Sleeping Bag Questions
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john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/03/2009 13:28:53 MST Print View

I'm looking at both which are on clearance for $100. Both are rated rated at 30 degrees.


The Sierra Design is the 2006 edition I believe and weighs 2.0 lbs. The fill is primaloft.


The Lafuma is 1lb 12 oz and is 650 down.


I'm torn between the two.


I've also considered the Big Agnes Fish Hawk and the Campmor 20 degree down. But the the Sierra Design and Lafuma look like too good of a deal to pass up.


I'm hiking the AT for the first time in April. Temps may get down to 30s, possibly 20s. I'm a warm sleeper and I may purchaser a bag liner.


What should I do?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/03/2009 15:36:15 MST Print View

John,

Both are great prices.

I would ask you to think about the the conditions in which you will be using your bag.

Are you going to be in a lot of wet weather?

If you are, the synthetic bag does have the advantage over the down bag in keeping you warm, should your bag get wet.

The negative to a synthetic bag is that is does not compress as small as a down bag.

Warmth in wet conditions vs. compressability.

I live on the West Coast, so I do not know if the humidity that you will face will cause a collapse in your down loft and rendering the down bag less warm.

Something else that you might consider, rather than a bag liner, how about using the jacket/clothing you have to layer over yourself inside your sleeping bag to provide additional warmth?

This gives you the advantage of duel usage: warm clothing for standing around in camp and to add warmth inside your sleeping bag vs. a liner which can only be used while sleeping.

As a side note: Given that sleeping bags are one of the most expensive items that a light weight backpacker will invest in, would you want to spend more money (if it is in your budget/means to do so) on a higher down fill bag that would be lighter? I would hate to see you spend $100 on a bag, only to realize later that you wish you had saved that money and bought a more expensive and lighter bag that would serve your light weight needs for years and years to come.

My 1st bag was a Sierra Designs Rosa (women's bag) that was on sale for $100 and it served me well before I learned about light weight backpacking.

Now my Sierra Designs bag sits unused and I have a 1 lb Marmot Atom 40 F bag and a 2 lb 3 oz Marmot Helium EQ 15 F bag.

Hope that this helps you out and good luck on your trip!

One day, I hope to hike the AT too.

-Tony

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Bag on 01/03/2009 15:53:32 MST Print View

Lafuma has a reputation (or so I've read) for overestimating their temperature rating. I know I have two of their synthetics that are about 10 degree off.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
Re: Lafuma Bag on 01/03/2009 16:23:14 MST Print View

John-

The Lafuma sounds like the "Warm n Light 800". I ordered one of these when I first started getting into light weight backpacking. I also thought that it was too good to pass up. Turned out it was too good to be true. It had about 2" of total (two-layer) loft. Just feeling the bag I didn't think there was much fill in it. I used it one night in my bed with it zipped most of the way up and did not overheat in a 60 degree room. I returned it, but still thought there was a possibility it was just a fluke. Since then I have seen them many times in stores, and it has confirmed that there is very little fill. I would higly encourage you to examine one in person, if you can, before you buy.
Also, if you can wait another month or two, more bags will probably go on sale as outfitters gear up for spring and get rid of last year's models. It may give you more options, but it does leave you less time to test it out. Good luck on your hike. I will do the AT someday. Someday...

-Tim

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/03/2009 16:44:14 MST Print View

Sleeping bags are one of the few gear choices where extra $ can really pay off with few, if any, drawbacks. If you can find it in your budget to stretch even to $200-250 down bags, and keep an eye out for sales (or our own Gear Swap forum here), you'll end up much with a much better, longer-lasting piece of gear (that will also have better resale value down the road).

On a long hike, having a reliable bag that delivers a sinfully good night of sleep is priceless. I'd hold off on the two bags you mentioned.

-Mark

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Thanks Guys.... on 01/03/2009 17:50:06 MST Print View

Thanks for the replies.

Oh, the Sierra Design bag is the Lazer.

The weather may get down into the low 30s.

I realize I should get a 20 degree bag. However, I'll use a bag insert because I live in Florida and I don't really need a 20 degree sleeping bag for another other occasion than the AT. Of course, I do hope to hike it again later this year or next. Is this a good idea to get a 30 degree bag and use an insert?

