If you plan on spending some time in the great outdoors, sleeping bags are one of the most important pieces of equipment you can purchase. A must on any camping trip, the sleeping bag can make a big difference in your level of comfort and your temperature while sleeping. If you have never tried to purchase a sleeping bag before, you might be a little bit confused. If you are in the market for a sleeping bag, this sleeping bags buyer's guide is designed to show you the ropes. It will tell you what to look for in a sleeping bag and what to avoid. Here are a few things to consider about sleeping bags and what you really need.
There are really only three variations of the sleeping bag. You can choose from a rectangular, a mummy or a tapered version. The rectangular sleeping bag is shaped like a rectangle and will provide you with a little bit of room to move your feet around. The mummy sleeping bag contours to your body. It hugs you tightly and is designed to take advantage of your body heat. The tapered sleeping bag is one that starts out as a rectangle at the top and then curves in towards the feet at the bottom. This is basically a combination of the mummy and the rectangle. If you are the type of person who likes to be able to move your arms freely but wants to make sure that your legs are warm while sleeping, this is the ideal bag for you.
Factors to Consider
When purchasing any of the three types of sleeping bags, there are a few factors that you will want to evaluate first. Here are four of the most important aspects to think about before making a purchase.
- Temperature rating
The fill is basically what the sleeping bag is stuffed with. This is the material that will be in charge of keeping you warm at night. There are several different types of fills that can be contained within a sleeping bag. One of the most common types is down. Down is considered a premium option for a sleeping bag. Down is lightweight and provides a very fluffy surface for you to sleep on. It is also generally the most expensive type of fill available on the market. Some people do not like down sleeping bags because they are allergic to the feathers. In that case, a man-made fiber would be more appropriate. Another potential drawback of down is that it loses all of its loft if it gets wet.
Hollofill is a man-made fill. This material provides good warmth and loft. It also will not be ruined if it gets wet. Hollofill is generally found in low-end sleeping bags because it is quite a bit heavier than most of the other fibers. Polarguard is another synthetic fiber and is very similar to Hollofill. It is bulky and heavy also, and it will be all right if it gets wet.
The best synthetic fibers are Lite Loft, Micro-loft or Primaloft. These fibers are very similar to down and only a little bit heavier. These fibers handle getting wet better than down and are also less expensive.
The shell is the outside layer of the sleeping bag. This layer plays a critical role in protecting the sleeping bag. There are several materials that the shell of the sleeping bag can be constructed out of. Nylon and polyester are commonly used with many sleeping bags. Both of these materials are good insulators, but they will not perform well if you get them wet. These are best for car camping when you will not be around water. These materials are also popular because they breathe well.
Ripstop is another material that you can find in the shell. This is essentially the same thing as polyester or nylon except that the woven threads are larger. This makes it a little stronger and more durable than just a regular nylon or polyester bag.
Microfiber and gossamer micro are similar fibers that provide a very soft sleeping bag shell. These fibers are comfortable, but they are not ideal if you will be in wet conditions.
One of the premier fibers on the market is Dryloft. Dryloft gives you all of the features that you need in a sleeping bag shell. It will actually keep moisture out, but it will allow moisture from the inside to escape at the same time. This keeps you dry and warm throughout the night regardless of where you are sleeping.
The lining is the inside layer of the sleeping bag. There are not usually as many options when it comes to the lining. You can generally choose among nylon, polyester, fleece or silk. Nylon and polyester are very common in sleeping bags, and they are similar to the types of sheets that most people sleep on.
Fleece is very soft to the touch, and it will also trap the heat in the bag. Silk is considered one of the premier fibers for a sleeping bag liner. This material is very soft and smooth. It also does not get too hot when you are lying on it.
The temperature rating is the temperature at which the bag will still be able to keep you warm when you are sleeping. If you are planning on doing only some light car camping in the fall, this will most likely not be very important to you. However, if you plan on hiking in the winter, you want to make sure that your bag is rated for extremely low temperatures. Just to be safe, you should also add a few degrees to the rating, as companies sometimes exaggerate a bit with these figures.