Portal Outdoor Sleeping Bags in front of Camp Fire Background.

After a day full of fun, laughter and adventure, there's nothing better than climbing into a warm, cosy sleeping bag for a good night's sleep.

It's essential that you choose a sleeping bag that is designed for the climate in which you are staying, as temperature drops overnight can prove extremely dangerous. Read our full guide below on choosing the right sleeping bag for your next camping trip.

Available in a number of different sizes, styles and shapes, a sleeping bag is an essential piece of kit when camping outdoors. Choose from a straight edged "envelope" style, or a more fitted "mummy" style sleeping bag, or even a double sleeping bag for yourself and a partner. There's plenty on the market - we'll run through what to look for in your next sleeping bag.

Choosing a Sleeping Bag

In this article we will cover just what you need to consider when selecting a sleeping bag. We will look at:

  • Temperature Ratings
  • Seasonality Ratings
  • Sleeping Bag Shapes
  • Sleeping Bag Insulation Types
  • Bonus Features

  • Learn More Below

    Choosing a sleeping bag can be confusing. With so many different ratings, fillings and types, the market can seem flooded with choice. We've compiled the following list of top features to consider when selecting your next sleeping bag.

    Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

    The temperature ratings that you will find on a sleeping bag are an indication of the lowest temperature at which the bag will still keep the occupant warm.

    It's important to note that these ratings assume that you are wearing a thermal under-layer and have a sleeping mat under the sleeping bag.

    You should select a sleeping bag that has a rating lower than the lowest temperature you expect to experience.

    In the chart above (for the Portal Outdoor Stratos Sleeping Bag), you can see that you will remain comfortable down to a temperature of 4.9 Degrees Celsius.

    Sleeping Bag Seasonality Ratings

    You may notice some sleeping bags described as "Summer" or "Three-Season". This is quick way to identify sleeping bags suited to your intended activity.

    We've listed the standard categorisation for this below for your reference:

  • Summer Season - Typical Night Temperature of +10°C or higher.
  • Three Season - Typical Night Temperature of 0°C or higher.
  • Winter Season - Typical Night Temperature of -5°C or higher.

  • If you particularly feel the cold, it's advisable to go for a winter, or three season sleeping bag. When out camping it is easier to cool down than it can be to warm up!

    Sleeping Bag Shapes

    Sleeping bags work by trapping a warm layer of air close to your body, keeping you warm through the night by insulating this pocket of air. The less space there is to heat around your body, the faster the air is heated by your body heat, and the warmer you will stay.

  • Rectangular (a.k.a. Envelope) Sleeping Bags - This shape allows for a mixture of comfort and space. Some users find "Mummy" sleeping bags restrictive, so an envelope style bag will prove favourable for the extra room offered. Many rectangular sleeping bags can be completely unzipped to form a duvet, or zipped onto a matching bag to create a large sleeping bag fit for two campers.
  • Mummy Sleeping Bags - With their narrow shoulders, and tapered design, these slightly more restrictive sleeping bags are specifically designed to create a tight pocket of air to keep you warm. They do this very well, and many Mummy sleeping bags also include a hood that aids this process.
  • Double Width Sleeping Bags - As the name suggests, these are extra large sleeping bags, designed for a couple to share. Often paired with a comfortable air bed to create the ultimate home from home sleeping experience.
  • Barrel Sleeping Bags - Also know as semi-rectangular, these sleeping bags are a hybrid of rectangular and mummy sleeping bags. They offer more room for the claustrophobic camper than a mummy sleeping bag, and are particularly popular with restless sleepers.
  • Sleeping Bag Insulation Types

    Many off the shelf sleeping bags are filled with synthetic insulation materials. How do these stack up against natural insulation materials like down?

  • Synthetic Sleeping Bag Insulation - With strong overall performance, and a user-friendly cost, synthetic insulation materials are now the most popular choice for sleeping bags. Predominately a Polyester fibre - these sleeping bags a quick-drying and can still maintain their insulation qualities when wet. They also benefit from being non-allergenic.
  • Natural Down Sleeping Bag Insulation - Often sourced from Geese, this Down filling is more expensive than synthetic option, but is a more durable alternative. It can also be packed some much smaller when not in use, so can be useful for those with limited space. It is not waterproof, and may cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to this material.
  • Sleeping Bag Extras to Look Out For

    Some sleeping bags offer extra little bonuses that can make a big difference when camping - here's some of our favourites:

  • Internal Pockets - Incredibly useful to keep small items, such as a phone or spectacles close to hand.
  • Pillow Pockets - Some sleeping bags offer a an area that you can fill with clothes or other materials to form a pillow for a better night's sleep.
  • Sleeping Bag Hood - As seen in many Mummy sleeping bags, a hood is a great way to keep any heat inside your sleeping bag. the majority of heat loss in humans is through the head, so this is a great solution to combat heat loss.

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