When you are out on the trail how well you sleep at night can be the difference between a good trip and a bad trip. I have been out on many camping trips and missing a good night’s sleep is never a good thing for the next day. One of the biggest tools you have to help you sleep well is your sleeping bag. This article will go over the difference in sleeping bags so that you can choose the right option for you so that you can be comfortable when you sleep.
Mummy bags are the easiest sleeping bag to find and are the most popular. All mummy bags will have hoods, neck collars, and side zippers. This side zipper can become a problem if you tend to move around a lot in your sleep because you will lose it. You will also fall off of your sleeping mat easily in a mummy bag.
In a mummy bag you are laying on part of the bag and crushing the insulation so therefore it cannot store as much warm air. This means that mummy bags are not as efficient because of the lost insulating power under you. There also is not much in way of venting features in mummy bags. If you leave the zipper open to vent it is an uneven vent and will only vent one side of you. Some mummy bags have a chest zipper but it is not perfect either.
Some manufacturers have a men and women’s mummy bag. This helps to account for size differences. They also add a little more warmth to women’s mummy bags because women usually sleep colder than men.
A top bag is very similar to a mummy bag except that it has a sleeve on the bottom of it to slide your sleeping pad into. This make it lighter and more efficient for the weight because it is not wasting insulation under you. You also cannot role off of the sleeping pad because it is attached to the sleeping bag. You will however still have the drawbacks of a mummy bag in the fact that you are still limited in venting features.
A sleeping quilt is exactly what you think it would be, a quilt that you can drape over you. They are made of the same materials as sleeping bags but they do not have a zipper. Some sleeping quilts have a foot box that comes up to the knees or thighs. The sleeping quilt has to be wide enough to completely cover you and tuck under partially. Because you do not have to slide in them, they work great for a hammock sleeper.
Sleeping quilts are much more versatile and can allow you to vent in many more ways than a typical sleeping bag. They are also more energy-efficient for the weight because like the top bag there is no insulation wasted under you. They will also dry much quicker because they open up completely.
Sleeping Bag Liners
A sleeping bag liner is a liner that goes inside your sleeping bag. This liner serves 2 purposes. The first and most obvious one is to keep your sleeping bag clean on the inside. When you get in your sleeping bag you may have dirt or debris on you which will get in the sleeping bag. The theory being that it is easier to clean the liner than the bag. The second purpose is to add extra warmth to your sleeping bag. This works well because it add an extra layer of warm air between your sleeping bag and the liner. Having multiple layers is always warmer than one thicker layer. Some people actually use them alone with no sleeping bag when it is really warm.
Most experts do not take a sleeping bag liner because they wear their base layers when they sleep. This adds the extra layer and works better than a liner at keeping you warm. They also have sleeping bags that are easy to clean because of the materials they are made of. Sleeping bag liners are hard to get into because they tend to bunch up. They also tangle up while you are sleeping if you move around much.
Sleeping Bag Materials
Fleece is much warmer than wool based on weight and does not itch. It also is much more hydrophobic than wool and has a wicking ability much the same as polyester. Fleece retains most of its insulating power when wet. All of this makes it a great choice in cold wet conditions. Being able to find it cheaper than any of the other listed materials here is an advantage also.
Synthetic Down insulates much better than wool or fleece but not as well as goose down. The down side is it does not insulate very well when wet but still better than goose down. It can compress down much better than wool or fleece but still not as well as goose down. One major fallback is it also does not have a good life span meaning it will not last as long as the other materials listed here.
Goose down is the best material listed here for insulating power. With an estimated 50% higher insulating power over synthetic down it is a great choice for extreme cold. Goose down can compress down more than any of the listed materials here. It also will last much longer than synthetic down. It does however, have its drawbacks. You do not want to get it wet because it will lose almost all of its insulating power when wet. It also can be quite expensive.
The temperature rating on a sleeping bag is usually the coldest temperature in which an average person can stay warm in the sleeping bag. The problem is manufacturers don’t normally tell how they got the ratings. Also different manufacturers with the same ratings are not the same. How warm you stay in a sleeping bag depends on a lot of things such as who the person is and how they sleep. The type of shelter and sleeping pad (if used) can make a big difference on how warm you are in the sleeping bag.
Expert Tip: You should test your sleeping bag in a low risk situation such as the backyard or a short one night trip to see how it works before taking it on a long trip.
Now that you know more about your different options for a sleeping bag, you will be able to choose the right option for your next trip. When you choose the right sleeping bag for your trip you will be much more comfortable when you are sleeping which will make your trip much better. If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend so that they too can benefit from this article.