Choosing the right sleeping bag for hiking or bivouacking

How to choose the right sleeping bag for camping?

Are you looking for a sleeping bag for your outdoor trips or camping holidays? Decathlon will advise and guide you in your choice.

Whether camping or bivouacking, a sleeping bag is an essential part of outdoor activities. They are specially designed to be easily transportable while offering you an ideal body temperature, and will be your best allies. Over the years, sleeping bags have come in a variety of designs to meet individual needs. In this guide, we introduce you to the sleeping bag, and how to choose it properly for an activity in optimal conditions. Different sizes, shapes, temperatures... Find all the criteria to take into account for comfortable nights.

Choosing the right sleeping bag for hiking or bivouacking


When you go on holiday and opt for an overnight camping or bivouac trip, it is essential to be well equipped. Whatever the season, temperatures can drop drastically in the mountains once the sun goes down, even in summer. It is therefore essential to have a sleeping bag that will keep you warm all year round.

A sleeping bag that is poorly chosen in terms of filling, size or shape can greatly degrade the quality of your sleeping comfort. It may make you too warm or not provide the necessary warmth, which may affect your sleep. However, on a multi-day trip, it is essential to be well rested so that you can walk for hours without feeling tired. In this guide, we help you make the right choice so that you can bivouac and camp freely.

COMFORT LEVEL: How do you keep from getting cold in a sleeping bag, even when it's below 0°?

When it comes to choosing a good sleeping bag, there are a number of criteria that need to be taken into account.

The technical characteristics of your sleeping bag will be based on the type of activity, the conditions in which you will be using your sleeping bag, but also on your own preferences.
Are you sensitive to the cold? Are you large? Do you operate mainly at high altitude? All these parameters should be taken into consideration when choosing your sleeping bag.

Use these 3 sleeping bag criteria to help you choose:

THE MATERIAL: Is it better to use feathers or synthetic material for the filling?

When it comes to sleeping bags, there is one unavoidable choice: FEATHERS OR WADDING?
Indeed, it is essential to differentiate between feathers and synthetics, as each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of a feather sleeping bag

This is probably the best known type of sleeping bag of all. Sleeping bags can have different types of composition. They can be duck feathers or goose feathers, depending on the model:
- Goose feathers: more efficient, this filling is preferable for more extreme uses with difficult climatic conditions, such as bivouacking at altitude or for mountaineering.
- Duck feathers: slightly less warm than goose feather, duck feathers still perform very well for various uses.

The advantages of a feather sleeping bag?Its weight and compactness! Ideal for multi-day autonomous treks.
The disadvantages of feathers:they do not tolerate humidity and their maintenance is a little more complex. For outings that are likely to be rainy, this type of sleeping bag needs to be protected, either by an over-bag or for use in a tent.

The advantages of a synthetic sleeping bag (wadding)

Although less expensive, the synthetic wadding sleeping bag offers considerable advantages. For both camping and bivouac, the latter offers interesting properties for all nature lovers. Indeed, synthetic sleeping bags offer a certain resistance to humidity, making a night under the stars possible.
It is also very practical because it dries quickly and is easy to clean.

Less warm than a sleeping bag and more bulky, a synthetic sleeping bag is recommended for camping. As the latter is less compressible, it could prove awkward on a multi-day hike, so it would be more suitable for a fixed camp.

USE: Are you going on a camping or bivouac trip?

The sleeping bag is one of the items of equipment that can be used in various situations. Thus, your choice should take into account the type of practice, to ensure a model that meets your expectations perfectly. To do this, you should ask yourself several questions before making your purchase: Will I have to carry the sleeping bag regularly?Am I sensitive to cold?Will I be sleeping in a tent?These answers will help you choose a model more suited to your needs.

  • Camping sleeping bag


    When camping, you settle in comfortably on a pitch that you keep for several days. Once set up, your belongings no longer need to be transported. This means that you can opt for a heavier, more bulky sleeping bag, such as a synthetic model.

  • Bivouac sleeping bag


    Bivouacking involves carrying your equipment throughout the day, while you carry out intense physical activity. Thus, the equipment carried must meet a certain criterion of practicality. As far as the sleeping bag is concerned, it is advisable to choose a light, compressible model that will be adapted to the climatic conditions encountered.

THE SHAPE: What is the difference between a sarcophagus sleeping bag and a blanket?

When choosing a camping or bivouac sleeping bag, one last criterion should not be overlooked: the shape. Indeed, the choice between the different types of sleeping bag will depend on your preferences and the properties you are looking for.

  • Sarcophagus sleeping bag

    The sarcophagus shape

    Ideal for low temperatures or people who are sensitive to the cold, the sarcophagus form of sleeping bag will offer better thermal protection. Indeed, because it fits perfectly to your body shape, it offers more warmth. At the same time, this model will also be easy to transport as it is lighter and less bulky. In the end, the sarcophagus form is recommended for bivouacking.

  • Blanket sleeping bag

    The blanket shape 

    The rectangular shape of the cover gives you more freedom of movement during the night and is more comfortable, especially for your feet. On the other hand, this one offers you less warmth, making it a more suitable model for your summer camping gear.

Choosing the right sleeping bag for hiking or bivouacking

How to look after your sleeping bag

For your sleeping bag to retain its thermal properties and keep you warm on each of your excursions, it is essential to take care of it. This starts with proper washing, which takes care of the sleeping bag, regardless of the type of filling. Note that synthetic sleeping bags will be easier to care for, as they are quicker to dry and can simply be put in the washing machine.

To limit the frequency of washing, consider using a sack sheet, which also has the advantage of adding a few degrees of warmth!

When mentioning looking after a sleeping bag, it is also essential to consider its storage, which also plays a central role in its preservation. When your sleeping bag, especially a feather model, is not used for a long period of time, it is advisable to store it in a suitable storage bag, which will allow the sleeping bag to breathe and retain its loft. However, it is important to distinguish between accessories which are a storage bag and those which are a compression bag, as the latter is used for transport during your excursions.

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