The weather in the Bitterroot valley is unpredictable; springtime, especially, can vary between two extremes in as quick as one hour. When you stay the night in the mountains you need to be prepared. So, when you go to purchase your next sleeping bag, or you have to decide which bag to pack for your next trip, here’s a few tips to choosing the bag that will keep you warm and comfortable.
All sleeping bags have a temperature rating. And the number one thing to remember is that you want the rating of the bag to be warmer than the expected temps. Oftentimes the ratings are a bit on the liberal side, and to try to match the rating to the weather and you will be cold. Remember that these are estimates; everyone will react to the temperatures differently. Choose a bag with a warmer comfort rating than the expected temps; if you sleep warm/cold you should also let that factor into your decision.
Bag size will also be important. When you look at two bags side-by-side, and compare the specs, you will notice that some bags—even when made of the exact same materials—are heavier. Women’s bags are oftentimes heavier than men’s bags, even when they are both identical temperature ratings. That’s because women, traditionally, require a higher comfort setting than men—although, again, it varies. So, if you are someone who tends to sleep warm then choose a bag of lighter material; heavier material/higher comfort setting if you tend to sleep cold.
One thing to also keep in mind is the material—usually down vs. synthetic—will determine how warm/cold you are while you sleep. Traditionally down bags don’t insulate very well when wet/damp. Synthetic bags, however, while not overly warm when wet, do still have some insulation capability.
The most important thing to remember when you are preparing to stay the night in the woods in the Bitterroot valley is to stay warm/safe. Safety is paramount. Hopefully you get the chance to enjoy a spring/summer night out in the Bitterroot Valley.