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How to Choose Your Sleeping Bags and Bedding for the Best Night Sleep

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Last updated on June 23, 2023

Children camping in winter and cold weather in snug fitting sleeping bags having fun in a tent

Being comfortable in bed is important, whether at home or in a tent, and so your choice of sleeping bag and bedding can really make or break a camping trip.

When considering sleeping options for your camping setup, here are your options:

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags are the most efficient form of bedding for camping.On a warmth to weight ratio, the cocoon / mummy shaped sleeping bags with a close fitting hood are the most efficient, and are generally lighter and more compact for transportation compared to the larger and more rectangular shaped bags.

Green cocoon shaped sleeping bag  for cold nights

These types of bags will typically minimise the amount of internal room and air in the bag that needs to be heated, keeping you warmer in cold weather. As we lose a lot of heat through our head, a close fitting hood is also important to keep you warm. The next best option, the more rectangular shaped bag that tapers in towards your feet, will allow a little more room to move but they will also allow more air to circulate in the bag, and won’t keep you as warm as the cocoon shaped bags in cold weather.Other considerations for your sleeping bag include:

  • If you want to use the sleeping bag for overnight hiking: An investment in an extremely good quality hiking style bag will give you more options for your camping, and can last you for years. Hiking stores have an extremely wide range of compact and light weight sleeping bags, and would probably offer more variety than your general camping stores.
  • The temperature rating of the bag: Are you likely to camp more in winter or summer? Are you are warm or a cold sleeper or somewhere in between. Cold sleepers don’t generate a lot of heat at night, and should select a sleeping bag with a rating around 10⁰ C colder than the expected temperature.
  • Which bag size will fit your shape and length: Sleeping bags are now built in many shapes and sizes to suit our various body shapes and anatomies. Some sleeping bag manufacturers also offer male and female specific sleeping bags, and also bags with extra elbow and knee room for those who like sleeping on your side!
  • Your preferred bag filling – duck down, polyester or other. Duck down will be more compact and lightweight and more expensive than polyester.
  • If you want a double sleeping bag for two or a single one.
  • What type of lining you want in your sleeping bag – warmer flannelette or cooler cotton / polyester / other.
  • If you want zip out inner layers for easy washing, and to give you different ratings for warm and cold weather.
  • Most importantly, the weight and size of the bag when packed in it’s compression bag, and whether / how it can be transported by car.

Doonas and quilts

Rather than investing in a sleeping bag, especially if you only camp in the warmer weather, using the doona or quilt from your bed at home provides a familiarity to your sleeping arrangements that could improve your quality of sleep. Some quilts may be bulky to pack compared to sleeping bags but they are worth considering if space permits.


Space wise, normal size pillows are light weight but bulky and will take up a lot of car space. Small polyester filled camping pillows, or even small cushions, which are less than half the size, can be very comfortable, as can inflatable and self -inflating pillows. Hiking and camping stores will have a range of compact camping pillows.

Striped doona cover / quilt from the bed

For transportation, these compact pillows can be stuffed in with your bedding or clothes bag or anywhere where space permits.

Additional warmth

We tend to throw a light polar fleece blanket or two into the car for extra warmth in case we need it. Woollen blankets are also excellent insulators but can be quite bulky and heavy.

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