Backpacking sleeping bags come in different forms, sizes, and shapes. They include the double sleeping bag, the inflatable sleeping bag, and the thermal sleeping bag. We may have forgotten how to personally make these camping essentials out of raw materials, but these rethought versions have their perks. There’s practically a product for every camping-related concern. With the changing climate where warm areas experience much hotter temperatures and temperate parts experience degree drops below zero, camping gears have to adjust and upgrade to meet our needs.
You have to keep in mind that when camping, you should bring only the essentials with you and utilise ‘tested heavy duty’ but portable camping gears if possible. Surely, these modern designs can better protect you against the elements compared to their predecessors.
Do’s for Buying the Best Camping Sleeping Bags
Do check for temperature rating
Sleeping bags nowadays have temperature ratings. This means that these camping essentials were created to mimic the optimum level of warmth a camper is comfortable enough to slumber in under various temperatures. Common temperature ratings to date are +32°F and higher for summer; +10°F to +32°F for three seasons; and 10°F and lower for winter. You should know that these sleeping bags underwent extensive testing protocols under the EN (European Norm), an internationally-accepted standard that is most objective and dependable. Under the EN, a sleeping bag is assigned two temperature ratings. The first is the comfort rating or the lowest temperature a sleeping bag can keep an average woman (cold sleeper) comfortable. The second is the lower-limit rating or the lowest temperature a sleeping bag can keep an average man (warm sleeper) comfortable. There are more testing protocols for higher and extreme temperatures under the EN as well. As each person’s temperature threshold varies, these temperature ratings can just serve as a guideline for you. It is advised that you choose a sleeping bag with temperature ratings lower than the lowest temperature you’ll expect to encounter in a campout. The best cold weather sleeping bag with a 20°F temperature rating would be good for camp locations with unexpected near-freezing temperature drops. If an expected temperature drop turns out to be a fluke, a 20°F sleeping bag is easily ventable. Moreover, a sleeping bag with a 35°F temperature rating is good for summer campouts. As Australia experiences both temperate and Asian tropical climates, retail stores that sell sleeping bags cater to both. With a tropical climate up north and temperate weather environments in the southeast and southwest, people in the country experience more fun.
Do consider a thermal sleeping bag when camping in the winter
This camping essential is better suited during the winter months with sub-zero temperatures. Along with a comfy thermal camping tent, the thermal sleeping bag is one of the best cold weather sleeping bags that you can use during the cold season, which will keep you quite comfortable even under freezing conditions. In extreme weather conditions, special winter camping sleeping bags are available to protect a camper against a -40 temperature drop. This design is under the EN13537 standard where "a strong sensation of cold has to be expected and there is a risk of health damage due to hypothermia". As a buyer, you should take this as a word of caution. You can also consider a double sleeping bag. It acts as two sleeping bags for two, or it can be zipped together to form a twin sleeping bag in one. Body heat counts. More than that, the mylar sleeping bag can be used for emergency cases.
Do consider using inflatable sleeping bags for summer camping
After the fun daytime activities during campout, a good rest is well-deserved. This is where the summer camping sleeping bags are most useful. Compared to its non-aerated counterpart, the inflatable version mimics your soft mattress at home. Its inflatable aerated property shields a camper’s back away from any hard floor surface, guaranteeing a good relaxing rest, night or day. And yes, it has provisions for insulation too. This can be the best summer camping sleeping bag away from home.
Do determine the temperature at your campsite during your camping trip
Climate change has affected our camping life, so it’s really important to consider the ambient temperature ranges in the camp locations beforehand. Knowing the prevailing temperature before going to the site is the first step, and the next is determining the weather prediction for the coming days. Simply put, being aware of what it’s like on location and taking notes of what the temperature is like from the relative warmest to the coldest drop helps you determine which backpacking sleeping bag is best for you.
Do choose a sleeping bag with the right insulation for the current climate
To do that, it is best to know the kind of insulation your prospective sleeping bag choice has. Insulation refers to your sleeping bag’s fill or content. There are four identified sleeping bag insulation types, namely: Down Insulation (Goose or Duck), Water Resistant Down, Synthetic Insulation, and Down/Synthetic combination. The most popular among the four is the Down Insulation, as it is lightweight, durable, easy to compress, and excels in cold and dry conditions. Down insulation, for the uninitiated, is the light plumage underneath the feathers of ducks and geese. The plume’s three-dimensional structure generates pockets of air that trap heat and thus create warmth called ‘loft’. It’s this insulation that keeps you comfortable. In sleeping bag and jacket creation, the thicker the down (800 fill, 700 fill, 600 fill, etc.) is, the better the insulation. In discussions of what the better plume is, majority say it’s goose, but ducks are more plentiful, which is why duck down is used more often. As opposed to its untreated counterpart, Water-resistant Down is more applicable in damp climates. Some down can turn into soggy, heavy messes when wet. As such, goose or duck down for sleeping bags is treated at a microscopic level with a water-resistant application. It’s important to know that water-resistance is different from being waterproof. Like Water-Resistant Down, Synthetic Insulation is more applicable in damp climates. It’s much cheaper than Down Insulation. It dries much faster, is non-allergenic, and insulates even better when wet. A downside is that it’s bulkier ad heavier when compacted. Its insulation, however, is reduced when stuffed inside sacks or any restraining receptacles. Insulation can also be made of Down/Synthetic Combination. With this material, the disadvantages of each insulation type are somehow negated, as they counter-balance the inadequacies of each.
