Understanding the Types of Sleeping Bags Available

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If you are looking for a great sleeping bag, it will be important for you to know and understand the different types of sleeping bags to ensure you choose the right one. It could be the easiest way to know that your investment will pay off and that you will sleep comfortably, no matter where you choose to go camping. You have other choices like the camping cot or even the soft air beds, but when it comes for compactness these bags are hard to beat.



Types of Sleeping Bags By Shape

Primarily there are two different types of sleeping bags. The mummy style sleeping bag and the rectangular bag. You will find other styles and variations of these two, but for the most part, they will all start with one of these two types.

You should know before you buy that the mummy shaped bag is usually a more popular choice for cold weather camping. It is more efficiently able to keep you warm on even the coldest nights. However, a lot of people do not like this style of bag because it does restrict your movements. It is designed to fit snug against your body to keep your own body’s heat closer. It wraps closer to the body including the feet. This allows less cold air to circulate inside the bag to keep you warm but also makes it less spacious.

The good news is, you can find rectangle bags that are also able to keep you warm. These are rectangular in shape giving you more room for your upper body and also your feet. The design makes it a better choice from those who like to sleep freely and move around.

If you want to be able to sleep in tandem with your partner, there are also double sleeping bags. These are generally two single sleeping bags that are combined into one giving you more room inside to fit two people.

Once you’ve decided on the style of bag that fits the way your sleep, the next step is to simply check the temperature rating on them.


Choosing the Temperature Rating

The temperature rating can help you to make an informed decision, as long as you do not base your faith on it being overly accurate. The comfort ratings listed on the bags are a guide to tell you the temperature where the bag will still be able to provide enough comfort. They test this in optimal environments so a basic rule of thumb is to add 10 degrees to the rating as a margin of safety.

If you only camp out during the summer months, this aspect may be less important for you. Since the weather is warmer during that time of year, the warmth rating of the bag may not play as much a role as during the cooler seasons. When this is the case, you may be able to just go and choose a lighter weight bag that’s easier for transport.

If you do sometimes camp during the winter or late autumn and early spring when the temperature is low, you should first decide what temperature range you would be willing to camp out in. Then, you will need to find a bag that is rated for lower temperatures because accuracy does not always apply to what it is really able to handle. It is always better to be warm than to have the temperature drop to colder than you had planned. Some bags are rated for negative degree temperatures. This may be overkill if you will never be camping when it is less than 30 degrees outside so don’t overdo it or you may find yourself sweating and unable to sleep.


Understanding Insulation Type

Knowing this may also help you choose easier. Part of selecting the bag involves understanding the filling that goes between the fabrics. The filling makes it difference much like it does with comforters and pillows. Different fillings provide varying levels of heat insulation and also factor in to the weight and compactness of the sleeping bag.

Do you want it to be water repellent? If so, you may choose goose or duck down filling which is light and breathable, or you may choose a synthetic fiber filled sleeping bag that is more likely to keep you dry.


  • The goose or duck filled sleeping bag may be more expensive to purchase and slow to dry if it does get wet, but they are usually a good sleeping bag over a longer period of time. They are a better choice also when weight is something you want to keep low.
  • The synthetic sleeping bag is often heavier, which could be bad for backpacking. It is however a very popular choice because it is cheaper. If price is more a concern, this is the way to go.


Both types have their good and bad points. You need to decide which features matter the most to you when weighing your decision.

Finally, there are also cotton sleeping bags which are warm, for a while. As cotton compacts over time, it may lose some of its ability to keep you warm during cold nights. It is also not waterproof and takes a long time to dry. Lastly cotton sleeping bags are also a heavier choice than the previous two. This makes it the least favorable type of sleeping bag to go with for outdoor adventures.


Making Your Sleeping Bag Decision

When choosing from the various types of sleeping bags, it is important that your personal preferences be taken into consideration and what kind of trip you will be taking. Then you will have to figure out the weight you are okay with and consider the various other reasons to choose one over the other. Finally, in cold weather always bring a sleeping pad to put inside your bag.


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