Taking a camping trip can be extremely fun and adventurous, but only if you are well prepared. That is especially true when it comes to choosing the right sleeping bag for your journey into the woods. If there is one thing you need to have during a good camping trip, it is a comfortable and dry night's sleep, which is something only the right sleeping bag can do for you. When you start to look for just the right type of sleeping bag, you should take into accout why you need it. Your selection will depend largely on whether you are sleeping on the ground, in a cabin, in a cooler climate, or a wetter environment.
Many people begin by deciding between a down or synthetic sleeping bag. Down filled sleeping bags are extremely warm and comfortable and are great for camping outdoors. Synthetic sleeping bags are just as warm but dry more quickly than down in the event of rain. There are many other materials that also work well for at least three out of the four seasons in which you will most likely be camping. They tend to be warmer for the cooler nights, and keep you cool on the warmer nights.
The material that is used for sleeping bags for camping use is normally either nylon or polyester. Both are "breathable" materials (i.e. allow sufficient air in and out for comfort) but also keep you dry and warm. You should avoid all cotton sleeping bags unless you have small children who may feel more comfortable in them. Having a smooth lining is also a benefit for comfort. Linings made from non-cotton material such as taffeta or silk keep you comfortable inside the sleeping bag, which is just as important as the exterior considerations.
Another consideration for getting a great sleeping bag is the actual shape of the bag itself. You have a choice of a cocoon shaped sleeping bag - which is very common - or you can choose one that is rectangular in shape. The cocoon bags are a bit constricting but keep you quite snug, while the rectangular sleeping bags give you a larger space in which to move.
Lastly, you want to make sure that your sleeping bag can be easily "exited." The zippers should open on each end, allowing you to get out quickly if necessary. Having double sided zippers with hooks to keep it closed while you sleep is essential as well.
Make sure you try out the sleeping bag before making the purchase by actually getting into it at the store. Although you may feel a bit silly, that is the only way you are actually going to know if it feels comfortable for you. If the store doesn't allow this then you should try it out as soon as you return home. Give it a thorough "going over" before committing to keeping it. One of the last things you want to do is to take a sleeping bag on a trip without knowing that you are going get a full and comfortable nights sleep.