How to choose the right sleeping bag

After a long day of hiking, a good night’s sleep helps your body rest and recover. That's why it's important to have the right sleeping bag: you want something season-appropriate, comfortable and, above all, easy to transport.

Man asleep in a sleeping bag

There are three factors to consider when choosing a sleeping bag: the temperature rating, so you'll stay warm through the night; the comfort level, you'll want something more comfortable (and possibly more padded) for a weeklong trip compared to an overnighter; and the portability, your sleeping bag should not be difficult to carry.

moving images of different types of sleeping bags

Warmth

Sleeping bags are designed for specific temperatures. If you’re camping in the winter, your sleeping bag needs to keep you warm. If you’re heading out in the summer, your sleeping bag should be designed to keep you cool. Don’t forget that, even if the weather is mild during the day, temperatures can drop considerably once the sun goes down. Make sure to do your research before every trip.

There are three main temperature categories:

– Warm (over 20°C)

– Mild (10°C–20°C)

– Cold (0°C–10°C)

Portability

Portability depends on the weight and compactness of the sleeping bag. If you’ll be hiking for several days, you’ll likely be carrying your sleeping bag, food, a change of clothes, a tent, and other essentials. This means you should look for a compact sleeping bag that won’t be too heavy or cumbersome. If you’ll be returning to the same campsite every night, you can afford to bring a bag that’s a little heavier. In summary:

For hikes lasting several days, choose a lightweight, compact sleeping bag that won’t be too difficult to carry.

For overnight hikes, opt for a more comfortable sleeping bag. It can be a little heavier but should still be compact.

two women camping and different types of sleeping bags
image of two types of sleeping bags and a man in a sleeping bag

Comfort

When you’re camping, comfort is a priority, so look for a roomy, double-layer sleeping bag with an elastic hood.

For hiking trips, choose a thinner sleeping bag that’s both lightweight and warm.

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