Down vs. Synthetic Sleeping Bag (Which is Better?)


Ready to purchase a brand new sleeping bag? There is lots to think about, however principally it comes right down to down or artificial and mummy vs rectangular. 

As with some other piece of substances, you must perform some research earlier than selecting the perfect sleeping bag.

When it involves down vs artificial, there’s a lot to think about. To aid you make an knowledgeable choice we’ve put collectively this fast comparability:

Read on to study extra about every possibility!

Down Sleeping Bags

down sleeping bags

So what’s a down sleeping bag anyway?

Well, let’s begin by saying what down isn’t. Lots of people imagine {that a} down sleeping bag is stuffed with hen feathers, however that’s only a false impression.

What is down fill?

Down is definitely the smooth layer of plumage that’s sitting closest to the pores and skin of the hen, beneath the outside feathers, primarily within the chest space.

Unlike feather, down has no quills, and it’s extraordinarily tremendous and fluffy.

What makes down such a well-liked alternative for the sleeping bag fill is its skill to insulate by trapping the air inside.

As lengthy because it’s dry, down can present insulation in even the harshest climate circumstances (and given you will have the fitting temperature score, after all).

Is down fill light-weight?

We don’t use the phrase “featherweight” to explain one thing extraordinarily mild for no motive.

A down sleeping bag is a superb possibility for backpackers and thru-hikers, because it doesn’t sluggish you down.

Generally, a down sleeping bag weighs between one and two kilos.

The historical past of down insulation

Down has been used as an insulator for hundreds of years, with some written sources relationship again to the 1600s.

Back within the day, it was collected by numerous wildfowl species, in addition to gulls and related seabirds. Today, both duck or goose down is used.

Between the 2, the goose is a a lot bigger hen, and the proportions apply within the case of its down clusters as effectively.

For that motive, goose down is softer and hotter.

Of course, the food regimen additionally has an impact on the hen’s down. Ducks will eat something from lettuce or corn to worms and bugs.

And resulting from some fatty issues geese eat, their down may also include a excessive fats quantity, which may trigger a slight odor.

Geese, then again, often feed on grass, so the scent of their down is much less noticeable.

Down is a meals byproduct

What meaning is that it’s collected from birds used for meals.

And since duck is extra generally used for that objective in comparison with goose, duck down is a extra economical possibility.

Now, the precise high quality distinction between the 2 sorts of down just isn’t that outstanding.

In truth, most finances and mid-range fashions will function duck down.

Goose down, then again, can usually be present in premium merchandise.

Advantages of Down Sleeping Bags

Advantages of Down Sleeping Bags

So what makes down so nice? These are all the advantages of this sort of insulation:

Higher Warmth-to-Weight Ratio

higher warm to weight ratio

The warmth-to-weight ratio is the measurement used to guage the effectiveness of insulation in relation to climate circumstances.

And that’s the place down shines the perfect.

Down is extraordinarily light-weight and options tremendous, branched filaments that entice air in between.

That approach, it manages to insulate effectively with out weighing a lot.



The fantastic thing about down lies in the truth that it’s extremely compressible.

Its insulating skill depends on the air trapped inside, however you’ll be able to take that air out when its time for packing.

In truth, a down sleeping bag pack down fairly compact, which makes it nice for backpacking.

Now, although down has nice compressibility, you don’t wish to hold it stuffed for too lengthy.

When you’re not on the path, your down sleeping bag must be packed into a way more comfy bag that enables the loft to increase.

Very Durable


Down is extraordinarily sturdy. If taken correct care of, a down sleeping bag is one thing you’ll be able to cross right down to your youngsters.

With that being mentioned, remember that a down bag can leak over time.

If you see a feather peaking out by way of the fabric, simply strive pushing it again in as an alternative of pulling it out.

Environmental Friendliness

As we already talked about, down is a byproduct of the meals business. If not collected, it’ll simply find yourself in a landfill.

But that’s not the one motive why down is a sustainable product.

In truth, in comparison with polyester, down has as much as 97% decrease impression on the ecosystem and local weather change.

That’s as a result of it’s made with pure fibers that break down fully and doesn’t pollute the planet.

Disadvantages of Down Sleeping Bags

disadvantages of Down Sleeping Bags (1)

But it’s not all roses with down. There are just a few considerations about utilizing this sort of insulating materials, together with:



Although it’s actually uncommon, an individual may be allergic to down or feather.

If that’s the case with you, the very last thing you want is to sleep in a sleeping bag stuffed with the allergen.

One factor to bear in mind although.

Even although you would possibly expertise some type of allergic response to a down bag, that doesn’t essentially imply you’re allergic to feathers.

In most instances, your allergy is attributable to mites discovered within the product.

The finest approach to make sure whether or not you’re allergic to down or not is to do a pores and skin take a look at in a lab.


