What to Look for in a Good Sleeping Bag

sleeping bag

The weather is getting worse from one year to another, and in full hurricane season, we should expect for things to start going downhill again. According to current predictions, we shouldn’t expect any impending disasters, but if the last season has taught the world anything is that Mother Nature can be extremely unpredictable.

Now, since the first 72 hours after a disaster are crucial to your survival, it’s important to have a BOB ready just in case. But besides food and water supply, there are other items you should include like hygiene items, medication, clothing, and sleeping accommodations.

And because I find that sleeping accommodations are usually left out of the preparedness schedule, I want to tell you about sleeping bags and how to select the right products. For this, there are several important features to consider before making a purchase, and I listed them below.

Type & Temperature Ratings

In general, there are three types of sleeping bags on the market, but you should always take the listed temperature ratings with a grain of salt. This happens because every person is different, and each manufacturer has their own temperature ratings.

So, based on the temperature ratings available on the market, the three types of sleeping bags are as follows:

  • Designed for the summer season: +35°F and more (+1°C to +10°C)
  • 3 Seasons: +10° to +35°F (-12°C to +1°C)
  • Winter: +10°F and lower (-12°C and lower)

Keep in mind: Temperature ratings specify the lowest temperature to which the bag will keep you warm. So, a 3-Season bag will keep you warm if the temperature drops to about +10°F but no lower.

Of course, you should be wearing long underwear and the bag should not be directly on the ground. Specialists recommend using a special pad, to create a barrier between the ground and the bag, and according to MattressMatchers.com, the best choice for an emergency is a self-inflating pad. This type of pad is lightweight, easy to pack, and doesn’t require any special attention.

Recommendation: When it comes to emergencies, I recommend getting a 3-season with a liner inside. This way, if it’s summer, you can get the liner out and make it for summer. On the other hand, if it’s fall it will do a great job at keeping you warm.


The shape of the bag is decisive to how effective it will be to keep you warm. Basically, the bag traps a layer of air in between its walls and your body, which will get heated by your body temperature. Now, the shape is important because it decides how much air will be trapped inside and if/when new air will get inside.

In general, you’ll find four main sleeping bag shapes on the market:

  • Rectangular: It’s the most common shape, but also the one that’s least oriented towards heat preservation. These bags work best on a camping trip because they’re comfy and give you plenty of space to move around.
  • Semi-rectangular (barrel): Slightly tapered in shape, some designs come with a hood – these are a hybrid in between mummy and rectangular bags. They’re a bit warmer than the first but not as constricting in movement as the later.
  • Mummy: This is the best shape for preserving heat because it follows the natural shape of your body and comes with a hood. Still, you won’t be able to move too much inside because it is a snug fit.
  • Double-wide: These are usually created for couples as the zippers work together to create a big, roomy design. Still, in terms of heat preservation, they’re not that great.

Recommendation: Unless you live in a cold climate or you’re expecting for a winter disaster, I recommend selecting a barrel bag. They’re lighter in weight and more compact than a mummy and do a pretty good job in temperate climates.

Size & Filling

The size refers to the general fit of the bag, its weight, and overall compactness.

The fit is that feature that describes how well the bag would fit around the sleeper. For instance, you can find sleeping bags designed for men, women, children, and unisex. The ones designed for men are longer and leave more room for the shoulders, while the ones designed for women are broader around the hips and narrower around shoulders. Unisex sizes are usually a man’s fit so both men and women could use it.

When it comes to weight and compactness, the feature is tightly connected to the type of insulation (or filling). The general options are:

  • Down (usually from goose or duck feathers)
  • Synthetic (man-made fibers specially engineered to keep heat inside and humidity outside)

Down is a natural material that provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio. So, the higher the down content, the better insulated you will be inside the bag. To highlight this feature, producers came up with ‘fill power’ (500, 600, 700, and more). Basically, the higher the number, the better your bag will be. Still, high down count also means a more expensive bag, so you may not have the budget for this.

Synthetic fibers can provide the same warmth as down, but they are bulkier. However, they’ll work well when wet, which is a low point for down (unless it’s hydrophobic). Synthetic filled bags are cheaper, but you shouldn’t be too stingy about it – the cheaper, the lower the quality it will be.

Recommendation: Overall, the best for an emergency in cold weather it would be a high hydrophobic down count bag, but for any other seasons, a high-quality synthetic fill should do the trick.

Triangulating Your Position in the Wilderness

In Conclusion

The world as we know it is changing and it may come a time when your skills as a prepper will be the only ones keeping you alive. So, even though you live in an area where there are no natural disasters, it’s a good idea to have a well-equipped BOB around. You never know when an emergency strikes (natural or manmade)!

Guest post by Edie

Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Lightsoutusa   (You will have communications in ANY TYPE of disaster.)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Survival System   (Learn The 7 Secrets Every Family Must Know To Survive Any Disaster Or Crisis)

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