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Camping

Best Sleeping Bag

With the proper sleeping bag and a simple shelter, the modern wilderness traveler can make it through any storm or other adverse weather conditions in relative comfort without a traditional campfire. However, bringing the wrong bag often leads to misery because modern sleeping bags aren’t a one-size-fits-all for every weather situation you may encounter. T

here are a number of questions to consider before embarking on a search for the right sleeping bag. Will you be sleeping on the ground, a sleeping pad or an air mattress? What season will you primarily use the bag during? Will you sleep in a tent? All of these questions will help determine important factors like temperature rating, fill power and sleeping bag style. Below is a helpful sleeping bag buyer’s guide with information to help you during your search.

Snugpak Softie 9 Hawk Black LH Zip Sleeping Bag

The Snugpak Softie 9 Hawk LH Zip Sleeping Bag is lightweight and compact enough it can fit in the palm of your hand. Weighing in at slightly over three pounds, this sleeping bag fits is easily packed down to 17x9 inches, and that still is only its uncompressed dimensions. This sleeping bag is incredibly easy to compress, stow and carry.

This three season sleeping bag can keep you comfortable and warm in sub-freezing temperatures as a result of its superior quality polyester fill. The Snugpak Softie 9 Hawk Black LH Zip Sleeping Bag has a Snugfit hood and a reinforced foot area for added warmth and comfort. This sleeping bag is easy to clean and is made to last through years of wear and tear.

Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bag

The SummerLite 32 Degree Sleeping Bag by Western Mountaineering is the lightest sleeping bag that Western Mountaineering produces. Weighing a mere one pound, three ounces, the SummerLite has 10 ounces of down fill that is sewn in five inch continuous baffles.

The down fill has a superior warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning the SummerLite can keep you warm in temperatures as low as 32 degrees, all while being extremely compressible and light. The insulated draft tube and mummy design locks in your body heat and prevents the cold air from seeping in on long windy nights. This sleeping bag is perfect for long hiking expeditions and is easy to pack and unpack day after day.

Stansport Redwood Ultra Light Sleeping Bag

The Stansport Redwood Ultra Light Rectangular Sleeping Bag is perfect for mild weather camping, hiking or backpacking. This lightweight sleeping bag is made from 100 percent polyester and weighs less than two pounds. The poly-therm synthetic insulation dries quickly, is easy to keep clean and will not clump.

The high quality of the polyester fibers ensure that this sleeping bag will keep you warm, even if wet, and through years of usage. The rectangular design gives you extra room to move, but the quality of the materials insulate well enough so you’ll feel like you’re in a mummy bag without being confined. The Stansport Redwood Ultra Light Rectangular Sleeping Bag is made to maintain its quality and efficiency through years of use and abuse.

Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag

The Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is a must-have if you are backpacking in tropical climates, offering a host of extras without adding weight. The Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is the only sleeping bag of this quality that has an integrated mosquito net that can keep out all bugs and give you peace of mind.

The net can be rolled up when not in use and saves you from having to carry an added piece of gear while the ripstop Microdiamond outer shell makes this sleeping bag durable and water resistant. Weighing only one pound and 13 ounces, the Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is an essential piece of gear for summer travel.

Ledge Sports TechLite +20 F Degree Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag

For the campers who want the unmatched warmth of the mummy bag without feeling confined, the water resistant and easy to clean Ledge Sports TechLite Sleeping Bag is the best choice for you.

This sleeping bag is made from quality materials that will last for years bag and will keep you warm in most conditions thanks to the Thermo-Shield, Softtech II 300T Liner and the Hibernate Extreme synthetic fill. This combination delivers guaranteed dryness and warmth in foul weather because it maintains its insulating capacity even when wet.

The high quality of the synthetic fill also makes this a fast drying sleeping bag that won’t lose its ability to provide substantial warmth, even after years of being compressed. The T-8 compression sack makes this lightweight sleeping bag extra easy to compress into an easy to carry bundle. With a lifetime warranty, you know the TechLite Sleeping Bag will endure years of camping and backpacking.

