Getting the Sleeping Bag that's Right for You
There's nothing worse than a bad sleeping bag. Picture this: you make the long drive to your destination and you spend far longer than you should pitching your new tent. After this, the only thing you want is a good night's sleep to prepare you for the fun and adventures you're going to be having on your holiday. Waking up feeling refreshed and invigorated after your first night is essential and will put you in the right mood for the rest of your holiday.
When you’re drifting off under the stars, a trusty sleeping bag
is an essential piece of camping equipment. Even on hot days, you’ll find it feels a lot cooler at night when there’s only a piece of canvas between you and the elements. The right sleeping bag will keep you and your family cocooned in comfort all night long, so you sleep better and wake happier.
So, you settle down in your tent or your awning and get ready to go to sleep, but your sleeping bag just isn't cutting it. Maybe it's too hot, too cold, or you just can't get comfortable. Many people make mistakes with their sleeping bags and it's all too common to just put up with it.
It is a challenge to decide what sleeping bags you need from the hundreds that are on offer, and if you travel at different times of the year, it's likely that you'll need more than one for different kinds of trips. The most important things on your trip are your tent and sleeping bag, so it makes sense to spend money on the best quality products that you can, to ensure that your time on holiday isn't ruined by a bad night's sleep. Being cold, wet, and tired is nobody's idea of a good holiday. If you're warm, dry and well rested you can deal with anything.
There are a few things for you to consider. While sleeping bags are designed to keep your warm and comfortable by keeping your body heat locked in with you, there's so much more to getting the right bag than just warmth. We've put together this short guide to help make sure that you get the right sleeping bag for you that results in the best night's sleep.Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
Sleeping bag temperatures are separated into two ratings. These are the European standard test results and the minimum temperature rating that is generally assessed in-house by the brand. We'll talk you through both, so, in the future, you'll be able to work out if your sleeping bag is safe and suitable for your holiday destination.EN13537 Temperature Ratings System
This rating system was first devised in 2002 before being updated down the line in 2012. It was designed to help regulate European sleeping bags and provide an easy to understand system for consumers. The rating measures four temperature ratings by placing a thermal dummy in suitable clothing in a sleeping bag with heat sensors measuring temperature.
The 'upper limit' is the highest temperature at which the average man could sleep comfortably without sweating profusely. 'Comfort' refers to the temperature at which the average woman could sleep comfortably in a relaxed position. This rating is based on the average woman because of the lower tolerance they have to cold temperatures than the average male. The 'comfort limit' is the temperature in which the average man can curl up and sleep for around eight hours without waking up. 'Extreme' is the minimum temperature the average woman can sleep for six hours risk of death from hypothermia. Frostbite is possible at such low temperatures and sleep is likely to be incredibly disturbed.Manufacturer Ratings
Most sleeping bag manufacturers provide their own ratings in addition to the EN standard. These ratings are usually based on several criteria including other temperature tests, and real-life experiences of users. These ratings will vary on an individual basis and may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. We offer Outwell sleeping bags
and Vango sleeping bagsSleeping Bag Season Ratings
As well as temperature ratings, sleeping bags come with season ratings to help make the buying process a little easier. The ratings range from 'season 1' which is designed for summer camping in pleasant weather, to 'season 4' which is designed for camping through cold winter weather.Season 1 Sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags are designed for warm summer nights. As such, they're the perfect choice for attending festivals over the warmer months. These sleeping bags are also a good option for indoor use, for example, if you're having your children's friends sleep over. Warm Summer nights. Above 10°C.Season 2 Sleeping Bags
Season 2 sleeping bags are for use in the UK from late springtime to early autumn - that time of year when nights are starting to get a little cooler. If the British summertime is a little too cool for you, these bags are perfect. 1-2 season sleeping bag is for warmer nights from late Spring and throughout Summer; 5°C to 10°C.
