You have the camping itch or maybe you have a backpacking scratch, either way your going to need a sleeping bag. This guide will walk you through several different key points when you are considering buying a bag. Obviously the goal of a sleeping bag is to keep you warm, but there are other factors you need to think about like staying dry, the right fit, and weight. Gender also plays a part when picking out the right bag so lets get started.
Temperature Rating for Sleeping Bags - This would be the first decision I would suggest you make. All sleeping bags have a temp rating.
usually included in the name, like the Mountain Hardware Lamina 20º. The 20ºF refers to the bags suggested comfort level so anytime it’s 20ºF or warmer you should be good. This does not mean you don’t have to dress accordingly, but you get the idea. Keep in mind the rating also assumes your wearing a layer of long underwear and using a sleeping pad (see our sleeping pad guide). It’s important to keep in mind that some sleep cold and others sleep warm so use the rating as a guide and not a guarantee. Try to figure out what type of climate you plan on camping in and then make a decision on what temperature rating will best fit your needs. Something to keep in mind is women generally prefer a bit warmer bag than men, on average 10ºF warmer. Below is a guide to help determine your rating.
Proper Sizing for Sleeping Bags
It may seem like a simple process of selecting a size of a sleeping bag but there actually is a lot to look into. Here we will cover sizes, styles, shapes and other bits of information to ensure you are making the best selection when buying a new sleeping bag for yourself or someone else.
Sleeping Bag Sizes
Sleeping bags are sized in both length and width so you can size a bag larger or smaller based on your size or specific needs.
Length- Sleeping bags are divided into four different sizes; short, regular, long and extra long. These sizes will impact how the sleeping bag fits you based on your overall height. A typical run through of the sizes is as follow; short – under 5’4”, regular – under 5’10”, long – under 6’6”, extra long – 6’6”+ or those looking for additional room. Some using sleeping bags for backcountry camping prefer longer bags to allow them to store supplies in the bag at night. Look for size charts to get precise sizing from brand to brand.
Width- Typically the width will increase slightly as the length increases. Those with wider shoulders will want to pay special attention to the width to ensure they have adequate room to fit comfortably in the sleeping bag.