Whether you are going out for days in the back country or spending a weekend car camping, the shape and size of your sleeping bag is a big consideration for getting that comfortable, restful night’s sleep. And we are going to take a look at different shapes, different sizes of sleeping bags to help you determine what type is best for you needs.
The first type of bag we want to look at is the rectangular style bag. Most of us are familiar with us. It is the roll up, tie down type of bag. And this is great for family camping, car camping, someone who wants a lot of room to spread out and be just really comfortable in a sleeping bag. These are great, because you can essentially spread them open and use it as a blanket. A lot of times you can zip them with other sleeping bags to make pig blankets and, you know, these are just a really great multi use sleeping bag. The downside to these is they tend to be heavier because there is lots of material. You know, there is lots of room and they tend to be not as compressible and not as packable, but, you know, definitely a great option, low cost option for that family camper, you know, car camping type of excursion.
The second style we want to talk about is this mummy shaped sleeping bag. A lot of back packers and light weight enthusiasts are going to be familiar with this type of bag. It has got a hood. It tapers in at the top. It is broad around the shoulders and that really tapers in to the feet. The idea behind a mummy bag is that it is taking out all of the extra fabric, all of the extra fill that would be in a rectangular bag and really hugging your body so that it is more thermo efficient. The less dead air and the less space your body has to heat in the bag, the warmer you are going to be and the warmer is going to get once you get in the bag.
A lot of mummy style bags will have a three quarter length zipper or a half zipper to be a little more thermo efficient. This one tends to have a zipper that goes almost to the bottom so there is variety in that, like I said, half zip, full zip, three quarter zip.
You can see that this bag is a lot smaller. It is a lot lighter weight than your traditional rectangular bag. It is going to pack down to be smaller in most cases and just a great option for someone who wants to go light weight, but also wants a very warm bag.
The fit of a mummy bag should be pretty snug. Now you don’t want to be too snug in the bag that your feet are hitting the bottom and your head is really, you know, in the top of the hood. You don’t want to compress any of that insulation. So if the bag is too snug, then it is compressing the insulation. It is not going to be as warm. So you do want to have a little bit of room to move, but as well if the bag is too long for you or if it is much too wide, your body isn’t going to be able to heat a bigger bag as efficiently as it will heat something a little bit smaller. So one thing to consider when choosing the size of the bag.
Somewhere in between the rectangular style and the mummy style is what I call a semi rectangular bag. The one I have here, you can see it does taper in a little bit at the feet for more thermo efficiency and it does not have a hood. So the top of the bag is completely flat. You know, there is a little bit of adjustability where you can kind of form a hood if you need to and cinch that bag down, but all in all the top is flat. If you go down to the foot, the foot box does taper in, but the zipper runs all the way down the bag and all the way to the far corner of the sleeping bag. So you can use this style as more of a blanket style if you are traveling, you know, staying in hostels, that sort of thing. You can use it as a travel bag. As well, it is made with more of your light weight materials so, you know, you can take it back packing as well.
Moving over to this bag you can see it is more semi rectangular shaped. This one does utilize a hood. So you do have a little extra material in the top just for some more warmth, but just to compare the two, non hooded versus hooded. You can see this mummy style bag over here is definitely thinner, trimmer and tapers down smaller at the feet. So semi rectangular versus the mummy style.
The next style we are going to show you is a sleeping bag, sleeping pad combination. With a traditional sleeping bag, you are sleeping right on top of your sleeping pad and your weight actually compresses the insulation in the bottom of your bag and so with a sleeping bag, pad combination you are able to either slide a sleeping pad right into a sleeve or connect it some other way. Once compressed the fill of a sleeping bag loses most of its insulating properties. So the idea behind this type of combination is that the pad gets connected to the bag. This provides a very secure foundation so you can roll or twist during the night without ever rolling off of your pad.
In this case, all of the insulation in the bottom of the sleeping bag is removed. So you don’t have insulation in the bottom, but since you have that sleeping pad, that is not going to move during the night, you do have a secure, warm sleeping system.
In front of me I have a woman’s specific bag. And there is a little bit more to a woman’s bag than just having a shorter, narrower size. With some brands they do tent to put more insulation in key areas that women tend to lose heat faster than men. There is typically a little bit more insulation in the feet and sometimes there is more insulation across the mid region, across the chest. I would say there is not a huge difference between men’s and women’s specific bags and so if you are a taller woman that you need the extra space, the extra length for a men’s bag, that is definitely a great option.
The second thing I want to mention is zipping two mummy bags together. Now, you do have to have the same type of zipper and opposite side zippers. So you can see that the bag in front of me is a right hand zipper as it zippers on the right side and this one is a left side zipper and so ideally you would be able to zip the top portion of these together and the bottom portion and sort of form one big sleeping bag. There are brands that have sleeping bags that are double wide, so you do have, you know, room for two people inside and then it either has, you know, one zipper or zippers on both sides. So it is definitely an option. And there are extra wide sleeping bags for one person if you may have, you know, a wider girth measurement, you need an extra big bag or just someone who wants to sprawl out and have a little bit more room. So those are all considerations when considering size for your sleeping bag.
Given all the different shapes we talked about rectangular, mummy, semi rectangular and the different configurations, hooded, non hooded, sleeping pad sleeve or sleeping pad straps, zipping two bags together. There is lots of configurations, lots of shapes and sizes. So hopefully you can narrow down what is best for your particular use.
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