Camping can be so much fun with all the hiking, exploring, and doing all the other activities that you may have planned for the trip. And after a long day at the campsite, there’s nothing you’ll want more than to crawl inside a warm and soft sleeping bag, close your eyes and get some sleep, dreaming about your itinerary for the next day. The problem is that if you have the wrong sleeping bag, chances are you’ll be waking up with a sore back and in a cranky mood, ruining the trip not only for you but for the rest of your camping buddies as well. To keep this from happening, you must choose the right sleeping bag. But then this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds considering the plethora of options available in the market. Thus, we have here this guide on how to choose a sleeping bag to help you find the right one that will fit your exact needs and requirements.
Know that several factors must be taken when it comes to buying sleeping bags for camping, the most important of which is your budget, the conditions where they will be used, and your own personal preference.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
When you step into the store and look at the different sleeping bags for camping available, you will immediately see the difference among their prices. It may be tempting to buy the cheapest sleeping bag on display, especially since you’ll only be using it occasionally; however, experts suggest that you avoid doing so. Instead, go for the most expensive sleeping bag that you can afford. Such sleeping bags are made of high-quality materials, which then translates to higher levels of comfort and long-term use thereby giving you your money’s worth.
Under What Conditions Will It Be Used?
Some sleeping bags fare much better in certain conditions than others. Thus, an important factor to consider when choosing sleeping bags for camping is the campsite’s weather condition. Sleeping bags have temperature ratings and season ratings which will be discussed more thoroughly later. For now, just think about where and how you will be using the sleeping bag and keep in mind that different weather conditions require different types of sleeping bags.
Do You Have Any Personal Preferences?
Sleeping bags for camping come in a variety of styles, shapes, and designs. Different sleeping bags will also have different colors, features, and characteristics. In any case, make sure to consider your personal preferences when choosing a sleeping bag. You are more likely to enjoy using and taking care of your sleeping bag if it meets your own taste and requirements.
Answering the questions posed above should help increase your chances of finding the right sleeping bag for you. However, other factors must be considered, and so we have here this guide to help narrow down your choices.
Types of Sleeping Bags
There are typically four main types of sleeping bags for camping. Some manufacturers may present other types, but these four are the ones that you’ll see in most shops.
- Single Sleeping Bags. As the name suggests, these sleeping bags are designed to be used by one person only. Unlike other types of sleeping bags for camping, single sleeping bags come in an array of shapes.
- Double Sleeping Bags. These sleeping bags are designed to fit two adults, which then makes them a great choice for camping couples who don’t like carrying separate single sleeping bags. Another reason why double sleeping bags are great choices is that the combined body heat of the two persons makes the inside of the sleeping bag much warmer and cozier.
- Women’s Sleeping Bags. Women’s sleeping bags are shaped differently than ordinary sleeping bags. They have narrower shoulders, wider hips, as well as extra insulation in the upper body. Accordingly, such design is due to the differences in male and female anatomy and that majority of women tend to be more sensitive to cold than men.
- Kids’ Sleeping Bags. Aside from being smaller in size, kids’ sleeping bags have certain features you won’t normally see in an ordinary adult-sized sleeping bag. For instance, kids’ sleeping bags have a built-in sleeve on the bottom of the bag which the sleeping pad so that the bag and the pad stay together all night regardless of how much your child moves while asleep.
Sleeping Bag Shapes
Sleeping bags also come in an assortment of shapes, with each design having its own pros and cons.
Rectangular Sleeping Bag
This is the traditional shape of a camping sleeping bag and is often the most affordable choice. This is usually the preferred style for campers who are looking for roomier sleeping bags since it allows for plenty of space for tossing and turning while sleeping. Besides, the squared ends mean that there is a lot of room in the feet and head area. However, this extra space inside the bag also means that there is more dead-space inside the bag, thus making it less efficient in terms of insulation.
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Barrel-shaped Sleeping Bag
Barrel-shaped sleeping bags are nearly as spacious as rectangular sleeping bags for camping, but because they have a tapered shoulder and foot area, the amount of dead space inside the bag is significantly reduced. Also, unlike rectangular sleeping bags, barrel-shaped sleeping bags come with a hood. These design features allow it to maximize the sleeping bag’s insulating properties.
Mummy Sleeping Bags
Mummy sleeping bags are shaped in such a way that it follows the contour of the human body. That means that the foot box, the leg area, as well as the shoulder area are highly tapered. The design limits movement from inside the bag, which for some people may seem to be rather uncomfortable. However, these particular designs excel at maximizing the sleeping bag’s insulation, allowing you to feel much warmer and cozier compared to other sleeping bag shapes. This, along with the fitted hood which can be tightened using a drawstring, makes it the ideal sleeping bag for those who are camping during cold weather and in cold places.
Sleeping Bag Insulation
A sleeping bag’s insulating material plays a huge role in how warm you’ll be when you sleep in it. Its main purpose is to trap the heat that emanates from your body inside the bag and keep it from escaping. There are two common types of insulation used in sleeping bags: down feather and synthetic fibers.
