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Different Types of Sleeping Bags to Enjoy Great Outdoors

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Arguably the one piece of camping equipment you can’t hit the trail without is your sleeping bag.

You can have the best tent, outdoor wear, and camping gear, but it’s all going to seem pointless without the right sleeping bag.

We’re here to tell you about the various types, sleeping styles, and comfort levels, as well as how to effectively pack them in your backpack to maximize storage space.

As the most important element of your camping loadout, how you pack it is equally important.

10 Types of Sleeping Bags

Let’s go over each style and method, one by one.

1. Single Sleeping Bag

single sleeping bag for outdoors

This is the most basic sleeping bag model you’ll ever come into contact with.

It’s your basic tube-like bag with a wide opening at the top and minimal insulation (either synthetic or down), and it packs up in the most normal way possible.

It folds up well thanks to its evenly displaced fluffiness and generally waterproof shells.

Packing Advice

The most simple way you can pack this is with a single roll in one direction.

You won’t even need a nylon drawstring bag because, after rolling it up, it will be the perfect size to hang underneath an external frame backpack or to strap-in on top of your regular backpack using the leather straps that keep the top flap down. Single sleeping bags are generally simple to pack.

2. Double Sleeping Bag

It’s built for two, which means it’s twice the hassle to pack. Double sleeping bags generally detach via a zipper in the center and come with a fairly heavy weight.

Although carrying them in your backpack can be challenging, packing them upright allows for proper weight distribution to reduce back stress. These have detachable pillows and oversized single hoods.

Packing Advice

Start by laying it out flat and smoothing the surface. You’re going to fold it horizontally so that it essentially looks like a single sleeping bag. Tuck in the oversized hood area so that it’s nice and tight (you really don’t want this puffing out while you’re trying to store it in your bag).

Start with a very tight roll from the bottom. It’s important to keep the roll tight the entire way since this is twice as thick as a normal sleeping bag.

Once fully rolled, store it in the nylon drawstring bag that came with it or fasten it under the frame of your camping backpack.

3. Triple Sleeping Bag

It’s a monster to pack, and that’s what it is. Close-knit families typically use triple sleeping bags, which, as you might expect, are significantly heavier than double sleeping bags.

These usually don’t come with a detachable zipper access point, so folding them up may require two sets of hands.

Packing Advice

Start by laying it flat and evening it out on a level surface. You have to trifold it horizontally, like a letter. Fold in the left 1/3 of the way, then the right, and you should have an elongated, single sleeping bag-like ploof of fabric.

Now you can go one of two ways: you can either do a tight roll from the bottom, with you taking one side and your other set of hands taking the other, or fold it vertically in half two times and place it in your backpack.

Keep in mind that this is a monster of a sleeping bag and will require 55-liter backpacks or more in order to not take up all available space.

4. Sleeping Pad

Some campers use these as a buffer between their sleeping bags and the ground below, but minimalist campers will sometimes use them instead of a sleeping bag.

Sleeping pads are thin, lightweight comfort pads that act as a layer between you and the ground, making them ideal for stargazing.

Packing Advice

It’s about to be super easy; do you think you can handle it? If it’s inflatable, simply open the valve, use your hands to press out any additional air that’s still trapped inside, and then close the valve.

Roll the pad up, and it’ll fit into your backpack. If it’s not inflatable, it’s going to be a little more rigid, but it should still roll up well.

Alternatively, you can fold it in half twice and put it against the back wall of your backpack’s main interior compartment.

5. Roll Mat

roll mat for sleeping

It’s a very self-explanatory piece of camping equipment, but essentially, it’s a more flattened version of a sleeping pad.

These are ultra-thin and excellent for minimalist camping.

Packing Advice

Fold it over two to three times, and then slide it in between other belongings in your backpack.

You should have little to no resistance when folding this up.

6. Mummy Sleeping Bag

Imagine an Egyptian mummy: these sleeping bags are the most visible, primarily because they cover your entire body except for your face.

A drawstring allows you to tighten it so you’re as covered as can possibly be.

Packing Advice

Mummy sleeping bags aren’t much different from single sleeping bags; you just have to keep the hood in check while rolling it.

Start by making a tight roll from the bottom and following it up along the length of the sleeping bag. When you have about three or four rolls left, stop.

Lean on the folded section so it doesn’t unfurl, then fold the mummy hood inward towards you. Continue your roll, then slip it into its nylon drawstring pouch.

7. Down Sleeping Bag

This simply applies to any sleeping bag style that uses down insulation instead of synthetic insulation.

Down is typically more expensive than synthetic, but once you feel the comfort of down insulation, it’s difficult to go back to synthetic. Packing down insulated sleeping bags can be a hassle.

Packing Advice

This may seem a bit simple, but it works wonders.

