A sleeping bag usually costs somewhere between $50 and $300. Now, that's stretching the range to the breaking point to accommodate all sorts of sleeping bags on the market.
In reality, most sleeping bags cost below $500, but there are also those that cost close to $1000.
There is a wide range of sleeping bags on the market, so the exact amount a sleeping bag costs depends on the bag you buy.
The truth is there is a lot more to the price of a sleeping bag. Some essential but less recognized factors interrelate to determine how much a sleeping bag costs.
These factors accentuate the disparity between sleeping bags that give you value for your money and those that shortchange you.
In other words, far more critical than the price is the price-quality correlation. The understanding of this is the ultimate.
Mind you, not every sleeping bag is worth its price tag. Therefore, this article puts together all you need to know to become a sleeping bag guru.
It will give you all the information you need to evaluate sleeping bags and their prices like a pro. Let's do it.
Categories of Sleeping Bags According to Seasons
There is no agreed number of categories into which sleeping bags are divided. However, the primary types are three.
They are the summer sleeping bags, the winter sleeping bags, and the three-season sleeping bags. Each category contains sleeping bags that share some features.
But the most dominant of these features is how these sleeping bags can help control temperature for your comfort.
Summer Sleeping Bags
As the name suggests, summer sleeping is suited for use during summer. Manufacturers design these bags to keep users cozy at the relatively high temperature of the season.
Usually, summer sleeping bags are your best choice when the temperature is around 300F and above.
These sleeping bags are lightweight, with little to no insulation sewn in. Most don't have hoods or draft collars as these facilities are understandably useless during summer.
In case the temperature is/becomes too high for comfort, the sleeping bags always come with full-length zippers.
These facilities also convert the bags into quilts when you don't need a sleeping bag.
Comparatively, this set of sleeping bags is the cheapest.
Three-Season Sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags have some extra features that make them ideal for three different seasons of the year.
Per performance, you can use a three-season sleeping bag in spring, fall, and summer in regions where the temperature falls drastically at night.
They are most suited for temperatures that fall between 200F and 320F.
By design, three-season sleeping bags are convertible. They come with detachable hoods and full-length zippers, which enable you to manipulate them to suit different temperature levels.
Winter Sleeping Bags
Of course, not many people would head outdoors during the winter, except it becomes unavoidably necessary. Sleeping outdoors without the appropriate gears may prove fatal.
That's why you should have a standby winter sleeping bag; it's the ideal thing. With your safety in mind, manufacturers design these bags for temperatures below 200F.
Categorization of Sleeping Bags According to Insulation Types
Temperature rating is crucial to the sleeping bag categorization. That's why most analysts categorize sleeping bags along the season lines.
In some situations, the sleeping bag may become your only defender against inclement weather. Temperature is an intricate part of the weather at night.
While temperature hardly rises to life-threatening points, falling to that point is not uncommon.
Besides, sleeping and enjoying doing so requires that the temperature is right for your comfort.
Down Sleeping Bags
Manufacturers stuff these kinds of sleeping bags with the soft under feathers of birds like geese and ducks.
The purpose of this filling is to serve as insulation and help retain warmth within the pack.
However, the filling also makes the sleeping bag soft and comfortable to sleep in.
Comparatively, down sleeping bags are more expensive than synthetic ones, and their insulation performance is higher.
Two main types of down are used in manufacturing sleeping bags. We have Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS).
The Responsible Down Standard certifies that the birds that are the source of the feathers were treated well. It shows that the down processes do not involve any forms of cruelty.
Global Traceable Down labeling indicates that authorities have audited the source farm, and it excelled.
This sets a bit more stringent conditions than RDS. Despite this discrepancy, both are reliable and may be merged into one in the future.
Synthetic Sleeping Bags
Manufacturers fill these sleeping bags with soft polyester material that is water-resistant.
This is why it is the best for wet conditions. Comparatively, synthetic sleeping bags are heavier and less compact. However, they are cheaper.
Synthetic sleeping bags' insulation performance is satisfactory, though it's not at par with down sleeping bags.
Sleeping Bags Shapes and Fitting
Another vital factor to consider while buying a sleeping bag is the shape and fit. You are supposed to choose your sleeping bag based on the kind of sleeper you are.
Aside from ensuring the length of the sleeping bag corresponds to your height, you also need to pay attention to the circumference.
Though experts rate some shapes over others, the fact remains that some sleepers can't just use sleeping bags that come in specific shapes. Let's see the five basic shapes of sleeping bags.
Mummy Sleeping Bag
This bag is arguably the most thermally efficient of the pack because of the snugging shape from which it derives its name.
A mummy sleeping bag tapers along your body from head to toe. This cut's primary purpose is to maximize your body heat within the bag.
