Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Display Avatars Sort By:
(eastm002) - F

Locale: Southern California
Confused- Sleeping Bags on 10/13/2009 14:25:55 MDT Print View

Ok so I am looking for a really good sleeping bag that I can use for three season backpacking in the Sierras. I have been reading post after post about sleeping systems and bags and Im more confused. I would say that I am a cold sleeper and Im not sure what kind of temp rating I should get for my sleeping bag. If I am using a tarp/bivy and layering up with long underwear pants and top, what temp rating would be good? Im a little weary of quilts because I sleep cold, but am willing to try it. Right now I own a GoLite 40 degree bag but on a recent trip was a little chilly without a bivy. I plan on buying a MLD bivy and adding it to my sleep system. Suggestions??

Edited by eastm002 on 10/13/2009 14:44:37 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Confused- Sleeping Bags on 10/13/2009 15:14:29 MDT Print View

There is no single answer. The range of conditions is too great.
Me, I would explore extra clothing first. Then I would look at a reasonable jump in temp rating for my second bag. Well, actually i would go for a good (wide) quilt myself, but ymmv.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Confused- Sleeping Bags on 10/13/2009 15:22:27 MDT Print View

Like Roger, I would boost my sleep clothing first. After that, I would explore a sleeping bag that can also be used as a quilt, such as the Western Mountaineering SummerLite or Ultralite. Of course, bag/quilt choice will also depend on your width (including wearing layers in your bag/quilt). The new Golite quilts may work well if you want o try a quilt, but I personally like the option of being able to zip up and batten down the hatches if the weather turns unexpectedly colder than I anticipate. Or go with a quilt and add a light weight bivy bag to protect you from drafts (this assumes you are not sleeping in a true double wall tent).

(eastm002) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: confused- sleeping bags on 10/13/2009 15:32:51 MDT Print View

I've heard a lot of good things about the Western Mountaineering Summer light. It has a rating of 32 degrees, while my GoLite is rated at 40-- will this 8 degree difference be noticeable? And what is insulated draft tube? And does loft make a difference with the temp rating?

Edited by eastm002 on 10/13/2009 15:35:19 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Confused on 10/13/2009 15:41:02 MDT Print View

My general opinion is if you sleep on your back 100%, get a bag.

If you are a side sleeper like me a quilt works better than a bag in some cases. When my bag is fully closed, if I turn the entire bag I am okay as it keeps my nose in the hole.

If I dont turn the entire bag then its a real PIA and I am constantly pulling at the breathing hole.

Even with that for extreme cold I feel more secure with a bag.

If you have an insulated balaclava and a bivy or a hammock then a quilt usually works better.

You could always try a BPL quilt and use it inside your existing bag as an extender.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Re: Re: confused- sleeping bags on 10/13/2009 15:45:30 MDT Print View

8dF is questionable depending on the actual ratings of the bags. I think I would go for a 20-25dF down bag with a zipper baffle and a neck collar witha zipper that goes almost all the way to the foot.

Loft makes a difference, but also insul, IE a synthetic bag with 2" of loft may not be as warm as a down bag with 2" of loft.

Insulated draft tube - I would assume they are talking either a zipper baffle or a neck collar. I prefer both.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: confused- sleeping bags on 10/13/2009 17:05:04 MDT Print View

"It has a rating of 32 degrees, while my GoLite is rated at 40-- will this 8 degree difference be noticeable?"

Big difference IMHO. The Golite is rated optimistically, the WM is rated realistically, so it's really more than an 8 degree difference.

The draft tube on the Summerlite and Ultralite is to stop drafts coming in through the zipper if you use it zipped up. It doesn't have a neck draft tube but that's not a big deal as neither do most quilts. Again, if you are unsure re: quilt versus bags, then I would definitely go with a bag like one of the WMs mentioned, as they can be used JUST like a quilt if you want, with the backup option of using the zipper. Add some extra clothes and a bivy bag, and you should be toasty well below freezing.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: confused- sleeping bags on 10/13/2009 17:14:33 MDT Print View

Much like Lynn said... and I'd also agree with her advice to go for a bag.

Further, if you tend to sleep cold, the Western Ultralite is 7 ounces more than the Summerlite, almost all of which is added down to a shell the same size. The Ultralite does also have a draft collar (insulated tube around your neck, cinch if cold, leave loose if not). Draft collar helps if you tend to be cold. Regarding a draft tube, backing the zipper, there's no insulation where a zipper gets sewn in, so a good bag will have a good, beefy insulated tube behind the zipper...

Lastly, I'd count on your bag for your warmth... not the aggregate possible warmth of adding a bivy. Bivy's fine if you're tarping it and want some extra weather protection, but not really an insulation thing.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 10/13/2009 17:18:20 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Summerlite vs. Ultralite on 10/13/2009 18:41:50 MDT Print View

The two sleeping bags being discussed here happen to be the two that I own ... well, I own the Summerlite, my wife owns the Ultralite, but in temps where I'd want the Ultralite she doesn't generally want to sleep out, so in colder temps it becomes my bag. :-)

Since both of these are by the same manufacturer, the 12 degree F difference in temp rating should be more of an apples-to-apples comparison, and IMO there's a very substantial difference in warmth between the two.

They're both great bags, and as someone noted, the full length zipper allows either to be used like a quilt --- very nice.

If I could only have one of these and I never anticipated sleeping very many degrees below freezing, I'd go for the summerlite, otherwise the ultralite, but so many different factors make it perilous to generalize something like that ... !

Edited by brianle on 10/13/2009 18:44:18 MDT.

