Planning for your next hiking or camping expedition in winters? Well, while adding all the necessary winter gear, you must not miss out on the best winter sleeping bags for a warm and comfortable sleep.
But how do you know that you have purchased the ultimate quality bag with all the great features? Put all your worries aside as we are here to ease your burden with our detailed buying guide.
With this handy information, you will understand all the essential characteristics like insulation, temperature ratings, etc. that you should focus on while making your purchase.
If you have previous camping experiences in colder conditions, you will understand the importance of having a winter sleeping bag so that you can sleep without any trouble.
Therefore, you must include it to your camping gear list to make sure that you can avoid sleepless nights even when the temperature is low.
There are some places where the temperature fluctuates a lot between daytime and night. So, when you are camping in such areas, you should choose these sleeping bags for sleeping hassle-free.
There are some specific reasons behind using a winter sleeping bag such as—
When you are going to buy a winter sleeping bag, you must choose the right size of the sleeping bag. Generally, winter sleeping bags come in different sizes, which means that you should check the fit properly to sleep comfortably in chilly weather.
There are some tips you need to follow to get the perfect size of the bags.
You can wear the required layers and crawl inside several sleeping bags before buying them. It will help you to find out the right brand and size that fits properly.
If you find a sleeping bag with a sleeping pad, it will be better to integrate it before buying it. With this, you can save the bag's volume without spoiling the fit.
You should check the zippers beforehand so that they will not create any issue when in use. Also, check the collar and hood. You should look for a snug seal near the head area to get a comfortable fit.
When choosing a winter sleeping bag, you must look for a bag that has a snug fit. For side sleepers, they should be able to rotate their body without any discomfort.
If you are likely to have a waterproof sleeping bag, you should choose the right shell fabric.
When you are camping without any tent, you will need a waterproof sleeping bag for better protection. Most of the winter sleeping bags have a waterproof construction, so you just need to pick up the right fabric while buying the bags.
It will be wise to get a waterproof sleeping bag when you camp in cold and wet places. So, you should always look for a waterproof fabric that will be breathable as well.
Having a waterproof fabric without any breathability can protect you from rain, yet you will become sweaty and wet after a certain point in time.
You should buy a seam-taped winter sleeping bag to prevent water from getting inside the bag while you are sleeping.
Before making your purchase, you must consider the temperature ratings of the winter sleeping bags. It will help you to know about the lowest temperature that a particular model can withstand.
Though some bags are rated according to EN 13537 standard, there is no universal method to determine the ratings. So, it widely varies from one manufacturer to another.
You should consider two major factors before choosing the ratings: your camping region and comfortable temperature for your sleep.
Usually, temperature ratings are determined by comfort ratings as well as extreme ratings.
Comfort ratings include upper comfort and lower comfort ratings. With this comfort rating, you will be able to determine the optimum temperature needed for warmth and comfort while sleeping in a rolled-up situation.
If you use the sleeping bag with the below-mentioned comfort rating temperature, you will feel cold.
Women tend to feel colder than men, so it will be better to go for a higher comfort rating for women.
This extreme rating refers to the survival temperature. It means if you cross this temperature limit, your bag will not be able to protect you from frostbite.
However, this is not the minimum temperature that helps you in comfortable sleeping, and you should not use the bag at the lowest temperature regularly.
Therefore, it is recommended for the cold sleepers to select a plumper sleeping bag instead of a thinner one to get the maximum comfort while sleeping in colder temperatures.
Without choosing the right shape of your winter sleeping bag, it will be challenging to get the comfort and warmth needed to sleep well at night.
Besides, your sleeping bag's shape has a significant impact on its weight, packed size, and portability.
Typically, winter sleeping bags with three different shapes are available in the market. They are:
Mummy shaped sleeping bags can be an apt choice for winter camping because of their incredible thermal efficiency. This bag does not have much interior space, so it feels cozy and heats up quickly.
It is designed with the tapered cut around feet and legs, but it can insulate your neck and head properly.
Another essential factor is that the mummy bags are very lightweight and have a smaller-packed size so you can transport them easily.
Unlike mummy design, rectangular sleeping bags come up with a lot of interior space. So, they are not very useful to maintain body warmth. As these bags do not have the tapered cut through legs, they are not thermally efficient.
