How Do I Choose A Sleeping Bag?
Like with most camping and outdoor equipment, how to choose the right sleeping bag depends on how you will use it. Things like the time of year you will be camping, whether you will be carrying it along on hikes and your personal sleeping preferences all need to be considered. Sleeping bags come in the following shapes and sizes:
- Square Sleeping Bags. These give you plenty of space to move around while you sleep.
- Mummy Sleeping Bags. These are tapered towards your feet for a snug fit that creates extra warmth. You can’t move around as much, but they are better if you need a lightweight sleeping bag that performs well in cold temperatures.
- Double Sleeping Bags. If you don’t like sleeping alone, a double sleeping is designed to fit two people inside comfortably. Find out more with our guide to double sleeping bags.
- Kids Sleeping Bags. Square and mummy bags in smaller lengths for children.
You can also look out for additional insulating features, including zip covers, hoods and neck baffles, plus integrated pillows, which can add to a peaceful night’s sleep. Features such as hanging loops and compression stuff sacks are also good extras to have.
For further comfort, consider sleeping mats and airbeds. You could also add a sleeping bag liner for additional insulation, waterproofing and protection.
Read our full guide to buying the right sleeping bag for more information.
What Temperature Sleeping Bag Should I Get?
Getting the right temperature for your sleeping bag is key to getting a good night’s sleep when you’re camping. To help you, sleeping bag ratings are split into the following seasons:
Sleeping Bag Rating Seasons
- Season 1 - For 10°C or higher. Good if you need a lightweight sleeping bag in warm conditions or camping abroad in mild climates.
- Season 2 - For 5°C or higher. A good option for UK camping trips from spring to early autumn.
- Season 3 - For 0°C or higher. The best winter sleeping bag temperature for the UK and often recommended for Duke of Edinburgh trips.
- Season 4 - For -5°C or higher. You will need one of these for extreme cold and expeditions.
You can also check the comfort rating, limit rating, upper rating and extreme rating. These will give you the maximum and minimum temperatures the sleeping bag can keep the average man and woman comfortable at.
Are Down Sleeping Bags Better Than Synthetic?
Another question you may have is “what is the best material for a sleeping bag?” Most sleeping bags use a synthetic fill with a polyester shell. While down is warmer, it does not perform as well when wet and is usually more expensive than synthetic fills. Both have pros and cons, so decide which one suits your needs best.
What is the Best Sleeping Bag for Backpacking?
If you are going backpacking, you will need a compact sleeping bag that has a good warmth to weight ratio. It is recommended that you choose a sleeping bag that is rated for temperatures slightly lower than you are expecting to ensure you aren’t caught out by unexpected cold spots. As you will be spending a lot of time carrying it, you also need to make sure it is as lightweight as possible.
Features that are good to look out for when buying a sleeping bag for backpacking include:
- A hood and built in pillow for extra warmth
- Insulated zip baffle to keep out drafts
- Anti-catching zip so you can pack up and go easily
- Storage pockets for keeping sleeping essentials close by
- Compression stuff sack for a compact sleeping bag
How Do You Wash a Sleeping Bag?
If you use your sleeping bag often, you will probably want to wash it every now and then. To help it stay it clean for as long as possible, try using a sleeping bag liner, which will help keep the interior fresh. If you sleep on a sleeping mat, this will also help prolong its life. If you see any dirty patches, you can also put off washing the whole things by spot cleaning with a soft brush and mild soap.
When the time comes when you need to give your sleeping bag a good clean, check your bag’s individual washing instructions. You should use a front loading washing machine without an agitator, mild detergent and a gentle cycle. You may need to follow up with extra rinse cycles if suds remain in the fabric.
When you remove the bag from the washing machine, do not wring it as this can damage the filling. It’s best to leave your bag to air dry, though if you have a tumble dryer large enough, you can use it on a low heat. Be sure your bag is completely dry before packing it away. Throwing a couple of tennis balls into your washer and dryer during the process is a good tip to stop your filling clumping.
Shop our excellent range lightweight sleeping bags, compact sleeping bags double sleeping bags and more at Winfields Outdoors today.