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Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Sleeping Bag on 10/29/2010 14:09:39 MDT Print View

For the Rockies (you mentioned the Colorado Trail), below-freezing nights and snow can happen any month of the year. An accurately rated 20*F bag is therefore a good idea if you're going there. I'd say the same for the PCT For hot, muggy nights back east you can either use it as a quilt or just sleep on top of it, depending on the temperature.

I have used my 20* WM Ultralight in the midwest (Michigan) and have started nights lying on top of the bag, moved into it (unzipped) or used it as a quilt in the middle of the night and sometimes zipped it most of the way up by morning. I've also had the same experience during hot spells in the Pacific Northwest, although humidity is extremely low when we get those. On the other hand, I have rarely had the bag unzipped even a little when hiking in the Rockies!

Be sure to check the girth measurements of the bag and measure your own to be sure there's room inside for you. Be sure to measure shoulder girth over your arms and over all your insulating clothing (in case of a really frigid night).

Note, since you have a budget issue: You won't find any sales or % off coupons for Western Mountaineering bags, so for a 20*F bag I'd look at the appropriate Montbell bag or the Marmot Helium. Especially the last is more apt to be on sale. With no draft collar, I'd rate it as nearer a 20* bag than the published 15* F. You might save enough to be able to buy an inexpensive 40*-45* F bag for those hot eastern nights!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/29/2010 14:16:25 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
bag. on 10/29/2010 14:11:58 MDT Print View

I agree with Eric that my do it all bag is a 20 degree, full-zipper, high quality down bag. In my case, a WM Alpinlite.

(Of course, I also have a WM Caribou MF for those warmer summer nights, which packs smaller and is a bit lighter.)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: WM Ultralite or Summerlite on 10/29/2010 14:15:16 MDT Print View

I use my Summerlite for most 3-seasonish trips with a warm pad at or near the bag rating. It's usually pretty good. However, there are times in early spring or later fall when it's definitely not enough.

Note that if you got the Ultralite, you can easily shift some down underneath you and functionally make it a 50*F bag, so I wouldn't worry at all about it being too hot. The added loft and bomber draft collar would be great if you were pushing seasons or hitting that 15*F mark. If you were going to try to push a Summerlite to 20 or below, I'd plan on wearing a big, hooded poofy jacket, warm pants, and great socks.

If you were primarily thinking summer use with rare times in the 20s, the Summerlite would probably be ok with a warm pad. However, if you're specifically looking for one bag for all/most seasons the Ultralite is probably the safer bet for most people.

Note that the Ultralite is 1.75 pounds (not 2.5#) vs. 1.25 pounds of the Summerlite or MB#3. Also note that there are some discrepancies in Ultralite weights... they hadn't updated their specs from before the "Super" option became standard, so the UL is spec'd at 1#13oz, not 1#10oz... more of a 10oz diff w/the Summerlite. Again, depends on how much use you get at the edge of the shoulder seasons, how warm you tend to sleep, etc.

Edit: @ 5'6" and 165# I'm not exactly a skinny guy, but find I fit in the Summerlite w/a down vest or other insulation just fine. On the other hand, a thinner friend finds the wider-cut bags just barely tolerable in only baselayers. Probably best to try on the bags if you can.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 10/29/2010 17:58:14 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
WM Megalite on 10/29/2010 17:22:43 MDT Print View

I've owned a WM Megalite for 3 seasons and found it to be a great bag.

1. As a cool weather bag I've used it down to 24 F. with extra clothers on and slept well. The Megalite is wide enough that when camping in Colorado's Indian Peaks Range in October in low teen temps I had enough room in the bag's wider girth to wear my Thermolite insulated jacket and pants and sleep very comfy.

2. On hot nights in southern Utah's Escalante region I've had my most comfortable nights ever with the Megalite zipped all the way open, foot hooked over my old full length Thermarest Lite and using the bag as a quilt. Closest thing to sleeping at home I've experienced while backpacking.

Remember, the Megalite has no side baffle opposite the zipper side so you can shake some down to either the top or bottom, depending on expected temps. Since the 800 cu. in./oz/down has such great loft ther is only about a 25% change in loft one way or the other using this method.

This bag is extremely versatile and a TRUE 30 F. bag for even cold sleepers like me.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
ditto... on 10/29/2010 17:48:24 MDT Print View

Ditto on Eric's thoughts on the Megalite. Wide enough to add layers and dip below its rating. Full unzip and it has quilt-like ventilation.

