Sleeping Bag Systems?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by vector_dumb, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. vector_dumb

    vector_dumb Happier Here

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    I was wondering if anybody had some advice on sleeping bag systems that would work for a broad range of temperatures. I'd like to get some gear that could work between a solid 30 degrees and 70 degrees.

    I'm OK with solid but no frills gear and I'm hoping to keep things on the lighter side ~3 lbs since I'll use it for backpacking. Despite how marvelous a $500 dollar sleeping bag may be, I'll never spend that much. I'm a player between 150 and 200.

    I was looking at something like a Wiggys ultra light w/ a silk liner or a lower cost 30 deg. down bag (http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___37418) w/ a liner.

    I've done a bit of camping, but it was with older coleman bags. You'd freeze at the low temps, be comfortable in the mid temps, and roast in the warmer weather. I'm hoping that a bag and liner would be a good layering system that could cover the full range of temps. If others know otherwise ... :ear

    Feedback would be greatly appreciated. Might as well scoop up some winter closeouts.

    FYI I'm 6'2" and 165 lbs, so it I'm usually on the colder side at low temps.
    #1
  2. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    Get two bags, one rated for about 50 degrees and one rated for around 30. When it's warm, you use the light one. When it is colder, the heavier one. When it's really cold, you use both. Despite the claims, liners don't add all that much warmth. Some claim as much as 20 degrees, which is not the case.

    Mummy bags are warmer than rectangular bags. All bags are rated for survival temps, not comfort. A 20 degree bag will keep you alive at that temp, but you'll be miserable.

    Wearing a fleece or wool hat when you sleep keeps you significantly warmer in cold temps and takes little space.
    #2
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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  4. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    My system...
    Silk liner
    Fleece liner
    10degree down dri loft bag
    This combo has worked from a night time high of 75 to a night time low of about 20.
    I sleep COLD.
    When it's hot I use just the fleece, when it's normal it's the silk and the bag and when it's cold it's the fleece and the bag.

    The bag is a ten year old rei brand bag.
    I've been totally happy with the down bag.
    #4
  5. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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  6. vector_dumb

    vector_dumb Happier Here

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    I certainly like the idea of the MSS, but it's a bit of a pig for backpacking.

    I have a cabin in the adirondacks and when I was in my teens my dad and I did the 46 peaks. Dad wasn't a fan of camping, so we did them all as day hikes ... which was pretty grueling for some of the more remote peaks. Anyways in the adirondacks (just like any mountains) the temps can vary quite a bit. We almost got hypothermia on a hike in late June when a front moved through (luckily both wearing synthetics). Anyways to cut to the chase: for spring to mid fall camping up that way I want to carry only one bag, and sometimes you'll see a fair range of temps over a week. Unfortunately I think the MSS is out even though it has a lot of pros.

    For those interested in the MSS I found the component weight break down:
    http://www.tennierindustries.com/RFI Component info.pdf

    While a bit more than what I was planning to spend I might be better served by a 20 deg. Kifaru slick bag.

    http://www.kifaru.net/slickbag.html#

    I'd probably be comfortable in a 20 deg. bag down to 32 deg. If things get really cold, something didn't go to plan and I'll put on everything I got and hop in the bag. In warmer weather I could just bring a light fleece blanket and leave the bag open.

    I only wonder at what temp you begin to roast in a bag like this?

    Thanks for the suggestions. I think Squish has a pretty good system that shouldn't weigh much. I might end up going that way.
    #6
  7. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    Depends on the zipper length. (?)

    I have a Kelty down 20 and it's comfortable for cold and up into the 40s. The zipper, however stops just above mid-thigh. When it's at all warm my legs are trapped together in a slim down bag. Not good at all. There's a vent at the bottom of the foot, but it's not enough. This would be usable if the foot zipper was removed and that length added to the side zip. As it is, the bag is too focused on a narrow temperature range.

    For me Kelty fails. My previous 3 sleeping bags all opened up usefully.
    #7
  8. riceaterslc

    riceaterslc Urinal Cake Engineer

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    i would not recommend this item. i've been using it for the past 8 years (issued, not by choice) and while it is exceptional compared to most other military gear, it is not suitable for backpacking.

    PROS:
    1) with all three layers, you'll be comfortable to about 10F
    2) if you don't plan on carrying a tent the gore-tex bivy will keep a majority of your body dry

    CONS:
    1) heavy
    2) packs down HUGE (i only carry the bivy and light bag in my assualt pack and it comply compresses to roughly 15"x18"
    3) bivy alone, outside, will allow water to sneak in by your face.
    2) heavy and packs HUGE :)

    the other posts recommending 2 bags are probably your best bet. i've been using a 20F north face bag (blue kazoo i think) for the past 20 years. it works great in anything above 10F (with hat and fleece like the other guys recommend) and packs down to about 7"x14"
    #8
  9. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

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    Go to Amazon and look at the Big Agnes bags. I bought a 15-degree down bag, one model year old, for about 65% of what the current models were going for. I'm a big guy (6'2"-270 lbs.) and the larger bag packs down to about 10"X12", and weighs just over 3.5 lbs.
    Here's link to a bag I found on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Big-Agnes-Enc...UTF8&qid=1362846928&sr=1-9&keywords=big+agnes

    It packs down relatively small, weighs about the same as mine, and is also rated to 15 degrees. Good price, too!

