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Sleeping Bag Recommendations
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Robert Connor
(bplnole) - F

Locale: N E Fl
Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/26/2011 22:07:39 MDT Print View

My 11 y.o. son and I have become active in Scouts and are really enjoying the backpacking and camping. I am glad I found BPL as it is revolutionizing how I think about gear. We have been camping here in Fl and he has been using just a fleece cover at night. This has worked fine, but tonight we started looking at his gear for a overnighter along the AT in the GSMNP next month. Where we will be the night temps range in the 60s it looks like. I looked at his old sleeping bag and was stunned to see it weighed nearly 5lbs and took up almost all of his pack! So I am now on a mission to find him a good bag.

I would like to be able to find him a bag that will work for the fall and winter. Our troop camps each month so we will likely see temps around 25 at some point here in N Fl. Cost is a consideration, but I want him to have something that will serve him well for a while. A couple of choices I have seen are the Kelty cosmic down 20 and the Eureka Silver City 30. Do you think that a 20 degree bag will serve him if it is closer to 60? No base layer, open bag, etc?

Any other recommendations are appreciated.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
How tall and max price on 07/27/2011 21:46:45 MDT Print View

There are many bags out there and some with extraordinary prices too! I know you said price was a consideration, but how much? I see the two bags you are talking about range from $50-$100 USD, so is around $100 the max? If you go up to $200, you are opening up a whole different range of bags and quality.

To be honest, you could venture into the MYOG category and make a M55 and 5oz Climashield APEX quilt (very easy and lots of tutorials over on the MYOG forum) for about $100 and be warm to about 30 degrees and weigh 17-18oz (about 1/2 the weight of the kelty cosmic down 20). It would also further allow you both to appreciate gear together and give him (possibly both) as skill that will be helpful in the future.

I know everyone will be along to suggest ideas for bags, but wanted to get a post in about the option of MYOG. Good luck.


Michael Sagehorn
(msagehorn) - F
bag for Boy Scout on 07/28/2011 00:43:03 MDT Print View

My son wore out a North Face Cat's Meow bag. I bought it the day he was born and he used it in Scouting for seven years. It kept him warm, was light, and compressable. He's a big college rugby player now and can't really fit in it, but he will watch TV in the basement with what loft is left in it slothing on the couch. I think a syn fill bag is a good idea for young Scouts. You can get 20 degree bag that will meet his needs easily.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/28/2011 05:03:55 MDT Print View

Robert, I've used a good number of bags, quilts, and made my own. One of my interests lately has been "value" gear. How to buy outfit folks with good gear and do so with little money. On my website under "gear lists" you can find an example of an inexpensive kit.

As far as the options you have listed...the big difference is the Eureka bag is synthetic insulation. It will perform much better if wet, but the down bag you listed I would offer is a much better deal. Its such a good deal that I purchased one earlier this week just so I could evaluate it when making recommendations to people and I already own 4 quilts (Nunatak, JRB, and 2 MYOG). The cosmic 20 will be significantly warmer than the Eureka and it will stuff down much smaller. For weight and space considerations a down bag is the way to go. Here is a review of the cosmic 20 done by BPL.


I should be able to evaluate it next week and add my first hand knowledge at that time but a 20 degree 550 down bag for $71 (what I paid) is hard to believe. There is a synthetic version of the cosmic 20, if you are buying one make sure it has "down" in the title.


Edited by jshortt on 07/28/2011 05:07:04 MDT.

Robert Connor
(bplnole) - F

Locale: N E Fl
thanks on 07/28/2011 19:01:41 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the replies. I decided to go with the Cosmic down 20. I found mine for $70 also and I think it will be a good bag for him. My only concern is if he let's it get wet, but that may turn into a good learning experience for him if he isn't careful (don't worry, I won't let him freeze :).

Joshua I enjoy building MYOG. As a matter of fact, I just finished my first supercat stove a few minutes ago. I may attempt a quilt one day, but our trip is next week. Thanks for the info though.

James I will be looking for your review and I like your web site. I may pm you with a couple of questions about the GSMNP if you don't mind.

Edited by bplnole on 07/28/2011 19:08:57 MDT.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Cosmic Down 20 is an excellent Scout bag! on 08/03/2011 08:15:25 MDT Print View

Well, you've already got yours, but I will chime in to tell you that our Scout son loves his Cosmic 20 and particularly because it weighs 2lb less than his synthetic "car camp" bag and packs down much more easily (remember struggling with stuff sacks? not with down), too.

