Winter is coming. And while draping myself in bear skins and leather straps should make me look like Jon Snow off of Game of Thrones, I end up looking like some kind of cosy S&M gimp. I am clearly in need of some other kind of cold weather attire.
With the current rise in fuel bills, potential blackouts on the horizon, and a general malaise and dread about the near future, we are facing our own version of the White Walkers.
Media is abound with advice for cutting home fuel costs, from shower duration time reductions to ‘buying a new kettle’.
But one top tip often repeated is to use a sleeping bag when sitting around. Basically, you step into the sleeping bag, pull it up above your waist, and then sit back down in a cocoon of cosiness.
Having spent much of my life under canvas I can concur that this is a great way to stay warm of an evening. Providing you don’t have to do much else other than binge watch the latest Cobra Kai series on Netflix.
Being a man of action, I want more from a sleeping bag than simply sleeping and sitting still. I want a system that will impart the warmth of a well-made sleeping bag, the manoeuvrability of a jump suit, and the fashion kudos of a Vivian Westwood outfit.
And I think all three boxes have been ticked…Read on.
Enter the wearable sleeping bag.
Wearable sleeping bags have been around for quite some time. Typically, they look like an oversized baby-grow, with legs, arms and a hood. Perfect for keeping you warm and moving around.
What I don’t like about the suit style sleeping bag is the need to pretty much remove the whole thing when you need the toilet. If it’s that cold outside, and I’m that warm, I am rigging up some kind of bottle system!
They are also difficult to regulate the temperature inside. Not being able to vent the bottom or sides can leave one a little sweaty and bothered in the night.
And then there is the issue of feeling restricted. On the one time I managed to get my Dad out to the woods for a nights camping, everyone in a 2 mile radius could hear him ‘effing and jeffing’ as he wrestled with his sleeping bag, in part rage and part panic, only to discard the bag altogether and sleep in his car. I though he was dead in the woods somewhere when I went to bid him good morning.
While having your legs individually enclosed is great for mobility, it’s not as warm as having both legs in one pouch. That’s why mittens are warmer than gloves. The fingers warm each other.
Thankfully, the bright sparks at Passenger Clothing have come up with the perfect option for me, and maybe for you.
Passenger Clothing are a surf and lifestyle brand based in the New Forest in Hampshire. This was my stomping ground as a kid and the venue for creating much of the proto-ethos of Wild Life.
They make functional, stylish clothing that doesn’t cost the earth both financially and environmentally. Using organic and recycled cotton, and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, they aim to reduce the consumption of oil and keep the plastic out of the sea and soil. They plant a tree for every order placed too.
I’ve like their T-shirts and tops for quite a while, and when I saw their Good Times Recycled Sleep Sack I had to give it a go.
What really sold it for me was the look of sheer joy on this fella’s face. Look how happy he is.
Good Times Recycled Sleep Sack
On the initial look it seems like a pretty conventional rectangular sleeping bag. But on closer inspection you’ll notice some differences.
Firstly, the Good Time Sleep Sack is open at the foot end and rather than being stitched or zipped, it has a drawstring fastening.
Further up the sack you’ll notice three short zips, one at the centre and two at the sides. The centre one is the opening for your head and allows you to ventilate easily. The two side vents can be opened to allow your arms to poke out.
This is the genius of the design.
Rather than just sitting in the sleeping bag you are able to wear it like a jacket and still be able to use your arms.
This could quite possibly be the best winter addition for anyone working from home on a computer. You are able to keep your whole body toasty warm while still tapping away on your keypad.
In fact, despite it being pretty mild today, I am wearing right now. Not because I’m cold but purely for how dashing I look in it.
Want to get a cup of tea? No problem.
Remember that drawstring we mentioned earlier? Simply pull the bottom opening up to above your waist and tighten the drawstring. You can now let the sleep sack hang down to knee/shin length and walk about unhindered.
This also makes going to the toilet much easier. No need for bottles and hosepipes here!
And while conventional sleeping bags are great for sitting in, they are not much good for those of us who work at standing desks. The Good Times Sleeping Sack is perfect for us though.
Need something from the car but it’s a bit drizzly? Worry not, the sleep sack is water resistant. That’s right it is coated with a PFC free water repellent coating (DWR).
But how does it fair as a sleeping bag? Pretty well, actually. Simply zip up the arm holes and tighten the drawstring at your feet and you’re good to go (to sleep).
The best thing about using this as a sleeping bag is the ability to read a book while still being zipped up snuggly in the bag. Absolute perfection.
No this will not compete head to head with a high quality sleeping bag, not for temperature or weight (1.2kg). It’s rectangular rather than tapered/mummy shaped which means there is a greater internal area to heat up. The bottom of the bag will always have a slight gap however tightly you tie the drawstring and there are no internal baffles on the arm zips. This means that there are always places for heat to escape.
But I didn’t buy it for it’s mountain bivvi prowess, and despite these short comings it’s still the sleeping bag I chose to take out in the camper van with me. Pottering about, reading, drinking beer, late night peeing due to drinking beer; it’s pretty damn perfect.
I run pretty warm at night and have never been cold in this bag. I do get hot though. But with all the zips and openings it’s really easy to regulate temperature. Passenger state that it is rated 8 degrees C comfort temperature, with a 3 degree limit.
It has an internal pocket which can fit a smartphone, handy to stop your battery draining in the cold nights, and two hand-warmer pockets on the front.
I went for a two-tone colour scheme because it reminded me of the 80s Nike anoraks that all the cool kids wore when breakdancing. (I, of course had a market knock-off that melted on my first attempt at a back spin.) But there are a whole host of designs.
The sleep sack comes in three different sizes. I was between medium and large but opted for the large. It is roomier (maybe not so good if warmth is your key feature) and longer. This means that it hangs down to mid-shin level when I have it tied at my waist (I’m 5’10 [nearly]) and well past my feet when fully extended. This extra length allows me to tuck the excess under my feet, thereby negating the issue of any gaps at the bottom.
Any negatives? In all honesty, the only thing that I don’t like about the sleep sack is the smell. I imaging it is either the material itself or the water repellent, but it does have an odd scent. I’m hoping it dissipates soon, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
What’s the cost? It listed as £79.95 but at the time of writing this article it is currently on sale for £64.95. You can also get a 10% discount on your first order if you sign up to their newsletter.
I think it’s a bit like Boris Johnson’s kettle. It is an outlay, but one that could return it’s worth pretty quickly.
I bloody love it.
Whether it’s working in our new, icebox of an office, a night out in the camper, or hanging out on the beach trying to look all boho and hipster-like, the sleep sack is now a firm feature.
It has become the outfit of choice for my ever important, ‘medicinal’ power naps and is the warm up garb I use after a cold water immersion session.
Hell, I wore it to the post office the other day. And judging the many looks I got, I was looking pretty fine.
It’s the closest thing to a human chrysalis that I have discovered so far. It’s like wearing a hug. I am both shrouded in delightful cosiness yet still mobile enough to handle myself in a bar-room brawl. This is handy, as for some reason, jealousy I imagine, I seem to attract a bit of negative attention from some of my fellow drinkers when I wear it down my local.
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