When you go camping, you lose most of the comforts of home including your bed and blankets. Still, being comfortable when you sleep is a vital part of a successful camping trip! The right sleeping bag can really make all the difference between a fantastic camping experience and one that leaves you wanting to stay home next time
Today, let’s talk about how you can get the best rest possible with your sleeping bag and answer the question – are down bags better than synthetic?
So which is better, down or synthetic sleeping bags?
For dry but very cold conditions down is superior in its ability to insulate and it is light-weight compared to most synthetic insulators. This makes down sleeping bags better for dry cold camping and hiking. Synthetic sleeping bags are better in conditions that have a significant amount of moisture. Since synthetic will loses less of its insulation ability, it is better in wet conditions.
Down Sleeping Bags
- What is Down?
“Down” described in reference to a sleeping bag is what the lining of the bag is filled with. Down is the soft layer of feathers on a bird found underneath the exterior feathers. It is commonly used to fill duvets, comforters, sleeping bags, pillows, and other bedding material. The most common “down” material you will find in bedding comes from geese.
- The Pros and Cons of Down Sleeping Bags
Down sleeping bags are highly preferred by seasoned campers for many reasons, but not everyone wants to hunker down in a bed of bird feathers. Let’s talk about the upsides and downsides to taking a down sleeping bag on your next camping trip.
Pros of Down Sleeping Bags
- Down sleeping bags provide ample warmth when camping out in colder weather. Down is insulating while still being breathable enough to feel comfortable when the bag warms up. According to seasoned campers, down bags warm up fast and stay warm without getting too hot.
- These bags are luxuriously plush and soft. Most people describe it as lying down on a cloud! If you are someone who doesn’t need much back support (which you wouldn’t really be getting in a sleeping bag anyway), you may love a down-filled sleeping bag for your trip.
- Down sleeping bags are lightweight! Synthetic material can be quite weighty, and actual down bags can be up to a pound lighter for the same temperature rating. This is great if you are already bogged down with the weight of other camping essentials or if you are backpacking.
- Sleeping bags filled with down are much easier to compress than synthetic bags are. If you have very limited space in which to pack it up, then a down sleeping bag could be the right choice for you. The same goes for people who would just like to carry more supplies at one time, too. The trips back and forth to the car when leaving camp are already exhausting enough. A non-bulky bag can save you space and time.
Cons of Down Sleeping Bags
- Some people’s allergies are triggered by goose down. It is not the feathers themselves that you would be allergic to, but the dust particles that get trapped with use and even after washing. If you are particularly sensitive to dust or dander, getting a synthetic sleeping bag would be a better option.
- Down sleeping bags are, on average, more expensive than the synthetic models. If you are camping on a budget and don’t feel like splurging on your sleeping situation, synthetic bags are what you should look for. You can get nice synthetic bags for $50-$70 typically. You would be hard-pressed to find a high-quality goose down sleeping bag in the same price range.
- Down does not fare well in wet conditions. Why? Because wet feathers are flat and uncomfortable. Wet down does not insulate your body against the cold. They also smell less than stellar, so if you might get your sleeping bag out in the rain or snow, choose a synthetic bag instead. Remember also that wet sleeping bags when they are not protected with hydrophobic material will get much heavier. Backpackers beware!
- Some campers take issue with down filling because they find it cruel to the animals that it came from. Vegans and vegetarians would do best to avoid using this material because, in the end, it is still an animal product. If that doesn’t bother you, then you may not consider this a downside at all.
Down Sleeping Bags for Sale
If you know that you want a down sleeping bag, then you have plenty of options on the market! All of the following examples are highly rated and recommended by seasoned campers. Take a look.
Synthetic Sleeping Bags
- What is synthetic filling made of?
The synthetic alternative to down in sleeping bags can come in many forms, but the specifics of each filling are protected by the companies that make them. While we do not know the exact makeup of each material, there is a general trend of two popular types of synthetic filling: short-staple fibers and long continuous filaments.
- Fluff and compress in a similar way to down sleeping bags
- Don’t last as long as down; will require restuffing and eventually break down altogether
Long continuous filaments
- Durable like down, but will not compress as much
- Offers high insulation against freezing temperatures
The Pros and Cons of Synthetic Sleeping Bags
Just as down sleeping bags have their pros and cons, so do bags with synthetic filling. The benefits are considerable, but the downsides can be a dealbreaker for some. Let’s talk about that.
Pros of Synthetic Sleeping Bags
- They are often hypoallergenic. Synthetic materials do not trap dust and dander as much as goose/duck down will when it comes to your sleeping bag or any other bedding that you own. People with sensitive allergies can rest easier instead of staying up all night sneezing.
- They are often more affordable. More often than not, sleeping bags filled with synthetic material are sold at a lower cost. They are cheap to produce while still resulting in a high-quality product. Down is pricey because it is an animal product and these feathers are coveted by all.
- You can get these bags wet. Down sleeping bags deflate and cease to insulate the interior when they are wet. Synthetic bags will still keep you nice and warm even if you were caught out in the rain or snow. That is one distinct advantage that synthetic bags have over down.
Cons of Synthetic Sleeping Bags
- You can’t compress sleeping bags filled with synthetic material down as much as you can with down sleeping bags. This means that if you are tight on space, you will either have to give up other supplies to make a little more room or get a down bag instead.
- Synthetic bags are heavier. If you are taking your sleeping bag on a backpacking journey, this is not the most welcome news. After all, everything you have, you have to carry with you until you get to your destination. Even a one-pound difference can leave your back aching after a while.
- Some synthetic fillers may not be quite as soft as what you would find in a down sleeping bag. If you were hoping of sinking into your bag at the end of a long day and feeling like the ground is made of cotton candy, you should really look at getting a down model instead. While the softness of synthetic bags is still considerable, nothing compares to down when it comes to that.
Synthetic Sleeping Bags for Sale
People on a tight budget or those who have ethical issues with goose/duck down sleeping bags will be jumping with joy once they see the options below! There are plenty of synthetic bags on the market for you to choose from. Take a look at some of the following examples.
Which is Better: Down or Synthetic?
When it comes down to it, there is no better or worse type of sleeping bag filling. What is better for you depends on your situation. Some people take issue with using animal products; in that case, they would believe that synthetic sleeping bags are better. Other people need a bag that is lightweight and able to be compressed. To them, down sleeping bags reign supreme!
You see? It all comes down to personal preference. You should form your own opinion when it comes to the type of bedding that you prefer. To summarize and help you make your final decision, let’s make a straightforward list.
- Easy to compress
- Better in dry conditions
- More expensive than synthetic
- Ethically a grey area
- More affordable
- Can get wet
- Also insulating
- Can’t be compressed as much
In the end, the sleeping bag that you choose for your camping trip will be comfortable and reliable as long as you remember these things and get the bag that most closely accommodates your needs. Don’t blow your budget on down if you can’t really spare the cash. Don’t cheat yourself out of a luxurious experience if synthetic material is not important to you.
I hope this helped you make a decision that you won’t regret after a long, hard day of hiking and exploring. Rest peacefully, and happy trails!