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Sleeping Bag Buying Guide

sleeping-bag-buying-guide
Last Updated on September 10, 2021 by Ashwini G

Do you love going on treks and hikes? If yes, you must have proper equipment to enjoy a blissful night’s sleep in the woods. This starts with choosing the right sleeping bag. A sleeping bag keeps you safe on your adventure trip. Not just that it will also keep you warm and prepare you for the next day. This sleeping bag buying guide will take you through all the important considerations and key features of the best sleeping bag to show you how to select the best one.

Types of Sleeping Bags

Summer

Summer bags are fit for temperatures of around 30 ° F and above. These are lightweight (as less insulation equals less weight), and tiny (sometimes as small as a cantaloupe); perfect for backpacking. Summer bags often have full length zippers, allowing you to zip them almost completely open for ventilation (or to use them as a quilt) when the night becomes really steamy. Most of the summer bags are simple sacks and don’t come with too many bells and whistles.

Three Seasons

Such bags are ideally fit for spring and fall trips and summers in the high mountains where the temperature will drop below zero at night. Good three-season bags have added features for battling colder temperatures, such as cinch-able hoods, draft collars and zipper draft tubes. These bags are great for those braving winter camping conditions and those who easily feel cold while they sleep.

Winter

These puffy cocoons, good for about 20 ° F and below, have all the characteristics of a three-season bag (cinch-able hoods, draft collars, zipper draft tubes), but they are more isolated. Winter bags are still cumbersome to pack and you’re going to want to buy a nice sack of compression stuff to help calm it.

Features to Look Out While Buying Sleeping Bag Online

Our sleeping buying guide recommends you keep the following features in mind when buying a sleeping bag-

Baffles

Baffles are the pods that contain the filling in the sleeping bag, so that it is distributed equally.

Inside Linings

The most common materials used for the lining sleeping bags are fine nylon or polyester. Flannel or cotton are also common for linings for sleeping bags, but lightweight and breathable cotton collects moisture so cold conditions are not recommended.

Outer Stocks

External shells are typically made of nylon-ripstop because they are extremely durable. Dryloft is a water resistant, breathable fabric often used in sleeping bags.

Left & Right Zips

Sleeping bags are available on the right and left hand sides, with the zip opening. Use a bag where the zip opening is the opposite side to your leading hand to make it easier to unzip while you are inside it. When you are handed right pick a left bag and if left handed choose a right bag.

Zip Dipper

Heat can be easily lost through a sleeping bag’s zipped pocket, and an insulated zip baffle (behind the zip) helps to lessen heat loss.

Zip Overlay

A zip cover (a piece of cloth usually fastened with Velcro) protects the zip when the bag is fully zipped to help keep the zip from coming undone while sleeping.

Hood

Much of the heat in your body is lost through your head, a rounded hood will help hold the heat on. A draw cord closing lets you pull the hood tightly toward your face for additional warmth.

Draft Collar (or Baffle Neck / Shoulder)

An insulated draft collar (at the base of the hood) helps prevent heat from escaping from the bag and prevents the cold around the neck and shoulders away. Most draft collars will have a tightening cord that can be adjusted if needed.

Stuffing Sack

Mummy sleeping bags come with a sack of stuff with a closure with a string pick. Unlike a rectangular bag a mummy bag should simply be stuffed in its bag. Compression straps help cut down on the packed bag size.

Types of Insulation in Sleeping Bags

Synthetic Insulation

The most common type of insulation talked about most in a sleeping bag buying guide is synthetic insulation. It is less expensive than down, and can hold about 50 percent of its insulating properties when wet. By trapping in as much warm air as possible, synthetic insulation works the same way as down. These sleeping bags are highly resistant to wear and tear, which is particularly useful for festivals where drinks are likely to spill over and be stepped on continuously. However, synthetic and down sharing the same temperature ratings tends to weigh more and have a larger pack size.

Pros

  • Stays insulated even when wet or damp.
  • Cheaper than down.
  • Comparatively easier to wash.

Cons

  • Does not carry heat as well as material like down.
  • Heavier and Bulkier
  • Short life span.

Down Insulation

Down insulation is the pinnacle between warmth and weight, providing impressive warmth in a lightweight, low bulk design. Considered the best one for winter expeditions where the most important thing is the right temperature.   You will reap the benefits in the foreseeable future if you are willing to invest in a down sleeping bag. However, when wet these bags lose their insulating properties, down sleeping bags do need a lot of care, so it is best to be careful and treat them with care.

