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03 January 2006

Sleeping Bags, Lifestyle and Body Conditioning

Cold night, sleep well

Sleeping bag manufacturer Ajungilak (from Norway) have a nice pdf on their website about temperature standard regulations for sleeping bags. The PDF is quite large and contains some dry stuff about this and that measuring standard. But behind that there are two interesting stories: One, the geeky story how the "performance" of sleeping bags began to be measured. Two, there is a glimpse about how people are different towards accepting cold, and how conditioning affects that...

Story One is geekily starting with people sleeping out at night and comparing notes on warm they felt, then taking thermometers with them, measuring inside and outside. Later manufacturers would place people with sleeping bags to sleep inside meat lockers. Thermometers glued to their bodies and sometimes rectal thermometers too (the rectal ones did not come over too well with the test subjects apparently, as the text subtly hints). Then it got really geeky, with researchers developing special measuring machines, that are emitting heat like a human, in the end even move and sweat like a human (EMPA's SAM).

The other story is about how we are as humans, that everyone is different, how much heat we emit, how cold we feel. Men and women are different, age plays role, body weight... and conditioning:

However, most westernized people live in centrally heated houses, work in air conditioned offices and drive everywhere. This lifestyle reduces the bodies conditioning against cold. If a sedentary person goes on a strenuous trip into the wilderness or high mountains, they will become fatigued. Unfit people feel the cold more than fit people.
At first sleeping bags were tested by young men, mostly soldiers and mountaineers. But these people can accept much more cold and still sleep. The story is that manufacturers are forced to "protect consumers" so the numbers given on sleeping bag sales material should reflect what office clerks will survive in. Come and take me by the hand!

The sleeping bag I own is from Ajungilak. I was looking for their website, because I wanted to know how much "performance" degrades over the years. My bag certainly feels warm enough for me, even though I rarely sleep outside. But it is very good for something that manufacturers don't measure: Living in a general cold environment. Like in early spring in an unheated house on Limnos. You feel a constant bit of cold all the time. It's OK when being active, moving, cutting wood, biking. But when sitting, even in front of the fireplace, the body cools down. In this situation a good sleeping bag means being able to completely relax during the night, gather strength and warmth again in your sleep.

Posted by betabug at 09:40 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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