How to Choose a Sleeping Bag

How To Choose A Sleeping Bag?

Wherever you go - to the countryside for a weekend or hiking for a few days or maybe to a difficult expedition to the mountains - you need to think about your overnight stay. The sleeping bag keeps warmth during sleep. Not only the quality of your rest and energy recovery during the night depends on the right choice of the sleeping bag, but also your health. Let's see how not to get lost in the variety of models of sleeping bags and how to choose a sleeping bag.     


How to choose the right sleeping bag for your purposes?    


First of all, clearly define what requirements the model of the sleeping bag should meet and in what conditions it will be used. Ask yourself these questions: What time of the year do you go on a trip? How long will be your trip? What weather conditions await you? Is it a hiking trip, water rafting or maybe climbing? How sensitive you are to low temperatures? etc. The choice of a sleeping bag is a search for a compromise between the heat-insulating properties, weight and compactness when folded (it's not very fun to carry extra pounds during a multi-day trip or during climbing) and the cost of the product.     


Types of Sleeping Bags:  In general, sleeping bags can be divided into 3 categories: camping, hiking and expeditionary.   


Camping sleeping bags:  Camping does not assume that you will drag equipment on your back, everything you have to do - just to bring your sleeping bag from the trunk of the car to the camp. Camping sleeping bags are the most comfortable and convenient, but they have the largest volume and weight. In such a sleeping bag, you will literally feel at home.   


Hiking sleeping bags:   Hiking sleeping bag is intended for example, for a multi-day trip. In this case, you carry all your equipment by yourself, in a backpack behind you. Hiking sleeping bags at the same temperature indicators will have less weight and volume than camping ones. Their goal is to allow you to get a good night's sleep and have enough rest for the next day.   

Sleeping bags for expeditions:   Expedition sleeping bags are designed for use in severe conditions: cold, snow, strong wind. For example, a winter hiking trip, or an expedition to the high mountains.      

Sleeping bag shape:   By design, sleeping bags are divided into blankets and cocoons.    

Blanket sleeping bag:     This type of sleeping bag has a rectangular shape. You can unfasten a long zipper and get a regular warm blanket. Sometimes these sleeping bags have a headrest hood. Some models can be joined together. Basically, these sleeping bags are used for camping and for short-distance hiking, when the weight of the equipment is not very important. Due to their shape and size, they are very comfortable for sleeping. They are also suitable for large people.   

Cocoon sleeping bag:    The cocoon sleeping bag has an anatomical shape. It is often equipped with a hood and with a big collar for increased thermal insulation. Due to the anatomical shape, the weight of the sleeping bag is reduced, it better fits the body and better saves warmth.   

Manufacturers make it possible to join together two sleeping bags. Sometimes, models of different brands can be zipped up. But you should remember the fact that zipper in cocoon sleeping bags often does not reach the end of the sleeping bag, and they will have a forked tail.   For the convenience of joining of two sleeping bags (and this makes a significant contribution to the thermal insulation properties of the sleeping bag - there is much warmer for two persons), many companies produce sleeping bags in two modifications: with zippers on the left (L) or on the right side (R). If you plan to zip up sleeping bags, consider buying left and right modification of two identical models.


Temperature mode of a sleeping bag - EN13537 standard:    Most sleeping bags pass a laboratory test to determine their temperature mode in accordance with the European standard EN13537, adopted by the European Committee for Standardization. This standard is named Requirements for sleeping bags and indicates the temperature tests procedure and labelling rules for sleeping bags designed for sports and outdoor activities for adults. The standard does not apply to products intended for specific purposes, for example, sleeping bags for the military or sleeping bags for expeditions to extreme climatic zones, as well as sleeping bags for children and infants. The temperature limit is -20 C.  On the one hand, thanks to the standard, sleeping bags of different brands can be compared with each other. On the other hand, testing and labelling sleeping bags in accordance with EN13537 is not a mandatory procedure, and the manufacturer can indicate the temperature mode in accordance with his own criteria based on his own tests. In addition, the standard is based on the studies that were carried out basically by trained people. While our heat loss is influenced by many individual factors, for example, gender, age, experience and physical condition.   

The EN13537 standard provides four temperature indicators:  - Upper Comfort Limit - T Maximum  - Comfort temperature - T Comfort - Lower Comfort Limit - T Limit - Extreme temperature - T Extreme     The first indicator can be shown optionally, but the other three have to be always displayed. Each of the four temperature indicators corresponds to an average man (age 25 years, height 173 cm, weight 73 kg), or average woman (25 years, 160 cm, 60 kg). T Maximum. The maximum ambient temperature at which the "average" man can sleep in an open sleeping bag all night without experiencing the inconvenience of feeling excessive heat and increased sweating.   T Comfort. The minimum ambient temperature at which the "average" woman can continuously sleep in the sleeping bag all night in a relaxed position, with the most possible comfort.    T Limit. The minimum ambient temperature at which the "average" man can continuously sleep in the sleeping bag all night in a pose that helps to keep warm, with the most possible comfort.    T Extreme. The minimum ambient temperature at which the "average" woman can stay in the sleeping bag for six hours without the risk of death from hypothermia. 


