If there is one thing that can make-or-break a camping trip it is how well you sleep. A good sleeping bag is an essential item that will make your camping experience great. With care, your sleeping bag will last a lifetime.
We recommend that you always use a sleeping bag liner. Much like the sheet on your bed, it keeps the inside of your sleeping bag clean. Liners also provide additional warmth and moisture wicking and they can be tossed into your washing machine to clean. On hot summer nights, you can sleep in the liner only.
Sleeping bags differ in their application for summer (warm to cool night conditions) or winter (freezing cold) camping so consider your most common activities before making your selection. In time you may choose to have a summer and a winter sleeping bag.
Temperature ratings for sleeping bags are given as comfort, limit and extreme. These are based on a 'standard woman' wearing one long (arms and legs covered) layer and a hat, and sleeping on a single 2.5 cm think foam pad. A 'standard man' will be comfortable at the limit but it is definitely not recommended to use your sleeping bag at the extreme rating. The extreme rating is about survival, not comfort.
When comparing sleeping bags, consider the temperature rating to narrow down your options, then the price and then the dimensions and weight. Sleeping bags that are warmer but also smaller and lighter will be more expensive because of the fill i.e. down.
(click on the image to see a bigger version in its own tab)