If you're shopping for a sleeping bag, you already have a general idea of why you need it and where you'll be using it. There are four main scenarios, each of which we will discuss separately.
- Tourism and mountaineering
- Winter hiking
- When you haven't decided
The main principle when choosing a camping sleeping bag: it should be as comfortable as a bed at home. You can close your eyes to its weight and volume, because the priority is the most comfortable sleep, and you still have to carry all the equipment in the car, not on your shoulders.
Choose a sleeping bag so that you feel comfortable while lying in your usual position, and its fabric does not cause unpleasant tactile sensations. Most modern camping sleeping bags are blankets that can be unfolded and used as a cover.
With outward simplicity, camping sleeping bags differ from each other in many details, and designers still have room to turn to ensure a comfortable sleep. As a general rule, the more expensive a camping sleeping bag, the harder the cut, the better the zipper placement and ventilation, the softer the fabric, and the more durable insulation that won't shed or tear.
Tourism and mountaineering
When you need a sleeping bag for hiking and mountain climbing, all the main pains of choice come down to one thing - finding the optimal balance between weight, warmth and price. There is no clear dividing line between backpacks and mountaineering sleeping bags, but the modern industry is abundant and you can find a specialized model for any conditions. Need a sleeping bag for wet wall climbing? There are weightless narrow cocoons with a superior quality hydrophobic base and membrane top fabric.
When the temperature drops below -20°C during a hike at night, there is no time to compromise on the price and weight of a sleeping bag. I want one thing - at least to survive, but it's better to sleep warm and gain strength for the next hard day. Not all companies take the risk of producing really warm sleeping bags: the market is small, the risks are high, and the price of their production, frankly, is quite high.
When you haven't decided
It's often difficult to pinpoint your preferences. For example, sometimes it is difficult to understand what you like more: physical activity and the opportunity to see something new every day or measured life with a well-functioning parking lot, short weekend hikes or expeditions for several weeks.
Especially for such cases, many companies have a whole series of entry-level sleeping bags suitable for simple hiking and camping. They are relatively inexpensive, lighter than camping sleeping bags, but looser than most backpacking models, and often come with extra details to increase sleeping comfort.
Sleeping bag temperature
The most important thing when choosing a sleeping bag is that it should be warm enough for the trip. All other parameters are secondary. I assure you, when you wake up in the middle of the night from the cold, you will not care about the weight, size, insulation and purpose of the sleeping bag.
The temperature regime of most modern sleeping bags is determined based on the test using thermal dummies.
Sleeping bag insulation
There is a lot of debate about which insulation is best in a sleeping bag: synthetic or natural. So that you don't have to delve into these discussions and simplify the selection process, we highlight the areas of effective use of sleeping bags and synthetics established in the sleeping bag industry.
When to choose a down sleeping bag
Feather is the undisputed leader in the weight / warmth ratio, which is determined by the Fill Power indicator. High-quality blends and feathers, which have a real advantage over modern synthetic insulation in sleeping bags, have an FP of 700 or higher.
Manufacturers constantly struggle with the main disadvantage of sleeping bags - the fear of moisture. Today, more and more often, it is treated with hydrophobic impregnation, and materials that do not absorb moisture are used as the fabric shell. They don't solve the problem 100%, but this way the sleeping bag stays dry for longer on the hike. To protect any sleeping bag from getting wet and damp, use an appropriately sized dry bag.
When to choose a synthetic sleeping bag
Essentially, for all situations not described above. Manufacturers and consumers were impressed by the unpretentiousness and relatively low cost of synthetic insulation, especially in light of the global increase in down prices. Synthetics can retain most of their volume when wet, almost without changing their thermal insulation properties. At the same time, such heaters dry quickly - a very important positive feature, because the time and conditions for drying the sleeping bag during the campaign are almost impossible. In recent years, many synthetic insulations have appeared that have a good weight/warmth ratio while being compact in packaging.
Weight and volume of the sleeping bag
The low weight of the equipment always promises a significant advantage to the tourist - it is much easier to move along your route with a light backpack. However, the weight of a sleeping bag cannot be judged by its insulation properties, as well as its shape and size. If the sleeping bag is much lighter than its other versions, pay attention to what measures the manufacturer has taken to achieve this and how this will affect the comfort of your sleep.
The weight of the sleeping bag is closely related to its volume, because the lighter the sleeping bag, the more compact it is in the package. The small volume of the sleeping bag promises the user only advantages, because this part of the equipment is the largest in the bivouac and "eats" a significant part of the space in the backpack.
Sleeping bag size
Balance is important when choosing a sleeping bag size. A sleeping bag that is too small will be cramped, and insulation compressed in the shoulders will not provide effective thermal insulation. In very large areas, areas are created that do not heat up.
As a rule, the size of the sleeping bag is determined by the principle of "user's height + 20-30 cm". Such a bag will not be cramped and will allow you to use an insert or a set of fleece clothing as additional insulation. On a serious note, you can only buy sleeping bags for winter use, because they need to store batteries, flashlights, shoe covers and other things that need to be warm and dry. Also, in extremely warm sleeping bags, the possibility of sleeping in outer insulated clothing is often provided, for which there is additional space in their opening.
We hope that our article on choosing a sleeping bag will help you make sleeping in nature comfortable and cozy. After all, a warm and soft sleeping bag always cheers you up and helps you cope with fatigue when bad weather surrounds you.
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