Down feathers, the light plumage that lies under a goose or duck’s feathers is one of nature’s best insulators. The inherent structure of these plumes (with ultra-fine fibers radiating from its center and with fronds of smaller filaments branching off each fiber) provides them with more pockets to trap in the heat and keep you warm.
Aside from excellent insulating properties, down insulation is also durable and resilient, capable of being stuffed and re-stuffed without losing its insulating properties. As such, you can expect sleeping bags with down insulation to last you for up to ten years with proper care. Because of their excellent insulating capabilities, resilience to damage, and longevity, expect to pay more should you decided to get a sleeping bag with this particular type of insulating material.
Synthetic fibers are a great alternative to down feathers since they also have good insulating properties. However, many experts would agree that while synthetic fiber’s lofting ability can mimic that of down feathers, no synthetic fiber can completely compare with the loft, compressibility, and longevity of high quality down insulation.
There are two main types of synthetic fiber used as insulation for sleeping bags namely short-staple fibers and long continuous filaments, each of which has its own pros and cons. For instance, short-staple fibers are easier to compress than long continuous filaments which means that they are easier to fold and carry. However, long continuous filaments are much stronger and tend to last longer than short-staple fibers.
The temperature ratings on sleeping bags indicate the level of insulation offered into a temperature range. These ratings are generally based on the lowest temperature that the sleeping bag can keep a camper warm enough to survive the night or sleep comfortably. So for instance, a sleeping bag with a temperature rating of +32°F (0°C) means that it should only be used in climates where the lowest temperatures are around that range. So if you’re planning on camping in places where temperatures can drop below +32°F (0°C), you’ll want a winter sleeping bag with a temperature rating of around +10°F (-12°C); otherwise, you’re in for a cold and very uncomfortable night
However, you need to remember that these temperature ratings are only meant to be used as a guide and not as a definite standard. We all feel the cold differently so we simply cannot expect a sleeping bag’s temperature rating to be such an exact science or that one temperature rating fits all.
Thus, when looking at sleeping bags for camping and their temperature ratings, be sure to factor in the type of undergarment you’re wearing, if you’re using a sleeping pad and the overall weather conditions at the campsite. And just to be safe, you may want to consider going for a sleeping bag with a temperature rating lower than the actual temperature in your campsite.
Other Features and Considerations
Along with the type and style, temperature ratings, and insulation, here are some other features and considerations to keep in mind when shopping for camping sleeping bags.
- Shell Material. Most sleeping bags have either ripstop nylon or polyester fabric or shell, both of which are considerably strong and durable. More important than the shell fabric though is the waterproofing treatment. Even if you’re staying inside a waterproof tent, there is still a chance of moisture seeping through the ground and into your sleeping bag. So always choose a sleeping with a durable water repellent finish.
- Having a good hood is essential especially if you’ll be camping during the colder months of the year or if you’re headed to areas known for sudden temperature drops. When looking at sleeping bag hoods, look for one that is fully adjustable and offers good coverage all the way around your face.
- Draught Excluder. Most commonly referred to as neck baffle or shoulder baffle, a draught excluder is an extra tube of insulation sewn into the neck area of the sleeping bag to create a barrier around your neck and shoulder to keep heat from escaping through the sleeping bag’s upper-end opening.
- Zip Baffle. Zip baffles are internal tubes or flaps that cover the zip to prevent heat from getting out through the small holes.
- Zip Length. The sleeping bag zips generally come in three lengths: full zips, three-quarter zips, and half-length zips. Which one to choose will generally be a matter of personal preference, and perhaps the only consideration to keep in mind would be the ease of use.
- Many sleeping bags for camping have trapezoidal or comfort foot boxes, which are great since these allow you to sleep with your feet in a natural position (pointed upwards). After a long and tiring day of hiking, this is one sleeping bag feature that you’ll be thankful for.
- Stash Pockets. Some sleeping bags come with stash pockets where you can put important items and belongings that you want to keep close at hand.
- Sleeping Pad Sleeve. Some sleeping bags have a sleeve on their underside where you can fit in your sleeping pad. This way, you don’t have to worry about rolling off the sleeping pad while you sleep. This feature is especially great for kids who tend to move too much during their sleep.
- Pillow Pockets. These are openings on the head end of the sleeping bag where you can stash folded clothes to serve as a pillow (just in case you forgot to bring an actual camping pillow).
Globo Surf Overview
Getting the right sleeping bag is crucial to a comfortable and successful camping trip, and hopefully, this guide on how to choose a sleeping bag has helped you narrow down your choices and ultimately find the perfect cocoon for you. Out there in the wilderness, a cheap sleeping bag simply won’t do. It’s usually uncomfortable, heavy, and won’t make you feel warm throughout the night. And you can be sure that it won’t last you for a long time as well. That said, don’t be afraid to spend money on a high-quality sleeping bag made by reputable manufacturers. That way, you’re more likely to wake up well-rested and rejuvenated and ready for another day of exploring and camping fun.
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