I wouldn't mind spending MAYBE $150-175 or so if I found a good deal on a bag. Thing is, I don't really need a low temp rated bag unless I hike the AT again.

Is the Big Agnes bag or the Campmor a good bag?

Edited by Hitman on 01/03/2009 18:01:07 MST.

Rich Steixner
(neognosis) - F
money on sleeping bag on 01/03/2009 18:26:56 MST Print View

I understand if you can't spend the money. But in my opinion, a really good sleeping bag is the one piece of gear that I would never skimp on. A good sleeping bag can save your life. I would suggest to you, if you happen to suddenly find yourself with 500 bucks to spare, a quilt by Nunatak. Their Arc Alpinist is very light, and I've used mine down to 20 degrees with a down jacket and a beanie on, and in weather as warm as 85 degrees just draped over me with a leg and an arm sticking out. A quilt is pretty versatile.

Take if from me, there's nothing worse than realizing that you shouldn't have gotten the "bargain bag" when it's 3am and you are freezing and shivering and can't sleep.

I mean, consider that if your pack is uncomfortable, you go slower and throw some stuff out. If your shoes are falling apart, you go slow and get another pair when you can. If your tarp rips, you might get a little wet, but you can pull through. But if you get stuck in a freak storm and the temp dips way down and you are stranded for a day, a good bag can keep you alive.

Dramatic, I know, but no other piece of gear, IMO, is as important.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Bag on 01/03/2009 18:29:59 MST Print View

A real 30 degree bag (real rating) like a WM would probably be easy to take to 20, with some added clothes. You don't need to think of it as a sleeping bag, you need a sleeping system.

Dan Cunningham
(mn-backpacker)

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Lafuma Sucks on 01/03/2009 18:34:22 MST Print View

I had the Lafuma Warm 'n Light 800 for one trip. Same as above - maybe about 2 inches of loft and I froze at 45 degrees. It was a very unimpressive waste of money.

I sold it on craigslist for $60 and got a new Western Mountaineering MegaLite. The Western Mountaineering bag is fantastic. Realize that you'll spend 1/3 of your trip in the sleeping bag, and the rest of the time you have to carry it around. Warm, light, comfortable.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
LaFuma is a Dream on 01/03/2009 18:43:42 MST Print View

I too bought the Warm 'N Light 800, and it was a dream! It packs sooo small, weighs practically nothing, and the warmth it provides is so illusory, you'll freeze your balls off! A dream, alright, a dream that won't come true.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Sleeping Bags on sale on 01/03/2009 22:20:19 MST Print View

Well, I will concur with what others have said. If you are going to be on the trail for four to six months, miserable sleep will make the rest of your trip awful. I would suggest that on occasion crawling into your sleeping bag will be the day's highlight! That isn't a knock on you, the AT or hiking in general, just when it's cold, you're exhausted, your stove stops working and you are forced to eat cold ramen for dinner, a warm bag is a welcome respite.

That much said, here are some suggestions....

ON sale now at Altrec, a 20 degree, 800-fill down bag by GO Lite (in regular length) for $211.00.

http://www.altrec.com/go-lite/mens-venture-20-degree-sleeping-bag

Mountain Hardware has its 32-degree rated Phantom for $190
http://www.altrec.com/mountain-hardwear/phantom-32-degree-sleeping-bag

Yeah, considerably more than you would like to spend, but in my mind, excellent value.

Bear in mind, that it is unlikely the same bag that would serve you well in Florida is going to be appropriate for the highest points along the AT. I would personally favor buying equipment that is appropriate to the AT and buying other gear later appropriate to Florida. Who knows, maybe you become inspired by your AT journey and decide to hike the PCT, CDT, the Colorado Trail, Wonderland Trail, etc. All would require a warm, high quality bag!

Have fun and best of luck! Let us know of your decision and keep us posted on how it worked out for you!
Dirk

Edited by dirk9827 on 01/04/2009 03:56:56 MST.

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Great.... on 01/03/2009 22:57:37 MST Print View

Thanks Dirk. I'll check out those bags.

