Getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep is important if you’ve spent the entire day exploring the wilderness. However, getting uninterrupted sleep might become a luxury for most campers owing to the cold air and solid, hard ground underneath them. Fortunately, investing in a high-quality sleeping bag can put all your troubles to rest. There are many sleeping bags available in the market, featuring various size and shapes, not to mention, all the different kinds of materials available. For instance, should you buy a synthetic bag or a down sleeping bag? Rest assured, this detailed guide will provide you all the information you’ll need to know about sleeping bags.
Types of Sleeping Bags
The most popular types of sleeping bags include:
Mummy Sleeping Bags
If you want to stay warm and protected against the rapidly changing elements outdoor, we suggest you invest in a mummy bag. This is the most efficient design out there that maximizes warmth thanks to its snug-fitting design. This type of design features a tapered cut through the feet and legs, boosting thermal efficiency. The bag’s primary function is to contain body heat inside the interior. While some mummy sleeping bags offer plenty of room to move the torso and shoulders, the design may be too restriction for some owners. Some primary benefits of a mummy bag include:
- Mummy bags are an excellent choice for campers who are travelling during the winters
- As an added advantage, mummy bags are usually lighter compared to rectangular sleeping bags since they use less materials
Sleeping pods are exclusively designed for outdoor use. This model may look restrictive but it’s almost half as wide as you think, allowing campers to move freely. This makes sleeping pods an excellent option for folks who enjoy tossing and turning in their sleep. Additionally, because of its breathable fabric, sleeping pods are perfect for summer use.
Square Sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags are probably the most basic types in the market. It is an excellent option for folks who don’t like to feel constricted in their sleep. In some cases, campers can double up the sleeping bag size according to their convenience.
Rectangular Sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags offer more space to move around unlike mummy sleeping bags. This allows campers to change positions in their sleep. Most people prefer this design since it is less restrictive and is more comfortable to sleep in. On the downside, the rectangular design may collect dead air space, resulting in a chillier environment. This makes the design less warm compared to mummy bags
While rectangular sleeping bags still offer warmth, it is not suitable for extremely cold weather conditions. However, here are some factors you should consider before opting for a rectangular sleeping bag:
- These bags are ideal for campers who move around a lot in their sleep and would not appreciate a restrictive design such as a mummy sleeping bag
- Typically more inexpensive compared to mummy bag designs
- These sleeping bags tend to be bulkier and heavier compared to mummy bags, not making them a suitable choice for backpacking
- Not suitable for extreme cold conditions
Semi-Rectangular Sleeping Bags
These bags are also known as hybrid sleeping bags and can be considered as a cross between rectangular and mummy bags. This model tends to be wider around the hips and shoulders but have a tapered end at the bottom along with a footbox. Most hybrid bags tend to be hoodless and are slightly heavier compared to mummy bags, making them much roomier. On the bright side, they tend to be heavier compared to traditional rectangular bags. Campers who are searching for warmth but don’t appreciate the restrictive design of a mummy bag will significantly benefit from this model.
Important Factors to Consider
Here are some other important factors you should consider before purchasing a sleeping bag:
Types of Sleeping Bags According to Different Temperatures
Campers and backpackers are choose from three main types of sleeping bags according to different temperatures:
- Summer: As the name indicates, summer sleeping bags are constructed using lightweight fabrics and are typically to carry it around. This makes it easier for folks to transport their sleeping bags from place to place.
- Three Season: Similar to three-season tents, thee-season sleeping bags are designed for extreme weather conditions. These bags offer users plenty of protection even if the temperature drops down as low as 0 degrees.
- Winter: Winter sleeping bags are specially designed for colder temperatures though, they are not as durable as three-season sleeping bags.
When purchasing a sleeping bag, campers and backpackers will have to choose from two main types: synthetic and down. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both designs:
Down is considered as the most efficient and lightweight insulation one can get their hands on. The material is also easy to compress, making it an excellent option for backpackers who don’t have much space and need to carry heavy loads. The backpack retains its loft and has a higher insulation power compared to synthetic sleeping bags. While down-insulated products are typically more expensive, it also comes down to the fill-power (measure of how fluffy the material is). Fill power ratings range between 600 to 900. The higher the number, the warmer you’ll be.
As the name indicates, synthetic insulation is typically made using polyester material that won’t absorb water, which makes synthetic an excellent choice for folks who will be traveling to the rainy area.
