Sleeping bags and mats – the key to a good night's sleep
If you have ever slept under the stars, you will never forget the experience; how you remember it will depend entirely on the right choice of sleeping bag and mattress. A good sleeping bag and mattress will guarantee a good night's sleep, offering insulation from the floor and thermal comfort. At Columbus, we have a wide range of sleeping bags (mummy, rectangular, junior bag) for different temperature ranges and made from various materials (down, synthetic fibres, polyester, etc.). Discover the right sleeping bag for your adventures and make the most of your nights under the stars.
Mummy-type sleeping bag (synthetic or feather filling)
This type of bag is the one more suitable for low temperatures. Its shape guarantees optimum insulation with minimum heat loss. The bag conforms to the shape of the body, requiring no additional material to keep it warm, and is practical to carry as it tends to compress better and take up less space. To optimise the properties of the sleeping bag, it is important to choose the right size.
Rectangular sleeping bag (down or synthetic fibre filling)
This sleeping bag is the loosest and therefore the most spacious. It is a bag suitable for camping in summer or for mid-range temperatures. One advantage is that it can be opened completely and, being rectangular in shape, it can also be used as a quilt. On the downside, it takes up a lot of space when packed and there is a greater loss of heat as it is open at the neck and shoulder area.
Oval sleeping bag (down or synthetic fibre filling)
This type of sleeping bag is a middle ground between the rectangular and mummy sleeping bags. The oval cut offers more room at the knees and shoulders and is narrower at the feet and neck to maintain body temperature.
Filling materials: feather or synthetic fibre
Filling: feather or synthetic fibre
The down filling maintains the temperature better, so the temperature range in which the bag can be used is greater. In addition, down sleeping bags are lighter and less bulky when packed.
Goose feather or down can be used in these sleeping bags. Down is of higher quality, but more expensive. The Columbus Everest range of down-filled sleeping bags offers high performance at a very affordable price.
When evaluating down filling, it is necessary to know the ratio of the materials used by the manufacturer (feather vs. down):
• Filling 90/10 = 90% down, 10% feather
The lightest and warmest – on the other hand, at high humidity levels, it becomes damp more quickly. With feather sleeping bags, it is essential to use a mat that insulates you from the ground, as the feathers are compressed under the body.
• Filling 80/20 = 80% down, 20% feather
Slightly heavier than the 90/10 filler and slightly less insulating but also less sensitive to moisture. Even so, we still recommend using a mat that insulates you from the ground.
• Filling 70/30 = 70% down, 30% feather
It would be practically equivalent to a good synthetic sleeping bag in terms of weight and temperature. However, it offers greater comfort and resistance.
The advantages of synthetic fibres compared to feathers are:
• Fast drying and maintains the warming power even when wet. • Lower compression. This means that the person has a thicker layer under the body, which in the case of feathers it is more easily compressed.
• Synthetic fibres are cheaper than feathers (although they have a shorter lifespan)
In tropical areas, where humidity and microbes can affect down sleeping bags, it would be advisable to use a sleeping bag made of synthetic fibres. We recommend our line of Columbus Lanin sleeping bags in various filling options to suit a variety of climates.
One point to bear in mind is that down-filled sleeping bags are not as easy to clean as bags filled with synthetic fibres.
Outer material: polyester and nylon fabric
The outer material of most sleeping bags is made from:
• Nylon (lighter)
• Polyester (more comfortable)
• Microfibre fabric (good thermal insulation and water-repellent, heavier than nylon)
Although the perception of the degree of comfort in a sleeping bag is very subjective, in 2005 the European Standard EN 13537 was created to regulate the temperature range of sleeping bags, which must be applied by all manufacturers. In order to determine the temperature range for which a sleeping bag is suitable, a series of laboratory tests are carried out using different measuring techniques.
Thus, there are 3 measurements to be taken as a reference according to the standard:
• Comfort: Temperature at which a standard woman (25 years old, height 1.60 m, weight 60 kg) can sleep comfortably in a relaxed position.
• Limit: Temperature at which a standard man (25 years old, height 1.73 m, weight 73 kg) can sleep for 8 hours in a curled-up position..
• Extreme: Minimum temperature at which a standard woman can stay for 6 hours without risk of death from hypothermia, although frostbite is possible.
This temperature classification assumes that::
1. The user uses an insulating mat
2. Tent to protect them from wind, humidity, etc.
3. And a thermal underwear layer.
As a guideline when choosing a sleeping bag, the most important thing is the level of comfort. The mat also contributes to this sensation by preventing heat loss through contact with the ground.
Self-inflating thermal mats are a good example of insulation, as well as being very comfortable. Columbus also offers inflatable mats, which are lightweight and take up very little space in your luggage, you can see them on our website, they are the models Columbus FPM2 and Columbus ILMB.
However, in sub-zero temperatures, the water vapour condensed in the mattress can freeze, which impairs the insulating effect. In these cases it is advisable to use classic insulating mats.
Lastly, it should be noted that there is no standard for children's sleeping bags and the standards for adults are not applicable. The Columbus Aneto 300 Jr sleeping bag is a mummy bag for children, which will offer a warm and comfortable sleep for the little ones.
Other things to consider when choosing your sleeping bag
Choosing the right size
Using the right size sleeping bag is essential, especially in cold environments. A sleeping bag that is too tight does not allow movement and can cause increased cooling. The same applies to oversized sleeping bags, since more space is available inside the bag, more energy is needed to heat the air inside. One solution in this case is to put some clothes in areas that are left empty, such as the feet area.
Hood and neck area
30% of the body heat is released through the head, in cold areas it is important that the sleeping bag has a hood that can also be adjusted with a drawstring. This minimises heat loss and keeps the body warmer, as we reduce the amount of body surface area that is exposed to the air.
Some sleeping bags also have a flap with padding in the neck area to prevent heat from escaping from inside the sleeping bag.
The hood and neck padding are common in mummy sleeping bags and in some models of oval sleeping bags (pilot).
Quality sleeping bags have a flap on the inside of the zip to prevent heat loss and avoid chafing against the zip. They also usually have protective strips to prevent the inner fabric of the bag from getting caught in the zip when opening or closing it.
Some sleeping bag models have a version with zip on the left and on the right.
Our sleeping bags in the Columbus Everest and Columbus Lanin ranges incorporate inside flaps and a collar in the neck area to prevent heat loss in the area of the zips.
If you are in doubt about the position of the zip, you may find the following information useful:
• Right-handed people find it easier to use sleeping bags with the zip on the left side and vice versa.
• If you are travelling with your partner you can choose one sleeping bag with the zip on the left and the other with the zip on the right, if the bags are of the same model the zips can be joined together.
• Most bivy bags have the zip on the right side, so we recommend that the sleeping bag is also zipped on the right side to make it more comfortable for you to use. It is important that every time you use the sleeping bag together with the bivy bag you air both elements, as the bivy bag reduces the breathability of the sleeping bag, which causes more moisture to accumulate inside it.