Down sleeping bags don’t do well when they get wet (unless you get a very high-end sleeping bag), so get two different 30-gallon black trash bags and line one inside of the other. 

Fold your sleeping bag in half twice, then place it in the bag’s bottom. You want to lean your knees on the bag, so your body weight helps to compress it. 

Once you have it compressed, tie the first bag. Repeat this when using the second bag, and it will stay compact during transit.

8. Synthetic Sleeping Bag

This simply applies to any sleeping bag style that uses synthetic insulation instead of down insulation. 

Even though this is more of a type than a style, the insulation is what proves most difficult during packing. 

Winter sleeping bags frequently use synthetic insulation because it is typically less expensive than down.

Packing Advice

Synthetic insulation is very compressible. To keep it compressed, you need to get a nylon bag with a drawstring on top for storage.

Roll the sleeping bag up, and after each roll, press down with your forearm to compress it before storing it in the bag.

Alternatively, you can roll and position standard-sized synthetic sleeping bags, still compressed, underneath an external frame backpack with straps.

9. Ultralight Sleeping Bag

ultralight sleeping bag for camping

As the title suggests, it’s designed for minimalist campers who don’t want to lug a ton of weight with them. 

Heavy sleeping bags can damage your back, and ultralight sleeping bags can still provide the same temperature resistance ratings as standard bags. Generally, manufacturers make these with synthetic insulation.

Packing Advice

You’re about to have a good time with this one. They’re usually wafer-thin and simple to store, which makes them perfect to slip into the main compartment of your backpack.

Instead of rolling it, fold it once, then again, and you should have a flat pad that’s about ¼ the size of its rolled-out state. 

You can simply put this in your backpack up against the back wall, so it provides a cushion between your back and the rest of your backpack contents.

10. Winter Sleeping Bag

These come with a ton more insulation than a standard single sleeping bag, and they can also come in the double sleeping bag variety.

These generally come with synthetic insulation to keep them as lightweight as possible (though that can sometimes be difficult) and as efficient as possible.

Packing Advice

You’re in luck if it has synthetic insulation. Get a nylon bag with a drawstring around the opening. Dust off your sleeping bag and find a level surface to begin rolling it up. 

When you get about halfway through rolling, you’ll notice some resistance based on the size of your sleeping bag. To compress the synthetic insulation, lean down with your forearms, then perform a half-roll before compressing it again.

Keep one forearm pressed down on the sleeping bag while you continue rolling it. Use the nylon case, and once it’s in the bag, pull the drawstring as quickly as possible to keep it compressed.

Additional Packing Tips

preparing a sleeping bag for transport

While some of these sleeping bag types are fairly simple to pack, they’re not all equal.

These tips and tricks will help you make the most of packing, whether you’re using an external frame backpack or a simple knapsack.

Packing and storage affect you far more than you think, so let’s take a look at some of the ways you can optimize your sleeping bag storage.

Storage Affects Lumbar Support

Whether you’re packing it under an external frame backpack or snugly on the inside of your pack, you’ve got to ensure that your lumbar is supported.

It’s the spot on the small of your back that we’re constantly damaging by improperly carrying gear around, so do make sure that your sleeping bag’s storage area isn’t putting additional stress or uneven weight distribution on your lower back.

Secure Detachable Hoods and Pillows

We’ve been there and know plenty of guys who have returned home from a three-day trip, only to find their detachable sleeping bag hood nowhere to be found.

If you don’t secure them separately, like in a different compartment of your bag, you’re bound to eventually lose them.

Make sure to secure any detachable accessory for your sleeping bag in a pocket or compartment that won’t unravel during your journey home.

Wipe It Down Before Storing

Cleaning your sleeping bag can be a hassle, but if you only spent one night under the stars, a simple wipe-down could be all it needs to stay fresh and evade that funky odor.

Take a travel-size pack of wet wipes with you or a slightly damp cotton face cloth to the interior of your sleeping bag, then the exterior. There’s no need to bring home dirt and odors from your trip.

Cover Your Zipper

Did you get a sweet sleeping bag with highly durable, no-snag YKK zippers? Good for you; all the more reason to protect them. Cover your zippers with a piece of painter’s tape to keep them safe during transit.

I don’t care how strong your zippers are; snagging them on something while you walk can easily cause damage, especially if it’s being stored externally in your backpack.

Keep a Patch-up Kit Handy

You do your best to research and read reviews before buying a new sleeping bag. Even with the best of the best, tears happen after you’ve been using your bag for a while.

If you have one, keep a patch-up kit in your backpack, or even better, in an internal sleeve of your sleeping bag.

If you encounter a tear after arriving on day one of a three-day trip, you don’t want to compromise warmth and water protection.