Sleeping Bag – Choose A Warm And Snugly One!
The story goes that Freydis Eiriksdottir, the daughter of Viking Erik the Red, invented the first sleeping bag on her journey to North America in 1000, made from one of the sails of her ship. Of course, sleeping bags have come a long way since she sailed around the world, and the manufacturers have paid close attention to the needs of consumers, producing sleeping bags for every camping, hiking, mountain climbing, canoeing, fishing and hunting adventure.
Do I Really Need A Sleeping Bag?
The perfect ending to any camping day is a night of peaceful sleep that promises another day of camp adventure the following morning. But what if you’re stuck in a tent with no beds, only blankets? As you lay down after a day of camp activities, you feel the ground from the tent’s fabric and you know for sure that you will be deprived of a restful sleep. Sleeping bags have been invented for a reason. It would be such a shame if we do not make full use of its potential. There are a myriad of reasons why campers should never be without a trusty sleeping bag. But you need to be familiar with at least the top three things which should either remind or enlighten you as to the astonishing value of the sleeping bag!
First, portability. So you cannot bring your lovely queen size bed when you go camping with your boyfriend; or,
maybe that double-decked bed that you share with your twin when you go camping with your family. But that does not mean you cannot bring a bed altogether! Why suffer through the camp grounds and sacrifice decent slumber when a sleeping bag is out there, yours for the taking? Sleeping bags are popular primarily for their portability. You can lug them around anywhere, not just on camping trips. They are easy to use—just roll it out, lay down, and close your eyes. It is the bed of your dreams, literally! You can even get one of those ultra lightweight sleeping bags which you will surely be able to carry from one place to another without effort. These bags can weigh as low as one pound, twelve ounces. For the young adult or lady who finds it difficult to carry a sleeping bag on their backs as they go camping or hiking, the ultra lightweight ones are the best option.
Second, sleeping bags bring you comfort. Part of the advantages of portability is comfort. No matter where you are going, you can bring your sleeping bag with you and be assured of a comfortable sleep anywhere! Today’s sleeping bags come in a variety of added features such as modified shapes, insulators, and many others. Some sleeping bags are made to hug your body, stretching around you as you toss and turn. Synthetic-fill sleeping bags are made to cater to those campers who want more room for movement as well as a guaranteed warmth from what could be freezing weather.
Third, sleeping bags now give you the option to be stylish. Gone are the days when you would rather sleep on the ground than be caught sleeping on an ugly piece of sleeping bag that looked like it came from a museum of ancient artifacts! Today, sleeping bags are made in a multitude of design that will surely suit your taste and preferences. You no longer need to sacrifice design and style for comfort.
At the end of that proverbial day, your comfort should rank first in priority. Sleeping bags were created to provide you a comfortable space for rest and sleeping while you are away from your home bed. There are many types and kinds of sleeping bags to choose from, all of which have their own features to boast of. All of which, also, vary in price. It is not so much as to what kind you pick, but more like—did you pick one? Because if you are a serious camper, then you should know that sleeping bags are as essential as food and water during that camping trip.
How To Pick The Right Sleeping Bag For You
If you are going camping and need a sleeping bag, don’t just pick the first one you see. Selecting the best one depends on the intended use and how often you plan to use it. Since sleeping bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and some were made for lower temperatures and retain heat better than others it is important to know which one works best for you. Choosing the proper sleeping bag for your camping style will prevent a lot of aggravation.
Sleeping bags basically come in 3 different shapes, but why should you care? You just want something that’s warm and comfortable to sleep in, right? Perhaps weight is also an issue, but the shape of the sleeping bag? Yes, the sleeping bag shape is important. Besides the material used, the shape or design of a sleeping bag is the most important factor in determining how warm it is, how heavy it is and perhaps also how comfortable it is!
Mummy sleeping bags are more narrow in the foot-end than in the head-end. They sort of resemble the way a mummy is wrapped up, if you’ve ever seen one. Since your feet don’t require as much space as your shoulders, it’s a pretty logical way to construct a sleeping bag. The tighter fit of the mummy bags means that there will be less air inside the sleeping bag and less surface area between the warm interior and the cold exterior surrounding you. The simple effect of this is that the mummy sleeping bags are generally warmer. Or rather, they have better insulation and don’t give away as much of your nice body heat to the cold environment.
Mummy bags are also generally more lightweight, since the design uses slightly less material to wrap around you than a barrel one does. For these reasons, the mummy sleeping bags are generally preferred for lightweight backpacking, hiking and trekking.
Now on to the barrel shaped sleeping bags. With all the excellent qualities of the mummy bag, why would you want to consider a barrel or rectangular shaped bag?
Some people feel too crammed up in the tight fit of a mummy bag. Claustrophobic. If you are the type who like to wiggle your feet and toss and turn in your sleep, the barrel sleeping bag will allow you more freedom of movement during the night.
If you are camping out in the open in cold conditions, there is also the advantage of being able to stuff some of your gear into the sleeping bag with you. Definitely socks. And gloves. Some trekkers and hikers even like to keep their shoes or boots warm for the morning, by sleeping with them in the bag! The more roomy barrel shaped bags allow you to do just this. Just remember to keep your muddy boots in a plastic bag so they don’t make your sleeping bag dirty. You can even use the little stuff sack that usually comes with the sleeping bag.