Fill is an important consideration that campers and backpackers should pay attention to when buying a sleeping bag. The ‘loft’ is a property that determines the height of the insulation. It also determines how much the bag will fluff. A higher loft results in a warmer bag. The most common types of fill materials include:
- Cotton: Cotton fill bags are quite cozy and work well if you’re sleeping in a vehicle or a warm tent. However, the material is not suitable for wet conditions as cotton absorbs water and has a tendency to become soggy. We suggest you refrain from using cotton sleeping bags in cold and rainy environments as it can cause the material to become hard and uncomfortable. In extreme cases, the cotton fills may also result in hypothermia.
- Synthetic Fill: Synthetic filaments offer superior heat retention and are suitable for colder temperatures. However, the only downside is that synthetic fills don’t compress well so the material will take up more room in your backpack.
- Wool: While wool is better at repelling water compared to cotton, it’s quite heavy and does not compress well. On the downside, wool wicks moisture from the surface, allowing folks to feel drier.
- Down Fill: The tiny feathers that grow next to the goose’s skin are known as down. It is probably nature’s best insulation materials. Down pillows, sleeping bags and comforters offer a sense of luxury while you’re in the wild. While down is the most expensive type of fill, it is an excellent choice since it can hold and trap air easily.
The outer shell is another material you should pay attention to before investing in a sleeping bag. Some outer shells are waterproof while others are only water-repellent. On the other hand, some shell materials are made using breathable fabrics where as others are very efficient when it comes to keeping out drafts and winds. Keep in mind that all these features will bring up the price of the sleeping bag.
If you’re purchasing a sleeping bag with down fill, we suggest you opt for a model with a breathable and waterproof shell. Opting for a bag with a hood is also a great option if you want to minimize heat loss.
Most sleeping bag linings are made using fleece, flannel and silk taffeta. Here’s a brief guide to what material is best and what you can expect from each type:
- Flannel: Flannel is quite comfortable and tends to hold water
- Fleece: Fleece is an excellent option if you are traveling to extra-cold temperatures. Folks can also buy an extra liner to increase warmth. If you’re camping outdoors when it’s warm outside, use
- Silk: Silk is a luxury material that is both comfortable and durable. Another notable advantage is that the lightweight material is better at absorbing water without becoming damp.
Top Sleeping Bag Manufacturers
If you want to invest in the best product, we suggest you choose from among the top manufacturers. Here are a couple of top brands you should consider before making a purchase:
Coleman has been in the business for decades now and is known for manufacturing quality outdoor. The brand’s sleeping bags are designed to enhance your outdoor experience whether you’re out camping, trekking or backpacking. You can choose from an extensive range of Coleman sleeping bags on the market.
Teton Sports offers one of the best product guarantees in the industry. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from their extensive range of Tenton Sports sleeping bags. Whether you’re in search of double sleeping bags or something for your backpacking trip, this brand will not disappoint you.
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) offers 100% satisfaction to its customers. The award winning brand not only manufactures quality gear and clothing but it also donates funds to preserve the environment. Rei’s sleeping bags are among the best in the market and are sure to offer you ample amount of protection no matter where you go.
Slumberjack has been in the business for over 50 years and is known for manufacturing the best outdoor gear for adventure freaks and athletes. Slumberjack’s sleeping bags offer sufficient protection against outdoor elements.
Marmot offers its customers 100% satisfaction. You can also subscribe to their website to receive regular news and information about their latest outdoor gear. Marmot sleeping bags are known for their quality construction and colorful designs that you’re bound to love. It also manufactures sleeping bags for women and kids.
How to Wash a Sleeping Bag
Similar to any bedding, sleeping bags must be washed every once in a while to get rid of unpleasant odors and prevent germs from turning the bed into a breeding ground. Some manufacturers advise folks to only hand-wash the bag for quality purpose. Either way, we have prepared a detailed guide, containing steps on how you can wash your sleeping bag.
Hand-Washing Sleeping Bag
Use these instructions to hand wash the bag. Remember not to use abrasive chemicals as that may damage the materials of the sleeping bag:
- Fill your bath tub with cold water. We suggest using a bath tub since it will contain the mess in one spot plus you won’t have to worry about carrying around buckets filled with water. Add about half a cup of mild fabric soap to the water
- Stir the soap to help it dissolve in the water
- While waiting for the soap to dissolve, remove twigs, leaves and other items that may stick to the sleeping bag. Allow the sleeping bag to lie flat on the bath tub filled with water as flat as possible
- Use your hands to compress the sleeping bag. This way, you can submerge the bag completely in water, which will allow the soapy water to penetrate through the bag
- Now empty the bath water. If possible, use a pipe to spray cold water over the bag. Refill the tub with clean water
- Soak the sleeping bag in a manner that it is no longer soapy. You may have to pull out the sleeping bag to examine whether there are any soap remains
- Once there’s no soap, drain the tub and try to squeeze out as much water as you can from the sleeping bag. Be careful, though! You don’t want to ruin or cause a tear on the bag. Wringing and twisting the sleeping bag can cause the filling to lump together
- Allow the bag to air-dry out in the open
Sure, machine washing is certainly more convenient, but unfortunately, not all sleeping bags are machine washable. If it is, well then you’re in luck. However, don’t forget to set your washing machine to ‘delicate wash.’ Follow these steps to make sure your sleeping bag is squeaky clean:
- Load the sleeping bag in your washing machine. Ensure the bag has been unzipped and pulled up at least halfway.
