Sleeping bag tips


After every campout, air out your sleeping bag by letting it hang outside and let mother nature’s breeze work it’s magic.  When it comes to storing your sleeping bag, unroll it and hang it on a large clothes hanger.  Keeping it rolled up in a stuff sack will mash down the loft and will reduce its insulating power.  Also slip a sheet of fabric softener (the kind you toss in the dryer) inside to keep it smelling fresh.  Always store your bag in a cool, dry place.

Don’t pack your bag wet. If your bag does get wet hang it out to air dry or fluff dry it in a dryer without heat.

When hiking or going into the backcountry, store your bag in a waterproof compression sack.  Trust us, you will be glad you did.  The bag will stay dry, even if you take a dump into a river by accident when traveling the backcountry.  Having a dry bag and the ability to make a fire can greatly aid you in the event weather conditions sour.  Also, the compression sack will reduce the amount of space your sleeping bag takes up in your pack by as much as fifty percent.

Don’t be lazy with your zippers.  If your bag has two zippers that meet at a middle point don’t use one end to go all the way around the bag.  This puts a lot of strain on the zipper and increases the chances of a zipper jumping off of its teeth and jamming.  Try to have those zippers meeting at a near halfway point to balance the load and the distance the zipper has to travel.

When it comes to washing your sleeping bag use a commercial heavy-duty front-loading tumble machine on gentle cycle, with warm water and mild soap or detergent.  A commercial dryer can also be used, but must be on the air only setting (no heat). 

Remember the best secret weapon when in the outdoors is duct tape.  Your six to twelve feet of emergency duct tape can be used to patch a tear or seal up a broken zipper.



Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag

Ideally, the sleeping bag you choose will provide the right combination of warmth, roominess and "packability." In a word, we're talking about comfort. Follow these steps and you'll end up sleeping easy the next time you venture into the great outdoors:

Step 1: Choose the Right Warmth

The warmth or "comfort rating" of a sleeping bag tells you the lowest temperature at which the bag will provide warmth to an "average" user. When deciding on the right comfort rating, follow these steps:
Adjust your estimated range up or down slightly to account for personal factors like a tendency to "sleep hot" or "sleep cold"

Match your adjusted temperature range to the manufacturer's suggested comfort ratings. If on the border, choose the bag that provides more warmth (offers a lower temperature rating)

Step 2: Think about Insulation

Natural Insulation (Goose Down)
Positives—The lightest, most efficient, most compressible and longest-lasting insulation available
Negatives—An almost useless insulator when wet, and one that takes a long time to dry. More expensive than synthetic fills
Synthetic Insulation
Positives—Insulates more effectively than down when wet. Dries more quickly than down. Costs less. Comparatively easy to clean
Negatives—Bulkier and heavier than down. Tends to be less durable

Step 3: Think about Shape

Mummies—These bags start narrow at the feet, widen toward the shoulder, then taper to an insulated hood.
Positives—The slim cut increases efficiency and saves space and weight. Hoods retain a lot of warmth
Negatives—The narrow shape can be restrictive, especially for active sleepers
Semi-rectangular—These bags offer more sleeping room than mummies, but are slightly heavier and bulkier.
Positives—Good heat retention, plus some room to maneuver
Negatives—Less efficient than mummy bags
Rectangular—Warm-weather sleeping bags. They're roomy, and as a result they let a lot of body heat escape.
Positives—Allow for lots of wiggle room
Negatives—Less efficient insulators. Too heavy/bulky for most weight/space-conscious backpackers

Step 4: Consider the Extras

Hood—You can lose up to 50% of your body heat through your head. A hood traps this warmth and holds it in.

Collar—A big neck gasket (located at shoulder level inside the sleeping bag) that helps hold heat inside the bag.

Draft Tubes—An insulation-filled tube that runs alongside the main sleeping bag zipper to keep warmth from escaping. Usually found on moderate- to cold-weather bags.