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Sleeping Bags - Buying Guide

What is a Sleeping Bag?

A sleeping bag, for those of you who have been living under a rock, simply put is a person-sized bag, which is lined, to keep you warm. There are various styles and sizes of sleeping bag, ideal for all manner of outdoor expeditions.

What type of camper are you?

There’s plenty of different types of campers, and naturally there are sleeping bags tailored to fit into each camper’s needs.

Before committing to a purchase, it is a good idea to decide what are you going to use your sleeping bag for now, and in the future. This will give you a better idea of which type of bag to select to suit your needs. Choosing a sleeping bag should be a relatively simple affair:

  1. Understand the purpose of your sleeping bag. Is it to go up a mountain or for a simple festival weekend.
  2. Decide on the sleeping bag shape.
  3. Check the Temperature Ratings conform to your needs.

Types of Sleeping Bag

There are many different types of sleeping, from lightweight to mountain sleeping bags, see some of our specific types we sell below, and who they typically fit for.

Lightweight

A lightweight sleeping bag is designed to be light in weight, weighing as little as 300 grams, and compact in pack size. The perfect combination for cyclists, backpackers, or people travelling with their sleeping bag on their back or in their rucksack. Lightweight sleeping bags are typically narrower and smaller, to cut the pack size, so be sure to check if you are tall, that the sleeping bag will be long enough for you.

Lightweight Sleeping Bag

Ideal for: Cyclists, Backpackers, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme Goers, Scouts

Great Examples of Lightweight bags
  • Vango Ultralite 900
  • Vango Cobra Sleeping Bag

See all Lightweight Sleep Bags

Adventure

This is your low season, every day sleeping bag, used at home for sleep overs, or for festival use or adventure camping in the Summer time. It is the sleeping bag you have in the cupboard, that you wouldn’t take up Mount Everest, but is perfectly reliable for a summer camping experience.

Vango Nitestar Sleep Bag

Ideal For: Home-use, Summer Camping, Festivals

Great Examples of Adventure Sleep Bags

  • Outwell Contour Lux
  • Vango Nitestar Range

Family

Family campers who are using their car for transport, prefer softer-feeling sleeping bags which more natural fabrics like cotton, which have a larger, heavier pack size.

family sleeping bags

Ideal For: Home-use, Summer Camping, Family camping

Great Examples of Family Sleeping Bags

  • Vango Aurora
  • Outwell Camper Lux
  • Outwell Camper Supreme

Technical

There are also sleeping bags for more adventurous camps, such as mountain ascents, where a more technical product is required. Usually these will have a small pack size, but will use top end fabrics and insulation, such as goose down. This will make the bag warmer, but will have a more compact pack size. Furthermore, the backpacking sleeping bags we sell, often feature mesh panels over the face, for those in warmer climates, where there are biting insects and mosquitos.

Ideal For: Mountain Climbing, Lightweight Backpackers, Travellers

Examples of Technical Sleeping Bags

  • Force 10 Vulcan Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag Formats & Shapes

We have cut our sleeping bag collection into four simple styles, to help you choose a little easier, which is correct for you.

Mummy 

The mummy sleeping bag is the most traditional style of sleeping bag. Aptly named, the mummy sleeping bag - as it is contoured and tapered around the shape of your body, which will help trap your body heat to keep you warm. 

Advantages:

  • Often Warmer than square or rectangular sleeping bags.
  • Lighter in weight as they use less material.
  • Smaller pack size.
  • Mummy sleeping bags usually feature a hood to provide warmth to the shoulders and head.

Disadvantages:

  • Can feel claustrophobic as they constrict space.
  • Cannot convert into a duvet

See all Mummy Sleeping Bags

Square

Square sleeping bags have become highly popular, born from those who are not particularly fond of the mummy sleeping bags. Often, campers find mummy sleeping bags constricting, therefore the square bag is more ideal for people who prefer more space whilst they sleep. Rectangular bags are not tapered, and often do not feature a full hood.

Advantages:

  • Offer more space
  • Ideal for summer or adventure camping.
  • Zip runs all the way to bottom of bag, which means the sleeping bag can convert into duvet.

Disadvantages:

  • Often feel cooler as the air has more entry points compared to a mummy bag.
  • Larger pack size due to additional fabric and lining.

Double

A double sleeping bag offers space to sleep two people, or two people and a small child. Perfect for couples who prefer to sleep in the same bed, and not independently.

