Shopping for a new sleeping bag?
You might have noticed that some of them have a zipper on the right side, and others have a zipper on the left side.
But hang on –
How do you know which side you need your zipper on?
Don’t worry, I’m here to help you figure it out. Luckily, figuring it out is pretty easy. There are just a few things you need to consider, and the answer becomes clear.
Ready to find out what they are?
Come on then, let’s jump straight into it!
Does It Really Matter Which Side The Zipper Is On?
For a lot of people, having the zipper on either side of your sleeping bag isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in your camping experience.
That being said, there are certain circumstances in which having the zipper on one particular side of your bag might be more convenient.
For instance, if you have trouble using your non-dominant hand, you’ll want to pay attention to which side the zipper is on.
Also, if your camping tent has a side entrance, getting a sleeping bag with the zipper facing the same side can make getting in and out a lot easier.
Bivy sack users and side sleepers who always sleep on the same side will also benefit from having the zipper on a certain side.
And, finally, those who wish to be able to mate two sleeping bags together to form one big double sleeping bag for couples camping will need to consider the placement of their zippers, to make sure that their bags are compatible.
If any of these situations apply to you, I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about choosing a sleeping bag with a left or right hand zipper.
If none of these situations apply to you, just go for whichever sleeping bag is cheaper.
Righties & Lefties
If you want to be able to use your dominant hand to zip and unzip your sleeping bag, the answer is simple. Just get a sleeping bag with the zipper on the opposite side to your dominant hand.
So, if you’re right handed – get a sleeping bag with a left zip. And, if you’re left handed – you guessed it – a right hand side zipper.
Why the opposite side?
Well, think about it. If you’re right handed and you get a sleeping bag with a right hand zip, reaching it and pulling it up and down with your right hand is going to be pretty awkward.
However, if it’s on the opposite side, all you have to do is reach over and you can easily access and use the sleeping bag zipper with your dominant hand.
Tent Entrance Orientation
If you have a tent with a side entrance, it’s better to have a sleeping bag with a zipper that’s facing that entrance. That way, getting in and out of your tent is a lot quicker and easier, because you can just slide in and out, without having to shuffle around as much.
This is especially true if it’s a small 2 or 1 person tent. Since you haven’t got a lot of space to move around inside these tents, having a zipper that’s facing the door makes things run a lot smoother.
Bivy Sack Alignment
This is the same deal as with tent doors. If you’re sleeping in a bivy sack, you want to make sure that your bivy and your sleeping bag have zippers on the same side.
Having the zippers aligned on the same side will make zipping and unzipping so much easier. You’ll be able to do it all with one hand, quickly and without any hassles.
Personally, I’m a tosser and turner. I flip back and forth between my right side, left side, and stomach all through the night.
However, some people always sleep on one particular side. If that’s you, you’ll want to get a sleeping bag with a zipper on that side. It’ll make zipping and unzipping something you can do quickly, without having to flip around to find the zipper.
So, if you always sleep on your right side, get a sleeping bag with a right zip, and vice versa.
Mating 2 Sleeping Bags Together
If you want to buy two mummy bags that you can mate together to form one giant sleeping bag, you’ll need to get them with zippers on opposite sides. One mummy bag should have a right zip, and the other one will need to have a left zip.
Mating rectangular sleeping bags is much less complicated, as they don’t have a left or right side. They’re rectangular, so which side the zipper is on just depends on which way the bag is facing.
If it’s on the right – flip your rectangular sleeping bag over, and now it’s on the left.
With these bags, you just need to make sure that your zippers are compatible. If you have two of the same rectangular bag, you’ll be good to go. Just keep in mind that the same model produced in a different year could have a different zipper, and might not be compatible with the earlier model.
At the end of the day, whether your sleeping bag has a left zipper or right zipper is a minor point.
The only situation in which you can’t make do with whatever is if you want to mate two mummy shaped sleeping bags to get a double bag. In this situation, the zippers need to be on opposite sides.
In every other scenario, you’ll be able to use a sleeping bag with the zipper on either side without any major issues.
However, if you’re sleeping in a bivy sack or a tent with a side entrance, you’re definitely better off with a zipper on the same side as the tent door or bivy opening.
If you need some help in your search for the perfect sleeping bag, check out this article I wrote on the best sleeping bag brands. Knowing which brands to look out for can really help you narrow down your search and find the right bag for you.