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The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me

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Offline SA Bill

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The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« on: December 10, 2011, 10:43:05 PM »
Okay. After my chilly couple of nights in BB last week, I'm trying to decide what would be the best sleeping bag system for me. I currently have a collection of several cheaper bags, none of which meet my current or future needs. Even putting one bag inside the other last week I was cold in temps around 38. My thinner blood needs more loft if I'm going to stay reasonably warm at night.

Soooo....my bag needs are as follows:
  Mostly for car camping but overnight backpack trips once or twice a year
  Around a max of 3-3.5 pounds trail weight
  Rectangular or semi-rectangular shape
  Down or synthetic fill
  Decent stuffability
  0 rating...maybe 15
  Closeout and previous years models would be fine
  No more than $350.00

Okay...it will probably be impossible to meet all of the criteria above but what the heck, this is a discussion designed to (hopefully) point me in the right direction when it comes time to spend some hard earned $ for a "real" sleeping bag.

If money were no object, I would be looking at the Western Mountaineering MF bags. The Big Agnes system is highly recommended by stingrey so I would consider a bag + insulated pad from them. Shanea likes Montbell. Other manufactureres to consider?

Or...do I really need a car camping bag + a backpacking bag.

Anyway...I'm hoping to start a discussion about what sleep system others are using. The parameters given above are just what I think I need to consider before making a purchase. YMMV.
  Let the recommendations begin!
   Thanks!
     Bill

 
 
Bill - In San Antonio

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Offline Al

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2011, 11:08:01 PM »
Bill, without regard to all of your other criteria, I would go with the warmest bag that fits and at least a 0 degree bag NOT a 15 degree bag.  In my experience, you want the warmest bag you can get.  I have used my -40 degree bag at temps up to 50 degrees with no problem.  Rarely does a bag's rating mean you will be warm even at much warmer temps.  With a 0 degree or lower temp rated bag, worst case you don't zip it  or cinch it up all the way.  Much preferable to being cold.  I too like a rectangular bag because I can't sleep with my feet restrained in a mummy bag.  But a rectangular bag will weight more and not be as warm.

What clothes do your wear in your bag?  I have found that a down vest works well to help stay warm.  Why a vest and not a jacket? A vest doesn't cut the circulation off to the arms unlike trying to wear a coat in the bag.

Personally, I would go with two bags.  One for car camping and one for hiking (but then I have a great car camping bag). 

I would look real hard at the Big Agnes systems for a combination of the two.

With a 3.5 lb limit, you need to be looking at high loft down.  Remember a good pad is essential to staying warm.

Al

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Offline Verduretiger

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2011, 07:04:14 AM »
Big Agnes makes a great bag but I think the best I have tried is Western Mountaineering especially if you need a little wider girth like me. 

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chisos_muse

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2011, 09:55:29 AM »
All good advice. Just remember that the temperature rating of a bag is based on survival in that temp range, not snuggly warmth. So, generally speaking, if you sleep cold, go with a bag that is rated below the temps you are going to be in. From what you've already said, you prolly want to go with a 0 degree bag.

Some things to consider. A down bag will last much longer than a synthetic, especially high quality. But, you have to take proper care of it as well. It is a better investment in the long run. With certain bags, like WM, in warmer temps you can transfer the loft to other areas of the bag to be cooler, which is nice.

Get a good pad, like everyone has said. Also, don't know if you own a good baselayer set, but if not I would get a heavyweight, SYNTHETIC or WOOL set. Don't wear any cotton, including socks. I know this has been said many times before, lol.

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Offline Robert

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2011, 11:26:19 AM »
The problem with buying a bag is that everyone sleeps differently. Some sleep hot, others are cold. Some are side sleepers, others on their back or stomach. So like shoes, it is hard to guarantee what works for me will work for you.

