Locating the best sleeping bags for the ideal weather and trail conditions is pretty essential. Don’t know what to look for? Well, this guide should help you make that decision.
Sleeping bags are calculated in loft. Loft is generally how “fluffy” the bag is. How tall is it when it’s lying on the ground? The higher it is, the more “pockets” of air or dead air space there will be and the warmer it will keep you.
Simply due to the past disparity of temperature measurement of the best sleeping bags, there have been new testing changes in the US sleeping bag market.
The Europeans have had a test frame, for a while now, that has proven reliable in how it determines a sleeping bag’s temperature range. It also provides more information by acknowledging the fact that men and women have different opinions about what is a comfortable temperature to sleep in.
Some American backpacking sleeping bag companies have followed the temperature control method of the European standard (EN 13537). Without getting too deep into how they arrive at these numbers, they basically check the best sleeping bags under strict guidelines using a mannequin dressed in long underwear and a hat. Sensors on the manikin record temperature readings.
The new tag: A tag using this new test approach shows:
* EN comfort rating for women: This is an outside air temperature that typical women would keep comfortably warm.
* Boys EN lower limit rating: This is an outside air temperature that a typical man would keep comfortably warm.
* EN “Extreme” Rating: This is an outside air temperature that the sleeping bag would still keep a woman alive. These classifications should not be applied too seriously.
Note that these numbers focus on the fact that you are wearing a single layer of clothing and have a sleeping pad under the sleeping bag.
Do not remove this tag under penalty of sleeping bag police:
If the sleeping bags you are reviewing have not adopted the EN standard, don’t panic. You can go for his temperature measurement. The only distinction is that these measurements are to be used as a guide only and do not take into account the distinction between male and female. If you’re like me and you’re usually cold when you sleep, then get a sleeping bag with extra loft and a lower temperature number. The lower the number, the cooler the outside ambient temperature can be where the bag will keep you warm.
How low can you go:
In either situation, using either the above rating or the innovative EN, when choosing a bag, determine what type of weather and what time of year you’re likely to use it the most. If you’re in the mountains and only intend to hike in the spring, summer, and fall, then get a three-season sleeping bag. Find out the average lows for the coldest time of year you’ll likely be backpacking and subtract 10 to 20 degrees and find a bag on that scale. (Example: Let’s say the average low temperature in the mountains during spring is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, then subtract 20 degrees and find a sleeping bag that is rated 0 degrees. Here’s a table of requirements to help:
Bag Style Temperature Rating (Fahrenheit)
Summer: 40 to 60
three seasons bag: 10 to 40
Cold weather: -10 to 10
Winter: -10 and less
There are three basic shapes of the best sleeping bags for camping and backpacking:
* Mummy: Mummy type sleeping bags have wider portions at the shoulders and narrower around the feet. These types of bags are the “tightest” fitting bags and therefore are even more successful at keeping you warmer, which is attributed to the absence of an air space between your body and the bag. Due to their structure, they are also among the lightest. These types of bags also come with a hood that has a drawstring that can help keep the heat around your head. By the way, up to 50% of the body’s heat loss can take place in the head.
* rectangular: These are exactly as the term suggests. A large rectangle. As a result of their shape, they tend to be the least functional style of sleeping bag. There is plenty of room inside the bag for the body to warm up. Due to their heavy weight, they may be much better suited for a “Car Camping” adventure rather than a backpacking excursion. They have the advantage that a pair of bags can be joined together and become a sleeping bag for a couple instead of just one person. With this design, a full or queen air mattress underneath really contributes to a good night’s sleep. (Again, not recommended for the interior of the country).
* Semi-rectangular: I call this the cross. This backpacking backpack is rectangular at the head and then tapers towards the feet. With this shape, you get extra space, but not as much weight as a true rectangular sleeping bag. For those who are claustrophobic, like me; we can sleep a little better inside a bag with extra room and still get some benefit from the shape.
There are also a few different shapes designed specifically for body styles:
* Women: These tend to be a bit narrower at the shoulders. Wider at the hips along with additional padding in the upper body and foot area.
* Childish: These basically have “Kid Friendly” attributes, for example: pockets for your “stuff”, a pocket for stuffing and making a head pillow, and a sleep restraint system to ensure the pillow stays in place all night .
* Hood: as stated above with the Mummy Sleeping Bag, a drawstring hood can help retain body heat
* Draft tube/ Draft fin: This is a flap or tube that runs along the side of the zipper. This fin helps reduce heat loss. When choosing a hiking sleeping bag, confirm that the flap is only sewn into the liner and not through the bag. Be sure to examine the zipper before purchase to ensure that the flap or tube does not conflict or get caught in the zipper’s path.
* Neck draft: This is a blow to the base of the hood. The place in the neck is “closed” so that the air does not escape. When trying on a bag, make sure this tube is comfortable.
* Foot box: This is, as the name suggests, the place around the feet. Several bags have additional space inside the footrest to store boots or water bottles.
* zipper: The zipper must come with large teeth and must work well. They should also not snag the fabric during use.
* pockets: Pockets can be a plus or a pain. If your bag includes pockets, be careful what you decide to put in them. Also, before you buy the bag, take note of the different pocket locations. Do you mind rolling over your keys or MP3 player in the middle of the night?
* Long: If you’re taller compared to the “average bear,” there are backpacking sleeping bags that come in extended lengths.
fill in: There are two basic bag filling options; Manufactured (polyester) and Down (insulating goose or duck feathers).
* Goose Down Sleeping Bag: There is nothing with a higher weight-to-warmth ratio compared to down. A Goose Down sleeping bag is incredibly light. The problem with down is that if it ever gets wet, it loses its heat-trapping ability. In addition, the drying time of the down is especially long. If your feather bag gets wet on the trail at the end of the day, you’re in for a cold night. Down is only for people who are most diligent about keeping their sleeping bag dry.
* Manufactured: The best sleeping bags are lighter and more efficient every year. They weigh more than down bags, but if they get wet they retain more of their warming functionality. Also, they dry much faster compared to down. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages are weight, warmth and faster drying.
Caring for your Sleeping Bag:
Before you pack your backpacking backpack, make sure to shake it out a couple of times. This will help “fluff” it up and enhance the airspace.
When packing your bag, never fail to put the bag in your stuff bag. (Is that repetitive?) Certainly don’t roll or fold the sleeping bag, this will reduce the insulating properties faster.
When you’re not using your bag, never leave it inside a stuff bag, always hang it up or store it in a loose storage bag. If you leave it stored inside a small bag, you can permanently decrease the insulation.
Don’t forget that over time, due to typical use, a hiking sleeping bag will lose its warming effectiveness. This is because the padding is compressed a bit more. This will make the “air pockets” disappear.
Finally, understand and follow the manufacturer’s care information. They produce the best hiking and backpacking sleeping bags and understand how you can keep you in great shape.