Sleeping Bag Ratings A New Idea

Sleeping Bag Ratings A New Idea

It seems that sleeping bag ratings have no consistency. Temperature ratings are still determined entirely by the manufacturers of​ the bags. My 3-pound Sierra Designs bag, for example, was rated to​ 20 degrees. Honestly, it​ never kept me as​ warm as​ my 17-ounce Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, which is​ only rated down to​ 40 degrees. Isn't this a​ problem when you buy a​ bag? Maybe a​ 45-degree bag will keep you warmer than a​ 30-degree bag.

Consistent Sleeping Bag Ratings

No matter what temperature a​ bag is​ rated for, under any system of​ testing, it​ won't necessarily keep you warm to​ that temperature. We can't solve the problem of​ people having different metabolisms and bodies. a​ particular bag might be good for one person down to​ 20 degrees, while for another it​ is​ only good to​ 40 degrees. You generally can figure out if​ you are a​ cold or​ a​ warm sleeper, but that doesn't help if​ you don't know whether a​ bag is​ rated too high or​ too low.

You need to​ know that if​ a​ bag says 30 degrees it​ will keep you warmer than one that says 40 degrees. With that, even if​ you add or​ subtract 10 or​ 20 degrees for your personal tastes, you can still figure out which bag is​ the warmer one. How do we get this consistency?

Begin testing with any sleeping bag, by putting a​ bag of​ water in​ it​ that is​ human-sized, weighing perhaps 160 pounds. Have three standard sizes for small, regular and large sleeping bags. Always start with the water temperature at​ 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and measure how long before it​ drops to​ 90 degrees. External air temperature has to​ always be the same too, whther it​ is​ 60 degrees or​ 40.

The numbers are not crucial. What's important here is​ that once the standards are chosen, every bag is​ tested the same way, with the same conditions (even the temperature and material of​ the testing platform would have to​ be the same). This is​ what will give consistency to​ the sleeping bag ratings for warmth.

Now, if​ a​ bag rated to​ 40 degrees keeps the water above 90 for two hours, a​ bag rated for 30 would obviously have to​ keep it​ above 90 degrees for a​ longer time. Pegging heat-retention times to​ specific temperature ratings would be a​ bit tricky at​ first. However, once done, each new bag on the market could be submitted to​ the testing and quickly given a​ consistent rating. We would know that a​ lower rating would always mean a​ warmer bag, degree-by-degree. We could even have old bags tested to​ see if​ it​ is​ time to​ replace them.

Manufacturer Acceptance?

Would manufacturers pay a​ private testing company to​ have their bags rated? Some, at​ first, because it​ would be a​ an​ advantage for those companies who are already conservative in​ their temperature ratings. They would have "proof" that the bags are even warmer than they were claiming. Then, eventually, all bag makers would feel some motivation to​ have their sleeping bags tested, because consumers would be wary about buying ones that weren't tested.

I hope someone will take this idea and run with it. an​ existing consumer rating company, like Consumer Reports, could do this on their own and report the results. Even if​ they listed the bags without temperature ratings, but in​ absolute order by which held the heat in​ the best, it​ would be very useful. One could look at​ the list and if​ their current bag kept them warm to​ 25 degrees, ythey would know that any bag higher on the list would be warmer. Isn't it​ time for consistent sleeping bag ratings?

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