It is considered as the most convenient design for sleeping without any restrictions.
So, if you tend to move a lot during sleeping, you can choose a rectangular shape winter sleeping bag. It is also suitable for basement sleepovers and backyard camping.
This shape falls between the rectangular and mummy shapes. It provides enough space like a rectangular bag and ensures more warmth that you get from a mummy bag.
Another very crucial factor is the weight that you should not overlook when you are about to buy a winter sleeping bag. Most of the hikers and backpackers prefer lightweight winter sleeping bags for their camping activities.
Nevertheless, you should not compromise with the comfort and warmth to get a lightweight winter sleeping bag.
You may find it troublesome to get a sleeping bag with the proper balance. Usually, the warmest is the heaviest. On the other hand, the warmest bag designed with less weight is the costliest.
You can go for the down bags, which provides better insulation without increasing the weight. It can be the right choice for keeping yourself warm in the lower temperatures, without carrying extra weight.
So, if you go hiking very frequently, you can invest a little more money on these bags for extended use.
When it comes to checking the insulation of the winter sleeping bags, you will come across two types of insulation, i.e., down and synthetic. Both of them come with their unique pros and cons.
You should know the difference between down and synthetic insulation in the first place to make sure that you will get precisely what you want.
If you are looking for light insulation, you can select down. Probably, it is the lightest insulation that works efficiently.
Backpackers are more likely to choose down insulation because of their compressibility. It can retain the loft and its insulation power as well.
Though down is costlier than synthetic insulation, it sometimes depends on its fill-power. It is an effective way to rate the quality of this insulation.
Generally, the fill-power ratings vary between 600 to 900. This number determines the warmth.
You should keep in mind that the loft of down increases with warmth. Thus, you should go for a higher number for more warmth.
Different bags with synthetic insulation are available in the market, but it will be wise to choose the plumper polyester material resistant to water.
So, when you are camping in a wet condition, you should choose the polyester material that will not absorb any water.
Synthetic sleeping bags are heavier than down insulation bags, but they are less expensive so that you can get them at an affordable price.
You can select the left zip or right zip of the winter sleeping bags according to your convenience. It is entirely about your personal choice on which side you will want the zips to be.
It is possible to get both the left-zip and right-zip sleeping bags from the same brand. It is because you will find no universal standard to determine whether the bag will be left-zip or right-zip.
It is reasonable to go through the technical information that comes along with the bags if you have any personal preference regarding the side, the zip will be on.
You will find some renowned retailers who provide detailed specifications about the side of the bags the zip is on. So, choose carefully and make sure that it can serve your purpose effectively.
Choosing a durable sleeping bag will help you use it for a long time without any replacement. Most winter sleeping bags are designed with high-quality materials, so they become incredibly durable.
The durability of the bags strictly depends on the materials used in making the bags. If you are going hiking in a colder condition, you should go for a tough and ripstop outer shell.
You should also check the zippers in advance to ensure that they are snag-free. Strong zippers are essential so that you can slide them smoothly.
Besides, down insulation makes the bags more durable than synthetic insulation. You must maintain and store the bags in a proper way to improve their durability.
Baffles are like small compartments. The main job of baffles in the winter sleeping bags is to hold the inner filling to distribute it evenly.
The inner lining is made out of soft and comfortable materials that can also wick away moisture properly. It helps to hold your body heat effectively. Commonly, polyester or fine nylon is used to design this lining so that you do not become too toasty or too sweaty inside the sleeping bag.
Outer fabrics refer to the outer shells, which are usually made up of nylon-ripstop. These shells should be durable enough to withstand the harshest weather. Dryloft fabrics used in the bags are breathable, sturdy, and resistant to water.
You can choose the two-way zip for better ventilation. You are allowed to open them fully or halfway as per your convenience.
Choosing an insulated zip baffle for your sleeping bag will help you to prevent heat loss through the zippers.
The zip cover attached to the velcro ensures that the zip will not get undone unwillingly when you are sleeping.
Hood is used for keeping your head insulated along with your whole body. You can choose an adjustable hood and customize the fit as per your needs. Moreover, it should have the capacity to deal with the water vapor created from your breathing.
