Thank you to everyone who entered our Snugpak Antarctica RE synthetic sleeping bag competition for January/February
Congratulations go out to Mrs S Brains from Barmouth, Miss P Price from Sudbury, Mr K Williams From Epworth, and Mr F Klime from Melton Mowbray. All the winners have been contacted and their Snugpak Antarctica RE synthetic sleeping bags dispatched.
Carry on pushing the bag into the sack, keeping a tight grip on both and spreading the bag evenly inside. Holding the sack between your feet or knees and having the rest of the bag over your shoulder helps.
When the sleeping bag is fully in the sack, pull the drawstring tight with one hand whilst pushing down hard into the sack with the other.
Pull the compression straps tight
*TOP TIP: As it is not always possible to store sleeping bags as recommended, at least slacken off the compression straps when you get home.
Backpacking is all about enjoying self-contained travel on foot in the outdoors staying comfortable and well-fed along the way whether you use a tent, bivvy bag ortarp. With a rucksack, tent, sleeping bag and cooking gear you have the basic ingredients to whip up a variety of recipes for outdoor adventure year after year, wandering through a landscape carrying everything you need for a night or more without the need to be anywhere at any particular time. With the right clothing, offering flexibility and protection with base, mid and outer layers, the elements can be enjoyed rather than endured.
It’s not meant to be a survival challenge but more a state of mind. The simple pleasures of waking deep in the hills or by the sea after a sound night in a cosy sleeping bag are priceless. Traveling through the country with all you need to hand allows you follow impulses, explore and just have fun. For a modest price, you can enjoy your own place in the country without the ties of a fixed holiday home.
A journey of a thousand miles may well begin with just one step but a successful backpacking jaunt needs a little more forethought. Not a lot if you want to maintain a footloose feel to your trip but even the most relaxed backpacker must have, at least, a start point and initial direction. Sensibly, you should be scheming on where to go, how long it might take and where to pitch your tent safely, legally and with regard to the outdoor environment.
Plus, of course, whether you are tracing the course of a river or following high mountain ridges, it makes sense to leave details of your proposed route and alternatives with family or friends. Routes and pitches are intertwined when you are planning – something of a chicken and egg scenario – so gather as much info as you can before spreading out the maps and packing your rucksack.
How much planning you need to do depends on a variety of factors. Where you are going, for how long and at what time of year are all basic considerations. Then there is your own experience and fitness – and the weather. There is a world of difference between backpacking in Scotland in the depths of a snowy winter and a balmy summer, particularly with regard to the ground you likely to cover each day and the sleeping bag and clothing you’ll need. Not forgetting, of course, a sleep mat. You could also use a sleeping bag liner to both help to keep your bag clean as well as adding extra warmth. You might fancy a theme to your trip; summits, valleys, historical sites and rivers are obvious but the opportunities are only limited by imagination.
You spend a lot of time asleep on holidays and expeditions so it pays to take good care of your sleeping bags, airbeds and mats. On a camping trip, common sense should ensure that bedding is aired each day and that twigs and other potential puncture-causing debris are cleared off and under airbeds. Packing away bedding to go home is simple. Roll up the camping mats and airbeds, jam the sleeping bags into stuff sacs and head for home. It is often done in a hurry with gear stashed away without much thought. To make the most of your camping gear for many years, a little more care when you get home is in order. Between trips, try to avoid dumping everything in a corner of the garage or loft. Before it slips away to the back of your mind, unpack, clean up and store properly to ensure your comfort on the next outing.
Down sleeping bags will last for decades with care. Down or synthetic, the overall advice for sleeping bag storage is more or less the same. If you keep bags in stuff sacks, the filling will lose its loft and insulation value over time. As soon as you can, hang up your bags to air off properly over a few days; moisture will dry out and the bag will feel fresher the next time it’s used. Once aired off, store them loose in a large breathable sack.
Using sleeping bag linershelps to avoid the build up of the sweat and dirt that erodes performance over time. It is also a lot easier to wash and dry a liner than to tackle cleaning a sleeping bag.
If you decide to wash a down sleeping bag, try to use a big machine at a laundrette to minimise the risk of damage and definitely not using detergent or fabric conditioner. Once spun dry well, a long tumble on a low heat in a dryer, with pauses to break up clumps of fill, should produce a good result. Synthetic fill bags can also be washed fairly easily at home in a washing machine or in the bath with reasonable care. Lift wet bags carefully to avoid tearing stitching.
These are fairly cheap, simple to use and simple to look after. Closed cell foam matsare best stored flat, preferably wrapped up to avoid dust build up. Rolling tight for storage will not damage them but it is irritating trying to get them to lie flat on site. To clean them, a quick wipe down with warm water and drying off is all that is needed. If you need to use soap, make sure it is rinsed off completely.
The main element in an airbedis the air chamber itself – repair is the only potential action needed. Tough materials make them durable and need only occasional wash and wipe treatment. Self-inflating airbeds (link)should be stored with the valves open and the mats flat. Stored rolled up, the compression foam will eventually lose its memory and will not expand properly, reducing the essential benefits of warmth and comfort.
Compression Stuff Sacks
To the uninitiated, getting sleeping bags into their stuff sacks can be a nightmare. When you buy a new bag, it will have been rolled by a machine to squeeze it into its sack. By hand, it is next to impossible and, anyway, not recommended. By stuffing it in (hence the name), you avoid potential damage caused by compressing the filling the same way each time and, simply, it is easier. Using a larger stuff sack with compression straps to reduce the packed size solves the problem.