When it comes to reseraching a sleeping bag, it comes down to a balance of a few different things. The main components to look for are overall comfort, season rating, material size when packed.
With thousands of sleeping bags available on the market it's no wonder that we sometimes get confused about which ones are the best. Our Sleeping Bag selection guide page will give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about choosing your ideal sleeping bag by giving you the filtering options that give you the criteria that you are looking for to drill down to your particular preference.
Once you have made your comparisons and improved your knowledge, then we have hand selected the best products for you to choose from and finally do a cost comparison.
What to look for in your Sleeping Bag Comparison
Use the breakdown of criteria below to keep these vital points in mind when looking at cost against the features offered.
Sounds straight forward but this is probably one of the primary considerations when choosing your perfect sleeping bag. Sleeping bags tend to come in 2 specific shapes, both of which have their own unique advantages.
Square Sleeping Bags
These are often considered the most basic variant of sleeping bag due to them having been on the market the longest. They have a few great advantages over other types of sleeping bags though which make them a personal favourite for many.
With a square sleeping bag, you can easily move around, allowing for a more natural night’s sleep. They tend to be a lot less constrictive than other types of bag, and without a hood they also allow you to use a pillow with ease. Another fantastic feature is that most square sleeping bags have is that they can be adjoined to one another to create “double” sleeping bags.
One of the biggest advantages with these types are the basic cost of what is a basic item. Easy to manufacture in the rectangular shape mean cheap labour cost leaving it basically down to the material to make up the remainder and this is where price can really go from rock-bottom polyester-based right up to pure woven cotton sleeping bags that will of course command a higher price due to the nature of weaving the matrial but ending with a high-end product which may be kinder to any skin which may be prone to irritation.
Mummy Sleeping Bags
These have grown massively in popularity since they were first introduced into the market. With a tapered bottom and a hood, these sleeping bags are designed to encase your whole body which means that the overall experience is a lot more snug than a square sleeping bag and this leads to the warmth being more easily sustained throughout the night as the close fit traps the warm air that your body is generating.
Specialist Sleeping Bags
Not only are there the conventional sleeping bags that we have mentioned above but there are also some bespoke varieties available:
Extra wide sleeping bags allow you the comfort of a single sleeping bag but with that extra bit of room for manoeuvrability
Double sleeping bags allow you to snuggle up under the stars with that someone special and children’s sleeping bags are available for all ages and sizes for when you take the kids camping. When choosing your initial shape, compare sleeping in a tent, say, with how you like to sleep at home.
Question 1. - Are you someone that needs manoeuvrability because you toss and turn in your sleep?
Question 2. - Do you often wake up in the position you fell asleep in?
Question 3. - If you need room to move then a square sleeping bag is likely your best bet, if you are fine to be enclosed then a mummy sleeping bag is the one for you.
Warmth and Sleeping Bags
Following on from the comfort factor is warmth. Aside from shape there are a number of things that can make a sleeping bag warmer compared to another style of bag. Your first consideration needs to be:
"How much warmth you actually need?"
This may seem like an odd question, but if you’re camping during the summer months or in a location where the temperature remains warm throughout the night, purchasing a warm sleeping bag can ruin your sleep. Here are some things to look out for:
Compare Seasonal Ratings
Most good quality sleeping bags are made with a specific season in mind. If you are camping during the winter, then make sure you’re purchasing a winter sleeping bag. If you’re planning your trips during the warmer summer months, then aim to purchase a lighter build of summer sleeping bag.
Seasonal sleeping bags tend to come in numerical order, ranging from the lightweight one season sleeping bag to the heavy duty 5 season sleeping bags designed for extremely cold environments (the type that would be used on arctic expeditions).
Lined Sleeping Bags.
Some sleeping bags provide an additional layer of warmth by having a secondary lining inside. These are fantastic sleeping bags for taking away on colder expeditions and locations where the temperature plummets during the night. See our section on Materials further down to get an insight into the best type of lining.
As mentioned above; if warmth is a consideration then a mummy sleeping bag is likely to provide that extra bit of comfort because it is designed to be more insular than the traditional square sleeping bag.
If space is one of your main criteria in camparing sleeping bags then the extra wide style would be a wiser choice. The main shapes of sleeping bags are :
- Envelope (Basic rectangle
- Extra Wide (Pod-Type)
Compare by Ease of Use
Sleeping bags can be a breeze to use or an absolute nightmare. Look at reviews from other users to find out if people had difficulty packing away the bag, if the zip had broken, or if there was a tear after a few uses.
A good quality sleeping bag should be easy to use, pack away compactly and be robust enough to weather day to day use. If your camp is somewhere a little more demanding or extreme then it is absolutely vital you get some user feedback about the sleeping bags under heavier conditions, otherwise you could end up in a very serious situation with a poor-quality sleeping bag.
Comparison of Sleeping Bag Materials
This is perhaps the single most overlooked factor when purchasing a sleeping bag. It can also make the difference between a middle of the range sleeping bag and a great sleeping bag.
Here are 3 materials to look for and why you should (or shouldn’t) pick a bag constructed of them:
- Synthetic Materials – Insulation for sleeping bags is normally one of two types, Synthetic or Down. Synthetic sleeping bags tend to be great all round sleeping bags that are affordable, easy to use and clean and robust in most camping environments. The downfall of synthetic bags compared to their counterparts is that they tend not to retain heat as well and can depending on build quality be not as long lasting.
- Down Sleeping Bags – Sleeping bags can be lined with down in much the same way as your bedding at home is lined with it. Down sleeping bags tend to be warmer and more comfortable, but they also tend to carry a higher price tag, so if budget is a concern then be prepared for this.
- Wool Lining/Fleece Lining – Rarest of the materials so far is fleece-lined sleeping bags. These can be incredibly warm and comfortable and fantastic value for money, however, if they are not made well and water gets in, fleece or wool absorbs it like a sponge! Water can make for a very unpleasant sleeping bag experience. As a bonus tip, most sleeping bags will be made externally of:
Some are made of a combination of more than one material. This is because they make affordable, easily washable and lightweight sleeping bags suitable for most everyday camping scenarios. Specialist expedition sleeping bags will have different materials to insulate from the top layer down.
If your camping style involves chilling out around a fire pit, you might want to consider a Selk Bag Sleeping Bag Suit. The SelkBag is a funky, fresh and fun way to keep very warm and have the freedon to walkabout if you need to. They really are a revolutionary way of enjoying the outdoor life when the evenings cool down.
Now you know exactly what to look for when comparing the range of sleeping bags around today and at extreme opposites of the scale in terms of price, have a look at our amazing sleeping bag selection, we have a bag for every budget and every taste, with fantastic prices offered by ourselves Planet Camping and the companies with whom we are affiliated.