Sleeping Bags

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Sleeping Bags   


For whatever reason, there is not as much interest in sleeping bags as there should be. A good sleeping bag can help get you a good night’s sleep regardless of the external weather conditions. Sleeping bag prices can range in price from as low as $40 up to over $300. Popular brands include Coleman, Gorp, Browning, Trekker, The North Face,  Eureka, Columbia, Slumberjack, Ledge, Black Pine Sports, and Backside. 


There are essentially three different types of sleeping bags and the main differences are in their shape.  The three shapes of sleeping bags are: 


1.      Mummy - these tend to be smaller and form fit your body similar to a “mummy wrap”.  Their main advantage is trapping heat and taking up less space.    


2.      Barrel - these are a compromise between the mummy and rectangular sleeping bags and they offer more room in the middle and tapered ends.  These allow for a little more comfort than mummy sleeping bags and take up less space than rectangular sleeping bags.


3.      Rectangular - these sleeping bags take on rectangular shape providing the most comfort of all three as they are widest and closest to your sleeping arrangements back home.  In addition, they can double as blankets.  However, they also take up the most space and by themselves, risk the most body heat loss.   


I personally prefer the rectangular style of the three because of their additional room and its additional functionality. They work great in hot and cold conditions and any loss in insulation can be gained by stuffing the sleeping bag with other clothes in your backpack. Furthermore, it is the best among the three if other family members will use it. Its wide size allows for kids, women, and men to easily adapt to it.  


Other tips to consider: 


1. Avoid purchasing kids sleeping bags for children. Since they will continue to grow and sleeping bags can last for a long time, go ahead and purchase them full size ones. If need be, fold the bottom part of the sleeping back down to conform it more to their bodies if needed. 


2.  Pick natural fibers over synthetic.  They provide more warmth and are lighter.  Just do your best to make sure they don’t get wet as they take longer to dry out. 


3.  Do not buy camping pillows.  Instead, fill your sleeping bag cover with clothes to make a makeshift pillow.  This is very effective and reduces your overall pack weight.  Also, do not purchase camping pillows.  These are of little value, they are small and much different than the pillows you use at home.  Save yourself some money and use your sleeping bag cover.   


4.  Choose tight-fitting sleeping bag covers.  The covers that allow you to squeeze all the air out of the sleeping bag are great.  This will make your pack lighter and take up less space.  Also, this means the sleeping bag will be less likely to get caught on something and is much easier to keep waterproof. 


5.  Do not buy into the hype temperatures of sleeping bags.  Many other websites will give tips on how you want to check what the minimum temperature of the bag is.  This is largely overblown.  Simply put, just get a good sleeping bag that will fit in most types of weather.  If you need more insulation for colder weather, you can always bring more blankets, wear long johns and a wool cap, or stuff your sleeping bag with clothes.   


6.  Sleeping bag must have great zippers.  Select ones that are sturdy and the least likely to get stuck on fabric.  Zippers are usually one of the first things to go and once they break, the sleeping bag essentially becomes useless for colder weather.   


7.  Get a darn good waterproof cover for your sleeping bag.  You must protect your sleeping bag from getting wet at all costs.  A wet sleeping bag can ruin a camping trip.  Therefore, be sure to put measures in place to keep it from getting wet.  Purchase a waterproof cover or if in a pinch, cover the sleeping bag with a trash bag.    


8.  Weight of sleeping bag may or may not be a concern.  I will leave this largely up to you and your needs.  I prefer to get a sleeping bag that will work well in hot and cold weather.  This results in being a little bit heavier (4 to 8 pounds).  However, you may decide an ultralight bag is for you.  These can get to under 2 pounds and obviously are ideal in summer conditions and for backpacking. 


9.  Avoid sleeping pads and mats- If you are backpacking, these are better than nothing.  However, if you are on a sustained trip or camping near your car, by all means bring an air mattress or cot instead.  They provide more support and will give you a better night’s sleep. 



10. After the trip is done, wash and dry out your bag. Be sure to wash your sleeping bag and dry out your pack. It is best to follow the washing directions for your sleeping bag as some are washable and some are not. You want to wash your bag to help sanitize it and get rid of germs, dirt, insects, and anything else. Afterwards, you will want to completely dry it out to reduce the risk of mildew. When it comes time for your next camping trip, you will be glad you did not neglect these steps.  


With this set of tips, you should be able to pick out a quality sleeping bag with little difficulty.  Remember to treat your sleeping bag as you can get years and years of enjoyment out of it.


*To find out what to look for in camping stoves, check out Camping Stoves.


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