Selecting Your Sleeping Bag


Making sure you get a good night’s sleep when you are out in the wild is a key part for you and yours to enjoy your camping experience.  The most important part of that is choosing the proper sleeping bag.  Making this decision has many components – are you backpacking or base/family camping? Do you prefer mummy bags or rectangular? What seasons will are you camping in?  Once you answer these questions you are well on your way to selecting your perfect sleeping bag.

Type of Camping

  • Backpacking – you already know that weight is of the utmost importance and that will be your biggest deciding factor.  Although the season rating (see below) will also come into play – your choices will not be as large as if you are car/base camping. 
  • Car/base camping – you can choose from a vast selection of sleeping bags. You have no weight or size restrictions; it is merely a preference and seasonal concern.

No matter how you’re camping having a barrier from the ground will make all the difference.  A barrier can be anything from a just a pad to a queen size air mattress.  Having the barrier helps the sleeping bags do their jobs better.


Most of us grew up sleeping in the rectangular bags.  Nowadays you have many different choices, not only in style but also geared toward gender and age groups!  Oh, how far we have come. 

  • Mummy – The most common style besides the rectangular is the mummy bag. This bag is what it sounds like; it’s shaped like a cone to keep you snug like a mummy. Some people like to stretch out and move around when they sleep, so if you have a friend that owns one ask to borrow it for the night before you buy one. Mummy bags are very efficient in keeping you warm, so they are something to consider.
  • Barrel bags – these are the in-between of the rectangular and mummy bag.  They have a slight taper from the shoulders to the toes. 
  • Rectangular – If connecting 2 bags is the utmost importance to you then the rectangular bags w/ compatible zippers are your choice.

Seasonal Rating

Understanding the season ratings means you must understand the temperature rating.  If it reads the bag is rated for “15 degrees” this means that the bag (along with a barrier underneath) should keep you comfortable when the temperature at its lowest point will be 15 degrees or more.

  • Summer Season: +35? or higher
  • 3 Seasons: +10? to +35?
  • Cold Weather: -10? to +10?
  • Winter/Extreme: -10? and lower

Selecting the right sleeping bag will be one decision that can make or break your camping trip. Make sure you take the time in choosing your sleeping bag.  This is one purchase you will not want to cut any corners.  In my many years of enjoying camping, I have determined that you get what you pay for and the right sleeping bag can last many, many years of great camping adventures.