SR Goodrich
(BirdShooter94) - F
Backpacking Sleeping Bags on 09/06/2011 21:23:19 MDT Print View

I own three different backpacking sleeping bags and a backpacking sleeping bag liner as well. I use each bag/liner at different times of the year and for different purposes. For example, when it's really cold and I'm not hiking far, I'll trade the extra weight for a warm nights sleep. When it's hot, I'll go ultra-light with a fleece liner and skip the bag all together. Then again, I live in the South and you might not want to try that in Maine in July when a cold front could make that liner pretty uncomfortable.

The right sleeping bag for you will be a function of where you live, how/when you hike, your individual body metrics (ie. do you get cold easily), how much you want to spend, how much you want to carry, and how durable the bag needs to be relative to your planned use for it. My sleeping bags include a North Face 0 synthetic degree bag, a LL Bean 20 degree synthetic bag, a Sierra Design 20 degree down bag, and an REI fleece liner. There's a good article on how to find the right backpacking sleeping bag for you at if you are interested.


Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Kelty Cosmic 20 Down on 09/22/2011 22:01:04 MDT Print View

Another vote for the Kelty Cosmic 20 Down. I have 4 of them (got them on sale for $65 each.) Terrific bags for the money, and the lightest inexpensive bag out there.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Go synthetic & disposable. on 09/22/2011 23:28:38 MDT Print View

I love my Cosmic Down bag, but I wouldn't recommend it for new scouts. For the first three years of scouting, they find ways to end up in wet tents/bags even when it doesn't rain. It's almost uncanny.

So for the first couple years, start with a cheap, synthetic bag. Graduate them to down when they've proven they can keep their bag dry.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Go synthetic & disposable. on 09/26/2011 22:33:35 MDT Print View

The problem with starting new scouts out with a cheap synthetic bag is that cheap synthetic bags are bulky and heavy and not as warm for the weight as a down bag. So, new scouts end up not liking backpacking because they are lugging a heavy pack and aren't staying warm. The Cosmic down is close to the same price as a cheap synthetic bag, and is much more functional and will maintain its loft longer.

I have loaned out my own down bags to scouts on more than one occasion, including 12 and 13 year old boys. If they have a nice bag, I sometimes have them use a liner, like this one:

With a bit of training ahead of time, and a bit of supervision, I haven't had too much trouble with the boys keeping dry, even when sleeping in improvised shelters.

The biggest issue I've found with sleeping bags (or any gear) is that the scout parents need to be told to make sure the scout unpacks his gear and dries it out and then properly stores it when he comes back from a scout outing. In my experience, most scout gear is ruined through improper storage rather than actual hard use. (Kid comes home with damp gear, doesn't bother to unpack it, and his stuff ends up moldy and/or permanently loses its loft.)

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Smaller people need lighter gear on 09/27/2011 07:12:28 MDT Print View

I'm with you on your two primary points, Kai: lightweight gear is important for younger kids, since they're smaller and not as strong, and one of the most important ways to keep gear going is to ensure they take care of it after the trip.

I can say this with certainty, in regard to our ten year old who tramped around the High Sierra this summer with his Kelty Cosmic: the weight savings over his synthetic "car bag" (which is still a mummy and weighs 4 lb) is the difference between him carrying a 15lb pack or a 17lb pack. He weighs 67lb. Check out the percentage of body weight there. He was warm, comfortable and happy. Best 80 bucks ever, man. Ho ho!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
light on 09/27/2011 14:39:28 MDT Print View

i remember when i was that age, i hiked up local peaks in an external framed pack carrying can goods ... maybe i was too stupid back then but i never felt overburdened ... or the memories just faded away

kids have the energy to carry a good amount if weight .... not to say you should over burden them ... but UL hear aint a must ...

besides, theyll outgrow it, or damage it eventually knowing kids ... i think i still have my external frame somewhere, duct tape and all ;)

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
:) on 09/28/2011 07:27:21 MDT Print View

I still use the same external frame I did as a Scout, and our ten year old uses a Kelty external... This summer, he climbed 3200' over 9.2 miles from trailhead to first camp with that pack, carrying all his own gear. I can tell you that, were he (or I) carrying the type of gear I did as a kid (uphill in the snow, barefoot and grateful, yeah), it would have been a death march. Due to the reasonable weight of his gear, he was able to include a fishing rig, some cool stuff and still roll right along.

Ultralight is particularly suited, to an extent, for youth such as Scouts. They benefit from the weight savings and can take advantage of things older, larger folks cannot -- that Cosmic sleeping bag is an example: my son uses the "short" version that I don't even fit in, and saves weight. He also uses a foam pad instead of an air pad, like mine, and has a mess kit that weighs less than half what the Scout kit did before he modified it, w/o loss of utility. Heck, if we went full "bag meal", he'd be down to a spoon and cup!