In my first post Sleeping Bags Whats the difference Part 1 Down Bags I discussed down sleeping bags. Then we looked at synthetic bags in the second part of this series Sleeping Bags Whats the difference Part 2 Synthetic Bags.
What can we take away from these posts?
- Down is more expensive than synthetic.
- Down takes a long time to dry where synthetic does not.
- There are only a few types of down bags where there are quite a few synthetic types.
- When a down bag is wet it does not insulate where as a synthetic bag does.
- Down is lighter and less bulky than synthetic.
- Down is typically warmer than synthetic.
Questions to ask yourself when buying a sleeping bag
- What is my budget?
- Where will I be using this bag ( dry or wet climates)?
- What will my sleeping bag be used for (Expeditions, weekend camping, camping once a year)?
- Do I feel comfortable spending $$$ on this as investment for my gear collection?
- Will I take care of my down bag using the proper time and tools?
Now you are probably asking which type of sleeping bag I own and plan on taking with me on my Appalachian Trail Thru-hike. I currently have one synthetic and one down.
The synthetic bag I own and will use is an Alps Mountaineering Clearwater 35 degree bag.
The down bag I own and will use is an Mountainsmith El Dante 5 degree bag. I would like to thank Mountain Smith for providing this bag.
The plans is to use the Mountainsmith El Dante bag during the colder months in the mountains of GA and use it until It gets to warm and then mail it back home. I will have mailed myself the Alps Mountaineering Clearwater bag to a drop point ahead of time and be able to use it during the warmer months
I have not had a change to try either bag but I will be testing them out very soon so look for gear reviews of both bags.
In my last post Sleeping Bags Whats the difference Part 1 Down Bags I talked about Down sleeping bags and the pros and cons for them. Now I would like to take a look at Synthetic bags.
Over the years the synthetic bag technology has come quite along way. Synthetic fibers are typically made from polyester threading that companies create to mimic the fill of down bags. Unlike the down bags Synthetic has many branded synthetic variations that could be used in your bags as filler.
That is a not a complete list there are more out there and more are being created. Many of those branded products have variations to be used in different applications. Some of the differences include lofting differences, warmth, weight reduction, high temps, low temps, humid vs dry conditions, and many more. With so many different types of synthetic fillers what makes these great or not?
The Pros of synthetic sleeping bags.
- Synthetic is always cheaper than down.
- Easier to take care of. Many of the bags are machine washable and can be dried in your home dryer.
- Dries very quickly
- Is water resistant and provides insulation when wet.
- Because synthetics are man-made, they are hypoallergenic for the most part.
- Many more options for folks who are on a budget.
The Cons of synthetic sleeping bags
- Breaks down over time. No matter how well you care for them the synthetic fibers gradually break down. You may have to replace synthetic quicker than you would down bags.
- Typically heavier than down bags. In order go get the right warmth and fill requirements they have to pump more fill in.
- Can be less compact and bulkier than down. They will take up more space in your pack while on your trek.
- Some cheaper synthetic fills can be stiffer and may not drape as well as down. Also they may cause fit problems. Some of the higher end synthetic fills can be compared to down and no major difference can been seen in terms of fit and drape.
What is Fit? Fit is exactly what it sounds like. How does the sleeping bag fit you.
What is Drape? Drape is how the sleeping bag lays on top of you. Just like a sheet would be draped over you when sleeping.
So the overall key points about synthetic bags is that they are much less expensive than down bags, they insulate even if wet, but can be heavier and take up more room.