Kelty Callisto 35 Double Sleeping Bag

The 2014 design of the Kelty Callisto 35 Double Sleeping Bag is roomy and versatile with the top and bottom easily unzipped to make two separate sleeping bags. This lightweight double sleeping bag weighs in at just over three pounds, making it one of the lightest double sleeping bags available. In addition to being light, the Kelty Callisto 35 Double Sleeping Bag is exceptionally compact and easily fits into a stuff sack that is merely 10 inches in diameter. With integrated roll up straps, packing up camp doesn’t get any easier than with this double sleeping bag making it a great buy for family outings.

The North Face Dolomite Double 3S Bx Sleeping Bag

The North Face Dolomite Double Sleeping Bag is a great addition to your family’s summer camping gear. Easily compressed into a roll top stuff sack and weighing just under three pounds, this double sleeping bag is convenient to pack and store. The soft outer shell is made from durable ripstop nylon, the same fabric that is used to make boat sails and hot air balloons.

The synthetic insulation keeps you warm at temperatures down to 20 degrees, in any weather conditions because the Heatseeker fill has a superior warmth-to-weight ratio and maintain its loft. This versatile design can be used as a double sleeping bag, two single sleeping bags or one quilted blanket. The soft taffeta lining dries extremely fast and is easy to clean.

Outwell County Double Sleeping Bag

Outwell County Double Sleeping Bag

The County Double Sleeping Bag by Outwell is an exceptionally comfortable double sleeping bag. The rectangular shape is designed for maximum heat efficiency and tapers off towards the feet. The County Double Sleeping Bag by Outwell has a unique combination of duck down and synthetic fibers all stitched into a soft and stylish striped liner.

Duck down sleeping bag are less expensive than their goose down counterparts, but the Lakeview strikes the perfect balance between the fast-drying qualities of synthetic fiber and the luxurious softness of down with its distinctive blend of fills. The two-way zipper has an auto-lock feature to make sure the zipper doesn’t come undone overnight, while the zipper baffle prevents loss of heat through the full zipper area. Overall, the County is the perfect hybrid that offers the best of both down and synthetic sleeping bags.

Outwell Contour Double Sleeping Bag

Outwell Contour Double Sleeping Bag

TheContour Double Sleeping Bag by Outwell offers comfort and warmth at temperatures below freezing. A unique feature of this double sleeping bag is that it comes with a pair of hoods complete with built in pillows that can be easily removed. The Contour Double Sleeping Bag is also versatile and can be opened up to make a soft blanket or made into two separate bags, making this sleeping bag ideal for families who want more sleeping options.

The amount of Isofill synthetic filler in each sleeping bag comes in a variety of weights depending on the climate or season you will use it in. No matter what degree of thickness you choose, this synthetic fill is lightweight and won’t clump even after a machine washing. That ruggedness is why the Contour is one of the better double sleeping bags out there.

Big Agnes King Solomon 15* (2 person) Sleeping Bag

The King Solomon 15 Sleeping Bag by Big Agnes comfortably sleeps two in a mummy-style design. Two contoured hoods, no-draft collars and a center flap will keep you warm in temperatures down to 30 degrees. The King Solomon is designed to have 2/3 of the insulation is on the top of the sleeping bag and the bottom includes two built in sleeves so you can use your own sleeping pads and they won’t shift around throughout the night.

This sleeping bag dries fast and is easy to clean, so it’s perfect for any weather conditions. The absolute best feature of the Big Agnes King Solomon Sleeping Bag is that you won’t have to worry about the cold seeping in through the zippers of two single sleeping bags zipped together. This double sleeping bag still has the convenience of a single since it’s lightweight and fits into a 10X10 inch stuff sack. The polyester fill maintains its loft for years, making this affordable double sleeping bag a great buy.

Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35 / 50F Sleeping Bag

The Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35/50 Sleeping Bag is a perfect sleeping bag for backpacking because of its versatility. This reversible sleeping bag allows you to use the 50 degree rated side for mild conditions or use the 35 degree rated side for superior warmth in colder weather. This sleeping bag weighs only 2 pounds, 13 ounces and compresses into a nylon stuff sack with the dimensions of only 7 X 15 inches, making it easy to stow on long trips. The rectangle design can be also be unzipped to turn into a comfortable blanket.

The 600-fill goosedown, the highest quality of all of the down fillers, offers a mid-range warmth to weight ratio. However, the insulation in this sleeping bag stays lofty because of the five inch baffles, which prevent the down from clumping and causing cold spots in the insulation. The Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35/50 Sleeping Bag is ideal for dry weather backpacking.

Kelty DriDown SB20 TrailLogic Down Sleeping Bag

The Kelty SB 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is a three-season sleeping bag that can keep you warm in the event of sub-freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather. This sleeping bag is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for longer expeditions. The Kelty SB 20 Degree Sleeping Bag has two layers of quilted construction and the inner and outer shells are connected at the low-side seam for maximum efficiency and minimum weight.

This mummy-style design has an ergonomically shaped hood with a baffled collar that coupled with the low-side seam, keeps the cold air from seeping into the bag even in the stiffest winds. The outer liner is made from durable, but soft, polyester microfiber that is tear-resistant. The Kelty Light Year XP 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is an inexpensive synthetic sleeping bag that will endure years of backpacking.

Deuter DreamLite 500 Titan Black Sleeping Bag

Ideal for warm weather adventures, the Deuter DreamLite Sleeping Bag is a comfortable and durable sleeping bag for backpacking. The mummy design with a contoured hood keeps you warm in temperatures as low as 40 degrees, but the breathable inner liner keeps you from feeling sticky on warmer nights.

The outer shell is easy to keep clean and the synthetic fill will still keep you warm and dry even in damp conditions. This synthetic sleeping bag can be compacted to a surprisingly small size, making it easy to stow in most overnight backpacks. Weighing only one pound, two ounces, the Deuter DreamLite Sleeping Bag is all you’ll need for your next weekend backpacking excursion.

Ledge Sports Featherlite 20 Sleeping Bag

The Ledge FeatherLite 20 is a lightweight sleeping bag that can keep you warm and comfortable at subfreezing temperatures without a lot of added weight. Even with one and a half pounds of the patented Hibernate Extreme fill, the total weight of this sleeping bag is still under three and a half pounds. The GTX Micro Dobby Diamond ripstop shell makes this sleeping bag super durable and water resistant.

The combination of the quality of ripstop nylon and the special reinforcing technique found in this shell ensures that this sleeping bag will not snag or tear. The Ledge FeatherLite 20 is a mummy design that features a foot box that allows you to sleep in a natural position while staying bundled up. The T8 compression sack reduces this sleeping bag to a compact must-have for backpacking trips where the weather is unpredictable.

Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag

The Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is a must-have if you are backpacking in tropical climates, offering a host of extras without adding weight. The Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is the only sleeping bag of this quality that has an integrated mosquito net that can keep out all bugs and give you peace of mind.

The net can be rolled up when not in use and saves you from having to carry an added piece of gear while the ripstop Microdiamond outer shell makes this sleeping bag durable and water resistant. Weighing only one pound and 13 ounces, the Snugpak Travelpak Traveller Sleeping Bag is an essential piece of gear for summer travel.

L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag

L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag

One of the major downsides to having a down sleeping bag is they don’t fare well in wet conditions. The L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag with DownTek is rated for zero degree temperatures and maintains its warmth even in damp conditions thanks to moisture resistance treatment. The sleeping bags down is treated with Downtek a patented nano-technology treatment allowing down fill to dry faster and retain heat better than untreated down.

