The Scoop: On one of his many excursions, avid camper Cristobal Murillo wondered if he could make his sleeping bag a little more portable. He found traditional bags confining and wanted to stay warm when he left his tent. So, he developed the Selk’bag, a breathable human-shaped sleeping bag with arms, legs, and a hood. Selk’bags are a hybrid between a sleeping bag and a comfortable puffer jacket. The bags are quite popular with couples, who use them not only outside during the colder months but also to snuggle in at home.
Even in the spring and summer, camping with your partner can still have some chilly moments. Like when you have to get out of your warm tent in the middle of the night. Or when you wake up to start a fire in the morning before the sun comes up.
Cristobal Murillo spent much of his life camping in his native Chile. Many Chileans are outdoorsy types, he said, but he saw plenty of problems with the outdoor gear available in the country. For instance, he found the typical mummy-shaped sleeping bags incredibly constricting, and they couldn’t keep people warm outside their tents.
He thought there had to be something better. So, in 2009, Cristobal co-founded Selk’bag to produce what he calls a “human-shaped sleeping bag.” He conceived of the Selk’bag in the context of camping. Campers could use it as a more freeing sleeping bag and wear it outside of the tent or while grabbing firewood.
“I wanted to use it for more than just sleeping. So that was the inspiration for the product,” Cristobal said.
Over the next 10 years, Cristobal and his team expanded outside of the South American market. The company grew a broader customer base of outdoor lovers who used Selk’bags not only for camping but also for outdoor sports like hunting, fishing, skiing, and even snowmobiling. The company has also found customers who appreciate Selk’bags for their coziness factor — and wear them indoors.
“We have our outdoor enthusiasts and campers, but we also have people who want to be cozy at home,” said Cristobal.
Couples can buy a pair of Selk’bags to stay snug and comfortable no matter where they go — whether it’s the middle of the wilderness or in front of the TV.
Bringing a Comfortable Touch to the Outdoors Market
In 2013, Selk’bag entered the American market based on the number of households that include campers. According to a recent survey, 61% of American households include at least one person who camps regularly. So, Cristobal said he and his team believed that they’d find many Americans who could use Selk’bags for that pursuit.
“We want people to enjoy it with their family and friends. It’s about enjoying nature outside and living in the moment,” he said.
The company developed a devoted following that used the bag for their year-round camping. Pictures on its website show campers by fires, in forests, by large bodies of water, and even on ice-covered lakes, enjoying these natural features comfortably tucked away in a Selk’bag.
Along with a passionate customer base, the company has built a sterling reputation online with many glowing reviews.
“The Selk’bag is an incredibly well-made item, with lots of practical features. It’s extremely comfortable, fits well, and offers great warmth in cold Missouri winters. Selk offers amazing customer service as well,” whore one satisfied customer in an online review.
Another fan agreed, saying, “I have had one for a while, and my wife loves it while sitting around our camp campfire when it’s cold.”
Helping people experience nature year-round is one of the company’s key missions. Even the name Selk’bag was inspired by an indigenous tribe from the Patagonia region of Chile called the Selk’nam.
“They were nomads who lived and traveled in harsh temperatures,” Cristobal said.
He also knows that some might not be too keen on wearing a sleeping bag. But he suggests if people try the product, they quickly become believers.
“When they try the product on, it’s amazing how their perspective changes. They turn from nonbelievers to believers in a second when they try it on,” he said.
The Wearable Sleeping Bag Offers Plenty of Features
A Selk’bag is similar to a wearable sleeping bag, and if you look at the product, the similarities are clear. The top of the sleeping bag becomes a hood, while the bottom becomes a pair of pants. The middle section of the bag includes arms.
The Selk’bag also has unique features that make it even more functional. There’s a cargo pocket in the side that lets you store your phone or wallet, while a side entry lets you zip down to reach into your pants pocket. Removable booties cover your shoes or feet whenever you want more warmth. Or, if you’re getting too hot, you can zip down leg ventilation to cool yourself down.
Selk’bags come in three different varieties, which have slightly different features. The Original 6G is made in a heavy enough fabric for people to wear for any outdoor activities — and it is the company’s most popular product.
“Our original, best-selling product is the three-season sleeping bag for being outdoors and staying warm while you’re active,” Cristobal said.
The company also offers a lighter version of the bag, which most customers use for either outdoor activities in the warmer months or for staying cozy at home. Both the heavier and lighter versions of the 6G Selk’bag come in plenty of different colors, including red, purple, blue, black, green, and yellow. And sizes range from small to extra large.
Another variety is the Instinct Realtree EDGE. The warmest of the three Selk’bags, this version is also camouflaged so wearers can remain hidden while hunting. The bag also features hand coverings, so wearers can blend into their environments.
Selk’bag: Designed for Indoor or Outdoor Couples
Since entering the U.S. market seven years ago, Selk’bag has found a wider audience than it ever imagined. While the company knew that its product would appeal to lovers of the great outdoors, it has been more surprised at just how many people enjoy it.
“We cater to all kinds of people, from kids to older adults and gamers who like to stay inside the house. We cater to people who use it for lots of different reasons, and that’s a cool thing about the product,” Cristobal said.
That variety of uses is why Selk’bag has continued to grow its reputation. In the spring and summer, the products are set to appear in 15 REI outdoor gear stores throughout the United States. The company has plans to design products for technical outdoor sports, including backpackers. As bags are now only available in solid colors, the company is looking to offer more prints.
At the same time, the company wants to give back to the wilderness that its founders and users so appreciate. So, they’re starting to use more sustainable products, including recyclable materials. Selk’bag also gives back more to environmental nonprofits.
“We care about nature in Chile, so we want to do well for our environment, as well. We’re also going to give some of our proceeds to NGOs that focus on caring for the environment. We want to be a more careful company for our world,” said Cristobal.
With a simple mission of making people more comfortable outside, Selk’bags have appealed to more different types of people than its founders could have predicted.
“Knowing that people enjoy it and have different uses makes us incredibly proud,” Cristobal said.