Summer bags generally feature a temperature rating of +35 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. The general rule when purchasing any sleeping bag is to choose one with a temperature rating that’s a little lower than the lowest temperature you’ll be snoozing in– better to be too warm and just strip off some layers, than to be too cold and freeze all night. Trust me, I’ve been there (and been very cranky the next day), so be sure to consider if you are a type of person that tends to sleep hotter or colder, because that can dramatically effect your quality of sleep.
Temperature rating isn’t the tip of the iceberg, though, so don’t stop there. Consider features of bags, like a zipper or a foot vent, a hood or a removable comforter or liner. Sleeping bags designed to keep out drafts don’t always come with zippers, as you’re trying to keep warm and toasty throughout the night. A summer bag with a zipper or a vent means you can easily unzip and ventilate if you find yourself a little too warm during the night.
So, we’ve talked about the outside, but they say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Consider the fill material carefully as well. Do you care more about weight and durability, or more about ease of care and versatility? While goose down bags are high-quality, comfortable, exceptionally-warm options, they offer no help in the event of a summer thunderstorm. Goose down bags take a long time to dry, and if you’re planning on camping or hiking during unpredictable weather, or if you just don’t like having to hyper-protect your gear, you may want to choose a synthetic down bag. However, nothing packs down small and carries light like a down-fill sleeping bag, so if you need to save space and weight, you might choose to go with down and just keep a cover on it to protect it from moisture.
There’s tons to choose from out there, and your sleeping bag is one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll choose. If you’re not a sleeping-bag guru, don’t order your first bag online. Go to a store and spend some time with the bags (–you know, get to know them before you jump into bed with them). Take your time, see how they feel in and out of their stuff-sack, climb in and wiggle around in them, know your options and features, and then take that puppy home and pack up the pickup, because summer’s meant for camping, baby!