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Get Your Zzz’s , Sleeping Comfortably Outdoors By Selecting The Right Sleeping Bag

By Editor | August 7, 2008

How to select the right sleeping bag, so you get a good nights sleep 

You’re doing everything you should to stay toasty all night…warm hat, calisthenics before bed, a hot-water bottle at your feet-but you’re still suffering predawn shivers. You might just be a cold sleeper or you might need a new bag. Here’s how to find one that’s right for you.

Get the right size – An oversized sack feels great in the store, but heating all that extra space can sap your body’s warmth. Mummy bags are the most efficient cut, and a snug fit that keeps you from bringing your knees to your chest inside the bag is best. Most manufacturers now offer women’s bags with a different shape and extra insulation in the feet and chest.

Compare thickness – All else being equal, the single best way to predict a bag’s performance is to measure its loft, or its top-to-bottom thickness when laid flat. More is better, because you’re essentially gauging the amount of warm air that can be trapped around you.

Subtract a few degrees – Over time, all bags lose some loft-and thus their ability to retain body heat. And some nights your tired body will struggle to stay warm. To compensate-and protect against cold snaps-buy a bag rated 10 to 20°F colder than the lowest temperature you expect to encounter. Consider adding a thin closed-cell foam pad to supplement your main mattress on shoulder-season hikes.

Inspect the Insulation – You can often predict cold spots by unzipping a bag and holding it up to the light. If you see bright spots where the fill has shifted. beware.

Pay a premium – High-quality down offers the best combination of warmth, weight savings, and durability among the primary insulations on the market. It’s ranked on a numerical scale called “fill power rating.” The numbers, which range from 600 to 900, refer to the number of cubic inches an ounce of down will fill.

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Topics: Articles, Camping, Hiking and Backpacking | 229 Comments »

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