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All Around Sleeping Bags?
I'm looking into upgrading from a hand me down Coleman sleeping bag I've had for years to something better.
Assuming you would be hunting September warm hunts to freezing cold late hunts. What temp rating do you guys believe is optimal on a solid all around sleeping bag for elk country?
And what bag do you guys use? Do you use it for packing in, or car camping? If you backpack hunt, do you use a separate compression sack (kifaru...ect)?
I prefer 15 to 20 degree bags. I have a down bag and primaloft. I really like the down bag because it's light but warm. My compression sack is Sea to Summit. Never have to worry a wet bag using one.
My down bag is a Lafuma, Northface Cats Meow, and my other bag is a Alps mountainering bag that is rated a zero.
There are so many good choices out any more.
Simply put, there is no such thing as an all around bag to cover that range. For vehicle/cot hunts I use a fairly cheap box shaped bag and put a homesewn polar fleece liner inside. For early backpack I use a 3.4 lb bag. There are a ton of options, depending how much you are willing to pack.
I'm buying a 10 degree quilt and replacing the mummy bag this year. It will save space and weight. The fairly new company is called Hang'em High.
I typically use a 20degr bag (Western Mountaineering, Kifaru) in Sept. This last year was blazing hot though, so all I used was a Woobie.
I'm really loving my Kifaru Center Zip, I have the 20° and use an additional quilt or sleep in under layers or more to deal with colder temps. This seems to cover my needs and economics of not having multiple high end bags to cover all the temps I experience. If it's really cold though I have a Canvas Cowboy Bedroll that with even a cheap old 70's mummy bag I've slept super comfortably down to bitter cold temps laying in a snow bank. I am looking at a sleeping bag liner from Big Agnes to pair with my center zip that's filled with down-tec. I generally just stuff my bags in my pack and let the other gear compress them, but a compression bag works good, especially if you want to externally carry the bag on the outside of the pack. To me having the bag in a compression bag inside of the pack makes the pack more difficult to load evenly, I like it loose in the bottom and that helps keep the heavier weight items high in the pack so the pack rides better.
I use my 0 degree Kifaru slick for everything. Mid summer to mid winter. If it’s hot I sleep on top of it
I have two Big Agnes bags, one is a 15 degree, and one is a 20. I usually take them both, and decide which one I'm going to use when I get there.
If you have a boy scout office near you, go an get a catalog from them. The scout stuff is really good. An the prices are not bad. I have a mummy from field and stream. Rated to -20. Camped out in tents with the scouts. It dropped to -15 that weekend.
I live in TX. and have a -20 bag. I got a lot of crap when I bought it. I can zip it all the way up when it gets real cold, and it can get cold in TX. I can open it up as much as I want when it is cool. I can sleep on top of it if it is hot and have lots of loft. Just my $,02.
I have a Big Agnus 15* Lost Ranger down bag (38oz) that I rate at 25*, and a Marmot 15* Helium down (33oz) that will keep me warm and comfortable at 15*. That said I usually use the roomier BA Lost Ranger for Colorado September nights. I use a Sea to Summit waterproof stuff sack for backpacking. Both were bought at steeply discounted prices.
I have a 0 degree Big Agnes bag and I’ve froze my ass off in it at 20 degrees.
It wasn’t until I figured out how to use the BA insulated air core pad and a foam pad system to keep warm.
I was recently told of you don’t sleep w base layers on in your sleeping bag you will stay warmer as the base layers prevent your body heat from warming the bag.
For truck camping with lots of room for gear, I use a big canvas/flannel bag. I've had a few over the years, Coleman, Nebo, some other brand. They aren't efficient but they are roomy and with a pad and cot I sleep better than at home. For backpackinig I have a Northface. For truck hunts where room for gear is an issue I use a Cabelas Alaskan Guide. Roomy and packs down fairly small for what it is..
If you are like me and tend to dump gear in the garage and leave bags stuffed for long periods, get one rated pretty cold as it will lose some loft being stored wrong.
I run a Marmot Helium most of the time. Last year I got a Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed that I really like. I think I have been equally as warm in both. I like not having a zipper on the Backcountry Bed. That is my only knock on the Marmot. My zipper always seems to get stuck.
