Buying a Sleeping Bag
Buying sleeping bags can be a difficult task, with prices
ranging from a few pounds to a few hundred. Ultimately you have to ask what you
want to use it for. The sleeping bag is an important part of the kit. If you are
hiking then you ideally want something that will pack tightly and is quite
lightweight, such as a compact sleeping bag, although you have to be careful as
these sometimes don't provide the best insulation. Temperatures drop at night
more than most people expect, even in the middle of summer so you should make
sure you're prepared. A sleeping bag traps the warm air around your body which
provides the best insulation possible. The best sleeping bag is one which allows
moisture to escape while keeping warm air trapped. If you are in a couple, you
might prefer a double sleeping bag (there is no better central heating than the
body heat of someone else.
Sleeping bags are given temperature rating based upon their
intended use. One season sleeping bags are designed for use in the summer months
only and aren't suitable for camping in the winner (they just won't keep you
warm). Two season sleeping bags are suitable for the extended summer months
(from early spring to late autumn, but aren't suitable for sub zero
temperatures. Three season sleeping bags will provide warmth in temperatures
which are slightly sub zero and four season bags are designed to be used all
year round and will be the most expensive type of sleeping bag.
ratings should be taken as a general rule, remember, temperatures can drop below
zero in spring, particularly at higher altitudes so you should follow specific
directions of the manufacturer. The amount of heating that different people will
need can vary widely, with some people requiring more warmth than others.
What you sleep on is also very important, a good ground mat
provides great insulation and is very important when camping.
If you are just planning on camping in the summer, you
probably don't need to spend too much, if you are looking at trecking, climbing,
mountaineering etc then you really want to look at the top end, as the cheaper
models simply won't keep you warm enough. You might also want to consider a "bivvy
bag", as this can be useful in emergencies, or if temperatures drop lower than
The fill in sleeping bags can be made of a wide range of
things, most commonly goose, duck or down. Down is the warmest and often most
expensive but not very good if it gets wet.
You may also want to look out for a bag with a 2 way zip so
you can stick your feet out the bottom. Double sleeping bags are also available
and singles that join together to form a double. Insulated zips are also
important if it gets very cold. A good ground mat is also an essential. They are
only cheap and provide excellent insulation.
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