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A Guide To Picking The Correct Sleeping Bag

White Duvet

As a backpacker with a bad back having a good night’s sleep can be the difference between a day of exploring or a day in bed. Luckily I’m now at a point where I manage to sleep through the night pain-free, but that’s with the help of my trusty tempera mattress…

Sleeping Cabin

Throughout our Inca to Inuit trip we plan on mostly staying in B&B’s and hostels where hopefully there will be bedding and a reasonable bed available. We are aware though that there may be times when less luxurious accommodation is the only option and for that reason we’re keen to have a sleeping bag on hand to curl up in.

For anyone who knows me you’ll know that the last time I was in a sleeping bag was Duke of Edinburgh when I was 14 in the middle of the Cheshire countryside. As such I’m somewhat out the loop on the current sleeping bag offering.

Our Inca to Inuit adventure will take us through 34 countries across 11 months each with their own climates and varying weather systems. After months of trying to decide whether to start in the North or the South, we opted with the route that took us through the most sunshine, chasing the sun North. We will invariably come across cold weather especially throughout Patagonia, North America, Canada and Alaska. As such we’ll need a sleeping bag that can keep us cool the majority of the time but prove its worth in the winter bursts.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on the hunt for the optimum sleeping bag that will not only accommodate for the varying climates but also turn the most uncomfortable of beds into a good night’s sleep. Who knew there were so many options available to the sleeping bag consumer! I thought picking a backpack was complicated enough.

6 quick things to consider:

  1. Think of seasons
  2. Down or synthetic?
  3. Right-hand or left-hand zip
  4. Packed size
  5. Shape
  6. Male or female or double?

We decided to go for Season 3 bags which are for use in the equivalent UK early spring to late autumn but can also handle colder winter nights for when we head South to Patagonia. We also generously realised that if we bought a right hand zipped sleeping bag and a left hand zipped bag we could zip them together to make a double bag! Completely Jake’s idea. I take no credit.

Having researched online we are 99% sure on the below bags, both with opposite zips so we can zip together. We have at trip to Go Outdoors planned this weekend to try them out. We’ll let you know how we get on

Lyndsay’s Bag Of Choice

I’ve opted for the Vango Ultralite 600 (how fancy!) main reason being its light and compact which means less weight for me to carry. It also has a “thermal embrace” system which I’m hoping will translate to keeping me warm (as I’m a cold soul). It’s also an arrow shape which is perfect for the taller lady and avoids me having to sleep with my neck and shoulders out the bag.

Jake’s Bag Of Choice

Jake’s opted for the OEX Roam 300 sleeping bag. It has a 2-way zipper so you can ventilate when you start to overheat – a definite must for Mr Mason who emits more heat in the night than a scrum of rugby players spooning you, not that I’d know. Inside the sleeping bag, there is a small pocket which I’m sure is where Jake’s phone will live and it’s waterproof. We all know how much Jake appreciates waterproof material!

Season Guide

1 Season Sleeping Bags

Lightweight, compact and ideal for use in hot summer months (June-August)

2 Season Sleeping Bags

Ideal for use in late spring to early autumn, your typical family camping sleeping bag.

3 Season Sleeping Bags

For use in early spring to late autumn, and perhaps a mild winter evening. These bags are generally the sort of sleeping bag recommended for school trips and expeditions such as Duke of Edinburgh.

4 Season Sleeping Bags

Thick bags, often down insulated 4 season sleeping bags are made for use in winter when temperatures can drop below zero.

5 Season Sleeping Bags

These sleeping bags, also known as expedition bags are for high mountain use and for extremely cold temperatures.

Source: Go Outdoors

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