As mentioned several times above I use a 0 degree bag and sleep on top if it's warm. I prefer down with a water-proofish outer and use a waterproof stuff sac while in the field. I use a breathable cloth bag for storage (so down doesn't compress). If you want the best go with Western Mountaineering.
I prize my sleep on hunting trips. Comfort is essential. In super cold conditions I wear more layers to bed...if truck camping I'll bring a 2nd bag to unzip and put over the first. If I skimp on weight/bulk while backpack hunting I'll wear a bunch of layers plus put my coat over the top of me inside my bag. I've been cold inside a 0 degree bag in Sept in Colo/Wyo. If it's too warm outside it's always possible to strip down, unzip or sleep on top but if too cold it is miserable! It also helps using a comfortable pad that gets you off the cold ground.
I have a kelty cosmic 0*, so far it has performed well. It’s not crazy light, but at 4.1lbs it’s not terribly heavy. Shop around, they can be pretty budget friendly.
For all around I use a Wiggys 20 degree bag. If I we're back packing I would use down at 0 degrees. Lots to choose from.
I don't elk hunt, but I bought a North Face "Cat's Meow" bag this fall to use for sleeping in an uninsulated metal portable building camp house. Temperatures ranged from 40 > 25 at night/early morning inside of structure and I slept well. The bag has a rating of 20 degrees. I am pleased with the bag's performance. I did research before I purchased and found many favorable reviews on the bag. I bought the bag on sale at Cabela's for almost 1/2 price.
A lot of bags temp. ratings is not always a "comfort" range. You may survive the night in the bag rated to -15 on a -15 night....but that doesn`t mean you will ENJOY it. If your bag is too hot you have options....if you`re too cold, you are screwed. Always opt. for too much bag. You can get away with 1 bag if you listen to others that have said about "unzipping...laying on etc"....I`m in that camp as well.
I have three North Face cats meow synthetic 20 degree bags that serve my girls and I well. Not as nice for packing as down bags but they’re good all around bags. As mentioned above if its hot unzip or sleep on top. I can’t stand sleeping in anything but briefs and have been comfortable in sub 20 degree weather. A good sleeping pad goes a long way toward starting warm and comfortable as well.
I have three bags for three purposes:
1. For truck camping with a cot I have a cotton flannel 30 or 40 degree bag that is super comfortable. Since camping in a truck is more sheltered than a tent during archery season there is no reason to use a heavier bag. The cotton flannel bag is too heavy for backpacking.
2. For mid archery season in cooler weather I'm using a 20 degree down bag by Enlightened Equipment. They make great lightweight bags that are medium-expensive but worth it. I use this in the backcountry when it is cooler and I'm using a tent.
3. For really early archery season in warmer weather I'm using a 40 degree quilt with synthetic insulation (in case of rain) that I made (with my wife's help) for less than $80. I bought the materials from ripstopbytheroll.com. I modified the quilt with a sewn up footbox and it is great. It is really lightweight and is comfortable in a tarp setup. It can also be used to cover up with when glassing on cool mornings, like a (Kifaru) woobie.
I have a 20 degree North Face Cats Meow that I would be willing to part with if anybody wants it send a PM. It is a solid all around multi-purpose bag that I no longer use.
I have a Kelly cosmic 20 degree and a homemade fleece liner. Below mid 30s I use the liner. Below 20 I’d need a different bag. If budget was no concern I’d get one of the good 0 degree bags that have been mentioned.
One thing is for sure; Cheap and down bag shouldn't be used in the same sentence.
My take; there is a big difference in performance between the lesser Kelty, NF and BA type bags ...and the good bags. I learned that the hard way many years ago.
I'm a warm sleeper; I use a light down bag for summer and early season...and then a warmer rated Synthetic bag for cold/damp type conditions.
I have a 2 temp sierra designs bag that served me well for lots of years (synthetic). It was a 20/40 bag depending on which side you put up. Past its prime now, but they must not have been that popular, because I can't find any these days.
I have several bags. For elk season Bivy hunting I have a Marmot Helium. For truck camping and Wall tent camping a have various Cabela's bags in the 0 degree range. Also have some Walmart specials for warm weather pronghorn and general camping.
