If you are one of those kinds of campers who think that you can just grab a sleeping bag and go, you may want to take a look at this list. Sleeping on the ground – provided you aren’t one of those nutty RVers – takes a little getting used to.
It also takes having the right gear in place in order to have a slightly uninterrupted night in the woods. Just like you probably took time selecting the bed you sleep on nightly at home, your sleeping bag deserves as much attention. After all, it is going to be your camping bed, and that’s an important piece of gear to pack.
So, what exactly do you need to pay attention to when shopping for a sleeping bag?
Well, first off, you need to have an idea of how you plan to use it and when. The type of camping you decide to pursue will demand a specific type of sleeping bag. Oddly enough, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sleeping bag although that thought does make us chuckle.
1 – Size
Since we’re already talking about it, let’s just go ahead and put it at the top of our list of considerations when shopping for a camping sleeping bag. The troubling part is that there are a lot of different sizes and shapes of sleeping bags out there. Think of your normal sleeping arrangement. If you like to be tucked in tight under the covers, you may want to opt for the cocoon-shaped style.
For those who tend to spread out when sleeping, your average rectangular sleeping bag will be close enough. Hey, if you can’t sleep without the warm body of another human up close and personal, there are even two-person size sleeping bags. If you stand over six feet tall, there’s a sleeping bag for you. For petite women, children, whatever, there is a size and shape that will be the perfect fit for your specific needs. So shop around for the best match.
2 – Ratings
Depending on where in the world you live, climate can have a lot to do with your style of camping. Along with this is the style of sleeping bag you’ll need in order to survive the night. We know, that may sound a bit on the dramatic side, but we said it for a reason. You can’t expect to be very comfortable in a cold winter climate if the sleeping bag you tossed in with the rest of your gear is a lightweight summer-rated style.
Even that extra body next to you will only be able to help keep you warm for just so long. The point here is to read the season ratings for the sleeping bag you are thinking of buying. You’ll normally see ratings that are basically in line with the four seasons – summer, late spring/early autumn, spring to autumn, winter. Be sure to match the rating to the time of year you plan on doing most of your outdoor camping.
3 – Fabric
This tip should be of particular interest to the guys. Even if the last thing you’ve ever thought of during the course of an average conversation is the difference between flannel and cotton, you will need to bone up on this stuff. Essentially, you are aiming for sleeping bags that are quiet. What we mean by that is any fabric that makes a lot of noise when you stir at night is likely to keep you and your camping buddies awake.
Even if they are tenting at a campsite down the road from you, you don’t want to wake them or maybe that sweet thing sharing the sleeping bag with you. Noise is just one of your considerations when thinking about fabric. Water resistance is important, how easy the inside and outside of the sleeping bag is to clean is another big deal to keep in mind. How the material feels on your skin is one more measuring tool to use.
4 – Insulation
This is the stuff that actually keeps you warm, comfy and disguises the rocks and hard ground. Typically, sleeping bags contain one of four different types of insulation: elder down, duck down, goose down or manmade down. There are many different ways to look at each, and we could quite easily open up a debate on just discussing the pros and cons of each. But, let’s skip that part. Generally speaking, elder down is believed to be at the top of the list, but manmade down is getting lighter and better.
It also can handle getting wet. Don’t be afraid to get a stuffed sleeping bag if you are really into a good night’s sleep without a lot of extra blankets or quilts. You could also examine the usefulness of a sleeping bag bigger than you need so that you can add an extra layer on the inside to keep yourself a little warmer on those crisp nights.
5 – Zippers
You know, you may never truly appreciate the whole idea behind an extra zipper or two in a sleeping bag until you need them. Ideally, your sleeping bag will have one main zipper. This is what keeps it closed and allows you to enter when unzipped. You can then zip it back up and feel as if you are all tucked in like Mom used to do back home on the ranch. But what’s the deal with that other zipper down near your feet on the other side of the sleeping bag? That’s for extra ventilation.
In fact, it doesn’t matter where the extra zipper is located, it’s there to give you a way to cool down or add a breeze of cooler air to the rest of your body under the top layer. If you camp with a smaller sized pet, the extra zipper could be an escape hatch, if you really needed a reason to try to come to terms with all that additional zipper activity.
