How to Buy a Sleeping Bag

Because the sleeping bag is essential.

On the forum asking for advice about 4 seasons tent or very protective and “taking heat” in the high mountains. But the task of keeping us warm didn’t make the curtain (like, clothing, didn’t make the shell), but the sleeping bag compression sack. The curtain must only shelter from the rain, wind and the body heat I must withhold lot.
So you can also save a bit on the tent, or you can choose to sleep outdoors, if weather is nice, but the lot is better not skimp.

Feather or synthetic?

It’s the first question that you do when you have to buy a sleeping bag. Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: keeps a bit warm even when wet and still damp less easily. Costs less. Requires less maintenance because it is less sensitive to dirt. If the liner is cut, the padding does not come out, so keeping warm.
There are many more manufacturers offering synthetic bags. It is more eco-friendly and animal-friendly.
Disadvantages: at constant heat retention, weighs much more than the feather. It’s compressible, so makes it very bulky bags. It’s less comfortable and less soft. It is very difficult to find quality synthetic bags which take heat at low temperatures. The bags take longer to heat up (with the same estate) than those in feather

In summary: the synthetic is preferable to travel on the road, for summer or light bags, to use a bit rude outdoors.

Advantages: it is very soft and warm, even with a few grams of padding. It is very lightweight and compressible, thus it makes the bags, even winter, very light and compact. It is very comfortable and gives an immediate sensation of warmth. It is easier to find winter bags, even at high resistance.
Disadvantages: it is expensive. It is little ecological (all manufacturers use feathers torn violently from live animals). It is more sensitive to moisture. Requires extra care, since the feathers, if dirty, tend not to keep warmer as before. If it tears, it comes out of the padding and the lot doesn’t keep warmer.

In summary: the feather is preferable for use in high mountains and autumn/winter, in pretty protected, with a minimum of care.

Mummy bag or square?

Many wonder if the mummy is too tight and if let sleeping very comfortably. In fact, the mummy is not as tight as might think someone who has never tried: leave a discrete space to move around. Moreover, it is meant to follow the movement of the person: If you sleep on your stomach or side, he will follow us. Personally, I was able to sleep in my mum even in weird positions: for example with one leg bent under the belly.
Square bag is usually chosen by people who are used to sleeping with her legs wide. Normally, though, are lighter and less technical than those bags in Mummy, so my advice is to overcome the initial aversion and get used to the first type. Today there are also elasticized bags on the market, allowing greater freedom of movement. I don’t know how a real effect or a gimmick, though if you are intolerant to Mummy, you can turn to these types of products. Or you can also take a lot hotter than necessary, to use it as much as possible, except in emergencies.

Individual or combination

If you as a couple, you prefer two bags that can be coupled. Not only for obvious reasons “emotional life”, but also to better protect you from the cold. In fact, at low temperatures, is much more effective than warm up to each other. Also, if one of them caught a cold (not pathologically, I talk about infreddolimento), the other can help rebalance more quickly its temperature.

What temperature should you choose?

Most sleeping bags produced or marketed in Europe, report of temperatures tested according to EN 13537. Outside the norm is not valid, so some American and British companies do not use it. Be careful.
However, according to that provision, the temperatures are four:
– T max, max temperature: the maximum temperature at which you can sleep inside the bag open. A bit pointless in the sense that in a sleeping bag, warm, has never had anyone die.
– T conf, comfort temperature: the temperature at which a woman dressed lightly can sleep comfortably in the bag completely shut down for 8 hours, in a relaxed position.
– T lim, comfort temperature limit: the temperature at which a lightweight suit man can sleep comfortably in the bag completely shut down for 8 hours, in a relaxed position. Below, it is not guaranteed the chance to sleep in a comfortable way.
– T ext, extreme temperature: temperature limit that the sleeping bag can protect a woman for 6 hours from dying of hypothermia. Below this temperature, the risk is very high.