And thanks to you who steered me away from the Lafuma.

BTW, I'm only hiking it for a week. It I were going for several weeks, it'd be a no brainer to spend $400 on a bag.

I may go again in the Fall though.

I'll look around and let you know what I decide.

And ppppplllllllleaaassse post any sales you know about here or message me.

Thanks!

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/03/2009 23:11:35 MST Print View

If you only need a bag for a week why not rent one from REI?

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A bag for one week on the trail on 01/04/2009 02:59:35 MST Print View

John -

The fact that you are going for a week (and possibly two) does clear up things quite a bit. I would say that Ken and Mark both offered some good advice: either rent a bag from REI or frequent the Gear Swap forum and post a WTB (Want to Buy) ad there explaining that you are looking for a 20-35 degree bag.

Many, but not all, REI locations rent gear. THe full listing of stores and gear they rent is listed here. Many of the stores are near the trail.
http://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html

Depending on the cost of renting, you *might* be better off just buying a good used bag from the Gear Swap forum here. The great things about the Gear Swap forum on BPL is that the place is full of UL Enthusiasts with full gear closets and empty bank accounts. Thus, in order to finance next season's purchases without arousing the suspicions of the spousal unit, they clandestinely sell their lightly used equipment.

And because this entire board is dedicated to light, lighter, lightest, many of the people here change out gear fairly regularly, thus ensuring the gear they do sell is in good shape.

Here is a good example of WTB gear posting:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=17646

I will keep an eye out for any other down bag deals. Let us know what you end up doing and please, do post a trip report.

Warmest regards and best of luck,

Dirk

Edited by dirk9827 on 01/04/2009 03:54:35 MST.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Buy then sell on 01/04/2009 04:37:59 MST Print View

Alternatively you could pick up a WM bag and sell it when you're finished.

There's a 15% coupon for Bentgate in Gear Deals at the moment, valid until tomorrow. That makes the Summerlite $255 with free three day shipping. With a week or two of use it would sell on Gear Swap for between $220 and $250.

Pretty hard to beat $2.50 a night for a bag like that.

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Gear swap is a good alternative on 01/04/2009 11:30:38 MST Print View

Good suggestions. I'll post and look on the gear swap forum.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Gear swap is a good alternative on 01/05/2009 10:25:26 MST Print View

Yep. The Lafuma wouldn't be worth $100 if someone paid the $100 to use it. Not worth a nickel. Can see all sorts of daylight through it, not so much down. Definitely consider the renting for a one-time trip, save up some money for a good bag. If money's impossibly tight, haunt ebay and gear swap religiously.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Money on 01/05/2009 10:52:33 MST Print View

Money's a funny thing--we get a number in our head, and think that we're stuck with it. For example, say you've decided to spend $100 for a bag, but can't find anything that will work for that much, this in preparation for a several month trip. One possibility is to postpone the start of the trip 3 days, and, at $10/hr, work to have $240 more to put toward the bag. Now you've got $340 to work with, which will buy a great bag. Of course, this is just a conceptual exercise, but you get the idea.

Mike Feldman
(harpin) - F
Bags on 01/05/2009 13:02:40 MST Print View

John, I also found Lafuma to be very generous in bag ratings. I believe for a cold sleeper that might be a 45-50 degree bag, maybee warm sleeper a 40 degree bag. Hey your trip isnt til April. Maybee save another hundred or so, wait for an REI,ect. backcountry.com sale, or even advertise on BPL gear swap for a bag. I understand the expense thing. The MH synthetic 30 degree bag mentioned is a nice bag. I have 2 section hikes scheduled on AT in NC to S.VA in April, along w/5 days/4 nights on 77 mile Fothills trail in SC/NC border end March, 1st couple days April and am dealing w/whether I need anything beyond a 5 ounce XP Climashield quilt w/insulated jacket, ect in Tarptent?

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Correction on 01/05/2009 20:52:18 MST Print View

I'm only hiking for a week...lol

If I were doing the whole AT (which I'd love to do some day), I'd surely get a $400 bag.

I may have found a Kelty Light Year 25 for $109 I may purchase.