6 – Pockets
Oh, right. You may want somewhere nearby to stash some stuff. You know, keys, glasses, your pipe or maybe a wallet or a handful of random rocks and shells you found wandering around the campsite. Well, there are many different designs of sleeping bags that provide these little extras just for stashing goodies.
Keep in mind that your backpack should be used for all kinds of big items that you can’t stuff into your jeans pocket and the sleeping bag pockets are for those must-have items that’ll get you through the night if needed. Just be sure to pay attention to the type of camping you do in order to determine whether or not you’d be better off just stashing those things in the camper or leave them somewhere other than at the campsite. But if you are one of those who keeps misplacing keys or debit cards, the zippered pocket will be your friend.
So, You Thought That Shopping For A Sleeping Bag Was Like Buying Bread?
Now that you know differently, you’ll never look at the sporting goods store in the same way ever again. They have what you need, and you just need to figure out what your needs are before you start grabbing at the sleeping bags. By the way, while you’re at it, you can always enhance that night of sleeping on the ground by adding a layer of foam under your sleeping bag.
You can find various thicknesses of foam at your sporting goods store or a neighborhood hardware store. By using a foamy, you may be able to opt for a lighter sleeping bag if you were trying to insulate yourself from the cold ground. Also, don’t discount the fact that you may end up with more than one sleeping bag for use at different times of the year. This would be particularly true if you are a camper by summer and a hunter in the cooler months of the year and camp then as well.
Don’t Forget Your Main Reason For A Sleeping Bag
Ultimately, you are shopping for a sleeping bag so that you will be able to sleep when camping. Whether that is in a tent or not, a sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfortable regardless of the conditions you encounter.
However, you still need to be somewhat prepared with the rest of your camping gear. Provided you have the supplies to build a decent camp, your sleeping bag should be the one thing you need the most to allow you to rest, nap, sleep and recharge your batteries after a long day of hiking, fishing, hunting or whatever your camping trip will entail. So, take the sleeping bag shopping trip seriously.
It can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a crappy one that will have an impact on the next day you spend in camp. You should have good memories of your trip into the wilderness. A good sleeping bag will help.
Things you couldn’t have guessed about sleeping bags
When you hear the word sleeping bags, we are certain that you don’t think of it as an individual component. Chances are, you treat it like an additional element of comfort that is meant to be tucked away in your camping bags and pulled out only when you need to rest your eyes for a bit.
- The temperature ratings can make a lot of difference
For those of you who might not know, the temperature rating of a sleeping bag is meant to denote the lowest temperature at which it could keep the user warm. Therefore, while choosing a suitable sleeping bag, it would be wise to sway towards the one whose temperature rating is lesser than the lowest temperature you are likely to come across in your camping trips. Experts suggest that in an ideal situation, you must get a sleeping bag that comes with a lower temperature rating that so that you can fall back on it while traveling to different locations with distinct temperature scales.
Nonetheless, remember that the temperature rating of a sleeping bag doesn’t necessarily ensure that you will be warm inside it. Apart from the quality, the surrounding conditions of the location, insulation type, and bag weight also plays a major role in determining its usability.
- The shape of the sleeping bag affects its weight
The shape of a sleeping bag affects its weight to a large extent. Understandably, a bag with a snug fit and sleek shape will be fluffier than the bag that has more room. Sleeping bags are essentially available in three shapes which are namely rectangular, semi-rectangular, and mummy. The mummy-shaped bags are fundamentally designed to reduce the weight and surge the warmth when you are lying inside it. On the other hand, the semi-rectangular shape can be tagged as the modified mummy that tugs the right chords of space and warmth.
- Sleeping bags can be of various types
Generally speaking, sleeping bags can be principally grouped under two categories which are backpacking and bike touring sleeping bags and camping sleeping bags. If you compare these two bags, you will realize that the backpacking bags are lighter because it is assumed that the user will have to carry them around in the bag. The bike touring sleeping bags is usually smaller, can be packed more easily, and are better at providing warmth which also makes them costlier.
