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I see more and more sleeping bags designed for women. I was wondering what were the major differences with the regular sleeping bag?

Does it have to do more with the shape or insulation?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

We did some research on this once and the results were kind of sad.

For major backpacking brands of sleeping bags (say, Marmot or Big Agnes) the major differences between sleeping bags for the two genders were these:

  1. Women's sleeping bags were slightly smaller.
  2. A bag that is listed as a '20-degree bag' for woman would listed as a '10-degree' bag for men.
  3. Women's bags came in more garish colors and frequently had pictures of flowers on them.

Number (1) above seems fine.
Number (2) seems highly dubious. Are we saying that women "just can't take the cold" as well as men? Is there (I really, really hope) evidence showing that women actually need more insulation for safety? I happen to know a few doctors, and they can't support this idea.
And number (3) is the same for all women's outdoors gear. You know it's a woman's model helmet because it's pink and has flowers on it.

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Actually #2 is saying that women need less insulation to feel comfortable in the cold. That is actually contrary to my personal very sample-limited observations. –  Olin Lathrop Aug 1 '13 at 20:51
    
@OlinLathrop You are correct. I had my numbers backwards on that one. Thanks. –  theJollySin Aug 1 '13 at 21:16
1  
#2 is actually embedded in the EN13537 standard for temperature ratings; the EN "lower limit" is based on a "standard male" sleeping curled up and the "comfort limit" is based on a "standard female" lying flat. Whether it's a safety thing (lower core temperature) or a perception thing (colder extremities, but warm core) I couldn't say. Read more at io9.com/why-do-womens-bodies-run-colder-than-mens-836827770/all –  requiem Oct 12 at 22:36

From a product description:

Women-specific performance mummy cut means additional insulation in key areas where women tend to get chilled

How much of this is marketing hype is unknown to me. Most female hikers I know did not use a specific women-sleeping bag and did just fine.

Many high quality sleep systems I have looked at did not have this distinction.

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The cut of the bag is often different as well - more room in the hip area. Look at the lengths too - "Long" in a womens bag is quite different than "Long" in a mens bag. –  Ryley Aug 1 '13 at 15:48

Woman's body generally produces less heat. So if sleeping bag is labeled as being for women, it will be thicker (and more expensive) having the same comfort zone as the model for men.

Another difference is the consequence of the first. Producing less heat, women are more likely to have cold feet, so they need thicker insulation in lower part of sleeping bag, compared to men.

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I too have wondered about the difference. It makes no sense to me… for years women have used the same bag and now they need a whole new line? I am a tall woman (5'11") and a man's bag fits just fine for me A recent New Yorker interview with the guy who started UnderArmour said to make women's gear "shrink it and pink it". Pathetic, but seems to be true.

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