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A sleeping bag is an indispensable part of camping equipment and for some a must for a cabin trip. In this story we explain what you should pay attention to when purchasing a sleeping bag, which models are all available and that one sleeping bag is certainly not the other.
Choosing the right sleeping bag naturally depends on many things: where are you going and what are you going to do. A sleeping bag that you take with you on a cabin tour must of course meet completely different requirements than a sleeping bag for high alpine use in the snow. But the first is often a very basic one: do I want a mummy model sleeping bag or rather a blanket model?

Mummy vs Blanket
Let's start with the difference between the two. A blanket sleeping bag is a rectangular shape that resembles a blanket. Hence the name. A mummy model owes its name to the shape of sarcophagi in which mummies were buried in Egypt. The first models appeared during the height of Egyptology and just after Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. A mummy sleeping bag fits closely to the body and - unlike a blanket model - has a hood that keeps the head warm.

Because of its shape, a blanket model is usually colder than a mummy model because of all its empty corners; after all, it has filled all the 'corners'. Furthermore, a mummy can often be folded more compactly. The choice of a mummy model or a blanket model is often a very personal one: there are quite a few people who get stuffy with Spanish in a mummy sleeping bag and therefore experience the larger blanket as more comfortable.

Which size
We think that wider is more comfortable. Yet this is wrong thinking when it comes down to it. A sleeping bag - blanket and mummy - must fit your height to do its job properly. Too spacious or too small results in a sleeping bag that will not insulate properly. That a sleeping bag that is too small - especially a mummy - does not sleep well, of course also counts. A sleeping bag is therefore best fit in a store, just like shoes. Sleeping bags are made in different lengths and in a few places in the Netherlands you can still have sleeping bags made to measure. The links can be found at the bottom of this story.

The choice of cover is also important for comfort. The outer cover is the outer material of which the sleeping bag is made and the inner cover, which now speaks for itself. Roughly speaking, there are three flavors: synthetic fiber, cotton or a combination of the two. There are still many who opt for a cotton sleeping bag and often it is a blanket model. Here too it is about comfort; a cotton inner cover is generally perceived as more pleasant than a synthetic one. In addition, cotton has the ability to absorb a limited amount of moisture. Especially in warm weather, such a cotton blanket sleeping bag proves its worth.
However, anyone heading to the mountains is better off with a fully synthetic sleeping bag. There are inner ticks made of plastic that are hardly inferior to cotton in terms of feel. A synthetic outer cover has a number of other advantages. They are windproof (nice when you sleep outside) and water-repellent and sometimes even waterproof. Synthetic outer ticking also gets dirty less quickly and is easier to clean. A few more comments about that water-repellent.

That water-repellent is important if you like to sleep under the stars; dew will then not wet the sleeping bag and even if something drips from the trees, that is not an issue. But a water-repellent layer is also useful in a tent. Every tent sleeper knows the wet tent cloth on the inside as a result of condensation. During sleep we turn around and then unconsciously touch the canvas. This is no problem with a water-repellent sleeping bag.

Insulation: Down, synthetic or wool
The most important thing about a sleeping bag is of course that it keeps you warm, in other words, that it insulates. The insulation material is located between the outer and inner cover and is often processed in strips. So you also have a choice for the insulation material. We briefly discuss the considerations here.

Down is still the best insulating material for sleeping bags. Ducks and goose down are used in sleeping bags, the latter having the highest insulating properties. Down is also lightweight and compressible, so that a relatively large thick sleeping bag still produces a small package. It is not true that down after being compressed for a long time does not return to its original shape.

Down versus feathers
We usually talk about down, but down actually consists of a combination of down and feathers. Down - we should actually speak of down clusters - are those very small fluffy feathers that hardly have a pin. These down clusters all ensure that a sleeping bag keeps you warm. Down feathers are the feathers as everyone draws them; they are less fluffy and therefore also insulate less. Each sleeping bag contains a mix of down clusters and down feathers. On the label you will find this in a ratio. The ratio 90/10 means 90% down clusters and 10% feathers. This is also about the highest quality.

Now one down is certainly not the other. The quality of down is measured in the unit CUIN. CUIN stands for Cubic Inch (per Ounce) and on a sleeping bag you can see that in the specifications where, for example, 700+ is stated, sometimes with the addition of CUIN. The CUIN value - also called fill power - is measured by putting an Ounce down (30 grams) in a transparent tube under controlled laboratory conditions. A weight is then placed on the down. This pushes the down down and the higher the quality of the down, the less the down will sink. And if it collapses less, it means that there is more air in between and therefore has a higher insulation value. The higher the CUIN value, the higher the price of the down and sleeping bag.

If you are going camping, be the first to unpack your sleeping bag. At least when it is dry. Then the insulation material has time to expand and do its job properly at night. Have you been away for a few weeks; air your sleeping bag when you get home and store it in a dry place afterwards. A large mesh cover is usually supplied with (synthetic) down sleeping bags. This way you extend the life of your sleeping bag and it is ready for the next trip!