The Simple Technology of Sleeping Bags

by : Nicole Munoz

Camping is a recreational outdoor activity undertaken by millions in the world. Camping may be done together with other outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, fishing, rafting, backpacking, or mountain climbing.

People usually go camping to find solace in the peace, quiet, beauty, and wonder of nature and get away from busy, noisy, chaotic, urban life. Typically, campers spend a night or two at a campsite. Recreational campers set campsites in national parks, publicly owned natural places, and privately owned campgrounds. More adventurous campers camp in wild, uncharted regions that are almost inaccessible-and sometimes restricted-to the public.

Since campers may spend several nights outdoors, they need to use something that can keep them warm when they sleep. They need something between the ground and themselves when they turn in. Since it is generally impractical to bring a bed, most campers bring a sleeping bag with them.

Sleeping bags are thick, protective "bags" for people to sleep in. In essence, sleeping bags are thick, closeable blankets. Sleeping bags provide warmth and insulation. Sleeping bags can also shield campers from wind, precipitation, ground temperature, and exposure from unwanted view.

A sleeping bag is simple in design. Typically, it is a square blanket that is fitted with a zipper, a set of buttons, or similar closing materials on one or both sides. This allows the sleeping bag to be folded in half and secure in this position. A person can then crawl inside the cavity. A normal sleeping bag is suitable for most camping needs; however, for more demanding requirements such as winter camping, thicker, and bigger bags, called mummy bags, are needed.

Placed between the fabrics that make up the outer shell of sleeping bags is insulation. That is what makes sleeping bags thick and warm. There are different insulating materials that are used for sleeping bags. Most outdoorsmen prefer a synthetic kind of insulation such as PrimaLoft. Synthetic insulation does not easily absorb water, dries quickly, and still provides warmth even if the bag is soaked and damp.

Another quality of synthetic insulation is that it is firm and resilient. That means the sleeping bag still insulates a person quite well even if it is underneath a person's weight.

The disadvantage of synthetic-insulated sleeping bags is that they cannot be compressed easily. That means they are much harder to roll up for stowage and takes up more space in a campers pack when it is not being used.

Commonly paired with sleeping bags are bivouac sacks. These are waterproof covers for sleeping bags. The tandem can be used in place of a tent, especially if the campers are packing light. Sleeping bags and bivouac sacks can also be used as backup gear during foul weather.

For even more comfort, many campers carry sleeping pads along with sleeping bags. Sleeping pads are placed underneath sleeping bags in order to have cushion, which gives campers a more comfortable rest. Alternately they can opt to use air mattresses which can be inflated and deflated.

Sleeping bags are a must for every camper. Never go camping without one.