Just as a result of it’s a byproduct, that doesn’t imply that down is moral materials.

For people who oppose the consumption of animal merchandise, that’s not a adequate motive to make use of down both.

The important problem lies within the moral considerations associated to sourcing.

Unfortunately, there have been an unlimited variety of scandals in recent times associated to animal remedy within the meals business.

Live-plucking, which principally entails ripping the feathers off of dwell birds, is the principle concern relating to down.

Then, there’s the difficulty of force-feeding, which ends up in enlarged livers – the principle ingredient within the dish known as Foie gras.

Luckily, there are methods down may be ethically sourced nowadays.

Ethical down has to cross the best animal welfare requirements and solely come from birds protected against live-plucking and force-feeding practices.

Poor Performance in Extra Wet Conditions

poor performance in extra wet condition

Down offers nice insulation – however solely when dry. As quickly because it will get moist, it loses all its skill to maintain you heat.

If you camp in an space with a damp local weather, having a down sleeping bag won’t be the best choice for you.


Over time, your down sleeping bag can retain odor in the event you don’t recurrently sustain with upkeep.

This often occurs as a result of physique oils seep into the fabric, inflicting it to clump up from extra dampness.

Aside from creating odor, seeped physique oils will even trigger the insulating skill of a down sleeping unhealthy to say no.

Final Thoughts On Down Sleeping Bags

A down sleeping bag is extraordinarily light-weight and compressible, which makes it a prime possibility for backpackers and thru-hikers.

If taken correct care of, a down sleeping bag can final you a really very long time. We’re speaking a long time of use, which makes a down sleeping bag a worthy funding.

However, not all the pieces is roses. A down sleeping bag loses its insulating skill when moist, which makes it an unsuitable possibility for tenting in moist circumstances.

Furthermore, there are some actual considerations concerning the moral harvesting of down.

Synthetic Sleeping Bags

synthtic sleeping bag

Synthetic sleeping baggage are usually fabricated from brief strands of polyester fibers, densely packed to forestall shedding warmth.

Thick steady filament makes an artificial sleeping bag barely stiffer than down, however this additionally means they don’t create chilly spots.

An artificial sleeping bag provides stability of weight, insulation and sturdiness.

They additionally are available all value ranges, so there’s a product for everybody’s pockets.

Advantages of Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Advantages of Synthetic Sleeping Bags

So what makes artificial sleeping baggage so nice? Here are the benefits of getting this sort of sleeping bag:


Compared to down, artificial sleeping baggage don’t have to interrupt your financial institution.

What makes them way more reasonably priced than down is the truth that their insulation is produced in a manufacturing facility, not harvested.

Good Performance in Wet Conditions

good performance in wet condition

What makes artificial sleeping baggage such a well-liked possibility is their skill to retain insulating high quality even when moist.

Now clearly, that doesn’t imply {that a} sleeping bag soaked in water will hold you heat and dry. But a slight drizzle gained’t be an excessive amount of of an issue.

More Ethical

We’ve already talked about moral points with harvesting down. Well, that’s not the case with artificial, because it’s created in a manufacturing facility.

No animals had been engaged within the product-making course of, from begin to end.

Synthetic Bags Also Dry Much Quicker than Down Ones

Once it stops raining, your artificial sleeping bag will dry inside just a few hours at most.

A down various, then again, can keep moist for your entire day. If you’re tenting in a moist local weather, artificial is, arms down, the best choice.


Since it’s man-made, artificial fiber is designed by mixing supplies that may’t trigger an allergic response.

This makes it an appropriate possibility for everybody, no matter their well being situation.

Disadvantages of Synthetic Sleeping Bags

You guessed it – an artificial sleeping bag just isn’t with out faults.

Heavier and Bulkier

An artificial sleeping bag depends on maintaining the fibers compact to entice warmth inside. But extra fiber additionally means extra weight.

When evaluating a down and an artificial sleeping bag with the identical heat ratio, the latter will probably be a lot bulkier and heavier.

Less Compressible

Synthetic sleeping baggage aren’t perfect for backpacking and thru-hiking as they don’t pack very compactly.

Dense fibers don’t permit it to compress the identical approach a down sleeping bag does. This makes them considerably troublesome to place again right into a sack.

Less Durable than Down

Unfortunately, artificial fibers merely aren’t constructed to final. And in case you don’t keep it recurrently, their life will get even shorter.

Generally, you’ll be able to count on to see the indicators of breaking down inside 5 to seven years.

Compared to a down sleeping bag, that’s about 4 occasions shorter.

Final Thoughts On Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Synthetic sleeping baggage are an excellent possibility in the event you’re first time tenting.

They are fairly reasonably priced, which means you gained’t need to spend an excessive amount of cash on one thing you don’t know in the event you’ll find yourself liking anyway.

This kind of sleeping bag is nice in the event you’re tenting in moist climate, because it retains insulation even when moist.

Additionally, it dries down comparatively quick, so it will likely be prepared for the evening.

Finally, an artificial bag is nice once you’re automobile tenting and never fascinated about reducing down weight.

Down/Synthetic Hybrid Blends

As we’ve seen, neither down nor artificial sleeping bag is ideal. Well, why not get a little bit of each as an alternative?

Some manufacturers use a combination of each artificial and right down to create a sleeping bag that’s light-weight but reasonably priced.

Of course, it’s unattainable to solely hold the nice and ditch the unhealthy.

But by mixing these two sorts of insulation collectively can restrict the disadvantages by a big margin.

Sometimes, a hybrid sleeping bag is stuffed completely with a mix of each of those supplies.

Other occasions, it’s insulated with down across the head space, whereas the underside is completely artificial.


  • Weighs lower than artificial
  • Relatively compressible
  • Does present some water-resistance
  • Costs lower than down


  • A bit bulkier than a down sleeping bag
  • Not as waterproof as artificial
  • Costs greater than an artificial sleeping bag

Final Thoughts on Hybrid Blends

If a hybrid sleeping bag might retain solely the benefits of every of those insulating supplies whereas negating their disadvantages, it could be the proper product.

The actuality, after all, just isn’t that black and white. A hybrid sleeping bag provides center floor for any informal camper.

As lengthy as you’re not touring lengthy distances on foot and in moist climate, you need to be tremendous with this sort of bag.

Down Fill and Insulation Explained

So, how does one understand how heat a specific down sleeping bag is?

In case you haven’t observed, every product options fill energy. This quantity is usually used to point the standard of down.

What is Down Fill Power?

down explained (1)

Fill energy reveals the quantity of house an oz of down can fill, indicated in cubic inches.

To show fill energy, we use numbers starting from 300 to above 900. For high-quality down merchandise, don’t look beneath 800.

The math behind fill energy is easy.

A sleeping bag with a fill energy of 500, for example, doesn’t increase as a lot to entice air between its filaments as a mannequin with a fill energy of 800 does.

However, simply because a sleeping bag has the next fill score, that doesn’t all the time need to imply it’s hotter.

That’s as a result of there’s one other quantity now we have to take note of – the amount of down.

So for example, which one do you suppose it’s hotter? 500 grams of 450 fill down, or 250 grams of 700? If you answered the primary possibility, you bought it proper.

With that being mentioned, the extra fill a sleeping bag has, the much less compressible it turns into. It is smart, as there’s much less air inside to take away when packing.

So in the event you’re selecting between totally different down sleeping baggage, take each of those numbers into consideration.

But usually, a sleeping bag with decrease fill energy will probably be heavier and fewer compressible than the one with the next quantity.

This is one thing to take note of in the event you plan on touring lengthy distances.

Can You Compare Fill Power to Synthetic Fill?

While down insulation is measured in fill energy, we use grams per sq. meter to consult with artificial fill.

But these two numbers can’t be in contrast as a result of they don’t present the identical factor.

As we already established, down fill energy reveals the amount of insulation. But with artificial, we measure its thickness.

Because artificial fibers are densely packed collectively, the thicker the insulation, the higher it retains heat.

Comparing two artificial sleeping baggage is somewhat easy. The larger the quantity, the hotter it’s.

Other Factors to Consider

There are just a few different issues you must take note of when selecting a sleeping bag.

Size/Shape of the Bag

Regardless of what kind of insulation you go for, the identical factor stands – much less empty house contained in the bag means it’s hotter.

A mummy fashion sleeping bag sits snugly round your physique, so it’s nice for chilly climate.

With an oblong sleeping bag, then again, there’s loads of room inside that’s stuffed with air.

And with a lot room to wiggle round, there’s a lot room to fill with heat.

Read: Mummy Vs Rectangular Sleeping Bag

Temperature Rating

temprature rating

It doesn’t matter whether or not your sleeping bag is stuffed with down or artificial insulation if it doesn’t have the fitting temperature score.

Always be sure to’re utilizing a sleeping bag with a score that’s barely under the one you’d be experiencing in your tenting journey.

You shouldn’t go too low, or else you’ll be too sizzling to sleep in that sleeping bag. Waking up in a puddle of sweat is rarely comfy.


When selecting a sleeping bag, take note of the type of zippers it has. Metal would possibly appear as if a logical possibility, because it’s extraordinarily sturdy.

But two metallic zippers can truly overwhelm your sleeping bag by quite a bit. And in case you’re backpacking, each ounce issues.

Instead, go together with plastic or nylon zippers. They’re mild but additionally sturdy, and in case they break, they’re simply replaceable.


Of course, all of those traits above add as much as the general weight of your sleeping bag.

A mummy fashion sleeping bag has much less materials, which means it weighs much less.

