Finding Your Camping Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag that lets you get comfortable and sleep well is imperative for any camper’s ability to enjoy their trip.

Here are some tips on how to find the best camping sleeping bag for your needs: how to tell if you need one, what to look for when you’re shopping, and how to pick out the one that will fit you. Sort of like shopping for clothes or a bed.

Do I Need A Camping Sleeping Bag?

If you are only RV camping, you probably don’t need a camping sleeping bag.

The only exception is if you like sleeping under a canopy or in a tent when you’re camping, instead of in your RV.

You could sleep in a tent, in a hammock, or under a canopy using regular bedding when you’re camping. This is a low-cost alternative for those on a very limited budget who like to go car or tent camping.

I’ve done it, and during warm weather, it can be a lot of fun.

However, buying a camping sleeping bag can be a useful investment.

The outside of sleeping bags are water-resistant, which can help a lot if it rains when out camping, or you spill something in your tent.

Camping sleeping bags have better insulation than most home bedding. If you want to go camping in cold weather, it’s going to be difficult to pile on enough bedding to keep warm.

Because of this improved insulation, a camping sleeping bag is lighter and takes up a lot less space than normal bedding.

You don’t have to come home after a weekend of camping and wash piles of bedding. You can air out your sleeping bags, roll them up, and be done. I generally wash mine when it gets more than 7 days of use, or you can do what it says on the care guidelines for your particular bags.

If you’re mostly going to be backpacking, you’ll want to buy a backpacking sleeping bag instead. Backpacking sleeping bags are lighter and easier to carry, something you’ll appreciate after many days on the trail!

They also tend to be more expensive, but if you enjoy both backpacking and tent camping, it’s an investment that will give you years of fun and comfort.

What Sort Of Camping Sleeping Bag Do I Need?

This really depends on where your normally go camping. Here are the main considerations.


Sleeping bags are rated by temperature; pick one which is rated about 10 degrees F lower than the temperature you think you’re going to face during your camping trip.

For example, if you’re only going camping in the summer, buying a sleeping bag rated below 30F is going to make you feel too hot and is a needless expense.

On the other hand, trying to save money by buying a 60F rated sleeping bag for camping in the Alps in winter is not only dangerous (hypothermia, anyone?) but won’t give you a proper night’s sleep.

Rectangular Down Camping Sleeping Bag - Big Agnes Lost Ranger

The Big Agnes Lost Ranger is a rectangular, down-filled sleeping bag.


The other consideration is the shape of the bag.

Sleeping bags generally come in two shapes: rectangular and mummy.

The mummy bag fits your body more closely, which some like and others don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with your feet constrained at night, a rectangular sleeping bag might be better for you while camping than a mummy one.

Fill Material

Many sleeping bags are stuffed with down. If you’re allergic to down, you’ll want to avoid those.

There is a wide selection of fill materials, and just as many opinions about which is best.

To start with, stick to a bag which fits your body and is in the temperature range you want.

Specialty Bag Types

You can find sleeping bags for just about any situation, but the double sleeping bag is the most popular.

There are many double bags that zip together or zip apart, giving you a lot of leeway if you’re buying for a family outing.

Buying A Camping Sleeping Bag

You can find camping sleeping bags at any sporting goods store, the sporting goods section of major department stores (such as Super Target and Walmart), and online.

The advantage of buying a sleeping bag in person is that you can get the bag down and try it on in the store to see how it fits you. This is important for buying your first sleeping bag, so you can see how you like a bag to fit. Remember, you’ll be sleeping in this, so go ahead, take off your shoes and get inside.

This is especially important if you have an unusual body shape (very wide or very tall, for example). Make sure the bag will fit before you pay for it.

If you’re buying a new sleeping bag online, you’ll need to know your height and how much space you like in your bag. Read the reviews for how easy it is to zip, and if there’s anything unusual about the bag. A lot of people will go to the store, try the bag on, then take advantage of online sales and discounts.

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