The best sleeping bags for camping - Advice & Tips - Camping - Out and About Live

2022-05-20 02:44:56 By : Ms. Candy Shi

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After your tent, sleeping bags are probably the most important pieces of camping gear you’ll buy.

Making the right choice is vital to ensure a good night’s sleep – and that can be the difference between a brilliant camping trip and a disaster of a holiday.

From luxury doubles for family camping trips to cosy mummy bags for outdoor adventures, especially in cold temperatures, sleeping bags really do come in all shapes and sizes, plus specifications.

There are many factors that will affect how you experience a bag’s performance – your height, weight, shape and how warm or cold you sleep. If you only want to buy one bag then pick one that can cover as wide a range of situations as possible, using liners, ventilation and ground insulation for flexibility in use.

There are two basic shapes of sleeping bag:

Sleeping bags are filled with either synthetic fibres or natural goose/duck down for insulation. Down is lighter but more expensive and less waterproof than the synthetic option.

Rating by the four seasons offers a rough guide to sleeping bag warmth but some people sleep warmer or colder than others and only you will know how much you feel the cold.

A one-season sleeping bag is for using in the summer months only, two-season bags are for late spring/summer and summer/early autumn, three-season bags are for use between spring and autumn and four-season sleeping bags are for all-year-round use.

Sleeping bags come in a variety of weights, pack sizes and warmth, depending on your needs. Iain Duff puts a selection of single sleeping bags through their paces.

The classic mummy sleeping bag shape is not designed simply with appearance in mind. The idea of the figure-hugging profile – wider at the shoulder and narrower at the feet – is that there’s less empty space, so the bag warms up quicker and stays warm.

Some campers – myself included – can find the narrowness of these bags quite constricting, but there’s no doubt that the mummy shape is the best for keeping warmth in, which is why most technical sleeping bags are that style.

The Birch from Outwell takes the mummy into the family camping market, using Isofill insulation – a siliconised hollow fibre – and soft fabric to create a comfortable three-season bag.

Although it follows the same design as more technical bags, the Birch Supreme is relatively wide and feels less claustrophobic than other models. I appreciate the fact that the L-shaped zip lets you convert it to a duvet-style cover or go for one of a variety of ventilation options when the nights get warm.

When it’s chilly, the full-length zip baffle prevents draughts coming in and the hood also prevents warmth from escaping at the top. A detachable pillow gives you a little more comfort.

(Photo courtesy of Outdoor Revolution)

Although bigger is not always better, some of us need a bit more room when it comes to sleeping bags. If you’re a night-time wriggler, this, from Outdoor Revolution, could be the answer.

The Midi 400 is part of the Starfall range of three-season sleeping bags and is perfect for campers who like to spread out.

It’s the warmest and biggest single bag in the range – bigger than a single but smaller than a double, measuring 235cm long by 105cm wide.

The outer fabric has a sumptuous, luxury feel to it and the lining is a super-soft, cotton-rich flannel. The full-size cotton flannel pillowcase toggles into the cowl hood so it can be stored together with ease.

Two-way zippers allow you to create ventilation where you need it (at the foot, for example), and there are two loops stitched into the base to allow it to be hung up for airing or when not in use.

If you prefer to snuggle up, two of these bags can be zipped together to make a super king-sized sleeping area that won’t provoke morning accusations of sleeping bag hogging.

Just £4.99 per year! That is less than 10p per week.

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According to the blurb that accompanies this new range from Coleman, the Maranta sleeping bag takes its inspiration from plants of the same name. Apparently, at night, the plants fold their leaves upright into a huddle and go to “sleep”. If I’m honest, the image that creates in my mind does not say “comfortable night’s sleep”, at all.

But please don’t let the name put you off, because the Maranta really is excellent. First and foremost, it satisfies the two main requirements of a sleeping bag – comfort and warmth. That is largely down to the polycotton shell and cotton flannel lining.

