Sleeping Bags for Your Canoeing and Camping Trips

by PennPaddler

kelty-_lightyeardown_40Sleeping bag designs have come a long way over the past decade so if it’s been a while since you’ve shopped for a new sleeping bag there are a few things you should know before making your purchase.  Sleeping bag styles include the rectangular bags, mummy bags, 2-person bags, down and synthetic bags. Weather conditions and camping activity determine the type of sleeping bag you should choose.

Rectangular Sleeping Bags
The rectangular bag is a common sleeping bag design; it’s greatest advantage is that it provides the most freedom of movement. Many campers make the rectangular bag their first purchase choice of sleeping bag and although the rectangular sleeping bag can be very comfortable it is not designed for cool weather camping and is most appropriate for summer season use.

Shop the top rated sleeping bags at Altrec.

Shop the top rated sleeping bags at Top Sleeping Bags.


Mummy Bags
Although not as roomy as the rectangular sleeping bag, the mummy bag is designed with one purpose and that is to keep you warm. And it will keep you warmer with the overall design contoured to your body and the smaller opening at the top to prevent heat from escaping. The temperature ratings of the mummy bag are generally lower that the basic rectangular bag and is the type of bag you should be looking at for canoe camping in cooler temperatures below 50 degrees.

kelty-synthetic-forecast20w1Material Type – Synthetic or Down Fill
There are basically two types of sleeping bag insulation materials that you should be familiar with when making your purchase. There are synthetic sleeing bags and there are down sleeping bags, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. There are many varying opinions on which fill in the most advantageous, but the choice isn’t as important when camping in the protection of cover or if the threat of rain and cold doesn’t exist. But selecting the right sleeping bag is more important when camping in extreme conditions and exposure to cold and rain is a definite threat.

Synthetic Sleeping Bags
Synthetic bags are designed to stay warm and lofty even when wet. And although not as lofty and comfortable as down bags, synthetic is the type of bag you need when rain or moisture is a threat because even when wet synthetic bags maintain the ability to hold warmth. And because they are so durable when wet, synthetic bags are easier to wash and dry than down bags. Synthetic bags are also a little less expensive than down bags.

When to consider the synthetic sleeping bag:

  • On a tight camping gear budget or just can’t justify the extra expense for down
  • When cold and wet conditions are certain threat
  • When easy washing and maintenance is important

Down Sleeping Bags
Down sleeping bags are a favorite among many campers because of their soft comfortable feel. Down bags generally have superior insulating properties than other types of bag insulation and are a favorite among hikers because they are lighter and more compact than other bag types. But down sleeping bags do not maintain their insulating properties when wet, they require greater care and maintenance and are more expensive than other sleeping bag types.

When to consider the down sleeping bag:

  • When comfort is a priority
  • When cold is a threat but rain or moisture is not
  • When weight and compactness are important
  • When expense in not a factor

Sleeping Bag Features
Besides insulating properties and bag shape, today’s sleeping bags often include new features that you may not be aware of but you’ll want to take under consideration before you purchase.

  • Waterproof construction in heat loss areas such as head and foot
  • Foot vents for those occasions when your feet need a little space
  • Two-way locking zippers
  • Internal liner loops to attach additional lining
  • Sleeping pad security loops to control sleeping bag movement
  • Hang loops for storage
  • Compression sacks allow for compact package
  • Storage sack allows decompressed storage to preserve loft

Top sleeping bag manufacturers:

  • Kelty
  • Sierra Designs
  • Marmot
  • Big Agnes
  • Coleman
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