Sleeping Bags for Backpacking: 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing

2 green sleeping bags

There’s a good reason backpackers are picky about choosing their sleeping bags. Since they don’t have the luxury of hauling their entire camping gear at the back of their trunk, they’re more particular about the equipment that they bring with them. Less is always more for backpackers, and the same is true with their choice for sleeping bags.

A backpackers’ choice

The reason there is no one-size-fits-all combination of backpacking gear is that everyone has varying preferences. A backpacker’s equipment needs to keep them comfortable with the least amount of drawback. In this article, we’ll give you a handy assessment of the three key factors to consider when buying the right sleeping bag for you:

1. Weight

One of the more crucial factors in choosing the right sleeping bag for backpackers is the weight. Unlike RV campers, they don’t use vehicles to haul their heavy gear. When comparing the pros and cons of a specific product, remember to do a side-by-side based on their temperature ratings.

Backpacking bags have an advantage over traditional camping sleeping bags by being lightweight, compact, and providing better warmth compared to its heaviness. You’ll be able to tell the difference once you start carrying it on your back.

2. Type of insulation

A sleeping bag’s temperature rating is set to an EN or an ISO. This rating helps standardize the way different bags can be compared for customers to make better decisions for the products’ value.

ISO and EN temperature ratings are relatively similar, with the ISO standard being the newer and more reliable estimate in terms of consistency. Two temperature types help buyers rate the sleeping bag consistently. The two levels are ‘Comfort,’ as the lowest temperature level for cold sleepers, and ‘Limit,’ the lowest temperature level for warm sleepers. Be wary about brands that don’t use the terms ‘comfort’ or ‘limit’ as these aren’t their EN/ISO ratings but rather the brand’s estimate.

You need to choose a temperature rating that’s lower than what you think you’ll experience on your trip. If you haven’t done the background check on where you’ll be backpacking, it’s best to settle for bags that have the lowest temperature ratings. It then allows you to open up your bag to adjust for warmer conditions.

3. Sleeping system

A sleep system is a combination of a sleeping bag, pad, and the individual’s clothing. A sleeping bag’s test rating is based on a person who’s down to their socks on top of an insulated sleeping pad. The combination of all those variables leads to a consistent R-value of 5.5. Pairing up your sleeping clothes with your choice of the sleeping pad will let you do an R-value estimate that’s above or below the standard.

Consider the value of comfort of the gear that you’ll bring and see how they add up to the total look of your sleeping system.


It’s always best to come prepared when taking a trip away from civilization. Yet, every person prepares differently based on where they’re going and what they want to experience. One could bring an all-terrain chopper for traversing dense forests and mountainsides, while others could pack with them a telescope to pick a perfect spot to gaze into the night sky.

Every backpacker approaches a trip differently, and that’s what makes every camping trip a unique adventure. If you’re looking to bring a specific tool for your camping trip, whether it’s a vivitar reflector telescope, crossbow, or more, check out our products to see what we have in store for you!