Rectangular sleeping bags go as far back as the late 1800’s when a mail order catalog pioneer Pryce Pryce-Jones came up with the idea to connect 2 rectangular rugs together with ties. He is considered to be the inventor of today’s modern rectangular sleeping bag design. He originally came up with the idea for the Russian army so they could carry their beds wherever they needed to be. It was a revolutionary idea until the army fell to its foes. After the war he had many of these bags still left and decided to market them to the public. The idea caught on and eventually came with the option for a built in pillow for more comfort.
In 1917 the zipper was perfected and, of course, these made for a great seal for the rectangular sleeping bags allowing a persons body heat to stay trapped longer therefore keeping them warmer on those cold winter nights. Basically the term sleeping bag essentially means a protective bag for someone to sleep in. and is basically two blankets that can be zipped together in cases where a bed is not available. There are a couple different shapes of bags outlined below.
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Rectangular sleeping bags are the original and most common shape you’ll see on the market. These are simple but effective designs and continue to dominate the market for recreational camping and slumber parties alike. While originally being just two blankets zipped together, over the years the technology has allowed manufacturers t fill them with synthetic material creating better heat retention than the old styles. Some are filled with synthetic fiber, wool, cotton or down however if you’re allergic to down, this may not be an option for you. There are many debated as to which one keeps you warmer and it really just a matter of opinion. I personally don’t think there is much of a noticeable difference between the fillings however synthetic fibers will not absorb water and will keep you warmer even if the bag is a bit wet. A wet down sleeping bag is very hard to dry out and is considered worse than having no sleeping bag at all. In cases where you’re in a survival situation synthetic is definitely the choice you should go with. Wool tends to stay dry however it is much heavier and is harder to transport because of that extra weight. Synthetic will keep you warm however it tends to compress easier and the bottom of the bag will let cool air in because of this. Hanging them and changing the position when storing is the preferred method of many outdoor enthusiasts as this keeps them from forming dead spots where the fibers have been crushed and rendering them ineffective at keeping you warm on cold evenings.
Generally rectangular sleeping bags are very easy to store and transport as most are folded into halves or thirds, rolled up and then bound together with a band or tied with built in straps. You can carry them on backpacks or throw them in the trunk of your car for your next trip. Many are commonly used for overnighters at a friend’s house and are generally called slumber bags. These typically will breathe better than your outdoor bags as they don’t have to hold in your body heat as much. These sleeping bags are generally made for getting a comfortable night sleep. Children love these types as they will typically be rectangular sleeping bags and come in all different colors, sizes and designs from their favorite super hero to a princess in pink.
Another type of sleeping bag is the mummy bag. The mummy sleeping bag is different from the traditional style because of their shape. The idea behind these is that there is less surface area inside the bag allowing the heat to build up faster and keep you warmer. These are generally used in extreme hiking and climbing situations where the weather will be extremely cold. Some have ratings of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit and will not be a good fit for your recreational camping or hiking trip. These types of bags are used in expeditions to Mt. Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro, etc. Unless you are planning a trip to a very cold climate and sleeping outdoors then you will probably be happier with rectangular sleeping bags over a mummy style bag. These bags have a certain use and they are very specific, extremely cold weather, mummy sleeping bag. Mummy bags are typically not rolled like the rectangular style and are usually stuffed into a bag for storage and transport.
When using any type of sleeping bag the bottom of it is usually the most important when keeping you warm on a cold night. When you lay down you tend to crush the insulating material between you and the surface below causing the insulation not to work very well. To help with this problem it is recommended that you place a pad or non crushable insulating material underneath your bag. The zipper of a rectangular sleeping bag is always the week point for losing heat however with today’s technology the heat loss is usually minimal as compared with older models. When choosing a sleeping bag you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions. First, ask yourself if you’ll be camping in cold weather or if you’re just a weekend warrior in the summer. Second, ask yourself if at any time you’ll be going on extreme expeditions to very cold climates as this may cause the need for a mummy bag. Third, ask yourself how much you want to spend and this will help narrow down your choices. There are rectangular sleeping bags for men and ones especially made for the shape of a woman’s body. Finding the one that fits you is not that hard and there are many choices out there. Typically mummy bags are more expensive than the traditional style and most of the time you’ll be perfectly fine with traditional rectangular sleeping bags.