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Gear Guide Sleeping Bag Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com



 OutdoorPlaces.Com Sleeping Bag Buying Gear Guide


 Picking The Right Sleeping Bag



You may see sleeping bags that come as left zip or right zip.  There is no real major advantage to one or the other.  If you have a left zip and a right zip bag from the same manufacturer, you can typically zip the two together.  If you are a left-handed person in a right-handed world, a left zip sleeping bag might be easier for you to operate in the dark at 3:00 AM.


Rule number one in staying warm, 50% of your body’s heat loss is through your head.  Unless you plan to only do summer camping, a sleeping bag with a hood is a must have option.  Hoods come in a variety of styles.  Some hoods are simply made of the shell material and stretch around your head.  Others may have drawstrings so you can cuddle up until just your face is coming through.  Others may be insulated and offer other features to help keep the rest of you warm.


Some sleeping bags have zippered pockets or flaps on the outside of them.  These are handy for keeping things that are important close to you like eyeglasses, a small flashlight, or your watch (if you don’t sleep with it on).

Compression Sack or Storage Bag:

A storage bag helps protect your sleeping bag when it is not being used.  Usually made of a breathable material these bags allow you to pack your bag so that it is loose and this helps your loft maintain it’s fill.  A compression sack is usually made of a more durable, moisture resistant material.  This is a special bag that allows you to squeeze down your bag, taking up less room in your pack.  Compression sacks are very important when hiking out in the backcountry but are not the best way to store your bag.  Long-term storage of a sleeping bag in a compression sack can make it loose its loft.

Draft Collar:

A draft collar is usually found on mummy bags with hoods.  This insulated collar fits around your neck as you sleep.  Warm air stays in the bag, and cold air as you move around during the night stays out.

Zipper Draft Tube or Insulated Zipper:

Usually hanging down over the zipper (which helps it stay in place) this baggy area over the zipper helps keep your body warmth in while keeping drafts through the zipper out.

Size and Length:

Sleeping bags may come in a different sizes or lengths.  When selecting a bag you should find one that fits you comfortably without a lot of extra wasted space.  If you can slip into your sleeping bag before buying it, even better.  Your feet shouldn’t be smashed into the bottom of the bag, and your shoulders shouldn’t be hanging out of the top.  Further, you shouldn’t be swimming in your sleeping bag either.  Extra space means it is harder to keep the inside of your bag warm.  Some sleeping bags also come sized specifically for people with large frames.  These bags have wider shoulders to accommodate broader girth.

For Women:

Some bags are made specifically for women in mind.  Wider in the hips and smaller in the shoulders, they also are typically of shorter length.  All of this makes for a warmer more comfortable nights sleep.