This fill is sewn in using a unique baffle design which keeps more of the fill on the top side of the bag and reduces down clumping. Amazingly, this down sleeping bag can even be washed in commercial sized washing machines making it easy to maintain. The outer shell is made from durable, water-repellent ripstop nylon, meaning small tears won’t spread. This sleeping bag weighs just less than four pounds and fits easily into either the stuff sack or  storage sack which come with it. A great buy for anyone who wants a down sleeping bag which performs well in harsh weather conditions.

Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35 / 50F Sleeping Bag

The Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35/50 Sleeping Bag is a perfect sleeping bag for backpacking because of its versatility. This reversible sleeping bag allows you to use the 50 degree rated side for mild conditions or use the 35 degree rated side for superior warmth in colder weather. This sleeping bag weighs only 2 pounds, 13 ounces and compresses into a nylon stuff sack with the dimensions of only 7 X 15 inches, making it easy to stow on long trips. The rectangle design can be also be unzipped to turn into a comfortable blanket.

The 600-fill goosedown, the highest quality of all of the down fillers, offers a mid-range warmth to weight ratio. However, the insulation in this sleeping bag stays lofty because of the five inch baffles, which prevent the down from clumping and causing cold spots in the insulation. The Mountain Hardwear Down Flip 35/50 Sleeping Bag is ideal for dry weather backpacking.

Eddie Bauer Forest King 40 Down Sleeping Bag

Lightweight and machine washable, the Forest King 40 Down Sleeping Bag by Eddie Baur is a relatively inexpensive down sleeping bag filled with 600+ premium Goose down. This is a mid-range volume of insulation but the high quality of goose down keeps this sleeping bag looking and feeling new through years of use.

This down sleeping bag has all of the versatility of a rectangular-shaped sleeping bag meaning you can join it to other sleeping bags or even unzip to use as a down comforter. The expert stitching on the baffles ensure the goose down will never clump thus enduring years of wear and tear without cold spots. The 70 denier polyester taffeta shell is snag and tear resistant and rated for temperatures down to 40 degrees. The Forest King is a warm and roomy down sleeping bag you can use almost all year long.

The North Face Blue Kazoo Down Sleeping Bag

The Blue Kazoo down sleeping bag by North Face weighs in at less than three pounds with an ultra-lit stuff sack making it a perfect gear addition to long-range backpacking excursions. Filled with 650+ water-resistant ProDown, this mummy-style sleeping bag is rated for temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and performs better than regular down filled bags in wet conditions.

This bag will endure years of compression and use without losing its insulation capacity while the outer shell is made of exceptionally soft nylon, extremely durable and tear-resistant. This down sleeping bag will keep you comfortable even if the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse.

Kelty DriDown SB20 TrailLogic Down Sleeping Bag

The Kelty SB 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is a three-season sleeping bag that can keep you warm in the event of sub-freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather. This sleeping bag is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for longer expeditions. The Kelty SB 20 Degree Sleeping Bag has two layers of quilted construction and the inner and outer shells are connected at the low-side seam for maximum efficiency and minimum weight.

This mummy-style design has an ergonomically shaped hood with a baffled collar that coupled with the low-side seam, keeps the cold air from seeping into the bag even in the stiffest winds. The outer liner is made from durable, but soft, polyester microfiber that is tear-resistant. The Kelty Light Year XP 20 Degree Sleeping Bag is an inexpensive synthetic sleeping bag that will endure years of backpacking.

L.L. Bean Kids Camp Sleeping Bag

L.L. Bean Kids Camp Sleeping Bag

The L.L. Bean Kids Camp Sleeping Bag is a sleeping bag that can grow with your child and the flannel lining will keep them warm during summer camping trips. This kids sleeping bag is rated for temperatures as low as 40 degrees and filled with high-loft polyester insulation. The synthetic fill stays in place with the signature stitching that is guaranteed not to shift or clump, eliminating the chance for cold spots. The L.L. Bean Kids Camp Sleeping Bag can be washed and dried in commercial machines and comes with a zip top stuff sack that makes packing and storing simple.

