How do I choose my sleeping bag?

Trekking and bivouacking: decathlon’s best sleeping bags

Whether you’re sleeping under the stars, in a tent or mountain hut, your sleeping bag is one of the essential pieces of equipment for long hikes to take in your backpack. It’s important to choose a model suitable for the weather conditions you’re likely to face.

There are lots of sleeping bags and it isn’t always easy to know which one to choose. Sleeping bag or duvet for camping ? What comfort temperature? This article will help you choose.

How do I choose my sleeping bag?

The sleeping bag: a trekking essential, in both summer and winter

Choosing a sleeping bag is important. You won’t choose the same sleeping bag for a summer trek as a long winter hike.
When you know the approximate outside temperature of your night camping, you can select specific models.

Here, you can look at the temperature shown on the product sheets which indicate the comfort temperature for using the sleeping bag. For example, the down trekking sleeping bag MT900 0°C means that the comfort temperature to use it is 0°C.

So what’s the comfort temperature, then ?

The temperature rating is the lower limit at which a person, in a relaxed posture, is generally in thermal equilibrium and feels neither hot nor cold.
Often, with the comfort temperature, we’re talking about the limit temperature. The limit temperature is the temperature limit at which a person who is curled up in their sleeping bag is generally in thermal equilibrium and feels neither hot nor cold.
In the previous example of the down MT900 0°C, its limit temperature is -5°C. Sometimes, we can find the extreme temperature, which is the temperature at which a person feels the cold inside the sleeping bag. It’s definitely advisable not to use your sleeping bag close to the extreme temperature and beyond, which risks causing hypothermia.

A sleeping bag does not produce heat but traps the heat produced by the body. To take full advantage of the thermal performance of sleeping bags, it’s important not to climb exhausted and cold into an icy, damp sleeping bag, or you’ll simply end up being cold. Your thermal comfort will therefore depend not just on weather conditions, but also on your resistance to cold, your equipment (insulating mattress, etc.) and your clothing (underwear, etc...).

Please note: The comfort temperatures are tested by an independent laboratory (AITEX) according to the European standard ISO 23537-1 of 21/01/2017.

Down sleeping bags

Down and feather hiking sleeping bags

Sleeping bags with down and feather filling offer a very good weight / warmth ratio. We talk about fill power for sleeping bags made of natural material. The fill power of a padded jacket refers to its ability to trap air. Down has a natural ability to trap and retain air between the inner and outer fabric of the jacket. And it is this air, which is warmed by your body and then retained by the insulator, that helps keep you warm. We measure fill power in CUIN, or cubic inches. The higher the jacket's CUIN number, the higher the fill power and therefore the better the thermal insulation.

In addition, down sleeping bags, being lighter than synthetic sleeping bags, save weight in a backpack. They also have this ability to be highly compressible.

Polyester sleeping bag

Polyester hiking sleeping bags

Synthetic fibre sleeping bags are more efficient in terms of thermal insulation in humid environments than down sleeping bags.

All Forclaz polyester sleeping bags can be combined with each other thanks to the zips on the sides.

What’s more, these sleeping bags are easier to look after. They can be machine-washed at 30°C without any special precautions.

Finally, polyester sleeping bags are less expensive than down sleeping bags.

Mountaineering sleeping bags

If you’re more of a mountaineer, it’s best to consider the sleeping bags offered by Simond and designed for mountaineering. These are better able to resist the cold, with comfort temperatures ranging from -5°C to -12°C. They can also be used if you’re planning treks in very cold weather.

Sleeping bag accessories: mattresses, bag sheets and overbags

Mattresses are important in the thermal insulation system for your bivouac. Read our advice to help you choose the right mattress.

There are sleeping bag sheets, also known as meat bags. They protect your sleeping bag from external dirt and body perspiration. They can also give you extra protection against the cold.

The sleeping overbag provides additional protection against humidity. An overbag, also known as a "bivvy bag", is a protective cover that is one size larger than a sleeping bag. Just slip inside it with your sleeping bag, along with your mattress if you want, to protect them from outside elements. In this way, it can be used to protect you and your gear against adverse weather conditions.

What sleeping bag to choose for camping?

If you’re looking for a sleeping bag that’s more suitable for camping, we recommend you consider our dedicated products.

Some advice

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