I came across something last year...I thought why the hell did'nt you think of that a long time ago. I have like a 25 degree bag and i am convinced the rating means death not comfort...but I digress...I have down pants and a good down coat...it is like having a bag around you can also wear...brings the 25 degree bag and comfy way lower...
I have a synthetic Quilt's I make. I use a 5.0 climashield version, a 6.0 version, and a 7.5 version. If i had it to do over, I'd just make the 7.5. Quilts to me are 'da bomb. The thing is you can cool off in even a very warm one very easy. Just kick out your feet and boom, you are golden. So, you really only need one rating of quilt.
They weigh less, keep me just as warm with a good pad, and take up very little room in comparison. God Bless
I use a marmot never summer 0 degrees down bag, and I have a 20 degree down quilt I use in the summer.
That being said, big Agnes has a bag insert out or coming out that’s in the 150 dollar range. If I were in the market I would buy a 30 degree bag and that Insert and have a good system
I carry my WM Sequoia 0 degree bag on all backpacking hunts. You can always get cooler but can’t get warmer if you don’t have the bag to do it.
I’ve got a regular canvas heavy bag for truck and/or base camping with stoves.
I say there are 2 kinds of bags. Wiggys when weight is not an issue and Western Mountaineering down when you are back packing.
Too many questions to even attempt an answer. But I'll try anyway.... =D
Wall tent base camp or backpack in spike/bivy? "Late season cold" to what temp? I'll tell you right now you take a bag that is TRULY rated for a bit lower temp than the lowest you might expect. There is really no other way to determine what rating to take than that IMO. It's not complicated. But can be rationalized in many ways.... which tends to bend towards..... thrifty shall we say. I'll tell you right now.... 2-3am and your teeth are chattering waiting on the sun to come up.... you'd pay a good deal of money at that moment to be toasty warm and cozy getting a good nights sleep. Money becomes no object at that point.
What Beendare and others said above, Kelty, et al are survivable ratings, not comfort ratings. WM, a few others like Feathered Friends (if I recall) have great reps for accurate comfort ratings. They are also very expensive in comparison. Expensive basically buys you light weight and less bulk. Honestly if weight and bulk were not issues you could layer up enough army surplus wool blankets to be comfortable in almost anything. Backpacking it's an issue. Truck camping, most times if weather is expected there are far fewer limits on weight/bulk.... many if not most times an auxiliary heat source is used as well. Apples and cucumbers....
But if packing on your back...... money buys less weight/bulk and more accurate comfort rating. Money does not buy common sense to get a bag that's rated for colder temps than you would expect to encounter. There is no magic bag comfort rated for 30-40 that will work the same at 0. Doesn't exist. Unless it's 40 inside the tent/trailer/cabin and 0 outside.
Seeing as this is an elk thread there is pretty much no chance I'm hunting for elk in 0 land anyway as that's normally rifle stuff. We've been in the teens and snow even in later September.... but that is a good deal warmer than 0.
As far as recommendations, since I've had a WM 15 bag I have yet to have an uncomfortably cold night. And my blood is thin. Most times it's zipped open. (note: full zipper bags have a bit more flexibility as to temps. Having a quality insulated pad/mattress is key as well) But then again I have yet to do any true "late season" backpack type hunts.... and have no current plans nor wishes to.
It's pretty much all been said on the bag issue. A high end zero degree rectangular (hate mummy's) down is great but the old C-man still gets used here & there. A couple aspirin helps a lot anytime the fingers or toes are suffering - in or out of the bag. .
Thanks for all the input, guys. I believe I'm going to pick up a kifaru slick 0. Seems to be a solid bag for what I'd like to do with it. I want to be able to backpack in on a whim and still have a comfy bag for near the car camping.
I should have specified a little better on what I plan to do with the bag. But you guys hit the nail on the head!
Buy the best you can afford and don't be cheep on a good pad.
Still sleeping comfy in my Slumberjack.
Western mountaineering bag
They are true to their rating and beyond. You could have one bag that does it all but in reality you probably need 2 bags.
Ratings don't fit all. By that I mean some people generate a lot of heat, others like me as I've gotten older, need a lot more. In Cherry Gerrard's book "Worst Journey in the World" about Scott's South Pole Expedition he spoke of one man who just never seemed to get cold and was the only one to avoid frostbite.