What You Need for Self Supported Touring by Bicycle

  Equipment   Concerns   Considerations    Necessary Options
Equipment - Sleeping        
    Consider these things as you select a sleeping bag:


You can reduce weight by:
  1. having less insulation
  2. having a smaller bag
  3. having lighter insulation
Temperature rating(s)
  1. The best bag is not the one with the lowest rating.
  2. Some bags have a dual rating, gained by having a different amount of insulation on one side than the other. Use it with the thick side up in colder weather and the thin side up in warmer weather.
  3. The material on the bottom side of any sleeping bag is too compressed by you to keep you warm. Always use a sleeping pad, or the ground will become your own giant personal heat sink.
  4. It is better to select a bag only 10 degrees lower than the temperature you are likely to find yourself in. If it does get colder, you can always wear layers of clothing inside the bag. Exceptions: go to a lower rating if you sleep in clothes (like cotton) that hold your sweat, or if you sleep naked.
  1. Insulation
    • Down
      + lighter
      + warmer
      + packs smaller
      - not useful when wet from rain or sweat
      - feathers eventually pulverize
      - expensive
    • Synthetic
      + less expensive
      + more easily dried
      + more easily cleaned
      - a bit heavier
  2. Cover
    • Rip-stop nylon
      + durable
    • Cotton
      + really cheap
  3. Liner
    • Cotton flannel
      + soft
      - absorbs moisture
      - short life, especially with shaved legs or long toenails
    • Nylon tricot
      + smooth
      + durable
      - resists passing moisture to outside of bag
Size when packed
  1. A stuffed bag takes less space and is faster to pack.
  2. If on your rack, a smaller size has less wind resistance.
  3. If in a pannier, the lower center of gravity is better for control.
Cost to clean
  1. On tour, a laundromat is cheaper and quicker than a dry cleaners.
  2. A laundered bag smells better than a dry cleaned bag.
  1. Is it built to last?
  2. Do you want it to last that long? Really?
Original Cost
  1. What is the cost per year?
  2. How much use will you get out of it?
Design and Construction
  1. An additional bit of a flap on the inside along the zipper will keep the draft out.
  2. A zipper that goes all the way down allows you more in the way of temperature control.
  3. A zipper that goes across the bottom to fully open the bag makes drying it easier, and allows you to use it as a top blanket.
  4. Some come with left or right side zippers; pick one of each, zip them together, and share more than body warmth.
  5. Hang loops can make drying and storing more convenient.
  6. Stitching keeps insulation from shifting.
  7. Large zippers and pulls can be easier to operate.
  8. If drawstrings are used for head and shoulder areas, they will be easier to adjust in the dark if they are made of different materials, i.e. round cord vs shoelace.
  9. Some cuts give more wiggle room at the expense of more weight.
  10. Some mummy bags expand around the knees for wiggle room.
  11. Do you really need a hood?
  12. Some bags come in tall sizes; get one that is longer than you are.