A sleeping bag is hands down one of your most important pieces of hiking gear when you are on an overnight trekking adventure. Finding a synthetic or down sleeping bag that keeps you toasty without overheating, has enough room for you to spread out and get a good night’s sleep, and that can be used in multiple different climates can seem difficult. Luckily, there are so many great options out there, and we stock a large range of sleeping bags from top quality Australian and international outdoor brands like Western Mountaineering, Mont, Sea to Summit, Marmot, Rumpl and XTM, so there’s plenty of choice, regardless of what adventures you have planned!
How does the temperature rating system work?
Sleeping bags will usually come with three different temperature ratings: comfort, lower limit, and extreme. Generally, you want to look at the comfort rating to determine the temperature you’ll be able to take the sleeping bag to - you want to have a comfortable night’s sleep, after all! So if your sleeping bag has a comfort rating of 0℃, a lower limit of -7℃ and an extreme rating of -15℃, you can comfortably take it to 0℃. If you’re trying to use it in freezing -15℃ conditions, you will survive, but you’ll be extremely cold, and without adequate layers and a sleeping bag liner, you could be putting yourself in danger. This is definitely a situation you want to avoid!
Why would I choose a synthetic sleeping bag over a down sleeping bag?
Camping sleeping bags and hiking sleeping bags come with two different types of materials; duck or goose down feathers, or synthetic materials. Each has their own benefits. Down is the typical fill for hiking sleeping bags because it compacts really well. If you’re looking for a compact sleeping bag, then a down sleeping bag is the way to go as if you compress a synthetic sleeping bag too much, especially for long periods of time, it will lose a lot of warmth, whereas down can more easily loft back up after being in a compression bag. The other obvious benefit to down is how lightweight it is for the amount of warmth you get. If you’re looking for a lightweight sleeping bag, then you can’t go past a down sleeping bag. They will usually be higher priced in comparison due to the down, so if you are looking at a more budget conscious option, and you aren’t as worried about weight or compactibility, then synthetic might work better for you.
Keep in mind that wet down can clump together resulting in a loss of warmth, whereas synthetic bags are less likely to do this. If you are going to wet environments or expecting rain, it is recommended that you keep your down sleeping bag in a waterproof cover. Synthetic sleeping bags can be ideal for beginner hikers who are less concerned with weight and adventurers who mainly car camp.
What makes a women’s down sleeping bag different to a regular unisex sleeping bag?
There are a few key features that make women’s sleeping bags stand apart from a generic, unisex model. Fun fact: women tend to sleep around 3-5℃ colder than men! Brands understand the difference that this makes, so women’s sleeping bags often have more down, and the ability to withstand lower temperatures to reflect this. Women’s sleeping bags are sometimes shaped slightly differently too, with a wider middle and smaller top to accommodate for women’s body shapes. Not everyone’s body shape is standard, so just go for the bag that is shaped right for you. The most important difference is temperature though - if you’re a cold sleeper, and the bag has the right fit, a women’s sleeping bag might be the right choice for you, no matter what your gender is.
What is the point of having a sleeping bag liner?
Owning a sleeping bag liner is useful for so many different reasons. First and foremost, it adds another level of warmth to your sleeping bag. Some sleeping bag liners, such as the Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus liner can increase the temperature rating of your bag by 11℃, which can make an enormous difference to your warmth. Increasing the warmth of your sleeping bag by using a sleeping bag liner can also make your sleeping bag a lot more versatile. It can provide a solution to the age old problem of needing different sleeping bags for different seasons and different trips. If most of your adventures are within Australia, you can usually purchase a summer, or three-season down sleeping bag with a comfort temperature rating of around 0℃, and in winter, increase the warmth by up to 11℃ by adding a liner to it. The other reason that sleeping bag liners are so handy is that it makes your sleeping bag so much easier to wash. Washing your down sleeping bag can be complicated and time-consuming, but if you’ve been protecting your bag by using a sleeping bag liner, then all you need to do is chuck your liner in the wash after your trip with everything else. For tips on caring for your sleeping bag check out our blog article on ‘How to Care For Your Sleeping System’.
What kinds of sleeping bags does Paddy Pallin stock?
We have quite a large and varied range of sleeping bags for different purposes here at Paddy Pallin. We have very lightweight sleeping bags like the Sea To Summit Flame and Spark series, which are perfect for ultralight hikers. Western Mountaineering and Mont produce some of the warmest camping sleeping bags that we stock, however, keep in mind that they will be a little heavier as they have extra materials and filling in order to keep you warm at those temperatures. All of the down sleeping bag brands that we stock at Paddy Pallin use high quality, ethically sourced down, and have fantastic warranties. We also stock a wide range of synthetic sleeping bags which are perfect for car camping adventures, overnight hikes and wet conditions, as synthetic filling does not clump like down.
How should I store my sleeping bag?
One of the best things about sleeping bags is how tightly they can pack down in a compression sack to fit in a tiny space in your bag. However, it’s really important that they don’t stay this compressed for long periods of time, as this can damage the down and make it more difficult for it to loft properly and keep you warm. When you’ve returned from your adventure, make sure to store your sleeping bag in a dry, cool place where it has plenty of room to air out. Most sleeping bags will come with a lofting bag, but if yours hasn’t, you can use a pillowcase, mesh bag or hang it from a coat hanger in your wardrobe.
Is it possible to buy a down sleeping bag that will work for all of my trips?
Short answer: no guarantees. Long answer: there are things you can do to make sure the sleeping bag you buy will work for 99% of the trips you want to go on! Using a sleeping bag liner is a really good tip. However, there are other options too. Instead of buying a summer sleeping bag and filling it with a liner to ensure maximum warmth, you can buy a down sleeping bag for the coldest conditions you expect and then use it’s features to cool yourself down. Most sleeping bags will zip the entire way open, so you can use it as a blanket, rather than as a cocoon of heat. That way you can stick your arms and legs out the side if you get hot, or lay on top of it instead of underneath it. There are plenty of creative solutions that you can use to avoid having to purchase more sleeping bags.