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Types of Sleeping Bags
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Sleeping Bag Buyers Guide
|Down Sleeping Bags|
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In the world of sleeping bags, there are three primary types of bags a person need concern themselves with. These bags are:
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Remember, it is always better to have a sleeping bag that is a "bit too warm" than a "bit too cold."
The insulation type you get in a winter bag should be goose down, which allows for maximum warmth and the best packability among winter bags. Read the Sleeping Bag Insulation article for more information.
Virtually all winter sleeping bags will have these features, but never hurts to make sure. Any winter bag you get should have a good, insulated hood as well as a draft collar. The hood will keep your head warm while the draft collar will prevent cold air from slowly seeping down into the bag from the opening around the head.
Be prepared to spend big $$$ for a good winter bag, especially if it is made from goose down. However, considering your life could potentially depend on having a warm enough bag for your environment, it is money definitely well spent if you camp out in the winter.
The Three Season Sleeping Bag is the "workhorse" bag. It is by far the most popular bag around and also the most versatile. Due to their popularity, three season bags span the gauntlet in terms of quality - from bags that are truly miserable to bags that are outstanding. And happily, the "outstanding" bags frequently don't cost that much more than a cheap big-box store brand. In general, a quality synthetic fill 3-season bag will run between $125-$200 and a goose down bag will be between $200-$300 (learn more about Sleeping Bag Insulation).
|Synthetic Sleeping Bag|
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That said, if you know you will never worry about getting your bag wet AND you need maximum packability and lightweight, then a good goose down bag is for you. Just ALWAYS take precautions to keep that bag dry.
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Lightweight sleeping bags only have a temperature rating of 32 to 40 degrees above zero, and this is probably a bit charitable. However, for those who only camp in warmer climates or for bikers (who can always hit a hotel/motel if the weather turns unexpectadly cold), a lightweight bag is a very good choice. Moreover, a lightweight bag can have its temperature rating extended a bit by using a sleeping bag liner (although liners have their own issues!).