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Sleeping Bag
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Paul Davis
(FauxRealz) - F

Locale: East Coast
Sleeping Bag on 10/16/2010 23:23:39 MDT Print View

I need a sleeping bag. I need one that will last and one that will be useful in as many situations as possible. I need ONE bag. i.e. I can only afford one bag.

What are your suggestions?

Montbell Ul Super Spiral #3?
Nunatak Catabatic SL?
WM MegaLite? SummerLite? AlpineLite? UltraLite?

Should I get a quilt? What temperature rating?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sleeping Bag on 10/16/2010 23:36:44 MDT Print View

Paul, you are asking open-ended questions.

If you don't know what temperature rating of sleeping bag you need, then you don't want to buy _any_ now.

Do some reading, talk to people, figure out your intended outdoors travel, and get a good idea of what you are getting into. Then, when you have a temperature rating in mind, you can begin shopping.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
sleeping bag on 10/16/2010 23:42:03 MDT Print View

full zip 10-20 F down bag ... any good brand name

zip it up and layer with clothes in the winter ... as long as its not crazy cold

unzip it and use it like a quilt in the summer ...

fall/spring ...just use it regularly

WM s always excellent ... other brand names on sale are always good ... just make sure it meets the EN temps

should weight between 700-1000 grams

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Sleeping Bag on 10/17/2010 00:30:42 MDT Print View


Since you want this quilt for a possible thru-hike, I would look for a rating around 20F (not that I have experience with long thru hikes). That will keep you realistically warm to about freezing and then on colder nights you can wear your insulating jacket to bed.

My suggestion is to look at a quilt over a bag. I made the switch last summer and I was nervous about whether it would be a pain to keep the quilt tucked in around me. As it turned out, it was a very painless switch and I actually prefer using a quilt. It's easier to get in and out, which makes those middle of the night washroom breaks that much less painful. It's also easier to reach an arm otu and check the time. Keeping it tucked in isn't a pain and I switch sleeping positions a lot. A quilt is a lot more like sleeping in your bed at home than a sleeping bag.

It's not the lightest possible quilt, but the GoLite 3+ season quilt (rated to 20F) is well made and very affordable:

The retail price is $275 and GoLite occasionally has online sales around 30-40% off. I wouldn't be surprised to see one before christmas. The last one was for the national trails day this summer. This quilt has 11.5oz of down, which should keep you quite warm. GoLite also has generously wide quilts so they are easier to keep tucked in compared to more radical quilts with a slimmer cut.

The Katabatic Sawatch (15F) is another nice 3 season quilt but with 15oz of down you might find it too hot in the summer...a better option might be the Katabatic Palisade (30F, 9.2oz down) with some overstuff (2oz is $18) if desired. With 9.2oz of down, you'd want to have some decent other layers on hand for the shoulder seasons.

This quilt is very light (17oz) and it's $315. I'd get it overfilled it with 2oz, you'd be looking at a 19oz quilt for $332 which contains 11.3 oz of down. That's a pretty sweet package. The only downsides here are a rumoured slimmer cut than the GoLite quilts, and the price. The GoLite 3+ season is 5oz heavier for the same warmth, but if you could get it for 30-40% off ($165-$192) then you'd be looking at a big savings compared to $332.

If you're really looking for value, the GoLite synthetic 1+ Season quilt (40F rating) is normally $120, but BentGate has it on for $101 and then you can use this coupon code (rockandice2010) on top of that for another 15% off. That would give you a 40F rated, 24oz synthetic quilt for $85 and free shipping too I believe.

That would be a sweet quilt for the summer, but you'd want to layer up well for the shoulder seasons. When it's going to be cold I use down pants (7oz) and a down vest (7oz) in addition to the montbell UL down inner jkt (8.5oz) in my 30F bag. You'd want something similar. With the right layers, you could put together a pretty versatile system, but carrying a bunch of pieces is always heavier than just carrying a warmer bag unless you want the insulating pieces for use outside of sleeping.

Edited by dandydan on 10/17/2010 00:56:48 MDT.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Another vote for a quilt on 10/17/2010 10:33:19 MDT Print View

"One bag for most seasons" is usually a quilt. I think my Nunatak Back Country Blanket is my most versatile bag; with different clothes it's kept me warm from 15-50 F. I do have several ounces of overfill, as I sleep very cold. If considering a quilt talk to Tom Halpin at Nunatak about customizing.

Let us know what you decide.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: sleeping bag on 10/17/2010 11:59:54 MDT Print View

I'm no expert, but was in the same situation and did exactly as Mr. Chan suggested. While not an "excellent" brand, I couldn't pass up $120 for a new REI Sub Kilo 20F bag. I have used it on nights from just below 0 to maybe 60F. Has worked great so far, but I've only got maybe 25-30 nights in/under it.

