Making the decision about purchasing the right sleeping bag shouldn’t keep you up at night. Understandably, when you look at all the different sleeping bags available today, it’s enough to make anyone confused. The key to selecting the right sleeping bag is picking one that suits the outdoor environment as well as your personal needs.

Temperature and Camping

New Sleeping BagsA big consideration when picking a sleeping bag is the bag’s temperature rating. A temperature rating on a sleeping bag is a good indicator of the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep you warm. So a 20 degree bag will keep you warm in air temperatures of 20 degrees and above. It’s a good idea to select a bag that is rated for temperatures a little bit colder than what you are expecting, but if you’re sleeping in a tent with a sleeping pad and wearing insulated clothing to sleep, then you may not need a bag that is rated for weather that cold.

Sleeping Bag Construction

When looking at a sleeping bag’s construction, there are a couple of things to consider, including the shell, the lining and the insulation. The insulation can be made of a synthetic material or down, both of which are durable and light. Down is very lightweight and offers some of the best weight-to-warmth ratings. However, if the down gets wet, it will lose up to 70% of its insulation properties. Down bags are typically more expensive than synthetically insulated bags and synthetic bags are a lot more forgiving to getting wet. A synthetic bag will be a lot warmer if it gets wet than a down bag would be. Sleeping bag shells are typically nylon or polyester fabric for durability and quick drying properties. The lining of a sleeping bag can be made of cotton or cotton flannel for car camping to give you the comfort of flannel sheets, or nylon and polyester to reduce moisture absorption common to natural fibers like cotton.

Consider your Camping Style

Because there are different types of camping, there are various sleeping bags designed for each camping style. When choosing a sleeping bag, consider how it will be used most often. Please see below for some of the scenarios you may find yourself in when camping.


RV or Car Camping

Sleeping Bags for Backpacking Sleeping Bags for RV Car Camping
Weight and size is a primary concern. Remember, whatever bag you choose, you’ll be carrying it on your back. The last thing you need is a heavy, bulky sleeping bag to tote around. Look for a warm, lightweight, compact bag. Since you won’t be carrying your sleeping bag, weight isn’t a major factor. Concentrate on warmth, comfort, and leg room.

Canoe Camping

Extreme or Deep Winter Camping Conditions

Canoe Camping Sleeping Bags Sleeping Bags for Extreme Camping
Since you know you’re going to be in a wet environment, a warm, moisture-resistant, quick-drying bag is essential. Remember, waterproof stuff sacks and travel bags can leak. For hard-core campers, weight, warmth, compactness, and moisture-resistance are all critical considerations.

There are a few other considerations when picking a sleeping bag, such as shape, fit, size, zippers, pockets, etc. but these are basically individual preference-based options. The best way to determine what sleeping bag is right for you is to evaluate how you’ll use it and find the bag to match your needs.

Let us know what sleeping bag suits you best in the comments below!