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Gear Guide Sleeping Bag Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com



 OutdoorPlaces.Com Sleeping Bag Buying Gear Guide


 Picking The Right Sleeping Bag


Style is the type of bags.  Sleeping bags basically come in two main styles, rectangular and mummy.  Rectangular bags usually cost less, offer more room, but are heavier and don’t offer as much warmth.  Mummy bags cost more, hug your body, are lighter and offer more warmth.  Some rectangular bags taper as they go to the feet or are rounded at the base.  Not a true mummy bag these offer a compromise between the two styles.


The shell is what the outside of the sleeping bag is made of.  Shell materials have different qualities and come in a wide variety of materials.  If you plan to canoe camp, camp in damp regions like the Pacific Northwest or during the winter, a water resistant shell made of Dryloft or microfiber.  If you are interested in saving some money, or will be doing more general camping, taffeta, nylon, or polyester may be a better choice.  If you are looking for a sleeping bag to take up the cabin on the weekends, then a simple cotton shell may meet your needs.


The lining is the inside of the bag or the part that you actually lay on.  Like the shell, linings come in a number of materials.  Lining materials can include silk, taffeta, nylon, polyester, cotton, or fleece.  When selecting a lining consider your personal comforts.  Do you wake up in the middle of the night and flip your pillow over simply because it is warm?  Then fleece or nylon may not be the best choices.  Silk is wonderful but very expensive and rips easily.  Cotton is comfortable and inexpensive, but it is not very durable and


Fill is what the sleeping bag is stuffed with.  The fill is what keeps you warm.  Fill comes in basically two types of materials, natural down, typically goose feathers, and synthetic or man made fibers.  Pound for pound nothing will keep you warmer than down.  However down is more expensive than man made material and if it gets damp, looses almost all of its ability to keep you warm.  Man made fill comes in a wide variety of materials and range from bargain basement to rivaling down in its ability to insulate.  You may also hear the word loft used with fill.  Loft is how much the material “fluffs up,” in the bag.  The more loft the more insulating quality the bag will have.

Temperature Rating 

The temperature rating is how cold it can be outside before the bag cannot keep you warm anymore.  Some sleeping bags also have a maximum range, where the bag may keep you too warm.  Temperature ranges are typically shown as, “rated to XX° C./ XX° F.”  When looking at a temperature rating on the bag you should take the figure with a grain of salt.  When looking at the temperature rating on a sleeping bag, you should add about 10° F. to the bag rating.  So if you were looking at a sleeping bag rated to 20° F., you shouldn’t use the bag below 30° F. when camping.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule.  You will know better if you run hot or cold, and what you plan to wear sleeping.  If you’re going to wear all of your clothes in the sack, you will be able to take the cold a little better than someone who sleeps in their underwear.  Physical condition also plays in to how warm you feel at night, and how tired you are.  If you plunge into a deep sleep from exhaustion, your body temperature can drop to near hypothermic levels while sleeping.  Some purists will insist that wearing a full complement of clothes, using warm water bottles, and an outer bag can extend the rating.  If you are new to the outdoors, don’t take chances and be conservative with your temperature ratings when selecting a sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags also come with a variety of other optional features, zipper placement, compression sacks, hoods, pockets, draft tubes all enhance your sleeping bag and it’s ability to make you comfortable and keep you warm.