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Actually, modern synthetics have been developed which have all but replaced down.
Synthetics cost less, are washable, and can be nearly as warm as down, especially when it
is damp outside. For most family camping situations, most any of the synthetics will be
There are many methods for sewing the insulation into a bag. High end bags will have
loose insulation material (down or synthetic) stuffed into overlapping chambers
(sometimes called "tubes").
Most general use bags have insulation in the form of batting that is sewn to the nylon shell.
Since sewing through the batting reduces its insulating properties (called "loft"), a warmer
bag will have double layers of insulation sewn in an alternating pattern so that the stitching
in one layer is offset from the other layer.
Zippers and Collars
You should be good quality, and should not pinch or catch on the fabric when zipping up.
You should be able to zip it up from the outside or inside. If you plan to connect two bags
together to make a double bag, make sure the zippers are compatible.
Some bags have a collar at the top that helps keep the opening closed around your neck to
retain heat. This is useful in cold weather, but is unnecessary and perhaps annoying, in
You might not need a sleeping bag at all! Plenty of campers started and continue with a
bedroll. You can make your own bedroll by taking sheets and blankets and making up a
bed just like at home. Add more blankets or a comforter for cooler weather. It will be best
if you have some sort of mattress to make your bedroll on, like a futon or air mattress.