Bug Out Bag: Sleeping Bags: "OK I will be honest right up front. Sleeping bags are not one of my areas of expertise. I have always been the guy that goes to the camping store and grabs a salesperson and has them tell me what I should have according to how I am going to use it and where. That being said I decided that it was finally time for me to learn more about sleeping bags since they are such a vital piece of equipment in our bug out bag. So here it goes.
First of all not all bags are the same. They will range in price from about $15 dollars on up to over $300 dollars. They will be made out of many different types of material. Some types of material that you really shouldn't use are cotton or a cotton blend on the outside or the inside of your bag. Cotton gets wet very easily and stays wet. The better sleeping bags have a nylon or synthetic covering and the inside is usually a type of synthetic also. Depending on how you will use the bag will determine what the outer is made of.
The other part of a bag and probably the most important is the fill or what makes up the insulation in the bag. There are several different types of fill, the first is a synthetic such a qualofil or holofil or another type of synthetic. Then there is down, down also comes in my different types,pure down, mixed down, and different types of feathers. Synthetics work well in wetter conditions because if they do get wet they will dry faster than the down bags will.
Next is the design of the bag it's self. There are basically three different designs when it comes to sleeping bags. First you have the standard box style bags, then you have the mummy bag style, and finally you have a bag that is sort of a hybrid between both bag styles. Depending on how you will use the bag will determine the style of bag that will work best for you.
Finally there is the temperature rate of the bag. This usually has to do with how much fill and the type of fill the bag has in it. Bags will range from about 1.5 lbs and the heaviest one I could find was around 6 lbs of fill. The temperature rating will tell you how cold or warm it can get before the effectiveness of the bag is exceeded. For instance in my area in the U.S. it is best to have a bag that is at least rated to +20 degrees but it is safer having one that is rated to 0 degrees. Also remember that part of the fit of a good bag is that it is long enough or wide enough to fit well and keep you warm and dry.
I heard a good quote about sleeping bags: "Remember that your sleeping bag in an extension of your clothing, it needs to suit your needs and should fit comfortably". Sadly for most of us the $15 dollar bag is just not an option. So when you go to get a new one make sure that you talk to a qualified salesperson that will take the time to show you your options. Remember this is vital equipment and not a place to take shortcuts or go cheap.
Below is a video that explains some of the basics of sleeping bags.