Every year millions of people, including myself, venture out into the wilderness to get in touch with the nature. Whether you're car camping, canoeing, long distance biking, or backpacking, you want to sleep comfortably after a long day. The sleeping bag is by far the key piece of gear that will allow you to get a good night's rest. It is a guarantee that you will be spending at least one third of your time in the wilderness in a sleeping bag, which is a clear reason to really invest time into picking one.
Sleeping bags come in all shapes and sizes, from mummy bags that fit you snuggly to bags made for two people. No matter your body type there is a sleeping to fit you. Sleeping bags choices are divided by three categories, temperature, shape, and materials.
The very first question you need to ask yourself is where you are planning on using the sleeping bag. All sleeping bags utilize an "EN" temperature comfort rating. This temperature rating is also determined in static conditions with the use of a sleeping pad underneath the sleeping bag. As a general rule of thumb women sleep warmer throughout the night, so there temperature rating is going to be a few degrees lower than the stated comfort rating. Another thing to consider is that although your bag may be rated at a certain temperature, you can always layer up before getting in it to bump up that rating.
If you are primarily going to be camping in the summer months that will not go below 35 degrees at night, then a one season (summer bag) sleeping bag will perform fine.
If you will be camping or using the sleeping bag from early spring into late autumn, then a bag rated to +10 to +35 degrees will work depending on your climate. These bags are called three-season bags.
Lastly if you think that you will be sleeping in conditions colder than +10 degrees then a dedicated cold weather bag is for you.
Sleeping Bag Shapes
Sleeping bags come in an assortment of sizes and shapes. Some of the most popular styles of bags are Mummy bags and Rectangular bags. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Mummy bags get their name from the way they hug your body closely and have a hood for your head. Because these bags have a hood and hug your body closely they will
Keep in more of your body's radiant heat, which will keep you warmer throughout the night.
One of the disadvantages of the Mummy bag is that there is not a lot of room to move around while you're sleeping. This can have some people feeling quite claustrophobic.
Rectangular bags are more of the traditional style bag that we all grew up with as a kid. They lack the hood and are far looser fitting than the mummy bag. These bags are usually the "go to" bag for summer camping because they allow greater range of movement and are not as hot as mummy bags.
The disadvantage to this style is that during colder temperature roughly 33% of your body's heat is lost through your head. Since this bag does not have a hood and doesn't hug your body tightly then you will lose more body heat.