sleeping bags

QUICK GUIDE TO CHOOSING A SLEEPING BAG

If you are planning on going camping for the first time, one of the first things that comes to mind apart from a tent is a sleeping bag. Thankfully, sleeping bags are generally better than they were a few decades ago. These days it’s very easy to find a great sleeping bag from a reputable online retailer. I’ve spent a lot of time in China and so I am keenly aware of the extent that fake brand and brandless exist. From soap to milk, to eggs and tyres, you name it, there is a copy made of inferior materials. There’s so much of this online, you really need to take care when shopping online, especially if the supplier is not a retailer based in Australia. I’ve warned you, so you make the decision for yourself.

Let’s get back to sleeping bags. If you are lucky enough to have a sleeping bag that’s showing signs of wear and tear after years of good use, you are in the position where you have a great excuse to get yourself a new one. Quality sleeping bags are lighter and cooler and warmer than they ever were.

There’s not really too much to consider once you’ve made the decision to get one from a reputable retailer online. Nonetheless, there are some different features of sleeping bags to think about.

TEMPERATURE RATING

The temperature rating on sleeping bags tells you the minimum temperature the bag is designed to cope with. This is only a guide but a pretty good guide at that. If you are one of those people who always feels a little colder than others, you can go for a sleeping bag that is designed for colder temperatures than you will be camping in. Remember, if you are camping in the summer you might find yourself getting really warm in that sleeping bag, and any for a matter of fact. I prefer to choose a temperature rating somewhere in the middle and use what I am wearing to make up for any differences in ambient temperature.

What you do need to understand about temperature rating is that the temperature rating you see is normally a guide to the lowest temperature the sleeping bag is designed for. Some of the better and more well-known sleeping bag brands offer their full range of temperature ratings over the range. In other words, you select the sleeping bag and select your rating. The sleeping bags might have slightly different names to help with understanding their range.

European rating systems are a little more different. They might have “Comfort”, “Limit of comfort” and “Extreme”. Comfort is the standard sleeping bag and the Extreme is for the coldest of conditions. I find this a little confusing because you would think the most comfortable is the one built for extreme conditions. I’ve also found that European ratings don’t always apply to Australian conditions and I personally prefer to spend my money where I can see a temperature rating in Celsius, it just makes more sense.

DOWN OR SYNTHETIC

Okay, so it sounds great to have down, perhaps. Down sleeping bags are a little old fashioned. You’ll have a whole lot more trouble keeping your sleeping bag clean and washing it if you go with down. Quality synthetic filling, stuff that you will find in quality brand sleeping bags (that don’t cost a lot by the way) is designed to keep you warm and they also breathe. Down is simply a whole lot of work I don’t need. Try washing a down filled sleeping bag and you will find out what I mean. You’ll normally end up with something that resembles a sack with a concrete ball in it.

The argument that down is lighter, warmer and will last longer, is simply not true. That might be the case if you purchase a nameless sleeping bag online, but if you buy a well-known brand they will tell you exactly what materials they are made of. There’s quite of lot of science that has gone into modern brand sleeping bags. On top of all that, they are easy to wash and they dry out much faster.

EXTRAS

Don’t forget about the extras, like having a quality bag to put your sleeping bag away with. Zippers are another important issue. I love the twin sleeping bags, they are great to cuddle up with someone and make your camping trip a little romantic (if you know what I mean). They can be separated into 2 separate sleeping bags if you change your mind. Now isn’t that convenient?

 


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Suzy T
suzyt@dinga.com.au

From camping to fishing, to trekking and touring around Australia for lengthy periods of time, Suzy lives it. She also has a passion for pets. Now she is sharing her experiences.