What do they mean these figures? Of course, like all tests, even the one used in this policy is purely indicative. It is done by companies with a dummy set standard temperatures of a man (or woman) in good shape and at a young age. Everyone knows what are the personal characteristics of resistance to cold, so you can adjust accordingly.
In general, I found that the little people trained to cold or cold constitutionally tend to cringe and not being able to sleep already 2 or 3 degrees above the T conf indicated by lot. The less chilly, or fit, are generally in line with the temperatures indicated by the standard. Rarely I happened to meet people they could sleep in temperatures of a few degrees lower than the T lim indicated by lot.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the lot can protect you at T ext: that figure is wrong even watched it. Think always considering the range between T and T Lim.

In summary: If you have a perception of cold, choose a lot having a T conf adapted to seasonal minimum temperatures in the area where you want to stay overnight.

How to evaluate your sleeping bag

Once we choose whether to take the feather or synthetic and we know what temperature range we must orient ourselves, we must choose the best model.

Lot in feather feather quality is given by its ability to swell and then to retain the warm air. It is measured in cuin. A good feather has a 550/600 fill power greater than 90/10 down content. Now there are also filled with products of cuin 800 or more. Obviously it’s a great feather, but will also be more sensitive to moisture and will tend to spiumarsi more easily. In addition, costs too much. For normal use, better stay out of feather 600 cuin.
If you want lots of versatile 3 seasons, content, whatever it may be, must not be less than 500-600g. A lot less feather cannot keep you warm.

Synthetic bag: there are plenty of synthetic fibers, some of them very technology. The most widespread is the low quality, affordable hollow fibre. Others are hollow fibers, like R Thermal Marmot. The most famous is the Primaloft, which seems to approach the quality of feather.
For a lightweight summer bag, okay any padding. For 3 or 4 seasons a lot, best to focus on a quality product.
Again, it is important that the lot is adequately padded. For a good 3 seasons, you can’t drop below the 800/900 g padding.

Fabrics: now all bags have indoor and outdoor synthetic liners, except some rare cases of cotton bag. Look for bags that have the lining, in contact with skin, a tissue that is not cold to the touch. Alternatively, consider combining a cotton or fleece liner lunches. The exterior must be water repellent fabric; There are also some bags that are lined with waterproof fabrics: are expensive, but may be useful if you always sleep without a tent or other protection.
In general, better choose compressible tissue but robust. To down bags, check the tendency of fabrics at “spiumarsi”.

Plus: maybe it’s a little-known aspect, but also the bags have a size. If you are taller than 1.80/1.85, for you it will take a lot large or extra large, otherwise you will find yourself packed like sardines. If you are a women or smaller than average, you’ll have to try a lot adjusted to your height. Same goes for kids. Why all this? Because a lot too long or wide leaves inside large air pockets that our body has to heat up. In summer, with lots of outdoor temperature 20°c this is not a problem, but in -4 °c could become so. So don’t convince you to take the first lot I found: the companies series produce the best models in at least 3 different sizes.

Compressibility: depending on the upholstery and fabrics, the compressibility of a lot varies greatly. Lightweight bags as big as calves and winter bags that occupy a few liters. Do you think your sleeping bag will be the main space inside your backpack, so adjust accordingly. If you have to buy both, better take it before your sleeping bag, then the backpack. If you have a backpack, and it is small, you can’t exaggerate the size of the sleeping bag. Ideally, the lot should enter the bottom pocket of the backpack.

Packaging: pads hold the hot air “bloating” as the feather, or trapping it in its shirts, like most synthetics. In all cases, the padding to keep its characteristics, must retain its ability to expand. If it is compressed too much and/or too long, this quality can be lost irretrievably.
That a lot is sold in compression sack, synthetic steps: after all, it is very difficult to ruin it (but not impossible). Lots sold down in compression sack is not good. It must be put up in a large storage bag and comes with a compression bag only to be used in the excursion.

