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Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota
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Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota on 06/03/2010 17:18:53 MDT Print View

Yep, its June. I still want to talk winter sleeping bags.

I'm trying to upgrade my winter set-up for conditions in Northern Minnesota. I plan to buy a 0 degre 6' bag with about a 62" shoulder girth to be supplemented with clothing including a down parka (Rab Neutrino Endurance), insulated pants (montbell thermawrap or similar) and when temps dictate, also vapor barrier liner clothing underneath (home-made). I hope to use this bag on multi-night trips, up to a week.

I've been browsing through various 0 degree offerings from Marmot, GoLite and Mountain Hardwear and have found a few that I think may be suitable: Marmot Lithium, Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0, Golite Adrenaline 4-season.

All of these (in 6' length) weigh between 2 pounds 10 ounces and 3 pounds flat (per specs, at least) and claim to have fairly similar loft, fill quality and fill weight.

Also, these brands seem more likely to be found on sale or clearance than some other brands like Western Mountaineering, for example. I'm on a budget and will need to be an opportunist with this purchase.

Does anyone have any input regarding these three bags? Speculation welcomed, real experience valued.

Any help will be most appreciated.


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota on 06/03/2010 17:50:10 MDT Print View

Western Antelope would be perfect... a couple extra ounces of down even more sublime!

Next choice the Lithium. A great bag still, but a little more lacking in details... the draft tube and collar aren't as beefy, the loft seems a bit less enchanting, etc. Essentially no retail cost differential, but on sale pricing, I dunno. You can occasionally find a store doing "20% off store-wide."

I'd probably stick w/one of those. I've found the Phantom bags a bit over-rated, and I'm thinking the Adrenaline will be too. I guess between the remaining two, I'd probably go Adrenaline; it's loft is a little better IME.

Hope this helps!

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
winter bag for minnesota - thanks brad. on 06/04/2010 21:50:10 MDT Print View

Brad -

Thanks for the insight, that was exactly what i was looking for.

take care,


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota on 06/04/2010 21:59:39 MDT Print View

I'd go with a -20 for that region. And if not, I'd want a true 0 degree bag. Of your list, I'd only consider the Marmot (which I don't consider a true zero). The Mountain Hardwear isn't nearly good enough at zero, much less that Golite.

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
What he said... on 06/04/2010 23:21:58 MDT Print View

I'd take to heart what Jack has to say. None of those bags are really good enough for zero. Especially in Minnesota where temps can really drop. I'd check out the Western Mountaineering Lynx GWS. It's a little heavy, but it's a true -10 bag. A good rule of thumb is to always plan for temps 10 degrees lower than forecasted.

Personally, I use the Nunatak Arc Expedition with +4 oz of down and +4" in length on top of the size large. It's my zero degree bag. That coupled with the 2010 MLD Alpine Bivy, and Exped 7 DLX or 9 DLX. It works great for me.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
If you are ever going to splurge on equipment on 06/04/2010 23:40:35 MDT Print View

Spend it on your sleeping bag. Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering are just a couple of examples of top-flight bag companies. Until uniform, independent testing is adopted industry wide, there will be a considerable differences between 0 degree bags offered by the different manufacturers.

I agree with Jack and Juston - I would always exceed what you think you need by at least 10 degrees unless you have a solid system in place to augment the temperature of your bag.

Best of luck!

If you are freezing your butt off on night one of a four-day trip, you'd gladly spent $500 for a warmer bag at that moment.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
winter bag for minnesota on 06/05/2010 10:00:43 MDT Print View

I agree with being a little more conservative in winter than in summer - the repurcussions of going too light are certainly a lot more serious and you've got me thinking harder about warmer bags than what i listed above. I'd likely need to have a system that will keep me somewhat comfortable and quite safe at -20 degrees F.

Still, for the sake of argument, for an average sleeper inside a single wall tent on top of a couple of ccf pads totaling R 4.5-5.0, shouldn't i be able to push the bags I mentioned to a -20 to -10 rating with the following:

capilene 2 or similar baselayers
VBL pants, socks and hoody (home-made)
Montbell thermawrap pants
Thick sleeping socks
thin wool gloves
Rab Neutrino endurance Parka (8+ ounces of down)

I've been OK with two mummy bags totaling about 26 ounches of down and similar clothing without the VBLs down to 0, with only one of the mummy bags (a WM Ultralight) acutally zipped up. The other, a WM Summerlite (now sold to free up funds) was draped on top. I figure that a dedicated winter bag with 26+ ounces of down and beefier hood design ought to be warmer.

Also, I am well aware that I am not Andrew Skurka, but he does note on one of his current gear lists that he thinks he could push his GoLite Adrenaline 4-season/0 degree bag to -40 with what he had with, which didn't seem too different from my clothing set-up (VBLs, light down parka, thermawrap pants).

Regardless of whether a end up with a 0 degree or -20 degree bag I am interested in how far you guys have been able to push your winter set-ups with added clothing etc.

Thanks for the input,


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: winter bag for minnesota on 06/05/2010 10:22:35 MDT Print View

FWIW Jack and Juston (and all), I use an Antelope in Michigan's UP. I'm a cold sleeper. I've comfortably used the Antelope below 0. I've used it around -15 with some additional clothing. In my experience, the Antelope is the only bag of the four mentioned that is truly a 0 degree bag. WM is well-known for conservatively rating their bags.