If you select the right size, you'll have little interior space left after you tuck yourself in.
Manufacturers use minimal materials and insulation since mummy bags base thermal control on the limited interior space principle. As a result, these bags weigh little and pack small.
Despite their many advantages, mummy bags may not be suitable for a restless sleeper who may find the constriction uncomfortable.
Rectangular Sleeping Bag
Rectangular sleeping bags are the most widespread. They have an envelope-like shape and lots of room.
Though they are less effective in stopping body-heat loss to the environment, they're good enough to keep you warm.
They are also the most suitable for restless sleepers who move around in their sleep.
By design, most rectangular sleeping bags have zippers around the sides. Thus, you can open them all through and use them for other purposes.
For instance, you can use them as a blanket or duvet. They are heavier than the mummy sleeping bags because they have excess materials and more insulation.
Semi-rectangular Sleeping Bag
These sleeping bags fall between the rectangular and mummy sleeping bags. If you're looking for a bag that keeps you warm and gives you space for thrashing around in your sleep, a semi-rectangular sleeping bag is what you need.
These sleeping bags' ample room allows two persons to snuggle in together for a warmer night. They are the most suitable for couples.
Most are rectangular in shape and factory-built for this purpose. However, some are results of improvisations.
To get a double bag, you can zip two rectangular sleeping bags together, one right-hand zipper and one left-hand zipper.
However, these bags are better to be the same model for good compatibility.
It is worth noting that double bags are hardly ever in the mummy sleeping bag shape.
Kid-Size sleeping Bags
These sleeping bags can come in any of the above three shapes. The main reason for singling them out for shape categorization is length.
Since they are for kids, they are generally shorter and smaller. This means they use lesser materials and are comparatively cheaper.
The table below shows the price ranges of some sleeping bags:
Three-Season Sleeping Bags
$20 – $65
Down Sleeping Bags
$80 – $250
Synthetic Sleeping Bags
$50 – $180
Mummy-Style Sleeping Bags
$28 – $65
Rectangular Sleeping Bags
$24 – $130
Summer Sleeping Bags
$25 – $140
Winter Sleeping Bags
$40 – $250
Single Sleeping Bags
$23 – $250
Double Sleeping Bags
$35 to $60
Key Features to Look For When Buying a Sleeping Bag
Buying a sleeping bag is more complex than just the price. There are some essential features that you need to pay attention to so that you'll choose the right sleeping bag. Here they come.
Some sleeping bags come in specific standards that manufacturers claim to fit both males and females.
While this claim may be correct for rectangular and semi-rectangular sleeping bags, it's a ruse for mummy sleeping bags. The truth is that these sleeping bags are for men.
Sleeping bags meant for women are fortified with added insulation at the feet. In addition, the bags are broader around the hips and, at the shoulders, narrower.
Of course, as a man, you can still choose to buy a female-specific sleeping bag.
Likewise, women with relatively masculine physiques may prefer male-specific sleeping bags.
On a final note, you need to try on varieties of bags. By implication, only buy from an outlet that has a facility for try-ons. This will help you to identify the shape that you find most comfortable.
Temperature retention rating is an essential factor in buying a sleeping bag. As discussed above, there are three season-specific sleeping bags.
Manufacturers classify each of these sleeping bags according to their temperature ratings.
The first problem is that there is not yet a global standard for temperature rating. Thus, each manufacturer is at liberty to rate their products as they see fit.
The second problem is that ratings may not be entirely reliable. This is because factors such as body type, metabolism, and clothing can significantly impact an individual's comfort levels. Meanwhile, these factors are not constant; they change from time to time.
A standardized rating system that is close to being reliable is the EN 13537. This temperature rating system has:
- Upper limit: This is the highest-rated air temperature. It is at a level where the average man will sleep comfortably.
- Comfort: The average woman can sleep comfortably at this air temperature.
- Lower limit: This is at the bottom of the air temperature ladder. It is the lowest level at which the average man can sleep comfortably.
It's a self-evident fact that you mostly use sleeping bags while on a trip. What's sensible is that you try as much as possible to minimize the weight of your luggage on trips.
Thus, consciously considering the gross weight of the sleeping bag you want to buy is an advantage.
The down mummy sleeping bags may be the best for this purpose. They are lightweight and insulate optimally.
These relatively tiny facilities are very crucial to your comfort. The best of them are the two-way zippers that run the length of the sleeping bags.
Remember, there are weather conditions where the high temperature may make it necessary that you uncover your feet. Only a full-length zipper can afford you this luxury.
Another essence of these facilities is where you want to improvise a double bag. Here, the model of the zippers, and the sides on which the zippers are, matter a lot.
The quality of the zippers on the sleeping bag is also essential. Poor quality zippers snag frequently and are likely to wear out in no time.
When choosing your sleeping bag, you should go for one that has more than one zipper, and these zippers should be well guarded.
You can choose between rectangular sleeping bags and tapered mummy bags. Some people move a lot while sleeping. Such people will find rectangular sleeping bags more suitable for them.
Otherwise, mummy sleeping bags (tapered) are better at retaining heat within and are, therefore, better.
You can choose between down (goose or duck feathers) and synthetic (artificial fibers). Each of these fillings has its pros and cons.
You can choose between down (goose or duck feathers) and synthetic (man-made fibers). Each of this filling has its pros and cons.
Fill Type: Synthetic
Fill Type: Down
Shells and Baffles
The outer part of the sleeping bag is also a vital feature of the sleeping bag. It plays a significant role in the overall performance of the bag.
Manufacturers use either polyester or nylon because of their long-wearing quality.
Many reputable companies also treat this material with durable water repellent (DWR) finish to ensure the shell's fill (insulation) doesn't get wet.
You have the baffles on the inside, especially for a down sleeping bag. They are there to ensure the down stays in place.
Accessories for Your Sleeping Bed
Though not compulsory, having some accessories for your sleeping bag can make a difference. Let's consider a few of those accessories.
Sleeping Bag Liner
You can effectively keep the inside of your sleeping bag clean and dry with a sleeping bag liner.
Besides, this accessory gives you extra warmth and improves the softness of your bag. You can remove the liner after every use and wash.
After all, you don't want to dip your sleeping bag in the water now and then. This accessory will help you keep dirt away from the bag and extend its lifespan.
Since it's essential to keep your sleeping bag as loose as possible for better insulation performance, you'll need this sack.
Yes, most sleeping bags come with bags, but these bags are hardly spacious enough. Therefore, they can adversely affect the insulation effectiveness of your bag.
This is a small compact bag where you can stuff your sleeping bag. Whether you own a down sleeping bag that packs down tiny or a synthetic sleeping bag, a stuff sack can help you manage space.
You can roll up the sleeping bag and tuck it in the stuff sack. With that, you will reduce the bulkiness of your backpack and take away some strain from yourself.
A sleeping pad in your sleeping bag is always a source of a fantastic experience. This is especially true if you're the type that can't do without that extra puffiness.
Secured with the pad sleeves or straps on the bottom of the bag, you will have a sound and blissful outdoor sleep.
Aside from giving you an excellent feel, the pad also protects the interior of your sleeping bag.
Socks and Beanie
Now, it's easy to conclude these are unimportant, but check out these facts first. Science has established that a considerable amount of body heat is lost through the head.
Likewise, blood moves away from the extremities (hands, feet, ears, nose, etc.) when your body temperature drops too low. The blood then concentrates around vital organs to increase your chance of survival.
These facts indicate that a beanie and a pair of socks will help keep you warmer. They are indispensable when it is winter, or you're camping out in a cold region.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I choose the right sleeping bag for myself?
There are at least three facets to choosing the right sleeping bag. One is your body size, and another is the type of sleeper you are. The last one is where and when you intend to use the sleeping bag.
For your body size, you have to consider your height and build. It would be best if you chose a soothingly snug sleeping bag.
That is, if you are not a 'thrasher' or a 'side sleeper.' Remember that most of the heat you enjoy in your sleeping bag comes from your body.
The sleeping bag collects the heat and stops it from escaping.
A sleeping bag with lots of excess space takes longer to fill up with the heat from your body.
Sometimes, your body may even fail to generate sufficient heat because of excess space. The bottom line is, even if you need extra room in the bag, make it moderate.
You will have to check the temperature rating of the sleeping bag you want to choose.
The most critical information here is the season and the environment where you want to use the gear. Make sure you select a sleeping bag with ratings that satisfy your purpose.
2. How do I wash my sleeping bag?
For durability, it is better to minimize the number of times you wash your sleeping bag. What you should frequently do instead is spot-cleaning.
You can use a damp piece of cloth so that you can get the stains out without getting the bag dripping wet.
However, a time will come when washing the bag will become mandatory. This is how to go about doing that.
- Synthetic-insulated sleeping bags:
Synthetic-insulated sleeping bags contain manufactured stuffing, making them less susceptible to water damage. You can use a front-loading washing machine and a non-toxic detergent. Make sure you fasten the zipper(s) closed before loading the sleeping bag into the machine.
Use cold water (synthetic can melt under extreme heat) and set the washing machine to run at a medium cycle. When you are done with washing, rinse thoroughly and be sure no detergent is left in the fabric. You can then use a dryer that does use it or one that uses low heat. If you like, you can hang it in the open to dry.
- Down-insulated sleeping bags:
Down-insulated sleeping bags require almost the same washing procedure as synthetic-insulated sleeping bags. One thing you need to pay attention to is water-damage susceptibility.
