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How To Buy A Sleeping Bag

Because you can always unzip a bag that feels too warm, you should pick a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating than the lowest nighttime temperature you expect where you plan to camp. If you will use your bag into the colder months of the year, look at bags that can handle lower temperatures:

how to buy a sleeping bag

Sleeping bag liner: Slipping a soft sleeping bag liner inside your bag helps keep it clean and adds extra warmth when needed. Camping in hot weather? Skip the bag and just sleep in the liner.

If you use a less-insulated pad at colder temps, your sleeping bag might not live up to its temperature rating. Its important to note that a sleeping bag's test rating is based on a person who is wearing long underwear and socks, and is sleeping on an insulated pad with an R-value of approximately 5.5. (Keeping those variables consistent across all tested bags is needed to get accurate measurements.)

REI Co-op's Magnusson Lab has conducted extensive testing to quantify overall sleep system comfort. Sleeping bags and pads, with varying thermal performance, were measured alone and in different combinations. The simple table below shows recommended sleep system combinations based on expected nighttime low, R-value of the sleeping pad, and the sleeping bag temperature rating.

The biggest factors in the weight of a sleeping bag are its insulation and its shape. More efficient insulations, like advanced synthetics and high-fill-power downs, will deliver greater warmth for less weight than less efficient fills. Because a bag requires more insulation to get a warmer (lower) temperature rating, you should always compare bags of similar temperature ratings when comparing bag weights.

Sleeping pad compatibility: On a few bags, the underside insulation has been replaced with a sleeve to fit a sleeping pad (sold separately). Similarly, pad loops allow you to use straps (sold separately) to connect the bag to your pad.

Storage sack: Because leaving a sleeping bag compressed tightly in a stuff sack for long periods of time will impair its ability to loft fully and insulate efficiently, a lot of bags also come with a large mesh or cotton storage sack.

Sleeping bag liner: Buying a soft sleeping bag liner and slipping it inside your bag minimizes wear and helps keep the bag clean. Adding a liner to your bag can add a little extra warmth, allowing a single bag to serve you in a wider variety of temperatures.

Three-season sleeping bags are rated from 20 degrees Farhenhiet+ and are suitable from spring through fall. Most people who only own one sleeping bag will buy a three-season sleeping bag, as they tend to represent the best warmth-to-weight ratio.

Four-season sleeping bags are designed for extreme winter camping trips and high-altitude expeditions. These sleeping bags are designed for conditions where temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, though the specific rating varies between bags.

The comfort rating is the optimal temperature for your sleeping bag. This rating should be used as your guideline when buying your sleeping bag. Aim for the comfort rating being your standard camping temperature.

The limit rating of a sleeping bag is the lowest temperature at which the average adult male will be able to sleep through the night. You may not wake up because of the cold, but you will most likely feel cold when you do wake up. This rating is useful for planning camping trips in spring or fall.

The extreme rating is not one you want to explore too closely. This is the absolute limit of your sleeping bag for survival situations. The extreme rating is the temperature at which your sleeping bag will keep the average man alive for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia.

Down fill offers a greater warmth-to-weight ratio, so most trekkers prefer a down sleeping bag. These bags are lighter than synthetic sleeping bags and pack down smaller, giving you more space in your pack. This is because down has a higher fill power than synthetic materials. Fill power is a test of how much the down can loft.

Although the myth that we lose 50% of our body heat through our heads has been debunked, we do still probably lose around 10% of our body heat through our heads. If you wake up in the night feeling cold, you could reach for your hat. Alternatively, you could pull the cord on your sleeping bag and pull the hood in close around you to retain that 10% of your heat. Just make sure you keep your face pointing outward so you can breathe easily.

To make getting in and out of your bag even easier, make sure your chosen sleeping bag has a snag-free zipper on it. The smaller your zip, the more difficult it usually is to zip and unzip your sleeping bag. If you plan to camp in cold weather, make sure there is a baffle behind the zip to act as a draft excluder to stop any cold air from coming through the teeth.

You can also zip sleeping bags together. Sure, double sleeping bags are great if you always camp with your partner, but if you buy two sleeping bags with opposing zips, you can zip your bags together and create your own.

