Is Your Sleeping Bag Warm Enough?

You decide to go camping this weekend. One of the first things you’re going to do is check the weather forecast. The forecast tells you what clothing you need to bring, or if a rainstorm will force you to reschedule your trip. Checking the overnight lows also determines how warm your sleeping bag should be.

Anyone who has spent the night lying awake in a tent because they were too cold to sleep knows the importance of a warm sleeping bag. Of course, making sure that your sleeping bag is warm enough isn’t always easy.

If you check your weekend forecast, see an overnight low of 35°F, and pack a sleeping bag rated for 30°F, you can still get cold. Here are a few things to consider about sleeping bags and staying warm while sleeping outside.

Some people sleep hot while others sleep cold.

It’s normal for your body temperature to change while you sleep. Some people find that their body temperature rises as they sleep, while others find that their body temperature lowers during the night. Since a sleeping bag provides insulation – trapping body heat – someone who puts out more heat will stay warmer in a sleeping bag than someone putting out less heat.

Determine whether you sleep hot or cold and choose a sleeping bag accordingly.

Not all sleeping bags use the same rating system.

You may find that you sleep cozily in 32°F with a 30-degree bag from one brand, but your chattering teeth wake you up in a 30-degree bag from a different brand. This is because not all sleeping bag manufacturers use the same standard when assigning temperature ratings for sleeping bags.

Many sleeping bag manufacturers, including sleeping bag brands we carry such as Marmot, use the EN 13537 standard.

Women’s specific sleeping bags tend to be warmer than men’s bags.

Men generally sleep warmer than women, so sleeping bag temperature ratings reflect that. A women’s specific sleeping bag tends to have more insulation and provide more warmth than a men’s sleeping bag of the same temperature rating.

For example, the Marmot Trestles 30 sleeping bag has an EN comfort rating of 42.3°F, whereas the Women’s Marmot Trestles 30 has an EN comfort rating of 33°F.

Comfort ratings can be subjective.

The EN standard is great for establishing consistency in sleeping bag temperature ratings, but it doesn’t eliminate the subjectivity issue of comfort. Two people can be in a room, a car, or outdoors experiencing the same temperature in similar clothing, and one person is comfortable while the other is too hot or too cold.

What the EN 13537 establishes as comfortable for the “standard man” and “standard woman” may not apply to you.

Other factors can affect the warmth of your sleeping bag .

Even if you get your sleeping bag rating dialed in there’s more than just that number that goes into staying warm while sleeping outside. For example, if it’s windy, or if you’re sleeping in a hammock, or if you’re sleeping on an air-core sleeping pad, you may need a warmer sleeping bag than you otherwise would. One easy way to get more warmth out of your sleeping bag is by adding a sleeping bag liner.


Let us help you get the perfect sleeping set up for your next camping trip. Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

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