Additional Reading: Sleeping Bags & Pads
Most people who sleep
outdoors will invest in some sort of sleeping bag.
A good sleeping bag, if properly cared for, will last for years.
Sleeping bags come in four basic shapes:
– roomy, square-cut bags more suitable for car camping, not as warm because of
– follow the shape of the body, reduces bulk, increases warmth, preferred by
– variation on mummy bag, with rounded portion in middle to permit movement
Semi-mummy bag –
a cross between mummy and rectangular bag.
All bags should have an oval enlargement or “box” at the foot to permit room for sleeper’s feet.
A sleeping bag consists
of an inner and an outer
shell with a thick layer of insulating material in between.
Neither shell should be
waterproof or highly water repellent since the bag should “breathe” to allow
moisture to pass through.
The most common material
is nylon, preferably rip-stop nylon.
The shell should have a differential
cut, which means the inner shell is cut smaller than the outer shell in
order to keep the insulation from being compressed.
In sleeping bags,
insulation is usually a loose, fluffy material that creates dead air pockets to
trap warm air generated by the body. Two types of material that are primarily
used are down of waterfowl and polyester
fiberfill. The thickness, or loft determines how well it will insulate.
Quartermaster Corps has developed a guide for rating the insulation value of
Degrees Total Loft in Inches
Popular choice of the
cold weather backpacker.
It is extremely light,
can be compressed into a small bundle for carrying.
A major drawback is its
tendency to clump together and lose nearly all its insulating value when wet.
A little heavier and not
quite so compressible.
Much less expensive.
A great advantage is its
resistance to wetness and ability to maintain loft and insulate when wet.
Another advantage is that
it dries out quickly.
It is nonallergenic and
easy to wash.
Some trademarks on the
market are Hollowfil, Quallofil and PolarGuard.
Some bags have an opening
at the top and a zippered opening most of the way down the side.
Other bags have a zipper
that runs all the way down the side and across the bottom.
This type can be completely opened for ventilation.
Metal zippers are seldom
found since they transmit cold and are more likely to jam; most are made of
nylon or plastic.
Double zippers with
slides at both the top and bottom are superior.
A zipper opening should
be faced with a good zipper draft tube with
insulating material, extending all the way beyond the bottom.
HEAD AND NECK PROTECTION
Rectangular bags usually
have a drawstring at the neck. This
would make it necessary to have additional head protection.
Mummy bags have an
extension at the top that can be pulled tight around the head and face leaving
only the eyes and nose exposed.
USE AND CARE OF SLEEPING BAGS
Sleeping bags usually
come with their own stuff sack into
which you literally stuff it.
When arriving at your
campsite, you should remove your bag from its stuff sack and with zipper closed,
shake it to fill the down insulation with air. This should be done at least one
hour before retiring.
Air out your bag every
day if possible, turning it inside out and placing it in the sun to prevent
mildew and odors.
Make every effort to keep
a down bag clean as it is difficult to clean.
SELECTING A SLEEPING BAG
A sleeping bag is a highly personal item and there is no one bag that will suit everyone’s tastes and needs. Read all the labels on the bag, for the government requires that the manufacturer disclose such information as:
· Amount and type of filling used
· Type of outer covering
· The cut and size of the bag
There is now a greater selection of bags made from synthetic
materials and these are generally inexpensive and serve quite well for summer
camping even for children.
TYPES OF MATTRESSES
Three types of outdoor mattresses are in current use:
· air mattresses
· open cell foam pads
· closed cell foam pads
GROUND SHEET OR TARP
The ground is always cold and damp, so a good waterproof ground cover under your tent or sleeping bag is necessary for protection.
Copyright 2001 Northern Arizona University, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED