Down Vs. Synthetic Sleeping Bags: A Ski Haus Knowledge Bomb

Down Vs. Synthetic Sleeping Bags: A Ski Haus Knowledge Bomb

How to Decide Between Down or Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Ahh the age-old debate amongst us outdoorsy folk.  Down vs. synthetic.  Here at Ski Haus, we sell a variety of sleeping bags.  One of the first questions customers will ask us when deciding what bag to get is, “Which is warmer?”.  Well, that’s a loaded question.  So I’m here to break it down for you and discuss down vs. synthetic sleeping bags in a bit more detail.  A knowledge bomb, if you will.

What’s the Difference Between Down and Synthetic Sleeping Bags?


For starters, if you want to save money, go with synthetic.  If you want to save weight, I’d recommend down.  The type of gear that we decide to take with us on our adventures is determined by the environment and the weather.  Down is a great option on just about any adventure, except once it gets wet, it’s pretty much useless.  Synthetic is known for remaining somewhat reliable if it gets wet.

So, what environment do you spend more time in?  Is the possible wet factor going to be an issue?  Once you figure out the answer to these questions, we will discuss the warmth-to-weight ratio.  Are you a snow camper or an ultra-light backpacker?  Are you a river rat or an aplinist?  A down bag with the same temperature rating as a synthetic bag will be significantly lighter.  It will also pack down a lot smaller.  This is a major determining factor that you must decide.  What’s more important to you?

Down and Synthetic Details


We describe the warmth in down by its “fill-power”.  This is basically a measurement of cubic inches an ounce of down can fill inside a lab container.  The higher the fill-power, the more air gets trapped between the down, therefore, making it warmer.  This requires less filling, making for a lighter bag.  Synthetic insulation is made from polyester fibers.  The fact that it has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio affects its compressibility.

Just keep in mind, all of this weight-saving talk goes out the window in a damp environment.  You can’t go wrong with a good synthetic bag in this case.  Although, there are options for down bags.  The Sea-To-Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack is the way to go.  This is a fully waterproof compression sack with eVent technology, which allows air to be squeezed out but not allowed back in.  It is what I personally use with my down bag and what I would recommend.

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Here at Ski Haus in Steamboat, we’ve got you covered from brands such as Western Mountaineering, Big Agnes, Sea To Summit and Nemo.  We also have a wide range from 30 degree to -20 degree bags, as well as two-person sleeping bags.  Our knowledgeable sales staff is here to help you!  So come on by and let us help find the perfect bag for you.  Also, keep in mind our Ski Haus Fall Super Sale is just around the corner on October 18, 19, 20.  See ya there!

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