Best Car Camping Sleeping Bag – How to Choose

In continuing with my Camping for Newbies series, in this article I will discuss options with you to make sure you choose the best car camping sleeping bag for your comfort.

Previously, we’ve discussed your basic camping needs, showed you how to choose a tent and reviewed a couple of tents that are perfect for starting out with.

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How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

Luckily, being a new camper, you don’t have to delve too deeply into the scientific make up of a sleeping bag.  However, I will list below all the options out there and some of their environmental uses, But for the purpose of the article we will only concentrate on a few simple specifications.

Tip: Because you’re car camping, you don’t need to stress about size of the bag or the weight of it, because you won’t be carrying it very far.

3 Main Sleeping Bag Shapes

    • Rectangular Sleeping Bag – can also come as a double  – for those romantics out there.
    • Barrel-Shaped Sleeping Bag
    • Mummy Sleeping Bag

Insulation Types

    • Down Feather
    • Synthetic

Temperature rating

    • Summer
    • 3 Seasons
    • Winter

Other Features

    • Hoodie
    • Zip Structure
    • Inner Lining Fabrics

As a newbie camper let’s look at the best option for you,

This would either be a rectangular shaped or barrel shaped sleeping bag with a summer or 3 season rating and with either a synthetic or down filling. Let’s start here and then we can discuss the other features worth looking at.


Rectangiular sleeping bag
Rectangular Bag

From our days as kids, I think this might be the one that most of us relate to. I remember using this type during school camp outs, or sleeping out in the garden, or making a fort in my bedroom. It’s the shape most commonly associated with the traditional sleeping bags image.

Below I have listed some features of the rectangular sleeping bag.

    • Lots of space to move around in
    • Can open out to use as a quilt on hot nights
    • Zip features allow for foot ventilation
    • Inexpensive
Barrel Shaped bag
Barrel-Shaped Bag

Also called semi-rectangular or modified-mummy, this  shape is a good medium between a rectangular and a mummy.

Features: –

    • Comfort and space of a rectangular sleeping bag
    • Offers a good compromise between comfort and warmth
    • Tapered shoulder and foot space
    • Can come with a hood


One thing you will need to consider when choosing you sleeping bag, once you’ve decide on the shape of it, is the dimensions that suit your body size.

Make sure the length of the sleeping bag will fit the full length of your body. It is also imperative to make sure the width of the sleeping bag will fit your body shape.


As pointed out above there are 2 basic types of insulation

Down Feather

This is definitely the most comfortable option, but may be more suitable to other types of camping and colder weather.

Some of the features include: –

    • Lightweight
    • most suitable for cold and dry weather
    • Cotton liner for comfort
    • Compresses easily into its carrier bag
    • Long lasting
    • Doesn’t insulate if wet
    • Expensive

If you are concerned about the treatment of ducks and geese in the manufacturing of down products then always look out for the RDS (Responsible Down Standard) Certified label on the bag or the TDS (Global Traceable Down Standard) Certified label.


This type of insulation is most often a polyester filling and is good for warm weather camping.

Some of the distinguishing features include: –

Polyester Insulation
    • Heavier than down
    • Suitable for warm weather
    • Inner lining can be polyester (cooler) of flannel (warmer)
    • Dries fast if wet and still insulates if damp
    • Non – allergenic
    • more affordable than down

Temperature Rating

Let’s face it, for the purpose of this article and you being a first time camper, there’s probably a very good chance you won’t be heading out to camp in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of winter on your first go, now will you? Right? Please tell me I’m right….

So let’s just forget about the technicalities that come to determining you won’t freeze to death in your sleeping bag and look at some of the key points in deciphering the rating.

Season Rating
Low temp limit (°F) High temp limit (°F)
Summer 35°F Over 35°F
3 season 15°F 35°F
Winter Under 15°F 15°F

Other Features to Consider

Let.s look at these features in a bit more detail: –


These are not really a necessity in our scenario, but we’ll look at them as an option anyway.

    • Best used in cold climates
    • On warm camping trips it can be rolled up and used as a (very small) pillow
    • Also on warmer nights it can be used as extra padding underneath your pillow.

What you don’t want is to have your zipper keep snagging on the material. And you need to ask yourself if you need ventilation or not?

    • Larger zippers with sturdy teeth as these are less likely to snag
    • A stiff backing along the length of the zipper, will limit snagging
    • A zipper guard will limit snagging
    • A bag with more than one zipper slider makes it easy to adjust for ventilation, allowing your feet to peak out the bottom
Inner Lining

The main inner-lining fabrics are: –

    • Polyester & Nylon
      • Soft, smooth & most popular
      • Breathable & comfortable
      • Cooler if sleeping in one spot
      • Used in cheaper sleeping bags
    • Cotton & Flannel
      • Mostly used in Rectangular bags
      • Breathable & durable
      • Lightweight
      • Easy to clean and repair

Now that you have a better understanding on what you need to look go out there and do a little window shopping for what you are interested in.

But, if you want this decision made easier for you, then I can recommed the Canway Sleeping Bag. This is a great all-rounder and comes in so many colours and sizes you can get one each for the whole family. I have reviewed it too, giving you a lot more information on it. But honestly, as a newbie fair weather camper you can’t go wrong with this beauty.

Remember if you have any questions about car camping sleeping bags then post a comment below.

Happy Camping!!

Warm regards,


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