Wildkin Wild Animals Sleeping Bag

The Wildkin Wild Animals Sleeping Bag is a sleeping bag that features a fun patterned exterior and soft flannel interior lining to keep your child comfortable on summer camping trips or during indoor use. The Wildkin Wild Animals Sleeping Bag is durable can be machine washed and dried. With an overall length of five feet, three inches, this is an inexpensive synthetic sleeping bag that can last your child years. This kids sleeping bag comes with a convenient pack bag with a drawstring top.

Kelty Whippersnapper 60 Fleece Bag

Made for indoor and outdoor use, the Whippersnapper 60 Fleece Bag is available in fun designs for both boys and girls. This affordable kids sleeping bag by Kelty is lined with soft cotton fleece and is machine washable. The synthetic insulation will keep your child warm on summer camping outings and is rated for temperatures as low as 50 degrees. The Whippersnapper weights only 21 ounces and has integrated roll up straps for easy storage. The Whippersnapper fits children up to four and a half feet and the semi-circle hood is perfectly sized for most sized children’s pillows.

Eureka Kids Minnow 45 Degree Rectangular Sleeping Bag

Eureka has a long history of making superior camping equipment. The Eureka Kids Minnow 45 Degree Sleeping Bag is no exception. Made from the finest polyester taffeta insulation and lining, this sleeping bag is designed to keep your little one warm during camping outings in the summer or for year-round indoor use. The ThermaShield and hook and loop zipper keep the cold from creeping in even as your child moves in their sleep. The Eureka Kids Minnow 45 Degree Sleeping Bag is easy to clean and the zipper and anti-snag webbing prevent wear and tear during repeated machine washings.

Wildkin Batman Emblem Sleeping Bag

The Wildkin Batman Slumber Bag is an affordable kid’s sleeping bag with a design your little one will be excited about. Made from 100 percent polyester, this sleeping bag is durable and easy to keep clean. The Batman Slumber Bag fits easily into the backpack it comes with. Weighing only four pounds, it will be easy for your child to carry this sleeping bag. Available for both boys and girls, the Batman Slumber Bag is great for year round indoor use or summer camping.

Mountain Hardwear UltraLaminina 15 Long Sleeping Bag 2013

Mountain Hardware’s UltraLaminina 15 Sleeping Bag is built for years of use on rugged trails. Rated for temperatures as cold as 15 degrees, the UltraLaminina 15 Sleeping Bag is made to be the warmest synthetic sleeping bag for just about any conditions. The Thermal Q insulation offers superior warmth for its weight and the unique welded Lamina construction is guaranteed to repel water and eliminate cold spots and cold spots.

The Thermic Micro fill is exceptionally lofty and maintains its warmth even after years of being packed into the Sil-Nylon compression stuff sack. The UltraLaminina 15 Sleeping Bag is extremely lightweight for a synthetic sleeping bag, weighing only one pound, 13 ounces. The mummy shape of this synthetic sleeping bag increases thermal efficiency and reduces the weight, making it ideal for long hiking excursions.

Big Agnes Buffalo Park Long Sleeping Bag

The Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40 Sleeping Bag is a comfortable sleeping bag with plenty of room that is perfect for temperate climates. The Big Agnes line of sleeping bags have a unique design that combines the sleeping pad and the bag for a combination that will keep you warm all night. This design allows for 2/3 of the fill to be in the top half of the bag, relying on your sleeping pad for warmth underneath.

The sleeping bag has a sleeve for your pad that guarantees it will never shift overnight. The Big Agnes has extra space that allows you to move naturally in your sleep without restraint or sacrificing warmth. For its size, the Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40 Sleeping Bag still only weighs three pounds and is a perfect addition to your family’s weekend camping gear. Filled with 20 ounces of Quallofill which has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, it also features a tear-resistant ripstop nylon outer shell.

