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Sleeping Bags for Florida Campers

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schessl | Green Wave Forum News
Published Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's state the obvious. A good night sleep can make or break any camping trip. You can deal with a little rain and sand in the mac and cheese but not getting a wink of sleep because your bag is too warm or too cold or too tight or soaking wet, well, that is not only going to ruin your night but the next day as well.

To help you get the rest you deserve so you can paddle, hike or bike further distances you need to select the right sleeping bag. We're here to help with this comprehensive review of sleeping bags for Florida campers.

Ground Rules

Sleeping bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and should be purchased according to the type of trip you are planning, your body type, sleep habits and budget. Sleeping bags are usually rated at a certain temperature. Unfortunately there is no universal standard between manufacturers so a 50 degree bag may work well for one individual at 50 degrees and be too cold for another person at 65 degrees. That said, it is generally safe to assume the lower the temperature rating, the warmer the bag and usually the heavier and bulkier the bag.

Sleeping bags work best when they are not placed directly on the ground and you'll pick up a few degrees (and much comfort!) if you use a pad, mat or some other way to get yourself off the ground. I like self-inflating mats but others may choose closed foam pads or even air mattresses.

Here is a biggie: Florida is not only the Sunshine State; it is also the rainy state. Choose a bag that does well in a wet environment. This means synthetic insulation such as PolarGuard, Quallofil and Hollofil and NOT down. Down goose feathers may be light and compressible but they are incredibly difficult to get dry once wet. If you are going lightweight and camping in the summer months, use sleeping bag liners, polyester fleece or sheets.

Sleeping Bag Styles

Here are five of the most popular styles of sleeping bags for use in Florida. They cover every possible temperature condition that you may experience, from fringed nights and light snow in the panhandle to the blistering heat waves of central Florida during the summer months.

Sleeping Bag Liner
Cost: $30 to $50
Temperature: 70 to 90 F.
Sleeping Bag Liner

It's a hot summer night and you'd swear your popup dome tent has just turned into an Indian sweat lodge. You're dripping from head to toe. What do you do? Use a sleeping bag liner! These handy and inexpensive liners work well for spring, summer and early fall trips where the temperature doesn't dip below 70 degrees. During chilly nights or camping trips outside of Florida, you can use them to for additional insulation inside of a full sized sleeping bag to gain another 5 to 10 degrees of warmth.

Light Top Sleeping Bag
Cost: $30 to $80
Temperature: 55 to 80 F.
Light Top Bags

These are probably one of the hardest bags to find but perhaps the best for Florida spring, summer and fall camping. I have a Kelty bag that has insulation on one side for cool evenings and a poly-cotton sheet on the other for warmer nights. Too hot? Put the sheet side on top. Too cold? Put the insulated side on top. Like a sleeping bag liner, it works best with a thicker mat or pad to get some insulation from the ground.

Fleece Sleeping Bag
Cost: $10 to $30
Temperature: 60 to 70 F.
Fleece Bags

These inexpensive bags are available at almost all big box and sporting goods stores. They are a good warm weather bag and will cover spring, summer and early fall seasons. Since the cost is so low and easy availability, they have all but eliminated the Light Top style of bags. Poly-fleece bags dry quickly and are soft, plush and comfortable next to the skin.

Basic Rectangular Sleeping Bag
Cost: $15 to $60
Temperature: 40 to 70 F.
Basic Rectangular Sleeping Bag

These are the most popular style of sleeping bags and available at almost all big box and sporting good stores. Most rectangular sleeping bags have a soft nylon shell and some form of polyester filling. Due to the shape, these bags allow for more movement for side and stomach sleepers. Additionally, most rectangular bags can be zipped together to form a double bag for those camping with their spouse or significant other. Cons? Not good on hot nights and fairly bulky due to shape.

Mummy Sleeping Bag
Cost: $80 to $300
Temperature: 0 to 50 F.
Mummy Sleeping Bag

Stay cozy on the coldest of nights with these high quality sleeping bags. Most mummy bags have double-layer construction that traps air for additional warmth while the mummy hood covers your head and shoulders and reduces heat loss. When compared to rectangular bags, mummy bags are warmer and lighter due to better insulation and reduced material. Be careful on fit. These bags require height and shoulder girth measurements before buying and ideally you will want to find a store that will let you "try one on" for best fit.


To wrap it (and you) up, you should select a sleeping bag that matches the temperature and environment that you camp in. Ask these questions - How cold is it going to be? How much space do I have in my boat/bike/backpack? How quickly will this bag dry if it gets wet? And finally, how much money am I willing to spend? With answers to these questions and this comprehensive review of sleeping bag styles, you'll be cozy and well rested on your next Florida camping trip.

Last update Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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Cmt Sleeping Bags for Florida CampersLogin to Post   
You are in the public comment zone. What follows is not from Green Wave Forum; it comes from other people and we don't vouch for it.
quincypair on 10/30/2012 7:10am
Sleeping bags should not be compressed while not in use. We air our sleeping bags when we return home and then losely pack them in a large bag, not the compression bag.
quincypair on 3/6/2012 8:55am
When we have to drive over 1 1/2 hours to paddle, we try to camp and spend at least 1 full day paddling. In the Panhandle, we find the best time to tent camp/paddle are the late fall to early spring months. We've found that a 40 degree bag will not be sufficient for most people in the colder nights of December through February without wearing warm or layered sleeping clothes. We've also found that sleeping bags and tents designed for backpackers will fit into the hatches of our touring kayaks with room to spare. Not only are they lighter, they are compact. We've been quite satisfied with our REI 2 person backpacking tent -- it assembles quickly and dis-assembles as fast. And it has withstood an hour long deluge without a drop getting in, can't attest for a 4 hour or longer deluge, but that situation would be very unusual. We could not do without our Big Agnes insulated sleeping mattress, which folds into a tiny pouch. More expensive than other sleeping pads, but well worth the price and particularly if you're using a 40 degree sleeping bag, like our Northface which compresses into a bundle easily fitted into our hatches.