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Will my sleeping bag be warm enough?


Q. I have a 45-degree mummy sleeping bag and a 15-degree liner to go with it, so it becomes a 30-degree bag. My dad says I’ll be fine in the cold, but I’m not so sure. It gets pretty cold in the tri-state area. What do you think I should do?
— Worried Russell, Randolph, N.J.

A. I think you should give it a shot. Sleep a couple nights out in your bag and find out if it keeps you warm enough. If you’re worried, pitch a tent in the backyard so you’ll be close to home if you do get totally chilled.

That said, here are some ways to stay warm inside your sleeping bag: (1) be sure to use a sleeping pad because that will help insulate you from the cold ground, which will quickly suck heat from your body; (2) consider sleeping in warm clothes, like a set of long underwear and wool socks. Also, wear an insulated stocking cap since you lose lots of body heat from the top of your head.

Lastly, keep in mind, the temperature ratings on sleeping bags and liners are just general guidelines. It’s up to you to determine at what temperature you can still sleep comfortably in your sleeping bag.

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20 Comments on Will my sleeping bag be warm enough?

  1. I have used a quality water bottle (Nalgene for example,Always test the bottle you are using to make sure it doesn’t leak.) with hot not boiling water. Puts a little warmth into the bag and will stay that way for awhile.

  2. I have had good results using a fleece summer bag inside my regular bag. A winter jacket or throw blanket over the bag will help too. I like to sleep in thermal top and bottom or sweatpants and sweatshirt. Some of my fellow scouters swear that I would be warmer in just shorts or boxers. Anyone else want to weigh in on this? I tend to think more layers equal more warmth as long as you don’t overheat. The opposing view is that the bag will insulate better with more air space.

  3. Old school scout // December 1, 2017 at 8:08 am // Reply

    Toss a handwarmer in the bottom of the bag. If you’ve really prepared then ball up newspapers and position them around you in the bag to trap warm air.

  4. Be sure to change to clean clothes before you get in the bag.

  5. For outdoor camping, I want a sleeping bag with good durability, is lightweight, and isn’t pricey. What bags would you suggest?

  6. ColdFeetVeteran // November 14, 2016 at 10:37 pm // Reply

    I agree that it is up to the individual. Protection from the ground is as important as protection from the air. Keeping your head covered (hat or mummy bag) is extremely important. I use a lightweight blanket and wool socks to keep my feet warm. However, I have also had the issue of being too warm. I started sweating and THEN got really cold from the moisture. There are some great tips in the article and in the comments, but you need to find out what works for you.

  7. Red River, NM Hiker // November 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm // Reply

    Several layers of regular old cardboard underneath the sleeping pad works well, especially in snow conditions.

    Do not sleep in clothes worn during the previous day.

    Put clothes for the next day in bottom of sleeping bag.

    Head and hands covered with toboggan and gloves really helps.

  8. It has been proven that you loose no more body heat from your head as you do from any other part.

  9. Try to get the lowest temperature rating you can. Look around for a 0’F sleeping bag.

    • You lose a lot more when your head is outside of the sleeping bag in your body is in. Stocking hat during winter camping makes a huge difference in comfort and heat retention .

  10. Troop 483 // June 5, 2016 at 7:39 am // Reply

    In our Troop here in NY we always recommend that new Scouts start with a sleeping bag rated for 0’F. That way no mater when we camp they will be comfortable. It’s easier to deal with a warm night than a cold night with the wrong bag

  11. Also keep in mind that the pad underneath is as important. The cold ground will pull more heat from you than cold air above. Close cell pads work well, adding a blanket between the pad and the bag helps. Even a some cardboard will help.

  12. prove it’s bad if you think it’s bad

  13. As you head would be more likely to be sticking outside of the sleeping bag – that’s why you would tend to lose heat lose heat thru it. But making sure to keep your feet warm is important to me

  14. the idea that you lose so much heat from your head is GREATLY exaggerated.

  15. When new, sleeping bag ratings indicate the temperature they will keep you alive at, not comfortable.

    Depending on how old it is, how you care for it, and store it, that temperature can change drastically in only a few years. Always bring extra warm clothes long johns, sweats Etc… just in case your bag isn’t up to snuff, or the temperature drops mire than expected.

  16. No!

    If you have any questions about staying warm at night, pack warmer than you other wise might. Nothing gets a scout to quit camping faster than a bad sleeping experiance like being cold every night.

  17. You could also put your sleeping bag, in another sleeping bag.

  18. maybe it looks comfortable

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