One of the first gear items that comes to one’s mind when thinking about outdoor activities such as camping and backpacking is a sleeping bag. While all of us are familiar with the standard sleeping bags we used as kids during sleepovers and campouts, a backpacking sleeping bag contains quite a few differences that makes it suitable and more appropriate for extended outdoor use and transport.
If you are planning a backpacking trip and think you can get by using a normal sleeping bag, you’ll find yourself very disappointed. Backpacking sleeping bags are specifically made for backpacking, and include a number of characteristics that makes them a much better choice, saving you from plenty of hardships along the way.
With the right knowledge and a bit of proper planning, you can ensure that you end up with the best backpacking sleeping bag that is best suited to your own backpacking needs.
Ordinary camping sleeping bags are often very comfortable, but also heavy, bulky, and hard to compact. If you’re driving up to a campsite and unloading right then and there, this isn’t really a problem. If you’re on foot with a backpack full of gear however, it’s a huge problem.
Backpacking sleeping bags are made from different materials that allow them to be both light and easy to pack down into a smaller size. While these sleeping bags are thinner and lighter, they are strategically made to offer a high level of insulation, while also often being resistant to moisture both inside and out.
Backpacking sleeping bags are usually quite smaller as well. These sleeping bags tend to have a shape that is more contoured to your body, which not only helps trap heat inside, but saves space and weight as well.
Backpacking sleeping bags can come in different shapes and sizes, and with numerous features, but there are three main types they can be classified in.
Perhaps the most used backpacking sleeping bag, single sleeping bags are designed for one person, and can come in different sizes and fits. While some may have a little extra room inside, most of them have a “mummy” shape that is contoured to your body.
If a more contoured mummy shape is your preferred type, Outdoor Vitals’ OV Light 3-Season backpacking sleeping bag is an excellent choice. This sleeping bag is perfect for a trip in 3-season conditions providing adequate warmth and breathability down to 35 degrees, and weighs only 2 lbs, and 2 ounces.
Double backpacking sleeping bags are designed to hold two occupants, although there are some who might enjoy having the expanded room for themselves if single sleeping bags are too uncomfortable for them. Obviously the load is twice as big, but this can be offset on a backpacking trip by having a fellow hiker carry some of your items in their backpack instead.
Quality double sleeping bags can be a tricky to find. TETON Sport’s Mammoth queen size double sleeping bag is one of the best you’ll find. The Mammoth is constructed with a taffeta shell on the outside, with a plush flannel liner that can hold up under tough conditions.
This sleeping bag also includes a comfortable drawstring hood, and free compression sack for easy transport when on the trail.
Ultralight backpacking sleeping bags are the lightest models of them all, often utilizing minimal material and features to ensure the smallest and lightest size possible. This can come at the expense of overall warmth and comfort, however. Some may prefer to bring an ultralight sleeping bag with them on trips in hot climates, as the thinner material is much cooler.
Backpacking sleeping bags can certainly vary from mode to model, but there are some core aspects they all share that can help you determine your buying decision.
Temperature ratings can help you determine what time of year or what climate your sleeping bag is best for.
Insulation refers to the material used inside the sleeping bag to retain head and provide padding and comfort.
Backpacking sleeping bags can come with any number of features that do everything from increasing comfort, to making the bag compatible with other sleeping bags.