Is there any better feeling than to curl up in your sleeping bag after a day of hiking or skiing? On the other hand, it feels pretty nice to wake up refreshed the next morning as well and feel that energy depots are refilled. Your sleeping bag can be quite crucial in this context. There are in particular two things to relate to when you're about to buy a sleeping bag.

When and where are you going to use your sleeping bag? What temperature are we talking about?
· Should you choose down or synthetic? 

 Temperature limits of EN 13537

All sleeping bags at Outnorth, with few exceptions, are tested and rated according to European Standard, EN 13537. In this way it's easy for you to compare different models with each other. Actually a pretty smart system. According to the standardization, there are three important temperatures to relate to:

T comf-minimum comfort temperature for a standard women
· T lim- minimum comfort temperature for standard men
· T ext-lowest survival temperature for standard women

For the purpose of these measurements, a "standard woman" is assumed to be 25 years old, with a height of 1.60 m and a weight of 60 kg and a "standard man" is assumed to be 25 years old, with a height of 1.73 m and a weight of 73 kg. Now you know as well as we that the age and this body composition don´t go for everyone. Hence are the temperature grading not the absolute truth but a recommendation to relate to. Since women generally begin to get cold sooner than men do is T comf always a higher value relative to T lim.

The temperature ratings according to EN 13537 are highly individual. In addition, other factors (not included in the test) will affect how you deal with the temperature. For example your sleeping mat, hunger and wind. Not to forget!

Spring, summer, autumn or winter?
Unfortunately you can't choose a sleeping bag that you'll be able to sleep comfortably throughout the year. A winter sleeping bag will be far too hot in the summer and you will carry around unnecessary weight. No, the best way to go is to choose a sleeping bag designed for the season or seasons when you gonna use it most.

A safe bet if you're buying your first sleeping bag is to go on a 3-season bag that you can use during spring, summer and autumn. Of course, it might be slightly warm a hot summer night but just vent the air out by zip it open. Another rule of thumb, according to us, is to go for the warmer one if you have to choose between two bags with slightly different comfort temperature. As previously mentioned it's easy to get rid of the extra heat but it's much harder to get the heat inside once you started to freeze.

A 3-season bag, whether you're a woman or a man, should have a designated comfort temperature between -3°C to -10°C and a 2-season one (spring and summer) around 0°C, or perhaps some below. Sleeping bags for summer use only has usually a comfort temperature with a fee degrees above zero. They are also very handy to bring on the trip or to have indoors. For Scandinavian winter is a sleeping bag starting at -15°C preferable.

A neck collar is a great feature to have on your sleeping bag. It's available on almost all three season bags and definitely on all winter bags. With the collar tightened you prevent heat loss and will sleep comfortable even if the night gets really cold.

Down or synthetic?
That a down filled sleeping bag weighs less and packs smaller than a synthetic bag (with the same comfort temperature) is as true as the Santa comes visiting every Christmas. The development of synthetic material has progressed in recent years though. So far, however, down generates most heat to minimum weight and volume.
However down is often, actually nearly always, a more expensive option. On the other hand, a down filled sleeping bag will last longer if you treat it nice. A synthetic bag won't have the same comfort temperature after about five years of usage. The temperature will gradually then get worse due to cold spots created of compressed insulation filling.

If you often will use your sleeping bag in damp climates a synthetic one is preferable. It will keep you warm even if it gets wet. That's not the case with a down filled sleeping bag. If you don't get the chance to dry it between the nights i.e. 
To sum it up: do you want to minimize volume and get the most heat to minimum weight you should go for a down filled sleeping bag. If the former isn't that important and if your wallet might be a little thinner so choose a synthetic sleeping bag.

Length and fit

A sleeping bag model always comes in different lengths: regular, long, 6'6, short, X-long, 185 cm, 179 cm. The variation is infinite but they all have one thing in common: it's always the recommended body height that is specified. The actual sleeping bag is always about 20 centimeters longer.

It's under no circumstances wise to be stingy with the length, nor useful to be too generous either. If choosing too short length, just to save weight and volume, it's get to tight and you will ruin the loft, create cold spots and probably start freezing. If you're going for a too long one the same scenario will appear because then you have to much space/air to heat and keep warm. Additionally, you'll carry around unnecessary weight and volume. Are you in the border zone? Then we recommend to choose the longer version if you necessary don't want to save the extra grams and volume.

It's wise to consider if you want to turn inside the bag or with the bag during the night. Are you the former type then perhaps you should consider choosing a mummy-shaped bag with a slightly roomier fit in go for a rectangular shaped sleeping bag. Adds a few grams and some extra space to your load but it could be worth it to get a good night sleep.

At Outnorth you'll find a bunch of sleeping bags that are women-specific. These are usually slightly shorter, narrower across the shoulders, has a proportionally wider cut above the hip and more insulation around your feet. Are you a short and skinny man? Then it might be a good idea to consider a women-specific sleeping bag. 
Most sleeping bags are made with both left hand and right hand zippers. It's usually easiest to have the zipper on the opposite side of your dominant hand. In short: are you right-handed then choose a sleeping bag with a left hand zipper.

Full length zipper or semi-long? Again it is a matter of convenience versus weight and volume. Are you in to ultralight gear a sleeping bag with half length zipper is to recommend. You lose the ability to ventilate down at the foot but win those vital grams in the weight hunting circus. Most sleeping bags have full length two-way zipper though so actually it isn't such a difficult choice.

Almost all brands currently running with YKK zippers on their sleeping bags. It's superb because it allows you to connect two sleeping bags together. Sweet if you want a little cuddle in the tent or increase the heat. However, there is a catch. The zippers are manufactured in various dimensions and to connect them requires consistent dimensions. A rule (as we have found no exceptions to so far) is that sleeping bag in the same series have the same zipper dimension. For example Haglöfs Zensor or Marmot Wave. Hence it would be wise to choose two bags in the same series if you want to connect them. If not, please get in touch with our customer service and they will help you find two bags that fit together. 
With or without a membrane?
Some sleeping bags are equipped with a membrane which is completely waterproof. This bags have their pros and cons. Do you often sleep in a bivouac and under tarp or similar, it might be beneficial with a membrane. It will protect the insulation of your bag from getting wet or damp. In any case from the outside. Due to the membrane, that is heavier than a regular nylon fabric, moisture and steam your body emits during the night will be harder to vent out. Can be fixed by holding the optimal temperature in the bag though.

Another option is to get a "sweat bag" or rather a VBL, vapor barrier liner. A sheet/liner that acts as a moisture barrier and body vapors will be kept inside there overnight. It will get sweaty, but you have a dry bag in the morning. Are you primarily outdoors during spring, summer and autumn and almost exclusively sleeping in tents, a membrane feels less important. It's both heavier and more voluminous. Better to invest in a good tent that keeps moisture out. 

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