If you love camping, hiking, or backpacking, you know how important it is to have a good sleeping bag that keeps you warm and cozy at night. But did you know that sleeping bags can also have various features and accessories that can enhance their performance and usability?
In this article, we will explain what these features and accessories are, how they work, and how to choose the best ones for your sleeping bag.
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Zippers are one of the most basic but essential features of a sleeping bag. They allow you to open and close your bag easily, adjust the ventilation and temperature inside, and connect two compatible bags if you want to share your sleeping space with someone else.
When choosing a zipper for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Length: Zippers can be full-length, three-quarter-length, or half-length. Full-length zippers offer the most versatility and ventilation options, but they also add more weight and bulk to your bag. Three-quarter-length zippers are a good compromise between full-length and half-length zippers, as they still allow you to open your bag wide enough for easy entry and exit. Half-length zippers are the lightest and most compact option, but they limit your ventilation and movement inside your bag.
- Side: Zippers can be on the left or right side of your bag. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but it also affects how you can zip two bags together. If you want to do that, you need to make sure that one bag has a left zipper and the other has a right zipper. Some bags also have zippers on both sides or the front or back of your bag for extra convenience.
- Type: Zippers can be either coil or toothed. Coil zippers are more flexible and durable than toothed zippers, but they are also more prone to snagging on the fabric of your bag. Toothed zippers are stiffer and stronger than coil zippers, but they are also more likely to break or separate if not handled carefully. Some zippers also have anti-snag features such as guards or tapes that prevent them from catching on the fabric.
- Slider: The slider is the part of the zipper that moves along the teeth or coils to open or close your bag. Some sliders have locking mechanisms that prevent them from sliding open accidentally when you move around in your bag. Some sliders also have glow-in-the-dark or reflective elements that make them easier to find in the dark.
Draft collars are insulated tubes or flaps that wrap around your neck or shoulders to prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from entering your bag. They are especially useful for cold-weather camping, as they can add several degrees of warmth to your bag.
When choosing a draft collar for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Shape: Draft collars can be either round or flat. Round draft collars are more effective at sealing out drafts than flat draft collars, but they are also more bulky and restrictive around your neck. Flat draft collars are more comfortable and less intrusive than round draft collars, but they are also less efficient at trapping heat.
- Adjustability: Draft collars should have some kind of adjustment system that allows you to tighten or loosen them according to your preference and weather conditions. Some draft collars have drawstrings or cords that you can pull or release to adjust their fit. Some draft collars have snaps or Velcro tabs that you can fasten or unfasten to adjust their position.
- Material: Draft collars should be made of soft and breathable material that does not irritate your skin or cause sweating. Some draft collars have fleece or flannel lining that adds extra comfort and warmth to your neck.
Hoods are another feature that can keep you warm and cozy in your sleeping bag. They cover your head and ears and prevent heat loss from these areas. They are especially important for cold weather camping, as up to 40% of your body heat can be lost through your head.
When choosing a hood for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Shape: Hoods can be either contoured or flat. Contoured hoods are more ergonomic and snug than flat hoods, as they conform to the shape of your head and face. Flat hoods are more spacious and versatile than contoured hoods, as they allow you to move your head more freely and use a pillow or a hat underneath.
- Adjustability: Hoods should have some kind of adjustment system that allows you to tighten or loosen them according to your preference and weather conditions. Some hoods have drawstrings or cords that you can pull or release to adjust their fit. Some hoods have snaps or Velcro tabs that you can fasten or unfasten to adjust their position.
- Material: Hoods should be made of soft and breathable material that does not irritate your skin or cause sweating. Some hoods have fleece or flannel lining that adds extra comfort and warmth to your head.
Pockets are handy features that allow you to store some small items inside your sleeping bag, such as your phone, flashlight, earplugs, glasses, etc. They can also keep these items warm and prevent them from getting lost or damaged.
