Sleeping immersed in nature offers indescribable sensations: the rustling of the leaves, the water of the stream that gurgles softly and as the only source of light the starry sky.
And with the best sleeping bag nothing can disturb this immense tranquillity, not even the stinging cold during mountaineering excursions.
A self-respecting sleeping bag must provide maximum shelter from the weather, provide an effective barrier against the dampness of the ground and provide adequate protection even on the coldest nights.
There are several things to consider when making your choice. In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to make a well thought-out purchase according to your specific needs.
A good, inexpensive and comfortable sleeping bag is a trustworthy travel companion, just like a picnic basket when you want to go on a hike in the open air: impossible to do without.
On the market you can find a wide variety of brand models designed to ensure maximum comfort even under the most extreme conditions of use.
But it is the online sale that always guarantees you the lowest price, with the possibility to compare the various proposals, read the opinion of users and, based on the tests published on the web, choose the sleeping bag that best suits your needs.
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Temperature and sleeping bag?
Spring, summer, autumn, winter… The choice of sleeping bag should always be made according to the season of use.
When a manufacturer gives indications about the temperature of a sleeping bag, he identifies the lowest level at which a good level of comfort is guaranteed.
If the bag has a value of +5°C, it means that most users should have an adequate level of comfort if the air temperature falls below that value.
This assessment assumes that you are wearing long underwear and an air mattress under the bag.
Does the sleeping bag shape?
When we are in a sleeping bag, our body heat heats up the air pockets that envelop us inside the bag. The heating process is more efficient and effective when the air that forms between our body and the air trapped in the sleeping bag’s insulation does not move much or fills a space that is too large.
A tightly fitting sleeping bag will wrap the body in a warm pocket without too much space. This is why mummy style sleeping bags are warmer than the larger, wider rectangular sleeping bag models.
Sleeping bags keep warm by “trapping” a layer of air around the body. The body heat heats this air, and the shape of the sleeping bag creates a kind of barrier to the ground and air in the outside environment.
The less space inside is present, the faster the air heats up, allowing you to keep it at a comfortable level for a long time.
The shape of the sleeping bag therefore has a significant effect on the heat that develops inside the bed. Indicatively, the most common shapes are:
Rectangular sleeping bag?
Rectangular sleeping bags (also called blanket sleeping bags) have a much larger surface area, leave more room to move around and are indicated with warmer temperatures. Usually, having larger dimensions, they are heavier and bulkier. They are the same width from head to toe.
They can vary in length and width, but they always maintain their rectangular shape. This is a structure suitable for summer and camping. Its more spacious shape allows the user to move more freely inside the bag.
It is the typical shape of the camping sleeping bag, which guarantees maximum comfort and habitability.
If you choose two compatible zippered bags, you can combine them to create a double bed. The zippers must also be the same size and about the same length.
Semi-rectangular sleeping bag?
These can be used for both camping and trekking. Their conical design offers all the comfort and efficiency of rectangular models, providing more space.
Ideal to attach to the trekking backpack, they are a favourite for those who have a restless sleep and do not like the perfect fit around their body.
Mummy sleeping bag?
If you think you need to make several movements on foot with the backpack on your shoulders, it is advisable to choose a sleeping bag of this type: it is characterized by a reduced width of the shoulders and hips and, consequently, a low weight.
Not everyone, however, is comfortable with this type of bag because of the limited space available.
Sleeping bags of this shape are suitable for use in cold climates. The smaller structure and small surface area allow the body to warm up “the environment” (i.e. the inside of the sleeping bag) more quickly. They are usually fitted with a collar and hood to avoid unnecessary heat loss.
The mummy shape follows more closely the general shape of the human body: rounded at the head, widening outwards at the shoulders (and a little at the hips for women’s types) and then downwards towards the feet.
Sleeping bags for low temperature conditions and almost all those stuffed with down have the design of the mummy, which also turns out to be lighter.
Hybrid sleeping bag shape?
Then there are the sleeping bags that have the typical characteristics of the two main models, the rectangular sleeping bag and the mummy sleeping bag. These are hybrid types, which have the general appearance and shape of a standard mummy design, but have a large, often square, foot box-like area. From a calorific point of view it is more closely aligned with the standard mummy type in operation and use.
Sleeping bag with trapezoidal base?
This design adds space in the foot area to allow a more natural sleeping position than. This is very useful if you sleep on your back rather than your hips. The extra space also reduces the tension that your lower limbs exert on the sleeping bag, which promotes more insulation.
Sleeping bag padding?
Most campers prefer the synthetic padding because of its high performance in terms of comfort and practicality and the lower price.
Polyester is generally used, a material that has several advantages. It dries quickly, is resistant and hypoallergenic.
Goose down is a more durable alternative. It has the advantage that it can be compressed more than synthetic materials, thus optimising space. However, it loses its insulating power when wet. To solve the problem, in some cases the feathers are treated to resist humidity.
Feather padding in the sleeping bag?
Feather fillings can be made with real, less valuable and less performing feathers, and with down, with higher thermal values and greater compressibility, or with more or less high parts of one or the other. For example, if you find the term feather 90/10 it means that the padding consists of 90% down and 10% feather.
When is the feather padding better than the sleeping bag?
Feather is preferable in dry environments, as it has the characteristic of bonding more easily to water molecules and consequently transmit an unpleasant feeling of cold. Let’s not forget that if the feather gets wet it becomes soaked and loses its ability to retain heat.
This is why most sleeping bags contain a feather treated with a water-resistant application that dries faster than untreated feathers.
Ethical sleeping bag feather?
Some sleeping bag manufacturers are careful to use only feathers that are “traceable” or of ethical origin. This feather comes from birds that are controlled during their lifetime from farm to factory. The aim is to ensure that the animals are bred sustainably and do not suffer when feathers and down are recovered.
Synthetic sleeping bag padding?
The synthetic padding is extremely efficient and guarantees very high standards of comfort and warmth. The most high-performance modern fibres are ultra-thin hollow fibres that greatly increase their insulating power even in wet conditions. Synthetic materials are hypoallergenic and insulate even when wet. They are a good choice in humid climates and for informal or budget-conscious campers. On the other hand, they are slightly heavier than feather, and have a limited compression capacity which increases their bulk.
Some travel sleeping bag models now combine down and synthetic material. These hybrids can provide the advantages of both materials and compensate for imperfections.
Sleeping bags for women and children?
There are some models specifically designed to harmoniously follow the female physiognomy. Compared to standard bags they are shorter and narrower at the shoulders, wider at the hips. They also have extra insulation on the top and feet.
The children’s models have a built-in sleeve at the bottom to secure the mattress to the bag. They also have upper pockets that can be filled with soft material (e.g. a jacket) and thus increase the level of comfort.
There are pockets on the outside so you can keep your flashlight and MP3 player handy at all times.
Sleeping bag accessories?
The sleeping bag comes complete with its own carrying bag. If you have special needs, you can buy multi-pocket bags to store everything you need to keep on hand at all times.
There is also a compression bag that reduces the size of the sleeping bag to a minimum and is useful during trekking, mountain excursions and all kinds of outdoor activities.
There are also special soft linings to put in the sleeping bag that minimize wear and keep it clean.
Sleeping bag maintenance?
After a night spent outdoors, ventilate your sleeping bag carefully to remove moisture. The same applies when you return home from camping or hiking.
Never leave it in direct sunlight for a long time: UV rays slowly degrade the fabric.
To prolong the life of your sleeping bag, we recommend that you do not leave it in the bag for many months. The best thing is to hang it open, perhaps in a tavern or attic. Or you can wrap it in a cotton sheet, without rolling it up.
This allows the bag to “breathe” without compromising its insulating properties.
Which sleeping bag keeps you warmest?
