What is the European standard for sleeping bags

Choosing a sleeping bag according to the European standard EN13537

As you probably already know, the most important parameter that you need to pay attention to when choosing a sleeping bag is its temperature regime, characteristic or limit.

On January 1, 2005, CEN (European Committee for Standardization or European Committee for Standardization) adopted the EN 13537 (or EN13537) standard to standardize the temperature ratings of sleeping bags manufactured and/or sold in the European Union.

How are sleeping bags tested?

The temperature testing itself is carried out in the laboratory, but not on people, but on special thermal dummies. The dummies themselves are equipped with heating thermoelements and thermal sensors, the former simulate the heat release of the human body, the latter register the external temperature of the «skin» of the mannequin.

sleeping bag testing

According to the EN 13537 standard, the test mannequin must be dressed in functional thermal underwear and socks.

laboratory testing of sleeping bags

According to the testing rules, the dummy is in a cold chamber in a sleeping bag with a constant set temperature and humidity, after which it is heated to 340C, then for half an hour the heat released to maintain this temperature in different parts of the mannequin’s body is measured.

how to see a sleeping bag in a thermal imager

By calculating the difference between the «skin» temperature of the dummy and the temperature outside the sleeping bag, the thermal resistance of the sleeping bag is obtained.

Why was this standard adopted?

Previously, all sleeping bag manufacturers set temperature ratings on their products based on their own subjective testing, experience, and use. They also indicated at their discretion the temperature limits for which this particular sleeping bag is intended, it could be either one temperature value, or 2 and 3 values, but the usual practice is to indicate 3 values.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

Thus, it turned out that different manufacturers had quite different temperature regimes from each other, as well as the very number of indicated temperatures, and, accordingly, it was quite difficult for the end user to compare them and make a choice, especially from several almost identical sleeping bags.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

Since this standard has come into force, it now covers the testing and publication of temperature ratings for all sleeping bags manufactured and/or sold in the European Union. The new standard differs from previous standards and has significant legal implications for all manufacturers, distributors and retailers of sleeping bags in Europe.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

The European standard means that all sleeping bags that meet the criteria will have temperature ratings that are established using common standard laboratory tests that are independent of the manufacturer. This means that sleeping bags from different manufacturers will have comparable and reliable temperature ratings.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

Now, according to the new rules, four temperatures are indicated, where an additional 4 temperature value is due to the fact that in this standard the comfort zone is also determined by a woman, which was not done before. This is done in view of the fact that, according to studies, it has been determined that women freeze faster and harder than men. The difference in temperature perception between men and women is about 50From degrees or within 3 — 80From degrees.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

The following are not subject to testing under this standard:

  • sleeping bags for teenagers and children
  • army sleeping bags due to own standards
  • sleeping bags designed for extreme temperatures below -240 C (meaning comfortable temperature), the difficulty lies in the difference in the specifics of clothing for climbers and polar explorers.

What do the symbols on the sleeping bag label mean?

what do the temperatures mean at the sleeping bag

  • Upper limit or Tmax — the upper limit, the maximum temperature is the highest temperature at which an ordinary man can spend a comfortable night in a sleeping bag without excessive sweating. At the same time, the hood and zipper of the sleeping bag are open and the sleeper’s hands are outside the sleeping bag
  • Comfort or Tcomf — comfort temperature at which an ordinary woman will sleep comfortably at night in a relaxed position
  • Lower limit or Tlim — the lower temperature limit at which an adult male can comfortably spend the night
  • Extreme or Textr — the extreme limit of the minimum temperature at which an average woman can stay in a sleeping bag for six hours at night without the risk of death from hypothermia / hypothermia, although frostbite is still possible, therefore it is not recommended to be guided by this temperature when choosing a sleeping bag

Under the usual / standard man / woman and comfortable conditions, they mean:

  • a 25-year-old man, 1.73 m tall and weighing 73 kg, sleeps for 8 hours in a heat retention position, curled up
  • woman 25 years old, height 1.60 m and weight 60 kg, sleeps for 8 hours in a relaxed position, on her back

In addition to introducing a standard temperature testing method, the new standard provides for the mandatory marking of sleeping bag parameters such as:

temperature rating of sleeping bags

  • sleeping bag weight rounded up to 50 grams
  • internal width at the shoulders
  • inside width at knees/legs
  • inner length
  • geometric dimensions of the sleeping bag in a packed, compressed form in a compression bag

What temperatures should you look for when choosing a sleeping bag?

Women need to pay attention to red thermodiagram zone, ranging from the maximum temperature Tmax to the comfort value Tcomf.

Men should focus on red and yellow diagram zones from the maximum temperature Tmax to the value Tlim.

temperature rating of sleeping bags

Attention, it is strongly not recommended to focus on blue chart area when choosing a sleeping bag. In the temperature zone between Tlim and Textr, the sensations of cold will be significant and there is a real possibility of hypothermia.

It is strictly forbidden to use a sleeping bag at temperatures below the Extreme zone, hypothermia will not only harm your health, but there is also a possibility of death due to hypothermia.

Even with a quality or in other words — the right sleeping bag, you will only be halfway to a good night’s sleep — there are other key factors that will affect your sleep — it’s where, on what and how you sleep!

Read more about proper sleep in the article: «How to properly use a sleeping bag»