Looking for a Sleeping Bag?

Selecting the right sleeping bag can be tough work! Many manufactures such as Big Anges, The North Face, Sierra Design, Mountain Hardware – the list goes on and on, make good sleeping bags. With all the choices, it’s hard to know what kind of bag will best suit your needs.

North Face Sleeping BagWe have a lot of different bags, from Sierra Designs, Mountain Hardware, Mountainsmith and the North Face. Probably our favorites are from Sierra Designs. That might be because we each have 3 different models from that company and that’s helped us narrow down what we do and don’t like about our bags.

We live in a dry state and as a result, even in the winter months, we both prefer to use a down bag. I find down to be softer and far more compressible than the synthetic models. Generally we like to use bag compression sacks for backpacking and it’s a lot more difficult to stuff a synthetic bag into a compression sack. If we lived in the southern states or somewhere more humid, we might be inclined to go synthetic as it dries faster.

Sierra Designs make a “flex” bag and after using Mummy, regular and flex bags I’d have to say the flex is nice. Getting just a bit extra stretch for your legs is a nice addition.

If I had to choose between a more convention cut and a mummy cut, I’d take the mummy. The mummy not only stuffs better due to it’s smaller size but it hugs your body far more and leaves less interior room to heat up. It does take some getting used to. Years ago when I tried my first mummy bag, the first night was tough. At first it did feel a little claustrophobic. With a little bit of perseverance, that did go away.

Some things to look for when shopping around:

  • Shape – again, if you like to stretch your legs and arms a rectangular bag might work better. Most mummy’s also cover your entire head with a hood whereas rectangular’s have a tendency to end at your shoulders. I prefer being totally wrapped up.
  • Weight – a mummy is going to be less weight than a rectangular. A down is going to be less weight than a synthetic. If you’re looking for weight savings than you’ll want a down/mummy.
  • Temperature – There’s a LOT of different temperature ratings on sleeping bags. From warm weather 50 degree bags to really cold weather bags rated around -30. Probably our most used bags are the zero degree and the 30 degree. We use the zero for all our winter camping and the 30 for everything else. Your geographical region is going to determine the rating more than anything. A zero degree might be too cold if you live far north and the exact opposite for warm regions.
  • Insulation - Down or synthetic are going to be your two choices. Synthetic bags are cheaper and they dry quickly but they’re going to way more. However Down when wet won’t insulate as well, and it’s more expensive. Again, where you’re camping at is going to greatly influence what you choose.