Unlike synthetic, down-insulation is highly vulnerable to water, as the down (duck or geese feathers) may stick together.
If you don't manage this aftermath well, it can lead to reduced insulation performance. The next thing to do after washing and spinning is to dry. Set the dry to medium heat and include a couple of well-washed tennis balls in the dryer. This way, the down will regain its loft.
3. Which insulation is better, synthetic or down?
Maybe down is better, but it appears the future belongs to synthetic. Let's look at each of this insulation critically.
Sleeping bed manufacturers use soft and delicate feathers of ducks or geese for insulation. Down is all-natural, coming from the wastes of the food industry.
As a result, it is and will continue to be in constant supply as long as farms continue slaughtering ducks/geese for food.
Also, down is a better insulator because its loose formation traps air which helps keep heat within.
Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is artificial. It is not uncommon to see some people develop allergies to synthetics.
Though synthetics don't perform as highly as down, it doesn't change the fact that it's a fantastic insulator.
An advantage it (synthetics) has over a down insulator is that it performs better than down-insulation when both are damp.
Overall, down insulation is better, but synthetic will most certainly keep improving since it depends on technology.
4. Are sleeping bags machine washable?
Yes, sleeping bags are machine washable. There is hardly any sleeping bag on the market now that is not suitable for washing machines.
However, you still need to make sure you check the label on the bag. There are always instructions on how to wash it on the label.
5. Can sleeping bags be dry cleaned?
No, that is not advisable for two reasons. First, the chemicals you will use for dry cleaning are harsh on the filling in your sleeping bag. It may strip down, especially, of its loft.
Second, most manufacturers cover sleeping bags in a waterproof coating. Dry cleaning chemicals wash off this substance and leave your sleeping bag unprotected.
Please don't dry clean your sleeping bag; it damages its integrity.
6. Can sleeping bags lose their warmth?
Yes, sleeping bags can lose their warmth. When this happens, you will discover that your bag doesn't keep you as warm as it used to.
This may happen gradually or as and when due. Also, it can happen prematurely because of some mistakes on your part.
You can still salvage the sleeping bag when the latter is the case.
What usually happens is that the filling is compressed or/and displaced. This problem often stems from the improper handling of your sleeping bag when it is damp or wet.
You are supposed to air-dry your synthetic sleeping bag. Too much heat can melt the synthetics and render the sleeping bag ineffective.
A down sleeping bag must have a fluffy filling at all times; otherwise, its insulation performance will drop.
To achieve this, add two or three tennis balls to the dryer while drying your sleeping bag.
7. What is the best way of storing my sleeping bag?
The best way of storing your sleeping bag is by always keeping it loose, not tightly packed. You can hang it out in the home, but not suffocatingly balled up.
Remember, storing away your sleeping bags tightly bundled up damages the filling.
The lost may become compressed and stick together. Once this happens, the filling will scatter within the bag, and heat can now find multiple routes to escape.
8. Are all sleeping bags waterproof?
No. However, recent years have seen a sharp rise in waterproof sleeping bags.
9. Are sleeping bags safe for toddlers?
Based on data available now, the answer is yes. This question primarily likely comes from the possibility of accidental suffocation in toddlers.
Please don't mistake a sleeping bag for a plastic bag. They are pretty different. The chances of a sleeping bag sticking in a toddler's nostrils when inhaling and suffocating them are remote.
However, it should be a children's sleeping bag that fits. Using an adult sleeping bag for a toddler is not likely to produce the desired results.
10. Are sleeping bags fire retardant?
The simple answer is yes; all sleeping bags are fire retardant. Industrial Fabrics Association International's CPAI-75 makes it mandatory.
This regulation has been around for more than three decades. It involves obtaining a sample of fabrics used in production.
The regulators expose the sample fabric to some wear and tear before holding it to a flame.
How the sample burns will now form the basis for the product's flammability rating.
11. Can a sleeping bag be too expensive?
Yes, a sleeping bag can be too expensive if its quality does not justify its high price. Sleeping bags like this are simply rip-offs.
However, this is not to say there are no costly sleeping bags worth every cent.
High prices are not necessarily expensive. Some products are worth even more than they charge, yet what they charge is high.
One such product is a sleeping bag. Campers, hikers, and fans of the wildness understand the importance of a sleeping bag more than the rest of us.
They also know the rule is 'different budget, different sleeping bag.' In essence, 'how much a sleeping bag costs' is not as necessary as 'how does this sleeping bag perform.'
This article guide enumerates the different types of sleeping bags on the market, their features quality, and their prices. It also lays bare the parameters to consider while shopping for a sleeping bag.
In addition, accessories that can help you maximize the utilization of your bags are also discussed.