- To ensure the filling inside the sleeping bag does not lump together, put tennis balls inside the washing machine.
- Add mild fabric soap to the mix. Remember not to use fabric softener, as it can damage the sleeping bag
- When the wash cycle is complete, opt for the rinse cycle to ensure there isn’t any soapy residue left behind in the mix
- Once the rinse cycle has ended, press the sleeping bag down to ensure there are no soapy remains on the bag
- Carry your sleeping bag to the bath tub or near a drain to drain off the excess water
- While you can squeeze the bag, do not apply too much pressure as that can cause the filling to clump together
- Allow the sleeping bag to air-dry on a hot day
Drying the Sleeping Bag
Once the sleeping bag is clean, it’s time to dry it out in the open. Ensure the bag is completely dry before packing it up inside your closet or else this can result in unpleasant odors. There are two ways you can dry the bag:
- Air Dry: You can opt for the conventional way by hanging the bag out on the washing line while keeping it unzipped. However, make sure the weather forecasts aren’t predicting rain for the day or else you’ll have to start from the very beginning. Allow the sleeping bag to dry for at least 24 hours.
- Tumble Dry: For added convenience, you can pop in the sleeping bag into a tumble dryer on low heat. Don’t set it to a high temperature as that can cause the synthetic fibers to melt. You can also add a few tennis balls to ensure the filling does not lump together in the dryer. Always read the care label of the bag before putting it inside a machine.
Follow the above instructions to wash your sleeping bag to perfection. You can also send it to the dry cleaners if you’re not up for the challenge yourself.
Maintenance: Tips to Ensure Your Sleeping Bag Lasts Longer
Proper maintenance is crucial if you want to ensure the longevity of your outdoor gear. Here are a couple of tips you should keep in mind to ensure your sleeping bag lasts longer than other accessories in the market:
Keep the Sleeping Bag Dry
Keeping the sleeping bag dry is important or else it can encourage fungus and mold growth. To prevent the bag from becoming damp, carry it around in a waterproof bag, which is exceptionally important if you’re traveling to wet and snowy areas. Also, avoid consuming drinks and beverages to reduce the chances of accidental spills.
Air the Sleeping Bag
If you’re looking for a lazy yet effective way to remove odors from the bag, air it out after every few days. Simply let the sleeping bag rest underneath the sun for at least 10 minutes, which will also help dry out perspiration, dew, and condensation. If it’s raining outside, consider airing the bag in your car for a couple of minutes. This step is your second best option to leaving it out in the open.
Use a Bed Sheet
Consider lining your sleeping bag with a clean bed sheet before going to bed. This step will prevent the bag from absorbing body oils and perspiration. Once you’re back from your trip, you can simply wash the bed sheet in your washing machine. This tip will also reduce the number of time you’ll have to wash your sleeping bag. Consider buying special sleeping bag liners to get the job done. If you don’t want to spend extra money, regular bed sheets will also work fine.
Sleeping Bag Storage
Proper storage is important if you want to maintain the quality of your sleeping bag. However, prior storage, ensure your sleeping bag is completely dry. Once you’re back from a camping trip, allow the bag to dry out in the sun for a couple of hours. Even the slightest bit of moisture can cause mildew growth if you store the sleeping bag for a long period. The best way to dry the bag is to air it out and lay it underneath the sun. Keep this in mind prior all of your camping trips.
Invest in a Nylon Mesh Bag
Did your sleeping bag come packed inside a stuff sack or in a compression sack? While these sacks are portable, they aren’t the best option when it comes to long-term storage. If you plan on keeping the bag inside the closet for a long period, we suggest you invest in a nylon mesh bag or a storage bag that is made using breathable cotton. These storage bags will not only prolong the lifespan of your sleeping bag but will also ensure it does not alter the filling inside the bag.
Hopefully, this guide had provided you all the information you need about sleeping bags. However, you’re still confused or have a few more questions, don’t forget to check out our buyer’s guide. We have also listed some our favorite products for your convenience. Good luck!