Choosing a Sleeping Bag

sleeping-bags2The first thing you need to do when picking out a sleeping bag is figure out what you want to do with it. Let’s just go ahead and assume that sleeping in it is your ultimate goal. Fortunately, this can be accomplished with any sleeping bag; unfortunately that doesn’t help you figure out which bag to buy.

What you want to consider are things like compressibility, weight, temperature rating, type of insulation, fit, and price. Depending on what type of activities you are doing will affect the importance of these things.

For example, if you’re backpacking and hauling all of your belongings on your back for days at a time, you will want a light and compressible sleeping bag. Typically down bags pack smaller, which will free up space in your pack.

On the other hand if you’re car camping, the weight and packability of your bag might not be as much of a concern. Synthetic bags, although not as packable as down bags, are usually much more affordable than down.

There are some who believe that down just insulates better than synthetic. Ounce for ounce this may be true, but if you’ve got a down bag rated for 30 degrees and a synthetic bag rated for 30 degrees, they’ve both been tested to be comfortable in 30 degrees.

For a while one of the main worries about down has been getting it wet. If you get a synthetic bag wet, it can still provide you with insulation. If down gets wet, however, it loses its insulative properties. Now, more and more companies are producing down bags with hydrophobic properties. Marmot is putting their waterproof MemBrain technology into some of their down bags. Other companies like Sierra Designs and Kelty are also adding waterproofness to some of their down sleeping bags as well.

The reason that anyone buys a sleeping bag is to be comfortable. The fit of a sleeping bag is something that is often overlooked, but it can be an important part of picking the most comfortable bag. Marmot bags for example will typically be more spacious which allows you a little wiggle room, while Big Agnes bags tend to fit more snuggly. This boils down to “do you like the sheets tucked in or out”? This may seem trivial, but it can make a difference.

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