The Ideal Sleeping Bag Is 5 Steps Away

If adventure is calling out your name, there’s one thing you should definitely pack up alongside your thrill to explore – the right sleeping bag. A warm and cozy episode of zzzzz’s/ sleep means a power-packed morning, ready to conquer every peak or just peacefully rejoice amidst nature.

To help you choose the ideal sleeping bag to fit your roof top tent, keep the following 5 steps in mind if you want to learn how to choose a sleeping bag for your next adventure:

How To Choose A Sleeping Bag - Ultimate guide for Australian sleeping bags 2020
Camping above the mist with your sleeping bag!

Top 5 Budget Sleeping Bags

Step 1: Temperature Rating

Your sleeping bag acts like a cocoon, protecting you against the cold and optimising your body heat. Thus tackling temperature rating means your choice should revolve around what temperature you find enjoyable sleeping in, your destination and its current weather.

Temperature ratings vary between comfort and extreme ratings.

  • Comfort represents the temperature at which a sleeping bag user with a relaxed posture, such as lying on their back, is in thermal equilibrium, having a pleasant sleep.
  • Lower limit refers to the optimal temperature at which the sleeping bag user with a curled up body posture can expect to have a good night’s sleep and not feel cold.
  • Extreme coins the lowest temperature one would be comfortable sleeping in aka survival mode, meaning that it has been designed to shield you from more extreme climate conditions.

Seasons change, and so do our sleeping bags. If you’re planning on an escapade, do equip yourself with proper gear according to the following seasons :

  • Season 1: warm summer nights, with temperatures of 5°C or above.
  • Season 2: chilly vernal or summer evenings with temperatures from around 0 to 5°C.
  • Season 3: ranging from 0 to -5°C, a cold night but no frigid conditions.
  • Season 4: winter months, with the thermometers reaching -10°C.
  • Season 5: for a more adventurous camping experience, with temperatures bridging -40°C. 

Step 2: Down vs Synthetic sleeping bags

Weight, durability, price, warmth, water resistance, compressibility – the plethora of variables battle one another, and it boils down to your sleeping bag material. Down sleeping bags are stuffed with the plumage of duck or geese, while synthetic sleeping bags are filled with man-made polymers insulation.

Down Sleeping Bags

Renowned for being lightweight, with a high compressibility suitable for one’s space-saving needs, distinctively durable and breathable – down sleeping bags are a better fit for cold and dry conditions. 

The only drawbacks are water resistance and its price tag. Exposed to moisture or downpours, the down sleeping bag weakens its insulation abilities, also taking a longer time to dry out.

Speaking about breaking the bank, down cocoons are not always the best bargain, but if you’re aiming for a long-term, high-quality investment, then down is the way to go.

Synthetic Sleeping Bags

 On the flip side, synthetic sleeping bags manage to dry up much quicker and even maintain a part of their insulation power when wet. As they are made up of polyester fibers, synthetic fabrics are unlikely to cause allergic reactions, are easier to clean up and are also more budget-friendly in comparison with its down counterpart. A soaring overall performance makes of synthetic sleeping bags a veritable option. Yet, its coups de grâce – potential bulkiness and heaviness might come as categorical inconveniences, depending on the kind of trip you’re embarking on. 

Step 3: There’s a sleeping bag for every adventure

Whether you’re temporarily venturing out into the wilderness or planning to become a globetrotter, there’s a sleeping bag which impeccably fits your requirements list.

The Best Camping Sleeping Bag

When camping, you just hunker down in your corner of the forest or campground, set up your tents and sleeping bags and you’re off exploring. A camping sleeping bag is one you wouldn’t have to carry around while clambering up some mountain top; hence they tend to be heftier. Leaning towards a more comfort-oriented feature, camping sleeping bags have the advantages of being cozy, less intricate & technical and more economical. 

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag

For the backpacking aficionado, weight and compactness are key traits for a marvellous backpacking sleeping bag companion. However, the ideal weight saving, warmth-providing, and high packability option may come at a higher price point. 

