Choosing Sleeping Bags

Ask any experienced camper and they will all say that one of the secrets to enjoying camping life is to get a good night’s sleep. Warmth and comfort are key – and these are achieved if you use a good sleeping bag.

Luckily, you do not have to spend a fortune on a sleeping bag. While price tags tend to reflect the quality of materials and build, it is the more luxurious or technical bags that tend to have the wallet-emptying characteristics. A good sleeping bag does not have to break the bank.


Sleeping bag designs tend to be limited to a mummy-shape, like our Nebula range that tapers to the foot to reduce the internal space that needs to be heated by the body to stay warm, and versatile envelope-styles like our Asteroid range that provide space to move at night yet may feel colder due to the amount of body heat needed to create a snug haven. Hybrid shapes and slimmer envelope styles bring the benefits of both shapes together while minimising any negative points.


Do not skimp on your bedding for there is nothing worse than waking up feeling chilly. Good bags will provide ample ventilation to cope with overheating on hot, balmy nights. A sleeping bag liner, like our Travel Sheets, used to help keep the inside of your sleeping bag clean and add extra insulation, can be used on its own if things get too hot. So, just concentrate on keeping warm.


Keeping warm





Most manufacturers will have a season rating to give you an idea as to when they can be used. And all our sleeping bags are also tested to EN13537 – the official European Standard that defines how to test, measure and label a sleeping bag. 


Insulation
Insulation traps a layer of air between you and your surroundings. Duck down is used as the premium fill – those tiny filaments trap a lot of air. Having no quill down has little ‘body’ and is often reinforced by the addition of feathers. It is very susceptible to water and loses its insulation properties if wet. Not only does water rapidly draw heat away from the body but it also stops down’s ability to loft – the drawing in of that insulating layer of trapped air which makes it expand from its compressed state. And some campers have a down allergy. Sleeping bags store down in chambers that allow an even spread and stops it migrating to one area.


At Easy Camp we use hollow fibre synthetic fills for they are far more user-friendly and do not carry the down’s premium price. This captures air in tiny tunnels that run the length of each filament. 


Synthetic sleeping bags do have a size and weight penalty but this is not a problem unless camping in more extreme conditions that demand low size/weight with superior performance. Premium synthetic fills have good insulation values and a longer life than cheap fills that rapidly lose their ability to loft and trap air. Synthetic fills are also easier to maintain than down and do not lose as much insulation properties when wet – making them the better choice for family campers.




Layers of synthetic sheets are used. Single layer bag, as used in our Chakra, Comic, Cosmos and Moon ranges 



  
 


are good for summer conditions, or for travel, or sleep-overs but cold spots can occur where the sheets are compressed by the stitching used to attach the layer to the sleeping bag’s outer/inner face. Our double layered bags, like the Nebula and Asteroid ranges,
 


  


avoid this problem by having two layers of insulation; one sewn to the outer fabric and one to the inner fabric. The layers are offset to cover the cooler compressed stitching areas, making the sleeping bag more suitable for general use throughout the year.


Materials
Ideally, the material used for the inner part of a sleeping bag will need to be soft and warm to the touch, high wicking to remove water vapour and sweat, easy to clean and quick to dry. Brushed cotton is often used for comfort but good synthetic inners are often far easier to maintain and have better wicking characteristics.


Outer fabrics should be hard wearing and easy to clean – again, key characteristics of a man-made fibre. Soft, warm fabrics often offer have a psychological boost at bedtimes when, like with the inner, a cooler fabric may feel a tad unwelcoming.


Features
Unless you really need the low weight/pack size and extra insulation of a mummy bag for more adventurous camps or travel then it may well be best to go for an envelope style that not only gives you a more home-from-home sleeping experience by allowing you to move but can also be opened out as a ‘duvet’ for extra versatility.


However, you will lose heat by the bellows effect in any sleeping bag – air escaping as you push it out of the bag. Look for a bag that gives ample head/shoulder protection through the use of a drawcord. It is great to be able to snuggle down into your bag (pulling it tight around the ears) on a cold morning.


A two-way zip running the length of the bag will provide ample ventilation on hot nights. Further, if you don’t buy a dedicated double bag this should allow you the facility to zip two single bags together - just remember to make sure that your partner has a bag with a zip on the opposite side to yours if you want to enjoy night time snuggles.


We also offer children's sleeping bags, like our Cosmos Junior bags. These are a good idea when camping with younger children for the bag size prevents them from slipping to the bottom of the bag at night and any drawcords are replaced by elastic to prevent accidents. Being smaller, children's bags are easier to wash and dry. See our Cosmos Junior bags


EN13537 TESTS FOR SLEEPING BAGS

Good sleeping bags carry Thelma T-ratings that reflect their EN test results
 
EN13537 specifies the use of a computer-controlled thermal manikin in objectively determining temperature limits of a sleeping bag. The manikin is placed in the sleeping bag in a temperature controlled climate chamber. The sleeping bag is then subjected to tests following a prescribed procedure. The measurements taken are used in conjunction with knowledge of how the human body reacts to thermal conditions during sleep, to create the recommended temperature limits that appear on our sleeping bags.


Tmax: Upper limit of comfort range. The temperature up to which a partially uncovered sleeping bag user (standard man) just does not perspire too much.


Tcomfort: Lower limit of the comfort range down to which a sleeping bag user with a relaxed posture such as lying on the back is globally in equilibrium and just not feeling cold (related to standard woman and in standard condition of use).


Tlimit: Lower limit of which a sleeping bag user with curled-up body posture is globally in thermal equilibrium and just not feeling cold (related to standard man and in standard condition of use).


Textreme: Lower extreme temperature where the risk of health damage from hypothermia occurs (related to standard woman and in standard conditions of use).