WHICH SLEEPING BAG IS THE RIGHT ONE FOR ME?
Our advice for sleeping bags is designed to answer any questions you may have:
- What will you use your sleeping bag for? These four aspects determine your choice of a sleeping bag.
- Synthetic fiber or down sleeping bag? Both these sleeping bag materials have their pros and cons.
- Which sleeping bags are available? At deuter you choose the sleeping bag by material, by purpose or body size.
- What temperatures should your sleeping bag withstand? deuter includes the relevant data in the sleeping bags; however, how warm your sleeping bag should keep you also depends on your own physical constitution.
- Once you have bought your sleeping bag: Tips for a relaxing night’s sleep
THE CRITIONS FOR A GOOD SLEEPING BAG
It's actually quite easy to find the right sleeping bag if you know what you want to use it for. With the help of the following questions you can find out whether you should rather choose a sleeping bag with down or one made of synthetic fibers.
- Climate: Do you often travel in areas with a lot of rain? Or mostly from hut to hut? What is the climate like in your destination?
- Activity: How do you travel? Do you carry the sleeping bag around with you or stay put?
- Space requirements: Wide blanket or cozy mummy shape? The right size is often crucial. The tighter the sleeping bag, the faster it warms up the cold air inside. However, it should also not be too tight.
- Stress: The more frequent the change of location, the higher the mechanical stress when unpacking and stuffing.
SLEEPING BAG FILLED WITH DOWN OR SYNTHETIC FIBRE?
DOWN SLEEPING BAGS
- Unique warmth to weight ratio
- Small pack size
- First class moisture transport
- Professionally maintained very durable
- Warms immediately
- Useless when damp
- Requires intensive care
- Draws moisture
- Dries very slowly
Our tip: No matter which sleeping bag you choose, if you care for it properly, it will accompany you on many mountain and trekking tours. How to wash your sleeping bag properly and what you need to consider when packing and storing your sleeping bag, you can read in our care tipps.
SYNTHETIC FIBRE SLEEPING BAGS
- Still insulate at 70% even when damp
- Hardly absorb any moisture
- Heavier than down
- Less compressible
- Less moisture transport
- Shorter lifespan than down
- Somewhat longer warm-up time
WHICH SLEEPING BAG FOR WHICH PURPOSE
DOWN: LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPACT - SLEEPING BAGS FOR:
- Mountain climbing
- Trekking in areas with low to normal
- Bike tours with light luggage
When you are looking for very good insulation qualities at the lowest possible weight and pack size, a down sleeping bag is the best option, because there is no synthetic fibre that can achieve the same bulking ability as this natural product, which is able to capture warm air perfectly.
When cared for correctly, down is also more durable than synthetic fibre. It also provides a pleasantly dry climate for sleeping. This is based on its capacity to absorb and release moisture. However, its moisture absorption is limited. In the case of extremely high humidity, continuous rain or proximity to bodies of water, down can clump, which reduces its insulating effect. Once the down is wet, it takes a very long time to dry out.
This is a disadvantage on multi-day winter tours. The body’s moisture condenses in the filling, freezes there, and is unable to dry off. Even in a bivouac bag, a part of the sleeping bag will freeze. A waterproof sleeping bag liner helps the down, but reduces the sleep comfort typically enjoyed with down products.
SYNTHETIC FIBRE: RESISTANT ALL-ROUNDER - SLEEPING BAGS FOR:
- All typical sleeping bag uses, especially as a summer sleeping bag
- Canoe tours
- Winter tours
- Wilderness in Scandinavia
- Bike tours with light luggage
- Hut tours
Their disadvantage is also their greatest advantage: They hardly absorb any moisture and dry much faster than down sleeping bags. If they happen to become damp, they still keep you pleasantly warm. The hollow polyester fibres continue to store warm air, since they remain stable and don’t clump like damp down does. Also ideal for use in areas with permanently high humidity. If extremely low temperatures are not expected, or the sleeping bag is heavily used and requires regular washing (children!), synthetic sleeping bags are the right choice. Ultimately, they are less expensive than down models and easier to care for.