Steven Toney
( - F
Re: Confused- Sleeping Bags on 10/13/2009 19:13:44 MDT Print View

I've been very happy over the last 5-6 years using a WM Megalite on my Sept/Oct trips in the Sierra's or Rocky Mountains. My Rockies trip have always been overall colder than the Sierra's

I'm mostly a tent user (Black Diamond Lighthouse), but have used a 8x10 tarp and ID Unishelter bivy with the megalite a couple of times

I also own and will swap in a WM Alpinlite if temps are going to be solid multiple day low twenties. This has not been common on most of my sierra trips. both Megalite and Alpinlite have zipper draft tubes, while the Alpinlite adds the neck draft tube metioned already. The Alpinlite is very warm to me when zipped up and cinched down - needs to be very cold for me to be able to stay in it like this without feeling like I'm baking..

I nearly always use both like quilts unless it becomes real cold in the wee morning hours. these are large 64in girth models as I do not like bags to be at all confining. the ultralite and summerlite are 59 in shoulder girth so a good bit narrower.

also played with multiple pads over time from blue foam to BA IAC, to EXPED DAM 7, not use a neoair pad yet, but have multitrip with BAIAC or EXPED DAM -- EXPED's are warmer and more comfy but heavy. not tried air mattress in bivy - most do not have enough girth to have an air mattress inside the bivy, hence moving to tents mostly these days since being over 50 comfort has been an increasing goal

The pad match to temperature is a critcal comfort issue for me

I picked up both WM bags from hermit's hut and both have 2oz of overfill

always have warm fleece hat, longjohns (silkweight or midweight) and down sweater/jacket

I do not think I could do without a tent or bivy unless the bag was much warmer rating say 10-15-20 degrees and maybe also having a shell fabric of some bivy quality material like event, goretex, epic, etc..

Sierra trips have been nearly always the megalite and I have never been cold in this bag where I have had a few nights into mid to high twenties.. I've been lucky that my sept/oct trips have most had lows only in the 30's/40's and not many in the twenties or lower..

bottomline this is another positive on WM bags whatever the right internal room is desired. great bags...



Edited by on 10/13/2009 20:08:58 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Summerlite vs. Ultralite on 10/13/2009 20:27:05 MDT Print View

"If I could only have one of these and I never anticipated sleeping very many degrees below freezing, I'd go for the summerlite, otherwise the ultralite, but so many different factors make it perilous to generalize something like that ... !"

+ 1

(eastm002) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: confused - sleeping bags on 10/13/2009 20:37:26 MDT Print View

AWESOME! Thats all i can say!! All of your answers have really helped! Now I am going to throw one more sleeping bag out there and would like your opinions

WM Summerlite vs Montbell UL Spiral Down Hugger #3

Montbell is cheaper, which is nice....but I want the better bag regardless of price. Opinions?

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: confused - sleeping bags on 10/14/2009 12:34:21 MDT Print View

I don't know about the MB#3. On paper, it looks good, but not sure how well it would work in 'quilt' mode as I don't know if it has differential fill/side baffles, and it looks more oblong in cross section which also makes for a less efficient quilt. So some spiral down huggers will have to chip in here. The nice thing about the Summerlite that I'm certain of, is it's symmetrical design (good for quilt use) and continuous baffles that allow you to adjust the down to the top, bottom or middle of the bag as needed. So it may only have 9 oz of down, but you can put most of that down on top of you where is does the most good.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Confused on 10/14/2009 12:48:44 MDT Print View

The MB #3 works wonderfully as a quilt. The only issue I had was underfilled baffles, which has not been an issue with the #2.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Confused on 10/14/2009 12:54:09 MDT Print View

David, does the MB have continuous baffles?

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Confused on 10/14/2009 13:14:37 MDT Print View

I also, like Brian, have both the Summerlite and the Ultralite Super. I feel the Summerlite is fine for most Sierra 3 season as long as you provide for cold nights and supplement with lofty clothing that you will be carrying anyway.

If you are a cold sleeper I think the Ultralite would be a good bag. It can be opened like a quilt if it is too hot. My son uses it a lot. He is a lot thinner than I and therefore does not have a layer of built in insulation and probably sleeps colder than I.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Confused on 10/14/2009 13:22:07 MDT Print View


Depends on which year. I believe my #3 did, but I don't think the #2 does. Perhaps MB responded to previous criticisms. I will check the bag at home later tonight.

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
baffled... on 10/14/2009 13:28:28 MDT Print View

The Montbell SS have multi-box construction that "effectively distribute the down and limit migration", according to the website.
The Montbell Spiral just lists "box construction". I am not sure if this bag has a side baffle or not. I would imagine it does... I could be wrong... and usually am ;)

I was also wondering about these two bags, The MB Spiral and the WM Summerlite.

FWIW, I just returned a Montbell UL SS Down Hugger #2 that had 3 under-filled box baffles in the chest area. It was also too small for my 5'10" frame in the regular size. So I am back to looking at the WM Summerlite since it would be lighter than the Montbell Spiral #3 in "long" size. I also don't trust that the Spiral #3 "long" is only 1 ounce heavier than the "regular". It states 1 ounce of extra fill and accommodates 6 more inches of person... and a little more girth. It has to weigh more than 1 measly extra ounce ;)

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Confused on 10/15/2009 19:48:44 MDT Print View


I am in the Sierra a lot. It often hits freezing in the middle of summer. Spring and fall can see it in the teens easily. Back when I only had one main bag for hiking it was a 20 F. It is still the rating I take most trips there.

I have used a Phantom 32 a lot but have been surprised a few times in it. I froze one August on White Mountain 6 days after sweltering in the same bag at the same elevation just 20 miles away.