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Sleeping Bags

An important item for a camper is the sleeping bag. Nothing ruins a trip more than to wake up after a miserable night’s sleep with aches and pains. When buying a sleeping bag that gives you a good, restful night of sleep, consider these features:

  • Shape - Sleeping bag shapes are mummy, barrel, or rectangular. Mummy shapes are tightly contoured bags with a hood that has a drawstring to pull the hood close to your face. Although they are the warmest bags, they restrict movement and can feel cramped, so some people are uncomfortable sleeping in them. Barrel bags are basically rectangular except they taper to a smaller width as they go from the shoulders to the feet. Rectangular bags, which come in single and double widths, are the most comfortable to sleep in for most people. If you are tall or like a lot of foot room, look for a bag that comes in extra long lengths.
  • Warmth - Decide how hot or cold it will be when you camp and what your personal sleeping style is. Sleeping bags are rated according to the range of temperatures they are best used in. If you like covers even in warm weather, get a bag rated for cooler temperatures than you will experience, and if you are warm at night, get a bag rated for warmer temperatures. If you decide your bag is not warm enough, you can purchase a bag liner for extra warmth instead of getting another bag.
  • Material - Sleeping bags with down fillers are warmer except if they get wet, in which case they lose their insulation ability. Synthetic fillers are less warm, but retain some warmth when wet, and they also dry quicker than down. Bags that are waterproof or come with a waterproof shell avoid problems from rain and dampness. The greater the weight (amount) of insulation in the bag, the better it protects against the cold. And a cotton flannel lining feels warmer than a slick synthetic one.

For greater comfort, a pad under the bag gives greater protection from the damp, cold, and hard ground. Some bags now come with storage pockets on them which are helpful to keep items, like a flashlight, close to you.

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