors you want to keep in mind when looking for your ideal sleeping bag include:
- Temperature Rating
- Mummy or Quilt
- Bag Dimensions
- Draft Collar
Most lightweight backpacking sleeping bags weigh between 2 and 4 pounds.
The weight will not directly correlate to warmth, and many lighter bags may end up actually being warmer.
2. Temperature Rating
Most bags on the market are tested for temperature by the EN 13537 standard temperature scale.
This tests each bag for different temperature standards like upper limit, comfort, lower limit, and extreme temperature.
Pick a bag where the EN rating is slightly lower than the temperature you plan to sleep.
If the temperature stays on the warmer end you can always adjust the sleeping bag to allow more cool air inside.
Most ultralight backpacking sleeping bags offer ratings between +15°F and +50°F.
3. Insulation: Down or Synthetic
There are 2 main types of sleeping bag insulation: Down and Synthetic.
Down: Down insulation is the more lightweight and durable fabric between the 2.
Although it can be resistant to light water exposure it can be an absolute nightmare to dry when soaked.
The best part about down is its ability to trap heat and easy to compress.
Synthetic: Synthetic bags are typically made from polyester and can be great under wetter conditions.
They dry much faster than down and can even continue to insulate if they do get wet.
The biggest downside of a synthetic bags is the lack of heat insulation and inability to compress like a down bag.
Some synthetic bags may have a stiffer feel too.
Down fill power is the measurement of the down’s ability to trap heat.
It measures how much many cubic inches of space 1 ounce of down can full when allowed to reach its max loft.
These numbers typically range from 600-800.
The higher the fill power the higher the quality and also the lighter the weight.
4. Style: Mummy Bags or Quilts
Mummy bags are typically the warmest and most packable choice and are more preferred by lightweight backpackers.
Quilts give more flexibility for comfort, can be lighter and less expensive than mummy bags.
However, they are not as reliable for trapping heat and have to be used with a sleeping pad.
They work great with hammocks.
5. Bag Width and Length
Knowing how you sleep will give you an idea of what dimensions you need in a sleeping bag.
Different bags will give you different dimensions in the shoulders and the feet.
The mummy bag will have more tapered feet.
This leaves less room to insulate with your body heat.
A bag with a rectangular cut will give your feet more room but might be a little tougher to stay warm in.
Some bags come with some sort of stuff sack.
If yours doesn’t consider adding either a compression or waterproof stuff sack to your cart
These will not only help protect your sleeping bag but pack it tighter so it occupies less space in your pack.
7. Zipper Length and Ventilation
Some bags use 1/2 length zippers while other bags use 3/4 length zippers.
Again it all really depends how you sleep.
For those who sleep on their backs, 1/2 zippers are fine.
But for those of you who side sleepers, a 3/4 zipper bag will accommodate better.
3/4 zippers are also great for cold sleepers and those who want to drape themselves in the warmth of the bag while sitting up to eat or drink a beer.
Full-length zippers give you the most options and can be easier to get into or out of.
They can also be mated with other bags if you need more space or want someone to snuggle up against.