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Summer sleeping... the options?
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Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/30/2009 16:02:14 MDT Print View

From May to September my local nightly averages are above 50 degrees (F). However my highest temperature rated sleeping bag is 30F and is overkill in such temps! So, I've been putting some thought into lightweight options for summer sleeping... From reviewing prior posts on the boards I've learned about the following options:

Option 1) a traditional mummy bag lightly filled with a bit of high loft down (e.g. Montbell's 40-50F bag)

Option 2) a lightly filled down quilt (e.g. JRB Shenandoah)

Option 3) a synthetic quilt (e.g. BPL UL 60 quilt, or MLD offering)

Option 4) high loft clothing (such as BPL's UL 60 pants and parka) skipping the bag/quilt altogether

In these temps, what above option(s) do you use?
Why do you use, what you use?
Do you use something other than the above?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/30/2009 16:06:02 MDT Print View

Option 5) Open SB out as a quilt and lay it loosely over you, not tight around neck.
An average of 50 F does not mean that some bits of some nights might not get down below 40 F.


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/30/2009 16:48:38 MDT Print View

It does where I live.

Mike J.
(UnionDhaka) - F

Locale: It changes.
summer time on 05/30/2009 17:52:10 MDT Print View

I have a cheap-thin-synthetic-summer sleeping bag, a fleece blanket and a space blanket, a woolen hat and long socks. This works well enough for me for most temps down to 5 Celcius, and lower in a tent. For summer I remove things as temp goes up.
In the tropics I used a sarong and a face rag for the bugs.

Don't make things more difficult and expensive than they need to be.. You don't need UL gear for the summer, that's the beauty of summer! It's warm already anyway.

Edit: typos, GRRR!

Edited by UnionDhaka on 05/30/2009 17:57:00 MDT.

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/30/2009 18:35:54 MDT Print View

Hi Brian. You're dilemma sounds like mine about a year or so ago. It's time to start thinking about a [16oz] quilt. I have a Nunatak Arc Specialist and I'm pretty happy with it. I guess I have to be based upon how much I paid ;-)

Also, how much does your current sleeping bag weigh?

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/30/2009 19:46:12 MDT Print View

Brian, I think the Shenandoah would be overkill, instead I would recommend a JRB stealth quilt all the way. I just purchased one and used it last weekend in the situtation you descibe (lows were 55) and it was plenty warm. It weighs around 16 oz. I plan to use it when the temps will be 45+ instead of my Nunatak Ghost. Why?

Though the 2 quilts are nearly identical in weight, but the JRB is not nearly as warm. This is a good thing in summer.

The JRB quilt can be opened all the way flat. It can have a foot box or not. Again a plus in warm weather. In cooler weather this feature only adds unneeded weight. So if it is warm you can just lay it over you like a blanket or lay it under you can lay on top. If it gets chilly <60 you can velcro the footbox section and snuggle up.

The JRB has a head hole so it can be worn as an insulating layer. So in temps expected to be 45 plus I am not carrying any insulating item. I use only a short sleeve BPL merino wool t-shirt and a golite virga jacket.

I will say I am extremely impressed with both the JRB quilt and the Nunatak Ghost, but in different ways. If its gonna be warm I will lean on the Stealth. For the majority of my hiking it will be the Ghost all the way.


Edited by jshortt on 05/30/2009 19:52:43 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Summer sleeping on 05/31/2009 10:07:34 MDT Print View

Guess it depends on if you want a quilt or a bag.
I am a side sleeper and I usually turn the entire bag when I turn over so I prefer a bag when its nippy

I have a montbell SS #7 thats nice. Not too hot in the summer, but it is really thin.

Have a homemade LW fleece bag I use sometimes in combo with a modified thermal bivy #2, and that works but I prefer the SS #7. I got the synthetic SS because where I live and hike/camp its humid. If I was in NM I would get a UL SS down bag. Super light for a full bag.

Both are good to about 50D.

I had an Montbell Down UL #5 40D but it was too hot for me in mid summer and the humidity here is high.

I did take it out under the stars, no bivy and I was warm to 40D. ITs got a good rating but no zipper baffle. That night it got a full dew soak in Georgia, as I was out in the open, but the sun hit it for 10 min and it was dry. The DWR did its job.

I usually carry the thermal bivy as an extender with the SS #7 and it should extend the range a bit if you get caught in some unexpected cold. Think it weighs 7oz.
I not tried that combo though as I have not needed it yet.

I tried a BPL quilt. Wanted to use it as an extender with a 40-50D bag and as a summer bag. It was too tight for me. Nice and light though.

Edited by tammons on 05/31/2009 10:14:55 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
MULTIPLE USE on 05/31/2009 14:22:30 MDT Print View


I'd go with a light bag good for 50 deg. and then take exra clothing (long johns, for ex.) that you could use either in the bag or during the day as an extra layer if needed. Works fine for me on cool mornings when I need that extra layer to make breakfast at 5:30 AM.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 05/31/2009 23:50:19 MDT Print View

I bought a BPL UL60 here on Gear Swap a few months ago, and at 12 oz it really works well in warmer temperatures.

