How to Choose an Appropriate Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag is one of the most essential camping gear items. It is a layer between your body and ground that keeps you warm during the night. You might get confused by the temperature ratings and seasons mentioned on the sleeping bags. These ratings and seasons are mentioned there for a reason. And the reason is the level of warmth they provide to you. If you are not aware of them, you might purchase a wrong sleeping bag. So, we’ll guide you about the sleeping bag ratings and the seasons, so that you can pick the appropriate sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating

You’ll see the temperature ratings on the sleeping bags, including upper limits, lower limits, comfort ratings, and extreme temperatures. Let us get into the detail of these ratings.

Upper limits: It is the highest temperature at which a ‘standard man’ sleeps comfortably without sweating.

Comfort rating: It is the temperature at which a ‘standard woman’ sleeps comfortably at night.

Lower limit: The lowest temperature at which a 'standard man’ is deemed to be able to sleep comfortably at night without waking.

Extreme temperature: It is the minimum temperature at which a ‘standard woman’ can have a night’s sleep for 6 hours without suffering from hypothermia.

Which one to choose?

Choose a sleeping bag with a comfort rating above the upper and lower ratings. The comfort rating sleeping bags remove the requirement of additional blankets and provide you the required warmth for a restful sleep.

If it has an upper rating, you’ll start feeling warm in it, whereas if the temperature reaches the lower limit, you’ll start feeling cold. They should try to avoid the sleeping bags with extreme ratings as you’re likely to suffer from hypothermia.

Sleeping Bag Seasons

The sleeping bags have seasons mentioned on them that help in buying the right one according to the seasons in which you are planning to camp.

Unfortunately, they don’t nicely work according to the actual seasons. We have explained the sleeping bag seasons below.

1 Season sleeping bags: These are the compact and lightweight sleeping bags that are great for using in the summer months or when camping in European countries.

2 Season sleeping bags: These sleeping bags are ideal for a family camping in late spring to early autumn.

3 Season sleeping bags: If you are planning to camp in early spring to late autumn or mild winter evening. These sleeping bags are recommended for you as you’ll feel warm on a cold night and not too cold on milder evenings.

4 Season sleeping bags: These are the thick sleeping bags which are insulated enough for use on winter nights when temperatures can fall to -10 degrees.

Which one to choose?

The 1 Season sleeping bags are ideal to use on warm summer nights and are comparatively cheaper.

If you are camping in the summer season, a 2 Season sleeping bag is ideal for you as the summer nights in the UK might not be warm every night.

If you want to camp in the half term of May school or in late September, choose the 3-season sleeping bag.

If any of your family members feel the cold, pick a 4-season sleeping bag. An ordinary 4 season sleeping bag can be bulky unless you invest in an expensive one.

It is a great idea to take a printout of the sleeping bag and ratings to refer them while purchasing at the shop. There are a few shops which offer you with sleeping bags that are not designed for cooler nights but look warm. You should analyse the requirements and invest accordingly.


Chris shares his passion for cycling, hiking, skiing, and climbing from Buxton, in the Peak District. As a blogger for Outdoor Look, Chris shares outdoor tips and indoor tricks to help you get the most out of your time spent outside. When he's not out adventuring he's making videos or trying to keep up with his 4-year-old son.

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