Choosing a sleeping bag requires one to make a choice in a couple of different areas. The two primary considerations are whether you will be packing your bag via a backpack, and secondly, what temperature conditions will bag need to cover you against. We will cover these factors in detail, and then we will also discuss factors like fill material preference, shell material preference, shape (mummy or rectangular), and dimensions of the sleeping bag.Check out Best Sleeping Bags for more info.
We will start with a little history of sleeping bags. To the best of my efforts, I have been unable to find evidence of the manufacture of sleeping bags pre- Civil War era. In fact, it appears that the first commercial sleeping bag manufacturer may have started operation in the 1890’s. All of this began in Europe. Prior to the use of sleeping bags, bedrolls were the order of the day.
The first big usage of sleeping bags was by mountaineers. Their sleeping bags were very crude compared to today’s. Obviously the purpose of their sleeping bags was to be light enough to carry and to keep them warm. These kind of considerations are where your choice of a sleeping bag should begin.
Is Weight a Consideration?
I do not want to oversimplify things here, but a good starting point to narrow down choices, is whether or not you need to rule out sleeping bag choices that are too heavy to pack on a backpack. Sleeping bags that weigh as little as two pounds are available, but at a price. The lighter the bag, the harder (and more expensive) it becomes to purchase one with a low temperature rating. If weight is not a factor because you will not be backpacking, your choices expand greatly.
What Temperatures Will Your Bag be Used In?
The purpose of a sleeping bag is to keep you warm. The purpose of camping is to have fun. It is difficult to have a fun and enjoyable time when freezing through the night. I suggest not wasting your money on any sleeping bag that will not keep you warm. So how do you know if sleeping bag will keep you warm?
The problem with ratings used to be that there was no set standard. Recently this has changed. There is now an EN (European Norm) rating system that has made an attempt, and a pretty good one at that, to establish a better and more consistent rating system.. No rating system is without flaws, but this one gets close.
The temperature rating you should look for is the minimum you expect to encounter on the trips you will take. For example a 20 degree bag should keep you comfortable down to that temperature.