Tips and Hints

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Sleeping Bags

There are 2 types of stuffed sleeping bags to choose from; synthetic fill or goose down fill.

Synthetic filled bags can retain the ability to keep its warmth even when it gets damp.  Synthetic bags dry faster than goose down bags and they will start to feel warm in a reasonably short amount of time when it's protected against the rain and wind.  So they may be the better choice if you are planning canoe trips or trips where there could be lots of water crossing.  Synthetics have come a long way over the years and most sleeping bags filled with synthetics are much lighter in weight and more compressible.  However, they do have a shorter life span; the fill tends to break down and causes the bag to lose its loft.

Goose down sleeping bags can weigh much less then synthetic filled bags.  They also compress to a small size easier for packing.  Their fill ratings range from 550 to 900.  The greater the fill number, the warmer the bag, compressibility and weight will be.  Goose down is more expensive than synthetic and absorbs water more easily.  A wet goose down loses its warmth and loft and can take an extended amount of time to dry.  If you do decide on a goose down bag, you should double bag it to help avoid getting wet on canoe trips or in rainy conditions.


Temperature Ratings

When choosing a sleeping bag, you should check the temperature rating to see if it will keep you warm enough at night.  They can range from 30 degrees F to -40 degrees F.   The ratings however are just suggestive.

Everyone's core body temperature is different when they sleep.  If you tend to feel cold while sleeping, you should go with a sleeping bag that is rated for 10 degrees colder than the temperature you plan on sleeping in.  The same would go for someone who feels warmer at night, try a 10 degree warmer so you won't over heat.


Shape and Size

The best way to determine if a sleeping bag is the right fit for you is to get in it.  Even in the store.  You are going to want to make sure it's long enough so your feet aren't pushing up against the bottom.  Also make sure there's enough room to move around and stretch out if you like extra room.  Try finding one that is not too wide or too long, if it fits properly, it will be able to keep you warmer.  With a sleeping bag that is too big there is more air for your body to heat and it might be easier for that warmer air to escape.

The most popular style of sleeping bag is the mummy bag.  They are designed to warm you by trapping warm air produced by your body heat.  The tight fit style means there is less air for your body to heat.  This style is great for backpackers.

The rectangular shape bags are better suited for those camping in warmer weather.  They also can be heavier to carry since they are bigger and have more material due to the shape.  This style might be better used for campers driving and staying at one campsite.