How to Choose the Proper Sleeping Bag
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
For anyone looking at purchasing or updating their sleeping bag, it may seem like the choices are endless. You may be asking, "which sleeping bag style, temperature and features should I be looking for?" Don't worry, we've all asked these same questions ourselves.
This article will attempt to break down the most common questions and give you a peak at the products we offer to help make your sleep 1000% better on your next camping trip.
Sleeping Bag Styles
Perhaps you didn't know, but sleeping bags have styles. We aren't saying they'll be on the runway at the next Victoria Secret show, but their shape and design are important to consider when choosing an option that best suits your needs and camping expectations.
Some bags are designed for summer sleeping while others cater to those looking for three or four season camping excursions. The two most common shapes (or styles) of sleeping bags are the "Mummy" and the "Envelope".
Mummy Sleeping Bags - Cold Weather Option
Mummy sleeping bags are characterized by their shape. Think of an ancient Egyptian mummy, resting peacefully in its sarcophagus. Know the shape I'm referring to? Well, that is the shape of the bag. The bag mimics the shape of our body - with a narrow head, wide shoulders and tapering mid and lower body.
These bags are designed to help keep heat in, but sacrifice space as a result. Some people find these bags too restrictive for warmer weather, so consider that in your purchase. So why are these good for cold weather camping? Having less space around your body means less air pockets where cold air can get trapped. Keeping the bag as close to your body as possible will help reflect your own body heat back toward your body - keeping your warmer.
Mummy sleeping bags tend to be ultralight as they are (typically) filled with high-grade insulation such as down-feathers. With this type of insulation, you'll likely find the price tag much steeper compared with conventional Envelope style bags, but having a premium insulation will be worth it if you plan on camping in all 4 seasons.
Envelope Sleeping Bags - Spring, Summer and Fall
Don't get us wrong, mummy sleeping bags can be used all year round, but as all professionals will tell you, having options is your best bet for achieving the best possible sleep. I mean think about it - you wouldn't want to contend with the summer heat using a sleeping bag geared for cold weather camping, just as you wouldn't want just a summer bag for a cold fall night.
Envelope sleeping bags are your "traditional" style sleeping bag. Rectangular in shape, these sleeping bags are typically heavier, bulkier, but roomier than the mummy style. Lots of space means you can roll, cuddle and stretch out. Most envelope style bags also allow you to unzip them fully, and when combined with another bag, can offer couples a "double" sleeping bag - allowing you to share a space.
Envelope Sleeping bags can be filled with a wide range of fill including natural and synthetic materials. Cotton, polyester, or nylon are some of the most common types of sleeping bag fill for envelope style bags. These varying types of fill will provide varying levels of cold protection. Be sure to double check your desired temperature range prior to purchasing.
Temperature Ratings - What is the True Rating?
Ever buy a sleeping bag rated for one temperature, use it for that rating, and wake up freezing? Yeah, us too.
Regardless of which style of sleeping bag you'll choose, you'll need to consider the circumstances in which you plan on camping in. Temperature control is one of the most important, and manageable parts of your sleeping experience.
When it comes to temperatures and sleeping bags, one size does NOT fit all. Know your body type and tolerance to the cold for the best sleeping experience.
When looking at a sleeping bag temperature rating, you'll often come across two numbers - the comfort rating, and the survival rating
Most manufacturers will only place ONE rating however, and it typically reflects the latter. For example, if you see a sleeping bag with a rating of 0 to 5 degrees, chances are, it will only keep you feeling warm in temperatures of 10 degrees or warmer. When the temperature drops below this point, you'll typically find you'll wake up in the night cold, but you'll still get through the night.
When choosing a sleeping bag, add about 10 degrees C to the listed temperature rating for a more "true" rating, ensuring you a more comfortable sleep.
FE Active Sleeping Bags
FE Active offers two variations of sleeping bags - one for the summer an the other for the off-season. Having two specialized sleeping bags awards you to the opportunity to pack properly for your particular outing.
Pro Tip: FE Active gear is priced well enough that you can afford to add both items to your camping repertoire without breaking the bank!
Heading out for a mid-summer trip? Don't overpack on warm evenings. Instead, bring the Zeros ultralight sleeping bag. It will keep you comfy and warm without taking up the additional space.
Our Ventura sleeping bag is perfect for those camping in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) or even in the summer if you prefer a more plush sleeping experience. Learn a bit more about each bag below.
380T Nylon Polyester outer lining
Microfiber inner lining
Internal fill is an ultra soft Pongee (a mixture of silk and cotton)
Temperature Rating of 59 F or 15 C
75" (L) x 30" (W)
High end double zippers
210T Ripstop Nylon Polyester outer lining
Pongee (a mixture of silk and cotton) inner lining
Moisture wicking Hollow Cotton Fill
Temperature Rating of 32 F or 0 C
90" (L) x 31" (W)
Head Hood for added warmth and comfort