The Maranta comes in three different sizes, but as a camper who is on the, ahem, big-boned side, it was the largest model in the range that appealed. Measuring a generous 100cm across, the XL gives you plenty of room to move around, and will keep you snug whether you sleep on your back, front or side.

Other features include Thermolock zipper baffles, designed to prevent heat loss through the zipper, and ZipPlow technology, which prevents snagging by ploughing fabric away from the zip.

As a camper and lover of the outdoors, I know how important it is to look after the planet, so I’m always on the lookout for greener camping kit. The Evolve Superwarm is from Vango’s Earth Collection and the filling, shell and lining are all made from recycled single-use plastics.

Now, some cynics might question how much effect this sort of thing actually has in the grand scheme of things, but, to me, that’s missing the point. Any positive impact whatsoever has to be a good thing, but just as important is the message Vango is sending out.

Of course, all this eco friendliness would be pointless if the product itself wasn’t up to scratch so I’m pleased to say it’s also a really good sleeping bag; warm, comfortable and soft to the touch.

The wave stitching technique distributes the insulation evenly, reducing cold spots, and there are two layers of fill for extra warmth. Other features include hanging loops for airing, a built-in pillow and a stuff sack that makes packing away easy and minimises pack size.

The zip can be opened from the top or bottom to increase ventilation and the zip guard helps prevent it from snagging on the lining.

Best known for its insect-repelling adventure and travel clothing, Craghoppers has taken its first steps into the world of camping. The impressive new range of retro-inspired equipment ranges from bamboo cutlery to tents and includes these sleeping bags, which bring together the same NosiLife anti-bug technology used in the travel clothes with a look that harks back to a golden age of camping.

Being a bit of a nostalgia geek, I love the whole range, and the sleeping bags work especially well. Rectangular in shape, they are spacious and comfortable, made from polyester ripstop with an EcoShield water-repellent finish. The NosiLife mesh foot vent means you can let air in when it’s hot, without worrying about suffering nasty bites in the night. An internal zipped pocket allows you to safely stash away valuables like phones, wallets and keys.

Although these are not lightweight sleeping bags designed for backpacking, they do pack down pretty small using the compression straps on the stow bag, so they won’t take up loads of room in the car boot.

Just £4.99 per year! That is less than 10p per week.

Camping is the UK's only magazine devoted to the wonderful world of life under canvas. Every issue is packed with inspirational travel, the top camping sites, reviews, practical help and much more.

Camping’s fully searchable digital library gives you access to the latest issues, plus every edition of Camping since September 2016.

(Photo courtesy of Selk'bag)

And finally… something completely different. If you love camping out of season as I do, you are going to love this. It’s all very well being wrapped up in a comfy, snuggly sleeping bag on chilly nights, but what about when it’s time to get up in the morning and put the kettle on for that essential brew?

The worst thing about camping when it’s cold is having to crawl out of your cosy cocoon in the morning. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to – and could just wear your sleeping bag as you go about your tent business? Well, you can! The Selk’bag is a wearable sleeping bag, and, even if you look a bit like the Michelin man around the campsite, at least you’re going to be warm and cosy.

The beauty of the Selk’bag is that you can get into it in the evening as soon as the temperature starts to drop, so by the time bedtime comes around you’re already acclimatised.

Elasticated hand openings let you bring your hands in and out of the bag easily, while the large kangaroo pockets at the front provide an ideal place to stash essentials.

The removable booties easily unzip so you can put on your own shoes without taking off the Selk’bag.

The adjustable, insulated hood offers added warmth, and the two-way double zipper makes it very easy to quickly and easily get in and out of the Selk’bag.

It comes with a stuff sack to compress the bag and allow easy carrying and stowing.

And now for the technical stuff. The Selk’bag features hollow-fibre synthetic insulation so it has all the insulating factors of a traditional sleeping bag, while a water-repellent coating keeps moisture out. It has a nylon ripstop shell and a soft polyester lining.

Other features on the Original 6G include side cargo pockets, side entry for easy access to trouser pockets and leg vents to help regulate temperature when it gets too warm.

This version comes in a range of colours and sizes to suit your needs.

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