Hiking is a great way to discover what nature has to offer and get some exercise as you explore. From improving your mental wellbeing to helping you get fit and even helping you in your social life, hiking offers all kinds of tangible benefits.
However, to ensure an enjoyable and safe hiking adventure, it’s important to have the right equipment with you. Even the best hiking plans can easily be undone by changeable weather or unforeseen events. It is worthwhile to get prepared with the right hiking gear that can save you a headache out in the wild.
From all the hiking gear, choosing a sleeping bag is probably one of the more complicated purchase decisions you will have to make. There’s a lot to consider (from weight to warmth, comfort, packability, etc) and there’s a lot of options to choose from. When it comes to buying the best hiking sleeping bag for you, it’s smart to get familiar with the standard features that are expected for hiking sleeping bags. There are also some handy additional extras that can turn out to be useful during your trip. Below is a list of the sleeping bag features to consider in order to make the right purchase.
Sleeping bags can be stored either in a stuff sack or a compression bag. You’ll hardly find a sleeping bag that doesn’t come with some sort of storage case and the most common options are stuff sacks and compression bags. Stuff sacks are often found with sleeping bags designed for camping trips or for when a larger pack size wouldn’t bee too much of an issue.
But when it comes to the most compact sleeping bags, chances are that they will be stored inside a compression sack. This sack features 4-way compression with adjustable straps that can be pulled tight to make the size of your sleeping bag as compact as possible. While stuff sacks can also be an easy way to store your sleeping bag, you won’t be able to crush them down with compression straps as you can with compressions sacks.
With a sleeping bag that doesn’t specify limit, comfort or extreme temperatures, there is no way to know exactly at which temperatures it would best perform and keep you comfortable during the night. While the bag may specify a season rating, it can differ from brand to brand, so checking the comfort temperature or suggested usage temperature range is the best way to determine whether or not the bag will keep you protected and cosy in the climate and conditions you are sleeping in.
When choosing a sleeping bag for your hiking trip, consider looking out for ones that adhere to the EN13537 standard. This standard is a European system accepted worldwide to standardise the temperature rating of sleeping bags manufactured in Europe. This means that the sleeping bag has been tested using a thermal mannequin to help determine the temperature in which the bag can be used safely.
When it comes to season rating, it can vary from one season bags designed for use in tropical climates to four-season bags for use in cold weather. You will need to ensure you pick the right specification to meet your requirements when travelling.
Although there are a variety of different shapes of sleeping bags available, when it comes to hiking, mummy-shaped bags are the most popular option. There are several reasons for this:
They have less material to pack away, so they are more compact;
Because there is less empty space inside, they provide a higher level of insulation;
They come with a hood, normally with a drawcord that makes it tighter. This feature helps to insulate your head, which is one of the areas of the body which loses heat the fastest.
Sleeping bags with higher season ratings tend to come with a chunky piece of material covering the zip. This piece of material is called a zip baffle. Zip baffles are generally filled with insulation to help prevent warm air from escaping from inside the bag as well as cold air from sneaking in through the bag’s zip. Lower season sleeping bags can also feature zip baffles, but they aren’t necessary when you’re sleeping in scorching hot temperatures.
This feature has become more and more popular, especially when it comes to choosing the best hiking sleeping bag for storing personal stuff close at hand. Internal pockets are often a sleeve style pocket with a Velcro fastening found inside the sleeping bag. These pockets are typically used for storing valuable items and keeping them safe while you are sleeping.
Other features you might want to consider are integrated hood mosquito and anti-bacterial protection to ward off odours, mould and dust mites.