Getting a good night’s sleep when you’re camping is important to help you have a great time. To achieve the perfect night of sleep you need a sleeping bag that’s suitable for the type of camping trip you’re taking and keeps you warm and toasty in the winter and cool in the summer, you’ll also want to consider what type of camping bed best suits your needs too unless you want to sleep on a really hard floor.
How to Choose a Sleeping Bag
The type of sleeping bag you choose will depend on a few different factors, where you’re going camping, your budget, how often you plan to use your sleeping bag and your personal taste.
Sleeping Bag Seasons:
Sleeping bag season ratings tell you which seasons they are suitable for which is a handy way to work out whether a sleeping bag will be suitable for the type of camping trip you are taking. (Tents also have their own rating system but they measure different things.)
Here are the four season ratings for sleeping bags explained;
1 season sleeping bag – Lightweight sleeping bag, compact and great for camping in warmer countries or in peak summer months
2 season sleeping bag – Often the sleeping bag of choice for families, they can be used in late spring and early autumn. They can be lightweight yet still offer enough insulation to keep you warm as temperatures begin to drop.
3 season sleeping bag – generally recommended for expedition-style trips or DoE and school trip style camping, these bags are great for early spring and late autumn when it is a little chillier.
4 season sleeping bag – Often down insulated these bags are great for the winter season when temperatures could drop below freezing.
5 season sleeping bag – Also known as expedition sleeping bags, these are for more extreme weather and are often used in extreme cold temperatures or mountains.
Basic Sleeping Bags
If you’re a fair-weather camper who heads out on the odd trip every now and then with a car to carry all your essentials then you will normally be absolutely fine with any standard sleeping bag.
Double Sleeping Bag
If you’re going on a camping trip with your partner and want to have the option of snuggling up on the colder nights then double sleeping bags can be a great idea. They aren’t for those who want to stretch out and have their own space (as you are literally inside a zipped bag with another person).
Double sleeping bags are available in almost all of the season ratings so if you’re heading off as a pair on an expedition you should be able to find a sleeping bag with enough insulation to keep you both warm even in colder climates.
Kids Sleeping Bags
Kids sleeping bags come in different sizes and great patterns that are really fun. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that something synthetic with a colourful pattern will be the right option to keep the kids warm when under canvas. In the same way adult sleeping bags are season rated, children’s sleeping bags follow the same rating system, So you’ll be able to tell the type of bag you need depending on when you’re heading out.
Many sleeping bags made for kids come with things like covers and pillows attached to make them easier to transport and help ensure important bedding is not forgotten.
The best sleeping bags for your children should be thick enough to keep them warm wherever you are staying, easy to transport and carry so that you aren’t overloaded and offer convenience features like being easy to wash and including matching pillow and duvet sets that are attached or packed together so you can’t forget them.
Rectangular or Square Sleeping Bags
The most basic of sleeping bags, they have room all the way down so your feet aren’t compressed and there’s plenty of space for you to stretch out. They can often be joined together with another sleeping bag to make them into a double sleeping bag.
These sleeping bags are easy to buy, normally very cheap and rugged enough, while offering ample insulation for most UK camping trips.
They often aren’t the most desirable or easy to fold up and store efficiently and you may need to pack an extra blanket if you are camping in cold conditions or there is a particularly cold snap as they may not be warm enough on their own.
Sleep Pod Sleeping Bags
These are perfect for people who fidget in the night and want the space to be able to toss and turn. They are half as wide as they are long which means there’s plenty of space to stretch out. They are great for summer camping. You can get them in sizes suitable for babies, children or adults.
Mummy sleeping bags
These sleeping bags are tapered towards the feet and are a tighter fit to help cocoon you while you sleep. This keeps the warmer air inside and close to your body so they can be a great option if you are looking for a snug fitting bag to keep you warm. The tapering also shaves inches off the fabric, making them lighter and smaller, and therefore easier to carry and fold away, than their square sleeping bag equivalents.
They often come with a handy hood on which is great for extra warmth and snuggling down on cold nights. Mummy sleeping bags are available in sizes suitable for children and adults can get many different ranges of thickness for this kind of sleeping bag.
Best Festival Sleeping Bags
There aren’t really any sleeping bags designed especially for festivals, however some brands market sleeping bags with funky designs and more decorative patterns at festival goers who want something bright and unique to sleep in.
Although you may be partying the night away, when you get back to your tent you’ll want to get into something warm and dry and get a good night’s sleep to be fresh for the next day.
If you go to lots of festivals, investing in something a bit more hardy may be sensible as it will likely last you through a few festival seasons. However, if you’re unlikely to remember going to bed, getting a cheaper more basic sleeping bag can do the job too.
What type of sleeping bag do you need?
The type of sleeping bag you should buy depends on the time of year you will be camping, where you will be staying and how long you’re planning on using it for as well as a repeated use frequency.
The best sleeping bag for couples could be a double sleeping bag if you like to sleep close together and share warmth, however, if you like your own space, you may choose to use a standard sleeping bag.
If you’re travelling abroad to a colder climate or are camping in the UK during winter you will almost certainly want at least a 3 season bag. Conversely, if you are going somewhere warmer or using your sleeping bag only for UK spring and summer trips a 2 season bag should be adequate.
You should also think about how you sleep at home, do you tend to prefer heavier, thicker and warmer covers? Or do you prefer lighter more cooling duvets?
What are Sleeping Bag Liners For?
A sleeping bag liner can be a great way to add an extra layer of insulation to an existing sleeping bag. They can also help to protect the inside of your sleeping bag from dirt and keep the padded insulation dry and warm.
Equally, in hotter weather or when camping during summer months, you can use a sleeping bag liner to sleep in if you get too warm using your insulated sleeping bag.
Sleeping bag liners are generally made of cotton or silk, they can add an extra layer of warmth and comfort to your sleeping bag. They are popular with backpackers as they can offer an easy and light way to increase heat and stay warm. Most sleeping bag liners can be washed in the same way you would wash a pillow case and will dry much faster than if you washed your entire sleeping bag whilst out and about.
Ben at BestCampingProducts.co.uk once camped out in a storm under a bivouac fashioned from Canadian Canoes and tarpulin next to the raging river Wye because a fellow camping family forgot their tent on canoe and camping trip. Mental scars now eased, Ben still enjoys roughing it on a wild camping trip, mountain exploration with tent packed up or summer getaways to campsites conveniently located next to beaches.