Choose the right sleeping bag and sleeping pad for your adventure

Choosing a sleeping bag and sleeping pad is not the easiest decision as there is a lot to consider in terms of function and performance. Is there anything more rewarding than a good night's sleep after a long hike in the mountains? The right sleeping bag and the right sleeping pad are crucial for a refreshing sleep outdoors.


Which sleeping bag is right for me?

When buying a sleeping bag, there are two key aspects to consider: During which season or seasons will the sleeping bag be used? Should you choose down or synthetic?

Spring, summer, fall or winter?

Unfortunately, there is no sleeping bag that you can comfortably sleep in all year round. A sleeping bag designed for winter will be way too warm in summer, and you'll be carrying around unnecessary weight. So, the key (as in so many other areas) is to choose the bag based on when you use it most.

3-season sleeping bag can be used in spring, summer and fall. The comfort temperature of these bags is usually between -10°C to 0°C.

Summer sleeping bags suitable for summer use usually have a comfort temperature of +5°C to +15°C and are also very good for travelling or to use indoors.

A winter sleeping bag suitable for a Scandinavian winter should withstand around -15°C. These sleeping bags usually have a draft collar that is tightened to seal in heat.

Temperature limits according to EN 13537

With a few exceptions, all sleeping bags available at Outnorth are temperature tested according to European standard EN 13537. According to the standard, there are three important temperature indications to be considered:

T comf - lowest comfort temperature for women

T lim - minimum comfort temperature for men

T ext - lowest survival temperature for women


Down or synthetic?

A sleeping bag with down filling usually weighs less and takes up less space than a sleeping bag with synthetic filling. However, developments in synthetics have progressed in recent years, and slowly but surely artificial materials are starting to weigh less. But for now, down still generates the most heat with the least weight and volume. Down sleeping bags are usually a little more expensive than synthetic bags. On the other hand, the lifespan of a down sleeping bag is longer if it is taken good care of. A synthetic bag gradually starts to drop in degrees after a few years of use because you compress and wear out the filling. If you intend to use the bag mostly in humid and wet climates, a synthetic bag is preferable. It keeps you warm even if it gets a little damp, which is not the case with a down-filled sleeping bag.

In short: If you are looking to minimize weight and volume and get the most heat possible, you will want to get a down bag. If that is not so important and you are looking for something easy on the purse, then choose synthetic.

Which sleeping pad is right for me?

The sleeping pad, just like the sleeping bag, is crucial for a good night’s sleep. A good sleeping pad should not only be soft but also able to insulate against the cold from underneath. The insulation in a sleeping bag keeps you warm, but it is made to be compressible. Therefore, the insulation underneath your body is poor. Are you cold on the parts of your body that rest against the ground, mainly shoulders and hips? Then it is not a warmer sleeping bag you need, but a warmer sleeping pad.

There are many different types of sleeping pads to choose from. All of them are a balance of properties, in particular weight, price, thickness, length, width, comfort, insulation, and durability. It is impossible to say what is the best sleeping pad. It depends on the type of tours you go on, your physique, your need for comfort and how much you are willing to invest.

Spring, summer, fall or winter?

Just as with sleeping bags, different sleeping pads are suited for different seasons. The value used to measure how much cold a sleeping pad can withstand is usually called the R-value: the higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

R-value 0.5 to 2 is well suited for spring and summer.

R-value 2 to 3.5 is suitable for fall and mild winter.

R-value 3.5 to 4.5 is suitable for winter.


Different types of sleeping pads

Closed cell foam sleeping pad

Is usually the kind of sleeping pad most people think of when they hear the word sleeping pad – a classic sleeping pad made of closed cell foam or foamed plastic. The general advantage of closed cell foam sleeping pads is that they are durable, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. The disadvantage is that they are thin and have poorer comfort, and take up a lot of space as they cannot be compressed.

Inflatable sleeping pads

The best thing about inflatable sleeping pads is that they are thick, which makes them much softer to lie on. Inflatable sleeping pads are not only more comfortable because they are softer, but they also smooth out any bumps in the ground beneath you. Inflatable sleeping pads take up little space when deflated. It's especially handy when you can't strap the sleeping pad on top of the bag or have little extra space.

Self-inflating sleeping pad

Can't be bothered to inflate the sleeping pad every night? Then self-inflating sleeping pads may be a good choice. These sleeping pads are filled with foam like a mattress. When you unpack the self-inflating sleeping pad and open the valve, the foam will expand, and the sleeping pad will assume its original shape. The disadvantage of a self-inflating sleeping pad is the weight, as the foam weighs more than, for example, air.

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