How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Backpacking

How to Choose Sleeping Bags for Backpacking When deciding on a sleeping bag for backpacking consider these key factors. Choose a sleeping bag rated a little bit lower than the typical low temperatures you anticipate on your backpacking trips. The big choice is down vs. synthetic. Each has its pros and cons explained below. The quality of your insulation and the cut of your bag are the big factors. When you compare weights compare bags with the same temperature rating. Consider the extras that make your bag work best for you including types adjustment features stash pockets pad compatibility and more.

is a shell 3 nylon cocoon filled with insulation. Your body provides the heat; a good bag merely retains it. How well a bag warms you depends primarily on its size shape type of insulation and how it is contained in the bag. For equal warmth down is light compact and pricey. Synthetic fills (like Polar guard Hollofil and Quallofil) are comparatively heavy bulky and inexpensive. On the other hand they maintain loft and warmth when wet and provide better ground insulation than down. Although I have always owned down bags I recommend synthetic bags for children. especially young ones who still may wet the bed. Synthetics are easy to wash and dry and a damp bag still insulates well. Consider renting or borrowing bags before making a final decision. Once you settle on type of fill consider consuuction size and shape. Construction refers to the arrangement of baffles the compartments in- side the shell that hold the fill. Baffles distribute the fill evenly keeping it from piling up at say your feet. Choices include slant tube slant wall slant box and parallelogram baffles. Unless you are hiking from the equator to the top


Sleeping bags come in three basic shapes: rectangular semi-mummy and mummy. Mummies are the lightest and warmest but are the most restrictive. Some are trimmer than others but in most if you turn over your bag turns with you. Children especially may find this disturbing. I did. My only claustrophobia attack occurred when I was ten on a dark night in a tight mummy bag. My last mummy bag. Avoid this by having your child crawl in the prospective sleeping bag and do a snuggle test. Measure comfort by the number Most adult bags come in regular and long. Most manufacturers offer .

only one kids’ size“Junior.” Why not put your children in adult bags? Because a bag that is too big for the occupant takes longer to heat up and loses heat faster. The excess space also adds needless weight to a load. On the other hand a bag that is too small will be too cramped for a com- for table night’s sleep. Comfort Rating. Sleeping bags are given a temperature rating usu ally forty degrees above zero F. to minus forty degrees E which is sup-posed to be the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep you warm. The first problem is that individual differences can affect how warmly you sleep. The second is that comfort ratings are supplied by manufacturers who tend to shade the numbers in their favor. Consequently they probably will not help you compare bags from different makers though they will give you an idea where a bag fits in a particular manufacturer’s line. Lower comfort ratings mean higher prices. Fill Power. This is the best measure of down quality. One ounce of down is placed in a tube and its volume is measured under a weight. The higher the result (cubic inches per ounce) the more efficient the down.

SLEEPING BAGS A pad may be the most underrated piece of gear in the battle against a sleepless night. It is essential for an adult or child. It puts a layer of insulation between the body and the cold earth and cushions against roots and rocks. It also can be your life raft on a stormy night in a leaky tent. Pads offer two basic choices-closed-cell and open-cell. The common material is foam. Closed-cell foam is a slab of tiny plastic bubbles whole and unbroken (closed) so the pad won’t absorbwater.Open-cell foam is found in sponges. so it absorbs water well. Unlike closed-cell foam all its polymer bubbles are burst (open) to form a honeycomb structure. With fewer solid walls. open-cell is lighter and more compressible.