Sleeping bags and mats

/ Expedition Kit / Sleeping bags and mats

What sleeping equipment do I need for a DofE expedition?

How to choose your sleeping bag and mat

Good sleep = energy!

A good night’s sleep always helps on expedition so it’s important to have a sleeping bag designed to give you comfort at the lowest minimum temperature. There’s plenty of choice, so it pays to look around and work out what’s right for your adventure.

Tips for choosing your sleeping bag – temperature rating

Most sleeping bags are rated for how many seasons they are useful:

– 1 or 2 = summer
– 3 = spring or autumn
– 4 or 5 = winter or extreme cold

Check the temperature range for which the sleeping bag can offer you comfort and safety. Remember, there’s no need for a heavy 4-season bag if you’re sleeping in a warm location in summer.

Material – synthetic vs. down

An outdoor sleeping bag is usually made of synthetic or down material.

Synthetic is cheaper and heavier, and offers more insulation when wet. Down is light, compact and very warm – but more expensive and only insulates when dry.

DofE recommended sleeping bags and liners

 Vango Nitestar sleeping bag series  Vango Latitude sleeping bag series Vango Venom sleeping bag series

Vango Nitestar series

1 season
Synthetic insulation
Small and lightweight

View Nitestar

Vango Latitude series

All-year-round warmth
Synthetic insulation
Versatile for all levels

View Latitude

Vango Venom series

All-year-round warmth
Down insulation
Arrow foot shape

View Venom

 Vango Ultralite sleeping bag series Lifeventure Cotton Sleeper range

Vango Ultralite series

Small pack size

View Ultralite

Lifeventure Cotton AXP Sleepers

Rectangle or Mummy
Extra liner

View Cotton sleepers

All Duke of Edinburgh’s Award recommended sleeping bags are snug ‘mummy’ shape for outdoor use, with compression sacks to pack small. A 3-season bag should be fine for any Award level.

Sleeping mats give you extra insulation and comfort when camping. Use standard padded mats, or self-inflating mats for that extra level of comfort.

A yoga or pilates mat isn’t suitable for sleeping outdoors. You may only need a three-quarter length mat to keep your shoulders and waist comfy.

DofE recommended sleeping mats

 Vango Trek sleeping mat

Vango Trek

Small pack size

View Trek mat

Ways to save money on your DofE expedition

A good sleeping bag can last you for many years, be a really great value addition to your camping kit, and there are lots of ways to keep your kit costs down:

  • Don’t spend loads on a 4-season sleeping bag if you’re only going for a short trip in a warm climate.
  • Use a silk or cotton liner in your sleeping bag to cheaply add an extra season – these are also suitable if you are borrowing someone else’s bag.
  • Borrowing someone’s sleeping mat is fine and can be a real cost-saver.
  • Use your exclusive DofE Card or Voucher to claim your discount* in all local GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors or Tiso store (Scotland only) and online.

*Full T&Cs apply 

For DofE Adults’ discounts, click here.

More tips for getting a good night’s sleep

  • Keep your sleeping bag dry! Pack it inside your rucksack in a waterproof bag.
  • If water comes into your tent, use your survival bag to keep your sleeping bag dry.
  • If the night is very cold, wear extra layers and put your fleece in the bottom of the bag to keep your feet warm.
  • Use the elastic straps provided to roll your mat – not string which can damage it.
  • Don’t store tent poles inside your rolled-up mat – if you lose them, you’ll have nowhere to sleep.