More and more people than ever before are hitting the national parks and local campgrounds for a relatively inexpensive way in a difficult economic period to enjoy the great outdoors and spend time with family and friends. With experience short hikes may turn into overnights and a good night’s sleep can make the difference between planning you next expedition and making reservations and the nearest super 8 motel. We’ve decided to begin our series of articles on camping equipment with sleeping bags. This is the bare minimum information but should get you started searching for the sleeping bag that suits you best.
Sleeping bags are most commonly made using either down or synthetic materials as insulation, each has its important points to consider before making a purchase. Sleeping bags that utilize down for insulation generally provide more warmth for their weight and can be compacted into a smaller volume than synthetic sleeping bags. Did I mention how wonderful it feels to crawl inside a down sleeping bag at the end of a long day? The downside, pardon my pun, is that they are also quite a bit more expensive and if they get wet, you may as well be lying in a wet rag. You can take many precautions against getting a down sleeping bag wet such as good insulators such as DryLoft, but chances are if you camp or live in area prone to moisture or wet climates, it will get damp. If for whatever the reason including condensation caused by breathing in the tent, you are prone to moisture buildup, the synthetic sleeping bag may be the choice for you.
The shell fabric can go along way in saving you from a miserable night in the tent and should play a considerable role in which sleeping bag you purchase. For those who are merely the occasional camper and are constrained buy a tight budget, the shell material of choice might be polyester and nylon taffeta. Nylon Taffeta has a reputation for being resistant to abrasion, while the polyester taffeta does a great job in standing up to the menacing effects of ultra violet rays. The poly taffeta also will absorb less moisture than the nylon.
The next level of fabric choice for the shell would be microfiber. This will cost more than the previously mentioned fabrics but also offers more in protection and resistance from both wind and moisture. It is a good choice for tent campers in the mid range but brings us to the next level of shell known as DryLoft.
The cost of purchasing a DryLoft sleeping bag is higher than the other two materials and with the increase in price there is also an increase of the overall weight of the bag. You will however now have the ultimate in wind protection and breathability with a substantial increase in water-resistance. If you are the type of camper who likes to sleep outside on a cool night and gaze at the stars, this might be the sleeping bag for you.