There may still be one fs in the gear swap forum.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
pct bag on 10/29/2010 18:04:55 MDT Print View

Even though I sold my Ultralight, i have decided to purchase an alpenlight vs all the quilts and other bags i have seen listed here.

I will start by saying I have no real experience, so take everything I say as a totally biased opinion not based on facts.

My thinking was that if I actually had to buy all those expensive down under clothes to make a 30 or 40 degree bag work for the shoulder seasons, and then of course remember to pack them, (or pack them all the time and perhaps not use them) I decided to simply get another 20 degree bag.

I read Yogi's PCT guide, and the vast majority of folks who listed their gear there used a 20 degree the entire route.

since this was also my first purchase, I figured I couldnt go but so wrong, shake the down to the bottom if it was hot, or use as quilt, or shake to top if it was cold and perhaps use extra layers (although I plant to use thermals and not down insulators).

The darn bag is close to 400, I didnt want to spend another 300 on down clothing.

Again, I have NO real experience, but since you were looking at my ultralight for sale, I just thought I would share what I decided to do, after I sold my bag.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
clothing on 10/29/2010 18:45:03 MDT Print View

mark ... you will need some clothing for when yr standing around camp ... unless you spend all yr time in yr bag

usually a down sweater or syn equivalent (in warmth) for temps down to freezing

unless you play the hop like a bunny came till ya sleep ;)

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
ny giants on 10/29/2010 22:49:53 MDT Print View

paul you look like eli manning

Serge G.
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
10-20 bag now...count on wanting another bag later. on 01/17/2011 05:08:31 MST Print View

If you feel really invested in spending a lot of time backpacking in the future, you'll probably find a way to justify buying another bag eventually, so it might be a better idea to buy one with a lot of versatility now that will still be a part of your system later.
I imagine the most minimal and UL system that would handle true 4 season use would be a 10-20 degree sleeping bag like a WM Versalight, and a 30 degree quilt (check M. Verbers perfect gear page). Quilt in summer, decide according to the forecast and trip in spring and fall, bag in winter with layers or paired with quilt. I'm with Eric, go with a full zip UL 10-20 degree bag now, like a wm versalite or alpinelight and then see whats available for UL summer quilts in like a year or two. I'd bet there will be a number of great options in like the 13oz range by then, considering quilts are just starting to really catch on.

I was making the same decision a couple months ago with idea that over the next 2-3 years I'm going to try to thru hike at least 2 trails, do an extended summer trip in south america and lots of 3 season stuff here in the CO and MT rockies. I went with a katabatic sawatch. It provides about as much warmth as a 15 degree sleeping bag except its 9 oz lighter and a lot more compressible then even the lightest of the 15 degree sleeping bags. I've car camped with all my windows open in 5 degrees without extra layers and only the tips of my toes were a problem (this always seems to be a problem though!) I know thats not a good indicator for long term backpacking use, but I can tell you for sure that the 15 degree rating is accurate. So basically, if you're looking for an ideal 3 season setup I'd consider a 15-20 degree quilt. For 4 season, I'd start with a 10-20 degree bag.

Oh, the calculus of UL gear shopping!

edit: sorry, didn't see your last post, Paul. IMO, the exta 6oz is worth it, esp. if you actually intend to use it for light winter stuff. I think a 9-11 oz fill is good for three season with layers, but when you're really pushing the limits in shoulder season, its hard to know exactly how much extra to bring. For the most part I've used a WM highlight for 3 season use in the rockies for the past few years with layers. Its worked out fine, but to be on the safe side I find myself bringing a lot of extra stuff like down booties, and a warmer/heavier coat than I probably need to around camp. Even then, I'd occasionally wake up cold. Spending the extra 6oz of weight on sleeping bag down is more efficient warmth than in extra layers of cloths and it will also keep its loft better on longer trips with accumulated moisture. Also, in summer you're better able to get away with just bringing a super light vest for torso insulation which could easily make up for 6oz in the bag. Hope that helps and good luck getting your system together.

Edited by sgiachetti on 01/17/2011 07:37:01 MST.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
REI sub kilo on 01/18/2011 05:10:05 MST Print View

I second the sub kilo. I used mine every night of AT thru and although I burned up a few nights in the height of summer I wasn't cold a single night.

I also used it on Blood Mountain recently when it was only 5 degrees F wearing only a fleece and a synth jacket (although to really be comfortable I needed something on my legs other than just tights)

And finally, I love it so much I sleep in it every night at home!