The sleeping bag is an essential accessory for those who frequent the mountains and love direct contact with nature. The sleeping bag alone does not provide any heat, but it is able to isolate our body from the external environment, thus maintaining the heat that the body itself emits during sleep.
The two most important aspects that must be evaluated when choosing a sleeping bag are the padding (which defines the type of insulation) and the shape (which specifies the scope of use).
What are the types of insulation of the sleeping bag?
As far as the padding is concerned, the most traditional choice is still the feather: it has a very high caloric value with a great compressive capacity which recommends its use in situations where the heat/size ratio is important.
What characteristics to look for in the sleeping bag?
In addition to the padding, there are some other features that it is important to consider when making your choice. These features allow you to precisely identify the model that best suits you based on the comfort of use you are looking for, practicality and the weather conditions you will face in your outdoor adventures.
Matching sleeping bags?
Many sleeping bags are equipped with compatible zippers and can be joined together to sleep in pairs. It’s important to know, however, that pairing two sleeping bags creates gaps inside, so it’s a less efficient way to stay warm.
How to join two sleeping bags?
If you want to create a double sleeping bag, you can only pair two single sleeping bags if one has a “right” zipper and the other a “left” zipper. Also check that the zippers are the same size. Most brands use a No. 5 or No. 8 zipper, so these sizes must match.
The length of the zippers must also be compatible. Some models have 1/2 length zippers, others use 3/4 length zippers. True, you can close bags even if the zipper has a different length, but you may have cold spots where the zippers do not match.
Hood of the sleeping bag?
When tightened with a drawstring, a hood prevents the heat from radiating. Some hoods offer an inside pocket that you can fill with clothes to create a pillow.
There are also models that are designed to lie down when the bag is decompressed and used as a quilt. Ultralight bags can save weight by eliminating the hood altogether.
What is the sleeping bag’s duvet?
It is a tube filled with insulating material that runs inside the main zipper of the sleeping bag. It is designed to prevent heat from escaping between the coils of the zipper and dissipating.
Other components of the sleeping bag?
Draught collars and face mufflers are usually found on winter-type sleeping bags, suitable for spending the night in the coldest weather conditions. They are insulated deflectors around the head and neck that prevent the escape of body heat and the infiltration of cold air.
Then there are the differentiated cords that, even in total darkness, allow you to determine which cable loosens or tightens the hood and which cable regulates the opening of the neck.
The hidden pocket allows you to keep small objects, such as your phone, watch or glasses at hand. Pocket positions may vary depending on the sleeping bag model.
How do I attach the sleeping bag to my backpack?
If you need to carry your sleeping bag by attaching it to your backpack like hammocks, make sure there are passers-by present. Sewn-on straps allow you to attach the bag directly to the backpack without unrolling it. It’s a practical way to avoid pulling your backpack in or out all the time. You can also hang the sleeping bag through these rings for storage.
6 tips for using the sleeping bag
The inner comfort of the sleeping bag also depends very much on the type of clothing that is worn. Generally, you prefer to lie down with breathable underwear, wool socks and some kind of hat. There are also a few basic tricks that are useful to enjoy the sleeping bag in the most correct and comfortable way.
Tip #1: Lay your sleeping bag down immediately
When you arrive, lay down and open the sleeping bag as soon as possible. This will allow the loft to expand as much as possible before sleeping, greatly increasing the level of comfort.
Tip #2: Use a stole
The use of a stole under the sleeping bag, as well as cloths or various types of waterproof pads, allows you to keep the bottom of the sleeping bag dry and comfortable. Usually, children appreciate the air mattress more.
Tip 3: Change clothes
It is highly recommended not to sleep in the same clothes you have worn all day. Besides giving you a pleasant “clean” feeling, it is also much more hygienic.
Tip No. 4: Go in calmly
Even if, after a particularly busy day, you can’t wait to go to sleep, it is advisable to get into your sleeping bag gradually. Don’t rush the zipper but only partially open it and put your feet in first: this will allow better air circulation.