The North Face Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag

The North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag is the perfect synthetic sleeping bag for year round use. Durable, yet soft, the ripstop nylon fabric makes this sleeping bag last through years of weekend trips as the material won't tear or snag. It's also filled with Heatseeker fill and rated for temperatures down to 20 degrees. This quality fill is designed to wick away moisture so this bag maintains its warmth when wet and dries extremely fast.

This sleeping bag is versatile, can sleep two and unzips to become completely flat. Weighing less than three pounds, the North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag is a synthetic sleeping bag that is lightweight and compact.

Marmot Cloudbreak 30 Degree Sleeping Bag

The Marmot Cloudbreak 30 Degree Sleeping Bag is an extra light and warm synthetic sleeping bag. The water resistant shell keeps you dry and a draft tube and mummy-style bag keep you warm in any conditions by keeping the wind from penetrating the bag. The synthetic fill is sewn in a unique baffling pattern that maximizes insulation on the body in the most efficient way to keep the sleeping bag as light as possible.

Packed with Thermal R synthetic fill, this sleeping bag has an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio because the synthetic fibers mimic the qualities of the more expensive down fills and it retains its loftiness even after years of compression.

The Marmot Cloudbreak 30 Degree Sleeping Bag comes in two sizes and even the long version of the Cloudbreak 30 weighs less than two and a half pounds, making both sizes lightweight and warm options for any weather at an affordable price.

L.L.Bean Men's Adventure Sleeping Bag

The Rectangular Adventure Sleeping Bag by L.L. Bean is rated for 20 degree temperatures, making it one of the warmest synthetic sleeping bags for the money. The Adventure Sleeping Bag is filled with ThermaTek synthetic fibers which are guaranteed not to clump, even when wet. This is because the high quality of the polyester fibers traps moisture instead of absorbing it.

The fill is sewn in overlapping baffles resulting in a synthetic sleeping bag that will never develop cold spots. The outer shell is made from 40-denier ripstop nylon, the type of fabric that is used to make parachutes and is extremely unlikely to snag or tear. The quality nylon shell coupled with the anti-snag tape on the zipper make the Adventure Sleeping bag a durable choice.

Baby in a Bag Little Lamb - Summer Model Sleeping Bag

Baby in a Bag Little Lamb - Summer Model Sleeping Bag

The Little Lamb Summer model by Baby in a Bag is made from two layers of cotton. The inner shell is 100 percent soft jersey cotton and the outer shell is woven cotton. An inverted zipper makes changing your baby a breeze while wearing the Little Lamb. The arm holes are adjustable to grow with your child from ages 3-11 months. With the Little Lamb Summer model by Baby in a Bag, you can rest assured that your baby will remain covered and warm throughout the night.

Baby Deedee Sleep Nest Lite Baby Sleeping Bag

The Sleep Nest Lite by Baby Dee Dee is a lightweight cotton baby sleeping bag that is perfect for summer. This soft jersey will keep your baby warm in air conditioned rooms and in the stroller on cool summer night walks. With the Sleep Nest Lite, you won’t have to worry about your baby kicking off their blanket in the middle of the night. The center zipper and shoulder snaps make this baby sleeping bag adjustable for a customizable fit. The Sleep Nest Lite comes in three sizes, from zero to 36 months.

Grobag Peek a Zoo Baby Sleeping Bag

The Peek A Zoo Baby Sleeping Bag by Grobag is a great alternative to keeping your baby warm without excessive blankets and sheets. Made for ages 6-18 months, the Peek a Zoo has a fun animal print that your baby will love. This baby sleeping bag is specifically designed for travel, with a two way zipper that can be closed around a five point harness. The Peek A Zoo can just as easily be used as a regular garment for your child to sleep in at home. The Grobag Baby Sleeping Bag can be machine washed and dried.