I bring a Montbell Extremely Light Down Jacket @ 6.1 oz for those unforseen cold nights. It it is warm at night, the jacket makes a nice pillow, and takes the chill off when setting up and packing up.

Robert Quimby
(traildog) - F

Locale: Great Lakes/Ontario
summer sleeping on 06/01/2009 01:25:44 MDT Print View

for summer trips i made a ray-way quilt with the alpine upgrade but only used 1 layer ( instead of 2 ). this is supposed to give a rating of 64'. sleeping in a lite base layer in a bivy, i've taken it down to 50' and slept fine. it's a lot cheaper and you can customize it to fit the way you sleep.
lyin' in the backyard.

Edited by traildog on 06/01/2009 01:26:27 MDT.

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: summer sleeping on 06/01/2009 05:26:23 MDT Print View

Was it hard to sleep with all those inch worms crawling over your bag?

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Summer sleeping... the options?" on 06/01/2009 12:36:29 MDT Print View

I very much appreciate the feedback. It sounds like many go the quilt route or use a bag like a quilt. I've been using my Mont-Bell UL SS #3 (30F, long version, 27 ounce) bag like Roger described above, but still have trouble regulating my temperature. Any part of the bag that is covering me up is too hot and any part that is exposed to the night air is too cool. Hence my interest in a lighter insulation.

Since I toss and turn at night, I'm considering making my own generously sized quilt (similar to MLD Spirit 50) using Climashield XP (2.5osy) and momentum 90 from Thru-Hiker. I'm hoping that the quilt will weight ~ 16 ounces, which would save ~11 ounces from my current bag.

As some suggested, I could use the extra layers (e.g. R1 hoodie, etc) to boost the rating a bit on cooler summer nights.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: RE: "Summer sleeping... the options?" on 06/01/2009 19:38:18 MDT Print View

Marmot Atom has worked great for me during the summer and I have no problem taking to 40 degrees. A little lower with a layer.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/01/2009 20:45:26 MDT Print View

Hey Nick, how is the UL 60 in the 50-60 range? Do you wish you had the Pro 90?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/02/2009 02:10:46 MDT Print View


When it gets down towards 50, I wear my Montbell Ext Light Down Jacket (6.1 oz). Closer to 60, it becomes my pillow. I do sleep in my hiking clothes.

Prior to the UL60, I was using a Marmot Atom, which weighed almost double. What is strange for me is that I sleep fairly warm down to about 45F. Below that I am a very cold sleeper. At 32F I need to use my WM Ultralight, rated at 20F.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/02/2009 05:26:25 MDT Print View

Hi Nick

The transition in how warm/cold you sleep - could it be related to heat loss from your head? Do you wear any head covering?


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/02/2009 09:00:50 MDT Print View

Thanks Nick. I have a Marmot Atom, and it's generally way to hot for me, from about May thru September.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/02/2009 19:17:51 MDT Print View

Brian, on warm summer outings I use the MB Thermal Sheet (14 oz), which is rated to 50F, but since I'm a warm sleeper I can take it lower. However, should I get cold I slip into my MB Down Inner Jacket. I have used the BPL UL 60 quilt and it worked fine, but I prefer the Thermal Sheet for hot, dry weather because it packs down smaller; together with the jacket they'll pack down smaller than a loaf of bread. In addition, it combines well with my MB UL SS #5 during the winter down into the twenties. Happy trails!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/02/2009 23:02:05 MDT Print View

>> The transition in how warm/cold you sleep - could it be related to heat loss from your head? Do you wear any head covering?


Yes I do. In warm weather I usually wear a OR PS50 Watch Cap, cooler a Smart Wool Merino Cap, and cold one of several types of balaclavas. But, next winter I am going to get some sort of down, probably a Nunatek Down Balaclava. I am probably not efficient here, opting for head gear based more on weight than effectiveness.

I also need to do a better job on my feet, which get cold. I usually just sleep in hiking socks. I recently bought a Nunatek Arc Specialist, and Tom talked me into some overfill in the footbox, after discussing my needs and wants. Using this train of thought, I think a pair of down socks or similar in sub freezing temps will help also. To be honest, I probably am not optimizing my winter sleep system. A little more attention to the head and feet are in order.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Summer sleeping... the options? on 06/03/2009 00:37:15 MDT Print View

Hi Nick

Well, in my experience, cold feet mean one of these things:
* a cold head
* not enough dinner
* Tight leggings (eg Skins etc, seriously bad idea in bed)
* a wet SB :-)

Apart from the last one, they all relate to not enough warm-enough blood going down your legs and through your feet. An infinitely padded footbox won't keep your feet warm if there is not enough warm blood flowing down to them.

A good 300 weight fleece hat with ear flaps works well for my wife. A BPL hood has also worked well for us but you have to get used to it.
Me, I have a large hood flap on my quilt which goes right over my head. Yes, I may be invisible under it. No worries, plenty of air.

I have worn fluffy socks to bed - socks which have never seen the inside of a shoe. Very nice, but optional imho. If the rest of me is warm my feet are warm. However, this is one case where ymmv really applies.