We would all love for our outdoor gear to last longer. After all, a camping or trekking setup can easily run hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Perhaps the most undervalued item in your pack is the one you rely on the most. Getting excited about sleeping bags can be difficult when you've got gadgets and gizmos galore in your pack. But what if there was a way you could make sure your trusty sleeping bag is still coming with you on trips in ten years' time?

If you're looking for the best sleeping bags to take with you on vacation this summer, there are some amazing sleeping bag deals going on at REI right now. With some big savings available on some great sleeping bags, you're sure of a comfy night's sleep without having to worry about breaking the bank. Read on while we take you through the pick of the deals.Mountainsmith Antero 35 Sleeping Bag -- $90, was $120

The Mountainsmith Antero 35 Sleeping Bag is an ideal fit for one person who prefers the mummy bag style of sleeping. Aimed at those who might toss and turn, it has a relaxed-fit with its synthetic fibers providing you with lightweight and compressible warmth. It offers insulation even when it's damp so it can handle a lot of scenarios. Made from a durable ripstop polyester shell, it has a soft polyester taffeta lining for added comfort, along with an adjustable hood to keep your head warm at all times. Elsewhere, you get a contoured footboy so your feet can relax while you snooze. Also, it has a right-handed 2-way side zipper for ventilation, full-length draft tube to keep cold air from seeping in, and external hang loops for keeping it safe throughout the waking hours.

For Winter Camping - Get a goose down sleeping bag with a temperature rating of at least -20 Fahrenheit, but -40 provides a much larger margin of safety due to changing weather conditions.

For Summer Camping - Unless you know you'll always be able to keep a sleeping bag dry, buy a synthetic sleeping bag. Synthetic bags dry fast and don't lose all insulating ability when wet.

What Temperature Rating to Choose - When deciding how warm of a sleeping bag is needed, a good "rule of thumb" is to take the bags advertised temperature rating and then add 10-15 degrees to it. Thus, a bag rated to 20 degrees will keep you warm in temperatures of 30-35 degrees.

Where to Buy - Quality online retailers such as Amazon, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports and Moosejaw are all excellent places to shop for a sleeping bag. If you have no idea what brand of sleeping bag to get, my suggestion is to start at REI, due to their well-organized website and the detailed technical information they provide about each sleeping bag.

Lightweight sleeping bags, as their name suggests, are designed for lightweight and maximum compressibility. In theory, most lightweight bags have a temperature rating between 32-40 degrees. However, this is often a bit charitable. A good rule of thumb is that most lightweight bags work well to 45 degrees, on average.

To achieve the most compression and lightest weight, most quality lightweight sleeping bags use goose down insulation. This is one reason why ultra-light sleeping bags often cost more than warmer, synthetic sleeping bags.

Still, for those forced to use lightweight bags in chillier weather (such as bikers passing through a mountain area), there are ways to extend the bags temperature rating. Sleeping bag liners can add an extra ten degrees to a bags temperature rating. Additionally, the camper can also wear a fleece hat and lightweight fleece clothing while sleeping (never wear cotton). A thicker sleeping pad also can add additional warmth, too. Finally, travel sheets or a fleece blanket can extend a bags temperature rating.

But for a quick summary, the reason sleeping pads are so important is because the sleeping pad prevents you from sleeping on the ground. No matter how fancy or expensive a sleeping bag is, when someone sleeps in it the person's weight collapses the insulation of the sleeping bag beneath the person. The result is that the sleeping bag beneath the sleeper has no insulation whatsoever.

In contrast, bags with synthetic insulation are simple to clean, dry quickly and provide the most versatility. In particular, synthetic insulation bags are the best type of bag to use for hiking or camping in wet weather and for float trips. Sleeping bags with synthetic insulation also tend to cost less than goose down sleeping bags, too.

So what is a sleeping bag temperature rating? A sleeping bag temperature rating is the "best guess" of the manufacturer as to how warm the bag is for the "average person." The methods used, and all the variables that effect, a sleeping bags temperature rating is detailed in the article How to Understand Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings.

When shopping for a sleeping bag, a simple "rule of thumb" is to add 10-15 degrees to the actual temperature rating. What this means is that if you buy a sleeping bag that is rated to 20 degrees, you should assume the bag only works to temperatures of 30-35 degrees. 041b061a72

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