When choosing a sleeping bag, take into account your individual physiological characteristics. It is better for beginners, people of lean physique and those who tend to freeze quickly to base their choice on the temperature of comfort. Only experienced climbers, hikers and tourists, who have enough experience behind, can focus on the extreme temperature when choosing a sleeping bag.          Insulators used in sleeping bags    


Modern sleeping bags can be filled with natural fluff or synthetics. Thanks to the rapid development of technologically advanced materials, synthetics are close in their properties to high-quality goose fluff. But still, synthetic material can not catch up with the best quality fluff in insulation properties, is heavier and has more volume in packed form. Nevertheless, synthetics have an important advantage - it saves its heat-insulating properties even when wet and dries faster than fluff.


Fluff:   Fluff is a lightweight filler with excellent thermal insulation and compression properties. But it loses these properties when it is wet. Although modern manufacturers are increasingly using hydrophobic fluff treated with special impregnations, that has moisture repellent properties. This type of fluff can be found, for example, at Montbell and Brooks-Range sleeping bags. In addition, a moisture-resistant external fabric or membrane can be used to protect the fluff from getting wet.    High-quality fluff will cost more than synthetics. The primary quality indicator is determined with the Fill Power indicator. This is the ability of a heater to get smoothed out after a load. For example, a sleeping bag was lying in a compression bag in a backpack while moving along the route, and in the evening you took it out for an overnight stay. 


The higher the Fill Power indicator is, the more efficient the fluff is and better fills the bag. As a rule, the equipment uses fluff with an FP indicator of at least 550, and the highest values reach 800-900 and even 1000 units and are used in top models.    Due to thermal insulation, low weight and good compressibility, fluff sleeping bags are preferred for winter and high-altitude climbing, as well as hiking and expeditions at the lowest temperatures.      


Synthetic fillers:     Unlike fluff, modern technological synthetics do not lose their heat-insulating properties even when wet, dries faster and in most cases will be cheaper. But, as a rule, it weighs more and occupies a larger volume in packaged form. Weight and compression properties depend on the specific type of synthetics.   The most common heaters that are found in sleeping bags of leading manufacturers are Thihsulate, Thermolite, Primaloft, Heatseeker and Climashield.   You should choose a synthetic sleeping bag if you are looking for a three-season sleeping bag, plan a trip to a region with high humidity or a hike with possible temperature differences.  

How to choose a sleeping bag size:    Most brands use standard sizes, based on human growth:  Regular. For height up to 180 cm. Long For height up to 198 cm.    Some manufacturers also produce sleeping bags designed for height up to 205 cm, designed for tall or large people, as well as those who need more freedom for a comfortable sleep. They also have their own sizes for female models:  WRegular. For height up to 170 cm. Wlong. For height up to 180 cm.    The manufacturer may also indicate the total length of the sleeping bag, for example, as Sivera does. In the size indicated in the form 185x73x46, 185 is the total external length of the sleeping bag along with the hood, 73 is the maximum width of the sleeping bag (in the chest and shoulders), 46 is the width in the area of the legs.   It is worth buying a sleeping bag with a margin. For example, if your height is 180 cm or closes to it, choose Long, especially when it comes to low temperatures. If the sleeping bag is up close, the feet may freeze (and they begin to freeze first), in addition, you will not be able to wrap yourself in a sleeping bag with your head.         


How to care for a sleeping bag   - Be sure to dry the sleeping bag after a trip. - Wash the sleeping bag strictly in accordance with the instructions on the label or on the official website of the manufacturer. In general, choose the delicate/manual mode, a temperature of 30 C and detergents without bleach and chlorine.  - It is better to rinse the sleeping bag twice and you should not use the spin mode.   - Dry it on a horizontal surface. - It is necessary to store a sleeping bag in expanded form, or in a special storage bag. which will not compress the product too much. This allows the filler to save its properties.         

The material of the sleeping bag should be able to breathe, be pleasant to the touch, and should not absorb odors and moisture. Only in such a sleeping bag, your outdoor sleep will be comfortable.   Do not save on your comfort, safety and health. Choose sleeping bags from reputable manufacturers. They will never risk their reputation by releasing low-quality travel equipment.