At the end of a long camping day, there’s almost nothing worse than cuddling up in your sleeping bag and realizing that you’re uncomfortable. When it’s most important to get a good night’s sleep and you find yourself struggling to count sheep instead, you may be asking yourself, “is a sleeping bag comfortable, anyway?”
The answer is yes, and there are many features of sleeping bags that give them varying levels of comfort depending on your personal preferences and sleeping conditions.
Read on for a discussion of how to make your sleeping bag more comfortable and cozy.
Your sleeping bag should indeed be comfortable. However, you may find that certain styles and features work better for you.
One of the major components to comfort is staying warm enough. Make sure to evaluate the temperature rating of your sleeping bag. This is a lab-tested value that indicates the lowest temperature at which the bag can keep you comfortable at night.
If you are female, look at the “comfort rating.” This tells you the temperature at which a “cold” sleeper will feel warm enough. Men, on the other hand, should look at the “lower limit” indicating the lowest temperature at which a “warm” sleeper will be comfortable in the bag.
Sleeping Bag Shape
Additionally, you may find that different designs and shapes of sleeping bags offer varying levels of comfort.
The most basic, traditional style of sleeping bag is rectangular. These will likely be the cheapest option, although they generally may not be as warm because of their looser fit. However, these might be a good option for those who like to move around in their sleep, as they offer more leg and arm room.
Another common style is the “mummy” style sleeping bag, which is wider at the shoulders and tapers down to be narrower at your feet.
Mummy sleeping bags are typically cozier due to their form-fitting nature that hugs you like a cocoon. Typically, mummy-style bags are warmer than rectangular designs, especially because you can zip them closer around your face so that only your nose and mouth are exposed for breathing.
One downside of a mummy-style bag is that you need to sleep on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your side (like a mummy). This sleeping position may feel too restrictive and uncomfortable to some campers.
“Barrel” (or semi-rectangular) sleeping bags are somewhere in between the rectangular and mummy style. While they do narrow slightly from shoulder to feet, they are less tapered than a mummy bag and are less tight around the face, so they may feel slightly less restrictive.
A more unique style is the “spoon-shaped” sleeping bag. These are designed to be especially comfortable for side sleepers or those that move around in their sleep. With their more contoured shape that offers extra space around the arms and knees, you won’t feel as restricted or closed in. These bags are often more versatile, as you can sleep in nearly any position.
Some sleeping bags will be equipped with a draft collar near the neck area. This is a fabric section that seals the top of the bag around your chest and shoulders (like a collar) in order to keep warm air inside the bag and keep cold drafts out. Typically, the draft collar can be tightened via a cinch cord.
Many sleeping bags designed to hold up against cold weather will feature a sleeping bag hood as well. This allows you to enclose the top of your head in the sleeping bag for extra warmth.
Sleeping bags with a pillow pocket are extra comfortable. The pillow pocket is a compartment that allows you to stuff a small pillow or soft clothing underneath your head to use as a pillow. The pillow pocket is a convenient feature that helps the pillow to stay in place within the bag.
Are Some Sleeping Bags Uncomfortable?
Depending on your sleep style and preferences, you may find that some sleeping bags are less comfortable than others. It’s important to take into account your sleep style. For instance, if you often move around in your sleep a lot, you may feel that a mummy-style bag is too tight and doesn’t allow you to get a full night of sleep.
Another example: if you prefer a snug, cozy sleeping experience, a basic rectangular bag without any added warmth features (like a hood or draft collar) might not be comfortable enough, either.
A sleeping bag will also feel uncomfortable if it is too cold or too warm. Make sure to evaluate the temperature rating of your sleeping bag before purchasing to ensure its compatibility with the nightly temperatures you will encounter.
For example, a sleeping bag rated for 20 degrees will probably feel too hot if you are camping in the summer. You want to make sure you don’t get sweaty. You don’t want to be shivering, either, so choose carefully.
Try to find a sleeping bag with a temperature rating that is at least 10 degrees less than the coldest nightly temperature you will face. This ensures that it is well-equipped to handle the weather without being too warm. This way, you will feel more comfortable all night without waking up sweating or shivering.
Another way to make your sleeping bag as comfortable as possible is to use a sleeping pad underneath it. The sleeping pad will create an additional barrier between yourself and the earth floor.
A base layer of long underwear and long sleeves can help insulate your body heat inside.
However, make sure that the clothes you’re wearing aren’t too thick or puffy. This may cause the bag to be too tight, compressing the insulation and preventing the bag from trapping heat. You also want to be careful not to wear so many clothing layers that you get too hot and start sweating.
The clothes you sleep in should be clean and dry (don’t wear the clothes you spent all day hiking in). This will prevent sweat and moisture from getting trapped inside and causing a smell.
As we discussed, there are many ways to ensure that your sleeping bag makes for a comfortable camping experience. Evaluate the temperature rating of your sleeping bag to ensure that it meets the nightly temperatures. Also, look out for a bag that fits your desired sleeping style, such as a spoon shape for side sleepers or a mummy-style bag for back sleepers.
Also, keep your eye out for additional features like a hood, draft collar, and pillow pocket for added comfort.
Leave us a comment below if you have any more questions about the comfort of your sleeping bag!