Gear

The Right Sleeping Bag is More Important than you Think

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man setting up campsite and sleeping bag on the ground

Image: Midway USA

The quality of sleep you get when camping or backpacking is in many ways influenced by the sleeping bag you use. Thus, to enable you have a good night’s sleep (irrespective of where you are camping or the prevailing weather conditions), you have to invest in a high quality sleeping bag. To enable you choose the perfect one, here are the most important features that you should look for:

MATERIALS USED – DOWN vs SYNTHETIC

Though most sleeping bags are made using synthetic insulation like poly-fibers, a down sleeping bag is normally made using natural materials like fine feathers. While a synthetic one is cheaper, easier to maintain and can be used within a wet environment, down ones are best known for trapping and retaining heat, being lighter and easy to pack. This makes the synthetic bags good for use in wet and humid conditions while down bags are best suited for use in cold and dry environments.

TEMPERATURE RATINGS

Since sleeping bags give different temperature ratings, when choosing one, you ought to have the destination in mind. For instance, a sleeping bag for use during the summer is going to be very much different from one intended for winter. In addition to this, you need to choose one whose temperature rating complements your bodily needs. It’s advisable that you choose one that’s guaranteed to give more warmth than you deem necessary.

COMFORT AND EXTREME RATINGS

While comfort rating refers to the optimum temperature under which you are going to feel warm enough and comfortable in, extreme rating is the survival temperature – limit at which the bag will keep you alive without you having to experience temperature related ailments. For instance, if planning on going to climb Mount Everest, you should choose a bag with a high extreme rating; -28 degrees.

SHAPE, SIZE AND WEIGHT

The most ideal sleeping bag is one that has an envelope or rectangular shape and with two zips – one on each side. These bags also weigh much less than the rectangular shaped ones. When it comes to the size, you ought to choose one that meets your size (small for kids and large for adults).

SEASON RATING

This type of rating is purposely designed to enable you choose a bag that best complements the season. As such, some sleeping bags are best suited for use during the summer while others are best used in winter. All the same, there are a few others which can be used all year round.

Other things that you can look into include the type of inner lining used (opt for polyester and nylon rather than cotton), the outer fabric (should be water resistance and breathable), zipping (choose one with a two way zip and a zip baffle and cover), hood (go for a bag with a shaped hood), inner pockets and availability of compression straps and stuff sack.

  • Since temperatures and seasons vary from one country to another, it’s advisable that you check the country’s temperatures/seasons against your preferred sleeping bag.

Jeremiah can change your oil, fix your computer and quote every line from the Star Wars films, like the Renaissance Man that he is. He's the proud parent of two Great Danes and one daughter.