Pros

  • Retains heat perfectly well.
  • The bag is lightweight and has better warm to weight ratio.
  • The bag has a wide temperature range and can be used got cold as well as warm temperatures.
  • It has a long lifespan

Cons

  • It loses its ability to retain insulation when wet.
  • The material takes a great amount of time to dry up after it’s wet.
  • More Expensive

Comfort Rating

You should be thinking about the lowest temperature you are likely to encounter when looking at comfort ratings and choose the sleeping bag that matches the comfort temperature. Don’t get the impression you ‘re going to be fine, because the extreme temperature says you ‘re going to. When you are using a sleeping bag in the high temperature range it will be a risky sleep night. Further below in this sleeping bag buying guide, we have given the ratings you can look out for-

Comfortable – This is the temperature at which an adult ‘normal’ woman will remain relaxed during the night

Balanced – The temperature at which an adult male ‘normal’ should expect a good night’s sleep in a ‘curled up’ position

Extreme – This is a survival ranking only for a standard adult woman.   There is a grave possibility of hypothermia or frostbite at this temperature

Sleeping Bag Shapes

Mummy

A tapered cut through the legs and feet gives maximum thermal effectiveness to mum bags. The primary task of a bag is to absorb the heat produced by the body, and the bag is more effective because the interior space is smaller. Although most mummies have plenty of space through the shoulders and torso, in an alternative cut, restless sleepers and broader campers may be more comfortable.

Rectangular

With no taper in the legs, rectangular bags are not as thermally efficient and are best suited for campouts in the backyard and sleeping in the basement.

Semi-Rectangular

A balanced medium between mummy and rectangular shapes, semi-rectangular bags are a good choice for campers who can’t cope with a mummy bag’s containment but need more insulation than a rectangular bag can give. They are more bulky and heavier than mummies but give you a little more room for thrashing.

Temperature Rating of Sleeping Bags

Most sleeping bags have temperature levels, indicating the minimum temperature that the bag is intended for handling. Nevertheless, temperature ratings should be taken with a grain of salt, as there is no normal, standardized method for evaluating temperatures as of now.

That means producers are free to make their own claims about the warmth of their bags. Those assumptions are practical in most cases, but in some cases, temperature measurements are optimistic. Keep a lookout for the following ratings:

Upper limit – The maximum ambient temperature the average person will safely sleep at.

Comfort – The lowest air temperature a healthy man can comfortably sleep at.

Lower limit – The lowest air temp the average man can sleep comfortably at.

Your best choice is to use temperature ratings on the hangtag as a starting point and then use your intuition to direct you before a standardized temperature norm is implemented. If you know you ‘re a cold sleeper and you’re looking at a thin pack, switch for a plumper one.

Tips to Buy Perfect Sleeping Bag Online

  • Try before buying. Wriggle into as many bags as you can to get an overall idea of how each brand and type fits. Wear appropriate layers.
  • If a bag has straps or a sleeping pad sleeve, rig it in the store itself since a pad shall reduce the volume of the bag’s interior and affect its fit.
  • Roll over. Choose a snugger fit if you are a cold sleeper, or a cold-weather camper. If you are a thrasher or side-sleeper, make sure that you can rotate your body comfortably.

Washing Your Sleeping Bag

Our sleeping bag buying recommends the following tips while washing your bag:

  • Scan the label or check the link to the company’s website for guidance. Unless those directives dispute any of the recommendations given below, obey the instructions of the supplier.
  • Use a front-loader or hand-wash in a tub. Remember that the agitator in a top loader will rip out baffles. Please opt for the cold-water soft process. Run an extra rinse, or two, after a full cycle to extract the soap.
  • Hold the bag up from below to prevent waterlogged insulation from tearing stitches out. Hang it on a laundry line lengthwise until the majority of the water weight is out.
  • Dry on low heat, and always search. Every 30 minutes, cut bags to de-clump the feathers. Back home, avoid stuffing your bag for a couple of days. And when you do store it, make sure you use a large sack of cotton or pillowcase, not the little sack of nylon stuff you ‘re using while on a trip.

Sleeping Bag FAQs

Do I Need a Waterproof Sleeping Bag?

Adventure trips can be unpredictable especially when it comes to weather. A waterproof sleeping bag is a good choice if you are heading for a place with an uncertain climate.

How Do I Check the Zipper?

Most sleeping bag buying guides will tell you to check closed doors. Loop it upwards, downwards and up again.  If a zipper snags now, it will do the same in the field.  Cinch down the hood and draft collar. Check for a snug seal around your head, no itchy Velcro rubbing against your cheek, and ease of exit.

How Do I Take Care of my Sleeping Bag?

Try and wash as little of your sleeping bag as possible. When you are sleeping, you will keep it clean wearing long clothing, raising the amount of sweat and dirt that gets into the sleeping bag. When washing sleeping bags, we advise the washing liquid to follow the steps on the back.

Conclusion

Sleeping bags will always be on your camping checklist; it’s important to make the right choice to suit your needs. Here, we’ve put together a sleeping bag buying guide to ensure you get the proper equipment to enjoy a blissful night’s slumber in the woods. This begins with choosing the appropriate sleeping bag.

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