Big Agnes Sleeping Bag Temp Ratings

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by markjenn, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    I've been a fan of the Big Agnes pad/sleeping bag system for some time, but my recent experience - admittedly limited - is that their sleeping bags are dramatically overrated with respect to how warm they'll keep you.

    I have a 40-deg Park series bag that has virtually no insulation and that I've been non-too-warm in 55-60 deg summer weather and have been almost painfully cold on a couple of 35-deg nights. Thinking I just need to upgrade to a warmer bag and wanting to stick with the BA system, I looked at a couple of the BA 15-deg bags at REI today. For a 15-deg bag, the amount of loft seemed quite minimal and when I compared the amount of insulation in the BA bag vs. other 15-25 deg bags (Marmot, Kelty and others), it was WAY less, perhaps half as much. And this is after they supposedly put all the insulation in the top half.

    Anybody else had issues with the temp ratings of BA sleeping bags?

    - Mark
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  2. Okie Preacher

    Okie Preacher Been here awhile

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    Mark,

    I use a "Hog Park" 20 degree polyfill bag and have been very comfortable in it with temps into the upper 20's.

    A couple things to consider... With the BA system the warmth of the pad is as important as that of the bag. I use an Exped Downmat 9 which is about as warm and insulating as anything on the market. I use it year around and have not found it too warm (desert in AZ early this spring, muggy and warm in KY in August) But, great on colder mornings (High Altitude in CO this summer and KS last week).

    Also, the Park series bags are huge and roomy. Great for comfort, but a lot of space requiring body heat to keep warm. If you aren't a big guy (like me) who needs the room, maybe one of their slimmer cut bags would keep you warmer.
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  3. Dirtnadvil

    Dirtnadvil Been here awhile

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    This probably wont help but......... I f'd up and got a long Whiskey Park down bag and I believe iit was rated to o degrees. It is huge and roomy since it was made for a 6'6" person and I am barely 6'. Wearing synthetic long underware and a beanie, I am comfortable down to 30 degrees. I am sure if I would have bought the right size bag I would be good down to the teens. Like I said this probably wont help:D
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  4. AMSBIKER

    AMSBIKER Adventurer

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  5. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff Man of Mystery

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    I use a BA Yampa (45 deg) and their AirCore (the insulated one) pads. I use this bag as a mild weather bag and as a "floor space camping bag "primarily.

    For me, I feel that rating is a little optimistic --more like 50deg. But I feel most bags are optimisitic (for me) --I guess I am a cold sleeper.

    Mark, do you have the Buffalo Park bag? For me, the lack of a hood makes this bag cold --so I almost always wear a beanie when I am sleeping. I use BA's insulated aircore pad --but still don't find it as insulative as my older sleeping pads (therm-a-rest style).

    if you decide to go with a mummy style bag, you could use your Park bag as an overbag to boost the temp rating.
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  6. VStromTom

    VStromTom Long timer

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    No, my Lost Ranger is comfy/toasty at 20 degrees. I use a down insulated sleep pad.
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  7. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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  8. eddie bolted

    eddie bolted BOING!!!

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    Sleeping bag ratings are almost ALWAYS off by 10-15 degrees ,regardless of the manufacturer.
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  9. Bullspit

    Bullspit Adventurer

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    I think the temperature rating on sleeping bags is based on survival, not sleep comfort. In other words, a 15 degree back will keep you alive to 15 degrees. If you want to sleep you need to get a bag 15-20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.

    A couple of things I've learned over the years sleeping outside, usually without a tent, in cool to cold weather:

    1. Put on clean dry wool socks when you go to bed.
    2. Wear clothes, at least long-johns.
    3. Wear a hat.
    4. Find something to block the wind.
    #9
  10. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    True, but my point is that I think the BA are off much more than other mfgs. BA's 15-deg bags at REI appeared to have less insulation that other mfg's 40-deg bags.

