Sleeping BagsSleeping bags today you can buy today come in a variety of exotic styles - you can buy singles, doubles, thermal, lightweight, high tog, down filled, indoor, etc, etc. However the basic idea is very simple and was probably one of the earliest forms of portable bed.
Choosing and BuyingIn general sleeping bags are designed to hold in heat during the night whilst also providing a degree of comfort. Higher levels of thermal insulation and/or comfort usually involve a tradeoff with price and/or bulk.
The best choice for you will depend on your intended use. Is it for occasional crashing on an indoor floor? Will you be camping under canvas in a temperate climate? Or will you be braving harsher climes whilst attempting to carry as little gear as possible? All these factors will affect your choice of sleeping bag - and the price you'll pay. A bag that is both very light and very warm is likely to have a premium price tag.
If in doubt speak with an in-store specialist or check out online reviews.
HistoryIt's likely that the first "sleeping bags" were simply animal skins folded over, more of a blanket than anything else. Later the skins or hides would be stitched together to form a more permanent structure - for example reindeer skin sleeping bags were used by the ill fated 1912 Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole.
Standardisation and mass production of the sleeping bag was a relatively recent innovation. Various countries lay claim to the first product, however a good claim comes from Wales. Inventor Pryce Jones - who also created the first mail order catalogue - patented the Euklisia rug in 1876. This simple sleeping bag was little more than a folded blanket with a few clasps, however it sold around the world in huge numbers for its day.
VarietiesToday there are many people making sleeping bags, some well known brands include The North Face, Coleman, Slumberjack, Kelty and Vango. Although the single vertical bag with a side zip is still the best known there's a huge variety of styles on the market including indoor and outdoor equipment, mummy versions and special designs for children. You can even buy what I can only describe as "wearable" sleeping bags!
With any sleeping bags always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Safety first, especially when kids are involved!