(As Juston noted, "None of those bags are really good enough for zero...I'd check out the Western Mountaineering Lynx's a true -10 bag." I'd point out that all their bags are true to rating, not just the Lynx.)

Other consideration: If you wanted a dedicated, winter-only bag, then sure... go for a -25 or -40 bag. I was, um, fortunate enough to live outside through a UP winter. It's nice to have a big, monster pile of down on a twenty-below night. A WM Puma weighs about a pound more than an Antelope, but it's still only 3.5 pounds. Of course, OP specified a 0 degree, but hey, might as well get ideas out there.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 06/05/2010 10:29:03 MDT.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
0 degree bag for northern MN on 06/08/2010 14:04:30 MDT Print View

As a norther MN native who backpacks year round I love my 0 degree Montbell UL bag. I will augment it with a vapor barrier jacket, socks, down parka and puffy synthetic pants. I also have Feathered Friends down booties.

I belive the coldest I've used this setup is around -17 degrees and I was fine.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
"Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota" on 06/08/2010 14:58:16 MDT Print View

Like Chad - I've used my Montbell UL SS #0 at and below zero F with no complaints. It's a great bag that you can find 20% off on occasion.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota on 06/09/2010 08:37:42 MDT Print View

I spent a night on the ridge above Grand Marias at -12 deg F with two 20 deg bags, a Thermawrap puffy coat, and Thermawrap puffy pants in '06. It was miserable.

Now I have a Marmot Couloir bag rated to 0 deg F and when paired with my down puffy, synth puffy pants, and either down insulated mat or two blue foams I find it to be acceptable down to zero.

Take into consideration how often you winter camp. If you only go out once or twice a year is an $850 Western Mountaineering Bison bag a good choice? Probably not. If you spend weeks at a time camped on a frozen lake in the BWCA in the dead of February however any cost is worth staying warm.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Help me choose a 0 degree bag for Minnesota on 06/10/2010 05:59:18 MDT Print View

I have actually been pretty happy with my Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0. I have used it down to 4* without anything more than a baselayer, light hat, and glove liners. It is a narrow bag though (60") so I wouldnt plan on wearing additional clothing in it.

Cesar Garcia
(crgowo) - F

Locale: Desert SW
Marmot Couloir on 06/11/2010 13:36:50 MDT Print View

Wow Sam thats not saying much about the couloir. I was thinking of purchasing that bag for a winter bag but now im not so sure. I live in the desert SW so would hit the mountains in NM for winter.

Do you think because of the Couloir's size that its cold? It is a very wide bag so would have a lot of dead air to heat.

Edited by crgowo on 06/13/2010 16:22:46 MDT.

Mark Olah

Locale: New Mexico
0 degree bags on 06/13/2010 16:09:44 MDT Print View

Ceaser, any high-quality 0 degree down bag will be fine for winters in New Mexico. I do most of my winter hiking in NM, and have a REI down subkilo 0deg as my winter bag, which sadly is not made anymore.

I have used it below -10F twice in NM (both times in January) and I was OK with down jacket and pants. Normally, it doesn't get much colder than that here, and when it does it means clear skies and sunny weather the next day, so even if its a little cold at night, it's only temporary.

In Minnesota where it can stay below 0F all day, you might want a warmer bag.

Cesar Garcia
(crgowo) - F

Locale: Desert SW
sorry to highjack on 06/13/2010 16:43:34 MDT Print View

I was thinking a 0* bag would suit me so was looking at getting a Couloir (thought it was a quality bag). May look at other bags but as Sam stated about how often you get out in winter, I don't get out that often to justify a super expensive bag.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
I picked up a WM lynx on 08/20/2010 10:27:53 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input everyone - I haven't checked back in a while, but thought I should let everyone know I saved some money and wound up buying a -10F long WM lynx with a microfiber shell: i found a good discount and decided to make the investment. I think it should offer a bit more margin for error and comfort for our Minnesota winters. Once I spent some winter nights in it I'll report its time to build a winter shelter, but that is for another thread.



Erich Langner
(eclassic) - F
0 degree bags on 11/18/2010 14:47:58 MST Print View

i don't know MN but i have used my marmot lithium 0 in really cold windy weather on my many trips to the oregon cascades, mt hood the three sisters, three finger jack etc. the bag is super light for its rating and is pretty rugged overall which suits me as im rough on my equipment. I've used mine well below zero and stayed warm. think about using this with a silk liner. 3-4 oz liner is worth its weight in warmth and keeps your expensive bag clean.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
lithium on 11/18/2010 15:08:01 MST Print View

^ good to know as that's the bag I'm leaning towards

Erich Langner
(eclassic) - F
staying warm on 11/18/2010 15:20:39 MST Print View

if you expect super cold consider bringing an extra sleeping pad or a really thick one. extra ground insulation is more important than a bit more loft. so many people overlook this.

Joseph Lee
(badkid) - F
They're all great bags. on 09/26/2011 08:15:12 MDT Print View

I don't know why people here think the Antelope is any warmer than the Marmot Lithium or MHW Phantom 0. They are all similar in performance, and I've used all three. They are all excellent bags. You would be hard pressed to find 5 degrees of comfort difference among them.

My current bags in order of insulating capacity -

Lafuma Xtreme 600
Marmot Hydrogen
MHW Phantom +15
Marmot Lithium
Western Mountaineering Lynx MF

Edited by badkid on 09/26/2011 08:26:53 MDT.