Camping Archives - Level Up Your Skills

Archive

Category Archives for "Camping"
1

Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

Have you ever gone camping and been cold, or have you decided not to go camping because it was too cold? Well, if you understood sleeping bag temperature ratings, then you might not experience these issues. Sleeping bag temperature ratings can get fairly complicated, however. Luckily for you, in this article, we are going to look at sleeping bag temperature ratings and break them down. We are going to focus on what a sleeping bag temperature rating actually means, and help you understand them. This way if you go camping in cold weather you shouldn’t get cold again. Read on to learn all you need to know about what sleeping bag temperature ratings are and how to understand them.

Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

What is Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings ?

So first, what is a sleeping bag temperature rating? Well, it is a rating that says a sleeping bag should keep you comfortable up to a set temperature. The first thing to remember though is that sleeping bag temperature ratings are generally given in ranges and each part of the range has different meanings. Most bags will have a bar that gives you the range. You have the T-comfort zone and the T-limit zone. Along with this you typically have the words comfort, transition, and risk along the bar with the different numbers. Before getting into what all these different things mean though, on the temperature rating, we are first going to look at how temperature ratings are determined.

Determining Temperature Rating

Determining Temperature Rating

Determining Temperature Rating

So, in the early days of sleeping bags, some companies put temperature ratings, but there was no set method of determining them. This means that you could not compare bags from one company to the next. This changed when the industry decided to have an independent lab do the testing. When an outside lab started doing the testing this brought about the EN or ISO ratings which you see on bags today. Today the testing is all standardized and is an exact science.

The way sleeping bags are tested for temperature today is that a dummy with a lot of sensors is put into the bag. The bag is then put into a room where the temperature can be controlled. They drop the temperature of the room slowly and pay attention to the mannequins sensor readouts. They pay attention to when certain areas reach certain temperatures and mark it down.

Then, after the experiment, they compile the data and assigned the bag a temperature rating on the scale. This is a simplified explanation, but it is a good enough one for you to understand temperature ratings of sleeping bags. Normally multiple of the same bag is tested at once to check for quality control of the bag and get an accurate average. However, one thing to remember is that labs can simulate real-world experiences, so the temperature rating that is assigned should just be used as a guide.

Scale

So, now we can start talking about the scale and the different zones and different numbers. First, we have the comfort rating which is always the larger number. This is the number that a cold sleeper can stay warm or comfortable in the bag. It is the number used on women’s bags. Then you have the lower limit rating. This is less than the comfort rating and it is the temperature that a warm sleeper can stay comfortable in the bag. It is the number used on men’s bags.

So, now that you know what the numbers mean, what do the ranges mean? Well, the comfort range is the temperature at or above where a “standard” women feel comfortable and are able to sleep in a normal relaxed position. This means they don’t have to bundle up in a ball. The transition range is the area of temperature where a “standard” man is bundled up in a ball and at thermal equilibrium. This means they aren’t shivering and with the bags help they aren’t losing heat, but they are having to hold all their own heat in. The transition range is the limit of the bag for safe sleeping. Below that you get the risk range. Another name for this range is the extreme range. In the extreme range, the sleeper is under extreme cold. They are shivering and at risk of hypothermia. A bag should only be used in this range in an emergency.

Temperature Range Aren’t Rules

One key thing to remember though is temperature ranges aren’t rules. They just range base on a lab test. Labs, however, can not factor in real-world things. For example, they don’t know how much everyone that is going to be using the bag weights. If you are heavier or have more meat on your bones, then you will put off more heat. Also, sleeping bag testers can’t test what you are going to be wearing. If you are wearing warm clothes, then you will stay warm in cooler temperatures faster then if you aren’t dressed warmly. Your tents insulation also plays a big role in how effective your sleeping bag is. Lastly, your sleeping bag fit is important. You want one that is snug, but not too restricting. This will help hold in most of your body heat.

Conclusion

Understanding sleeping bag ratings can be complicated. This is especially true if you are looking at older bags that don’t have ISO numbers or EN numbers. If the rating is not one of those, then it is pretty much useless because it wasn’t formed with the standard test. However, now you know how to understand ISO numbers and EN numbers. You also know what each range means. You know that the comfort rating is the lowest temperature a cold sleeper can stay comfortable and sleep in a normal position. You also, know that the lower limit number is the coldest it can be for a warm sleeper to sleep in a ball position and stay warm. Lastly, though you know that temperature ratings are just a guide and not rules. They don’t factor in everything about each individual such as is and what they are wearing. Now, that you know how to understand sleeping bag temperature ratings though you should be able to camp in cool weather and not get cold.

Freestanding vs Non Freestanding Tent. What’s the Difference?

When you go camping one of the most important things you will bring with you is your tent. That is because it is your tent that protects you from the elements and outside. You want to have a good tent with plenty of room on the inside to help keep you comfortable while you sleep. When it comes time to buy a tent there are two main types that you will encounter. Freestanding and nonfreestanding tents. In this article, we will explain what both kinds of tents are as well as the pros and cons of each type. Read on to learn everything you need to know about freestanding vs nonfreestanding tents.

