Buying a Sleeping Bag Part I: Anatomy of the Bag

After wandering in wilderness for the whole day, a good quality sleeping bag is necessary for a good night’s sleep. To select the most suitable sleeping bag, knowledge of bag anatomy will come in handy.

A sleeping bag features a hood, draft collar, foot box, zipper with a tube / flap, shell, liner, pillow pocket and baffles. The chest, face and head are more temperature sensitive than rest of the body. Thus, a good functional hood that does not interfere with breathing system after pulling its drawstring is essential. The hood may have some extra filling material compared to the remaining bag and a proper hood, in fact, improves the bag efficiency. A draft collar, an insulated tube at the base of the hood, prevents heat loss from shoulders and neck. A lightweight fluffy collar is recommended.

A number of sleeping bags come with a barrel, boxed or flared foot box allowing to lay feet in natural position. Sleeping bags designed for mountaineering expeditions may have spacious foot boxes to hold water bottles and boots also.

Do not forget to check stitching and zipper while buying a sleeping bag. In some cases, zipping system allows to zip two sleeping bags into one. A tube or flap covering the zipper should be broad enough to prevent it from being caught in the running zipper. As sewing the flap with the bag will create holes letting air to go in, it should be attached to the lining only. Tuck stitching with stitches placed on the inner side of the folded fabric minimizes heat loss. Request for waterproof zippers.

Baffles, lateral sealed off compartments, prevent displacement of filling material and distribute insulation evenly throughout the bag. Outer fabric of the sleeping bag is called shell while inside material that touches user’s body directly is called liner. Some bags may have pillow pockets that can be filled with a small pillow or clothes to make a pillow.

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