If you want a great night’s sleep while roughing it, you need gear that works. That usually starts with picking the right sleeping bag. If you’re wondering how to do that, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explain just how to pick the right temperature rating for you.
Every sleeping bag has a few temperature ratings. You’ll want to pay attention to the Comfort level rating, because that’s the temperature at which you’ll remain comfortable, not too cold. However, You should know that temperature ratings are based on an “average sleeper.” They are mostly to compare bags to one another-they might not keep you warm at the temperature promised if you tend to run cold.
You can also think about sleeping bag seasons.
- Summer sleeping bags are rated to over 10°C
- Summer, fall, and spring sleeping bags are rated to over 0°C
- All season sleeping bags are rated to over -5°C
- Mountaineering and cold-weather bags are rated to under -10°C
Just take note: while you can unzip a sleeping bag that’s too hot, you can’t do much about a bag that’s too cold. If you have the option, choose a bag that has a lower rating than the lowest temperature you think you’ll encounter.
Some sleeping bags break temperatures down into upper limit, comfort, lower limit and extreme. The upper limit is the temperature that an “average person” would be comfortable without sweating. This means if it’s warmer than this temperature, the bag will feel too hot.
The comfort level is the temperature at which an “average person” can expect to sleep comfortably. This typically means you’ll be able to have the bag zipped up without feeling too hot or too cold. Again, the “average person” and your comfort level might not match up.
This is the temperature that an “average person” can sleep for eight hours curled up without waking. We’ve found that this limit is often stretched-and most people wouldn’t feel happy with having to sleep at this temperature rating. You can typically ignore this.
This is the minimum temperature to use the sleeping bag for six hours without hypothermia. This is a last-resort temperature, and can safely be ignored when picking a sleeping bag. You’ll want to focus on the comfort rating.
There are a lot of sleeping bags for children that don’t have any temperature ratings at all. They are usually good for summer season bags-if you’re camping out when it’s warm and dry. However, good sleeping bags for kids are usually 3-season bags. You might also consider buying a sleeping bag thermal liner, if you’re heading into the cold occasionally.