A good night’s sleep is essential for any camper. Whether you’re away with the family in the Lakes for the weekend or backpacking across Europe, sleeping well is vital to ensure you’re ready and refreshed for the following day – that’s why a good quality sleeping bag is a must.
Here at Winfields Outdoors, we want you to get the best night’s sleep possible, which is why we’ve pulled this buying guide together to help you choose the best sleeping bag for you.
Sleeping bag season guide
Choosing the right sleeping bag very much depends on the time of year and the conditions in which you’re sleeping. For example, if you’re camping in the winter, you’ll need a sleeping bag to keep you warmer than if you’re camping the summer. That’s why they’re made with different season ratings, as explained below:
|1 Season||For summer or indoor use|
|2 Season||Late spring, early autumn|
|3 Season||Late autumn or milder winter nights|
|4 Season||Cold winter nights, perhaps with frost|
Sleeping bag temperature ratings
As well as the season of the sleeping bag, it’s important to also check the temperature ratings. Again, where you plan on sleeping and the weather conditions will be key to determining which is the right sleeping bag for you. Sleeping bag temperature ratings are usually broken down into four parts:
Comfort rating – The comfort rating of sleeping bags refers to the temperature at which a standard adult woman can expect to get a comfortable night’s sleep. If the temperature is any less than the comfort rating, then it’s likely the person will feel cold.
Limit rating – The limit rating refers to the temperature at which a standard adult male can expect a comfortable night’s sleep. Again, any colder and they are less likely to sleep well.
Upper limit – This temperature at which a standard adult male is likely to be able to sleep well without excessive sweating or discomfort.
Extreme rating – This survival rating is the temperature at which a standard adult woman might suffer from hypothermia and other cold-related health issues. If you think your environment will get close to the extreme rating, it’s wise to opt for a warmer sleeping bag.
Synthetic vs down sleeping bags
When it comes to the insulation of sleeping bags, you can opt for either synthetic or down insulation, each having their good and bad points.
Down sleeping bags
Down sleeping bags will generally keep you warmer than their equivalent synthetic counterparts. They are also lighter and will compress easier to a smaller size. However, down sleeping bags are also usually more expensive and do not perform well when wet – if down gets wet then it clumps together, making it much less insulative.
Synthetic sleeping bags
Most sleeping bags you come across will use synthetic fill. They are easy to care for, durable, often cheaper, and perform better than down when they get wet. However, their warmth to weight ratio is not as good, so pound for pound you won’t feel as warm as you do in a down sleeping bag.
Different shapes & sizes of sleeping bag
Sleeping bags come in a range of shapes and sizes, each with slightly different properties and uses.
Regular sleeping bags
You regular common or garden sleeping bag will be rectangular in shape, giving you plenty of room inside to move around. They will nearly always have a zip that goes down one side and the foot of the bag so it can unzipped to form a blanket.
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Mummy sleeping bags
Mummy sleeping bags are much closer fitting, keeping you nice and snug when you’re asleep, and are better at keeping you warm than regular sleeping bags. They taper towards the feet and also have a hood for your head and shoulders. They are also lighter than regular sleeping backs so are ideal if pack weight is an issue.
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Double sleeping bags
If you’re camping with your significant other then you could opt for a double sleeping bag. This lets you cosy up together for extra warmth and will also reduce the weight and space of a second sleeping bag.
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Anatomy & Key features
Sleeping bags are meticulously designed pieces of kit, and there are several features that go into keeping you warm and comfortable at night.
Zip – Sleeping bag zips usually come in three flavours – full zip, three-quarter zip, and half zip. You can also get double zip bags, which are very handy for ventilation and temperature control.
Zip baffle – An insulated baffle (flap of material) sits behind the zip to stop heat escaping through that part of the sleeping bag.
Zip cover – Some bags will also have a zip cover that goes over the top. This helps stop the zip coming undone in the night, but also works has an extra bit of insulation.
Hood – Many sleeping bags also feature a hood to help keep your head and shoulders warm. These are often adjustable to ensure a good fit.
Neck baffle – also referred to as a draft collar, the neck baffle provides extra insulation around your neck, reducing cold spots.
Outer fabric – Sleeping bags have different outer shell materials depending on their use. Polyester is a common material as it’s breathable, and some will use ripstop fabric for added durability.
Liner fabric – Again, can be made from various materials although polyester is popular.
Insulation – As discussed above, insulation can be either synthetic or down.
Footbox – This is the area around your feet. This is much closer fitting and more contoured on mummy sleeping bags to keep you warmer.
Pockets – Some sleeping bags have pockets in which you can store your valuables.
For an even better night’s sleep, consider some of these other pieces of sleeping equipment:
A sleeping mat is another essential piece of kit. Not only do they make the ground you’re sleeping on more comfortable, softening any lumps and bumps, but they also reduce the amount of heat lost through the floor, keeping you warmer.
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For added comfort, you can opt for an airbed, which will feel much more like a mattress compared to sleeping on the ground! We have single and double air beds available, as well as air pumps to help you blow them up.
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Sleeping bag liner
A sleeping bag liner slips over the outside of your sleeping bag. This acts as an extra layer of insulation and also protects the outside of your bag from dirt, rips and any other substances that may damage it.
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Of course you need somewhere to lay your head, and so a good pillow is a must if space in your pack allows for it. We have self-inflating and memory foam pillows to get you a better quality kip.
Last modified: June 25, 2019