How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Camping
Posted on June 27 2019
Backpackers and campers, usually, have camping trips that last a couple of days. This means you will spend plenty of days and nights outdoors. Where do you spend the long nights in the cold outdoor? How do you stay warm while camping?
The right sleeping bag, in terms of design and material, would reward you with a comfortable night’s sleep. It is one of the most important camping gears in your backpack. In this article, ENKEEO will take you through the key features and factors when selecting a sleeping bag so that you know how to choose the best one for your camping trip.
Source: Austin Trigg
Why Should You Bring a Sleeping Bag in a Camping Adventure?
An average person spends a third of their time sleeping, and our outdoor life is no exception. One’s sleeping quality is critical to the overall outdoor experience, and for this purpose, you should always take a sleeping bag with you to get some comfortable rest while you are out on your adventures.
A sleeping bag is a blanket like a sack that provides you a comfortable and sound sleep, it works close to the bed in conditions where the luxury of a real bed is not available. High-quality bags would offer the required cushioning effect, keep your body warm during long nights, and provide protection from chilly winds or rain.
Temperature rating is one of the most important factors when choosing a sleeping bag. It indicates the temperature range at which an average person can get a normal sleep comfortably for 8 hours. Normally, temperature rating consists of the lower limit, comfort-level, and the upper limit of temperatures.
Lower limit: the lowest temperature at which an average sleeper can sleep without waking.
Comfort: the most ideal temperature at which an average sleeper would sleep comfortably for 8 hours without waking.
Upper limit: the highest temperature at which an average sleeper can sleep without waking.
Plus, a little extra warmth wouldn’t be a bad thing, because you can undo the sleeping bag if you wake up warm but you cannot do much if you wake up because of cold temperatures.
Sleeping Bag Shapes
The shapes of sleeping bags directly affect their thermal efficiency. There are mainly 3 bag shapes: mummy, semi-rectangular, rectangular. They increase sequentially in terms of their thermal efficiency and decrease sequentially in their comfort level.
Mummy: This type of sleeping bag features the shape of an Egyptian mummy. It is wide at the shoulders with an obvious taper towards the leg area and features a thermal-protective head hood on the top. A suitable head hood should be able to tighten for preventing the cold wild. The bag is also the shape of your body when you’re lying down in a straight position, and offers maximum warmth and minimum weight. However, it isn’t as comfortable as other bags, especially for restless sleepers who move around a lot while asleep.
Semi-rectangular: Also known as a "barrel" or "modified mummy" shape, a semi-rectangular bag is a hybrid between the rectangular bag and the mummy bag. It tapers down like the mummy bag but offers more width in the hip and shoulder areas. However, it does a trade-off between the warmth and the roominess of the bag. If you move around a lot during the night but still want some heat retaining benefits, then the semi-rectangular bag is the right choice for you.
Rectangular: This type is the most comfortable shape of traditional sleeping bags; it provides a lot of room for both legs and arms to stretch out. It is used extensively in the warmer weather for recreational camping. This design was initially intended to reach the top comfort level for people, however, the drawback of a spacious design is the heat losses. For general campers, rectangular bags are the most common shape due to its cheaper price and wide sleeping area which provides more comfort; some can even be completely unzipped and used as a mat.
Down and synthetic are the two main fill materials for sleeping bags; there also are cotton bags as a cheaper choice. Down is light, high compressible, normally made from duck down or feather, and provides more warmth than a synthetic-fill bag with the same weight. Synthetic material is usually made from some sort of polyester and is hypoallergenic. This type of fill material weighs more and takes up more space, but it is a great option in cold and wet climates because it keeps you warm even in wet environments. A key consideration when selecting between materials of the sleeping bag is what camping gears you will take on with you and where are you going on. Traveling around the deserts probably needs a down bag, but if you are heading into the woods with a cold-wet climate, a synthetic-fill one would be a better choice.
The length of the sleeping bag is an easy decision when you are trying to figure out just the right bag for yourself. The length of bags is generally based on two standards, one fits for anybody under 6 feet, another fits for anybody above 6.3 feet. Of course, many manufacturers would provide extra-long choices or design special styles for women or children. The easiest way to pick a sleeping bag of right length is to choose the one that is a little longer than your height. If you choose one that is too long, you would be lost in the big sack; so, not too long, but just a few inches lengthier than your own height.
Sleeping Bag Accessories
Selecting the right sleeping bag is important for a good’s night sleep, but on top of that, a few additional accessories can help you to improve the level of comfort and enhance sleeping quality even more. Combine these accessories with your bag, and you’ll able to enjoy a relaxed, peaceful rest even in a long mountain camping trip.
Sleeping mat: An inflatable sleeping mat is light and takes up little space in your backpack, making it the ideal accessory for any camping adventure where space is limited. It will add the level of softness, and reduce detrition by averting direct contact with the ground. Just inflate the mat, and you can get the much needed cozy sleep after your tiring camping trips.
Storage sack: Many sleeping bags will come with a stuff sack for long-term storage. A stuff sack with compression straps will reduce the size of bag greatly when you put it in your backpack. Make sure whether the bag selected is easy to pack, or you will find you take one bulky item which is likely to be a quilt.
Sleeping bag liner: The sleeping bag liner is a great way to provide supplemental comfort and improve hygiene. It will provide you an extra layer of warmth when you go for a colder destination or a place with a great difference in temperature during day and night. And you can easily skip the liner as the temperature rises. An additional advantage is that the liner will keep your bag clean because of the protection from skin oil.