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Sleeping Bags - a path through the jargon maze

BobM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I just bought a new sleeping bag for the first time in some years and I had forgotten what a nightmare the whole ghastly experience is. You can't just walk into a shop and buy a sleeping bag without getting bombarded with jargon - ratings, comfort zones, loft, draft tubes, mummies - on and on it goes.

So here are a few notes from my recent shopping that might help others of a like mind.

First, I decided on the filler - down or synthetic, because that had the biggest impact on price. Synthetic is generally cheaper than down, but down is generally lighter for the same temperature rating. Down compresses more than synthetics. Since weight and volume were important for me, I opted for down.

Then think about the temperature rating, but don't stress about the complicated zones and charts on the labels unless you are sleeping in a tent in very cold (sub-freezing) conditions and/or at high altitudes (say over 2500m), in which case you may need the advice of experienced sales staff. Make a commonsense choice about whether you will be sleeping outdoors/indoors in summer, winter or spring/autumn conditions. You can always wear sox, hat, extra clothes if a bag proves a bit cold on occasions.

Then there is loft, which is basically the fluffiness or air-trapping ability of the filler. In any sleeping bag it is air that is the insulator, not the fabric itself. The same applies to clothing, hence the importance of layering and why fleeces are warmer than plain fabrics. Down is a natural product which has an amazing air-trapping ability. You don't see too many ducks or geese dropping out of the sky in the cold! Synthetics are getting better and better. The higher the loft number, the better and lighter the bag will be. Unfortunately, higher loft bags are generally the most expensive.

For my camino starting on May 18, I ended up with a 0C, 800 loft down sleeping bag weighing only 650gm.

Regards
Bob M
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Bob - I wondered what you thought of Topbags - where the underside is not insulated. I decided to use the Quantum ( 0 degrees) for a winter Camino and even decided not to take a thermarest mat - I got a bed every night and the bag was perfect - and it only weighs 454gms. It is just like sleeping in a bed with a sheet underneath you and a blanket on top - totally filled with duck down - cosy.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
johnnalexander said:
Bob - I wondered what you thought of Topbags - where the underside is not insulated. I decided to use the Quantum ( 0 degrees) for a winter Camino and even decided not to take a thermarest mat - I got a bed every night and the bag was perfect - and it only weighs 454gms. It is just like sleeping in a bed with a sheet underneath you and a blanket on top - totally filled with duck down - cosy.

Your Topbags would work very well on a bed, because the mattress gives all the underside insulation required. Plus you save a few precious grams weight.

If sleeping outdoors, I follow the old principle that you should have as good insulation under you as on top, since heat conduction from body to cold ground due to compression of the bag filling under the body is very significant. In such cases I always take a thermarest, for comfort as well as insulation. But my thermarest is too heavy and bulky for me to justify on the camino, despite its amazing comfort for such a thin pad of air cells.

Actually, and apologies for being off topic, I have found while packing for my camino that I have the weight about right (7.5kg, excl camera, water, snacks), but volume in my 35L pack is the limiting factor. I have very little room to carry food on those days when I may have to.

Hope this is useful.

Bob M
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Thanks for confirming my view of the Topbag - I think it is a very good Camino bag as if a bed is not available I am sure in albergues someone who got a bed would lend their sleeping mat.

I use a 75 ltr pack for winter walking - it has never been full in Spain. For the reasons you outline I recently invested in an Osprey 50 for the weight and capacity - I think this will be good for summer walking.
 
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