Sleep soundly! Your essential sleeping bag guide

Don't see red - this guide will help you choose a sleeping bag that's right for you, and ensure it has a long shelf life.

Are you looking at buying a sleeping bag?

Perhaps you already own one, and wonder why it looks like it’s aged faster than a piece of cheese in the midday sun.

Whatever the case, before you get too cosy it pays to read this handy guide. From important ratings, to how to store your sleeping bag, these top tips will help you get the most out of your snug addition.

When embracing the great outdoors, we can't all sleep snuggly like koalas do, but having a great sleeping bag can help.



Sleeping bag ratings: overview

First off, when you start shopping, you will likely encounter sleeping bag ratings. If you don’t have experience with sleeping bags, these ratings may seem meaningless. However, these evaluations indicate various characteristics of the product and place it in categories, which means you can find the perfect sleeping bag for you.

Temperature ratings

The temperature rating is a key factor. To select the sleeping bag with the right temperature rating, you will need to consider the environment you will be sleeping in and the estimated temperature of that environment. For example, a sleeping bag used for sleeping in a tent during hot weather will be different from a sleeping bag best suited to altitude.

Temperature ratings and categories vary according to country, so buying locally means you’re more likely to find a sleeping bag that’s best for your conditions.  

Buying local means you're more likely to find a sleeping bag that's best for your conditions. Location: BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park, Albany, WA.

Comfort ratings

Comfort ratings are closely connected to the temperature ratings and indicate the temperature the sleeping bag is most suitable for. For example, when you use a sleeping bag in a temperature that is below the comfort level, it is highly likely you will become too cold.

Extreme ratings

Extreme ratings are only applicable if you intend to go on a ‘survival trip’. The extreme rating refers to the minimum temperature the sleeping bag can be used in, and more importantly to keep you alive. However, if you only intend to use your sleeping bag in a BIG4 park or the like, extreme ratings will not have much impact.

A sleeping bag's extreme rating is generally applicable only if this is how you envision your camping trip to pan out.

Synthetic vs feather

Synthetic sleeping bag benefits

The synthetic sleeping bag is a popular choice for those who take frequent trips, but do not need a tremendous amount of protection against the weather. Still, a good synthetic sleeping bag can have an excellent temperature rating and comfort rating.

One of the biggest benefits of the synthetic sleeping bag is its easy maintenance compared to other options.

Price is another factor. Synthetic sleeping bags tend to be more affordable than alternative types, largely as the nature of the material is easier to obtain for manufacturers.

If you decide to buy a synthetic sleeping bag, you will have ample choices. Their popularity means customers can choose from a variety of sizes, designs, and bag ratings. On top of that, you can enjoy a synthetic sleeping bag for a minimum of 15 years if looked after properly…as we’ll get to shortly.

Synthetic sleeping bags can put a smile on your dial.

Feather sleeping bag benefits

The feather sleeping bag is considerably lighter than the synthetic sleeping bag, and due to the nature of the material is easier to store, too.

Feather sleeping bags generally have the same lifespan as synthetic sleeping bags, although you may get an extra five years out of a feather sleeping bag if handled with care. Feather sleeping bags that have been used for a couple of years often provide an unforeseen advantage, because you can move your filling to alter the temperature.

On the downside, feather sleeping bags are more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags and require more maintenance should you want them to last.

Feather sleeping bags are also less suitable for people suffering from allergies. Even though the feathers do not usually impact the user right away, they may cause allergies after a certain period of use.

Still, feather sleeping bags are extremely comfortable and the ideal choice for the frequent user.

Green with envy: Feathered sleeping bags are super comfy. C'mon mate, you should be happier about it!


How to best store your sleeping bag

Once you have bought the ideal sleeping bag for your holiday adventures, it’s vital that you store it properly to ensure its longevity. It’s best to not leave your sleeping bag in the ‘stuff sack’, as this can squash its fibres and cause it to thin out, reducing the comfort level.

Instead, it’s best to hang the sleeping bag in a cupboard, or you could leave it on your camper bed or caravan. If space is at a premium, store the sleeping bag in a pillowcase instead. A pillowcase won’t squash the fibres, providing you do not place any objects on top of it.

Stuff sacks can restrict the longevity of your sleeping bags.

Washing your sleeping bag

When you have used your sleeping bag a lot, you may feel the need to wash it. Unfortunately, washing sleeping bags can affect their warmth and efficiency.

For that reason, it is recommended not to wash your sleeping bag too frequently.

Cleaning a synthetic sleeping bag should be done by hand or in the bathtub. However, if you feel you have no other choice, you can put the bag in the washing machine on a low-spin cycle. Synthetic sleeping bags should never be put in the dryer, though, as the dryer’s heat can have a negative impact on the synthetic fibres.

Down or feather sleeping bags are the hardest type to clean. While they provide a tremendous amount of comfort and warmth, for proper care they require special cleaning products to keep pristine.

Now it’s time to sleep soundly!

Dear oh dear. Looks like someone forgot the golden rule: sleeping bags and washing machines don't mix.

Synthetic or feather? To wash or not wash? Best brands? If you have an opinion on anything sleeping bag, we’d love to read it. Please leave a comment below.

Isn’t it time you planned a cosy getaway? Book your next BIG4 break now.

This article first appeared at

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