Sleeping gear selection guide
The outdoors is a wonderfully varied place, but it can be tricky to select the correct equipment to ensure you stay warm, but not to warm at night and to balance overnight comfort with your kit weight in the daytime.
The more you travel, the more you will get to know your optimum kit specs, but to help you here is a guide.
Your sleeping bag and mattress offer more than just comfort, they are the crucial insulation barrier between your body the ground and the air around you. Even in warm climates temperatures can fall away quickly at night, so getting your sleeping kit right is important.
Selecting a base matt, or bed
Blow up beds
Blow up mattresses provide a large volume of air insulation, but are typically heavy. So, great if you are travelling by car and weight isn't an issue and especially if you have children these offer a good degree of comfort. Remember, they are also dependent on the air pocket being undamaged so be careful not to get a puncture - even the best blow up beds will struggle against sharp objects!
Inflating carry / roll matts
If you are carrying your matt with you our advice is to choose the best matt you can afford, balanced against the length / location of your trip. Higher performing mattresses typically are lighter and stronger, good if you are travelling for a long period as you want to ensure your overall pack weight is minimised, with overnight comfort maximised. The latest inflating roll or carry matts are very effective, providing a good insulating barrier and comfort, with a low weight.
Basic roll matts
If on a short trip or at a festival you may choose a more basic matt that you can roll and stow quickly and gives you enough comfort for a night or two whilst being very cost effective. Again these are low weight so ideal where you are carrying your kit with you as you move.
Selecting a Sleeping bag
3 Steps to choosing the right sleeping bag:
Just as at home, your outdoor sleeping covers are very personal and what is ideal for one person may differ for another.
Sleeping bags are rated into categories according to their insulating properties - in other words how warm they will keep you, but you must also consider some other factors in making your choice:
1. Choose the right rating for the temperatures around you at night
- 1 season sleeping bags - best for warm summer nights of 5°C and higher, or indoor use when backpacking.
- 2 season sleeping bags - for late spring to early autumn nights, when you won’t be roasting but are unlikely to encounter freezing weather either. Approximately 0 to 5°C.
- 3 season sleeping bags - best for mild to cold nights with no frost but when the temperature may start to creep into the minuses. Approximately 0 to -5°C.
- 4 season sleeping bags - designed for very cold winter nights when you’re likely to encounter frosty and snowy weather. These bags are bulkier but you’ll remain warm in temperatures as low as -10°C.
- 4+ season sleeping bags - some sleeping bags are rated as ‘5 season’. This term is used to refer to bags that are suitable for extreme expeditions in very cold climates.
2. Know your own body
People's night time body temperature varies according to their personal