It is said Albert Einstein had done it 14 hours a day. Napoleon supposedly only four.
And you? Everyone has a very personal need for sleep. But no matter if you are a short-sleeper or a long-sleeper, you can not live without sleep. Sleep is vital. Especially after physical exertion, the body needs sleep to recharge – and that’s exactly why you need a suitable sleeping bag.
Here are the key criteria to look for when choosing the right sleeping bag for your adventure.
In order to be able to compare various sleeping bag models, the European sleeping bag standard EN 13537 was introduced in 2005. Information on the temperature range, packing, and internal dimensions are subject to the uniform standards. This means that all manufacturers have to test their sleeping bags under the same conditions – a good thing since you can rely on unique and comparable values when buying.
The temperature data refer to the outside temperatures and are determined while the subject wears long, medium duty underwear. Since people are very different, the temperature information is divided into three groups: comfort, extreme and limit.
The temperature data in the respective groups tell you the following:
- Comfort: This value is calculated for an average woman (25 years, 60kg, 160cm) who is just not freezing around this temperature limit.
- Limit: The value for an average man (25 years, 70kg, 173cm) who does not yet freeze around this temperature limit.
- Extreme: This value applies again to the average woman (25 years, 60kg, 160cm) who definitely freezes at this temperature – but does not yet experience frostbite (at least in the first 6 hours in the sleeping bag)
Of course, all of this information should be treated with caution, as it is averaged averages.
Why? Because the data as I said are average values and these were also calculated under optimal conditions. That means rested, in good shape and on a full stomach – all conditions that you probably will not have (always) on the way.
That’s why you should orient yourself to the comfort value. So you are definitely on the safe side.
Sleeping bags come in different shapes. The most common is the so-called mummy sleeping bags. They are adapted to the human stature and cling accordingly closely to the body. Because the fit is so accurate, certain areas, such as the chest, back, and feet, are often filled with more filler. So the sensitive areas are kept warm. The head is also optimally protected from the cold in a mummy sleeping bag: The headboard can be pulled tight with tight-fitting hoods – sometimes so tight that only the nose and mouth are visible! In addition, there is often a built-in heat collar, which also prevents cold air on the neck crawls into the sleeping bag. For this reason, mummy sleeping bags are also a good choice in very cold regions.
In addition to all these advantages, there is also a drawback, the mummy sleeping bags bring with them: Due to the tight fit, the freedom of movement in the sleeping bag is relatively limited.
More space – at least for the upper body – offer egg-shaped sleeping bags. The slightly wider cut provides more freedom of movement, even for fuller people. Except for a slightly larger pack size and weight, the egg-shaped sleeping bag has the same advantages as a mummy sleeping bag.
If you are looking for even more freedom of movement, you should look at rectangular sleeping bags. In principle, this is a large blanket, which is turned in half and can be closed with a zipper. If you leave the zipper open, you can easily cover yourself with the rectangular sleeping bag as well as with a large blanket. Rectangular sleeping bags are very close to the familiar feeling of being in your own bed. However, compared to mummy or egg-shaped sleeping bags, rectangular sleeping bags have a larger pack size, more weight, and poorer insulation because there is much more air inside the sleeping bag that needs to be heated. For that reason, rectangular sleeping bags tend to be more suitable for mild temperatures.
For most sleeping bags you can choose on which side you want to have the zipper. Some models are even compatible with their zipper systems so you can connect two sleeping bags together.
The length of the sleeping bag should be a little over your actual body size because the feet are not attracted while sleeping (as is the case when standing, for example). Rather, they fold down and therefore need more space. Accordingly, you should add to your normal height few inches. To be on the safe side, we recommend trying the sleeping bag before buying.
Sleeping bags are filled with different materials. The best known are sleeping bags with down or synthetic fiber filling. But there are also wool sleeping bags.
What is better, is an individual decision, which is mainly measured by what you intend to do with it. All materials definitely have pros and cons! Unfortunately, the perfect one does not exist.
Here is a short comparison of the different materials of sleeping bags with the same comfort value.
A sleeping bag, especially those with down filling, should not be stored crumpled – so never in the transport bag. The same is true of most synthetic fiber sleeping bags. You should use a larger mesh bag, in which the sleeping bag can be stored fluffy and airy.
Due to their susceptibility to moisture and salt crystals, an inlet (also known as a sleeping bag for sleeping bags) should always be used in the down sleeping bag. It protects the sleeping bag against night sweat (and makes the night in the sleeping bag even warmer).