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Gear Guide Sleeping Bag Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com



 OutdoorPlaces.Com Sleeping Bag Buying Gear Guide


 Picking The Right Sleeping Bag


Nylon, Polyester, Taffeta:

This is the staple lining of sleeping bags.  Soft and supple, if you are using cotton blend sheets on your bed, you are already sleeping on the stuff.  Breathable and comfortable, these materials don’t tend to heat up as much as others that can make lying in the same spot uncomfortably warm.  Lower cost bags may use nylon or polyester to making lining materials that feel like heavy sheets or a comforter.

Brushed or Fleece:

Some sleeping bags may have a brushed lining or a fleece lining.  These bags help keep you feel warmer when the temperature slides down and it may feel better on your skin.  Fleece linings can trap heat, and if you tend to wake up when your pillow gets to warm these linings may have the same effect on you.


When I became a winter survival school instructor I was issued a down mummy bag with a silk lining.  There is nothing like sleeping in a silk lined bag.  Soft, supple, breathable, and it doesn’t overheat as you lay in the same spot.  Silk is very expensive and can tear more easily then other materials.  A tear in a silk bag is also very difficult to repair, and can be disastrous with a down filled bag.

Flannel or Cotton:

These natural materials are breathable, durable and lightweight.  They are also very easy to clean and repair.  Typically found in bargain bags, cotton and flannel both trap moisture, and should only be used in tepid conditions.



Nothing keeps you warm like down.  If you don’t believe that go look at a flock of Canadian geese plying across a near frozen lake in the winter.  Because down has tremendous loft (remember that word, it means it fluffs up real well), insulates incredibly well despite being lightweight, and can take being squeezed into a compression sack and fluffed back up over and over again it is the best first choice for your fill in a bag.  Down is also a natural material that is complete biodegradable and does not come from a chemical process.  The only problem down has is if it gets wet.  Damp down looses its entire loft, and when fill looses loft, it can’t keep you warm.  Down also takes a long time to dry out if it gets wet.

Hollofil or Quallofil:

Hollofil, Hollofil II and Quallofil are all close cousins to each other.  Generally found in lower cost sleeping bags, these materials do a good job of keeping you warm, and maintain loft even if there are a little damp.  The biggest problem with Hollofil is that is relatively heavy compared to other synthetic and man made materials doesn’t compress down as well, taking up more room in your pack.


Polarguard, Polarguard HV, and Polarguard 3D is also close cousins to each other.  Able to take punishment better than Hollofil or “Loft,” type materials, Polarguard is bulky like Hollofil requiring more room in your pack and doesn’t compress down very well.  The long fibers of Polardguard can tear, leaving a cold spot in your bag and making it useless.  Polarguard takes to getting wet better than down and dries reasonable fast.  Most bags today use Polarguard 3D which is the lightest, loftiest, and most durable of the three.

“Loft” Materials, Lite Loft, Micro-loft, Primaloft, Termolite:

This is as close as man has gotten to making down.  Small fibers with a lot of loft, they are much lighter than Hollofil and Polarguard but not quite as light as down.  These materials do an excellent job of keeping you warm and cost less than down.  They resist getting wet better than down does too.  The only material that will stand up to the rigor of frequent use better is down.