Are Goose Down Sleeping Bags Warm? | Filling & Resistance

You may be looking to upgrade your current sleeping bag to something warmer, or perhaps you’ve heard the rumors about goose down, and your search has brought you here. Either way, we have the answers you’re looking for. Starting with the question, are goose down sleeping bags warm?

Goose down sleeping bags have been tested in cold weather to ensure they are warm enough for any camping adventure. Goose down filling has a high fill power which keeps you insulated. Although it may lack water resistance, goose down is a great piece of cold-weather gear compared to other bags.

Below we explain exactly what goose down sleeping bags are. We then examine how warm they are by looking at their accreditation, filling, water resistance, and how they compare to other bags. Lastly, we give you 10 tips on how to get your sleeping bag even warmer!

Goose Down Sleeping Bags and How Warm They Are

Goose down sleeping bags are filled with goose down from mature birds.

Goose down is a three-dimensional spherical plume that works to insulate by capturing body heat in the cluster of air pockets the plume creates.

Goose down sleeping bags are popular because they are lightweight yet insulating. How insulating and warm they are, is what we are going to test!

There are several factors to consider to understand how warm goose down sleeping bags are. These include accreditation, filling, water resistance, and how they compare to other fillings.

1. Accreditation

An accreditation, such as a temperature rating, refers to where the sleeping bag has been tested to ensure it can keep you warm in certain temperatures.

There are two temperature ratings you can look out for; comfort level or lower limit rating, which are given by the EN or ISO rating systems.

A variety of goose down sleeping bags have accredited lower limit ratings of 0ºF/-18ºC, which means they will keep you warm at freezing temperatures.


2. Filling

Goose down is an extremely insulating filling that is also lightweight. The fill power of a goose down bag is the measure of the volume of the down.

Fill power tells us how much loft is in the sleeping bag and how warm it will keep us. The higher the fill power, the warmer the bag.

The highest quality goose down sleeping bag is 900 in³/oz, which is far warmer than a duck-down bag at 550 in³/oz.

3. Water Resistance

Water resistance is important to examine because a wet sleeping bag may do very little to keep you warm. Goose down sleeping bags, like other down products, are completely useless if they get soaked.

Water droplets break down the down clusters and cause the air pockets to be filled with water.

Although this may indicate that goose down is insufficient as a sleeping bag filling, manufacturers are trying to counter this with a hydrophobic coating.

A hydrophobic coating gives down a level of water resistance and repels a degree of moisture. Most manufacturers of goose down sleeping bags will now use this coating. Just double-check!

4. Comparison

Goose down clusters are usually larger than ducks since the bird itself is bigger. This, in theory, means they should be warmer. However, duck-down can pack more weight to have the same cluster effect.

As well as this, synthetic sleeping bags can be completely waterproof compared to down. However, synthetic sleeping bags do not have the same insulation properties as down sleeping bags.

For colder camping, we recommend a goose down sleeping bag over any synthetic.

How to Make Your Sleeping Bag Even Warmer?

Sometimes a sleeping bag just isn’t warm enough, no matter how insulating it is! Below are 10 ways to upgrade your goose down sleeping bag’s warmth.

From sleeping pads to thermals to emergency blankets, we’ve got many ways to keep you even warmer.

1. Sleeping Pad

Sleeping pads don’t only add comfort, they are crucial to adding extra warmth to your down sleeping bag.

You can purchase either inflatable pads that are more portable or foam pads that just need to be unrolled. A sleeping pad will keep you insulated and warmer than your sleeping bag alone.

Sleeping Pad

2. Sleeping Bag Liner

If you want to upgrade your sleeping bag’s insulation capacity, sleeping bag liners are a great choice. They can add anywhere between 5 and 15°F, making a real difference when you’re cold.

Another bonus, sleeping bag liners are far easier to wash than sleeping bags.

3. Wear Thermals

Wearing clean thermals to bed can significantly affect how warm you feel inside your sleeping bag.

Thermals are breathable materials that allow your body to transfer sweat outside the clothing instead of trapping it in and making you cold.

4. Hand Warmers

Hand warmers are a portable, brilliant piece of gear. They are usually the size of your palms and require you to bend them to activate.

They heat up fast and can be popped inside your sleeping bag to get it warm quickly. You can also get foot warmers that will fit inside your socks.

5. Eat Before Bed

Usually, most of us believe eating before bed would keep you up all night, but when camping in the cold, it’s recommended.

Eating a snack before bedtime can generate energy inside your body, generating heat. If snacks aren’t your thing, then eat a big dinner!

6. Emergency Blanket

Emergency blankets are 90% heat effective, which means they are extremely insulating. It could be that your first aid kit contains an emergency blanket, and it can have more uses than just an emergency.

Pop a blanket over your sleeping bag, and it’ll reflect the heat your sleeping bag is losing to keep it in.

7. Wool Socks

Another great way to keep you warm inside your sleeping bag is to wear a pair of wool socks. Your hands and feet get cold the fastest, and wool socks can prevent your toes from freezing at night.

If you’re not a fan of wool, then you can choose another breathable material.

8. Sleep Off the Ground

A sleeping pad can reduce how much heat is lost to the ground, but not as much as sleeping off the ground altogether.

By sleeping in a hammock or tent cot, you can keep all the warmth from your sleeping bag to yourself.

Sleep Off the Ground

9. Take Care of the Bag

Improving the insulation of a sleeping bag also comes into how you care for it and store it when it’s not in use.

Down sleeping bags should always be hung when not in use, which prolongs their insulation capabilities. Compressing your bag over long periods will affect how warm it can keep you.

10. Sleep Next to Someone

Our last tip for upgrading your goose down sleeping bag’s warmth is to share your tent with someone else. Grab a buddy, and you’ll be sure to keep each other warm throughout the night.

Final Thoughts

You can see why goose down sleeping bags are such a renowned piece of cold-weather camping gear. They have the filling to keep you warm and the accreditation to reassure you.

Although they are not fully waterproof, the hydrophobic coating does demonstrate some water resistance.

If we’ve convinced you to get a goose down sleeping bag, but you’re curious about ways to get your bag even warmer, then we hope you found some answers in our handy tips above!

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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