Below, we discuss the types, reasons, and considerations that all contribute to what type of sleeping bag you may need, as well as weight considerations for your chosen activity. After all, whether your backpacking in Death Valley in July or trekking through BANFF in January, this stuff matters.
The average sleeping bag weighs 2.7lbs, with the lightest coming in at a minimal 12 ounces, and the heaviest tipping the scale at over 5.5lbs.
What Should My Sleeping Bag Weigh?
Although it may seem like a fairly mundane part of going on a trip, picking out the right sleeping bag for you is important. In fact, it can be a rather intricate process that has a lot of factors to consider. What temperature rating do I need? How much weight can I afford to pack? What type of bag will best fit my needs? There are a lot of questions you may have.
It is a really good thing to be asking these questions. That means you are wanting to do it the right way. Thankfully, picking out the best sleeping bag to fit your needs can be done regardless of your budget. This blog will lay out what makes a sleeping bag heavy, and why this is an important part of picking a bag. By the end, you will hopefully have a much better idea of how to plan and what to look for before your next trip.
What Makes A Bag Heavy?
Materials Used On The Interior
Before deciding on what type of bag you need, it is important to understand what factors contribute to sleeping bag weight. There are a couple of different types of sleeping bags that are made of different materials A majority of bags are shelled with nylon, polyester, or a blend of both. Thankfully, these are lightweight materials and not overly expensive.
Materials Used On The Exterior
The other main type of material is ripstop. This is reinforced nylon that helps with breathability and durability. Finally, there are Gore-Tex and other waterproofing materials that are applied to an already existing bag. This is the most expensive option as you are getting a high-quality product that is waterproof and durable.
The thicker the outer shell, the heavier the bag will be. This is paired with the filling that makes up the bag’s insulation. Many bags are “down” bags filled with feathers that are a synthetic alternative. Bags with a colder weight rating, have a denser filling and will be much heavier than the average summer bag. Check out this beast of a nearly 6lb sleeping bag over at REI, click here.
Camping Conditions To Considerations
As hinted at in the previous paragraph, the weight rating directly affects how heavy a bag will be. The general rule is that cold weather bags are heavier than summer bags. This is because the rating system requires more material to keep you warm. For example, a very comfortable 35-degree bag probably isn’t suitable for winter conditions in areas where the weather will dip below freezing.
This does require a bit of research, but it is important to understand how sleeping bags are rated and what your specific weather attributes are. Along with staying cool or warm, figuring out what type and rating of the bag will work with your climate, you can then prepare for lighter or heavier sleeping bags.
Once you have a good grasp of camping in different conditions, you will want to invest in different types of bags. The temperature and weather conditions play a huge part in picking the right sleeping bag for you. For example, you don’t want a -40 degree down mummy bag when you’re camping in Southern California in May. And Vice Versa.
Rain is a weather condition that effects hiker and campers alike in all parts of the year. Because of this, if you are shopping for a sleeping bag it’s good to consider one that has a water barrier exterior like a gortex lining. A gortex lining will prevent water from soaking your sleeping bag and help insulate in the summer months. The downside, however, is it will likely be hotter in the summer months.
Camping in cold weather can be a challenge. Depending on your location and the temperatures in the winter, the type of sleeping bag you get will need to have heavy consideration to account for the sub-freezing temperatures. Additionally, consider the rating of the bag and be sure to look at the comfort rating compared to the temperature rating.
Ever slept in a sleeping bag in the deep months of summer? It sucks and once you get out of the bag because you are too hot, you are likely still hot, think Moab Utah in July, it’s like 85 at night…..yikes that’s hot when trying to sleep. Personally, I recommend having a different bag for the summer months or winter months to account for these extreme changes.
Does Sleeping Bag Weight Even Matter?
Yes, a sleeping bag’s weight should matter to you. However, it isn’t always your top priority, depending on your circumstances. By this, I mean that there are certain situations where you don’t need to take the weight of a bag into heavy consideration.
Backpack Weight, Body Aches and Pains
If you are going on a casual outing with some friends and you are going to an established campsite that has car access, picking a really light sleeping bag probably isn’t a huge priority. You may want to invest in a larger bag to maximize your comfort. On the flip side, if you are going on a backpacking trip, the lighter the better. You will probably be willing to sacrifice at least some comfort to save weight. Because everything you bring is on your back all day, shaving off just a pound or two actually makes a big difference.
Knowing what kind of trip you will have is important. It is important to weigh all of your options and see if you have the liberty to pack heavy or you have to save as much space as possible. After all, getting good sleep can make or break your entire trip. BTW, while you are here, check out our guide to the Best Sleeping Bags For Toddlers.
What Is A Good Sleeping Bag Weight?
This is a pretty loaded question. Like the above information, everything depends on your specific situation, but we can still lay out some of the ideal sleeping bag weights out there on the market. The best answer is a culmination of keeping the weight where it works for you, keeping it in your price range, and being able to stay warm at night.
To break this down further, we will layout two very common scenarios. The first one is having access to a vehicle and camping for pure comfort. When having a lightweight, the small compacted sleeping bag isn’t a huge priority, weights can range from three pounds for lighter bags and seven pounds for temperatures below zero. These are usually rectangular and have heavy cloth fabrics that take up a lot of space.
On the flip side, when space and weight are an issue, sleeping bags are going to get lighter, smaller, and more expensive. The ultimate goal of a serious backpacker is to get a sleeping bag under two pounds. This is hard to do when you don’t have a lot of money but can totally be done for a few hundred dollars. If the budget is a little tighter, getting under three pounds can be done and there are a lot of great options in the two-three-pound range.
Weight Considerations For Truck Camping
Truck camping has its advantages, one of the biggest advantages when it comes to a sleeping bag. When you are truck camping or car camping, your vehicle is your backpack and the weight of the sleeping bag won’t have an impact on your pack. Additionally, the weight of the pack is carried by your truck. Simply select a bag that matches your weather conditions with your budget and your good to go!
Weight Considerations For Outdoor Camping
Overnight camping and sleeping bag selection is more important, now we are moving up a notch in concern and planning. Keep in mind, you will need to account for the location you will be camping and the expected weather. This may mean you have a heavier bag in the winter and a lighter bag in the summer.
Weight Considerations For Extended Backpacking Trips
This is the highest level of consideration and concern. When on extended backpacking trips, you cant swing by the store if you forget something, that means planing accordingly is a really big deal, and that also extends to your sleeping bag. If you cant make room for the heavy duty bag when you have cold nights, consider getting a well-rounded bag and pairing that with good layering of clothing to account for the lack of density in a heavy duty bag.
Final Thoughts On Sleeping Bag Weight
As you progress, getting different types of bags for different occasions is very common and quite preferred. When you have the luxury to load up the truck, have a great sleeping bag for the occasion. If you are going on an impromptu backpacking trip, be prepared to carry all of your gear.
If you’re new to backpacking, you may be underestimating just how important weight factors are. Be honest with yourself, your ability, your route, your weather, and your overall goal. Answering these considerations honestly will take you to your next sleeping bag purchase that works best for you. Now, you know the drill, GET OUTSIDE!