What is a Selk'Bag?
This Selk Bag review will focus on my experience wearing it throughout a year of van life.
This wearable sleeping bag appealed to me because it looked like an easy way to stay warm in my van–quickly throw on to run outside or even wear to bed on a cold night. (I don’t have a portable heater and my van’s regular heater is weak. The beauty of budget van life).
I’m reviewing the Original 6G Blue Puffin sleeping suit–how cozy do I look?!
Note: I am a partner with Selk’Bag and this post may contain affiliate links.
Selk'Bag Original Features
Selk’bag suits come in a variety of colors and sizes, but their main functioning features stay the same. All Selk’bag Original suits are made of hollow-fiber insulation (to mimic down feathers) with a soft polyester shell.
Full-Body Dual Zippers
Side Pocket for Cellphone
Elastic Hand Enclosures
Zippered Knee Vents
Removable, Zipper-on Booties
Compact Stuff Sack
Selk'bag Lite vs Original
The main difference between these two sleeping bag suits is that the Selk’bag Lite can’t handle as cold of temperatures as the Selk’bag Original. The Lite is rated for maximum cold temps of 48F / 9C degrees, whereas the Selk’bag Original is rated for max cold temps of 35F / 2C degrees.
The Selk’bag Lite also lacks some features of the Original, including no leg vents or side cargo pocket. But, it’s $50 less–coming in at just $99.
Is the Selk'bag Original Worth It?
Not only do I get to look like a colorful penguin space suit person, but I also stay toasty warm. But seriously, the selk bag has two thumbs up from me.
I’ve had a handful of nights in the van where I’ve had to boondock in places that reach -7F degrees. Winter van life is no joke. This sleeping bag suit kept me warm throughout the night. I did have other blankets on top of me while wearing the suit, but I know the blankets alone wouldn’t have been enough. And the hood, booties and hand covers protected my extremities as well.
The best part is not having to freeze in the morning when I get out of bed. I’ve actually removed the booties before, put on my regular boots, and worn it while driving the van. I had fun stopping for gas and seeing people’s faces as I got out in my big blue space suit.
I’ve also worn the selk bag on short hikes when I’m trying to grab some nature photos. The kangaroo pocket in the front and the side pocket are handy. I’ll throw my phone and camera lens cap in the pockets (normally I put the lens cap down and then spend ten minutes trying to find where I put it).
I have a lot of spur-of-the-moment ideas while on the road and the selk bag comes in handy for many of them. Sometimes I abruptly stop the van to check out a new, unplanned place. Or I take a quick hike. Whatever it may be, it’s a lot simpler to throw on the selk bag suit than dig through my warm clothes to bundle up. I save myself time, effort and a messy van.
Actually, when I moved back in to my parents’ house for five months to build out the van, I wore the suit around the house. Winter in New Hampshire gets cold and it was a great way to stay comfortable throughout the day while working remotely or doing stuff around the house.
- Easy to put on and take off
- Very warm and comfortable
- Lightweight and compact
- Fits well but can bundle up underneath if desired
- No bathroom flap. I’m convinced they have a secret, big reason to not have this. Because it seems like such a must-have feature and I’ve seen other reviewers that noted this as a con as well. Having to strip down in cold temps to pee?! Not fun!
- Sometimes tricky to walk around or maneuver in. Much easier to walk in if you remove the zip-on booties.
How I Wash and Care for My Selk Bag
I use a special detergent (Nikwax Tech Wash) that helps protect the DWR layer on the selk bag–regular detergents will wear it down. I wash the suit by itself, in cold water on a gentle cycle. I usually let it air dry but I think you’d be fine putting it in the dryer on low heat. I recommend adding a tennis ball or something inside the dryer to help fluff up the suit.
Interestingly, Selk Bag determines your right size suit based solely on height. The suits are unisex and each suit covers a height range. I’m 5’5″ and I was a size medium in the Original but “technically” a size large in the Lite. I think they had changed their sizing guide in-between me getting the Original and the Lite, because I don’t understand why my size would change.
In any case, the Lite in size large was way too big for me, despite it saying that it is mad for 5’5″ height. The medium fit just right, though.
How Is a Wearable Sleeping Bag Different Than a Snowsuit?
A wearable sleeping bag is different from a snowsuit because it isn’t as waterproof and doesn’t have as many layers. Given, not all wearable sleeping bag suits and snowsuits are the same, but in general, snowsuits are better equipped for wetter weather.
The Selk Bag Original does have DWR (Durable Water Repellant) on its outer layer to make it less susceptible to soaking up moisture. But this doesn’t make it full-proof against wetness; DWR is a treated layer that wears off over time. Whereas a snowsuit is made of waterproof material, keeping it protected from wetness even if DWR wears off.
I think the Selk Bag original is worth its cost. The fact I can wear it while driving, hiking, sleeping or just hanging around my house, has shown me it’s versatile and convenient.
I could see that coming in very handy at camp where heat is always an issue. Thanks for the great review!
Yes I’ve definitely worn it for just that purpose at times! So glad this review was helpful, thanks J!
Just listened to your wayward home podcast interview and wound up here. Thanks for what you are doing! I wonder if I could ultra-cheap modify an old sleeping bag to create something like this.
Thanks Luke! I’m psyched you made your way to my blog. And even more psyched if you made a DIY version of a selk bag! Please report back on that because that would be awesome, and undoubtedly extremely stylish.