5 tips for choosing the RIGHT sleeping bag

Do you dream of a deep, restful sleep in the middle of the woods and being woken up by birdsong in the morning? Are you still going to climb a peak and conserving your calories is a question of survival? All this is possible, if you have the right sleeping bag.

Temperature ratings – can we trust them?

Yes and no. Many bags use the ISO 23537 or EN 13537 standard which has 3 temperature ratings: comfort, limit and extreme. This standard allows you to compare the heat of several bags of different brands, because the tests are done in a uniform manner. However, be careful: not all manufacturers adhere to this standard. Those who don't decide the temperature of their bags themselves, and some are prone to exaggeration!

Tip 1 – Look to see if the bag has the EN sign next to its temperature rating, that’s a good start

Every camp is different!

Refuge, tent, bivouac, tarpaulin, beautiful star? Sleeping at 5C under the stars will be very different from the same temperature in a tent with 2 other people.

Tip 2 - If you plan to sleep under a tarp, under the stars or in a hammock, take a warmer bag

Which shape is best for you?

Rectangular, semi-rectangular, mummy...Sleeping bags are made in several shapes. How to choose?

  • Rectangular - Car or shelter camping for short distances. The rectangular bag is large, comfortable and can even open completely to make a large blanket. Ideal for finding the comfort of home! On the other hand, it is heavier and less warm than a mummy bag.
  • Semi-rectangular - the compromise: Lighter and compact than the rectangular bag, this type of bag is well suited to summer hikes or to people who quickly feel stuck in a mummy bag.

The mummy - not just in Egypt!

Whenever we talk about light camping or winter camping, we think of the mummy bag. Often with a generous collar and well-padded hood, it retains maximum warmth and keeps weight to a minimum. However, be careful: a bag that is too small will be uncomfortable. Also, a bag that is too large will allow air to circulate inside, which will reduce its heat.

Length matters!

If your feet touch the bottom of the bag, you'll be cold, guaranteed. Make sure the bag is long enough for you.

Tip 3 – Try the bag on at the store for a few minutes to see if the length and fit suits you

Down or synthetic? 3 questions to decide

Synthetic insulation has made enormous progress over the past 20 years. Is it still worth paying more for down?
How long before you accumulate 150 nights of camping?
A synthetic bag can be compressed 100 to 150 times before losing its thickness significantly. The more you compress it, the less it will bounce afterwards and the less hot it will be. A down bag will last 2-3 times longer.

Are you camping in the humidity?

If you camp often in the spring and fall or plan to go to humid places like the Groulx Mountains or the Appalachians, a synthetic insulation bag will dry much faster than a down bag. You can quickly stuff a very damp synthetic sleeping bag into your backpack without asking too many questions. A bottle of hot water in the bag in the evening and presto! It dries. A very damp down bag will take 1 or 2 hours of work before it becomes warm and comfortable again.

Do you travel long distances?

When you walk 40 or 50 km a day, every gram on your back counts. Down bags are lighter and pack smaller than synthetic bags. For hikes lasting a few hours, the difference is minimal.
Down sleeping bag

Tip 4 – Evaluate durability, moisture and weight when choosing between down and synthetic insulation

And the price in all this?

The question of price is on everyone's lips these days. Why is this not, in my opinion, an important criterion when choosing a sleeping bag? Because the price of a good sleeping bag is minimal compared to the benefits and comfort it provides. Think about it:
  • A good down sleeping bag will keep you warm for 10 years, or even 15 years of heavy use. A little less for a bag with synthetic insulation. For example, my sleeping bag is 15 years old and over 1000 nights of use and it is as warm as the first night I used it.
  • The right sleeping bag ensures you get a good night's sleep, no matter what temperature or shelter you have. There's nothing worse than shivering for hours on the first night of a long hike. The best tent, the best backpack, the best stove and the most beautiful Goretex coat in the world won't change anything.
  • A quality sleeping bag will be light and small: you can use it for all your outings, from a weekend in a refuge to a long hike in Europe.

Tip 5 – Buy the best bag your budget allows, you won’t regret it.

But I don't have $1000 to invest on a bag!

If you still want to enjoy nature, but your budget is limited, some compromises are possible.
  • Take a bag made of synthetic insulation instead of down. It will be a little heavier, but much less expensive than a down bag and more efficient in humidity. A good option if your tent is not in top shape!
  • Buy a 3-season mummy bag with a temperature rating between -5 °C and -9 °C . These are the most versatile bags.
  • Buy a recognized brand. This is often an overlooked but so important factor! A bag from a recognized outdoor brand will be of better quality and will maintain a good resale value. It will sell quickly and at a good price when you want to change it for a more efficient one.
  • Shop end-of-season specials. Sleeping bags rarely go on clearance, but they do happen. Take your time and shop for discounts.

Discover all our sleeping bags on clearance