Tent Camping for Beginners - Sleeping Bags
When you go tent camping, one of the essential elements to having a great time is to make sure that you get a good night's rest. And that means having a good sleeping bag. You want to be comfortable, not too cold, not too warm but just right.
You will need an adequate sleeping bag. Army blankets or old quilts just won't cut it. Maybe the cowboys slept on the ground, wrapped in a flea-ridden horse blanket, but that was in a movie. Today, there are wonderful sleeping bags on the market to suit the weather as well as your own personal preferences.
Sleeping bags - a guide for the new camper.
Beginning campers don’t usually winter camp or pitch tents at high altitudes. But even a summer night can be chilly when you’re out in the woods. One August night in upstate New York, we slept comfortably when the temperature dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Several styles, shapes and fabrics are out there to confuse the new camper. Keep your own personal preferences of comfort in mind when shopping for your sleeping bag. (Are you typically a cold person? Do you need a lot of room when you are asleep?)
Here are some points to keep in mind when you shop for your sleeping bag.
- Forget Sponge Bob and Tinkerbell sleeping bags. They are generally made for indoor sleepovers.
- Temperature ratings can be unreliable. Since you’re probably not going to be snoozing on top of Denali, you’ll do best to buy a 3 season sleeping bag with a temperature rating of 10-20 degrees F just in case. Better a little warm (you can ventilate the tent) than spending a night shivering yourself into hypothermia.
- Shape –A mummy bag is shaped like a mummy with a cozy hood, great for warmth. However, if you’re like me and don’t like to be so confined, a mummy bag can feel claustrophobic. Rectangle – a big, well, rectangle is good for restless sleepers with plenty of leg room. Semi-rectangle – Rectangular at the top tapering to a narrow bottom, still a bit restrictive, but it’s all a matter of what you think is comfortable.
- Fill – Sleeping bags are filled with either down (feathers) or synthetic materials. Down compacts well, is warm but will not keep you warm if it gets wet. Synthetic is warm enough for 3 season campers and will stay fluffy and cozy even if it gets a bit damp.
- Fabric – Cotton keeps you cool. A sleeping bag warms best and keeps you dry if it’s synthetic.
- Collar or hood – you loose most of your body heat through your head. A hood will keep you snug on a chilly night. A collar closes off chills.
- Zipper cover – Imagine how warm and cozy you’ll be in your sleeping bag. Imagine leaning against a cold zipper. You’ll want that zipper covered.
- Double bag – If you want to zip two bags together to snuggle with your honey, ask the salesperson to check if the two bags are compatible.
More Info on Sleeping Bags
- Some folks swear that you have to sleep nude or wear only shorts and a T-shirt in order to keep warm. These folks claim that you’ll freeze if you wear clothing. Others say this is bunk. On a cold night, wear long johns or light knit clothing. Sleeping nude just dirties your bag with sweat and body oil.
- Camp pads under your sleeping bag protect you from those little bumps you’ll notice even on the smoothest ground. A pad provides insulation as well.
- Air mattresses are not in vogue with backpackers (too bulky) or hardy, seasoned campers. The air inside gets cold and sucks the warmth right out of you. When I reached a certain age, I really needed that air mattress for good nights’ sleep. If you use an air mattress on a chilly night, lay an insulated pad or camp pad on top of the mattress for insulation.
- Cleaning Do not dry clean your bag but launder in a large, front loading machine. Use mild detergent, less that you might use for a full load of clothes. Rinse twice. Dry in a large, commercial machine set on medium or low.
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