The 4 Different Types of Sleeping Bags (& How to Choose) (2022)

Woman backpacking
Table of Contents

    A sleeping bag is a sleeping bag, right? This kind of mentality can immediately set you up for failure on your next camping trip. Choosing the wrong type of sleeping bag can make your camping trip miserable and cut your trip short. We are dedicating this article to the 4 different types of sleeping bags and how to choose the best sleeping bag for your next trip.

    The 4 Different Types of Sleeping Bags

    To understand the different types of sleeping bags, you have to understand how sleeping bags are categorized. Sleeping bags are categorized by temperature, season, insulation, and shape, so let’s take a deeper look into the different types of sleeping bags for each of these categories.

    1. Sleeping Bags by Temperature Rating

    The temperature rating of a sleeping bag is how much warmth the sleeping bag will provide, depending on how cold the air and ground temperatures are.

    Temperature ratings are classified as extreme temperature, comfort temperature, and lower-limit temperature.

    An extreme temperature rating means the sleeping bag will keep you warm in extremely low temperatures. A comfort temperature rating is typically used on women’s sleeping bags, and it refers to the coldest air temperature in which a female who enjoys the cold can comfortably sleep.

    The lower-limit temperature rating is typically used on men’s sleeping bags, and it refers to the coldest air temperature in which a male who doesn’t like the cold can comfortably sleep.

    How to Choose

    Think about the type of sleeper you are. Do you like to be cold when you sleep, or do you prefer to be hot? Do you often sleep in a curled position, or do you sleep relaxed?

    If you prefer to sleep in the cold, you should choose an extreme temperature rating or a comfort temperature rating.

    If you prefer to be hot in your sleep, you should choose a lower-limit temperature rating.

    2. Sleeping Bags by Season

    Similar to a temperature rating, you can choose a sleeping bag by the season it is designed for. There are three types of sleeping bag seasons: winter, summer, and three-season.

    Winter sleeping bags are thick and can keep you warm when the air temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below. They have hoods that can be cinched to keep you warm, as well as draft collars and an insulated zipper draft tube to keep the cold air from entering your sleeping bag.

    Winter sleeping bags should be used in the winter or when you want to stay as warm as possible. Winter sleeping bags are thick and puffy, so they will take up more room in your backpack than other types.

    Summer sleeping bags can be used in temperatures 30 degrees Fahrenheit and warmer. They have less insulation, so they are the most lightweight option if you’re trying to save room in your backpack. Most summer sleeping bags allow you to unzip them completely to turn them into a quilt or blanket instead of a sleeping bag.

    Three-season sleeping bags can be used when temperatures are 20 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Three-season sleeping bags get their name because they are made for the three seasons of spring, summer, and fall. They are not ideal for winter because they don’t have the features that winter sleeping bags have to keep the cold air out.

    How to Choose

    This is easy. Think about the season in which you will be camping. If you are camping in the winter or in any colder conditions than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you want to choose a winter sleeping bag.

    If you are camping in spring, summer, or fall, you can choose a three-season sleeping bag or a summer sleeping bag. Remember that a summer sleeping bag often lacks all of the features that will keep you warm since it is designed to be used in the summer or warm conditions.

    3. Sleeping Bags by Insulation Type

    There are two different types of insulation used inside sleeping bags. Sleeping bags can be insulated with down insulation or synthetic insulation.

    Down is made from the fluffy feathers of a goose or duck. They offer comfort, warmth, and effectiveness when trying to stay as warm as possible.

    Synthetic insulation is a plump and heavy polyester that is waterproof. They are often heavier than down-insulated sleeping bags and can often take up more room in your backpack.

    How to Choose

    It comes down to thickness and waterproofing when choosing the insulation type. Down is thick and will provide comfort and warmth, while synthetic will offer the most waterproofing.

    4. Sleeping Bags by Shape

    You can also choose your sleeping bag by shape. These shapes provide warmth and comfort for different types of campers.

    There are four different sleeping bag shapes: rectangular, semi-rectangular, mummy, and double.

    A rectangular sleeping bag provides the same width for both the arms and the legs within the sleeping bags. This kind of sleeping bag is best for those who have broad shoulders or prefer to stretch out while they sleep.

    Semi-rectangular sleeping bags have a more narrow bottom with a slightly wider top. They are a mixture between a rectangular sleeping bag and a mummy sleeping bag.

    Mummy sleeping bags are snug and provide the most warmth. You can’t move around inside the sleeping bag; instead, the sleeping bag moves with you as you move.

    Double sleeping bags are made for two people and are ideal for summer camping.

    How to Choose

    You’ll want to think about the season and temperature you’ll be camping in. If it’s cold, you should choose a semi-rectangular sleeping bag or a mummy sleeping bag to keep you the warmest. If you are camping during the summer months, you can choose a rectangular sleeping bag or a double sleeping bag. This is also a good choice if you will be sleeping with someone else.


    Sleeping bags are categorized into four different types, and knowing these different types will help you choose the best one for you. Look for the temperature rating, season, insulation, and shape of the sleeping bag to help you make the right decision for your next camping trip.

    Knowing the temperature rating and season that the sleeping bag is made for will keep you safe and comfortable.

    See more:

    Narcis Bejtic