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Sleeping Bags

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Sleeping Bags

A brief history of the sleeping bag

Early forms of the sleeping bag were fashioned in the early to mid-1800s. The design incorporated fabrics such as sheepskin and wool to create comfortable slumbering bags for military and exploration purposes.

It is thought that many of the earliest designs were troublesome. Whether it was the linen sacks filled with straw or Francis Fox Tuckett wool and rubber combination, there were clear design flaws.

Things improved with the introduction of the Euklisia Rug invented by Welsh entrepreneur Pryce Jones. He manufactured and exported thousands of the early sleeping bag creation to the Russian army. There are, however, records that pinpoint the wool blanket that fastens together in Australia and missionary posts in Congo.

Since, the military have developed the design even further. By 1939, mummy adult sleeping bags were popular amongst sportspeople and World War Two soldiers. This is because the lightweight design saved space and conserved heat efficiently using down feathers. This innovative model was branded the M-1942

The M-1942 was later replaced by the M-1949 which boasted a modular design that provided improved insulation and water protection. Because of the success of the M-1949, the modular sleeping system became the norm. Today, the various liners we use to regulate sleeping bag temperature form the legacy of the M-1949.

Outdoor equipment brands have taken these foundations and pushed them on introducing new sleeping bag styles and features. Whether you’re planning a lengthy expedition in cold weather, or hosting a sleepover for kids, there’s a sleeping bag for any event.

The anatomy of the sleeping bag

Shell

The shell contains the insulation keeping it snugly to the occupant’s body. Shells are made from breathable and waterproof materials that make them ideal for outdoor pursuits.

Zipper

The zipper secures the occupant into the sleeping bag. Sleeping bag zippers can be used to regulate the temperature inside the bag. The zip can be half, three-quarter or full length and located on either the left or the right of the sleeping bag.

Insulation

Insulation is either down (down feathers) or synthetic. Both have their pros and cons but their primary aim is to retain the warmth of the sleeping bag.

Baffles

Without these, the interior insulation would shift and become less effective. The baffles are sewn-in pockets that prevent insulation from clumping or shifting. Typically, the baffles cover toe to chest, though there are some modern sleeping bags have an additional neck baffle. The extra baffle retains heat whilst keeping the cold out.

Foot Box

This is simply the area at the base of the sleeping bag for your feet. The foot box has enough space to be used with footwear on or additional provisions in cold weather.

Lining

Soft, non-abrasive interior material that wicks moisture away. It’s the layer that separates the user from the insulation internally.

Hood

Not all adult sleeping bags possess this feature but it’s a bonus to have, in most cases. The hood is attached to the sleeping bag and covers the head insulating it from the cold environment.

Extras

Modern sleeping bags have include a plethora of nifty extras that give them grater attraction in the market. Features such as side pockets, pillow pockets and pad loops enabling you to connect the sleeping bag to a sleeping pad elevate the product.

What are the types of sleeping bag?

Double Sleeping Bag

This is the ideal sleeping bag for couples or families who want to keep their children close. Double sleeping bags basically combine two sleeping bags in one. They allow more than one person to sleep within it comfortably as they don’t retain heat as well as single bags. Given their larger size, double sleeping bags are heavier to transport making them impractical for backpacking trips.

Rectangle Sleeping Bag

As the name suggests, the rectangle sleeping bag refers to the rectangular shape of the product. This was the traditional style of the first models. The rectangular shape provides more space for fidgety sleepers. Though, the additional area makes it more difficult for this type of sleeping back to maintain its interior temperature.

Square Sleeping Bag

Like the rectangle sleeping bag, the more equilaterally-shaped square sleeping bag has the most wriggle room of any bag shape. They are squared off from the shoulder downwards and easily connect to another square bag.

Mummy Sleeping Bag

For its practicality, the mummy sleeping bag is often the choice for those searching for effective adult sleeping bags. Mummy sleeping bags are the snuggest fit, gradually tapering down to the foot bed. This allows them to preserve heat within the bag, so the mummy style is ideal for wintery climates.

Children’s Sleeping Bag

Children’s sleeping bags are smaller versions of the grown-up version. Subsequently, all of the specifications on adult sleeping bags – like hoods, down insulation and zippers – are available here too. Sometimes, children’s sleeping bags even have growing room in preparation of growth spurts.

What to know when buying a sleeping bag

Season Ratings

One Season Sleeping Bags:

Sleeping bags that are constructed using lighter materials and are compactible. Characteristically, they are best for summer months as they provide low insulation and pragmatism.

Two Season Sleeping Bags

Suitable for temperatures down to 5 degrees, the two-season sleeping bag are perfect for milder temperatures. Sleeping bags with this rating are often bought for family camping outings.

Three Season Sleeping Bags

Bags with this rating can be used almost all year round. They are not quite suitable for harsh winters but they are capable of withstanding cold weather. If you’re looking for a comfortable sleeping bag in zero degrees, three season sleeping bags offer that.

Four Season Sleeping Bags

This is the high end of the spectrum, so, naturally, these are the sleeping bags that are primed the dead of winter. These thick bags can withstand the stiff winds and below freezing temperatures you get at altitude.

Temperature Ratings

Comfort Level

Tailored for the average person, the comfort level is the lowest temperature in which anybody can sleep comfortably in their sleeping bag. Though, the level differs for male and female occupants as females are biologically more predisposed to feeling coldness.

Extreme Level

An extreme rating is for extreme circumstances. A high extreme level provides the temperature limit at which a sleeping bag is unable to adequately assist in providing warmth. Anything below the level puts the user’s survival in jeopardy.

Insulation

Down

Formed from the plumage underneath the feathers of waterfowl, down works extremely well at providing weight-conscious insulation. It is, by some margin, better than any synthetic material at retaining warmth. Down is the more generally used insulation in adult sleeping bags. Not only because it affords good insulation, but it is also compressible for packing and resilient. Though expensive, a decent down bag can last for years with good maintenance.

Synthetic

Water resistance sets synthetic insulation apart from down. Whilst down becomes ineffective when damp, synthetic still offers insulation and dries quickly. The fabric used also makes it simple to clean and cheaper to buy than down. Fundamentally, synthetic does better in all the aspects down performs poorly, and vice versa.

Other considerations when buying a sleeping bag

The User

How tall is the user? Are they slim or larger in build? These are important things to consider that will help you find a valuable sleeping bag. Children’s sleeping bags only reach a certain length before they become ineligible for growing kids. But you don’t want to look at adult sleeping bags that will be too fitted or leave open spaces that affect performance. The best way to ensure that you find a sleeping bag to fit the user is to test the bag. Take the user shopping and let them get into the bag. If the user can enter the bag effortlessly, zip it up and enjoy room to manoeuvre, then it’s a catch.