There is nothing worse than waking up in your tent the middle of the night
shivering. Once you get to that point, you will never be warm. And frankly, you may
never wish to camp again! Purchasing both the right tent and sleeping bag for
your camping trip is must. Your tent will keep you dry, but it is your sleeping
bag that will keep you warm.
Sleeping Bag Basics
The last thing you want to do is go to your local mart and
purchase an inexpensive but cool looking sleeping bag. This may suit you in the
summer, but as soon as you experience a cool night you will be sorry. Always
plan on how cold it will get when you camp, and then purchase a sleeping bag
rated for 10 degrees less than that. Some are filled with down, which is more
expensive but also warmer. However, if a down sleeping bag gets wet, you will
never get it dry during your trip. A synthetic filled bag is a wiser choice for
all weather camping.
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When purchasing your bag, look at the stitches – the larger
the spaces between stitching, the cheaper the bag. Also, be sure your zipper
looks like it can withstand rough conditions. If your zipper breaks, your bag
is practically useless in colder weather. If you are looking at two bags that
seem to have the same features, the one with the higher loft will be thicker and
Sleeping bags that are labeled mateable or malleable are
excellent for easy backpacking and storage. This means they can be scrunched
down into a stuff sack – perfect for scout camping! When you are back home from
your trip, store your sleeping bag out rather than scrunched, to prolong the
life of your bag and filling.
There are three basic types of sleeping bags:
Rectangle – the sleeping bag we were probably all
raised with. This is a basic rectangle and rolls up to about the size of a
small car. Only use these in the summer, and only if you can drive directly to
your camping site. The upside of these bags is they provide lots of room for
your feet, and can be zipped together for Mom and Pop sleeping. They are often
thick too, which will help to cushion you from the hard ground.
Barrel – The barrel sleeping bag is slightly oval
shaped, which provides more body warmth. It is roomier than a mummy bag, but
does not usually come with a hood like the mummy.
Mummy – The mummy sleeping bag is what you need when
camping in cold weather. It tapers as it goes down toward your feet, providing
a close fit and therefore trapping body heat. It has a hood that wraps around
your head and neck, keeping your body heat inside the bag. The mummy has draft
tubes, which are filled fabric strips sewn along the zipper, keeping your bag
draft free. The downside is only for those who have claustrophobia and may feel
trapped inside this tighter fitting bag.
Our boy scout uses a malleable mummy sleeping bag, rated at 0
degrees. He is toasty warm at the freeze-o-ree, and can open the bag in the
summer to cool off. This large bag easily scrunches in to a small stuff sack
which is carried on his backpack. The $140 was well worth the quality, warmth