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Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada
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Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada on 07/07/2009 15:16:44 MDT Print View

Hi group,
I have a trip planned for several days in Algonquin Park, Canada in September. I'd like to get your thoughts on a sleeping bag for the trip.

The average low during Sept last year was 28F with a min temp of 24F.

I'd like to be able to use whatever bag I get for the trip during the rest of the year- primarly in the Mid-Atlantic during Spring-Fall.

My thoughts are to get a 30F bag (assuming that the comfort rating will be 40) and use a liner and sleeping pad to get me back down to 30. I'll be using a double wall tent and figure I'll get another 5F. I know comfort is subjective but is this about right?

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for a bag? I've come up with few requirements:
Full zip (to use as a quilt)
2.5 lbs or less
$250 or less (preferably 200 or less)


(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
"Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada" on 07/07/2009 15:34:57 MDT Print View

I'm assuming you are in Canada but I may be wrong.

If you are MEC has good house brand down bags the Raven or the Merlin are both available in two different temp options and seem to fit your budget. The Merlin is a better bag. MEC's warranty is great, especially on their own gear.

They also carry Western Mountaineering bags but these are probably outside your price range.

Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Re: "Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada" on 07/07/2009 17:06:02 MDT Print View

Thanks for the heads up on MEC. Unfortunately, I'm not in Canada- but the US.

The Merlin bag is rated as 30F. So you think that a 30F bag should be good enough?

I looked at WM's Caribou MF but the $/oz ratio seemed pretty high. I've been looking at Marmots' Never Winter which I found online for $150. But it's a little bulkier than I would like. Any suggestions for other American bags?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Montbell on 07/07/2009 17:18:29 MDT Print View

edit spelling and added link to reviews.

Montbell Super Stretch Hugger #3 on sale. 23oz for Regular, 25 for long. Montbell sizes their bags differently than other companies, and so if you are over 5'10", you'll need a long.

The zip doesn't go all the way to where you can lay it flat, but quilts all have footboxes anyways, either sewn in, like Nunatak, or formed with velcro and drawcord like Jacks R Better.


Edited by jrmacd on 07/07/2009 17:26:57 MDT.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
... on 07/07/2009 17:29:07 MDT Print View

I've spent a few summers in the park, September is getting cool - 24F sounds about right.
For most of the summer I used a 2 lb -7C WM bag but would have really enjoyed a WM Highlight and using some more clothing on those cooler nights moving into fall.
Still -7C would be a good 3-season temp to aim for, WM Highlight would be a sweet bag though.
Not sure if I would go for a 30F bag unless it was accurate for temprature, and weighed about 1 lb or less.
I think the versitility/price ratio of a -7C bag wins out unless you are willing to put the money into a really nice 30F bag.

Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Re: ... on 07/07/2009 18:29:37 MDT Print View

I see what you mean. The Never Winter (really a 40F bag) + liner actually costs about as much as the Carribou. I guess I'm just concerned that the Carribou would be uncomfortable during the summer months. I also thought that there more options with using/ not using the liner with the Never Winter, or similar.

The Highlite looks nice but I'd prefer full length zipper like the Caribou MF or Stretch Hugger.

None of my local shops carry WM. Can anyone suggest some online retailers that have good prices?

Jeff Riegner
(jethro) - F

Locale: The Mid-Atlantic flatlands
20F on 07/07/2009 18:58:58 MDT Print View

Ben, I do the great majority of my backpacking and camping in the mid-Atlantic, and I'd also suggest you go below 30F. A 20F bag will be a solid 3-season bag here, and with a good pad even works well for most of the winter, at least at lower elevations. It gets below 20F fairly infrequently here, and then I sleep in a cabin. :)

I have a 20F Moonstone 800 Lucid (unfortunately no longer made, as it's a killer bag). It's 32 oz, essentially a full zip, and I use it as a summer quilt just as you describe. Finding anything similar new for under $200 was a challenge. Keep an eye out in the Gear Swap forum here, or similar spots on other online forums.

Good luck!

EDIT: EMS has the Mountain Light 20F bag on sale for 15% or 20% off the regular $240 price. I haven't used the bag myself, but it meets your criteria (except for the 3/4 length zipper).

