The right sleeping bag
Choosing the right sleeping bag depends on how and where you plan to use it. These factors determine the requirements for the bag’s materials and workmanship, along with its shape, fill and temperature range.
Before purchasing your sleeping bag, you should think about exactly what you’re going to be using it for. For example, if you’ll be hiking in (high) alpine terrain, you’ll need one that’s especially lightweight. For winter trips, you’ll need one that’s especially warm. Or maybe you need one that’s especially robust and easy to take care of? A bag’s pack volume and weight are also determining factors. We’ve got different models to meet your own personal needs.
Choosing the right bag depends highly on the climate zone you’ll be using it in, which can vary from humid to dry and warm to cold.
The European EN 13537 standard ensures uniform regulation of temperature ratings for sleeping bag manufacturers in Europe. This makes it easier for you to compare different products. A distinction is made between three temperature ranges under normal conditions: Comfort, Limit and Extreme. These ratings are determined assuming that the subject is using a sleeping pad, tent and is wearing one base layer of thermal underwear.
This rating is the lowest temperature at which a sleeper fully enclosed in their sleeping bag can have a comfortable night’s sleep in a relaxed position. This rating is based on a 25 year-old “standard female“ weighing 60 kg and 1.60 m tall.
This rating is the lowest temperature at which a sleeper fully enclosed in their sleeping bag can expect to have a comfortable night’s sleep in a fetal or tightly rolled-up position. This rating is based on a 25 year-old “standard male”, weighing 70 kg and 1.73m tall.
At this temperature, the sleeping bag offers protection from freezing, however there is risk of hypothermia. It is assumed that a “standard female” in a tightly rolled-up position can withstand the cold for 6 hours.
The thermal balance of the sleeper is dependent on various physical influencing factors, which should be taken into account accordingly when choosing a sleeping bag.
Tip: Sleeping bag and clothing are closely related. Functional textiles such as a down jacket can significantly increase the thermal performance of a lightweight sleeping bag while keeping the overall weight of the gear down.
Of course, a sleeping bag doesn’t generate any heat itself, but only retains the heat generated by the person inside. How warm you actually feel in a bag is greatly affected by a variety of physiological factors: Important factors include body weight and height, but also gender and age as well as your current physical condition:
People with greater fat reserves and those with more muscle mass cool down more slowly than slimmer sleepers. Due to the insulating layer of fat or the heat generated during muscle activity, these types are less likely to feel cold. Women tend to feel cold quicker and more often than men because their body fat is distributed differently and their blood pressure is lower and therefore their blood circulation is slower. . You should also keep in mind that people’s metabolic rate and muscle mass tends to decrease with age, when means that they produce less heat.
People that are physically fit and often outdoors are less susceptible to cold. In addition, a rested person produces more heat than an exhausted one.
Most of the body heat lost in a sleeping bag is due to heat conduction, or heat transfer caused by physical contact to the ground below. The weight of the sleeper compresses the sleeping bag underneath thereby greatly reducing the bag’s thermal efficiency. A well-insulating ground pad is very important to help reduce this heat loss.
Air is always in motion. Warm air rises due to its lower density, while cold air is heavier and sinks to the ground. This results in changes in air pressure which lead to the new influx of air. The larger the available space in the sleeping bag, the greater the convection. In sleeping bags with a larger volume, more energy is needed to heat them.
Wind Chill – The Cooling Effect of Wind
With every breath you take, your body releases moisture and heat into the air. This effect is increased at cold temperatures and wind increases this effect many times over. It influences the microclimate in your tent or around your sleeping bag, increasing the loss of body heat and causing you to cool down faster. Therefore you should always choose a place as sheltered as possible from the wind for sleeping when it’s cold outside.
Sweating is a natural process for optimizing body temperature. Breathable materials ensure that the moisture created by this process doesn’t stay inside the sleeping bag but is transported outward. This maintains the sleeping bag’s thermal performance and keeps you from starting to feel cold and clammy inside of it.
One of the most important factors in choosing a VAUDE sleeping bag is the time of year you’ll be using it. The Season Overview provides a clear outline of which models are suitable for summer, winter, and transitional seasons from spring into fall.
Summer sleeping bags are intended for the warmest time of the year. They are characterized by optimal breathability. Both down fill and synthetic fibers are used as insulation, as these transport moisture away from the body quickly.
Sleeping bags of this category can be used in spring, summer and autumn and offer high thermal comfort even during cool nights of transitional seasons. Both down and synthetic fills are used in these products.
For use during the cold seasons, down is more often used for the bag’s fill, as it has the highest thermal rating at a lower weight (keyword: heat-to-weight ratio). So you’ll still be in your comfort zone even at sub-zero temperatures.