How Tell a Sleeping Bag's Temperature Rating

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Today's sleeping bag technology is so advanced that certain bags can even be used in the Arctic. With this technology comes a rating system to inform you what temperature you can use the bag in. Knowing how to read these ratings can make the difference between a restful night's sleep or a restless night of tossing and turning. In extreme cases, even hypothermia can result from choosing the wrong sleeping bag.

  • Locate your sleeping bag's temperature rating tag. It is usually on the inside of the bag, sometimes hidden within a pocket.

  • Read the tag. Some bag ratings simply give a number in degrees. That number estimates the coldest temperature for which the bag provides insulation.

  • Look at the tag to see if any additional information is given. If the rating shows two bars -- one for male, one for female -- look at the specific bar for your gender and read the rating. There may be a blue bar and an orange bar. The blue bar shows the temperature range at which you are likely to be cold. The orange bar is the estimated warm range.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not judge a sleeping bag's temperature rating solely by looking at the tag. Temperature ratings are merely a rough estimate to be used as a starting point. When determining a bag's temperature rating, take your metabolism into account (whether you are a warm or colder sleeper) as well as the loft, girth and fill weight of the bag.

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