Edited by jethro on 07/07/2009 19:02:02 MDT.

Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Re: 20F on 07/07/2009 20:49:43 MDT Print View

Thanks guys,
I'll keep a lookout for a 20F bag.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

MEC on 07/07/2009 22:29:42 MDT Print View

Why not just stop at MEC on your way to Algonquin? The - 10 C Merlin bag (15 F) is sub 2.5lbs, plenty warm and when you convert the $310 price to US funds it's around $250.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada on 07/07/2009 22:35:20 MDT Print View

Take a vapor barrier. The humidity in that are is pretty substantial.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

What Loop? on 07/08/2009 00:04:26 MDT Print View

What backpacking loop are you planning on doing? Do you have reservations?

s k
(skots) - F
Re: Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada on 07/08/2009 06:00:51 MDT Print View

Hi, Ben,

I'm planning for a rather sedentary week long, four man paddle in the BW/Quetico, Sept. 12-19 this year, and although I'm expecting 30 F low for a couple of nights, it could easily drop to the mid-twenties.

Like you, I'll sleep in a tent. I'm taking a BPL 180 quilt, and a Stephenson DAM. For the dropping chilly temps. of late aft. and early evening camp slacking, I have a pair of BPL insulated pants and a Montbell Alpine down vest, which I can also wear sleeping. I've slept comfortably at thirty F with this kit in the past.

I understand that your hiking/camp style could place more emphasis on a warmer bag, less insulating clothing, and less weight.

Have a great trip!

Edited by skots on 07/08/2009 06:04:12 MDT.

Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Re: What Loop? on 07/08/2009 06:21:29 MDT Print View

We are still planning the trip. But it will be a 4-5 day canoe/ backpacking trip. Any suggestions?

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: What Loop? on 07/08/2009 08:09:38 MDT Print View

Hey Ben,
I live in Toronto, so Algonquin is about a 2 1/2 hour drive for me...and MEC is literally across the street from me. - need a bag, let me know and I will grab it for you.

If "I" was going to Algonquin in September my bag would depend on if I was going Sept 1st or 30th...sounds funny but true. July and August are the warmest months with December January being the coldest...typically. If you plan for around freezing temps, you'll be good all month.

Ben Wiles
(benjita) - MLife

Locale: Annandale, VA
Re: Re: Re: What Loop? on 07/08/2009 09:54:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for your offer. The MEC bags do seem nice. I'm still researching bags but will let you know.

We are plannig the trip for the first week of Sept. We are expecting 40F (4C) nights but planning for 30F (-1C).

The lowest temp I've seen on historical temp charts for that area is -2C, and thats normally been in the mid to late part of the month.

I definetly want to take a bag that will be comfortable down to 30F. Im looking for bags with a 20F and assuming that they are really 30F bags.

I can get a WM Caribou MF 35 for $230 at EMS with 20% off. It's a little more than I'd like to spend but I've read that it's ture to temp. I know people on this forum don't like the EMS Mountain Light 20 so much but I can pick one up for under $200.

Is there anything I should be looking out for in a bag for backpacking in Algonquin? What type of bag do you use there during Sept?


Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Re: Re: What Loop? on 07/08/2009 10:25:26 MDT Print View

First week of Sept is a great time to visit the park...all of September is great because it is still warm but cool enough that bugs are less of an issue.

Planning for 30F is about right and it also allows you to pick up a fairly versatile bag to use on other trips. I don't want to throw you off, but I would be extremely surprised if it gets below 30F in the first week Sept, of course I'm wrong all the time ;)

You can't go wrong with a WM bag. Most people here, including myself, have been down the road of buying something mediocre and then replacing it a year later for a better one, so sometimes it's better to just spend the money on something that will last...of course, if the budget doesn't allow it, then make due with what you can.

If you aren't in a rush to grab a bag, you can try the gear swap section on these forums. Some nice deals come up and you'll find that most of it is in amazing condition. You cold even put up a "Wanted to Buy" and see if someone has something sitting around that fits yours needs. Just a thought.

