Sleeping Bags Tips

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Why should I buy mummy sleeping bags?

Why a Mummy

The North Face is one of the best known names in outdoor gear, including mummy sleeping bags. In fact, most of the North Face sleeping bag line is made up of mummy sleeping bags. Mummy sleeping bags are the choice of many campers and backpackers for a number of reasons. Mummy bags, shaped to fit your body, keep you warmer because they conform to your body shape and conserve more heat. They also weigh less than rectangular bags, so they are easier to carry on a backpack.

What are the "comfort ratings" for sleeping bags?

Sleeping Bags and Comfort Ratings

All sleeping bags used outdoors are rated by a "comfort rating" according to how warm they can keep you in low temperatures. Every bag for outdoor use should conform to these ratings, which is why cheap girl's sleeping bags meant for indoor use simply won't work outdoors.

Here are the comfort ratings you should look for:

  • Summer weight will keep you warm in temperatures 35 degrees or higher.
  • 3-season will keep you warm in temperatures of plus 10 degrees to 35 degrees.
  • Cold weather will keep you warm in minus 10 degrees to plus 10 degrees.
  • Winter/Extreme will keep you warm in minus 10 degrees and below.
Many campers choose a 3-season bag just to ensure they are ready for most situations. These ratings apply to all sleeping bags, from children to adults, so you can make sure the whole family is comfortable on the coldest of camping nights.

What are the advantages of down versus synthetic fillings in sleeping bags?

Down Versus Synthetic

There are advantages to both types of sleeping bag fill material, and disadvantages, too.

If down gets wet, it can be a mess. It's difficult to dry, and it takes a long time to dry fully. It is more expensive than synthetic filler, and there are different kinds of down to know about. (Goose down is the best, while duck down is not quite as high-quality.)

Synthetic bags are cheaper, and they are also non-allergenic, unlike natural down. Synthetic fiber dries much quicker than down, too. However, there are disadvantages, too. Synthetic is much heavier and bulkier than down, it doesn't mold to your body as well as down, and the synthetic fibers can break down over time.

How can a down sleeping bag do double duty at home?

Down Doubles

There are several advantages to spending the money on a down sleeping bag. Down is extremely lightweight and yet extremely warm. It compacts easily, and so it's the choice for most backpackers.

However, there is another advantage to down that can keep you cozy all year long. Many campers use their down sleeping bag as a comforter when they aren't camping. Just as you zip two bags together to form a double sleeping bag, you can unzip your sleeping bag and use it as a comforter.

Unzipped, a large sleeping bag will cover most beds, which means your down sleeping bag can be even more useful. In winter, they keep you warmer, and in summer, they breathe and can keep you cooler.

I'm too tall to fit in a normal sleeping bag, what should I do?

The Long and Short of Sleeping Bags

If you're over six feet tall, you might think sleeping in a sleeping bag is an uncomfortable, even confining experience. However, sleeping bags come in two sizes, "long" or "tall" and "short." If you're over six feet, long sleeping bags should be your bag of choice. These bags are meant for taller campers, but know that all terminology is not the same.

For example, the Coleman sleeping bag called "tall" fits a person up to 6 feet tall, while a "long" bag by Moonstone fits a person up to 6 foot 4-inches tall. So, before you buy one of these sleeping bags, check the specifications to make sure it's big enough for that tall camper in your family.

Do I really need to buy a kid's sleeping bag for my child?

Kid's Sleeping Bags

Many sleeping bag manufacturers make kid's sleeping bags, too, in a variety of styles and shapes. These bags are just like their adult sleeping bags, but shaped to fit smaller campers perfectly.

Kids can be even more attuned to changes in temperature, and so a cheap cotton kid's sleeping bag simply won't work on most overnight camping trips. They are usually only meant for indoor sleepovers and such, not rigorous use.

In addition, the outer cotton shell can get very dirty and will not repel water and stains like a nylon outer shell will. Kid's sleeping bags are usually big enough for your child to use for several seasons as they grow into the bag, and they are more lightweight so your child can carry them in their own backpack. A kid's sleeping bag just makes sense for just about every camping situation.

I don't camp in cold weather. Won't a discount sleeping bag work fine for me?

The Discount Sleeping Bag

Sure, if you car camp or only camp in warm weather, a discount sleeping bag will probably work for you. However, it won't last as long as a higher-quality bag, and if you're caught in sudden cold weather, your comfort could be compromised, too.

Most experts recommend buying a bag that has a little warmer comfort rating than you think you'll need, because there are many factors that can affect a bag's comfort rating, from the type of sleeping pad you use to how much food you eat before you go to sleep.

How do I care for my down sleeping bag?

Caring for Your Down Sleeping Bag

Your down sleeping bag does take special care, but it's not that difficult. Here are some tips to taking care of your sleeping bag:

  • Make sure your bag is fully dry before you put it away. Never put it away wet or damp.
  • Always shake the bag to fluff it out before you use it.
  • Store your bag in the storage bag provided, not in the stuff sack. That can ruin the loft and fluffiness of your bag.
  • Wash by hand with a mild detergent, and lay flat to dry.
  • If you have to launder your sleeping bag, do it on the gentlest cycle in a front-loading washer, or send it to a professional down sleeping bag laundering service.
  • Some sleeping bag manufacturers, such as those who make the slumberjack sleeping bag, don't use down in their bags, while others use exclusively down. Know what filling is in your bag to care for it correctly.

What's a baby sleeping bag?

The Baby Sleeping Bag

If you have a newborn baby, chances are you're already familiar with the baby sleeping bag. This sleeping bag keeps baby from kicking off blankets in the crib and getting feet caught in crib bars, and if your baby is used to sleeping in one of these sleeping bags, it could be a great camping bag for baby, too. A baby sleeping bag looks like a cross between a sleeping bag and a garment. The bag slips over baby's head and is sleeveless, so baby can't roll inside the bag and suffocate. They are great in cribs because they keep baby from getting too cold, and some are heavy enough for outdoor use, too. Most baby sleeping bags aren't comfort rated, so you'll have to watch and see how warm your baby sleeps in one of these bags. Most experts don't advise placing your baby in one of these bags until they are at least four months old.

How can I preserve body heat?

Heat Loss

We've all known this for our entire lives. You loose more body heat out of the top of your head than the rest of your body combined. Wear a hat! Especially in your sleeping bag!

How do I avoid a really cold sleeping bag?

Pre-heat Your Sleeping Bag

You'll be pleasantly surprised how filling water bottles with heated water will warm up a sleeping bag.

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Carol Sponagle