Step 4: No size fits all / Sleeping Bag Weight and Size

The material and shape determine the weight of a sleeping bag. The insulation fill, be it down or synthetic gives the sleeping bag its overall weight with :

  • the most commonly found synthetic sleeping bags weighing around 4 to 8kg
  • down-filled sleeping bags at 2 to 4kg 
  • ultralight synthetic-filled sleeping bags weighing approximately 1 to 2kg 
  • ultralight down sleeping bags tipping the scales at 0.5 to 1kg

The shape of a sleeping bag also plays a protagonist role in affecting weight. A sleek shape with a snug fit will be more lightweight in contrast with a roomy sleeping bag. Accordingly, when contemplating your purchase, consider these 3 standardised shapes :

  • Mummy – warmth optimising, extraordinarily packable and lightweight, supplied with a hood you can tighten around your face and fitted towards the feet portion to enable heat retention.
  • Semi-Rectangular – a more spacious sleeping bag that does not compromise on its warmth
  • Rectangular or Regular – the classic sleeping bag allowing you to rest in a natural position, yet bulkier and less efficient at trapping heat considering the extra non-usable fabric.

Step 5: Other Sleeping Bag Features

  • Pockets are vital when it comes to stowing valuables, candy, phones, batteries or wallets away from freezing temperatures.
  • Generically viewed as a mere closing mechanism, a zipper helps with both ventilation and a more facile liberation from the sleeping bag.
  • Some of your body heat seeps through the head area; thus, a hood comes in aid when heat tries to breakout. A drawcord closure helps pull the hood tight for extra warmth.
  • Running along the zipper, draft tubes prevent heat from evading and reduce cold spots in the opening area of the sleeping bag.
  • Mother Nature is somewhat unpredictable, so a sleeping bag designed for extreme weather conditions, with a waterproof feature may come in handy at times. 

Sleeping Bag Buying Recommendation

Now that you’ve run through all these steps, it’s time we throw some suggestions around! Here’s a selection of sleeping bags to avoid a dreadful excursion :

The Bang For Your Buck List / Budget Sleeping Bags

Here’s our selection of the best value for money sleeping bags in 2020. These bags hav all passed our test and are highly reccomended!

Milestone Camping Insulation 26700 Single Envelope Sleeping Bag Review

Milestone Camping Insulation 26700 Single Envelope Sleeping Bag
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 21

A rectangular sleeping bag, with a temperature rating of – 5°C or higher, Milestone Camping is a cheaper alternative that comes with both perks and setbacks. Its minimalistic design is congruous with it being one of the lowest-priced options we encounter online. Small and lightweight, filled with hollow fibre and covered with a polyester shell, this sleeping sack seems appropriate for summer nights. 

The outer lining feels fragile and seems improbable to hold up to habitual usage. Being non-waterproof and non-machine washable are setbacks to take into account.

  • Temperature Rating : 0°C – 27°C
  • Materials : polyester, hollow fibre fill
  • Weight : 0.75kg
  • Pros : full-length dual zipper, compressibility, lightweight
  • Cons : hand wash only

Black Wolf Meridian 150 Sleeping Bag Review

Black Wolf Meridian 150 Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 22

With a temperature rating ranging from 10°C to 13°C, the Black Wolf Meridian sleeping bag contains Synsilk and ripstop nylon fabric and stands as a perfect match for clement evenings. The adjacent hood, the secret chest pocket and the glow zip puller are lovely additions for a hassle-free adventure. Setting you back just 1kg, the sleeping bag allows for a versatile, compact and reliable option when looking to hop on a warm-weather destination.

  • Temperature Rating : 10°C – 13°C
  • Materials : nylon, Powerloft fill, Synsilk lining
  • Weight : 1kg
  • Pros : draft flap, anti-bite zipper guard, hidden chest pocket, nightglow zip puller, contoured hood, hidden chest pocket
  • Cons :

Coleman Palmetto 30°F Cool Weather Sleeping Bag Review

Coleman Palmetto 30°F Cool Weather Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 23

A brand known to celebrate both innovation and the outdoors, Coleman has created a synthetic rectangular sleeping cocoon made of polyester and tricot fiber blend, giving softness and warmth to your sleep in the heart of nature. Nonetheless, this exact material confronts itself with the retention of dirt & pine needles and is prone to disintegration in the long run. It withstands temperatures up to  -1°C and weighs around 4kg. 

