Bagging the Best Sleeping Bag

When it comes to choosing the right sleeping bag, there are three aspects to consider: what, when and where; and in this, there are many ‘whats’, ‘whens’ and ‘wheres’ to consider also. The utmost concern for the purchase of the right type of sleeping bag is what the bag’s main use will be. Will it be for camping? And if so, where or what type of environment will the camper be camping in? When or what time of year will the camping take place and what style of sleeping bag will be most efficient for the venue? Plus, there is the bonus question of how much one is willing to spend for a bag of good quality with the right features.

Knowing the type of environment one will be camping in is crucial to picking out the right sleeping bag. A warm environment will obviously require different features in a bag than that of a cold environment- as will an environment that is wet or humid. This also goes hand in hand with the time of year the camping will take place. A windy winter or a rainy summer should prompt one to consider insulation choices. How well a bag insulates will vary depending on whether it is natural down or synthetic insulation; each behaves differently under wet and windy conditions.

Temperature ratings can further guide the decision making process. A bag’s temperature rating will help those who sleep ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ find a sleeping bag that will ensure their body temperature remains at a comfortable level during the night. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to pick a bag for cooler temperatures. Venting heat through the foot or side of the bag will be easier than trying to recoup lost body heat in a bag that is insufficient. Another aspect to consider is whether there will be a lot of moving from different locations versus staying in one spot. A bag that is light and easy to stow is the more efficient choice for hiking and camping expeditions.

The shape of a sleeping bag can determine the amount of comfort during a good night’s rest. The close fitting mummy bag is not a wise choice for those who do a lot of moving around at night while they sleep, yet is the best choice for serious campers and hikers in colder temperatures. Rectangular sleeping bags offer the most comfort and versatility and two of these can be zipped together at a time. Tapered bags that are narrow at the feet and widen up at the shoulders have less air space in them and are therefore warmer; they use less material and are also lighter. Choosing between a machine washable bag and one that requires dry cleaning is purely a matter of taste.

However, using a sleeping bag liner requires that only the liner will need to be washed, saving money in dry-cleaning costs and prolonging the life of the bag itself.


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