A 2 season sleeping bag is for use throughout Spring and Summer. 5°C.Season 3 Sleeping Bags
Season 3 bags have been designed with cold autumn and winter nights where there's no frost on the ground. If you're braving the element and camping during the colder times of year, these sleeping bags are the ones for you. If you really feel the cold when you sleep, consider investing in a season 3 sleeping bag. A 2-3 season sleeping bag is from Spring to early Autumn. 0°C to 5°C whereas a 3 season sleeping bag is for use inSpring, Summer and Autumn where the temperature goes down to -5°C.Season 4 Sleeping Bags
Season 4 sleeping bags are for use on the coldest of UK winter nights when you have good reason to believe that you're going to wake up to snow or frost on the ground. A 3-4 season sleeping bag is for all but very the coldest months where the temperature ranges from -5°C to -10°C, whereas a 4 or all season sleeping bag is for all year or down to -10°C.Sleeping Bag Construction
Think of a sleeping bag as being like a duvet or a pillow. There are two sheets of material with a layer of filling inside. Essentially, it's what's inside that keeps you warm. As such, it's worth paying a premium for a top-quality sleeping bag. If you don't, you could find that the stuffing will move around inside the bag much like it does with a cheap duvet. Of course, this is something that manufacturers want to avoid and there are a number of construction methods that they utilize.Single Layer / Stitch Through Construction
The easiest and most cost-effective way to hold the stuffing in place is by stitching through the bag. This method creates small pockets meaning that the stuffing will always stay in the desired place and provide a uniform level of comfort and coverage. However, this method makes the stuffing rather flat, and can result in cold spots due to the stitching method.Double Layer Offset Construction
This is similar to the single layer method that's outlined above, but with two levels of stuffing as opposed to one. This helps to combat the issues that arise with a single layer of stuffing. For example, as the stitching is in different places on both the layers, there's always some stuffing which is fluffed up. This helps to reduces cold spots and heat loss.Box Wall Construction
This is the most expensive but also the most effective means of constructing a sleeping bag. As such, for this premium method of construction, premium prices are charged. Instead of stitching through the bag to help the stuffing stay in place, there are walls which creates boxes to hold it all in place. This is the most effective means of sleeping bag construction as there's no holes for heat to seep out of and the stuffing never gets squashed. Box wall construction is by the best means of creating a sleeping bag, but it has a lengthier manufacturing process and requires more materials - hence the higher price tag.Sleeping Bag Shapes
Do you need a double sleeping bag, mummy-style or a wide sleeping bag? There’s lots of choice to suit every type of camper. Here’s what they all mean.Regular Sleeping Bags :
Your average sleeping bag is rectangular with a zip around two sides. These tend to be the roomiest sleeping bags and can also be opened and used like a blanket - if the weather permits it, of course. As they don't retain heat as well as mummy bags, they're best for camping in warmer weather.Mummy Sleeping Bags :
Mummy sleeping tend to taper towards the feet and keep the heat in by being more closely fitted. The hood also helps to keep you warm. Mummy sleeping bags achieve more heat retention despite being lighter than their rectangular counterparts. Tapered sleeping bags that are thinner at the feet and wider at the top. Extra warmth as the tapered style prevents pockets of cold air.Double sleeping bag :
Double sized for two. Best for couples.Luxury sleeping bag :
Also known as duvet-style sleeping bags. These are brushed for extra softness and feel like your home duvet. Home comforts at the campsite.Wide sleeping bag :
Extra wide, big sleeping bags. People who don’t like to feel constricted or like to stretch out.Long sleeping bag :
XL, king size sleeping bags. Taller people who are over 6ft.Rectangle sleeping bag :
Classic rectangular shaped bags with the same size at the top and bottom. People who like extra wiggle room or those who want to unzip the entire bag to create a duvet.Hooded sleeping bag :
A sleeping bag with a hood. Extra warmth. You lose a lot of heat through your head. A hood helps you lock this heat in, so you stay warmer.Sleeping bag with in-built pillow :
A sleeping bag with pillow in one. Easy comfort on the go.Sleeping Bag Accessories
Choosing the best sleeping bag is definitely important. Although, there are a few other additions you can purchase that will help to make your nights even more comfortable.Sleeping Bag Liners
Sleeping bag liners are placed inside your sleeping bag to give you an extra layer of warmth. As well as helping you keep warm, these liners can help you to extend the life of your sleeping bag and keep it cleaner.Travel Pillow
Smaller and lighter than traditional pillows, travel pillows are the perfect companion for camping trips where your space is limited.Sleeping Mats
Sleeping mats go under your sleeping bag and help to provide much-needed insulation from the ground that can help you to stay warm and dry when you're sleeping outside. We offer both self-inflating sleeping mats and airbeds
Hopefully, now that you've finished this guide, your knowledge of what makes the best sleeping bag can help you to make the purchase that's right for you. Take a look at our full range of sleeping bags here. We're sure we've got something to suit your needs.