Synthetic sleeping bags or natural sleeping bags, synthetic or natural, which one should I buy? Does this question keep rearing its ugly head in your mind? Not to worry. There are several natural options: wool, cotton and down filled. The other choice to consider is synthetic bags. Each one has several pros and cons.
Down filled slumber bags are the most common of the natural fill bags and also cost more initially. The more down in the slumber bag, the warmer and lighter it is, but the more feathers, the heavier and bulkier it is. The industry uses a number scale which has 550 equal to average quality of down and 850-900 being the best down. Down filled slumber bags can slowly absorb moisture and loose loft if in damp conditions for an extended time. Unfortunately, they lose their warmth when they’re wet. It’s also important to wear all clean clothes while in the bag because body sweat and oils can build up on the bag. Down vs Synthetic Sleeping Bag is an excellent resource for this.
Two more natural fill bags are: a cotton slumber bag and a wool slumber bag. The wool slumber bag resists water and compression well. The wool also weighs a lot more than other fills though. A cotton slumber bag can be heavy and can retain a lot water. Because of this, they may be best for using while camping in one spot, not backpacking. They usually have a lower cost than others though, which can make them more attractive.
Comparatively, the synthetic slumber bags aren’t as absorbent as down, provide some warmth even if completely soaked and dry relatively quickly. Their initial cost is usually less than down filled sleeping bags and the quality is predictable. Another pro of the synthetic sleeping bags is they are resilient and insulate well, even between your body and the ground. Some of the cons are: they are heavier and bulkier, breathe poorly and the high loft life is rather short when compared to the natural fills.
Despite these differences between synthetic sleeping bags and natural fill bags, they do have something in common. When storing them, they should not be in a compression bag. At the very least use a larger storage sack and whatever you do don’t stack things on top of the bag. Ideally, all of them should be hung on a hanger and the position of the bag should be move now and again so there won’t be any dead spots (flattened, no longer useful spot).
Finally, when choosing to buy a natural or synthetic fill bag it’s important to keep these many differences in mind. As you can tell from the pros and cons written above, the different weather conditions and temperatures you’ll be using your sleeping bag in can certainly affect your choice in bags. Whether wool, cotton, down filled sleeping bags or synthetic sleeping bags, they all have something good to offer.