Are keltys okay? The temp may get down to the 30-40s at night in North George of the AT where I'll be hiking.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/05/2009 21:05:06 MST Print View

John,

It's a little heavier than some of the bags you've mentioned, but I have a nice, odor-free Mtn Hardwear down "upgrade" bag. It has a 40* rating but I've taken it colder w/ a fleece. Size long, weighs 2lbs 6oz on my scale. (This bag can be zipped into most bags to greatly improve temp rating, also unzips to make a great quilt)

Never stored stuffed, only in its mesh storage sack (both sacks included). I'll ship it to the lower 48 for $75 via Paypal.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Kelty's are great on 01/05/2009 22:09:17 MST Print View

I have a Light Year +15 and it's amazingly warm, and for just a week would do just fine. You can find it for 135 bucks. I'm sure a 20 or 25 would be fine too.

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
Kelty Lightyear 25 or 15? on 01/05/2009 22:13:25 MST Print View

I found a Kelty Light Year 15 for $109 as well. But it weighs 9 ounces more than the 25. I don't really think I'll need a bag rated for 15 degrees in April. But to be honest, I'm kind of torn since it's the same price.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
The 15 on 01/05/2009 23:10:40 MST Print View

I love it, like I said....NEVER been cold. It weighs a bit more, but nice to know when you have it that you won't freeze no matter how conditions change. Where did you find it for 109, btw?

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
More weight to carry isn't good on 01/06/2009 00:12:50 MST Print View

I know...

It's just that the temps will only get to 30s at worst (more than likely) while I'm in the AT in April.

And I live in Florida. I'll rarely need a bag rated to 15.

So, the Kelty lightyear 15 is only $109 (plus shipping). But I'm entertaining the idea of getting a Big Agnes Horse Thief for $139 (includes shipping). It's only rated for 35, but 1 lb and 11 ounces.

I'm looking for light.

Edited by Hitman on 01/06/2009 00:15:27 MST.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Well that makes sense. on 01/06/2009 00:27:11 MST Print View

I know some people make the Horse Thief work in the Sierra in summer, so that should probably do just fine. Where did you find it for 109? I'm thinking of getting another for my boyfriend.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: Sleeping Bag Questions on 01/06/2009 01:42:47 MST Print View

John,

Don't count on the temps on the AT 'only' getting down to 30 at night in April. A friend of mine experienced temps in the teens in April last year (granted that was in VA, not GA, but the GA mountains are a lot colder than the flatlands). You never know when a freak cold snap can happen.

However, in 2006 I hiked GA in April during a freak warm spell and temps got as high as 90 in the day, maybe 60's at night. It's really hard to predict what April in the mountains will bring, especially if you factor in wind chill and many shelters/established camp sites on the AT in Georgia experience significant wind that time of year.

Most AT thru hikers will use a 20 degree bag if they start in March/April. The Campmor bag is fairly heavy, but a lot of folks on a budget rave about it, and agree the rating is about right.

My suggestion would be to go with a well-rated 20 degree bag and add layers if it's colder than expected, or use it 'quilt' style if warmer. A pair of long john pants and shorts make a good sleeping combo - you can use either or both depending on conditions.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: More weight to carry isn't good on 01/06/2009 01:48:46 MST Print View

"So, the Kelty lightyear 15 is only $109 (plus shipping). But I'm entertaining the idea of getting a Big Agnes Horse Thief for $139 (includes shipping). It's only rated for 35, but 1 lb and 11 ounces.

I'm looking for light."

There's a saying that's pretty much true - warm, light, or cheap - pick any two. I'd say go for warm, which unfortunately means you have to choose between light or cheap.

Edited by RiverRunner on 01/06/2009 01:52:32 MST.

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
My Sleeping Bag Has Arrived on 01/09/2009 22:37:49 MST Print View

Thanks to all you who gave your advice.

I decided on a Kelty Light Year 25. It arrived today and I just ordered it two days ago!!!

Got it at www.moontrail.com for $109 +$9 shipping. They have the Light Year 15 for the same price too.

I heard it's not a good idea to spray a water proofing agent on the outside of the bag like you would do a tent or backpack. But is there anything else to do to help protect it?