What I would recommend is to read as many online reviews of bags as you can for those you are considering. People will generally talk about their sleep style and you want to find people who sleep similarly to you. Another thing you can pick up from the reviews are whether the bag's ratings are correct or not. There is no standard for bag ratings (in US) so a manufacturer can make any claim they want. But in general, the higher quality bag manufacturers seem to do a better job, especially Western Mountaineering.

Your requirements are very achievable. I have a Montbell UL SS Downhugger #1 rated to 15 degrees and is under 3 pounds and I paid under $350 for it. Montbell and WM are two great brands to consider and you can't go wrong with them. They don't seem to be discounted as often as other brands but you can find sales if you are patient.

With respect to Al, I would disagree to get the coldest bag possible. Colder bags are going to be heavier, more expensive, and hotter when the temps are no where near the optimal rating for the bag.  Consider a bag rated for 0 degrees when the temperature is in the upper 30's. If you vent your bag you are going to get a draft, which will make you feel cold. So that solution does not always work out.

If you get a bag rated to the coldest temperatures you will encounter you can increase the warmth by:
1) Bringing a blanket or two when car camping or
2) Wearing base layers for car camping or backpacking or
3) Wearing additional clothes when backpacking (like AL mentioned)
You could sandbag a little on the rating (like I did), I just wouldn't go overboard.

A couple of other comments. I'm not sure why the semi-rectangular or rectangular shape is a factor for you. Almost no quality backpacking bag is shaped like this. The increased area in the foot-box makes it harder to warm and adds weight and expense.

Also bags using high lofting down will always stuff into a small size.

And finally as the others have mentioned, even with the best bag, if you don't sleep on top of something that insulates you from the ground, you will be cold.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2011, 12:20:16 PM »
I think, in order to establish a proper criteria we need to start from this comment:



  What impresses me, is the fact that you piled up all these gear and you were still BARELY WARM?...... :icon_eek:.  You never went for the warm water inside of the Coke Bottle technique. We picked that up here.... :-\

  And you like to stay in Holiday Inn's..... :king:

Yeah, the older I get Homero, the thinner my blood seems to be. Hmmm...warm "water" in a Coke bottle...maybe I'll try that next time.

A HI would have been cheaper!!
  Bill

[/quote]

 My initial advise is this: Choose...your...wor ds. From this moment on.

 Although as Robert has just explained the personal criteria to establish the search for the perfect hunt for a sleeping bag. One must define the initial need in order to be pointed in the right direction. There are Car Camping Bags and there are Hiking Bags. YOU CAN NOT HAVE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS in this matter.

 From what I have read, along time here and on the web, the following brands have won my trust: MontBell, WM, Sierra Designs, Marmot, The North Face, Big Agnes, Sportsmans Guide and Cabelas. To me, these are the brands that WILL give you the best bang for your expensive buck. And in this spot, I will hold my ground because any brand that I or any one here will suggest will be completely suceptible to our worst enemy......HIGH PRICE. And that  is also suceptible to debate, because as Al has mentioned the best way to put things in to perspective is to ponder your price of comfort vs the bone chilling cost of having a miserable experince in the cold dead of winter night.

   PRICE  vs  COMFORT............ ........Two perfect antagonistic factors that prevail in our decision making department: Our Pockets!.

  I have some "Bad" experience in the Car Camping Bag department. The type of experience you do not need to live it yourself and I will extend my advise as well. But there are others here who also have extended experience in Hiking Bags who will also contribute to the general common knowledge.

 My advise and experience, is on Cabelas and Sportsman Guide....more to come.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 08:54:09 PM by homerboy2u »
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline Al

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2011, 12:53:45 PM »
Robert, I hear what you are saying but I would rather have a bag that is too warm than not warm enough although I do agree that one may be able to over do it.  For years I used an L.L. Bean bag rated at 0 degrees.  I was cold if it got down into the lower 20's.  Not freezing cold just uncomfortably cold.  Yes you can learn to compensate for a bag that isn't warm enough by wearing clothes such as wool socks/longjohns, a down vest and a hat (all of which I wore most nights), but as Ms. Muse points out a bag's rating does not mean you will feel warm at its rated temperature.  There is a good argument that you are better off wearing clothes in a bag for when you need to pee at night or must force yourself to get up early on a frosty morning.

