When it comes to the fill type of popular camping and backpacking sleeping bags, the two most popular are down and synthetic. They both offer different advantages, as well as a few disadvantages to consider. Below, we will discuss the difference between the two, and when you should choose each.
Down fill sleeping bags are very popular among the outdoor community. Down is very soft and comfortable, and has a fantastic weight-to-warmth ratio (the amount of warmth each ounce of fill provides). Because they are so lightweight and compress very well, they are usually the favorite among backpackers and weight conscious outdoorsman. A few major drawbacks are:
- high cost
- down loses its insulative properties when wet
These aren’t deal breakers for many campers because the advantages often outweigh the disadvantages. But it is important to remember these two disadvantages. If you are a camper on a strict budget, you will get more warmth out of your sleeping bag for the money if you go with synthetic fill bags. Also, if you are planning trips in wet weather, synthetic fill will keep you warm even if wet, so you will get enough sleep.
Synthetic sleeping bags are also very popular out there, especially in the wetter climates (like the Pacific Northwest). Synthetic fills have the ability to retain their insulative properties even when wet. They are also much more affordable than their down counterparts. Some disadvantages include:
- heavier than down
- bulkier than down
Synthetic fill does not quite equal the warmth to weight ratio of natural down fill. Because of this, synthetic sleeping bags are heavier and bulkier. If you are a camper on a budget, they are an excellent choice.
- Sleeping Bag: Owned by the author