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Gear Guide Sleeping Bag Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com



 OutdoorPlaces.Com Sleeping Bag Buying Gear Guide

Introduction Language
Types Shell Material
Lining Material Fill Material
Options Caring For
Keeping Warm Sleeping Bag Manufacturers

 Picking The Right Sleeping Bag


  • Donít store your bag rolled up tightly in a compression sack.  Bags stored for a long time that are compressed tightly can loose their loft.  Store your bag in a breathable sack made of canvas rolled up loosely.  Take your bag out every three to six months and fluff it up to help maintain its loft.

  • Donít pack your bag wet. If your bag does get wet hang it out to air dry or fly dry it in a dryer without heat.

  • Hang your bag out after each trip and allow it to air out.  Washing your bag after each trip is not necessary (unless each trip is one month in the backcountry).  When your bag needs a bath follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.  Washing your bag in a large laundry mat style machine (you know, the same one you wash your bedspread in) is better than using your home machine.  A machine without an agitator is best (front loading) so drawstrings and straps donít get wrapped around the machine in the washing process or worse torn off.

  • When hiking or going into the backcountry, store your bag in a waterproofed compression sack.  Trust us, you will be glad you did.  The bag will stay dry, even if you take a dump into a river by accident when traveling the backcountry.  Having a dry bag and the ability to make a fire can greatly aid you in the event weather conditions sour.

  • Remember the best secret weapon when in the outdoors, duct tape.  Your six to twelve feet of emergency duct tape can be used to patch a tear or seal up a broken zipper.

  • Donít be lazy with your zippers.  If your bag has two zippers that meet at a middle point donít use one end to go all the way around the bag.  This puts a lot of strain on the zipper and increases the chances of a zipper jumping off of its teeth and jamming.  Try to have those zippers meeting at a near halfway point to balance the load and the distance the zipper has to travel.


  • Use a sleeping pad.  Lying on the cold ground isnít going to help you stay warm in the middle of the night and it wonít be comfortable either.

  • Go to the bathroom before getting into the sack.  Anything sitting in your bladder will have to be kept at warm by your body as you sleep.

  • Use your hood on your sleeping bag.  If your sleeping bag doesnít have a hood consider wearing a hat while sleeping.  Remember, 50% of your heat loss is through your head.

  • Wear clothes to bed.  If you are accustomed to sleeping in your underwear (or less) at night try sleeping in clothes.  You donít have to sleep in the pants and flannel shirt you wore during the day.  Long underwear or a pair of sweats can help keep you warm while taking up a relatively small amount of space and adding only a few ounces of weight to your pack.

  • Keep your bag dry.  Do everything possible.  Donít climb into your bag wet, especially if you are in an emergency situation and you think you are getting hypothermic.  A wet sleeping bag cannot keep you warm.  Also make sure that your tent is well ventilated so moisture does not build us as you sleep.  During the night you can expel over a cup of fluid.

  • Make sure your bag fits you.  If a bag is too small or too large it will create problems in staying warm.  A sleeping bag should fit you so that the insulation isnít squished up, but shouldnít have a lot of extra room.  A bag that is too large means you have wasted space to keep warm.  A bag that is too small simply cannot do its job of keeping you warm.

  • If you wakeup and find yourself cold try adding more clothes.  Eating some high calorie carbohydrates can throw some fuel on the internal fires.  If all else fails do some exercise to get circulation increased.  If you start shivering watch out for hypothermia and take increased steps to get warm including building a fire, drinking warm fluids and exercise.

When buying a sleeping bag there are a number of options you need to consider.  However equipped with this information you are now more educated on the right sleeping bag to get for your needs.  There really is no right or wrong answer.  If the bag you get keeps you comfortable and dry, is within your budget, and doesnít take up your entire backpack when out in the backcountry then you have made a good choice.

If you have more questions, you can always contact us and one of our editors will gladly try to answer your questions.  As we try to remain agnostic, we may not be able to answer questions on the lines of brand X versus brand Y.  Ready to buy a sleeping bag?  Than visit our GearPro store at the Outdoor eStore.