For over 20 years my camping buddy Erle used his -40 degree Marmot bag several times a year while both hiking and car camping in the winter.  I don't think he ever zipped it up and I know he was never cold nor desired to replace it.  Although on his last trip he was eying my Alaskan Guide bag since we have limited ourselves to car camping in recent years.

To the side, Marmot makes really good bags and you can find them discounted at Campmor.

Al

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2011, 11:36:36 PM »
For starters, I have done some research on the Cabelas Alaskan Guide Rectangular Sleeping Bag. It is one of the best Car Sleping Bags on the market. I like that Dual Insulation System sewed in,as this Video Explains.



  One thing about this bag is that it really does not matter much the fact that is rated to negative 40 degrees Farenheit. It is no problem to flap that bag a couple of times during the night in near freezing temperatures. The fact that  you will be warm and toasty over exceeds any other issue what so ever. It is everything when you are out there snoring in cloud nine or  just suffering from a cold spell seeing how those minutes feel like days,before the sun comes up again. You really do not need that experience, and that has been a major fact for many to bail out many trip experience out in the cold draft.

   Now wether you like Rectangular Sleeping Bags or Mummy Types, it really poses no issue. For the purpose of these bags (cold climate) you will not toss and turn much at night. You will concetrate your efforts in acheving comfort from your own generated heat. It can be an issue the room to move around your feet after a long day hiking, climbing or just scrambling thru rocks and scree. You need that extra room just to rub your hands on those swollen legs. It is a great bag indeed.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline SA Bill

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2011, 05:25:26 PM »
Wow!
You all have been too kind...great replies to my musings. :eusa_clap:

Let's see...Robert: I don't like sleeping in a mummy bag so that's why I'd prefer a rectangular bag. Not as efficient but if I'm uncomfortable in a mummy bag I won't sleep well even if it's warmer.

Good point about bag ratings Muse. Maybe for me to be warm at 32 I do need a 0 bag. Plus a good base layer. I have fleece pants and a fleece hoody that would work without being too heavy.

Those look like great car camping bags Homero! It looks like I will have to have two bags no matter what. A heavy, very warm one for multiple nights in the Basin when it's cold and a somewhat lighter bag for my backpack overnighters. I'm okay with that. The only "problem" is that the backpack bag will cost 3-4X more than the car camping bag. Since my car camping nights on the ground out number my backpacking nights on the ground by about 10:1, I'm reluctant to spend too much $ for a super quality backpacking bag.

Soooo...maybe:
This
http://www.cabelas.com/product/Camping/Sleeping-Bags%7C/pc/104795280/c/104770080/Cabelas-3D8482-Rectangle-Sleeping-Bags/1168151.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fcamping-sleeping-bags%2Fcabelas%2F_%2FN-1100675%2B1000002949%2B4294770705%2FNe-1000002949%3FWTz_l%3DSBC%253BBRprd745134%26WTz_st%3DGuidedNav%26WTz_stype%3DGNU&WTz_l=SBC%3BBRprd745134%3Bcat104770080

or this
http://www.campmor.com/slumberjack-esplanade-oversized-degree-hooded-sleeping-bag-regular.shtml
for car camping

and eventually this
https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Bag/stormking0
for my overnight backpack trips.

Thoughts on those bags?

Haven't settled on what to get for a pad or pads. I need to go back and read through the thread on pads from back a year or so. There was some good info there. Any updated pads I should consider?

Thanks again all!  :13: I don't want to analyze this topic to death but I do enjoy the research and the ideas you all have thrown out.
  Keep 'em coming!
    Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline GaryF

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2011, 11:00:51 PM »
I guess I'm a bit of a sleeping bag nut...  Between my wife and me we have bags from Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, and Big Agnes.

