Selecting the Right Sleeping Bag
A good quality, the proper temperature rated sleeping bag is a definite must. Trying to get a good nights sleep after a long trek and being chilly is no good and potentially dangerous. When choosing a sleeping bag make sure to get one that is rated for 10 to 20 degrees colder than the temperatures you expect to be camping in. I’ve found, for instance, that if you have a bag rated for 30 degrees and it actually gets that cold at night you will be cold and uncomfortable. A lot depends on personal tastes and expected uses when choosing a sleeping bag. Though I would say this is one area I would not skimp on to get the best bag you can afford.
A Sleeping Bag for Every Condition
There are some modular sleeping bag systems with one lighter weight bag inside another heavier bag. By combining them or using them separately you can be ready for a wide range of temperatures. This allows for more flexibility but loses out with the tradeoff in weight.
Sleeping bags come in a wide variety of shapes and materials. The shapes are some variation of either a rectangular or mummy style bags. The rectangular bags are normally for warmer weather and are nice if you like a bit more leg room. Remember, the weight will be higher than a mummy style as there is more material being at your feet. A mummy style bag is warmer than a rectangular as there is less room in the foot area and they generally have a hood type top. There are also some cross-over models that have a rectangular foot area with a hood.
The Importance of Sleeping Bag Construction
There are many different materials used to be to make sleeping bags. The shells come in fabrics like canvas, ripstop nylon or Gortex type fabrics. Canvas shelled sleeping bags are normally inexpensive, very rugged, but quite heavy. A better alternative is the ripstop nylon type shell, or better yet a Gortex type fabric shell. Having extra confidence in knowing your sleeping bag will be nice and dry even if your tent happens to fail or some other water-related problem crops up is a great piece of mind.
The materials used as insulation basically come in natural and man-made. The goal in any type of insulation is to trap air. The most common natural insulation used is goose down. It is a very good insulator while being quite lightweight and easy to compact to save on room. On the negative side it is expensive and if it gets wet loses much of its ability to insulate from cold. Man-made materials are usually some sort of hollow synthetic fiber. Man-made insulation is usually also light, compressible and unlike down keeps much of its ability to insulate even if wet or damp.