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A sleeping bag is made up of various materials such as down, nylon, flannel, poly cotton, etc. There are various types of sleeping bags, and according to the weather where you plan to camp, you can decide on your type. There are synthetic bags made of nylon or polyester, which are cheaper to buy and nowadays come packed with hollow fibers, which make the bag light and yet keeps you warm. The natural sleeping bags are also known as down filled bags and these are lined with flannel or poly cotton blends stuffed with duck or geese feathers. Down bags are costlier but provide better warmth, the only downside being that in case they become wet, they stay wet for a long time unlike synthetic bags, which dry out faster. Down bags require less ‘filling’ and hence are more compact than synthetic bags. You should also buy a bag according to your height and width. If you are trim and below 6 feet you ought to opt for a ‘regular’ bag. However, if you exceed one or both of the above, then go in for a ‘long’ one.
There are 3 basic types of sleeping bags:
Rectangular: This is rectangular in shape, comes for single or double persons, offers more room to shift around inside and hence is good if you need to move around at night or if you want to change your clothes inside. However, since it allows lots of air to come inside, it is good only for warmer climates and is not suitable for very cold climates. They also have good padding, but the folded size is also the largest of the 3 types of bags. It works best if you have a large vehicle and if your campsite is not far away from your vehicle.
Mummy: These cocoon shaped bags are tapered towards the foot and hence snugly fit around your body. These bags give excellent warmth in extreme cold and are hence favored by high altitude climbers and professional campers. All you need is to open the zipper a little bit if you are using it in slightly warmer weather. However, for people suffering from claustrophobia, this bag is not suitable. This bag also comes with a flap to cover the head from cold and folds up to form a compact shape.
Barrel: This bag is similar in shape to the mummy bag, but has more room inside and normally does not come with a top hood for the head.
All the above bags come in natural and synthetic materials, and depending on your need and budget, you can shop around for one. Bags are also temperature rated, so if you are planning to use it for cold weather, then go in for the 0 degrees or a –10 degree rated bag. Or if you are planning to go into a tropical or warm climate, go in for the +35 degrees or even a +50 degree one. Note here that the lower the temperature rating of the bag, the bulkier and heavier it becomes, since the stuffing has to be increased to decrease the temperature inside. If possible, go in for bags with 2 zippers for the top or bottom, hence allowing you to adjust the top and bottom half of your body’s temperature accordingly. The bottom padding has to ensure that even after you put your full weight on it, you still do not feel the hard or cold ground.
There are different brands of sleeping bags available, from “Swiss Gear” which ranges from $20 upwards with their ‘Graz’ model, to “Marmot” which ranges between $50 and $200, with their ‘Aspen’ to their ‘Snowy Range’ model. Mountainsmith which ranges from $50 to $90 with their ‘Lynx’ to their ‘Kodiak’ models, while “Alps Mountaineering” ranges from $40 to $50 with their ‘Alpine Lake’ models, and “Sierra Designs”, which cater to the higher end market with prices ranging from $120 to $205, with their ‘Shavano’ to their ‘Crestone’ models. Check out the different brands, their sizes, types and prices before deciding on your purchase. Montbell also makes a high quality bag.
So, even though it might be –10 degrees outside, the correct sleeping bag will ensure that you sleep like a bear inside.
Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott