While you might be able to just send the kids to sleep in a pop-up tent in the backyard or on the back deck during the warmer months, if it’s cold in your area, this won’t work out well in the fall! You’ll need to buy sleeping bags that are appropriate for the weather. This can be an investment that will last your families for years to come. Here are some tips on buying a sleeping bag:
- Consider the shape. If you’ll be camping in very cold weather, you might want to buy mummy-style sleeping bags which, as the name implies, are shaped like a mummy: The bag is tapered from the torso down to the feet, and wider at the shoulders. If you prefer more room overall, a rectangular bag may be more your style. This type can allow heat loss due to the wide opening at the top, though. A third option, a semi-rectangular sleeping bag, is a hybrid of the two.
- Think about temperature rating. Subtract 10 degrees from the coldest temperatures you’re likely to encounter on your camping trip: This is your target temperature rating. Beware that if you live in a warm climate, you don’t choose a bag with too low a temperature rating; if you’re camping in Florida, for example, the temperature may be too warm for sleeping in a bag rated for cold weather!
- Compare the different materials. You may opt for a down sleeping bag or a synthetic one. Linings come in different fabrics, including silk, cotton, fleece, polyester and taffeta. Remember that you’ll be able to slide around in some fabrics, such as silk or taffeta, but not in others, such as cotton or fleece. Also look at the material used for the shell: They come in cotton, microfibers, nylon, polyester, taffeta and more. Again, think about what you’re using the sleeping bag for, if you require it to be waterproof, and how warm the weather will be.
- Other things to look at: Some sleeping bags have ventilation zippers, which are nice in warm climates to avoid overheating. You may want one that comes with its own storage bag. A hood or draft collar can help keep you warm if it’s cold and windy outside. Pockets sewn into the sleeping bag can keep your keys, cellphone and other personal items safe and handy.
Choosing a sleeping bag may take some time. Go to a sporting goods store and talk to the employees about what’s available. Don’t be afraid to take your time; sleeping bags aren’t inexpensive, and you’ll want it to last through several camping seasons.
Do you have a sleeping bag that you love? Tell us about it!