If you are going camping with a sleeping bag for the first time or if you have used sleeping bags in the past and are just wondering why it even matters, then you are in the right place.
Many people will tell you that it doesn’t matter what side your zipper is on but this may not be the case.
Your sleeping bag zipper should be on the side that makes the most sense. If you are not sleeping in a confined space, this would normally be the opposite side of your dominant hand. For instance, if you are right-handed, you should have the zipper on the left side. This generally makes it easier to use your right hand to zip or unzip the sleeping bag.
However, there can be instances where you will need to consider your surroundings to make this decision, but even so, you can usually just adjust your bag so that your dominant hand can still be used.
Be sure to check out the clickable table of contents to find situations that may affect the side your zipper is on.
Why have the sleeping bag zipper opposite your dominant hand?
This is just the most practical way for most people. Usually, it is easier to simply reach across the front of your body to pull the zipper up or down.
If the zipper is on the same side as your dominant hand, for most people, it is a little more difficult to pull the zipper straight up or down. This is because of the unusual position and twisting motion that you must make in a confined space.
Consider your surroundings.
This is important in confined sleeping spaces such as a small 1-person tent. You will want to make sure the zipper is on the side that has the most room. This is simply to make it easier to use the zipper. If you have the zipper up against something, it can make it more difficult to use.
In some cases, you may want to consider if you will need to go into your tent feet first or head first and consider what is best for you. This may also play a part in positioning your sleeping bag so that the sipper is on a side that has more space. This is important because you the direction you go into your tent will decide the direction of your sleeping bag.
If you don’t care which side the zipper is on, then you can simply orient your sleeping bag to correspond to feet first or head first tent entry.
Zipper positioning when using a bivy sack.
If you don’t know what a bivy sack is, a bivy sack (short for bivouac sack) is a weather-proof covering often used by mountain climbers to keep the elements out and off of a sleeping bag. A bivy sack can also be handy if you are sleeping in a sleeping bag out in the open.
Why do you need to consider zipper positioning when using a bivy sack? It’s really just a matter of keeping everything on the same side and making your life easier. What I mean by this is you will want to keep the sleeping back zipper on the same side as the zipper to the bivy. This will make it much easier to unzip both.
Sleeping bag zipper positioning for side sleepers.
This comes down to making it easier to open and close your sleeping bag. You will want to have the zipper on the same side that you sleep on. For instance, if you sleep on your right side, you will want a right-side zipper.
The reasoning for this is if you are laying on your right side and have a right-hand zipper, the zipper will be on your front side rather than your back side. This also makes it easier to unzip with your free hand that you are not laying on.
Consider your shelter entry point.
Another thing you may want to consider is the tent entry point. For front or rear entry it is a matter of considering the direction you will enter as discussed above. However, some tents have side entries and you will probably want to keep the zipper of your sleeping bag on the same side as the tent entry. This is to simply make it easier to not only open the tent entry from your sleeping bag but since you will enter your sleeping bag from the zipper side, it will be much easier this way.
When putting two sleeping bags together.
For this, it really doesn’t matter. You will simply unzip both bags and line them up so that the inner lining of each back is facing one another. Line up the zippers and zip it up.
Does it really matter what side my sleeping bag zipper is on?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing written into law on what side your zipper should be on. It is simply a matter of convenience, so why not make sure that your zipper is on the side that best suits your needs.
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