  • Temperature Rating : -1°C 
  • Materials : polyester cover, tricot fiber blend liner
  • Weight : 4kg
  • Pros :
  • Cons :

Active Era Premium Lightweight Mummy Sleeping Bag Review

Active Era Premium Lightweight Mummy Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 24

Lightweight, durable and made out of polyester with a hollow fibre lining, Active Era provides a mummy sleeping bag within a temperature rating of 10°C to 18°C, suitable for hotter, more arid expeditions. Even though at a convenient weight of 0.8kg and its incredible value for money aspect, users have put forward its zipper malfunction and recurring damages upon arrival. 

  • Temperature Rating : 5°C to 18°C
  • Materials : polyester, hollow fiber lining
  • Weight : 0.8kg
  • Pros :
  • Cons :

Fit-Nation Viking Trek 350x Review

Fit-Nation Viking Trek 350x Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 25

With a breathable synthetic fabric, a weight of 1.4kg, excellent customer service and waterproof functionality, Fit-Nation supplies us with a mummy-shaped camping sleeping bag. Its temperature rating lies between -11 and 8°C and has a hidden pocket incorporated to store your valuables. Except for its poorly made stitching and its missing insulation in some relevant areas, this sleeping bag is a great alternative when it comes to a music festival hideaway.

  • Temperature Rating : -11°C to 8°C
  • Materials : polyester shell, synthetic fibre fill
  • Weight : 1.4kg
  • Pros : waterproof compression carry bag, built-in hood, anti-snag zipper
  • Cons : deteriorates easily

Kids Sleeping Bags

When it comes to the best kids sleeping bags, you can’t go past the quality and affordability of the following brands and models:

Roman Junior 400 Kids Sleeping Bag Review

Roman Junior 400 Kids Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 26

Layered with soft poly-cotton, hollow fibre fill and polyester, this rectangular sleeping bag suits the juniors segment. Its smooth maneuverability, low price point and colour options make it an excellent contender for comfortable camping journeys away from home.

  • Temperature Rating : 0°C comfort rating
  • Materials: poly-cotton lining,400g/m2 hollow fibre fill, polyester shell
  • Weight : 1.4kg
  • Pros: full-length anti-snag zip allows for use as a quilt, hanging loops for airing and storage, ideal for sleepovers and camping all year round
  • Cons: unravelled stitching after frequent usage

Coleman Fyrefly Illumi-Bug Kids Sleeping Bag Review

Coleman Fyrefly Illumi-Bug Kids Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 27

Guaranteeing a warm and fun trip with its glow-in-the-dark design, this sleeping bag allows for campers reaching the height of 170cm. Along with a snag-free opening and closing zipper, a Roll Control system and a pocket for knick-knacks, this sleeper ensures a joyous burdenless outing with the family.

  • Temperature Rating: 7 °C – 10°C
  • Materials: polyester, ThermoTech fill
  • Weight: 1.3 Kg
  • Pros: glows in the dark, internal pocket, long and sturdy shoulder strap for the rucksack
  • Cons: difficulty in re-packaging, erroneous sleeping bag cover dimension 

Black Wolf Star 500 Kids Sleeping Bag Review

Black Wolf Star 500 Kids Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 28

Customised, according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Black Wolf Star sleeper has a draft flap, and a contoured hood meant to maximise warmth during chillier nights. The sleeping bag is also fitted with an anti-bite zipper guard, night glow zip puller and a compression bag cinching effortless handling.

  • Temperature Rating: -5°C – 1°C
  • Materials: nylon, Powersoft fill, Synsilk lining
  • Weight : 1.7kg
  • Pros: auto-lock anti-snag zipper, hidden chest pocket, compactness 
  • Cons: post-wash shrinkage, proportions may vary according to the user

Best Sleeping Bags For 2020

For 2020, the following sleeping bags were our all round favourites for camping adventures around Australia.