Out of all of those, the one that see's the most use is the Big Agnes Summit Park. It's a down bag rated at 15 degrees... did I mention that it was big? Technically it's a mummy bag, but with an 80" inside shoulder girth, 74" hip girth,  and 66" at the feet, it doesn't matter all that much what the shape is, it's far roomier than most rectangular bags, even bigger than those big Cabelas Alaskan Guide bags. All of the Big Agnes "Park" series bags are that same dimension, but there are several different weights available in both down and synthetic. Like most Big Agnes bags, the Summit Park has a pad sleeve in the bottom instead of insulation. I honestly don't think I've ever used the sleeve, I normally just lay the bag over the pad.

The extra room is nice... I use the Summit Park mostly for car camping..  at 3lbs 11oz, it's reasonably packable, but I've got bags in the 2lb and under range that usually go in the pack. It's probably the most true to temperature rating of all the bags in my collection. One great thing about all of that room is that you can layer without compressing the inner bag. I've used this bag as an outer bag camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park at -27 degrees, and I've used it alone in temps in the teens.

One thing I've found is that in a snug mummy bag, some of the loft gets compromised by the "stretching" forces on it. I understand the concept of a differential cut bag to prevent some of that, but even in the best designed bags it can be a problem. A roomier bag like this will loft to it's full potential.

I noticed a deal on the -20 degree Elk Park synthetic bag the other day.  here it is $136 http://www.hermitshut.com/bigagelkpa20.html  That's warmer than I would recommend, but not out of line with the other bags being discussed. Definitely on the heavy and bulky side for backpacking, but it would be a great cold weather car camper.

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2011, 11:32:50 AM »
Before I answer you,Bill please allow me to answer this comment:

I guess I'm a bit of a sleeping bag nut... 

   Welcome to my world. My wife and some friends were saying some days a go, that when ever I tag along either to WalMart, Some Sporting goods store...and I get lost from them. The only easy way to find me. yes, it is in the sleeping bag section.....So I hear you, GaryF... :eusa_whistle:


Wow!

Those look like great car camping bags Homero! It looks like I will have to have two bags no matter what. A heavy, very warm one for multiple nights in the Basin when it's cold and a somewhat lighter bag for my backpack overnighters. I'm okay with that. The only "problem" is that the backpack bag will cost 3-4X more than the car camping bag. Since my car camping nights on the ground out number my backpacking nights on the ground by about 10:1, I'm reluctant to spend too much $ for a super quality backpacking bag.

    Bill


 And yes, Bill...you are always correct. They will cost you so many times more, to get a good techinical backpack bag. That is so correct.

  A word to the stingy, in this board: Why don't you check out and set up an alarm on Ebay. I have one for a Mont=Bell spiral down hugger. Nobody will know it is going to be used, and as soon as you get it, send it over to the Cleaners and voila...some $150 to $200.00 enchiladas in savings. Besides, I want to give it to Shane for when I see him in Boquillas, he will never know.... :eusa_shhh:

   Now regarding that Cabelas 3D bag...Did you see it is rated at -30F and it is sold out?...so many are thinking like you, with that price differential. You can not go wrong. The Cabela Brothers must be so happy these days. It is selling like Hot Cakes.

 One last word to the wise: Have you invoked THE ELDERS?........best advice on the board, BUT. In doing so, you will be 1 shot shorter. Remember, we all get ONLY 6 shots and then we are out of here. Your call.

Homero
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline stingrey

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Re: The "Best" Sleeping Bag - For Me
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2012, 09:27:14 AM »
Just in case, there is a Storm King (09 model) long (PLENTY roomy) for a nice price @ wearbap.com:

http://www.wearbap.com/home.php?cat=384

$161 and some change. If I were in the market, I'd definitely be considering it!
Get busy living, or get busy dying.

 


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