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Down Sleeping Bags

Down Sleeping Bags

One of the great debates us outdoor types often have is whether down or synthetic sleeping bags are the best. On my early camping trips with my old man there really wasn't a choice and down sleeping bags were the only option. Because of those early experiences and because I'm as stubborn as a mountain goat I've never really tested synthetic sleeping bags. I know with advances in technology man-made fibres have got a lot better and some of my mates swear by them.

The type of sleeping bag that suits you the best will depend a lot on where and when you plan on using it.

Down sleeping bags are insulated with either goose down or duck down, which is basically goose or duck feathers. Now for the science bit - down is actually a cluster of thousands and thousands of interlocking, overlapping filaments that look like a dandelion. Down makes a fantastic insulator because of the loft, which is the space between the filaments that traps and holds the warm air. Let me ask you a question – have you ever seen a duck shivering with cold?! I bet you haven't, which proves that down is excellent for keeping you war.

One of the only reasons I can see for not using a down sleeping bag is if you have allergies. Be sure to check this before you go out into the wilderness as it could be pretty rough if you realise you can't use your down sleeping bag!

The quality of the down depends on the type, age, and maturity of the goose or duck. Generally speaking, goose down is considered to be better than duck but a mature duck's down is better than a young goose's down. As the age of the down is impossible for the buyer to know, we have come to rely on the manufacturer's reputation and fill rating. Let's face it, it would a bit rude to ask a goose how old it is! The higher the rating number the better the down - for example an 850 down is better than a 650 down. Think about the places you'll be visiting and the conditions you'll be sleeping out in when deciding how warm you need your sleeping bag to be.

Down sleeping bags

Down sleeping bags are very warm and comfortable because they are light and compressible. When you're loading up your gear weight is always a factor to consider so down has another advantage here. The miracle of nature also means that down keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat! I've slept like a baby in my down sleeping bag on freezing cold mountain tops and on warm summer nights on the Gold Coast Oceanway.

So why doesn't everyone choose down over synthetic? Well first of all they do tend to cost a few more of your hard-earned dollars. I'm a believer in getting the best gear you can afford and the right gear for the job so that doesn't worry me! Where down can let you down (Sorry but I couldn't resist the one pun!) is when it gets wet.

Down filled sleeping bags have a habit of losing their insulating properties when they become wet. In fact they can lose most of their insulating powers when damp so it's important to keep a down sleeping bag as dry as possible. This isn't always practical and in tough conditions you're bound to get your gear wet at some point. It can be a nightmare if it gets wet as they can take ages to dry out. I had one miserable trip where this happened and wouldn't want that to happen again. The answer is simple – look for a model that has a waterproof, protective shell. That's nature and man working together in harmony for once!

And now read everything about Synthetic Sleeping Bags

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