Erik Danielsen
(er1kksen) - F

Locale: The Western Door
Golite Quilt on 10/17/2010 13:21:26 MDT Print View

I'll echo Dan on the Golite quilt, if you can get a good price on it. I snagged one for $150 in the clymb sale and being a down quilt it's been a revelation for me coming from synthetic sleeping bags. You can wear it loosely for comfort in warmer temps or snug it close for comfort in the cold. I am a cold sleeper, and with my old 20 degree synth bag, I was always cold from about 35 degrees on down. Last week when it got down to the low 30s I wore my down jacket to bed with the quilt, figuring I'd need it (I often sleep out to test the temp limits of my gear) and within a few minutes of bundling up I was HOT. I had to ditch the down jacket and sleep in just my normal baselayers. I have never been able to do that below 40 degrees before.

There are lighter quilts out there for the same performance, by a few ounces, but at a steep premium compared to the prices you can probably get the golite at if you wait for a good deal. So keep an eye out.

Paul Davis
(FauxRealz) - F

Locale: East Coast
o_0 on 10/17/2010 20:26:56 MDT Print View

" Paul, you are asking open-ended questions.

If you don't know what temperature rating of sleeping bag you need, then you don't want to buy _any_ now.

Do some reading, talk to people, figure out your intended outdoors travel, and get a good idea of what you are getting into. "

...Well thanks. Maybe it would be okay with you if I came to the BPL forums to talk to some people...

Anyway, I really appreciate the help and suggestions. I've been looking into bags a lot recently and have found that a lot of people prefer quilts to bags. I was skeptical. But the comment of it being more like sleeping in your bed at home finally made me understand. Thanks Dan.

I've been wondering about temperature ratings as well. My trip through the Maine section of the AT this summer was done with a cheep bag liner that was on clearance. It went up to my nipples and was probably good to 60 degrees. I had a couple retched nights around 40 degrees or so. And I figure that I'm a pretty cold sleeper, being 6'4" 180lbs with little to no fat (haha that's what College track will do to you). I think a 20 deg bag seems to be a pretty standard three season temp, so I might steer clear of the 30 deg Montbell #3.

I posted a question a couple of days ago about the possibility of making a bag/ quilt. I'm wondering if any of you have found much success with that. Was it worth the materials and labor to make it over buy one?

Jeffrey McConnell
making your own on 10/17/2010 20:39:21 MDT Print View

If you have some sewing skills thru hiker has a great quilt kit. Its competitively priced if i remember right. I thought about making my own for a while and I was going to take a basic sewing class, but due to lack of time I had a forum member make me a quilt. I still may take a stab at one later on. I think its worth it if you have the time.

Edited by Catalyst on 10/17/2010 20:41:16 MDT.

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
rent first on 10/17/2010 20:46:02 MDT Print View

I'll second what Eric posted- if you can only have one bag, a somewhat roomy mummy bag with a full zipper is extremely versatile (can be a quilt, or can be fully zippered).

I used to use quilts and topbags, but I never found them as warm as a good mummy bag. I'd highly recommend renting a decent mummy bag (try EMS) and fully unzipping it to use as a quilt- then you will know what you prefer. I went through a handful of very expensive options (Rab,WM, Nunatak) based on what worked for other people before finding what I liked.

Paul Davis
(FauxRealz) - F

Locale: East Coast
Re: rent first on 10/17/2010 21:05:03 MDT Print View

Great point. I never even considered this.

Haha, I will definitely do this and see what is going to be best for my body before making a possibly regrettable purchase. Thanks Michael.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Sleeping Bag on 10/18/2010 16:31:14 MDT Print View

Not to start a bag vs. quilt flame war, but bags are inherently more versatile than quilts. It's easy to open up a sleeping bag & use it like a quilt, but if it's cold out it's much easier and more effective to just zip up a sleeping bag and cinch down the hood and draft collar.

Temp rating really, really depends... 20*F is generally accepted as a good starting point. But do you see yourself doing 50% winter camping, in Minnesota? Then you'd want a warmer bag.

MegaLite is basically wider Summerlite, Alpinlite is wider Ultralite. If you were going 20, say the Ultralite for avg. build.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
BA Horsethief on 10/20/2010 14:42:57 MDT Print View

I have tried a quilt (Golite), and it did not seem like sleeping in my bed at home (I also had a MB UL spiral down #3). The closest I have gotten to a "at home" experience is sleeping in my Big Agnes Horsethief bag. I have a 2.5 inch insulated Kookabay pad (66" x 20" mummy). It's rated 35 degrees (even though it has 10 oz of 800 down) , but with a pair of MB down pants and a MB down jacket it is plenty warm into the 20's (and I am a 45 year old cold sleeper). With the Sleeping pad inserted into the bottom of the bag (which has no bottom insulation) you cannot roll off the mat, and when you toss and turn the bag stays put. The MontBell #3 rolled around with me, with quilt I moved off the pad because I am a restless sleeper. My BA bag weighs 22 oz and the insulated pad weighs 15 oz.

