Tips for Picking The Best Sleeping Bag For Hiking

Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Dean Anderson

If you’re planning on taking your first hiking trip, it’s absolutely essential to prepare. Most injuries and deaths that occur during outdoor activities could be avoided with a little preparation and the right equipment.

Sleeping bags together with a decent sleeping pad and pillow are absolutely essential. Pick the wrong type, and you can find yourself sweating, freezing, or just plain unable to sleep. We aren’t going to tell you which sleeping bags to buy: that’s your job. What we will do is show you how to pick the best sleeping bag for camping and hiking that you can.

Temperature Rating Of The Best Sleeping Bag For Hiking

One of the most important measurements of your sleeping bag will be its temperature rating. Fundamentally, you should want something that can protect you from the elements.

This is why, ideally, you should get three different sleeping bags. One specifically for the summer, one specifically for the winter, and another for Fall and Spring. Or of course just go for the one that fits the season you are largely going to be using it in.

A summer sleeping bag will offer a temperature rating of 35 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. This means that it will keep you warm only within this temperature rating. If you wear this sleeping bag type on a winter hike, you may awaken to a bad case of frostbite, or worse.

A Fall or Spring sleeping bag should protect you from temperatures between ten-and-thirty-five degrees. These are also often called three season sleeping bags; you can use them in Fall, Spring, and Summer. Refrain from using these in the winter, particularly if your hike involves high altitude. Frostbite and hypothermia are both very serious conditions that you can avoid by choosing a warmer sleeping bag.

Winter sleeping bags will feature temperature ratings of ten degrees and below. While one with a winter rating is the best sleeping bag for hiking in a cold environment, we cannot recommend it for warmer climates. This is because overheating can cause heat stroke and dehydration, both of which can result in serious injury and even death on your hike.

The best choice is having multiple sleeping bags for your hiking and camping trips. Be prepared for whatever weather conditions may come your way, and always check the websites of hiking trails for any extreme weather warnings.

Insulation Types

The next thing you’ll notice when you go sleeping bag shopping is that different types of bags have different types of insulation. This insulation can be incredibly important.

But it also depends on your perfect insulation. Factors such as allergies and price range will help determine the insulation to look for on your best sleeping bag for hiking.


Synthetic down generally does not keep hikers as warm as goose or duck down. But there are some key advantages to choosing a sleeping bag with synthetic insulation.

The primary advantage is cost. Synthetic down is by-far the cheapest form of insulation for your sleeping bag. And while the best sleeping bag for hiking usually isn’t the cheapest, the price range is absolutely something you should factor into your purchasing decision.

Synthetic down also tends to be waterproof. This is an advantage for anybody expecting to brave the elements on their hike. If you can’t stay warm while your sleeping bag is wet, you’re going to have some real problems on your trip. So do weather research, and if you need to buy waterproof gear you should also buy synthetic or waterproof goose down.

Another benefit of synthetic down sleeping bags is that they’re hypoallergenic. The unpleasant discovery of a down allergy can ruin your camping trip, so if you aren’t sure whether or not you have one, you can benefit from synthetic insulation. Better safe than sorry!

Goose/Duck Down

Goose or duck down is one of the most popular types of sleeping bag insulation. It’s incredibly warm, but can also be expensive. In spite of its many advantages, there are some key problems with a goose down sleeping bag.

On top of allergy issues, goose and duck down sleeping bags usually cannot keep you warm in wet conditions. For that, you’ll need to buy synthetic or waterproof down sleeping bags. Still, if you’re on a dry hike, then goose or duck down can be the insulation of the best sleeping bag for hiking.

Water Resistant Down

This is rare and expensive but can be incredibly convenient. A sleeping bag with water-resistant down insulation is built so that the feathers on the inside can resist the water on the outside.

If you must have a down sleeping bag on all trips, then this is worth it. But it depends on your budget and how much effort you’re willing to put into finding a good one. It also helps to read customer reviews: we can’t think of anything worse than finding out that what you thought was the best sleeping bag for hiking does not provide the water resistance you need.

Size and Roominess

These are two factors you’ll need to balance when looking for the best sleeping bag for hiking. You can transport a smaller sleeping bag more easily, but it can also be restrictive when you’re trying to sleep.

Hiking when poorly rested can be no laughing matter. In fact, going on a hike without getting enough sleep can result in disasters such as getting lost in the woods and even accidentally injuring yourself.

The best thing you can do is take an inventory before you go hiking. Consider how much weight you’ll be carrying, and make sure you can comfortably carry your sleeping bag along with it. From there, think about what will make you comfortable and what will not.

Also if you’re bringing the kids along you should get them a sleeping bag that’s specifically made for them rather than making do with mum or dads old sleeping bag.

Get More Hiking and Camping Tips

Our blog has some of the best tips on finding equipment for hiking and camping. Whether you’re looking for tents or gear, we can help you find everything you need while making sure your outdoor journey is fun in the process.

Check out our amazing camping tips to make the most of your outdoor adventures. Stay safe, healthy, and prepared!

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