    Big Agnes bags need pads to slip into a sleeve on the bottom side, as there's no insulation. I use an Exped SynMat 7, but have used Big Agnes' own brand before. As far as sleep quality goes, both mats give me outstanding comfort through a wide range of temperatures. The only differences are with inflation methods: the BA pad needed lung power, and the Exped has a cool hand pump system built in. I didn't mind blowing up a pad, but it got kind of tiresome when doing it day after day at 8K feet. :D

    Hope this helps.
    #9
  10. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    Down has a lot to recommend it. I've had a Sierra Designs down bag that I bought back in the 80s that's still going strong. There have been some recent advances in treatments for down that make it much more waterproof. Quality down is still the warmest, lightest and most compact.

    That being said, I don't see the need to purchase a down bag for summer touring in warm weather. There have been some large advances in synthetic insulation. My lightweight summer bag is synthetic, and packs down to about the size of a loaf of bread. Even when wet, synthetic insulation offers some warmth. Wet down is worthless.

    Synthetic insulation is also more tolerant of rough handling. You can ruin a down bag by leaving it stuffed while damp. The same treatment isn't good for man-made materials, but takes a lot longer to trash the bag. Synthetic insulation is also vastly cheaper than quality down.

    My system consists of a Marmot "spirafil" bag rated at 40 degrees. The rating is highly optimistic. For colder weather, I'll take a Mountain Hardwear synthetic bag which is rated at 32 degrees, and is adequate at those temps. For cold, rainy conditions, I'll take both. For cold, dry conditions, I take the lighter bag and my 20 degree down bag.

    An advantage of a split system like this is that it's easier to pack than a single bulky bag. With compression stuff-sacks,
    each bag makes a compact package which is much easier to stow than a single large one.

    The other part of the system is a good sleeping pad. You'll be much more comfortable on an inflatable, insulated pad. Throwing a "space blanket" under your pad in cold conditions helps also.

    You don't have to break the bank. However, there is a big difference in the comfort and quality of bags available at Wal-Mart and a good outdoor outfitter. If you shop around, you can assemble a high-quality system for about $250. Getting a good night's rest cannot be overemphasized. Particularly on a long trip, exhaustion is cumulative, and leads to errors in judgement and accidents.
    #10
  11. UtahFox

    UtahFox Been here awhile

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    I'm a big fan of Marmot bags. I hate being cold too so I use a Marmot Never Winter, click for a screaming deal on one. 2 & 1/2 pounds, packs really small. If it's hot out, then I use it as a blanket. If it's really cold, then I just put more clothes on.

    Pair that with a Thermarest NeoAir, and you've got a super lightweight sleep setup that'll keep you warm in just about any temp as long as it's dry. I have a bunch of sleeping pads for various uses and the NeoAir 'seems' fragile (they claim it is durable - I bring a repair kit always), but it's super warm and comfy.

    For potential rain, I always carry a Tarptent. Much bigger than a bivy (had 4 people on one in a surprise rain storm in the GC), but about the same weight - mine weighs 2 pounds.

    Going this route is more expensive, but you'll have the bag the rest of your life. I've used my Tarpent for almost 20 years, and I've had the pad for a few. This setup is about as light as you can get without sacrificing comfort. Camp touring on a bike and backpacking go really well together, save some weight on your kit you can bring more beer! :freaky
    #11
  12. jackalsour

    jackalsour Dreamer

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    If the ground is cold, getting off the ground with a pad or cot will keep you much warmer.

    I use a mummy down bag. I have 2 but I only use both to sleep in Canadian winters. I have a thin fleece liner as well for comfort

    A hat is a must imo! You lose a lot of heat through your head otherwise.

    A gortex bivy keeps you dry and also makes another layer of air (it adds warmth even though there's no insulation) The bivy also keeps the down dry when riding

    I stuff the valise with clothes to make a pillow and keep tomorrow's clothes in the bag with me.
    #12
  13. johninlv