Edited by knarfster on 10/20/2010 14:46:54 MDT.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: BA Horsethief on 10/20/2010 16:11:47 MDT Print View

I'd go with a Montbell UL Spiral #3 (Super if you want it) or a GoLite UltraLight 20 degree quilt. For me, a proper 20 degree bag is more 2-season than three; it's too warm to use in the summer, and too heavy to justify carrying it around. I only recently acquired my Montbell UL Super Stretch #3, but have camped out a few nights with it in the low 30s. I was plenty comfortable in nothing but underwear, t-shirt, and socks on a summer-only sleeping pad (POE Ether Compact 6, R <= 2). I'd feel comfortable taking it below 30 with a UL down sweater, proper base layer, and possibly a light bag liner.

I'm not going to lug around a 15 or 20 degree bag weighing 2.5 lb all summer long, but that's just me. Not everyone can afford having a bag for each use-case, including myself. I try to be as modular and flexible as I can.

Obviously, any recommendation depends on where you plan to use it. I'm in northern Minnesota, which is colder than most of the US year around.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Summer on 10/20/2010 17:05:07 MDT Print View

Something to consider .... If the 10-20f bag is too warm for summer ... You can buy a cheap light quilt for summer

you can get away with more mistakes in summer

Paul Davis
(FauxRealz) - F

Locale: East Coast
WM Ultralite or Summerlite on 10/29/2010 10:15:25 MDT Print View

Before I start, I realize that this is a very opinion-based Q&A.

I also realize that the best option for me would be to get two bags for different conditions. I realize this, however, I'm not in a place financially to get two high quality bags.

I've looked into sleeping bags a lot recently and I feel like a mummy bag will be a better fit for my needs. Looking into which bag I should get, I have found very few bad reviews of WM bags.

For some more details on my needs, I'm looking to do the Colorado trail next summer.

Questions for you all:
1) Is the extra 12 F worth the extra $75 and 6oz or so?
2) Would a 20F bag be bearable in summer?
3) Would a 32F bag with a Montbell UL inner jacket be bearable in the fall or early spring or even around 15-20F lows in winter?
4) What other suggestions do you have?

Edited by FauxRealz on 10/29/2010 10:26:05 MDT.

Josh Newkirk
(Newkirk) - MLife

Locale: Australia
sleeping bag on 10/29/2010 10:32:46 MDT Print View

I have a montbell ultra light super spiral #1 rated for 15. I might have to get a lighter and cooler bag for summer but i wanted just that extra little bit of cooler weather versatility compared to a 20 degree bag.

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
One bag for everything on 10/29/2010 13:39:01 MDT Print View

JMHO, but I would purchase a 32 degree (properly rated) down bag or quilt (probably bag in your case) with a full length zipper. You can open it up quilt/blanket style in summer and keep from roasting, and if you properly layer up with a down jacket and pants, etc. in winter you can take it down into the teens any maybe a little further.

Beware though- you may find yourself with this one do-it-all bag, and then in a couple of years you come into some money and want to buy that 2nd bag....which one then? You MIGHT be better off getting a dedicated winter bag (20 degree) first, and make sure you get one season or two nailed right. Then, when you get some more money, you could get a cheap summer quilt. I personally have a 15 degree FF bag, and a 32 thin down Nunatak quilt, and between the two, I'm always comfortable.

Ultralite Hiker
Alder MF on 10/29/2010 13:44:09 MDT Print View

I have a WM Alder MF. It is a 25 degree full zip bag that can be used as a quilt.

I use that in the fall and winter and a Lafuma x600 in the summer. I know you said 1 bag, but for 45 bucks it is nice for summer/spring use.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
20 deg bag on 10/29/2010 13:50:27 MDT Print View

a 20F deg bag opened up and used loosely as a quilt can take you up to around 60F deg on the top end ... higher than that and you pretty much can get away with sleeping in yr down jacket, some fleece and a bivy

the same bag can likely take you down to 10F or less with yr down jacket, some fleece, long underwear, and maybe a garbage bag for a VBL if needed

in an absolute emergency the same setup might be survivable down to 0F or so ... note survivable ... not comfortable

IMO a properly rated 20F bag is the way to go for "all seasons" if you needed a single bag ... a usable range of 10F-60F

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/29/2010 13:52:53 MDT.