Tip 5: Air your sleeping bag daily
Air the sleeping bag every day, in and out if possible. This must be done absolutely after every trip.
Tip 6: Keep it dry.
Do not leave the sleeping bag closed in his bag for a long period of time. Rather use a larger storage bag after making sure that the bag is completely dry.
Sleeping bag for all seasons?
On the market you can find sleeping bags with matching layers, which can be used at any time during the 4 seasons.
However, more extreme hikers prefer to have two sleeping bags available: a summer sleeping bag for “3 seasons” use and a mountaineering sleeping bag suitable for lower temperature ranges for extended seasonal use and extra comfort.
How can I best store my sleeping bag?
Here are a few tips to help you keep your sleeping bag in good condition at all times.
For washing, follow these tips to keep the quality of your investment high.
Step 1: Read the label
It is always advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. or ask for advice on the company’s website to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Step 2: Close the zippers
Close all zippers and fasteners, then turn the sleeping bag upside down so that any traces of sweat released from the body inside are effectively removed.
Step 3: Use the right soap
Use with a cleaning product that does not remove essential oils from feathers.
Step n.4: wash it gently by hand
Hand wash it in a tub. Fill the tub with lukewarm water and a mild laundry detergent designed to wash down garments. Then use a toothbrush to gently remove dirt in areas around the hood and collar and anywhere else that is noticeably dirty.
Work gently with your hands and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Drain the tub and rinse the detergent with cold water. Remove the remaining water by squeezing the sleeping bag with your hands until it is as dry as possible.
Step 4/A: Wash it gently in the washing machine.
You can also opt for the washing machine, but the front-loading washing machine is better, as it has a more delicate action than a top-loading one. In any case, always select the gentle cycle with cold water. After a complete cycle, perform an additional rinse or two to remove all traces of soap.
Step n.4/B: avoid dyeing, if possible
Unless, for reasons of space, it is impossible for you to wash the bag at home, it is better to avoid dry-cleaning. The solvents used are too strong and risk damaging the insulation of your sleeping bag.
Step 5: Dry it carefully
Although it takes a long time, air drying is the best way to dry the sleeping bag after washing. Lay it on the drying rack in a shady place to avoid direct exposure to the sun; in the evening put it indoors. Don’t be afraid to let the air circulate and dry calmly, the duvet must resume its natural softness and be free to expand inside the layers (you don’t have to feel with your hands that there are still aggregate shapes).
Step n.6: let him get some air
If you have it washed at a specialist centre, once back home, leave the sleeping bag lying down for a few days. And when you put it away, make sure you use a large cotton bag or pillowcase, not the small nylon bag you use to carry it on a trip.
Duration of the sleeping bag?
Buying a sleeping bag for camping or backpacking trips is a great investment, especially if you pay a lot of money for a high quality model. There is no reason why a carefully treated sleeping bag should not last for more than 20 years.
Correct use of the sleeping bag starts with choosing the right bag and continues with a series of simple, yet effective measures.
Caring for your sleeping bag during excursions?
A clean, dry sleeping bag is a sleeping bag that will last a long time. Keep your sleeping bag clean and dry by always sleeping in clean clothes.
Use a coating to create a separating layer between your body and the inside. Wash the lining after every trip.
Air your sleeping bag for a few minutes every morning. It’s important to let the air circulate, but don’t leave it in the sun too long.
Keep the sleeping bag?
Proper storage will add years to your sleeping bag’s life. Here are some of the best tips on how to store your sleeping bag properly.
Put your sleeping bag in the air as soon as you get home. After you’ve ventilated it, store it in a special sleeping bag.
Cotton and canvas bags store your sleeping bag better than the nylon bag that often comes with it. This helps to reduce the damage to its insulation and if you do not use it for a long time.
Repairing the sleeping bag?
During normal use of the sleeping bag, minor damage usually occurs. Breaking the zipper is the most common type of damage. If you tear the outer fabric, a nylon repair tape is the best solution when you are in the field. For more serious repairs, we recommend that you consult a professional.