    johninlv Adventurer

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    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p>14 years ago my wife and I geared up for ultra light back packing. Our guild was the Back packing light web sight.
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/index.html<o:p></o:p>
    We purchased Bozeman Mountain works Arc X down Quilts that weighed in at 16 oz each and had a comfort range of 32 to 60 degrees.<o:p></o:p>
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00059.html<o:p></o:p>
    We later sent them back to Nunatak to have them over stuffed by 2 oz each, making them weigh 18 oz.<o:p></o:p>
    Down quilts work as a system. You need a good insolated mattress and a layered clothing system to wear in the quilt when it really gets cold.<o:p></o:p>
    I like the Big Agnes Insolated Air Core sleeping pads, they are light, pack small and are comfortable.<o:p></o:p>
    https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Pad/InsulatedAirCore<o:p></o:p>
    The Nunatak Arc Alpinist is the top of the line.<o:p></o:p>
    http://www.nunatakusa.com/site07/arc_products/arc_alpinist.htm<o:p></o:p>
    Jacks-R-Better sells an line of quality down quilts for less money.<o:p></o:p>
    http://www.jacksrbetter.com/quilts/<o:p></o:p>
    Once I started using the quilt system I never looked back. I have one of each the 18 oz Arc X and a Jacks-R-Better 29 oz winter only quilt.<o:p></o:p>
    These items come up for sale on EBay and back packer classifieds from time to time. <o:p></o:p>
    You can research the ultra light forums for gear reports that will give you a good idea of what will work for you and at what cost.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    </o:p>
    #13
  14. Cerberus83

    Cerberus83 The Wingman

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    Not sure if this is something you're looking for, but I picked up Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 for $80 (link). There are other bags on this site that are priced pretty well. I'm planning to get Sea to Summit liners (coolmax and reactor), but those two are approx. $110...
    #14
  15. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    I recently picked up a Mountain Hardwear long bag also for about the same price. Not the Lamina -- I'd have to check the model. I got it with one of Sierra Trading Post's additional 35% off deals. Nice bag. Well constructed. Roomy for a mummy. I've done a few tests with it, and it's very warm. It doesn't pack very compactly in the stuff sack provided, but I have some compression stuff sacks in inventory. It came with a very nice mesh storage bag. I'm 6'2" and 250, and there's plenty of room. I like it a lot. Mountain Hardwear is making some good gear for reasonable cost.

    #15
  16. vector_dumb

    vector_dumb Happier Here

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    Wow! I wasn't really expecting so many great replies and PMs :clap

    Grinnin pointed out something really important that a full zipper length helps manage a wider range of temperatures. I've been checking a lot of the bags mentioned on this thread, but zipper length isn't usually stated in the specs.

    I've looked into all the bags mentioned on this thread (a number of which are model closeouts which is perfect). Can anybody comment about zipper length for any of the following bags?

    Big Agnes Encampment: Suggested By Bigger Al

    Sierra Designs Ridge Runner 30 Deg: Suggested By Me/Canuman

    Marmot Never Winter: Suggested by UtahFox

    Mountain HW Lamina 35 or 20: Suggested by Cerberus83/Canuman
    (I did find a pic that made it look like a full length zip)

    A plus for all of these bags is that they are light and carrying an additional fleece or cover won't be a big deal.

    The gear johninvl looked really nice, but unfortunately a bit pricy for where I'm at. I need some $$ for the R80ST!
    #16
  17. Cerberus83

    Cerberus83 The Wingman

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    Vector, Lamina bag I suggested has a full length #5 YKK zippers; however, the zipper does not go all the way around the bottom of the bag (there are 2 zippers one one side only - the zipper stops a bit higher than your ankle). Also, the zippers are not double sided (meaning you cannot zip/unzip the bag from the inside). This is not a huge deal to me but I figured I would let you know. The top "mummy" portion is tied using the cords.

    The bag is super comfy and light. It comes with two sacks: a big mesh sack used for storage and a small nylon / polyester compression sack (this enables you to pack it quite small, maybe 11"x7").

    I'm 6' 173# and I went with regular. I thought about the next size up, but glad I went with the regular since the fit is perfect.
    #17
  18. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

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    #18
  19. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    These are two that I'm also considering. Campmor has a Q&A section for the SD Ridge Runner: Q (from shopper) does zip go around foot? A (from Campmor) goes TO foot but not around.

    Yesterday I submitted a similar question to Campmor about the Never Winter 30.

    Maybe some gear nut will maintain a zipper-length thread.:rofl

    QUESTION ABOUT SIZE:
    Has anyone of normal size used a large bag specifically to accommodate liners? I'm 5'9" or so. In the '70s I had a large mummy (gift from someone who didn't want to be constricted); the extra space is NOT your friend in the cold but the bag packed so huge that I rarely took a liner. I've had a right-sized mummy; better. My latest is the slimmest-cut; there's not much space for a liner or any but the thinnest clothes. The lightest and warmest bags are snug to make them light and warm.
    #19
  20. EKIN

    EKIN Just Do It

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    I have purchased a few bags and always seem to find features I like and dislike with each model. Size, zippers, liners, shape, weight all come into play. A good sleeping pad makes a big difference with the cold temps. I have settled into two bags, one I use for temps ranging from 50 up, and one when the temps drop to freezing. I have not found one bag to cover all types of travel. I do not like all the extra liners myself, I want to set up and pack quickly. Less is more when I travel no matter how small the item.

    Visit a Bass Pro Shop, REI, or good outfitter. Open the bags up, get in, zip up, as one tag, hood shape, pull string, might annoy the hell out of you which you would not realize unless you try the bag. Once you find the bag you like, then go find it using coupons, sales, etc to try and save a few dollars.

    Sleep is important when I travel, a good bag makes a big difference.:D
    #20