    - Mark
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  11. eddie bolted

    eddie bolted BOING!!!

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    Do they both have the same fill material?
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  12. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    Yes, I was comparing down.

    - Mark
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  13. eddie bolted

    eddie bolted BOING!!!

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    Different grades of down 550-800 fill etc.,need less 800 fill for the same warmth as 550 fill.
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  14. Britome

    Britome Get Free

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    I love the BA. I have a 30, 15 and zero that the whole fam uses. I too made a mistake buying the "long" which isn't needed for someone 6'1". I may return to REI for regular. Gotta love that place!

    The BA is definitely rating according to survival. The be 3.5" pad helps for warmth. In general, their pads suck. I've taken about 4 back as a result of multiple pinholes that seem to spontaneously arise. Again... God bless REI
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  15. Patch

    Patch Been here awhile

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    Also worth noting... you just may be a 'cold' sleeper. Doesn't matter that most will be comfy in a specific temp bag, you might just need a warmer one.

    And as for fill ratings and materials... make sure you consider the sources. The same fill material for one manufacturer may be poorer quality than another, though they are the same amount. One bag might be all 'stems and seeds' and another .. well you get the idea. :D

    BA has been making quality gear and has a strong vendor rep/sales network. Companies that maintain their focus on that relationship usually don't skimp when it coms to quality.
    #15
  16. VStromTom

    VStromTom Long timer

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    You can do some things to make your comfort level more to your liking without buying a new bag. Things like a couple of "hot hands" packs thrown in the foot of the bag, or using emergency blankets (cheap) under the bag, or in the bag depending on how cold you feel, wear a stocking cap while sleeping, or even a fleece liner/or blanket over the bag. Some wear silk underwear, long johns, sweat pants, or like me, sleep in only your underwear. I have camped to -10 degrees F that way and been toasty. I have also burned a hurricane candle hung from the tent top, or set in my shoe, to warm the tent by 5-8 degrees. But, IF you are a cold person anyway, go for a much lower temp rated bag. Hope some of this helps. Good luck.
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  17. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    Again, thanks for all the suggestions (all good) and I fully realize that temp ratings, like EPA mileage ratings, are approximations and not guarantees.

    FWIIW, I have done some further research and there are a LOT of folks commenting that they think BA dramatically underrates their bag's temp ratings. Some think it is BA just exaggerating, others think the basic design of the BA sleeping bag/pad system doesn't allow what insulation there is to sit next to the body as it would in a normal sleeping bag. Someone even commented that BA confirmed their system is really designed for "back sleepers" and that when one sleeps on their side with a BA system, the bag/pad can't conform to the vertical nature of the sleeper resulting in compression of the top insulating layer and big drafty gaps on the side. (I am a side-sleeper so this resonates with me.)

    In any event, I've decided the BA system is not for me and like I said earlier, I'm moving back to more conventional bag/pad systems. YMMV.

    - Mark
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  18. h2o_snow

    h2o_snow Water, snow & dirt too.

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    +1. I have a variety of bags including full blown, -25 high zoot winter bags and have camped well below zero w/o tent on ski traverses. Bought a BA Zirkle last year for the son its 15 degree, 800 down fill - got a good deal w a guide discount. It is cold w/ the recommended insulated air core pad.

    Somewhat dissatisfied. The pad when inflated is very comfy but...and this is a big issue, the pad prevents a solid close around my neck even with the muff collar. I resorted to rolling a vest as a collar around my neck sleeping. Also - the pad prevents rolling the bag - you need to roll in the bag. Tough for a 6'5" fat boy.

    Warm dry fleece and dry sox are a must. I like balaclavas for head gear - my sleeping hat always seem to fall off.

    Really like the BA blow up pads but will not buy another bag.
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  19. ParaMud

    ParaMud Been here awhile

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  20. Dirtnadvil

    Dirtnadvil Been here awhile

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    +1:1drink
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