Do ensure that the sleeping bag fits your body
Portability and weight is the great equaliser in choosing the camping essential to buy. For sleeping bags, it is a different story. While temperature rating and insulation (weight considered) are major considerations before buying this sleeping contraption, another contention would be its fit. You don’t want a sleeping bag that’s does not match your build and body shape. Sleeping bags nowadays are designed to consider how your body shape can fit snuggly in them or how they can offer the needed space for bedspace guzzlers. Height differences must also be considered. Some sleeping bags are women-specific, which means they are regular-sized or shorter than the sleeping bags sold to males.
Do consider every feature. Additional features are icing on the cake
The following are some of the additional features you might want to look for: Zipper compatibility. Two sleeping bags can be mated or combined to form a unified and much bigger sleeping contraption. This is possible if one bag has a right-hand zipper’ and the other a ‘left-hand zipper. It helps that both zippers have the same size; otherwise, it’s not possible to mate both bags. Hood/Draft collar/Face mufflers. Some sleeping bags have cords around the sides of the hood that tighten around the head area (for warmth) when pulled together on opposite sides. Others have pocket provisions, so clothing can be stuffed in it to create a pillow. Some can be just as simple as a flat hood but with provisions to cover the face. Draft tube. This is simply an additive along the sleeping bag’s zipper line to keep cold drafts from seeping in. Differentiated cords. Segregated cords can be used even in the dark for tightening or loosening the sleeping bag’s hood or neck opening. Stash pocket. A simple pocket provision can keep small items like smartphones and other important gadgets. Pocket locations depend on the sleeping bag model. Pad loops. These are sewn-in straps at the sides of a sleeping bag that allow a camper to attach a sleeping pad directly to it. It can be used as hang straps when storing the sleeping bag. Trapezoidal footbox. An extra-space additive in the foot area allows your feet to move. It is designed to minimise strain on the seams in the foot area. Additional Accessories. Aside from the very creative features that sleeping bag makers incorporate in the design, additional accessories that go along with the package can be useful. Some sleeping bags include a stuff sack and a large cotton bag for storing the sleeping bag.
Choose a sleeping bag with a sturdy construction
How the sleeping bag was built is one of the most important considerations overall, simply because this has the capability to make or undo the other conditions. Essentially, a sleeping bag is comprised of three parts: an outer shell, an insulation, and a lining. Any faulty item can spell disaster. Typically, the outer shells of sleeping bags are made of robust rip-stop nylon or polyester. Higher quality sleeping bags, on the other hand, have waterproof, breathable shells, or partial shells. In some instances, some sleeping bag models are treated with a durable water repellent finish (DWR) which, when doused or sprayed with water or moisture, would just bead up instead of turning soggy. A sleeping bag with outer shells filled with down insulation is a great pick for cold weather, as this guarantees that you have adequate insulation from the cold. The lining is the inside part of the bag. Usually made of polyester or nylon taffeta, the fabric is very comfortable on the skin simply because it’s soft and allows the interior to breathe. As this is the case, the lining allows body moisture to evaporate. Lastly, the insulation is the part between the outer shell and the inner lining. It contains the filling responsible for keeping the sleeping bag warm and comfortable. A well-crafted insulation is something that won’t allow warmth or heat to seep out to any part of the sleeping bag, most especially the sides. A sleeping bag with draft tubes on its side is a fine purchase.
Don’ts for Buying the Best Camping Sleeping Bags
Don’t buy a product on bargain considerations alone
Some cheap products may be old, discarded display items, or damaged products, which you may not notice instantly.
Don’t purchase cheap sleeping bags overseas
A cheapskate would just search the worldwide web for low-cost sleeping bags. The danger of doing this is that the item you expect to receive might not be the exact item you saw online. Some items sourced from other countries might not even indicate temperature ratings or possess the proper insulation you expect to go with your sleeping bag. Moreover, delivery from overseas is often delayed. Worse, a damaged item may not be refundable.
Don’t purchase your sleeping bag from big box stores
Whilst sleeping bags purchased from big box stores are fine for kids camping in your backyard or for sleepovers, they will not provide you the comfort you need on long camping trips. You can find quality sleeping bags at outdoor sporting good stores that sell technical and quality gear. If you go for quality and craftsmanship, it would be wise to purchase your sleeping bag from a reputed retail store like Outbax. They sell quality sleeping bags and other camping essentials. Go check out Outbax now!