The rectangular sleeping bag is the least warm of the 3 designs described here. Most of these sleeping bags have a quite large opening. It’s nice for allowing you – and your hands – to move in and out of the bag as much as you like. But at the same time it also allows some of your body heat to escape. For summer use, that might not be a big problem though. Rectangular sleeping bags also tend to be some of the cheapest sleeping bags around. A bit more bulky as well. But for a lot of casual use, rectangular sleeping bags are the ‘best deal’. After all, you don’t need a high-altitude mountaineering bag for a weekend summer camp at the local lake.
Tapered Sleeping Bags
This type of sleeping bag grow narrower towards the feet, providing you with a close fit. The closeness of these bags create more warmth inside whilst sleeping, however, the lack of free space restricts movement and may not suit many people. They are also smaller than rectangular ones and can be rolled up more compactly, making them easier to carry whilst on hiking trips.
That said, sleeping bags are either synthetic-filled or down-filled. Goose down bags are light weight and perfect for backpacking and on your biking trip. Renowned for its superior insulation, goose down is one of the premier sleeping bag materials made to keep the warmth in and keep the cold out. Synthetic sleeping bags are cheaper than down and usually non-allergenic. They are easier to take care of especially if spill is sponged off immediately. Sleeping bag fill will come in both short and long fibers. Many new synthetics use a “hollow fiber” method that keeps sleeping bags light and allows for good compression when packing, while still offering excellent warmth. Long fibers found in sleeping bags with synthetic fill are more stable and will be less likely to shift during use. Short fibers on the other hand, both down fill and synthetic, can shift during use, affecting your sleeping bag’s loft and inviting cold air in.
Temperature ratings are a good prediction of the ability of your sleeping bag to protect you from cold. Summer
weight bags keep you warm in temperatures 35 degrees or higher. 3-season bags keep you warm in temperatures of 10 degrees to 35 degrees. Cold weather sleeping bags keep you warm in minus 10 degrees to plus 10 degrees. Winter/Extreme bags keep you warm in minus 10 degrees and below. In the middle of cold nights your sleeping bag will be your lifesaver. It is also a good idea to have a pad or a mattress underneath your bag to keep it off the ground.
How you care for your sleeping bag is very important and will make it last longer. Wash a synthetic bag in a front-loading washing machine with detergent. Dry it in a dryer on low heat, not to melt the fibers.
Down sleeping bags on the other hand require special care. Wash it by hand with mild detergent. The best way to dry a down sleeping bag is to lay it out flat.
Make sure your down sleeping bag is completely dry before putting it away to prevent mildew, and clumping. If you use a dryer to dry it use very low heat. It takes a long time to dry a down sleeping bag, but must never turn up the heat or you will ruin your bag.
Cleaning Your Sleeping Bag – A Few Handy Tips
The Great Outdoors beckon all those that love a fun-trip with a chance to let worldly worries slip them by so they can relax in the lap of nature’s peace. While a holiday like this is fun-filled no-doubt, you do need to ensure all your camping gear is properly taken care of for the next trip, especially the sleeping bag.
Your sleeping bag’s maintenance is of utmost importance as its one of the essential items for setting up camp; it is also a good way to ensure you get your money’s worth from timely care and good upkeep of the sleeping bag. Many persons do not prioritize the care of the sleeping bag at all and may not be aware that not much washing is required as this action can wear down the sleeping bag’s durability. Occasional cleaning of a sleeping bag is all that is needed to increase its lifespan.
Frequent campers may be required to put in more effort for maintenance of their sleeping bag besides the regular airing and shaking routine; to cleanse bags of the body-oil, grime and dirt that sometimes settles in the fabric and to rid them of the lingering unpleasant smells. The best way to begin cleaning of the sleeping bag is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions; apart from these tips, we have some more handy tips for cleaning sleeping bags for you:
Washing machine tips:
1. Down-filled bags need to be cleaned with mild soap, like Woolite but synthetic bags can do with being washed down with a gentle detergent, provided the recommended minimum quantity is used.
2. Head and foot areas of a sleeping bag collect most grime and body-oils and therefore these need scouring before being machine washed.
3. Use of front loading machines and alternate cycles of warm and cold water is recommended for washing sleeping bags; top loading variety may adversely affect its material. Two or more rinses should prove adequate for ridding the bag of any soap sediments and this is important to ensure as a fibers can be ruined if soap remains.
Hand washing tips:
1. Use your bathtub to give your sleeping bag a thorough cleansing; warm water and small quantity of Woolite is recommended for washing it.
2. As mentioned earlier, give special attention to the foot and head area of a sleeping bag and scour these down of all grit and grime.
3. Use of commercial stain removers is not advisable as these ruin the fibers of a sleeping bag’s fibers.
4. You may need to press and mold the bag in a kneading motion to spread the soap and water. End it off with refilling the tub for 3-4 rinses, pressing the bag to get the soapy water out and remembering to resist twisting or wringing the bag.
Tips on Drying your Sleeping Bag:
1. Press out the bag by rolling it to squeeze maximum water out.
2. With the help of a big plastic garbage bag, transport your sleeping bag to your local Laundromat.
Sign off with a special tip: frequent campers can benefit from using machine-washable sleeping bag liners that will absorb dust and odor that can be washed conveniently in the machine on return from the trip.
Overall, wherever you travel the most important camping accessory in your outdoor gear is your sleeping bag. Hope this helps you choose a warm, snug one for a good nights sleep the next time you go camping.
Browse our Camping List and Tips category for more camping related ideas and information of your interest to guarantee yourself a smooth camping experience!