Camping Gear: Sleeping Bag

After reading my previous post, you will probably conclude that having a warm, good quality sleeping bag is very high on my list when it comes to going camping. This would be correct. A few years ago I purchased a goose down sleeping bag to replace my old hollofil synthetic bag. The goose down is rated to -7ºC, which provides ample additional warmth from the cold for three-seasons camping in Ontario. I also found that down sleeping bags tend to outperform synthetic bags for warmth, durability, weight, compactness, and longevity. A good down bag will cost approximately twice as much as a good synthetic bag. I have tested the goose down bag on nights when the temperature has dipped to 0ºC, and I am very happy with it because I am able to tolerate the colder weather more so now, even with my air mattress. We purchased less expensive synthetic bags for our children, since they are rougher on their sleeping bags. The synthetic bags are rated to -5ºC. When selecting a sleeping bag, the following features should be considered: 

Fill: Sleeping bags are filled with down, synthetic material, or a combination of down and synthetic material. 

Down filled: Down (e.g., goose down)-filled sleeping bags are warmer than synthetic bags of equal weight. Down bags are also more durable and lighter, and can be compacted for storage more than synthetic bags. The main problems with down bags are they take a long time to dry and will not retain body heat well when wet. As long as down bags are kept dry, they are the better choice for camping. Research seems to indicate that down bags last considerably longer than synthetic bags. 

Synthetic filled: Synthetic (e.g., hollofil, polarguard, quallofil)-filled sleeping bags retain body heat when wet and also dry more quickly. Synthetic bags are also much less expensive than down bags. For backcountry camping, where there is a greater risk of the sleeping bag getting wet while canoeing and hiking, a synthetic-filled bag is the better choice, because it functions well when wet. 

Temperature rating: The price of the sleeping bag increases as the cold weather temperature rating of the sleeping bag decreases. You should purchase sleeping bags that are temperature rated to handle the coldest nights expected on your camping trips. Do not skimp on this! Check the average monthly nighttime temperatures of the region that you will be camping in. Your sleeping bags can always be unzipped on the warmer nights. Here is how the sleeping bags are generally rated in Ontario:

   -15ºC and colder        Winter sleeping bag

   -15ºC to +5ºC            Three-season (spring, summer, fall) sleeping bag

   +5ºC and warmer     Summer sleeping bag 

Bag shape: The most common sleeping bag shapes are mummy and rectangular. There is also a barrel-shaped sleeping bag that can be found in some of the camping stores. 

Mummy Shaped Bag: Most high-end sleeping bags are mummy shaped. These bags are tapered to the body to reduce cold air in the sleeping bag. As a result, the sleeping space is reduced and it is more difficult to move around during sleep. Because of the tapered design, mummy bags are smaller and can be compacted more than rectangular bags for storage. Mummy-shaped bags appeal to backcountry campers because of their lightweight and compact features. 

Rectangular Shaped Bag: These bags are more spacious; however, it takes longer to warm up in a rectangular bag because there is more air inside the sleeping bag. If you move around a lot in your sleep, you will prefer the rectangular sleeping bag because it provides more space. 

Barrel Shaped Bag: A cross between the mummy and the rectangular sleeping bags. They are not as tapered as the mummy bag and not as wide as the rectangular bag. 

Size: Sleeping bags are generally available in short, medium, or long at camping stores. Department stores tend to not have as big of a selection in sizes. Pick a bag that is suited to your height. Purchase adult-sized sleeping bags for children: Children will quickly outgrow child-sized sleeping bags. 

You can see a wide selection of sleeping bags by clicking the following link: 

For more details sleeping bags and other camping gear, see The Camp Tripper. The Camp Tripper includes: trip planning, reservations, gear, meals, setting up camp, activities, breaking camp, maintenance of gear and many tips for memorable camping trips in Ontario. The book is very reasonably priced and small enough to fit in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Here are four reasons why you might prefer to order it in e-book (electronic book) format:

  • The e-book price is 37% less
  • No shipping costs, which saves you even more
  • Instant delivery to your computer or hand-held device
  • Eliminates paper and saves trees

This book is currently only available in online bookstores.


About Patrick Dzieciol

I have authored and published "The Camp Tripper - The Secrets of Successful Family Camping in Ontario" If you want to get in touch with me, please drop me an email at:
This entry was posted in Bag, Book, Camping, Gear, Ontario, Park, Sleeping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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