Sleeping bags technology in recent years has undergone a real boom, and today there are so many types of fillings and specific properties available in different price ranges. Consequently, choosing the right sleeping bag amounts to almost a Herculean task, the failure of which is followed by at least potential rhinitis.
The first thing you must realize is that, when you purchase, compromises are impossible to avoid. Universal sleeping bags that are airtight, watertight, suitable for summer and winter, also space-saving and well-priced simply do not exist. You need to decide the most frequent usage for your sleeping bag, and pay the chosen price accordingly.
The most important thing is to determine the temperature under which you want to use a sleeping bag. It is not very prudent to buy the so-called “three-season” sleeping bag (suitable for spring, summer and fall). Rather, it is better to invest money in a type that can cope with the seasonal conditions of the planned usage. You can choose based on the following temperature classes:
Comfortable temperatures – it is a figure that indicates the optimum temperature for using sleeping bags. Within these temperatures, it’s the easiest to ensure a comfortable night in the wild. Female models are usually also equipped with an additional insulating layer in the feet area.
Limit temperatures – it indicates the temperature at which the insulating properties of sleeping bag are influenced by the environment to the extent that it may cause human body to lose heat balance. In this case, it can cause hypothermia or overheating of the body.
Extreme temperatures – it is a temperature threshold where the use of a sleeping bag is no longer appropriate, and may also lead to hypothermia or heatstroke.
Feather vs. synthetic
The ability of the sleeping bag to keep warm is directly dependent on the insulating ability of the fillings. Feathers have better thermal insulation properties than synthetics of the same weight. If two sleeping bags with thermal filling of these two materials respectively are laid side by side, the feather one would be lighter and more compact than its counterpart. Most feather fillings are made from the highest quality goose down, which has excellent insulating properties. The feathers of seabirds, such as eider, is an even better option.
Synthetic is often used, for example, hollow fibers entangled into fiber-insulating web. Their typical filling has an especially long life cycle. Microfiber, in contrast, has higher thermal insulation and better at fending off frost. Modern sleeping bags primarily adopt their combination, which combine durability with excellent insulating properties.
Water permeability in a sleeping bag may surprise users in humid conditions or when spending the night under the stars. One of the main drawbacks of feather fillings is the high absorption of moisture, which may result in a reduction in its thermal insulation ability. Synthetics, on the contrary, almost does not absorb moisture and dries faster.
Size and weight
The size of the sleeping bag should match the measurements of the user. It should not it feel neither too cramped nor too baggy. Sleeping bag insulation works on the principle of heat generated by the body and wrong size affects its functionality. Ideally, it should provide about 20 cm of free space above the outline of human body, so as to ensure that it fits snugly into the whole figure.
Quilt sleeping bag is more suitable for interiors as its design does not provide a significant thermal insulation. In contrast, the mummy sleeping bag achieves excellent results and is particularly suitable for outdoor areas or in tents. Normally, they have individually labeled ready-made bag sizes (S, M, L, etc.), which will greatly expedite the selection.
During tours every man ought to think not only of the conditions in which he will sleep, but should take into account their potential. The weight limit does not exist in principle, as long as the weight allows conveniences in transport. In contrast, for outdoor cycling adventures, lightweight sleeping bags are more suitable if they are of low volume and a corresponding thermal insulation.
Washing sleeping bags is tricky, because it leads to a loss of thermal insulation properties. Washing feather sleeping bags are not recommended, whereas synthetic sleeping bags can withstand occasional gentle washing. It should never taken to a dry cleaner, because of the chemicals used can seriously damage a sleeping bag. The best approach is to clean it exactly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Sleeping bag should be held in a bag as instructed to avoid disruption to the filling. If the sleeping bag is left to soak at night, it is necessary to dry it in the morning in order to avoid reduction in its life cycle.
Price and durability
Down sleeping bags may be, on average, twice as expensive than its synthetic counterparts with the same thermal insulation value. Those with feather filling may serve for 15 years. The average life cycle of a synthetic sleeping bag in active use normally does not exceed 4 years.
Breathability is also important, which is a key property of sleeping bags. Higher breathability in a sleep bag is more appreciated, especially during warm summer nights.