Getting into a cozy sleeping bag that you know is going to be warm and comfortable after an exhausting hike is one of the many pleasures of outdoor adventure.

Choosing a Sleeping Bag

Having a warm enough and comfortable sleeping bag is a must for a good nights sleep, to be full of energy for next days hike. Just as a good sleeping bag can perform for a good night’s sleep, a bad quality or inappropriate one can cause discomfort or worse.

Temperature ratings

Deciding where and when you’re most likely to use your sleeping bag will help determine if you need a winter, 3-season, or summer sleeping bag. Each bag has it’s individual temperature rating, which gives you a general idea of sleeping bags insulating performance

EN rating

The European Norm is a standardized test that measures sleeping bag warmth, using a copper mannequin which is fitted with 20 sensors to get data in various temperatures. EN testing results provide us with:

Comfort Limit – based on a standard woman having a comfortable night’s sleep

Lower Limit – the lowest temperature a standard man can sleep comfortably

Extreme Rating – a survival rating for a standard woman

However, these test results is just a standard test and serves as a rough guide, and you shouldn’t blindly follow it. Many companies even don’t do these tests – some because of the large cost and some just doesn’t believe EN test accuracy. There are many various factors which can affect how warm you feel in your sleeping bag and here are few:

  • Sleeping pad – it insulates the space between sleeping bag and you and adds cushioning. Best sleeping pads on the market can give you more than 3 times warmth that the one used in EN testing
  • Shelter – a tent or bivy sack traps a layer of air around you, warming it by up to 10°F
  • Clothing – clean, dry socks and long underwear help insulate you while also keeping body oils off of your bag. For colder nights, wear a fleece jacket, hat and pants
  • Metabolism – everyone is unique and some people feel comfortable in lower temperatures, while others are freezing. Or the opposite – while colder sleeper feels warm and cozy, the other type can’t sleep because feels too hot
  • Gender – Women generally are more vulnerable to cold and prefer slightly warmer bags than men
  • Hood – Sleeping bags with hoods can be cinched up on cold nights to keep more warm air inside
  • Hydration – A warm drink before bed will warm you up and help your sleep. Also staying hydrated your body is less vulnerable to cold

Summer season +35° and higher +2° and higher

3-Season bag+10° to +35° -12° to +2°

Cold weather -10° to +10°  -23°  to -12°

Winter/Extreme-10° and lower -23°  and lower

Types of insulation

High performance bags are made with synthetic or down insulation

Synthetic insulation is best for extended trips in wet conditions where you expect the bag to get wet and where opportunities to dry the bag out are limited. These synthetic materials are heavier, less compressible, and often less comfortable than down products

Down insulation offers significantly more warmth for its weight, is more compressible, more comfortable, and more durable than synthetic insulation. Its Achilles heel, however, is moisture: down bags are not suitable for conditions where the bag may get soaking wet. Down’s insulation value, the amount of loft, decreases when it collects moisture. It’s important to prevent a down bag from getting wet and, on multi-week trips, to have an opportunity to dry the bag out if it becomes soaked. However, for most conditions in most places, down insulation offers the greatest performance for multi-day trips where weight and packed size are top concern

Which insulation should you choose?

Down or water-repellent down bag if you want superior warmth, compressibility and durability. It can be quiet expensive, but down’s superior durability makes it a good long-term value

Synthetic bagif you want good performance at a lower price tag. Synthetic sleeping bags are usually the better choice for wet climates

A sleeping bag’s shape can have huge affect on its performance, sleep comfort and how small its packed size will be

1. Mummy sleeping bags are designed for lower weight and to maximise their heat retention. They have human’s body shape, being narrow at the feet and the widest at the shoulders, they also have a hood for added comfort and warmth. With less space for your body to heat, a close-fitting bag has better warmth to weight ratio than a roomier bag. However, some people find them too constricting

2. Barrel sleeping bags are slightly heavier and bulkier than mummy bags, but they trade thermal efficiency for extra room. They have no hood, are slightly tapered, and incorporate a patterned oval foot section

3. Rectangular sleeping bags are best for warm weather, and are not the best choice for most backcountry travellers because of their bulkiness, weight and lower insulation capabilities. However, they are inexpensive and roomy, and are a good choice for family camping in warmer weather

Construction methods:

Sleeping bag’s insulation can be held between a bag’s outer shell and inner lining by several techniques:

Sewn-through is used in lightweight or warm-weather synthetic or down sleeping bags, it is inexpensive to construct, but also may have cold spots at quilt lines

Offset Quilt is used only for synthetic bags. It has no cold spots at quilt lines and is less expensive than shingled construction, a good pick between Sewn-trough and Shingled options

Shingles are used only for synthetic bags. It is the most warmth-to-weight efficient construction, but also is more expensive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>