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March 2008 Sleeping Bag Review: Start Smart Sleeping Bag Tips

Start Smart
Size it Up

It’s a sleeping bag, not shrink-wrap. Here’s how to make sure it fits.

1: Try before you buy. Wear layers similar to those you sleep in, and try several bags to sample different shapes and lengths. Tradeoff: A roomy cut feels comfortable, but is less thermally efficient than a narrow design.

2: Integrate the pad. If a bag is designed to have a pad inserted in the bottom, rig it that way while in the store. Integrated pads affect interior volume and roll-around comfort.

3: Check the closures. Zip it up. Zip it down. Zip it up again. If it snags now, it will in the field. Cinch down the hood, and any draft collars. Check for comfortable fit, good seal against the face, and ease of exit.

4: Roll around. See if the bag turns with you, or if you can spin around inside it. If the bag has less insulation on the bottom than the top, you’ll want to rotate freely. If the insulation is even all around, you’ll want to roll with the bag.

5: Touch your toes. Cinch the hood, sit up, then pike forward toward your toes. The bag should be tall enough to allow this, so you won’t have to open it just to sit up. Caution: Unnecessary length means extra weight.

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