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Sleeping Bag Guide - Styles, features & season ratings explained

Sleeping Bag Guide - Styles, features & season ratings explained


Guide to Family Camping Sleeping Bags

At Aztec Leisure, we understand that family camping trips are about enjoying quality time in the great outdoors, creating memories, and enjoying comfort and relaxation.

One important aspect of this is having a cosy, comfortable sleeping bag. Our guide will help you navigate through the variety of options and features available in sleeping bags to ensure you select the perfect ones for your family camping adventures.

Sleeping bags lifestyle image from Vango

1. Sleeping Bag Shapes

There are two main shapes to choose from: rectangular and mummy.

  • Rectangular Sleeping Bags: These are a great choice for family camping. They offer ample room for movement and can often be fully unzipped and used as a blanket. Perfect for those warmer nights!

  • Mummy Sleeping Bags: These taper at the bottom to help retain heat. However, they might not be as comfortable for those who move around during sleep due to their restricted leg space. This design is more suited for colder weather camping, which is less common in typical family camping scenarios.

2. Insulation Type

  • Synthetic Insulation: This is the most common for family camping sleeping bags. Synthetic materials are cost-effective, easy to clean, and provide good insulation even when wet.

  • Down Insulation: These are filled with the feathers of ducks or geese. While they provide superior insulation and are lighter, they are more expensive and less suitable for wet conditions. These are usually recommended for more advanced, technical outdoor camping.

Sleeping bag lifestyle image from Outwell

3. Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

When choosing your sleeping bag, considering the time of year you'll be camping and your personal comfort level in various temperatures is crucial. To help you make the right choice, sleeping bags come with season and comfort ratings.

Season Ratings

  • 1 Season Sleeping Bags: These lightweight and compact sleeping bags are ideal for use in hot summer months (June-August) or when camping abroad in hotter countries.

  • 2 Season Sleeping Bags: Perfect for use in late spring to early autumn, these sleeping bags are your typical family camping gear.

  • 3 Season Sleeping Bags: These are designed for use from early spring to late autumn, and perhaps a mild winter evening. They offer more insulation than 2 season bags.

  • 4 Season Sleeping Bags: These thick, often down insulated sleeping bags, are made for use in winter when temperatures can drop below zero.

  • 4+ Season Sleeping Bags: Also known as expedition bags, these sleeping bags are made for high mountain use and extreme cold temperatures.

Comfort Ratings

  • Comfort Rating: This is the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep the average person or "cold sleeper" comfortable.

  • Limit Rating: This is the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep the average person or "warm sleeper" comfortable.

  • Extreme Rating: This is the minimum temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep the average person alive. This rating is not for comfort, it's the survival temperature.

For most family camping during spring and summer in the UK, you'll be looking at 1 or 2 season sleeping bags, with comfort ratings that match the lowest night-time temperatures you expect to encounter. Remember, it's always better to be a little warmer than colder, as you can always unzip the bag for extra ventilation.

Lifestyle image sleeping bags boot of car

4. Size and Weight

Remember, you're not hiking, so a little extra weight from a bigger, more comfortable bag won't be a problem. However, it's crucial to consider the size of the person who will be using it. Most adult sleeping bags will be suitable for most teenagers and adults, but there are also specially sized sleeping bags for children.

5. Additional Features

  • Double Sleeping Bags: Perfect for couples, these larger bags are designed to fit two people.

  • Single Sleeping Bags with Compatible Zips: Some single sleeping bags come with a choice of a left or right-hand zip, allowing two single sleeping bags to be joined together to create a double.

  • Sleeping Bag Liners: These add an extra layer of warmth and help keep your sleeping bag clean.

  • Hooded Sleeping Bags: A hood can add warmth and comfort, especially during slightly chillier nights.

  • Zipper Features: Some sleeping bags come with a two-way zipper, allowing for ventilation. Anti-snag zippers prevent the fabric from getting caught in the zipper.

6. Cleaning and Storage

It's vital to take care of your sleeping bag to extend its life. Always air it out after use, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. For storage, avoid compressing down sleeping bags as it can damage the insulation over time.

Lifestyle image outdoors sleeping bags mother and child

7. Our Top Picks

We have curated a list of our top recommended sleeping bags perfect for your family camping needs. Each one offers unique features, ensuring that you find the right fit for your outdoor adventure:

  1. Outwell Constellation Lux Double Sleeping Bag: This luxurious double sleeping bag is perfect for couples who love camping together. It provides ample space, supreme comfort, and optimal warmth.

  2. Outwell Campion Lux Double Brown: Another great option for couples, this bag combines comfort and practicality in a stylish package. Its brushed polyester lining adds to the cosy feel.

  3. Outdoor Revolution Sunstar 200 Single Sleeping Bag: This bag is a superb choice for individual campers. It offers the right balance of comfort and portability, making it perfect for summer camping.

  4. Easy Camp Tundra 250 Single Sleeping Bag: A versatile choice for those looking for lightweight comfort. With its synthetic fill, it offers great warmth and easy care.

  5. Outwell Sleeping Bag Oak Lux: With its longer length and extra width, this sleeping bag offers plenty of space for anyone who prefers a bit more room when they sleep.

  6. Vango Nitestar Alpha 350 Sleeping Bag: Designed for cooler nights, this sleeping bag uses an innovative Alpha insulation for high warmth to weight ratio. It's perfect for campers who might feel the chill.

  7. Vango Nitestar 250 Sleeping Bag Ocean Green: This bag is a great balance between warmth and weight, featuring off-set double layer construction to prevent cold spots.

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