Updated: Nov 25, 2019
This article will probably fall short in your quest for a sleeping bag for two reasons.
I do not know much about sleeping bags.
Recommending one is about as dangerous as giving marital advice. The outcome is not likely to go well for me.
The previous four years I used a very inexpensive, standard, square corner sleeping bag. Forgive me the lack of proper terminology. It was rated to 50 degrees. Therefore, when camping above 5k in the summer, I also carried a fleece insert. This year I finally grew tired of the weight penalty of essentially carrying two bags when summer hiking.
I now own two sleeping bags. Both are mummy bags, and both were made by Hyke & Byke.
My summer bag is rated to 30 degrees, and my fall/spring bag is rated to 0 degrees. So far I really like these bags. But the purchase is recent enough that I’m not ready to declare my love for them.
Let’s talk ratings real quick.
A sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit does not mean you will remain warm down to 30 degrees. The rating merely corresponds to survivability. For my current 30 degree bag, when the temp drops to about 49 degrees, I have to put socks on. But from 50 to 60 degrees I’m very comfortable.
My 0 degree bag is probably comfortable down to 25 degrees, maybe 20 degrees. I have not used it yet. I will update this article soon.
Here is the tricky thing about ratings for sleeping bags. Some people are cold sleepers. Other people are warm sleepers. I think I’m a slightly cold sleeper, hence the need for socks in my 30 degree bag when the temp drops to 49.
If you don’t know which category you fall into, then just try to think about how many blankets you use at night as compared to your friends or partners. Maybe start an informal survey. LOL.
Note: I strip down to my underwear in my sleeping bag. Evidently there is a raging debate in the hiker community regarding which is best in cold weather. Sleeping in layers, or sleeping in your underwear. I sleep my way because it’s comfortable, and it helps me to dry my wet clothes. See my article on Getting Dry.
One of the recents trends for light weight hikers is quilts. I don’t know much about quilts, so do some research on your own. They seem pretty cool. One of the knocks on mummy sleeping bags is the lack of ability to roll over. Because I am a slender dude this does not appear to be an issue for me.
Notice what is going on in this picture of my two sleeping bags. For mummy bags, and probably also for quilts, it is best to keep your sleeping bag hanging when not in use. Keeping them stuffed down and packed tight can damage their insulation over time. You are likely to spend good money someday for one of these. You probably want it to last.
Best of luck in choosing your sleeping bag. Hopefully the two things you got from this article is an understanding of the rating system, and how to care for your sleeping bags when not out on the trail.
Find my article on insulated pads to learn why they are probably more important than your choice of sleeping bag.