Ultimate Guide To Choosing A Sleeping Bag

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When it comes to select a suitable, cozy sleeping bag, there are many factors to consider, including where your adventures take, the length and the shape of sleeping bag and so forth. Sleeping bags aren’t like a pair of jeans, meaning that you shouldn’t rock them extra tight just because you consider yourself a fashionable hipster, or choose a baggy fit as you’re in to that whole 90’s skater look. A sleeping bag that fits too tight or too loose means you’re losing warmth. Here are some specific tips to make sure you’re choosing the best fitting sleeping bag.


The Location

Ideal equipment will range depending on where your adventures take you. For example, if you’re skiing on the West Coast of Canada, you’re going to pick the “most waterproof” sleeping bags as quite often in the Coastal Range, you’re going to experience some wetter conditions compared to say the Kootenays or even the East Coast of Canada. Therefore, you need to have an awareness of the types of adventures you plan to embark on and what type of climates you’ll be encountering.


Men's & Women's Sleeping Bags

It seems strange that something as simple as a sleeping bag would need designs specific according to gender. Believe it or not, sleeping bags designed for women do have characteristics that can help the female adventurer get a better night's sleep. Women's sleeping bags are usually narrower in the shoulders and wider in the hips than men's or unisex sleeping bags. This more precise fit keeps the sleeping bag warmer by preventing extra airflow. Women's sleeping bags also tend to have more insulation than men's or unisex sleeping bags. Men produce more body heat than women, so a warmer bag helps women stay more comfortable in cold conditions. Extra insulation is usually found near the feet and the torso of a women's sleeping bag.


The Length

Sleeping bags are sized by their length, and though this may seem obvious, the correct length for your bag should correlate directly with your height. For example, if you’re 6 feet tall, you should try sleeping in a 6 feet bag. But don’t think that a 6-foot sleeping bag should fit like a glove. A 6 foot sleeping bag will actually measure roughly 6-foot 8-inches long, giving a 6-foot tall person the extra room needed for a correct fit. But what if you are a 5’ 6” male and the smallest men’s bag available is a regular 6 foot bag  that actually measures 6 feet 8 inch from the hood to the toe box? This is the perfect moment to swallow your pride and consider buying a women’s. A women’s regular is a 5’6” bag that will measure roughly 6’2” inside, making it a great size for a 5’6” man.


The Shape

The shape of your sleeping bag should reflect the style of camping when planning. There are four basic shapes of bags: Mummy, Rectangular, Semi-Rectangular, and Double-Wide. Each of them meets different needs.


Mummy Bags

Mummy bags are ideal for expeditions or hiking trips where a lightweight bag is of great necessity, because the narrow shape maximizes warmth and reduces the weight. These bags although the most technical and appealing for backcountry explorers while they are not suitable for everyone as they may feel restricted due to the narrower shoulder and hip widths.


Rectangular Bags 

Rectangular bags are the most common as they are known for their roomy shape and maximum comfort. They are not ideal for hiking expeditions as they are sometimes slightly heavier and generally suitable for warmer weather, but are great for car camping and sleepovers where weight isn’t an issue.


Semi-Rectangular Bags

Semi-Rectangular bags are hybrid between mummy and rectangular shape, which is the go-between for fair-weather campers that require warmth, but also desire the extra room for added comfort. While not as warm as mummy bags, a semi-rectangular bag can work for fair-weather trips, and also be enough for shorter backpacking adventures.


Double-Wide Bags

Double-wide bags like offering an alternative to zipping two bags together for couples. These bags are made to fit two people comfortably and often can be unzipped to create two separate bags. If you’re a car camper and the weight or the size is never an issue, a double-wide bag is great for your next couple getaway!

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