- Be mindful about the insulation fill type
The moment you opt for an insulation fill that is not synthetic, you will have to make peace with the fact that it will be more expensive. Down fill is one of the most popular choices not only because it is compressible and lighter but, also because it comes with a warranty of longer life and therefore, can be estimated to maintain a consistent level of warmth over the years. One thing that you must be careful about is that sometimes, the down fill may come with water replant characteristics or chemical treatments that are devised to facilitate further drying of the fill. In order to confirm that these sleeping bags are not calling for any agonizing allergies, read the list of fabrics and substances utilized, carefully.
As for the synthetic insulation fill, they are believed to be cost-effective and provide insulation even if it has not dried down properly. In most cases, you will stumble upon synthetic fills that are derived from polyester but, owing to its wide selection of materials, they are not marked with Fill Power rating. If you are lucky enough, you might get your hands on a sleeping bag that uses a blend of synthetic and down fill for insulation but, mind you, it would cost more.
- Two sleeping bags can be zipped together
If you explore a few options of the sleeping bags you will notice that some of them have a zip on their left side, while some of the bags have the zip on their right. These zips are not just for accommodating your dominant hand; if needed, you can zip two sleeping bags together but, obviously, the zips must be on the opposite sides. If you are camping with your family, this could be a great recourse but, even if you are traveling alone, you can employ two of these bags to make certain that you feel pleasant and cozy.
Here again, we would like to remind you that when a sleeping bag claims that you will be comfortable even in the coldest temperature, it is not always true. Manufacturers produce these items by referring to a standard heat-producing capacity of the body which, as expected, will not be the same for everyone.
This explains that capitalizing on this zipping-two-bags-together technique will keep you on the safer end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, if you are willing to get just one bag, we would recommend adding a ten-degree buffer to the temperature rating mentioned on it. For instance, if the temperature rating of the sleeping bag is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, try to not use it in temperatures colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The muslin sleeping bags for babies are way different than those for adults
Although you will have innumerable options at your disposal while selecting a sleeping bag for your child, the truth is, their breathability varies depending on the knitting style. What we are trying to imply is that sleeping bags that are knitted are known to be softer than woven sleeping bags. The best part about using a knitted sleeping bag for your baby lies in the verity that you will not have to wash it as often. Considering how soft the skin of a baby is, you should always look out for soft materials like knitted cotton over all the other substitutes. Furthermore, there are some bags that are hydrophilic, meaning, the material is water-absorbent and is both quick-absorbent and quick-drying, and just right for babies.
- Men’s and women’s sleeping bags are not the same
If you have ever walked into a store looking for a sleeping bag and the sales person advised you to take a look around the men’s and women’s section separately and you found it a bit puzzling, we will tell you why. It might seem a bit odd, but the idea of designing sleeping bags for different genders is a reality. The sleeping bags that are crafted for women, without a doubt, substantiates the female adventurer that she will have a better night’s sleep than her partner. What distinguishes the female sleeping bags from the rest available in the market is that space is meant for wider hips and narrower shoulders. Needless to say, when a layer of insulation faultlessly aligns the silhouette of someone’s body, you can rest assured that it will produce more warmth by preventing excess airflow.
Moreover, women’s sleeping bags have more lining than unisex bags. This is because men, naturally generate more body heat than women thus, the latter must have more padding in their sleeping bags to snuggle even in the coldest environment.
- Adding too many layers of insulation inside your sleeping bag can reduce its warmth
Before stuffing your sleeping bag with extra layers you must recall the fact that the primary objective of the item is to keep you warm without any external backup. If you forcefully affix layers of insulation inside it, you will run the risk of compressing its fill and diminishing its ability to do what was expected to in the first place.
Hence, rather than resorting to these tactics, what you can do on your part is, wear comfortable and most importantly, breathable base layers from head to toe and make the most out of the cinch on the bag’s hood, if it has one. Allow your sleeping bag to do the task it has been intended to perform without hampering its value and longevity.
- Packing and storing the sleeping bags could be tricky
Knowing the right way of storing and packing your sleeping bags can abet in enhancing the properties and keeping its condition intact for a really long time. Sleeping bags commonly have two sacks in them, one for stuffing and the other for storing. As for storing the sleeping bags is concerned, the bag’s roomy storage space would be enough for your needs. In contrary to this, when you have to pack the sleeping bag while heading out for a trekking adventure, turn to the stuff sack and you will be good to go.