Generally, sleeping baggage with decrease temperature scores will probably be heavier. This is very obvious with artificial insulation.

And lastly, the fabric alternative of zippers additionally weighs down a sleeping bag.

Down vs. Synthetic Comparison Table – Which One to Choose

Still not sure which one is best for you?

Let’s make the choice simpler by evaluating them in several situations.

Frequent Camping or Backpacking

If you usually spend your free day out within the wild, it’s price investing in sturdy tenting gear. In that case, a down sleeping bag is an ideal possibility for you.

You’ll additionally be capable to deliver that sleeping bag onto an occasional backpacking journey, because it’s so mild and simply suits into your backpack.

Occasional Camping

If you go tenting no various occasions a 12 months, then there’s no motive to spend tons of cash on one thing that can sit in your storage for a lot of the 12 months.

An artificial sleeping bag is a somewhat versatile possibility, as you should use it in each moist and dry climate.

Cold and Winter Weather

If you’re out in excessive climate, staying heat is your prime precedence. That’s why investing within the high-quality down sleeping bag must be your prime precedence.

These fashions often additionally function a waterproof shell to forestall getting soaked from a little bit of snow.

Rainy or Humid Weather

Camping in wet climate is one other story. If you expect loads of rain or humidity, then artificial is the best way to go.

Down turns into ineffective when moist, and takes a very long time to dry, so it’s not perfect for that kind of situation.

ReadHow To Choose A Sleeping Bag: Your Guide to Cozy Outdoor Slumber


What is the perfect sleeping bag insulation?

There’s no single finest insulation, as they each have their execs and cons. If we’re speaking about packability, then down wins by a big margin.

But an artificial sleeping bag is a extra common possibility.

Which lasts longer down or artificial?

With correct and common upkeep, a down sleeping bag can final you for many years.

Synthetic insulation, then again, breaks down over time. In most instances, their lifespan is from 5 to seven years.

Why is down costly?

Down is harvested from dwell animals, so it’s way more troublesome to acquire in comparison with artificial, which is produced in a manufacturing facility.

Do down sleeping baggage scent?

Generally, effectively maintained down sleeping bag ought to have an odor.

However, in the event you don’t take correct care of it, down can rot, making a chemical scent. Plus, this could launch sure chemical compounds that may be dangerous to your well being.

How to scrub sleeping baggage (artificial and down)?

First issues first, all the time examine the label for cleansing directions. But usually, you’re protected to comply with these steps.

  1. Always use a front-loading washer. A top-loading machine often options an agitator and this piece can harm your sleeping bag if it will get wrapped round it.
  2. If you don’t personal a entrance loading machine, hand wash it.
  3. With down sleeping baggage, it’s all the time finest to make use of a detergent specifically designated for laundry down. Regular laundry detergent may cause right down to clump up, which can have an effect on its insulating skill.
  4. Always unzip earlier than washing the sleeping bag. This will stop zippers from getting snagged.
  5. Always wash a sleeping bag with heat water on a mild cycle.
  6. Rinse it twice to get any detergent residue out of the fibers.

Your bag ought to really feel densely clumped after that. If it seems to be spongy, repeat the rinse cycle.

How do you get the musty scent out of a sleeping bag?

If you don’t dry your sleeping bag fully earlier than packing it up, it would develop mildew. And as you most likely know, mildew doesn’t scent very good.

Luckily, there’s a method to eliminate the scent at residence:

  1. What you want to do first is unzip the sleeping bag fully to let the air inside.
  2. Deodorize the bag and depart it within the solar for a number of hours.

This ought to kill any mildew spores contained in the insulation.

In case of moldy stains, a combination of lemon juice and salt can simply repair that.

  1. Add about ¼ cup of every ingredient and blend till it turns right into a paste. Spread it onto the mildew and depart it in solar for a number of hours.
  2. Take a dry material and brush the paste off.
  3. Then, dip a toothbrush into just a few drops of detergent and scrub the stain away.
  4. Then, take a moist material and clear any residue.
  5. Moisten two cotton balls with one to 2 drops of vanilla extract every.
  6. Place one cotton ball contained in the foot of the sleeping bag and the opposite one inside the middle space.

Leave the cotton balls contained in the sleeping bag for no less than three hours to deodorize any remaining mildew scent.

To Sum Things Up

There you will have it, all the pieces there may be to learn about down and artificial sleeping baggage.

Both of them have their execs and cons, so the best choice will probably be one thing that matches your scenario finest.

A down sleeping bag is mild and compressible, so it’s nice for tenting journeys the place packability issues.

It’s comparatively costly, however with correct care, you would possibly by no means have to purchase one other one.

An artificial sleeping bag is an total good possibility for informal journeys. It works effectively in each moist and dry climate and it’s comparatively reasonably priced.

More On Sleeping Bags


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