WHAT TEMPERATURES WILL YOUR SLEEPING BAG NEED
When stating the temperature range in our sleeping bag advice, we use European standard EN 13537, which creates a comparable standard and provides a basic guide to the heat performance of our sleeping bags.
How we test: A calibrated, thermal, articulated “adult” dummy is put inside the test sleeping bag, which is then placed in a climate chamber with a standardised environment. As the horizontal areas of the doll are subjected to specific heat output, sensors measure the temperature difference between the internal and external surface over several hours. The respective temperature range is calculated from the results.
THE TEMPERATURE RANGES
- T(COM) Comfort: indicates the lower temperature limit at which a standard woman (25 years / 60 kg / 1.60 m) can comfortably sleep through one night. Even an inexperienced user will feel completely comfortable at all times in this range.
- T(LIM) Lower Limit: indicates the lower temperature limit at which a standard man (25 years / 70 kg / 1.73 m) can comfortably sleep through one night. In order to stay warm, in this range the user may have to adapt to the conditions through clothing and behaviour.
- T(EXT) Extreme: indicates the lowest extreme temperature which a standard woman can tolerate for 6 hours in extreme cold. There’s no chance of sleeping here. In the extreme range, you can expect to feel very cold. Hypothermia poses a risk to health.
Other temperature factors that are crucial when choosing the right sleeping bag:
These standardised indications only provide laboratory values. They are designed to ensure good comparability between products from various manufacturers. Everybody is built differently and reacts individually to certain conditions, so this information can only act as a guide to a purchasing decision. Things to consider include:
- People have more heat-determining factors than a “dummy” in a climate chamber. For example - the different perception of temperature by men and women; age, fitness, as well as experience. Other factors influencing heat performance include fatigue levels (exhausted versus well-rested), but also a lack of food or an excess of alcohol (which makes you get cold faster).
- External circumstances that are “normed” in the climate chamber play a key role in real life and contribute to the optimal use of the “heat performance”.
- A good sleeping mat will insulate the sleeper from the ground.
- Functional underwear that is dry and can wick moisture away (including a hat!) plus a sheltered sleeping area are important, as wind and moisture significantly impair restful sleep.
- The standardised measured values are determined in the climate chamber. Please bear in mind that multi-day activities or difficult natural conditions have completely different requirements, so it is necessary to prepare for the relevant conditions.
TIPS FOR RESTFUL SLEEP IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG
However, the right sleeping bag is only half the story - it is also important where, on what and how you sleep!
- Sleeping mat: Cold ground or circulating air will draw heat away from the body even through the best sleeping bag! This heat transfer should definitely be prevented by using a well-insulated mat.
- Wind protection: wind chills you! The wind chill factor means that the body perceives +5°C in a light breeze (25 km/h) as 0°C. A tent, bivouac sack or even a boulder can protect you against a highly chilling air exchange (B). Locate your sleeping area somewhere that is well protected from the wind.
- Functional underwear: The heat of the sleeping bag can be easily maximised by wearing warm, long functional underwear and socks. Dry clothing on the feet also ensures additional insulation.
- Hat: in your sleeping bag, your head or face are the only contact to the chilly outside world. A cold head makes the rest of the body lose heat too. A hat, perhaps even a balaclava, offers very effective protection against the cold.
- Enough food: The body needs lots of energy when climbing, hiking, cycling, etc. Anyone who fails to top up their energy reserves by not eating enough will not be able to produce enough heat and will get cold faster.
- Enough liquid: Drink enough during the day, as the body stops being able to produce enough warmth when it is dehydrated. Before going to bed in your sleeping bag, a cup of tea or hot chocolate is a good way of warming you up.
- Avoid alcohol: Do not drink too much alcohol in cold temperatures. Alcohol initially creates a warming sensation, but when it wears off, you feel the cold even more.
- Keep everything dry: Clothing and sleeping bags, especially down ones, have a lower insulation value when they’re wet than they do when dry. The supposedly warm socks that you were wearing get cold very quickly due to evaporation. Avoid getting into your sleeping bag with your sweaty clothing on. A change of clothes will stay dry in a watertight packsack. And whenever possible, leave your sleeping bag to air – for example, over the tent.