Are There Waterproof Sleeping Bags?

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Waterproof Sleeping Bags

Are there waterproof sleeping bags?

After a long day of exploring in the wild, it is a refreshing feeling to lay down on your sleeping bag. Looking for the best sleeping bags is based on various factors, including comfort and weather conditions.

Sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm in your tent while also allowing your body to breathe and sweat. Most of the sleeping bags are not waterproof since campers use them inside their tents.  Needless to say, a waterproof tent is much better than a waterproof sleeping bag since the former is the first line of defense against elements.

There are some sleeping bags that claim to be waterproof, but they tend to trap sweat instead of allowing it to be released from your body. But in most cases, sleeping bag shells are water repellant, enabling droplets of moisture to run off and slide without permeating the cloth.

Types of sleeping bag fabric

Staying warm is the most crucial aspect of camping, and a sleeping bag is essential for sleeping peacefully outside. Being knowledgeable about the materials used in sleeping bags might help you in selecting the appropriate sleeping bag for various weather conditions. These are some standard sleeping bag fabrics:

Sleeping bags shell

Polyester, Taffeta, Nylon

Polyester, Taffeta, and Nylon are smooth and soft fabrics. You can opt for either polyester or nylon as the outer shell since these materials are highly comfortable and also breathable.  They aren’t as sturdy as other shells and aren’t advised when the bag will be put to the test for camping trips. This fabric is ideal for saving money and use in tents and other indoor applications.

Dry Loft 

Dry Loft is considered the best material to be used to make premium water-resistant sleeping bags while retaining breathability and comfort at the same time. The Sea to Summit Alpine Ap2 features this technology.

This type of fabric provides great moisture protection, and on the inside, their breathability keeps the bag dry. Dry Loft is recommended for four-season camping. Although this material is the most costly sleeping bag fabric, it offers the best features for your money’s worth.

Ripstop

These threads of Ripstops are significantly heavier since they are made from polyester or nylon, making the shell stronger and more durable. Hence, they are less likely to tear.

In addition, it also helps to keep moisture out while remaining reasonably breathable. This is a good alternative for individuals who will frequently use their sleeping bags due to their durability. 

Sleeping bag fill

Synthetic 

While nothing compares to down fill in terms of warmth and durability, synthetic sleeping bags have gone a long way. They’re more lightweight, technical, and well-designed than ever before. Synthetic bags also outperform their down equivalents in rainy situations. They are, on the whole, far less expensive than down sleeping bags. 

Down

Down is more expensive than synthetic insulations on average. Still, it is preferred because they are more compressible and are also very light. Furthermore, down fill is more durable than synthetic fill, retaining a consistent degree of warmth for a more extended period.

Sleeping bag liners

Polyester, Taffeta, Nylon

These materials are gentle on the skin and breathable and can be found in all varieties of sleeping bags, from high-end to low-cost.

Cotton

Cotton is also quite soft against the skin, but it takes time to dry, so it’s not ideal for cooler climates. This can be found at low to average cost and is more preferred for summer or indoor use.

Silk

Silk is comfortable and breathable, but it is more susceptible to tears than other fabrics and substantially more repairable. It is commonly found in the more expensive sleeping bags range.

Fleece

Although fleece is soft, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying, these bags are heavier. Their pricing, nonetheless, is reasonable for the quality that you will be getting.

Types of sleeping bag fabrics for different weather

The materials used in sleeping bags offer the same purposes. Still, it is important to keep in mind that they differ in terms of performance when used during various weather conditions. These fabrics are recommended in specific conditions:

Sleeping bags for cold weather

Shell

  • Polyester, Taffeta, Nylon

They are far less costly since they are synthetic but are also not as durable as other fabrics. It is preferred to waterproof the shell for extra protection from the elements when you’re going on a trip in wet conditions. This type of shell is ideal for use in mild weather in the spring and summer.

  • Dry Loft 

Dryloft or Gore-Tex is the best shell material for cold and wet terrain, especially when using down filler. Even if they are more expensive, they are indeed water-resistant and will greatly reduce moisture.

Fills

  • Synthetic 

The most significant advantage of a synthetic fill is that it can insulate and retain heat even when wet. If you’re camping in wet weather, it will also dry far faster than a down bag.

There are certain synthetic fillings rated for temperatures as low as 10 degrees below zero during colder weather. In addition, synthetic fill is the ideal all-around material for any type of camping. They’re a little heavier than down fillers, but they provide excellent insulation that holds up in wet circumstances and is much less expensive.

