How To Choose a Sleeping Bag for your camping out under the stars is always something enjoyable to do. However, a lot of it boils down to the sleeping bag you have to rest your weary body on. It can be too warm, too cold, or just right, all of which can make or break whether you have a successful adventure tomorrow or not.
Before you choose any sleeping bag, we advise you to consider everything you can about sleeping bags before you settle on one. We are going to list the key features you want to consider.
Things to Consider Before Choosing
Shape/Fit: These may sound like the same thing, but they aren’t. The fit refers to whether it is designed for men, women, or unisex. Women’s are often wider around the hip area and men’s sleeping bags will have wider shoulders. Women’s sleeping bags may have extra insulation at the feet.
However, if you are a taller woman, you may still prefer a men’s bag because of the extra length.
The shape is its overall width and length. Some bags are made like rectangles, and others are more tapered. The tapered mummy style is great for heat retention, but the rectangle will give you more room inside the bag.
Temperature Ratings: Every sleeping bag is designed to be warm to a certain temperature range. For instance, from 32- to 60-degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to know the nighttime temperature that it can keep you warm in. This allows you to choose a bag based on the time of year that you will be sleeping under the stars.
However, you must take into consideration how warm you really want it to keep you. If you get cold easily, you may want one that is going to keep you warm at lower temperatures because it will mean it is thicker. If you get hot easily, then you may want something thinner or with a higher temperature rating.
Weight: You may not think that weight matters for a sleeping bag. However, you don’t want a lot of extra weight, which may be unnecessary, if you are hiking for miles through the woods. If you are going to drive to the campsite, this will be less concerning, but the ideal sleeping bag for most people will be lower in weight with a higher warmth rating.
Zipper Durability: The most common zipper type for sleeping bags is plastic or nylon. Both are good enough to last the life of the sleeping bag. The true catch is whether you want double pulls, single pulls, or a sleeping bag that may open from both ends, which will allow you to unzip your feet compartment to cool off during the night.
It’s Filling: In general, most sleeping bags will be filled with down or synthetic fibers. Which one you choose will mostly depend on your personal preferences.
Other Features: Some sleeping bags have a sleeping pad insert that will keep you more comfortable. Other possible features may include built-in mosquito netting, quick cords, travel pillows built-in, waterproof features, and more.
Benefits of a Good Sleeping Bag
Your comfort matters if you want to really enjoy camping. For this reason, we feel you should never underestimate the power of a good sleeping bag. It has been proven that good sleep can improve your physical recovery at the end of each day. A lack of a good night’s sleep can lessen your body’s production of cytokines, which is a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation.
The right bag can ensure that you are ready for the adventures ahead by boosting your appetite, immune system, and hormone levels, which can all work together to give you more energy. Your mind benefits as well by being “ready” for what comes next.
However, it goes beyond your overall comfort. Choosing the right bag based on its temperature rating can ensure you have a safe trip out. Choosing one based on weight will ensure that you are comfortable if you are hiking, which can increase your safety.
How to Care for Your Sleeping Bag?
Once you have found the perfect sleeping bag, you will want to do your part to take care of it. This will ensure many years of use. Here are a few tips on how to take care of it properly.
When in Use: You should try to keep your bag clean. Make sure you take off dirty shoes and clothes, dry it if it gets wet, and keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible to ensure it doesn’t get damaged. How much you have to worry about it will depend on what type of fibers fill it. For instance, down filling should never be compressed when wet.
Storing the Bag: One thing all sleeping bags have in common is that they trap air to keep you warm. This is best done if they are fluffy. A lot of bags will come with a storage sack that is made of mesh or some similar material. We recommend you use it to keep your sleeping bag in great condition. It should not be compressed too tightly. If no bag is available, you will want to store it in a space that will not crush it, or even consider hanging it up.
Washing: Most sleeping bags will come with basic directions on how to clean it. If you have a down sleeping bag, normal soaps may damage it and make it so that it is unable to get “fluffy” again. This can lessen its warmth. This is less of a concern with synthetic filling, but you can get specific cleaners for washing synthetic materials if you want years of use. It can be used with down sleeping bags. You should then dry on low in a dryer. If it is down, you should also toss in a tennis ball to break up clumps of down.
Repairs: Sadly, accidents happen and sleeping bags can get torn. There are tapes out there that can stick well to nylon fabrics and remain flexible. This means that you stop the tear before it ruins your bag, and keep it from being torn further when you pull it out of your bags.