When choosing pockets for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Location: Pockets can be located on the inside or outside of your bag. Inside pockets are more secure and accessible than outside pockets, but they can also create lumps or pressure points inside your bag. Outside pockets are more discreet and comfortable than inside pockets, but they can also be harder to reach or expose your items to the elements.
- Size: Pockets should be large enough to fit your items without being too bulky or heavy. They should also have some kind of closure system, such as zippers, snaps, or Velcro tabs, to prevent your items from falling out or getting stolen.
- Material: Pockets should be made of durable and water-resistant material that protects your items from moisture and abrasion. Some pockets have fleece or flannel lining that adds extra cushioning and warmth to your items.
Loops are small fabric loops that are attached to the inside or outside of your sleeping bag. They can be used for various purposes, such as hanging your bag for drying or storage, attaching a liner or a pad to your bag, securing a pillow or a blanket to your bag, etc.
When choosing loops for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Location: Loops can be located on the inside or outside of your bag. Inside loops are more convenient and versatile than outside loops, as they allow you to attach various accessories to your bag without affecting its appearance or performance. Outside loops are more visible and sturdy than inside loops, but they can also create snags or noise when you move around in your bag.
- Number: Loops can vary in number depending on the size and design of your bag. Generally, the more loops you have, the more options you have for customizing your bag. However, too many loops can also add unnecessary weight and bulk to your bag.
- Material: Loops should be made of strong and durable material that can withstand repeated use and stress. They should also be sewn securely to your bag to prevent them from ripping off.
Liners are thin fabric sheets that can be inserted inside your sleeping bag to add extra warmth, comfort, and hygiene. They can also extend the life of your bag by reducing the need for washing it.
When choosing a liner for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Shape: Liners can match the shape of your sleeping bag (mummy, rectangular, etc.) or have a generic shape (square, envelope, etc.). Matching liners are more fitted and efficient than generic liners, but they are also more restrictive and less adaptable. Generic liners are more spacious and versatile than matching liners, but they are also more loose and wasteful.
- Material: Liners can be made of various materials, such as cotton, silk, fleece, synthetic fibers, etc. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of warmth, weight, packability, durability, and cost. Generally, cotton liners are cheap and comfortable but heavy and bulky; silk liners are light and compact but expensive and delicate; fleece liners are warm and cozy but heavy and bulky; synthetic liners are warm and durable but less breathable and comfortable.
- Weight: Liners can vary in weight depending on their material and thickness. Generally, the heavier the liner is, the warmer it is. However, heavier liners also take up more space in your pack and may make you feel too hot in warmer conditions.
Pillows are soft cushions that support your head and neck while you sleep in your sleeping bag. They can improve your comfort and posture and prevent neck pain or stiffness.
When choosing a pillow for your sleeping bag, you should consider the following factors:
- Shape: Pillows can have various shapes, such as rectangular, square, round, contoured, etc. The shape of your pillow should match your sleeping position and preference. Generally, rectangular or square pillows are more versatile and adaptable than round or contoured pillows, but they are also less ergonomic and supportive.
- Size: Pillows can vary in size depending on their shape and fill. The size of your pillow should fit your head and neck comfortably without being too big or too small. Generally, the bigger the pillow is, the more comfortable it is. However, bigger pillows also take up more space in your pack and may make you feel too elevated or tilted in your sleeping bag.
- Fill: Pillows can be filled with various materials, such as down, synthetic fibers, foam, air, etc. Each fill has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of warmth, weight, packability, durability, and cost. Generally, down pillows are light and compressible but expensive and less resilient; synthetic pillows are warm and durable but heavy and bulky; foam pillows are supportive and comfortable but heavy and bulky; air pillows are light and compact but less comfortable and noisy.
- Cover: Pillows can have various covers, such as cotton, polyester, nylon, etc. The cover of your pillow should be soft and breathable to prevent sweating or irritation. Some covers also have water-resistant or anti-microbial properties to protect your pillow from moisture or bacteria.
As you can see, sleeping bags can have various features and accessories that can make your camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable. By choosing the best sleeping bag for campaign, you can optimize its performance and usability according to your needs and preferences.