Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps?

Sleeping bag 12 steps Quick Guide by

Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps?

Enjoying a blissful night’s sleep during your camping period will require that you have the proper gear selected to avoid any discomfort.. 

This means selecting the perfect sleeping bag as it can be a key to whether you enjoy or perhaps are not a fan of outdoor camping.  You need to make sure you go for a warm, comfortable and a light sleeping bag. Therefore, you must spend some time evaluating your sleeping bag options.


In this Post:

  • 12 steps when selecting your Sleeping Bag
  • Temperature Ratings
  • Insulation Material/ Fill
  • Shape
  • Rectangular shape
  • These are the rectangular shaped sleeping bags
  • Semi-Rectangular
  • Which should you select?

12 steps when selecting your Sleeping Bag

  1. Temperature Ratings
  2. Insulation Material/ Fill
  3. Shape
  4. Shell
  5. Lining
  6. Transportation
  7. Baffles
  8. Pillow Pocket
  9. Zips
  10. Hoods
  11. Draft Collar
  12. Accessories

1.     Temperature Ratings

The temperature rating of a sleeping bag helps identify the minimum temperature the bag will keep an individual warm. Having knowledge or an estimation of the temperatures at the camping site will be important in helping you choose the perfect sleeping bag for you. Provided below is a table listing temperature ratings for various types of sleeping bags.

Sleeping Bag type Temperature rating
Summer +30 °F (-1 °C)   and higher
All seasons +15°F  ( -10 °C)  to +30°
winter +15°F  ( -10 °C) and lower

The right temperature rating for your sleeping bag

When choosing a sleeping bag, select one whose rating falls below the expected lowest temperature you expect to encounter while camping. For example, for near-freezing temperatures, a sleeping bag with a rating of 20°F ( ( -6°C) rather than one with a 35°F ( -2 °C) rating.

Here are some of the essential information required in furthering comprehension about temperature ratings attached to sleeping bags.

A sleeping bag’s temperature rating does not guarantee warmth: A sleeping bag is not the sole determinant of your warmth while camping. Other requirements come into play, such as the weather, body metabolism, the tent and a sleeping pad among others.

Both EN and ISO temperature ratings can be used in carrying out a comparison between two sleeping bags. While EN and ISO are standardized tests whose usage span across different times, there exists no significant difference between them.

2.     Insulation Material/ Fill

The material used to insulate the sleeping bag is also a key factor to consider when choosing the right sleeping bag for you. In this step, you will want to consider the loft of the sleeping bag. This is the height achieved by the insulation when the bag is opened. A much higher loft will mean a warmer bag.

Cotton fill: Sleeping bags with cotton fill are cozy and are perfect for use in warm conditions. However, this type of fill can give a very unpleasant experience when it comes into contact with water. The cotton will absorb and retain the water and will end up becoming cold, heavy and soggy. Additionally, cotton-filled sleeping bags are not good for backpacking due to weight and the lack of compression for easy carry.

Synthetic fill: Sleeping bags with synthetic fills are composed of strong polyester filaments, which help with heat retention even when wet. Sleeping bags with this fill have a good loft but lacks enough compressibility to store in your backpack.

Down fill: Sleeping bags with a down fill are composed of tiny feathers with numerous tiny air pockets, which help in keeping them warm. While this type of fill comes with a very luxurious feel, it lacks heat retention capabilities when wet. Sleeping bags filled with down fill are easy to pack since they occupy less space and have the best loft.

3.     Shape

Your body heat is responsible for keeping your sleeping bag warm. The body heat warms the dead air between your body and the sleeping bag, making a barrier between the cold ground and you. Having a small space in your sleeping bag means that you will get warm quickly. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the shape of your sleeping bag leaves minimal space, which will get you the warmest feel. Available sleeping bag shapes in the market

Mummy Shaped Sleeping bags are characterized by a tapering shape as you move from the shoulder towards the legs.

Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps? -

Rectangular shaped sleeping bags, square shaped.

Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps? -

Semi-Rectangular Sleeping bags are characterized by a similar shape to the mummy-shaped sleeping bags but have less tapering.

Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps? -

Selection charateristics






Increased flexibility due to plenty of space


Takes a while before getting warm due to the increased air space



Gets warm fast due to the limited airspace inside the bag

Little space


Has a more wriggle room

Takes a while before getting warm when compared to the mummy shape


 4.     Shell

The shell is the material used on the outer side of the sleeping bag and is a key factor to consider when choosing the right sleeping bag. A sleeping bag’s shell can be either waterproof or water repellent, while others are made up of breathable material. Waterproof sleeping bags are the best but will cost more. The best sleeping bag is one with a down fill and a waterproof shell.

5.     Lining

Sleeping bags are lined with either fleece, flannel, or silk taffeta and the choice will depend on the type of usage the sleeping bag will be put into.

Fleece: sleeping bags lined with fleece are the best for use in extra-cold conditions. You can also acquire an extra liner to increase the sleeping bag warmth with 5 – 10 degrees. Additionally, you can use the liner alone when camping in areas with warmer night-time temperatures.

Flannel: This liner is mainly used in waterproof sleeping bags as it does not hold water.

Silk: This is the best choice for lining material as it is strong, comfortable, natural, and absorbs large amounts of water without having the wet feeling associated with cotton.

6.     Transportation

Before acquiring a sleeping bag, you must figure out how you will be transporting – carry it. If you are camping in a car, a heavy and comfortable sleeping bag might be for you. If you are hiking, trailing, or traveling by foot, it is helpful that the sleeping bag is light to reduce the overall load weight. 

However, you can also opt for a compression sack, which helps with squishing the sleeping bag to a much smaller size and making it easier to carry. You should make sure the compression sack is waterproof and has straps and buckles, which are used to fasten to your backpack on the outside.

7.     Baffle

Baffles are the seams, which run across the sleeping bag and help with the compartmentalization of the insulation. Ensure they are securely sewn as poorly done baffles can greatly reduce the life span and the duration of your sleeping bag. The baffles ensure that the fill used does not shift around, leaving some cold spots, which affect your sleep and comfort.

8.     Pillow Pocket

Having a pillow pocket in your sleeping bag makes it easy when stuffing clothes you wish to use as a pillow or slipping a camping pillow into position.

9.     Zippers

Zippers are key in opening and closing the sleeping bag for purposes of controlling temperature.  Right, and left-hand zips: These make the process of unzipping the sleeping bag from the inside much easier. While there are sleeping bags with zips on both sides for one-sided zipped sleeping bags, choose one where the zip is on the opposite side of your leading hand. For example, a left-handed person will choose the right hand zipped bag.


Essential Sleeping Bag Selection Steps? -

Zipper baffles: since the heat in a sleeping bag can be lost through the zipped area, it’s advised you settle for one that has an insulated zipper baffle.

10. Hoods

During camping, you want most parts of your body covered, including your head. Therefore, having a hood in your sleeping bag with a drawcord will ensure the hood remains fasted tight on your face for warmth retention.

11. Draft Collar

A sleeping bag with an insulated draft collar is useful in retaining body heat in the bag and that areas such as the neck and shoulders remain warm.

12. Accessories

While choosing the best sleeping bag is the most crucial task here, there is a need to take into consideration, few additions aimed at improving and increasing comfort. They include:

Travel pillows: These are much small and light compared to standard pillows, therefore ideal to acquire one for use with your sleeping bag. Sleeping mats: These are placed under the sleeping bags and insulate you from the ground when you are sleeping out

About us

We are Arthur and Eileen and passionate about hiking and camping. Over the past years, we have had many great trips, together with our dog Stippy . We have learned a lot about the practical “need to know’s” and investigated many different camping topics to better understand.

All we have learned and know will be posted on this website. We will continue to update the website on a regular basis with new interesting Outdoor Topics!

We hope this information will help you with an even better Outdoor Sleeping Experience.

Comfortable on your Outdoor Trips!

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