How to use the lot

Now that we’re equipped with an adequate sleeping bag, we have to see when and how to use it. The best solution, for the adventurous full, is to have a cheap and small synthetic sleeping bag for summer at lower elevations, while camping or in the heated rooms (T conf 8 °c) and 3 or 4 seasons a lot down to sleep in the mountains.
Managed shelters or otherwise provided with blankets, you must always use a sheet staff. Needless to bring your sleeping bag, better prefer sleeping sheet.
The sleeping bag, trekking, is our best partner with the boots and the backpack. It is therefore important that both warm and dry. Stivatelo always in a waterproof bag, better to use even a lightweight cordura waterproof bag. Dont care: revenue in my sleeping bag every time you stop and you get cold. Get into the habit of using it in the bivouac after wet in the rain or in tents, with the bitter cold while you are cooking dinner. If the temperatures are stiff and your cold limbs, do light motorcycle before entering the lot: If you coricherete warm (but not hot and sweaty), the bag will warm before and will come up to speed.
If the bag is adapted to temperatures outside, you do not need to sleep too covered. Like pajamas, I recommend to use a complete whole lightweight wool sweater or pants underwear/synthetic (type polypropylene). On cold nights, might be annoying the contrast between the warm and cold weather that affects the mouth and nose emerging from Mummy: in this case, bring a good ski mask or a scarf to cover your face. Avoid close everything and stick his face in my sleeping bag: the long condensation of your breath would moisten the lot, causing him to lose its calorific value.
Many advise going to bed with a bottle tightly closed filled with hot water. Obviously it works (as long as they don’t lose, otherwise it gets worse, and many more). In any case, this is a stopgap: If you are at the right temperature and the bag is protective enough, there’s no need.

It is necessary to use the lot always in tents or indoors? No. If it is a synthetic bag, don’t let’s scruples: I slept in a on the deck of a boat, washed by the waves, and I have not recorded damage. Just try not to wet the pad, especially if it’s really cold. If you have a lot, you have to have a little extra attention: try to keep it away from water, but remember that most modern synthetic liners are waterproof and don’t fear the sketches or moisture in the air. You can then use your lot for sleeping outdoors, having perhaps the wisdom to use a tarp under the mattress and avoid the rain.

Economic alternatives

Sleeping bags, especially those hot, expensive. In my view, for 2 seasons on camping or for heated rooms, not worth to invest much: just a lot of synthetic value. To tackle the mountain and cold weather, however, don’t go on an adventure. To save money, though, you can choose a lot too warm but in generic synthetic: will be heavy and bulky, but if it’s tested held hot anyway.
Another solution would be to use a lot in the other or to add handcrafted padding: in these cases, though, be careful, because no one can guarantee you that the product will work and to what temperatures. Better, in this case, do the calculations on how many grams of padding are using. In addition, better not to venture into areas limit before you have tested the invention in safety zones (such as the balcony of the House or shelter).
Finally also sleep very well covered, for example with a ski suit and/or additional blankets may be an emergency solution.
We’re still talking about palliatives and solutions that they cannot cover at high temperatures and in hazardous conditions for human health. If you want to brave the cold and you have little money, even in this case should be directed to the second hand market, choosing a suitable product and Unscratched by compression or loss of padding.


The sack, down or synthetic, must always be stored uncompressed, away from dust and moisture.
The padding, feather, fears the dirt and grease. Be careful: even if you are feeling so Rambo and have seen many movies of the marines, you won’t get in my sleeping bag wearing boots and dirty mud. So don’t nobody chases you.
When you squeeze your lot, be kind: If you exaggerate, even just once, the padding could be irreparably damaged.
The sleeping bag should be washed as little as possible. However, if it is dirty, doesn’t keep warmer. In this case, proceed. Should be washed by hand, in a tank, following the manufacturer’s instructions and with toiletries, feather. Should not be squeezed, but did dry flat, on a drying rack, in dim light.