Caribee Snow Drift Sleeping Back Review

Caribee Snow Drift Sleeping Back Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 29

A well-known Australian outdoor gear brand, Caribee features a self-proclaimed quality and realistically priced range of travel equipment including sleeping bags. Armed with a hood keeping your head warm and toasty, this spacious sleeping bag is made of tech loft extreme fibre and has a cotton lining, protecting you from harsh weather conditions.

  • Temperature Rating: -10°C to -5°C
  • Materials: nylon, tech hollow fibre fill, comfortable cotton lining
  • Weight : 2.4kg
  • Pros: drawcord hood, side & foot zippers, internal security pocket 
  • Cons: jamming of the zipper, lack of compressibility, hand washing only  

Coleman Big Game C-6 Sleeping Bag Review

Coleman Big Game C 6 Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 30

This feature-rich sleeping bag packs a lot of comfort features we really like, it’s a bit heavier but that also means more warmth during those chilly nights camping.

  • Temperature Rating: -6°C – 0°C
  • Materials: poly-cotton canvas, Coletherm synthetic fill, flannel lining
  • Weight : 4.4kg
  • Pros: no-snag zips, Wrap ‘N’ Roll system for easier packing, ThermoLock reducing heat loss through the zipper, Comfort Cuff soft fabric around your face and neck, pillow included
  • Cons: the Coleman Roll Control folding feature is difficult to discern at first glance, machine washing is not recommended

Darche Cold Mountain 1100 Sleeping Bag Review

Darche Cold Mountain 1100 Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 31

When it comes to rugging up for adventure, Darche comprised a reliable, cold weather condition sleeping bag which we love.

  • Temperature Rating: -12°C to -5°C
  • Materials: water-resistant polyester, hollow fibre fill, silk touch polyester lining
  • Weight : 3kg
  • Pros: oversized dimension, water-resistant, anti-snag zippers, chest baffle, internal zippered pocket
  • Cons: temperature rating might be inaccurate according to different users

Oztent Rivergum XL Sleeping Bag Review

Oztent Rivergum XL Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 32

The Oztent Rivergum is luxurious plush and durable, making it to the top of your favourites list of things to bring on our outdoor adventures.

  • Temperature Rating: -10°C to -5°C
  • Materials: ripstop cotton canvas, exotherm polyester fill, flannelette lining with removable fleece liner
  • Weight : 4kg
  • Pros: extra-long and wide, tough canvas exterior, fleece liner doubles as a summer weight bag
  • Cons: hand wash only, the bag is prone to ruptures, non-removable hood

Sea to Summit Journey Jo2 Wmn’s Sleeping Bag Review

Sea to Summit Journey Jo2 Wmn’s Sleeping Bag Review
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag 33

Unlike any other mummy shaped sleeping bags, Sea to Summit brings a roomy, cozy, lightweight option to the table. Tailored to a woman’s specific fit and filled with the premium insulation material R.D.S certified 650+ loft ultra-dry down, the Journey Jo2 caters to the ones venturing into cooler territories. In addition to the chest baffles which impede the infiltration of the cold, there is also a draft tube in the neck collar portion which ensures warmth withholding. Full length, anti-snag zips both on the side and at the foot section help ventilate or convert the sleeping bag into a quilt. Once you’re off onto a new adventure, you can easily store the sleeper into a lightweight compression bag.

  • Temperature Rating: -15°C to -8°C
  • Materials: nylon, ultra-dry down fill, nylon lining
  • Weight : 1.18kg
  • Pros: ultra-dry down the fabric, Thermolite panels, vertical baffles over the chest section, two-way full-length side zip, foot zip, panelled hood, security pocket, compressibility 
  • Cons : none!

FAQ: How To Choose A Sleeping Bag

What should I look for when buying a sleeping bag?

In the above article we discuss the 5 essential things you need to look for when buying a new sleeping bag.

Can you sleep on your side in a mummy bag?

Yes you can, however due to the design it might be a little narrow.

How are sleeping bags rated?

Sleeping bags are rated on the temperature level in which they can offer protection. Check out our guide to see the different levels.