Advantages

  • Allow partners to share a sleeping bag, with their own space.
  • Usually have independent zips either side of the bag.
  • Can usually be separated into two sleeping bags.
  • Can be more cost effective than buying two sleeping bags.

Disadvantages

  • Can be colder than a single mummy sleeping bag.
  • Large pack size

XL

XL sleeping bags are longer and wider than regular sized sleeping bags. Ideal for those who are taller, or wider than a regular sized person, and often won't fit into a regular sleeping bag. Also XL sleeping bags are really great if you prefer more sleeping space.

Advantages:

  • Longer and wider for larger people.
  • Offer more sleeping space.

Disadvantages:

  • Larger pack size.
  • Heavier weight due to extra fabric.

Temperature Ratings / Seasonal Rating

Temperature or seasonal ratings, are the most important factor in the choice of the sleeping bag. You don't want to be caught out cold (literally)! On the flip side, you don't want to choose a sleeping bag too warm for your intended use. See the bag's ratings, which are usually on the bag itself. Do not mistake the ratings, and ensure you pick a bag off the comfort rating.

Comfort

The comfort rating of the sleeping bag is the one you should pay attention too. This is the most realistic temperature that the sleeping bag is designed to be used in. This, as the name suggests, is the temperature you will feel the most comfortable in.

Limit

The limit rating is the maximum you should push using the sleeping bag too. Surpassing the limit will just end up with a poor night's sleep.

Extreme

The extreme temperature, should never be used in theory. The extreme is the absolute lowest temperature you will make it through the night in the sleeping bag. The sleeping bag will save your life, but you should never aim to use a sleeping bag in the extreme temperatures. It is a last-resort scenario.

Tog

Some people still measure warmth in tog. The higher the tog, the warmer the sleeping bag.

Seasonal Rating

  • 1 Season - Ideal for Summer Nights
  • 2 Season- Ideal for Warm Spring and Regular Summer Nights
  • 3 Season - Ideal for Spring, Summer and Autumn, not for minus temperatures.
  • 4-5 Season - ideal for frost and snowy weather.

Further Sleeping Bag Information

If you haven't found enough information, please see further details below, such as types of internal filling, technical jargon and more.

Insulation / Filling Type

Synthetic

Synthethic insulation is typically polyester material, in different weights. Synthetic insulation is a good choice if you might encounter wet conditions, as it is quick drying. However it is bulkier, so this type of insulation will make the sleeping bag have a larger pack size.

Down

Down feathers are lightweight, effective and brilliant if you are a lightweight camper. This helps those who need a small pack size, warm sleeping bag. The drawback of down is that if it gets wet, it will lose its insulating properties. Furthermore, it is much more expensive than regular synthetic insulation.

Technical Jargon

Mind boggled by the confusing jargon often used by manufacturers, here's a guide to some of the jargon and icons.

  • Zip Side - refers to the side the zipper is located on. You would choose this, based on being inside the sleeping bag on your back.
  • Auto-locking zips - these are zips, which will not open if you turn over in your sleep. A cheaper zip will just open when your turn in your sleep.
  • Box Construction - To help stop cold air penetrating the bag, the sleeping bag is split into boxes by seams, with insulation filling each box. The boxes lies between the inner lining and the outer shell.
  • Double Off-set Construction - this means the sleeping bag has two layers - which are off-set so the seams do not match. This stops cold air getting into the bag, and makes a huge difference to the warmth of the sleeping bag.
  • Season Rating - the amount of seasons throughout the year the sleeping bag can be used in.

Great Brands

  • Vango
  • Outwell 
  • Robens
  • Force 10
  • Snugpak

FAQ’s

Why don’t kids sleeping bags have a temperature rating?

Sleeping bags are tested in the EU, in accordance to temperature ratings. This is to help consumers decipher whether the sleeping bag will be warm enough. However, its not ethical to test children in this manner, as often it involves using the sleeping bag in cold conditions. This is why often you will not see temperature ratings on children's sleeping bags.

Is it bad to buy a goose down sleeping bag?

Over the years, there has been a lot of negative press regarding the use of goose down, due to poor standards and force feeding of gooses in factory conditions. However, in more recent years, there is ethically sourced down, which has entered the market. Be sure to check your sleeping bag (if down) advertises that the goose down is ethically sourced.

Categories: Buying Guides