How to Choose the Right Sleeping Bag
When you go out shopping for a sleeping bag, you will notice that they are rated in two different ways. Some will be rated by season, such as 2 season, 3 season or 4 season bags, or they may be rated by temperature such as 20 to 40 degrees, or 0 to minus 10 degrees.
First of all there really is no such thing as a 4 season bag, and a 3 season bag may be possible, but it really would be the same as a 2 season bag, as spring and fall have very similar temperatures. So really your choice would be between a bag that would be suitable for warm to cool weather, or a bag for extremely cold winter camping.
Cold Weather Bags
Many suggestions dictate that for cold weather you need a form fitting mummy bag to keep warm. However, do you really want to get up in the morning and put on a cold jacket and clothing? It makes more sense to have room in your bag to either wear your jacket, or sleep with it inside the bag. Some suggest even having your boots or shoes in the bottom of your bag, along with your camera to keep the lens from fogging. So you will need some room, and a less tapered bag may be more useful. You can always add a blanket or two if your bag isn’t warm enough.
If you are camping in extreme cold, you will have need for a bag that has a hood, face gasket, and collar drapes, to keep your upper body covered and warm. Check the zipper on any bag you consider to see that it has a gusset-type covering, so cold air can’t creep in. Also any bag you purchase needs a way to lock the zipper pull, usually with a velcro tab, so that it will not come unzipped when you move around. A bag for extreme cold would also need to have down insulation, it is much warmer than a synthetic fill. As well as being lighter, it has much more loft (fluffs up and adds air for insulation), and takes up less room, however down will be useless if it gets wet, so take that into consideration.
Cool To Warm Weather Bags
For most uses, a well constructed bag with a zipper covering and good synthetic insulation, such as hollofill, quallofill, or Lite Loft will be sufficient. The zipper should zip from both ends to allow for ventilation if needed. Look for a bag that has a differential cut, the lining is cut a little smaller than the outer shell to allow the filling to loft. In my opinion the lining material is personal preference, however, cotton or flannel will not wick away body moisture as well as a synthetic lining, although a sheet or bag liner can help. The outer shell of most bags are nylon or a cotton duck- canvas type material. The cotton material will not be quick drying if the bag gets wet, but it will not slide around like a nylon shell bag will. A flannel lined bag with cotton duck shell will take up more room and may need to be rolled as opposed to stuffed into a stuff bag. I personally have both types, but use them for different purposes, the nylon bag with synthetic lining is the one I travel with as it has more chance of getting wet than the one I have in my camper, and it takes up less room.
If you are camping in very warm night time temperatures, you may want to use the bag under you and sleep in a bag liner, (yes there is such a thing) or under a sheet. If you find the bag you choose is not warm enough on some nights, simply add a blanket or two.
Most important in choosing a bag is comfort, if you can’t sleep because you are too constricted, it won’t matter if you are warm enough. Get in, lay down and move around, make sure it is a good fit. MK bag for sale