Sleeping Bag Shell & Lining The outer shell of a high-quality sleeping bag is usually made of nylon, which is both lightweight and durable. Nylon bags are typically either made from smooth nylon taffeta or slightly more durable ripstop nylon. Some nylon shells even utilize a waterproof breathable laminate or membrane like Gore-Tex® to provide additional protection in harsh weather conditions. The lining of most sleeping bags is made of polyester, which is breathable and soft against the skin.
Less-expensive sleeping bags may be constructed with a polyester shell, which is suitable if you’re an infrequent camper and won't put lots of miles on your bag. Polyester shells aren’t as durable as nylon shells, but are still lightweight and breathable. Some inexpensive rectangular bags may be manufactured with a cotton shell and lining. Cotton is easy to care for, breathable and comfortable in mild conditions.
However, always avoid using a sleeping bag made of cotton in wet conditions because this material dries very slowly once it becomes damp. Types of Sleeping Bag Fill Fill refers to the insulation found inside a sleeping bag. There are three primary types: down, synthetic and cotton. Down Fill Down fill comes from the fluffy underfeathers of waterfowl, usually geese. All down products are rated by "fill power," which describes the loft (or volume) a given amount of down occupies.
A higher fill power means more volume occupied and thus more warmth. This rating can range in sleeping bags from as low as 400 fill power all the way up to 800 fill power. Below are some key advantages of down fill: Down is the lightest fill you can buy and has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio. This means that a 30°F down-filled bag will almost always weigh less than a 30°F synthetic-filled bag.
Down is the most compressible fill and offers the greatest longevity. In other words, down insulation can be compressed regularly and will still expand to provide substantial warmth for many years. Synthetic fills tend to lose more loftiness over time. Down fill also compresses more than synthetic fill. This means that a fully compressed down sleeping bag will usually take up less space inside a backpack compared to a comparable synthetic sleeping bag.
(Note: Never compress your sleeping bag for long-term storage. Always store your bag in a larger storage sack rather than in a compression sack.) Synthetic Fill Synthetic fill is usually created from polyester fibers. High-quality synthetic fills are designed to emulate the loft of natural down insulation. However, no synthetic fill can quite match the warmth-to-weight ratio of down. Below are some key advantages of synthetic fill: Most synthetic fills are less expensive than down.
Synthetic fill is hypoallergenic and ideal for people who are allergic to down. Unlike down, which loses most of its insulating properties when wet, synthetic fill still provides some degree of insulation after becoming wet. Take a look at our Down vs. Synthetic Guide for more detailed information about the properties of these two sleeping bag fills, or check out the video below: [embedded content] Cotton Fill Cotton fill is found in only the least expensive sleeping bags.
Cotton-filled sleeping bags are acceptable for indoor sleeping or car camping in warm, dry weather, but are never a good choice in the backcountry. Cotton fill is heavy, absorbs water quickly, dries slowly and loses its insulating properties when wet. Buying for Your Budget If you have the money, down sleeping bags are generally the best, unless you plan to camp in very wet conditions. However, a down bag with a waterproof breathable membrane is another good option for wet and cold conditions.
If you're new to camping, on a tight budget and/or live in a very wet climate, consider going with a synthetic sleeping bag. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Inexpensive department store sleeping bags may be easy on the budget, but they're cheaply made and won’t provide the same level of warmth and durability as quality bags from reputable brands. By comparison, better-quality sleeping bags typically have baffled construction to prevent cold spots and are designed to last.
To get the best bang for your buck, stick with sleeping bags from name-brand manufacturers that stand behind their products.See Also: Glacier Lagoon Tour From Reykjavik
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While backpacking bags focus on minimizing weight, sleeping bags for car or family camping are all about comfort. What's the best sleeping bag for you? This article discusses what features to look for when shopping for a sleeping bag for car camping. When you're ready to shop REI's selection of sleeping bags, narrow your search by clicking on "family & car camping" under the Best Use option in the left column.
Video: How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Camping Sleeping Bag Temperature Rating A sleeping bag's temperature rating identifies the lowest temperature at which a bag is intended to keep the average sleeper warm. When a bag is described as a "20-degree bag," it means that most users should remain comfortable if the air temperature drops no lower than 20°F. These ratings assume that the sleeper is wearing a layer of long underwear and using a sleeping pad under the bag.
Metabolism varies from person to person, and sleeping bag temperature ratings vary from one manufacturer to the next. Use these ratings as a guide only—not a guarantee. Sleeping bags are typically categorized like this: Note: Most camping bags feature a temperature rating between +15°F and +50°F. Select a sleeping bag with a temperature rating a bit lower than the lowest temperature you expect to encounter.
If you're headed for near-freezing temperatures, then choose a 20°F bag instead of a 35°F bag. If temperatures remain higher than expected, you can easily vent the bag to provide more air circulation. Sleeping bags keep you warm by trapping and holding a layer of "dead" (non-circulating) air next to your body. Your body heat warms this dead air, and the bag forms a barrier between it and the colder ground or outside air.