Nothing special to look out for in a bag for Algonquin. I use down bags and garments but I've gone a slightly different route in that I use a combination of clothes and a quilt, but in the past when I had my Marmot Hydrogen (which is also an awesome bag by the way), I would take that to any park south of Sudbury from ~April to ~October.

Just bring a toque and a nice sweatshirt to sit by the fire in the evenings - don't forget the marshmallows :)

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: What Loop? on 07/08/2009 10:31:07 MDT Print View

I think the Caribou is a great value for the variety of conditions you want to use it.

I understand being on a budget, and so wanting a bag to be useful in a wide temperature range.

If you plan on doing a lot of backpacking, your bag is not a place to skimp. You may end up wanting to replace the cheaper bag in a year (like me) and then you'll realize it was worth the extra $50 up front to get something that will last 20 years with care.

I tried to make a Marmot 20* bag work as both a summer and winter bag for me last year, but being a warm sleeping, if the temps were above 35*, I was baking. Above 40, and even quilting the bag wasn't enough for me.

I ended up needing to invest in a 30* bag for summers in the Sierra.

35 degrees is probably the right cut-off for what you want to use it for, so long as you're carrying proper insulation to boost the rating.

My thinking is that for me personally, it is more practical to use the down jacket that I'll be carrying anyways in sub-40 temps to boost the bag rating should the temps drop below expected, than it is for me to suffer sleepless drenched in sweat because the bag is too warm, yet it's too chilly to sleep on top of it.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sleeping bag for Algonquin Park, Canada on 07/08/2009 14:16:45 MDT Print View

Predicting the weather is tough. But 30F should be fine. If you buy it ahead of time and the temps are unseasonably cold, just wear your insulation layers to sleep in. Many of us have several bags/quilts to cover all seasons.

I was in Algonquin Park a couple years ago at the beginning of November and temps got down to about mid 20s at Mew Lake. Beautiful area. Here are a couple pics.

Mew Lake Road

Mew Lake

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Strategy on 07/08/2009 14:20:19 MDT Print View

Sleeping bag strategy is a difficult decision. I'm a believer in a 2-bag system where you have one bag for 3 season use and another for winter. If you try to buy one do-it-all bag then you're just going to wind up with heavy and overly hot bag in the summer that is still barely adequate in the winter. If you're tight on funds, just buy a good 3-season bag and don't winter camp until you can buy one of those too.

With a good sleeping pad (NeoAir?), you should be fine with a 30F bag for this trip (and most spring/summer/fall trips). A 30F bag should be warm enough plus it'll be cheaper and lighter than a 20F bag. If you get a good one, it's going to serve you well for many many trips to come. I've been in Algonquin a lot in my North Face Kilo Bag (rated 32F) and the only time I was cold was in mid-November when it got down to about 20 F. I've camped there in Sept. many times with this bag.

Have you considered GoLite's Ultra 20 quilt? Most reviewers say it's temperature rating is quite optimistic and it's more like a 25-30F quilt, so its warmth should be perfect for your trip. Plus it's super light (1lbs, 3oz), packs tiny and within your budget ($220 retail).

If you're looking to spend less, I have my North Face Kilo Bag for sale (because I bought an Ultra 20) which is a 600 FP down bag rated to 32F and weighs under 2.5lbs. Here's the for sale posting on that:

Regarding the trail choice, the first backpacking loop as you enter the park from the West side on Hwy 60 is my favourite. I think I've been on all the backpacking trails and I prefer this one. There aren't any campgrounds near by and there's some really scenic stuff. I think it's called the Western Highlands trail but I'm fuzzy on this. There are a bunch of options on this trail so you can do whatever length loop you'd like pretty much. I don't know how you'd include some canoeing in this though.

Edited by dandydan on 07/08/2009 14:21:40 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Strategy on 07/08/2009 19:14:32 MDT Print View

Regarding the trail choice, the first backpacking loop as you enter the park from the West side on Hwy 60 is my favourite

I was actually just on the Western Uplands in May for a "Beerpacking" Trip. If you are looking into the same place, here is my trip report.

Just click HERE

Edited by Steve_Evans on 07/08/2009 19:15:27 MDT.