  • Down – only if you have a shelter

Down-filled sleeping bags provide more warmth than synthetic-filled bags. They’re also a lot lighter, which makes them ideal for travelers. Compared to synthetic fill, the major disadvantage of down fill is that it does not insulate when wet.

When stowing the bag, it’s also crucial to keep it dry, which is easy to do with a bag cover or waterproof sack. They are significantly more expensive, but their durability and lifespan compensate for it. Down insulation works great in dry, cold climates. They must only be used in wet weather if you’re shielded from the elements through your tent or other forms of shelter.

Sleeping bag for hot weather

Shells

  • Ripstop

Ripstop is made of nylon or polyester, but the threads are significantly heavier since they’ve been strengthened. This makes the shell stronger, making it less likely to tear. Ripstop is indeed a great material for camping in dry areas. It is tough and can withstand rough terrain. However, it is not suitable for wet weather.

  • Cotton

Cotton repels water and does not compress much when slept on. This fabric is an excellent option for camping indoors. However, it is bulky and does not provide good insulation when wet, making it unsuitable for wet weather conditions. Nevertheless, cotton is soft, light, and breathable. It absorbs sweat, enabling body heat to escape and keeping you cool during the night. Thus, they are ideal for dry and hot climates.

Fills 

  • Synthetic 

Synthetic sleeping bags are great insulators even when they are wet. Aside from that, they quickly dry moisture. This material is recommended during wet weather conditions, but it is still usable during dry weather conditions.

  • Down

Down sleeping bags are highly compressible, and with proper care, they may last for decades. The disadvantage of this material is that when these sleeping bags become wet, they lose their insulating properties and require a long time to dry. This is why down sleeping bags perform better during hot and dry climates.

Tips for keeping sleeping bags dry

Sleeping bags are designed specifically for camping. It’s no surprise that almost every camper utilizes them. Despite their many advantages, it is not unusual for campers to wake up drenched in moisture– may it be because of factors like condensation, morning dew, or rainy weather conditions.

According to several camping experts, waking up in sweat and moisture will result in a few degrees of heat loss. It is important to note that a dry sleeping bag is equivalent to a warm sleeping bag, so you should take precautions to keep it as dry as possible.

One way to keep your sleeping bags dry is to use trash bags before putting them in their storage. This protects the sleeping bag from rain and dew in the morning.

However, you need to ensure that your sleeping bag cover is ventilated. Otherwise, you risk developing internal condensation that will build on your sleeping bag.

Moreover, hanging your sleeping bags every morning to dry if you’re in a dry or windy location will release the moisture trapped inside.

Synthetic bags will dry faster than down bags, and they usually dry in a few hours or less if they are damp. Keeping your sleeping bags away from wet surfaces will preserve their durability and insulation capabilities.

Things to consider when buying sleeping bags

Trying to choose the perfect bag with all of this information might be stressful, especially if you just want to buy one. There are five essential factors to consider to make the selection a little easier:

Weight

Finding a lightweight sleeping bag will save you from becoming tired easily if you travel frequently and carry your sleeping bag for miles. If you want your sleeping bag to be easy to carry, use a down fill since they are lighter and easier to compress.

Temperature

You won’t need a down-filled sleeping bag if you’re a three-season camper. Those who enjoy winter camping or in colder climates will need the warmest down alternative for a decent night’s sleep. Again, it is important to remember that fabrics of sleeping bags perform differently in various weather conditions.

Budget

When deciding between different materials, price is also a factor to consider when choosing a sleeping bag. You can splurge on a down-filled sleeping bag with a silk inner, for example, if you have a large budget.

Unless you’d rather spend your money on a more expensive tent or other gear, buy a less expensive sleeping bag or search the web on how much it would cost to create your own. You might be able to get the materials for a fraction of what a brand new sleeping bag would cost.

Comfortability

The right sleeping bags will help you maintain a nice and relaxing night’s sleep. They do not only keep you warm, but they also provide you the peace of mind you need to prepare completely for the next day.

It’s worth noting that these sleeping bags will leave you feeling refreshed and eager to embark on new adventures. That is why picking a comfortable sleeping bag is one of the most important factors to keep in mind.

Durability

When you know the bag will be worn out by the end of the season, buy one that will last for several travels and as long as possible. When you’re at home, store it in a cool, dry location to extend its life.