The humble sleeping bag is a staple for all adventurers but more so for Australians since we all love getting out in the great outdoors. But with so many sleeping bags and brands, finding the best sleeping bag for your situation can be a struggle. To ensure you’re equipped for your next trip, we will go through what you should look for in a sleeping bag and some of our best recommendations.
Seasonal Sleeping Bags & Heat Ratings
Most people have no idea what heat ratings are or why they are important. Unfortunately, that flimsy Spongebob bag you had as a child isn’t going to cut it when you really start to face harder conditions. Luckily there is a range of bags that are capable of handling almost every climate and condition, from mild summers to sub-zero winters.
Winter Sleeping Bags
These bags are specifically designed for colder temperatures and are designed to keep you warm during those freezing winter nights. They are typically made with thicker insulation, heavy-duty materials and include hoods to prevent heat loss. Winter sleeping bags are usually very bulky since they have so much additional insulation, but they are the best option for extreme temperatures.
Summer Sleeping Bags
Summer sleeping bags are created for mild to hot temperatures and are usually lightweight and thinner than their winter counterparts. They don’t usually come with hoods but provide enough insulation to keep you comfortable during warmer nights and still provide enough insulation in case temperatures dip. While they don’t provide as much heat, they are generally quite compact and easy to store.
Different Types of Sleeping Bags
Once you’ve determined what kind of heat rating you require you will need to look at the type and shape you need for your sleeping bag. The decision is a little more individual and based on personal preference, as shape and size can change depending on the person and space available.
Rectangular Sleeping Bag
The rectangular sleeping bag is quite self-explanatory, with its rectangular shape varying from the traditional sleeping bag shapes giving it some additional space. They are roomier at the feet compared to mummy-style bags, offering plenty of space to stretch out for those who find other styles of bags restrictive. While these are more comfortable you might find that they are less effective at keeping in the heat and may take more space in your bag.
Barrel-Shaped Sleeping Bag
This barrel-shaped design not only keeps you warm and comfortable throughout the night but also provides extra space to stretch out, more so than traditional mummy sleeping bags but slightly less than rectangular bags. They usually have some extra room at the top and a little at the bottom, making it perfect for those who need that extra space to stretch out when sleeping outdoors but don’t want to compromise space or insulation.
Mummy Sleeping Bag
This is the classic and most common style of sleeping bag that features a shape that’s tapered at the feet and wider at the shoulders. It’s designed for insulation in key areas and eliminating extra bulk where it’s not necessary. They have a good balance of space for the upper body but keep things compact and insulated for harsher conditions.
Double Sleeping Bag
The double sleeping bag is a bit of a rarity but definitely worth a mention, as the name suggests, this bag fits two people and can have some advantages. It is not only space-saving but if you want a more intimate sleeping experience with your partner it can be perfect. The double sleeping bag is excellent for couples, or anyone wanting to share a cozy camping experience under the stars.
Elephant’s Foot Sleeping Bag
While it’s a rarer find, the elephant’s foot sleeping bag may be suitable in some situations. It is essentially a mummy bag but the top is cut off making it about three-quarters the size of a regular sleeping bag. This means your upper body and arms will be exposed, so you have mobility in your arms.
Which Sleeping Bag is Right For Me?
Finding the right sleeping bag may feel insignificant but having the right size and heat rating can truly make a difference.
If you want to figure out what is right for you, you should begin by considering the temperature rating relative to what kind of conditions you’ll be facing during your trip. The sleeping bag will display a recommended maximum temperature it can handle in Celsius so getting a forecast of the weather is essential.
You should also think about the type of camping you’ll be doing. Backpackers would probably need something smaller than those driving out to campsites over the weekend. Then lastly its recommended that you consider your body size and sleeping habits to figure out what shape of sleeping bad works for you.
Where to Buy Sleeping Bags in Australia
Australians have a variety of options available in general when it comes to camping gear which also includes sleeping bags. Stores like Kathmandu, Anaconda, and BCF offer not only a huge range of equipment for your outdoor needs, let’s take a look at some popular options.
Anaconda Sleeping Bags
Anaconda is known for its more affordable range of sleeping bags and outdoor products as well as premium choices for those looking to upgrade. Their bags come in a variety of types and sizes.
The Spinifex Drifter Sleeping Bag is one popular option and extremely affordable at only $49.99, this sleeping bag is a lightweight rectangle hooded bag suitable for moderate conditions. While we wouldn’t recommend it for harsh climates its a great option as an all-rounder bag.
Kathmandu Sleeping Bags
If you’re looking for a trusted and premium brand of bags then Kathmandu is the way to go, their superior range of products is popular among seasoned hikers as well as casual campers.
The Seeker 5 Sleeping Bag is one of the best-selling sleeping bags that Kathmandu offer its loyal customers. They are definitely in the premium price range at $349.98 but will last in some of the harsher climates and keep you toasty for years to come in every situation. You can purchase a large or regular-sized bag in a mummy shape with pockets and an adjustable hood for your comfort.
Big W Sleeping Bags
Just because Big W isn’t a specialised camping store it doesn’t mean you won’t find a good deal on bags, they have a great range of budget options for those who are casual campers and want to be ready for the holiday season.
If you’re looking for a double sleeping bag on a budget the Caribee Double Sleeping Bag – Firestone is an excellent choice. It is priced at only $139 which is cheap for a double sleeping bag and is of reasonable quality for most purposes. This bag is rated at 0 degrees and also has integrated pillows, saving you valuable packing space.
Sea to Summit Sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags are designed with the ultimate combination of comfort, warmth, and packability in mind, they are a premium brand that comes with a premium price tag but are sure to keep you comfortable in all situations.
The Alpine Down Winter Sleeping Bag is designed for the serious adventurer wanting to tackle arctic conditions. This bag comes in the Alpine II option rated at -20 degrees ($1,099) or the Alpine III at -40 degrees ($1,449) the quality of these bags is second to none and these prices reflect the fact. It weighs 1870g and comes in a package of 14.7 litres.
BCF Sleeping Bags
BCF is Australia’s premier outdoor retail chain with stores all around the country. They have almost every product you’ll need for any outdoor adventures, while the store is more geared towards families and those wanting to holiday outdoors you will still be able to find a solid range of sleeping bags for any condition.
The Outrack Duck Down bag is a popular option for those looking for a versatile mid-range bag at a competitive price. It usually costs $499.99 but has been slashed to $199 online as of May 2023, so it might be a good time to check it out. These sleeping bags are rated at -9.1C giving you some solid insulation during cold Australian nights.
Premium vs Budget Sleeping Bags
In this article, we’ve reviewed a range of sleeping bags for almost every budget you could imagine so it’s probably good that we address the difference between price, quality and what this means for you.
Before settling on a sleeping bag you’ll need to consider the purpose as well as your budget, for those serious hikers that are tackling extreme conditions we don’t recommend that you compromise on price. You could be setting yourself up for a dangerous situation if you’re using low-quality bags during your journeys. Casual campers, on the other hand, can afford to try some cheaper options as they’ll likely be sleeping in milder climates.
Sleeping bag quality and rating can be severely underestimated for most casual campers or hiking weekend warriors. Getting a good sense of ratings is especially important if you plan on taking on harsher conditions but also a good idea if you’re only spending a weekend out in nature as conditions can be unpredictable. Ultimately it’s a personal decision and depends on your needs and what you prefer when camping. Happy adventuring.