Questions and answers sleeping bags
1. What is the function of the draft collar?
The draft collar helps you utilise the sleeping bag’s entire temperature area and is especially important in lower temperatures. Tighten it as much as you can. The sleeping bag should always feel comfortable around the neck, however. If you find that the sleeping bag becomes too warm, it’s better to open the zip at the bottom to allow air to enter rather than opening the draft collar.
2. How should I pack my sleeping bag?
Cramming is the way to go! We recommend that you cram the sleeping bag into the compression sack rather than rolling it. This applies regardless of whether you have a synthetic or a down sleeping bag. This stops down and/or fibres snapping and is gentler on the filling material. Winter sleeping bags with large volumes of filling may be more easily compressed by turning them inside out and packing them this way as this releases the air more effectively, making it easier to fit the bag into the compression sack.
3. Can I wash my sleeping bag?
You certainly can wash your sleeping bag, but you shouldn’t do it too often. Using a sleeping bag liner that can be washed often is a good alternative. A sleeping bag liner does not only protect your sleeping bag, it’s also very comfortable and can increase the temperature limit of your sleeping bag by up to 8 degrees.
Sleeping bags can be washed at 40 °C with a low spin. It’s important to use a detergent especially adapted for sleeping bags in order to avoid residue building up in the filling. Synthetic sleeping bags can be washed at 60 °C, although this will shorten the product’s lifespan. Again, we recommend using a liner instead and washing it more frequently if required.
Always tumble-dry your sleeping bag. It’s a good idea to put some tennis balls or special dryer balls in the drum to help “fluff up” the bag’s filling again.
4. How do I look after my sleeping bag when on a trip?
Use a sleeping bag liner and air it out as often as possible! You could, for example, make it a habit to air it in the morning, while you have your breakfast outside the tent.
5. What should I wear when using a sleeping bag in low temperatures?
When the mercury drops, it’s a good idea to wear a base layer inside your sleeping bag. Socks and hat can also help you feel more comfortable when it’s cold. If it becomes colder than you expected, or if you are near the lower end of your sleeping bag’s temperature limit, it’s important to not wear so many layers that your sleeping bag filling becomes compressed and loses its ability to retain warm air. In such situations, it’s better to place a down jacket over your feet and chest, and place clothing underneath the bag itself to prevent cold from penetrating from the ground.
6. Do I need a vapour barrier?
A vapour barrier is only necessary if you will be taking longer trips in cold and damp areas where it is essential that your sleeping bag stays dry in order to retain its insulation capacity. The vapour barrier bag is a completely sealed, plastic-coated bag that is placed between your body and the sleeping bag to prevent the moisture from your body from condensing and forming ice inside the sleeping bag’s insulation layer. Vapour barriers are only used in extreme conditions, such as week-long trips in temperatures lower than -30 °C, since sleeping in plastic significantly reduces comfort.
7. Can I use a pillow in my sleeping bag?
Almost all Helsport sleeping bags have a pillow pocket where you can insert a Helsport airpillow, down gilet/jacket, fleece jumper or similar. You can also make a great pillow by filling your compression sack with clothes. An added benefit of using your clothing as a pillow is that you’ll know exactly where to find them the next morning.
8. What should I choose; synthetic, down or both?
There are no hard and fast rules here, and what type of sleeping bag is right for you will depend on what type of trips you’ll be using it for, your personal preference and your budget.
High-quality down sleeping bags will always be warmer relative to their weight than synthetic sleeping bags. The lifespan of the two types is roughly the same. Down sleeping bags are more demanding with regard to correct maintenance and storage (they should be stored in the storage bag or hung up).
Synthetic bags insulate better than down bags when wet. Luckily, it’s rare for a sleeping bag to get soaking wet, but it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind when choosing a sleeping bag. Regardless of how well a sleeping bag insulates, it’s no fun sleeping in a wet bag.
Many people planning longer trips in late autumn, winter or early spring opt for a synthetic sleeping bag capable of maintaining its insulation capacity even in the presence of moisture, even though it will be heavier than a down sleeping bag. That being said, using a sleeping bag liner that allows you to dry or ‘freeze’ out the moisture in the morning can go a long way towards solving this problem. For shorter winter hikes, nothing beats a down sleeping bag.
Helsport also offers hybrid sleeping bags. These offer the best of two worlds; the lovely, warm feel of down on the inside and the water-repellent benefits of synthetic on the outside. These sleeping bags are great on longer trips as they’re somewhat heavier than pure down sleeping bags, but cheaper.
9. Why do I need a sleeping bag liner
A sleeping bag liner is a great, affordable way of protecting your awesome sleeping bag. The liner can be washed again and again and helps boost your sleeping bag’s temperature limit. Sleeping bag liners are available in various shapes and materials. Mummy-shaped sleeping bag liners are best suited to regular sleeping bags. Choose the material you like best: cotton, silk, synthetic fibre or fleece.
A cotton sleeping bag liner is the cheapest option, however these do not wick away the moisture that they absorb, which can have a cooling effect on the body. Silk provides the most warmth relative to weight. Synthetic fibres are less warm than silk, but also cheaper. Fleece is the warmest option but also the heaviest. It also dries slowly and can feel bulky inside your sleeping bag. We recommend silk as it’s cool in summer but helps keep you warm in winter.
The smooth surface of silk makes it comfortable inside the sleeping bag and allows you to move around freely.