Freestanding vs Non Freestanding Tent. What's the Difference

Freestanding vs Non Freestanding Tent. What’s the Difference?

What is Freestanding vs Non Freestanding Tent?

Before getting too deep into the freestanding vs. nonfreestanding tent discussion it is first important to make sure you know what is meant by the two terms. A freestanding tent is a tent that can stand on its own. In other words, it supports itself. This should make sense based on the name, but it is best to be clear to make sure you know what is meant. A nonfreestanding tent, on the other hand, will not support itself. It needs help in order to stand up. We will go into more detail a little farther down on what exactly is meant by needs help, but for now, all you need to know is that a nonfreestanding tent will not stand up or keep its form on its own.

Freestanding Tent

Freestanding Tent

Freestanding Tent

So, to get into more detail on what a freestanding tent is. For most that are looking at tents freestanding is going to be the type you see. They are the most common kind sold in stores. A freestanding tent is the one with the poles that snap together and you feed them into the tent. A freestanding tent does not have to be stacked down making it easier to move, however, it is a good idea to stack it because wind can carry it off. Freestanding tents actually take longer to put up compared to non-freestanding if you are experienced because freestanding tents have more parts.

Getting into the pros of freestanding tents now though, one of the biggest pros is that a freestanding tent is more versatile and can be put up anywhere. Since you don’t have to stack it you can set it up on hard surfaces. The setup is faster for inexperienced campers, but as we have mentioned that reduces with experience. Another positive about freestanding tents is they are easier to move. That comes back to the fact that you don’t have to stack it, so you can just pick it up and move it if you need too. Another big benefit to a freestanding tent is you don’t have to carry a bunch of extra gear with you for your tent when camping. A freestanding tent compacts nicely and fits into its bag for carrying. The fact that it compacts down also makes it easy to clean off. You can shake out debris before putting it up.

More pros to a freestanding tent are that there is more space on the inside usually, and the vestibule is bigger. This means you can fit more things inside your tent to keep it out of the weather. Also, the rainfly is removable, so if it isn’t going to rain, and it is hot you don’t have to have it on there and that can reduce heat inside the tent. These are the main pros to a freestanding tent, now we will move on to some of the downsides.

The biggest downside is that freestanding tents are heavy compared to non-freestanding ones. That is because you have all the extra poles that act as a skeleton for the tent. They are also more prone to bad weather conditions and getting damaged. Wind can do a number on them, especially if they aren’t stacked down. Also, they aren’t as waterproof as non- freestanding tents, especially if not set up well. The poles are also difficult to replace and getting replacement poles can be costly. Depending on how big of a freestanding tent you got and if it has multiple rooms, it can get really complicated to set up. You have to make sure to feed the polo thru exactly the right spot. Also, they are less warm, especially if it is bigger because the extra space takes heat away from you.

Non- freestanding Tent

Non- freestanding Tent

Non- freestanding Tent

So, moving on we can now look at what a non- freestanding tent is in more detail. We already know it is a tent that requires something else for support. The main support comes from trekking poles, ropes, and stacks. You use the poles to hold up the walls and tension to help keep the walls up. The tent has to be stacked down to give it support. Once you get the hang of it, it is fast to set up a non- freestanding tent. They also weightless because the trekking poles are lighter. You can also choose how many to bring depending on how you plan to set the tent up. non- freestanding tents are naturally waterproof because of how the walls of the tent are constructed. We will get to wall construction in a few moments. non- freestanding are also easier to repair and more durable. They keep you wamer as well, especially if small and outside of being more waterproof, they are also more windproof.

The downside to non- freestanding tents though is they have to be stacked. This means no set up on gravel, rocks, or other hard surfaces. Stacks may come out as well causing your tent to collapse, and the learning curve is harder for setting up non- freestanding tents. They have less space on the inside and can be hard to move because you have to take the whole tent down to move it. They can also be harder to clean and are less sturdy overall. These are the main differences between freestanding and non- freestanding tents.

Walls

The other big difference between the two is wall construction. Most freestanding tents are double wall meaning more ventilation, and cooler. However, they are less waterproof from the extra seams, have a permeable bottom meaning you need a footprint, and more complicated. non- freestanding tents, on the other hand, are normally single wall constructed. This means they are less complicated and have fewer seams making them more waterproof. The bottom is a bathtub bottom, so you don’t need a footprint and they are warmer. The cons to a single wall are there are less ventilation and more condensation. What works best for wall construction really depends on the temperatures outside and if you need to keep warm or not.

