After reading my huge post about shelters, it can seem overwhelming everything that goes into the gear that we bring on our adventures. The next piece of gear in the Big 3 is you sleeping bag and also kind of included into that would be a sleeping pad if necessary.
While looking for a sleeping bag, it mostly is based on personal preference. A good sleeping bag will last you years, if you take care of it properly, so I would YouTube how to take care and clean your sleeping bag or you can go into your local outdoor gear stores and they should be able to help you. I do suggest getting a mummy bag because they tend to be warmer than square bottom bags. There are some things to look out for when looking at sleeping bags like weather, what kind of shelter you have and the cost. Below are the major sleeping bag materials:
Goose down or synthetic down sleeping bags are extremely warm, super light and can last a long time, but the drawbacks are that they lose most of their warmth when wet and they are more expensive. I would look at your budget for gear or look at borrowing your friend’s sleeping bag. I would also look at the weather where you will traveling to just because it might be a good idea to either get a different material or a really good rain fly.
Synthetic filled sleeping bags are a little heavier than Down sleeping bags, but cheaper. Synthetic sleeping bags are great for beginner sleeping bags.
For sleeping pads, depending on how much you are willing to spend you can either get more comfort or a more lightweight pad. First, I would stay away from foam pads. They are cheap, but they are bulky and I have never found them to be comfortable. Second, I have always been okay with carrying more weight but being more comfortable, so I generally opted for the 2-3 in. pad that weighed about a pound more. You do have the option though to drop the pound and an inch or two off the thickness of your pad.
On our trip to the High Sierras, Allyse, my wife, and I used a hammock, so we didn’t even bother bringing pads. On our trips to Silver Lake and Island Lake, we took our huge 4″ Queen air mattress and it made it extremely comfortable.
Again, what gear you take mostly comes down to personal preference and getting out there to try out the new gear.