How to Interpret A Sleeping Bag’s Temperature Rating

on Oct 30, 2014 in Camping and Camp Gear, Scouts and Scouting | 0 comments

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Question: How are sleeping bags rated and what does the rating mean?

Almost all sleeping bags have a temperature rating. Often, the temperature provided, is totally random. On one of my trips to China, I viewed the final packaging of sleeping bags at one of the factories. What I saw bothered me; the finished bags were coming down a long assembly line. At the terminus were five fingers, of which three were in use. These identical sleeping bags were being boxed; one box stated 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the second 30 degrees, and the third stated 40 degrees. The true temperature rating is measured by a calibration in the European Union (EU). Even with this “certified” rating, a lot of variables come into play. There are three EU Certifications; comfort, standard, and survival; almost all certified bags utilize the survival rating.

A survival rating is based on the occupant not getting frost bite. The following parameters are used in this calculation:

1. The occupant has consumed the average number of calories required to support the physical exertion of the day.
2. The sleeping bag is insulated from any ground influence; i.e., a good insulation mat.
3. The sleeping bag is within a tent such that there is no wind / chill factor.
4. The sleeping bag thoroughly encapsulates the body heat such that there is minimal heat loss.

In a perfect setting, the resulting rating works; however, for a normal person’s comfort level, I recommend adding between 15 and 20 degrees to the EU Certification.

Jerry – The Gear Guy

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