Phil & Teds Snuggle & Snooze Sleeping Bag in Red/Charcoal

The Snuggle and Snooze Baby Sleeping Bag by Phil and Teds is specifically designed to fit in a stroller. This baby sleeping bag has harness slots for safety. The top of the sleeping bag has safety snaps that are removable. The Snuggle and Snooze Baby Sleeping Bag can convert your stroller into fleece lined buggy in a snap. The outer lining of this baby sleeping bag is made from the durable ripstop vinyl that many adult sleeping bags are made from. The inner layer contains synthetic fill that is hypoallergenic.

Wellbur Detachable Cotton Baby Sleep Bag

Wellbur Detachable Cotton Baby Sleep Bag

The Double Detachable Soft Cotton Baby Sleeping Bag by Wellber can be used indoors or outdoors. The detachable liner and sleeves make this one of the most versatile baby sleeping bags available. The inner and outer liners are all made from high quality cotton. The fill material is all virgin fiber that will keep your baby warm. The unique design allows you to adjust the length of the hem to provide a customizable fit for your little one.

Buyer's Guide

 

Sleeping Bag Buyer’s Guide

One of the most important pieces of gear to take on any overnight camping trip is a sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag not only allows you to remain comfortable throughout the night, it’s also the most efficient way of insulating your body warmth. There are a number of important considerations that go into choosing the right sleeping bag such as the type of insulation as well as its temperature rating. The style of the sleeping bag may also be a factor depending on how far you will have to carry your pack.

Sleeping Bag Types

Mummy Bags
Mummy bags are the most common type of sleeping bag for backpacking. They fit snugly, tapering from head to toe, and are best for colder weather because the narrow design limits air pockets. Mummy style sleeping bags weigh less than other sleeping bags. For the best fit, you will want to size a mummy bag based on your shoulder width.

Rectangular/Semi-rectangular Sleeping Bags
Rectangular sleeping bags have more room inside, but sacrifice warmth for space. These bags are heavier than mummy bags, but usually less expensive. While rectangular bags have more space that your body needs to heat, they have more room than mummy bags thus making them good warm weather sleeping bags.

For those who find the mummy bag too restrictive for a comfortable sleep, but need a cold weather sleeping bag, the semi-rectangular sleeping bag is a good option. The semi-rectangular sleeping bag has more room at the hip and shoulders, but taper off at the head and feet, reducing the amount of space that your body has to heat.

Sleeping Bag Shells/Lining

The material that makes up the outer shell of a sleeping bag is the first layer defense against the elements. Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon taffeta, and ripstop nylon are the most common sleeping bag shells.

Typically, the lighter the fabric, the more expensive the sleeping bag. Polyester and cotton are the least expensive shells, but are only appropriate for dry weather. Nylon taffeta shells are very soft, but also best suited for dry conditions. 

Many bags come with an additional thin laminate like DuPont Tactel and Goretex Dryloft Cotton shells are available in some rectangular bags, but these bags tend to be bulkier than bags with a synthetic shell.  DuPont Tactel and Gore Dryloft offer increased water resistance, while DryzoneT is a waterproof laminate.

Liner Material
Sleeping bag liners come in many different materials including cotton, flannel, fleece, silk and nylon. What type of liner you choose will be based mostly on your comfort and need for added warmth.

Silk, nylon and cotton are all great warm weather liners because they are soft and breathable. Cotton liners give the added advantage of not slipping around in the bag.  Fleece and flannel liners give an added layer of warmth for multi-season or cold weather camping.

Sleeping Bag Insulation/Fill

Down fill and synthetic fill are the two most common types of insulation used in sleeping bag.  Fill is what provides warmth by reducing the amount of heat your body loses overnight.  Down and synthetic fills each offer different and important advantages.

Synthetic fill provides dependable warmth even when wet.  Goose down gives better insulation value per ounce where conditions are cold and dry Down fill can take a long time to dry if it gets wet, though water-repellant down is also an option. Both types depend on air spaces, or loft, for warmth.