Conclusion

So, now you know the pros and cons of freestanding and non- freestanding tents. More importantly, though you also know what the two are. You know what is meant when one says freestanding or non- freestanding. You know freestanding are the more common ones and will support themselves, while non- freestanding need something to support them. Now that you know the difference between freestanding vs non- freestanding tents you should be able to make an informed decision on what type of tent to get and bring with you the next time you go camping.

What Is A Tent Footprint And Do You Need One?

Are you new to camping and trying to figure out everything you need? Well, one of the things that you might have seen that you need is a tent footprint. Some people have mix opinions though on if this is actually needed. Well, in this article we will look at what a tent footprint actually is. We will talk about what it does and the function it serves while camping. Then we will talk about if you really need one or not. Be sure to continue reading this article to learn everything you need to know about a tent footprint and have all your questions answered before you invest in one or not.

Do I need a tent footprint?

Do I need a tent footprint?

What is Tent Footprint?

So, before getting into if you need a tent footprint we will first talk about what it is. It is actually really simple. A tent footprint is a tarp like ground covering that goes on the ground under your tent. You can actually use a tarp as a tent footprint if you want to save some money and not buy a specific tent footprint. The good thing about actual tent footprints over just using a tarp is that they tend to fold away better which makes it easier to backpack and carry one on your camping trip.

Kelty Salida 2 Tent Footprint

Kelty Salida 2 Tent Footprint

What does it do

So, now that you know that a tent footprint is just a basic ground covering that goes under your tent you may be wondering what it does. Well, the key thing that a tent footprint does is it protects the bottom of your tent. If you are being a responsible camper you are setting your tent up on a hard and possible rough spot to not erode or damage the environment. This rough surface can cause the bottom of your tent to wear out faster. Yes, tents are designed to be on the ground, but rough surfaces over time can cause a lot of wear to your tent. Having a tent footprint is like having a phone case on your phone. It is an extra layer of protection to keep your item nice. A tent footprint is a lot easier to repair or replace if it gets ripped. If the bottom of your tent gets ripped, then it is a lot harder to repair and might mean having to buy a new tent.

Extra Warmth and Dryness

Another reason to have a tent footprint is that it provides extra warmth. That is because it is another layer between you and the ground. Every bit of installation can help, especially if you are camping in cool weather. If the ground is cold it will come right up into the floor of your tent and make the floor of your tent cool. By having an extra layer between your tent and the ground, it will help keep you warm. A tent footprint just provides more comfort in general. The extra padding can also help back out any rocks or roots in the ground that you didn’t get out of the way. You generally want to move all the rocks that you can so they don’t rip your tent, but if you have a tent footprint you don’t have to move the rocks as perfectly.

Also, by using a tent footprint it adds more waterproofing to your tent. Most tent bottoms are waterproof, but it never hurts to have extra protection. Also, if the ground does get wet, then it isn’t your tent that is right in the water. That means that you won’t have to worry about the water or mud damaging your tent. Also, it means that you can pack your tent up easily and not have as much cleaning off. If the mud got on your tent you would have to clean it off before packing it up. If mud is on the tent footprint you can rinse it off and not have to worry as much about it being perfect. Also, if you have a cheap tent footprint or homemade do it yourself one, then you can just toss it out if your camping trip is over and make or get a new one.

Easier Set Up

One benefit that you may not think about with having a tent footprint is that it can make setting up your tent easier. That is because you can get a tent footprint made specifically for your tent. If you are using just a tarp, then you won’t get the benefits as much from an easier setup. The reason that having a tent footprint makes set up easier is you know right where your tent is going to end up as you are putting the footprint down. That means that you can start stacking as you set the footprint out. This will speed up the process of securing the tent when it comes time to do that.

Some downsides

The reason why some people say you don’t need a tent footprint is that it is one more thing to pack. Also, it is one more thing you have to buy which can be a problem for some people. Also, they add extra weight when hiking which some people feel isn’t worth it. Some of these problems though you can get around by making your own tent footprint. We already mentioned that you can just use an extra tarp that you have as a tent footprint. You can also make one yourself. We aren’t going to get into the specifics of a DIY tent footprint here, but most start with Polycryo sheets. These are a plastic type sheet that you can cut into the size and shape that you need.

Do i need a tent footprint

So, now that you know what a tent footprint is and what it does the question comes to do you need a tent footprint? Well, the technical answer is no. You don’t have to have a tent footprint, but it is a good idea to have one. That is because using a tent footprint is like an insurance policy for your tent. It will keep your tent from wearing out as quickly and will keep your tent from getting major damage. Also, it will make your sleeping in the tent more comfortable. If cost or size is an issue you don’t have to buy a specific tent footprint, you can just make your own.

Conclusion

Now you know what a tent footprint is and our recommendation on if you need one or not. You know that a tent footprint is a ground covering that goes between the ground and the bottom of your tent. You can get ground coverings that are specifically tent footprints and even made for your tent or you can make one yourself if you want to save money or weight. Your tent footprint doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Any ground covering between your tent and the ground will give you the benefits of using a tent footprint.