Sleeping bags can easily be one of the more costly items you spend your money on for camping trips. While they get used over and over again you might not think they should be as expensive as they are.
Sleeping bags can be expensive due to the quality and technologies used to create warm, breathable and comfortable sleeping bags. They can also cost more if you are looking for a sleeping bag that is appropriate for all weathers and seasons. This can be counteracted by coupons or buying second hand.
Int his article we are going to break down the reasons we feel sleeping bags can be expensive, how to save money when buying one and whether the more expensive brands are worth it.
5 Reasons for the High Price Tags on Some Sleeping Bags
Before we jump in and start talking about different sleeping bags and how to save money on them I wanted to run through a few reasons why sleeping bags can be expensive.
1. Temperature Rating
This is perhaps the biggest factor that makes some sleeping bags more expensive than others. The bags are tested and assigned a rating that determines their seasonality; with the bags for colder weather being the more expensive. EN and ISO ratings ensure that all the bags with identical ratings will perform the same. Bags tested with EN or ISO have two different ratings: comfort rating and lower limit rating.
Comfort rating is the lowest temperature that will be convenient for someone who is cold-sensitive. This is usually for women as studies show that they are more sensitive to cold than men when they sleep.
A lower limit rating is the lowest possible temperature that is convenient for someone less sensitive to cold. Some bags will have only one and the difference is usually about 10-20 degrees.
2. Insulation Quality
The material used for the insulation is also a big factor in the price of your sleeping bag. A lot of the cheaper bags use a synthetic fiber blend for the insulation.
Although this material works well in damp conditions, it isn’t nearly as warm as down feathers. This animal product is used in more expensive sleeping bags. In equal amounts of synthetic insulation, it will keep you much warmer.
Fill-power rating is used to measure the insulation level for down sleeping bags on a scale from 0 to 1000. The higher the number on the scale, the more down the sleeping bag has in it.
3. Sleeping Bag Shape
The shape isn’t a major factor in the price, but there is a trend with expensive models. Sleeping bags come in three main shapes: mummy, barrel, and rectangle.
Rectangle sleeping bags are the cheapest and have plenty of space in them. The space is good for turning and rolling at night but it does not help matters when you’re trying to keep warm.
Mummy shaped bags are the most expensive of the bunch and are form-fitting. When you roll, the sleeping bag rolls over with you instead of rolling over inside. The majority of mummy bags have a built-in hood that helps in keeping you warm considerably.
Barrel bags are the middle point of both. They have more room than the mummy bag but are lighter and warmer than the rectangle one. You can find sleeping bags of all prices in this category.
4. Weight and Size
Sleeping bags that are compact or lightweight are more expensive than others. This is because when camping, every ounce matters. You need your camping gear to be lightweight and take the least possible space.
If you look at two sleeping bags with the same temperature rating, the higher-priced one will most likely weigh less and fold up smaller. A good bag is usually one that doesn’t weigh a lot and takes little space folding up without losing any of the properties that make it warm.
Durability is an often-overlooked factor that makes sleeping bags expensive. Some cheap sleeping bags will rip or tear after just two trips while others will last for years as long as they’re properly cared for. Cheaper sleeping bags are often made with nylon which is by far the weakest material for sleeping bags.
Expensive sleeping bags are made with fabrics called technical textiles which are specifically manufactured for that use. These materials are water-resistant, durable, and insulating but still breathable. These bags scale up in price depending on the temperature rating you wish to buy. The quality of the zippers also factors in determining the price of your sleeping bag.
How to Save Money on Sleeping Bags
Now you know the different features and elements of sleeping bag and what makes them expensive, lets look at the ways you can save money. While you don’t want to hop on the cheapest sleeping bag you see, you still want to aim for quality products but at a price that is more suitable to your wallet or budget.
Here’re 4 effective ways to save a few bucks on sleeping bags.
1. Rent Sleeping Bags
If you’re not a regular camper, renting a quality sleeping bag can save you a lot more than buying a cheap one. Some camping gear shops have rental programs especially if they’re located in areas close to popular trails.
You can also use this to test out a bag before deciding to buy it, so you’re not stuck with something you don’t like. This is great for those that don’t camp regularly because they can easily get one when they need it and return afterwards.
2. Buy Second-Hand Sleeping bags
Some of the very expensive sleeping bags can go for a considerably cheaper price if they’re sold as second-hand products. Also, a lot of these sleeping bags are extremely durable, so there might not be any considerable damage to the second-hand sleeping bag you decide to buy.
You can check out sporting goods shops in large cities and trail towns – they have the best deals. You may be surprised by some of the great deals available. Be sure to check them carefully before buying.
3. Look for Deals
Some websites advertise nice deals and sales for sleeping bags. Many of them post the upcoming deals ahead of time so you can plan. Popular websites like Backcountry.com and REI Garage have some killer deals and sales that you can take advantage of.
If you come across any of these, bookmark the sites and keep checking for new updates on any deals you might be interested in.
4. Shop Out Of Season To Get Better Prices
Shopping bags in their seasons are usually at their highest possible price, making it the worst time to buy them. Plan your shopping ahead of time and buy sleeping bags when it isn’t their season as this is when prices will be lowest.
The reason for the price change is that, during their season, the demand for sleeping bags is highest. So, if you know you want to buy a sleeping bag, find out its season of use and plan to buy it when it’s out of season.
Are Expensive Sleeping Bags Worth the Extra Money?
Now we have discussed the features that make a sleeping bag expensive and how to save money on them, you might want to know if the more expensive sleeping bags are worth buying in the first place.
You should buy sleeping bags based on the qualities that are most important to you. Expensive sleeping bags could be worth the extra money depending on what you’re looking for. Generally, sleeping bags fall into 4 types based on their price range – each with different qualities.
These are rated for use in balmy and mild weather. They have no kind of special insulation and are commonly rectangular. At a price range of about $15-$50, they are the cheapest sleeping bags in the market.
You should get this if you need to camp and keep cool off the ground. However, the slightly higher priced bags in this category have ventilation or special materials to keep you warm in summer.
3 Season Bags
3 season bags have more insulation than summer sleeping bags and can keep you warm in temperatures at freezing point and above. Their prices range from $50-$200 depending on the type of insulation/ fill-power rating of the bag.
You should get this if you want something that performs better than the summer bags and is often more durable.
4 Season Bags
These are usually mummy-shaped bags that can keep warm in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees down to 0 degrees. You should take your pick of the insulation rating you are looking for in this category as they can range between $100 and $550.
These are a great pick for wintertime and you should choose your price point based on additional features such as durability, size, and temperature rating.
These bags combine all the best qualities to give the most effective and functional sleeping bags. Expedition sleeping bags are meant for subzero temperatures and will keep you warm in the most extreme conditions.
An average person will most likely not need these sleeping bags, but those who do will have to pay top dollar for them. Their prices start from $100 and can go as high as $1000+.