The less air space there is to heat, the faster you warm up and stay warm. Camping bags are roomier than backpacking bags for greater comfort, with the tradeoff being less efficient warming of this dead space. Rectangular Most camping bags are designed with a rectangular shape for maximum comfort and roominess. If you choose 2 bags with compatible zippers, it's easy to mate them and create a double bed.
You can mate bags if one bag has a "right-hand" zipper and the other a "left-hand" zipper. (Note: A right-hand zip means the bag opens and closes to your right when you are lying in the bag on your back.) The zippers also need to be the same size, style and roughly the same length. You can lay 2 bags on a queen-size air mattress for the utmost in outdoor sleeping comfort. Semirectangular (or barrel-shaped) These can be used for both camping and backpacking.
Their tapered design offers greater warmth and efficiency than rectangular bags, but they're still plenty roomy for a comfortable night's sleep. They are popular with larger-frame backpackers or restless sleepers who don't like the tight fit of a mummy bag. Mummy If you think you’ll be doing some backpacking as well as car camping, you may want to choose a mummy bag. Mummy-shaped bags have narrow shoulder and hip widths in order to maximize warmth and reduce weight.
However, some people have trouble getting comfortable in these more restrictive bags. For more information about choosing a bag for backpacking, see our Expert Advice Article, Sleeping Bags for Backpacking: How to Choose. Double-wide Designed to comfortably sleep 2 people, roomy double-wide bags can be combined with an air mattress (or foam sleeping pad) for a cozy night's sleep. Most models zip apart to create 2 individual bags.
Sleeping Bag Insulation Type Synthetic Insulation Most campers choose synthetic insulation (versus down insulation) for its strong overall performance and friendly price tag. Typically made of polyester, a synthetic fill has many advantages: It’s quick-drying and insulates even if it gets wet. It’s less expensive than down-filled bags, it’s durable (stands up to roughhousing kids and dogs) and it’s nonallergenic.
However, synthetic insulation doesn't pack down as small as down, so it's less versatile if you plan to use your bag for backpacking also. Goose-Down Insulation Offered in some camping bags, it provides a more durable and compressible alternative to synthetic fill but features a slightly higher pricetag. Water-Resistant Down Insulation The downside of down is that it loses its insulating power when it gets wet.
To help alleviate the problem, some sleeping bags feature down that has been treated to protect the feathers from moisture. Sleeping Bags for Women and Kids Women's sleeping bags: These are specifically designed and engineered to match a woman's contours. When compared to standard bags, women-specific bags are shorter and narrower at the shoulders, wider at the hips and add extra insulation in the upper body and footbox.
Kids' sleeping bags: When the kids get a good night's sleep, so do you. Some models feature a built-in sleeve on the bottom of the bag. This holds the sleeping pad so that your child, the bag and the pad stay together all night. (Other bags accomplish the same thing with pad loops that attach the pad and the bag.) Pillow pockets allow a jacket or backcountry pillow to be stuffed inside to create a cozy place for kids to lay their heads.
Exterior pockets on the bag keep young explorers' headlamps, MP3 players and campsite keepsakes in easy reach. Additional Sleeping Bag Features Sleeping bag shell and lining The outer shell of a camping bag is typically made of a ripstop nylon or polyester for durability. Many synthetic-fill bags feature a shell fabric treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. DWR allows water to bead up rather than soak through the fabric.
Linings, on the other hand, promote the dispersal of body moisture, so DWR is not used here. To tell if a shell has a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, rub a wet cloth across the surface. If the water beads up, then it has DWR. Sleeping bag hood Camping in cooler temperatures? You'll lose a lot of heat through your head. Consider a semirectangular bag with a built-in hood. When cinched with a drawcord, the hood prevents heat from radiating away.
Some hoods offer a pillow pocket that you can stuff with clothing to create a pillow. Stash pocket This keeps small items, such as an MP3 player, watch or glasses, close at hand. Sleeping pad sleeve On some bags, the underside insulation has been replaced with a sleeve to fit a sleeping pad. The result: no more rolling off the sleep pad in the middle of the night! Pillow pocket Most of us need a pillow for comfortable sleep.
Some bags include a "pillow pocket" which allows you to stuff your clothes inside to create a pillow. You can also purchase camping pillows, or, if you have room, simply bring your own pillow from home. Stuff sack Many bags come with a stuff sack (sometimes sold separately) to easily transport your bag. New or replacement stuff sacks are now sized by volume (liters) in addition to length-by-width dimensions.
Storage sack: You can prolong the life of any sleeping bag by hanging it in your garage or storing it loosely in a cotton storage sack—and not rolled up tight in a stuff sack. This long-term storage prevents the insulation from getting permanently compressed, which reduces its insulating properties. Sleeping bag liner Slip a soft sleeping bag liner (sold separately) inside your bag to minimize wear and keep the bag clean.
Layering in a liner adds 8° to 15°F of warmth, allowing a single bag to serve you in a wider variety of temperatures. Camping in very warm weather? Skip the bag and just sleep in the liner. Shop Sleeping Bag Accessories