Do you want your sleeping bag filled with down or synthetic?
When I bought my first sleeping bag I thought the only difference was the price. However, there are some key differences between the two fillings.
One important difference, as I mentioned earlier, is price. If you are trying to stay budget-friendly, you should look at synthetic insulation.
Most of this type of insulation is made from polyester, a material that I find dries quickly and even insulates when wet.
If I plan on sleeping under the stars, I usually pack my synthetic bag.
Unfortunately down doesn’t stand up well to a high degree of ruggedness.
The best quality of a down sleeping bag is how small it can be compressed. I find this is great for backpacking when size really counts!
There are two different types of down currently available on the market: regular goose-down and water-resistant goose-down.
The only difference is the feathers in the latter are treated to resist moisture.
If you will be in any situation where water might be an issue, I would either go with synthetic or water-resistant goose feathers.
Will you be using your sleeping bag primarily for backpacking or camping?
I have found that is the best way to decide what shaped bag you need.
The following is a quick rundown of all 5:
This is the shape of most bags designed only for camping. Rectangular bags where first and foremost designed with your comfort in mind.
In my opinion, these are the best sleeping bags for sleepovers, summer camp, and family camping trips.
They can be opened fully and used as a blanket, or you can join two together and have a couple’s bag!
I think the best backpacking sleeping bag is the mummy. Mummy bags are among the lightest in the market.
Even though the name sounds funny, there is a logical reason behind the mummy shape. The smaller shoulder and hip width is intended to keep you warm, while saving on weight.
My backpacking bag is a mummy rated to +10, and it has kept me warm in below zero temperatures. Unfortunately, mummy bags can feel restricting and are therefore not right for everyone.
Also known as barrel-shaped, this sleeping bag is a mix between the rectangular and the mummy bag. These types of bags taper a bit at the bottom to keep your feet warm, but keep a rectangular top.
You can usually unzip these bags into a blanket and they may sometimes come with a hood like the mummy sleeping bag. I have found this bag is good for both camping and backpacking.
These sleeping bags are best for car camping, and can usually be unzipped to create two individual bags.
When you lay on your back in your mummy bag, you compress the fill underneath you rendering it almost useless.
It is known some in the ultra light backpacking world are using these bags. They are literally backless sleeping bags.