Fill Power
Fill power is a term used to describe the ability of the down to trap heat. The higher the fill power, means a lighter sleeping bag because it takes less down to achieve the same temperature rating.

Down Fill
Usually derived from ducks or geese, down fill is the one of the best insulating materials nature provides. Down sleeping bags are typically lighter and warmer than synthetic counterparts because their soft plumage undercoating keeps you warm by trapping in body heat while remaining breathable.

Duck down is less expensive than goose down and has a lower fill power range, with a maximum fill power under 800. Goose down can achieve a much greater fill power of over 900, but is obviously more expensive. One downside to using down fill is the effects of moisture on it; when dampened, down tends to clump together and lessens its ability to retain heat.

Water-Resistant Down Fill
DownTek and DriDown are two examples of down fill which has been treated to make it water-resistant. The treated down adds little cost to the bag and is well worth the investment. Although these types of sleeping bags still can clump if they’re exposed directly to water, additional waterproofing treatments and sprays can minimize the bags drying time while reducing the chance of mildew odor.

Synthetic Fill
Synthetic sleeping bags are an inexpensive alternative to down sleeping bags as they’re easier to care for and don’t require special cleaning; most synthetic sleeping bags can be simply be machine washed. Synthetic fill is also water-resistant and dries quickly, making it the sleeping bag material of choice for hiking and camping trips in potentially damp, wet conditions.

Another advantage of synthetic sleeping bags is they’re hypoallergenic with polyester being the most common type of insulation used. These types of sleeping bags tend to be bulkier than down fill bags and have less fill power (warmth to weight ratio).

Temperature ratings

Most sleeping bags are made for a certain temperature range and climate. The temperature range for a bag, also commonly referred to as a comfort rating, is the lowest temperature the bag is designed to handle in order to keep a person warm.

Because of a wide range of factors which can affect a person’s comfort level, this temperature range should not be taken as a hard guideline. Everything from the weather conditions to whether or not you use a supplementary sleeping pad can have an impact on how warm you feel while using a sleeping bag.

Each manufacturer will have a specific set of comfort ratings for their sleeping bags which generally fall into the following ranges:

Summer: 35 degrees or above

3-Season Bag: 10 to 35 degrees

Winter:  -10 to 10 degrees

Extreme Winter: -10 degrees or below

Sleeping Pads

A sleeping pad is an important layer that you place between your sleeping bag and the ground.  Whether an air pad or a solid piece of foam sleeping pads not only add comfort to your camping experience, they add insulation and protect the fill in your sleeping bag from unnecessary compression which will cause you to lose warmth.

Sleeping Bag Storage and Care

Taking care of your sleeping bag will allow it to last throughout many years of use. 

Keep Your Bag Dry
Drying the bag if it gets wet is the most important step in maintaining your sleeping bag.  A wet bag should be hung out to dry or dried on low heat in a dryer as soon as possible.  Each manufacturer will have care instructions that you should read and follow. Generally, you should be able to wash the bag on a delicate cycle and dry on low heat. 

Correct Storage
Storage is another important aspect to maintaining your sleeping bag.  Bags should be kept in a cool, dry environment, to prevent mildew, and outside of the bag’s compression sack.  Leaving your sleeping bag in a compression sack will risk compressing the fill to the point where it loses loft and insulation capacity.

Tips for Effective Usage

Fluff Your Bag
You should fluff your sleeping bag out as soon as possible, to ensure that your sleeping bag is ready, with the fill at maximum loft.  This simple action of fluffing the bag out and giving it the most time possible outside of the compression sack before bedtime will allow for maximum warmth. 

Layer Accordingly
Wearing additional clothes inside the sleeping bag will also add warmth and keep the liner of your bag cleaner for a longer period of time.  In warmer weather, it is recommended that you wear a layer of clothing that can wick sweat away to help keep you cool and dry.

Compression Sacks
If you are backpacking or have minimal space in your car for gear, stuff sacks or compression sacks help you stow your bag in as little space as possible.

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