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Camping Sleeping Bags

There are many more sleeping bags available on the market today than there are purposes for which they are used. The qualities and properties of a sleeping bag that is used for a children’s sleepover are vastly different from those required of a bag that is to be used for sleeping during a trek in a freezing mountainous region, and there are many options available for the multitude of purposes which lie somewhere between these two extremes.

Sleeping bags which are for indoor use are obviously not required to be weatherproof, and are often referred to as slumber bags. They are more likely to be manufactured from natural fabrics than from synthetic from which the majority of outdoor bags are made. These are mainly designed to make sleeping on the floor more comfortable, and to provide extra warmth, as would a blanket.

Undoubtedly the technology of sleeping bag manufacture has improved greatly over the years, but sleeping bags date back to 1861 when Francis Fox Tuckett produced his prototype. Initially camel fur and kapok were used for insulation until duck and goose down were introduced. Sleeping bags were not produced commercially until the 1890s when a Norwegian company commenced their manufacture, but consumers had to wait another hundred years for manufacturing standards to be introduced in the United States and Europe.

The two main shaped sleeping bags are the rectangular bags and the mummy bags. The rectangular bags are shaped as their name suggests, and provide more room to move about inside, but on the other hand that extra room means that there is more space inside in which warmth needs to be retained. On the other hand, the mummy bags are tapered in shape so that there is less room at the level of the feet which requires the maintenance of warmth. The mummy bags have a hood which protects your neck and head from the cold, and when fully closed only your mouth and nose are exposed.

Insulation materials for sleeping bags can be classified into two main groups; down and synthetic. Goose down is an excellent insulator and is also excellent in terms of weight and bulk. On the other hand, its insulation qualities are compromised when the bag gets wet, and it is difficult to wash and dry. It is also more expensive than its synthetic counterparts. There is a variety of synthetic fibres which are used for insulation, some of which are Microloft, Hollowfibre, and Polarguard. Synthetic fibres tend to be heavier and bulkier than down, but they are more water-resistant and still provide warmth if wet. The synthetic bags also tend to cost less than the down bags.

When purchasing a sleeping bag, check the rating of the bag and make sure that it meets your requirements. If you are going to be sleeping in alpine conditions you won’t want to be stuck with a bag with a temperature rating down to only 40 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, if you are sleeping out in mild conditions you won’t need a bag which is rated down to zero degrees. This is obviously simply a matter of common sense. If you match your requirements with the appropriate sleeping bag, your camping experience will be enhanced, rather than spoiled.