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Guide to Sleeping Bags

by Alicia MacLeay
April 19, 2011

Down or synthetic? What temperature rating? Mummy or rectangular? Extra-long or women-specific?

With the range of sleeping bag shapes, sizes, fills, and options on the market, there’s sure to be a bag (or bags) ideal for your personal thermostat, shape, and backcountry destination. But with hundreds of models to choose from, how do you find that perfect night’s rest?

Read on for buyers' guides for choosing and using a sleeping bag.

Bag Basics

Parts of a Sleeping Bag

Even a seemingly simple piece of gear like a sleeping bag can have a confusing number of features, parts, and terms. Here are the basic parts of a typical mummy bag »

Shapes, Sizes, Fits

Mummy, rectangular, and semi-rectangular, specialty bags, liners, and covers. Choosing a sleeping bag requires understanding the different shapes, sizes, and versions available »

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

A general overview on selecting the right bag for your backcountry overnight needs »


Insulation: Down vs. Synthetic

Both down and synthetic insulation have their advantages and disadvantages. Which is “best” for outdoor use depends on your needs, preferences, and budget. To pick the right one for your backcountry adventures, you first need to understand what down and synthetic insulation are and what they do.

Down Insulation Explained »

Synthetic Insulation Explained »



Baffles, Layers, and Shingles

Baffled by baffles? Confused by shingles and layers? Here's your guide to the various construction techniques that keep down and synthetic insulation in the right places, and you warm in your sleeping bag »

Temperature Ratings

How are bags rated? What does that number really mean? Will I stay warm? Coming soon...

Using your Bag

How to Sleep Warmly

Some people just sleep warmer than others, but there are certain things you can do to gain some extra warmth and get a good night’s sleep »

How to Wash Your Down Sleeping Bag

Proper care and cleaning will help your bag last for many seasons. And a clean bag will have improved loft to keep you warmer »

How to care for your bag

Coming soon... »

Reviews and Product Info