Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags are designed to match your weight, space and warmth preferences. Knowing your style of camping is important to selecting the right bag.

When choosing sleeping bags for Romantic Camping COMFORT is the bottom-line. To optimize your comfort, be sure the sleeping bags you use are 1) warm, 2) spacious and 3) can easily zip together.

ROMANTIC IDEA: Purchase two sleeping bags of the same model and brand. Get one with a LEFT side zipper and the other with a RIGHT side zipper. This way they can zip together!

Sleeping Bag Fill

Sleeping bags often have shells and lining made of nylon or polyester. Synthetic fabrics are warmer and more breathable. Summer bags can be made with cotton canvas or flannel. These cotton bags are more comfortable. However, they are only good for car-camping during the warmer parts of the year.

There are two options for fill. Each has its advantages/disadvantages. The decision comes down to your budget and camping style.

Down: Down fill weighs less than synthetic and retains heat better. However, it usually costs more. Down sleeping bags MUST be kept dry! If the down sleeping bag gets wet it’s rendered useless. Despite this issue, down sleeping bags are preferred by experienced backpackers. They have the BEST weight-to-warmth ratio.

REMEMBER: Down sleeping bags are rated by the volume of down packed per cubic inch. A 600 – 800 fill rating of down is considered optimal for warmth and longevity.

Synthetic: Polarguard 3D, Primaloft and Thermolite are all good options for high-end synthetic fills. The primary benefit of these synthetic fills is that they retain loft and warmth even when wet. The synthetic options are often less expensive too!

Temperature Ratings

Manufactures RATE the warmness factor of sleeping bags. However, there is no perfect method of determining temperature ratings of sleeping bags. There are too many factors affecting how warm a person feels. Factors include: sleeping pad insulation, tent ventilation, food/drinks recently consumed, level of exertion during the day, humidity, amount and type of clothing, etc… People and situations differ greatly!

When purchasing a sleeping bag consider temperature ratings as just a rough guide. There is a range of degrees to consider. Use the following breakdown:

Summer camping: 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C)

Spring/Fall camping: 15 to 35 F (-9 to 2 C)

Winter: -5 to 10 F (-20 to -12 C)

Mountaineering: -40 to -10 F (-40 to -23 C)

Sleeping Bag Types

  • Romance Size: The two-person sleeping bag is comfortable, easy and sexy. These roomy bags are only recommended for car-camping due to their increased size and weight. Single sleeping bags that can be combined clearly offer more versatility.
  • Mummy: These sleeping bags are tapered to reduce extra fabric and fill. Their design makes them the most space and weight efficient. Mummy bags warm up quickly and keep you warmer in colder temperatures. Some people find their cocoon-like feel comforting, while others find it claustrophobic.
  • Rectangular: The rectangular sleeping bag type is really the most comfortable. Carrying the extra weight and space can be a reasonable price to pay for a good night's sleep. A rectangular bag can also be used for bed padding in a cheap hotel room or as a blanket at the beach. These bags are the best for summer camping and car-camping.
  • Semi-rectangular: These sleeping bags are cross between a mummy and a rectangular. This compromise offers the best of both worlds. Semi-rectangular bags (and rectangular) often provide a more natural fit when two people want to zip their bags together. Look for bags with right and left zippers that are compatible.

REMEMBER: If purchasing a new sleeping bag – Jump inside it! Be certain your sleeping bag offers enough space. Make sure you have enough room in your sleeping bag to layer clothing if needed. If you are winter camping, you may want extra room to store the next morning’s clothes or equipment (like a camera) at the bottom of your bag.

Basic Features

  • Closure Tab: Found at the top of zippers or on draft collars these Velcro tabs (or hooks and loops) ensure that the zipper or collar does not open when you move around in your sleep.
  • Draft Collar: This feature seals the warm air inside around your neck and shoulders. Often tightened with a drawstring.
  • Draft Tube: Runs the length of the sleeping bag inside the zipper. This crucial feature keeps cold air from seeping through the zipper teeth.
  • Hood: With the exception of summer bags, most sleeping bags include an insulated hood. This feature helps retain the body heat that can be lost through the top of the head. Hoods are often adjustable using a drawstring.
  • Interior Lining: Soft non-cotton materials are best for warming quickly and maximizing sleeping bag breathability. Dark colors are recommending for quickly airing and drying.
  • Shell: A waterproof and windproof outer shell is optimal for staying dry and warm.
  • Staggered Seams: These help prevent cold spots by ensuring that seams of the inner liner do not line up with seams on the outer liner.
  • Stuff Sack: These waterproof sacks protect your sleeping bag while in transport. Stuff sacks with a fleece interior can be turn it inside out, stuffed with extra clothes and then used as a comfy pillow.
  • Zipper: Two-way zippers are recommended for temperature control. For Romantic Camping, be sure your sleeping bag zippers are compatible.

Sleeping Bag Care

Proper care will extend the life of this crucial piece of camping gear. There are a few things to consider:

  • Machine Washing: Wash your sleeping bag in a front-loading machine. I recommend going to the Laundromat. Use a mild soap or purchase special soap from your local outdoor store. Wash warm and rinse cold. Use at least two rinse cycles to ensure you get all the detergent out of the bag.
REMEMBER: Dirt and body oils and fluids are NOT good for your sleeping bag. After sleeping bag sex, wipe up with a dry towel. This will help prolong the life of your bag. Using condoms can also help keep your sleeping bag clean.
  • Drying: Once the bag has been thoroughly rinsed, gently roll the bag up to press out as much water as possible. Be gentle. Don’t wring out the bag! A wet sleeping bag is at risk of being ruined if the seems are stressed by the wet fill. Tumble dry on medium-low heat. The bigger the dryer the better (thus the Laundromat suggestion). Add two tennis balls to the cycle to help fluff the fill. Be patient. Bring a book. The drying process can take some time.
  • Storage: Do not leave your sleeping bag in its stuff sack for long periods. Sleeping bags will loose their loft and their insulating abilities if maintained in a compressed state for too long. It is best to store a sleeping bag in a large, breathable sack.

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