Sleeping bags are designed to provide you with a warm and dry shelter outdoors. They’re commonly used for camping and staying out in the wild where there are no ordinary beds to sleep. Sleeping outdoors can be tricky sometimes, so most sleeping bags feature a zipper and it can be fully closed to provide thermal insulation and prevent the precious warmth from dissipating.
Most sleeping bags have some cushioning, but usually, that doesn’t help that much so you must use a sleeping pad as well.So, with so many different models available on the market – what materials are used to make sleeping bags?
Let’s first break them down into categories. There are lightly filled sleeping bags which are meant to be used during warmer climate conditions, or simply when you sleep indoors. Well-insulated sleeping bags are for extreme and cold weather conditions. The mummy bag, which is commonly used only during the winter, has the shape of a sarcophagus and it’s equipped with an insulated hood for your head. No matter the type of the sleeping bag, they’re all made from a few selected materials. Let’s take a look at those.
Different shell fabrics provide different levels of protection and durability. Basic sleeping bags are made of polyester, nylon, or taffeta. These offer just a basic durability and weather protection. These types of sleeping bags are meant to be used indoors on mild camping trips which will not be a proving ground for their durability. On the other hand, they will not break the bank and are commonly breathable. If you’re about to enter the magical world of camping, then these are perfect for you. Just make sure you schedule your camping trips carefully, as these basic sleeping bags are meant for dry conditions only. However, if you plan on using your sleeping bag frequently, maybe you should opt for something more durable. Polyester and ripstop nylon materials commonly used for these. However, keep in mind that these are not for extremely cold weather conditions. Also, you still need to avoid getting wet as much as you can.
Science and technology gave us superior materials. Technical textiles such as DryLoft are completely water-resistant and breathable at the same time. If you plan on camping during all four seasons of the year, then look no further.Sleeping bags made of DryLoft will keep you dry on the inside while still maintaining the oh-so-important durability so that you won’t get cooked inside. Be warned that such sleeping bags do come at a premium, so wisely plan your purchase. Water-repellent sleeping bags have a unique finish on the fabric which minimizes the amount of moisture that gets absorbed. Many campers, however, prefer using these type of bags because they keep you warm and they know that the bag cannot get dry once it gets wet.
Now that we got the shell covered, let’s see the inside of the sleeping bag. The lightly filled sleeping bags, used during the summer or for sleeping indoors, usually only feature a thin layer of synthetic quilt insulation. As mentioned before, you should really avoid these if you really plan on hitting the wilderness and camp like a champion. When you choose a sleeping bag, it’s all about the lining. Your perfect sleeping bag needs to have the right type and the right amount of insulation. The insulation in your sleeping bag slows down the transfer of heat from your body and traps in the air that surrounds you. So, which one is for you? It all really comes down to one simple choice – down or synthetics.
Down is one of the best natural warmth insulators. It is light plumage located between the skin and the feathers of a goose or a duck. Each plume has fine fibers which radiate from its center and even more fine filaments and fronds which branch off from each tiny fiber. This creates microscopically small pockets of air which trap the heat you radiate and keep you warm. There are different levels of quality of down, and they are measured by fill power. For example, an 800-fill power can loft 800 cubic inches per ounce. The higher the number, the better the insulation is. Of course, the price tag follows it up as well. Down sleeping bags can last for more than ten years, as they are very resilient and can be re-stuffed. They are also easily compressed. Just make sure you don’t get a down sleeping bag wet because wet down gets really messy and loses all of its essential properties. On the other hand, the synthetic fill is much more durable and a better value for the money. These materials closely mimic the properties of down, without losing warmth when getting wet. Mind you, camping sleeping bags filled with synthetic materials can’t be compressed as easily as those filled with down.
Now that you know what sleeping bags are made of, which one will you choose? Synthetic lining combined with DryLoft in a mummy sleeping bag is definitely the best bang for your buck. It brings all the benefits of down but lasts longer and isn’t as expensive.