How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Bags || REI

my favorite way to end a long day of backpacking is posing up in my sleeping

bag with so many options how do you know which one is right for you let's talk

about sleeping bags

before we get started let's just talk for a second about weight when choosing

a sleeping bag you'll want to strike a balance between the weight the warmth

and the cost of the sleeping bag you could get the coziest roomiest

warmest sleeping bag out there but you'd probably end up carrying a few extra

pounds and we all know that every ounce counts when you're backpacking so you'll

want to strike a good balance so you get something that's gonna be warm enough

but also it's going to weigh too much in the same respect before you buy the

lightest weights to be back possible remember that your enjoyment on trail is

super important so you'll want to get some features that will still make the

bag comfortable for you okay let's dive in

but deciding what temperature of bag you need you'll want to take a look at what

season you plan on backpacking in of course these temperatures vary widely

depending on how you sleep and also seasonal temperatures vary depending on

what area you're backpacking in but for the most part if you plan on backpacking

in the summer you'll be looking for a bag that's rated for 30 degrees

Fahrenheit or higher this bag here is rated at 36 degrees these are great for

warm weather camping and they're also sometimes used for a festival camping if

you're gonna be backpacking in the early spring or the late fall you'll want a

bag that's rated somewhere between 10 and 30 degrees this bag here is rated

for 21 degrees Fahrenheit these packs are sometimes referred to as three

season sleeping bags as they cover a wide variety of temperatures for

backpacking in the winter you'll want to look for a bag like this one rated at 10

degrees and lower this bag here is rated for 10 degrees these are really winter

weight bags and there's a variety of temperatures so find one that will work

for your winter campaign when you look at the temperature rating of a bag

you'll see two numbers listed the higher number is referred to as the comfort

rating and this is the temperature which the average cold sleeper will be

comfortable because women tend to sleep colder than men this is sometimes

referred to as the women's rating this lower number is the lower limit rating

this is the temperature at which the average warm sleeper will be comfortable

because men tend to sleep warmer than women this is sometimes referred to as

the men's rating one cool thing about this rating system is that these numbers

are provided by an independent organization that means that you can

actually compare the temperatures on bags across brands to decide which one

is right for you keep in mind that while these numbers provide you with a good

general idea of the temperature of the bag they are of course based on the

average person so you'll want to take in all different factors such as how

comfortable you are in certain temperatures what you'd eaten that day

your metabolism your sleeping pad all of that it's going to factor into how

comfortable the bag is for you okay let's move on to insulation

there are two main types of sleeping bag insulation and those are down like this

bag here and synthetic like this one down sleeping bags are filled with

feathers or a synthetic bags we use insulation that looks something like


the main pro of using a down sleeping bag is that it will pack small and weigh

less than a synthetic bag this means that if you have a 20 degree synthetic

bag sitting next to a 20 degree down bag the down bag will pack smaller and weigh

less than the 20 degrees synthetic bag one thing to note is that synthetic

sleeping bags will keep you warm even if they get wet whereas down when it gets

wet is not going to do very much to insulate there are down bags that have

been treated with a water repellency but if they get soaked fully through they're

not gonna provide very much insulation this steps will wreak about a cost down

sipping bags are generally considerably more expensive than synthetic some

people may have allergies too down so that's the case it's a good idea to go

ahead and get a synthetic bag if you're concerned about using down for ethical

reasons you can look for traceable ethically sourced down or just go ahead

and get synthetic there's one more thing to talk about

with down bags and that is fill power without getting too deep into it fill

power is essentially a measurement of how well the down will loft and trap

your body heat the higher the number of fill power the better the down will

compress and the lighter that it will be both of these sleeping bags are rated

for twenty degrees but this sleeping bag has a 600 fill power and this one has

850 fill power you can see that there's an obvious size difference between you

two and this bag weighs about a pound less

there are two main shapes of backpacking sleeping bags

those are mummy bags and semi rectangular packs mummy bags like this

one here are shaped like a mummy so they're narrow at the feet and then

wider here at the shoulders mummy bags are the most efficient sleeping bags for

backpacking as once you're inside the bag there's not a ton of extra air so

the bag will help retain your warmth a little bit better these bags however I

don't give you a ton of space to move around so generally speaking if you want

to sleep on your side you'll have to roll over with the mummy bag rather than

inside it semi rectangular bags covers a wide range of bag types and shapes but

these bags could be anything from bags that have a more rectangular foot box

bags that have a separate quilt additional ventilation things like that

so my particular bags give you a lot more interior space for comfort but

again they're not as efficient as well me bags because you have a lot more air

inside the bag that you have to heat you may have heard people talk about

rectangular sleeping bags these are essentially big quilts that fold over

and they're great for car camping but they're just too bulky and heavy for

backpacking there are a variety of different features that you may find on

sleeping bags some of them are really common like draft tubes those will help

keep cold air out of the zipper other features are less common such as a

pillow pocket like this one just during your pillow or a stash pocket at the

shoulder I have a friend who loves using this pocket for keeping earplugs and

that way they never get lost keep in mind that every feature you add to a bag

is probably going to add some weight so you want to pick features that you find

valuable there are women's specific sleeping bags and it's important to note

that there are differences beyond just the color since women tend to sleep

colder than men these sleeping bags will have more insulation in the torso and at

the feet women sleeping bags also have more space through the hips to

accommodate women's bodies another cool thing is that women's bags will

generally have the rating for the comfort rating listed on the bag women's

bags tend to also have a right-handed zipper so you can actually zip

right-handed zipper sleeping bags and left-handed zipper city bags together if

they're compatible the best way to tell what's a new bag is going to be right

for you is by coming into the store and trying a couple out if you want more

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