If you are camping in a cold and wet area, these stash pockets will be handy. They will allow you to store the essential electronic gadgets within your reach.
It will be better to integrate the sleeping pad sleeve from the store. It acts as a barrier between the frozen ground and your sleeping bag. It can hold up your body heat efficiently so that you can sleep comfortably in colder nights.
Having a sleeping bag with pillow pockets can become very handy while camping outdoors in winter. You can insert a pillow or stash some clothes to make your pillow that will maximize your comfort.
With a stuff sack, you will be able to get a compact packed size for your bag. But you have to be careful while compressing the sleeping bag inside the stuff sack. You can also choose to buy a separate compression sack for your sleeping bag.
If you want to maintain your winter sleeping bag properly, you should get a storage sack to store it without any hassle. You should not store the bag inside the stuff sack for an extended period because it will hamper the insulating feeling.
Most winter sleeping bags are designed with water-resistant outer shell fabrics such as goose down insulated bags. Water-resistant sleeping bags are naturally a little more expensive as it increases your protection to a great extent.
You should remember that when a sleeping bag becomes wet, it may reduce the insulating properties.
Not all insulation has the same water-resistant features. For example, synthetic insulation is the best choice for wet conditions as it is exceptionally resistant to water and dry quickly. On the contrary, down insulation can absorb moisture and does not get dry fast.
You can look for the Durable Water Repellent feature that does not allow the bag to soak up water.
It is a little difficult to find a 100% waterproof sleeping bag. But, this water-resistant property ensures that it can protect your sleeping bag from moisture, splashes, and condensation.
Some people just leave their sleeping bags in the basement or the garage after they return from camping. You should not be like them.
You will be spending the right amount of money on getting the best winter sleeping bag. Without taking proper care, you can use your bag for a long time.
Stuff sacks are good, but they are not ideal for storing your bag for long periods. Because of the compression, your bag can lose the insulating capacity which you never intend for.
Therefore, you should avoid a stuff sack for storing your sleeping bag for a long time. Instead, you can choose a mesh bag or a spacious laundry bag to keep it securely. It will be better to keep the bag open so that the moisture can go away effectively.
It is like a thumb rule that you should follow for any insulation. However, the cleaning methods are not the same for synthetic and down insulation bags.
The cleaning method of a winter sleeping bag entirely depends on its insulation type.
It is not difficult to clean a synthetic fill bag. You simply need to follow the given instructions to get your job done effortlessly.
First, you should unzip your sleeping bag completely. You should then use the front load washer instead of a top load washer to clean these bags.
Use cold water and do not take much soap to wash the bag. You can dry the bags on lower heat for not more than 20 minutes. Make sure the bag is dry thoroughly and not over-dry them.
And you are done. Cleaning a synthetic insulation sleeping bag does not take much time, and you can complete the entire process without any extra effort.
Unlike synthetic sleeping bags, down bags are difficult to wash. It is suggested to clean these bags by hand without putting them inside the machine. They also need to get dry naturally.
Also, you will find some down bags that are appropriate for professional cleaning.
You should use a front load washer for these bags. Never use any bleach or additives except for a little amount of soap for washing. Wash the bags with cold water.
You should rinse the bag multiple times to remove all extra soaps. Otherwise, it will hurt its performance.
You should go for a tumble dying to make the bag dry completely.
A winter sleeping bag can quickly get its enhanced warmth by washing it regularly. Once you start washing it at regular intervals, you will feel a natural warmth added to it while you sleep in it.
While you can read the detailed difference above, we believe down insulated bags impart a higher level of insulation and warmth. Owing to the bird-feather filing, it is lightweight and keeps the body heat trapped that provides you extra comfort.
Yes, You will experience more warmth when you sleep in winter sleeping bags along with your clothes. The clothes act as an extra shield that helps you feel more warmth and comfort. Thus, we highly recommend you wearing your clothes while sleeping in these bags.
With this, you have got all the in-depth details about all the fantastic features of the ultimate winter sleeping bags. Read all the points to make a thorough analysis of your comfort and camping area. Also, the FAQs will help you a lot to get your queries answered.
We are sure that with all the information on your fingertips, you can easily quantify your needs and buy the epic product in no time. So, what are you still waiting for? Get your ideal winter sleeping bag, and enjoy your camping experience!
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