After Tent, the most important piece of camping equipment is a Sleeping bag. While shopping for a sleeping bag, one comes across different types of Insulations. The most common types of insulations are Down and Synthetic. If you are a newbie, it will be quite difficult for you to choose the right type of insulation for your camping trip. Both Down and Synthetic have their downsides and benefits, so it is hard to conclude when you don’t have deep knowledge about them. This article has covered both Down and Synthetic Insulation comprehensively to ensure that you don’t take the wrong type of Insulation on your next trip.
Down had been an important part of many ancient cultures as a symbol in religious ceremonies and traditions. At the same time, modern industries see it as brilliant stuff for trapping heat. The misconception about down insulation is that it is made of birds’ feathers, while in reality, it is the soft fluffy undercoat, under the feathers, of Goose and ducks. The quality of Down Insulation is gauged by its ‘fill power,’ which in layman terms is called Fluffiness. More air gets trapped in down clusters with higher loft, making the down both lighter and warmer.
Down is a natural material. It is nearly impossible for scientific research to come with a better material, which has a better warmth-to-weight ratio and can let in and out air while trapping heat in the process.
Though down insulation is unbeatable when it comes to warmth to weight ratio and compressibility, there are few downsides attached to down insulation. That is why the debate between Down and Synthetic Insulation is not over yet.
Firstly, Down Insulation’s efficiency reduces substantially when it gets wet, and it takes a long time to dry; however, recent down products are water-resistant. If you have gone through the checklist of camping in the rain, you won’t face a problem in the wilderness.
Secondly, Down Insulation longevity is poor as compared to Synthetic. The small feathers make their way out and slowly. With time, the product loses its ability to trap heat; however, if it is taken care of by following the manufacturer’s instructions, the life of the down sleeping can be prolonged substantially. Lastly, it is more expensive than synthetic pads; an average down sleeping bag costs $300.
Synthetic Sleeping Bags
The mostly used sleeping bag that most campers are not ready to let go of for multiple reasons. It is made of polyester and mainly comes in two types: Short- Staple and Continuous filament.
Short: Staple insulation includes fine filaments that are densely packed to halt heat loss. Using fine filaments instead of Continuous filaments reduces the weight of the synthetic sleeping bag considerably and ensures greater compressibility. However, short-staple has downsides also. Compared to Continuous filaments, fine filaments are less durable and mobile, creating uneven spots.
In contrast, Continuous filament sleeping bags are more durable and solid as they are made of thicker continuous filaments. However, unlike short-staple, these sleeping bags are heavy and less compressible.
Remember that the quality of synthetic sleeping bags matters a lot. For example, a sleeping bag with loose linings can create an uneven surface and cold spots.
Overall, Synthetic sleeping bags are a great choice as they come at a low price and still keep you warm and dry in harsh weather, and also they can be used in conjunction with camping beds for bad backs. Unlike Down Insulation, Synthetic sleeping insulates you even when wet. Moreover, it gets dry in less time as compared to Down Insulation.
Which one Should I take?
For the best experience, consider what kind of outdoor activities you are into. Plus, where you want to use it and how you want to take it there.
As we said earlier, Down insulations are way lighter and more compact than synthetic insulations, so if you are into long hikes and mountaineering, then you probably should take Down Sleeping bags. However, a down sleeping bag means more responsibility; you have to take care of it and clean it now and then for longevity. Also, ensure that you are keeping it dry so that you don’t have to sleep cold.
Synthetic sleeping bags are cheaper and more durable. They require less care as compared to down insulations. Moreover, these sleeping bags can keep you warm even when the filaments are wet. However, they are quite heavy and not as warm as down sleeping bags. Considering its downsides and benefits, a Synthetic sleeping bag is right for those who don’t have time to clean their outdoor equipment frequently and not planning to go on a long hike.