Sleeping Bag Buying Guide

The right sleeping bag can make the difference between a great night’s sleep and poor one. This sleeping bag buying guide will help you choose the best sleeping bag for your needs.

Sleeping Bags 101

With so many features to consider, selecting a sleeping bag to meet your needs takes a bit of research. The key factors to consider are warmth, comfort, durability and price. You should try to choose a sleeping bag that's rated for all the temperatures you expect to encounter. It's also important to consider how and when you'll use your bag; whether it's atop an air mattress on a summer camping trip, or roughing it on a winter hiking adventure in the mountains. Whatever your journey, your sleeping bag will be the most valuable piece of camping equipment you take with you.

Types of Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags all perform the same function so the main differentiator is shape, with choices ranging from mummy to rectangular and semi-rectangular. Mummy bags are wide at the shoulders and taper off through the legs and feet. They deliver the most warmth because their close fit helps retain body heat. Rectangular bags have a classic rectangular shape that makes them roomy, but not as thermally efficient. Semi-rectangular bags offer a tailored fit similar to, but less confining than, a mummy bag. A semi-rectangular bag is a good choice if you need to move around at night but require more warmth than that offered by a rectangular bag.

Sleeping Bag Buying Tips:

• Make sure the bag has a strong zipper that can stand up to rough handling
• Bag with zipper flaps retain heat more effectively
• Bags with full-length zippers can be opened up and used as comforters
• A bag with a removable liner can be used year-round and is easier to clean
• If you go camping with your partner, consider buying a double sleeping bag
• Some models allow you to zip together to bags to create a double sleeping bag
• Some bags have pockets for storing items such as flashlights, iPods and wallets
• A bag with a no-skid bottom is less likely to slip off an air mattress

Features

Hoods, Collars & Yokes +

Basic rectangular sleeping bags are great for keeping your body warm in cold weather but leave your head and neck to fend for themselves. Fortunately, the more form-fitting models offer a number of practical features that retain the heat in your upper regions. Hoods with cinch cords or Velcro straps are key to preventing heat loss around the back and sides of your head and neck, while collars and yokes help insulate the front neck area.

Foot Room +

Mummy bags feature a square-shaped foot box that allows your feet to assume natural positions. Other bags such as less-tailored semi-rectangular bags have a foot oval, which offers a similar benefit. Extra insulation in the foot box or oval helps keep your toes toasty.

Zippers and Draft Tubes +

There's nothing worse than snuggling into your sleeping bag only to find your zipper won't work. A zipper guard helps prevent the zipper from snagging on the bag fabric, which is terribly annoying and could even cause a tear. For additional warmth, some bags feature a draft tube, which is an insulated tube located behind the zipper to prevent heat loss.

Temperature Ratings +

When shopping for your sleeping bag, you should try to choose a bag designed for the full range of temperature conditions you expect to encounter. Sleeping bags are categorized as summer season, three-season, cold weather and winter. Most sleeping bags have a temperature rating between -10°C and 10°C. Keep in mind that sleeping bag ratings assume the use of a pad to help insulate the sleeping bag from the cold ground.

Insulation +

Sleeping bags are insulated with either down or a synthetic material. Ounce for ounce, down is warmer and packs well (a great advantage for backpackers), but it's more expensive than synthetic insulation. Polyester is the most common form of synthetic insulation used in sleeping bags. A big advantage of synthetics is that they offer more water resistance than down.

Sleeping Bag Lining +

Your sleeping bag lining will have a big impact on your sleep experience, not to mention your budget. Nylon and polyester are popular options because they're both comfortable and inexpensive. Fleece traps heat efficiently, so it's a good choice for cold-weather camping. Silk is breathable and packs well, but it tears easily. If you put a premium on comfort, you may prefer flannel or cotton for their softness and breathability. Flannel and cotton are also durable, lightweight and easy to clean and repair. However, they should be used only in drier camping situations as they tend to trap moisture.

Kids Sleeping Bags +

Sleeping bags for youth are generally available only in a rectangular shape with a polyester lining. The exterior fabric is often decorated with fun, interesting colour patterns and designs. Like adult sleeping bags, kids' sleeping bags are temperature rated and come with useful features such as zipper guards to prevent snags. Kid's bags are intended for children less than five feet in height.

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Sleeping Bag Storage & Care Tips:

• Your bag should be stored loosely because constant rolling and folding will cause compression and eventual degradation of the filling
• Store your bag in the stuff sack in came with, otherwise keep it in a pillowcase or hanging in a closet
• Sleeping bags should be washed in front-loading washing machines only and hung- dry vs. tumble-dried
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning down-filled sleeping bags
Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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