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Multiple Use Sleeping Bags
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Multiple Use Sleeping Bags on 05/02/2005 03:47:44 MDT Print View

The sleeping bag is for most lightweight hikers the item in the pack that is heaviest and has the largest volume. It is also the warmest item by far.

It's a shame that it should be in the bottom of the pack all day and only used when sleeping. If I have to bring a down jacket only to put on when taking a short brake, it not an optimal setup.

Feathered Friends makes the Chickadee/Rock & Winter Wren series, which looks like an interesting option. I think I've seen sleeping bags that also include arms on the down bag. And there are the down jacket+elephant foot bag combos too. I have a down top bag, it would be cool if it also could be used as a warm poncho (Hole in the middle, buttons on the sides). Maybe I'll collect enough courage some day to attack it with the sewing machine.. I guess there are more variations imaginable, for example skipping a sleeping bag altogether and go for a down pants+down jacket combo instead.

On the positive side of these sollutions is of course the weight and volume that can be saved. You also can dry out the sleeping bag with your body heat during day in the right conditions, if it has become wet or moist during the night. A downside, the risk of wetting your final protection against hypothermia, and that a sleeping bag that can be used as a warm piece of clothing will be clumsy in comparison with a warm jacket.

-So, why are the multible use sleeping bags so rare, few manufactors make them? Why are not more people buing those that are available?
-What features and designs would you like to see in a multiple use sleeping bag to make it a consideration for your next purchase?


Multiple Use Sleeping Bag on 05/02/2005 03:56:47 MDT Print View

Why stop there?

Why not add Epic or eVENT as an outer layer and make a detachable (velcro??) "head-end" (waist-to-head length) bugnet/rain-roof combo "mini-tarp" and use the whole thing as a bivy as well?

How's that for multi-use?

...or, is this another ill conceived product brought to you by "Bad Ideas R Us?

Multiple Use on 05/03/2005 10:25:40 MDT Print View

Here's some people serious about multiple use


Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Multiple Use - PowerPac on 05/03/2005 11:39:34 MDT Print View

Looks like the ultimate "Mr. Gadget" invented this one. All in one pack, tent, pad, bag and carrying device. A lot of thought went into it for sure.

Re: Powerpac on 05/03/2005 12:16:45 MDT Print View

Not bad.. But weight-wise, I think that the poncho-tarp combo is very hard to beat. I have been thinking about sewing backpack straps directly onto a regulat foam mat though, and then packing inside the roll in a waterproof stowing bag.. Should work ok for loads below 15 pounds.


Kim Skaarup
(skaarup) - F

Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia
Ultimate superpowermac on 05/03/2005 12:57:48 MDT Print View

The ultimate powerpac would be a system which include you. :-)

A prototype number is 007.

Edited by skaarup on 05/03/2005 12:59:32 MDT.

Noel Adams
(noel) - F
Multiple Use Sleeping Bags on 06/04/2005 15:19:57 MDT Print View

There is a 360 gram bag here in UK that limits insulation to the lower area of the bag and uses a down vest or jacket for the upper body. It is the Kimmlite PA1 and you can see it on the website. I have no connection with Hike-Lite except as a very happy customer.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Moonbow Gearskin on 06/05/2005 08:36:27 MDT Print View

Curious about this, and would appreciate feedback from actual users. How do you pack the thing when it's wet from rain and/or heavy condensation?

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
re: Moonbow Gearskin on 06/05/2005 20:44:24 MDT Print View

That's a good question, and in eastern or central timezones I expect to pack up a wet shelter every morning.

From what I've gathered when asking the same question is that folks place their sleeping bag, clothing and maybe food in largish sil nylon or spinn cloth sacks (not stuffed tightly).

Sgt. Rock's Hiking HQ has a lot of interesting UL stuff including an extensive review of the gearskin.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Gearskin on 06/05/2005 23:46:47 MDT Print View

Thanks, Jim.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Wearable Top Bag on 06/07/2005 12:10:15 MDT Print View has a good idea along those lines: the No Sniveler quilt. It has a simple slit in the middle so you can wear it over your head like a poncho. They use a no scratch Velcro to close the slit when you are using it as a quilt. Might not be that hard a sewing project.

Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
Down Jacket/Sleeping Bag on 06/08/2005 06:34:11 MDT Print View

Coming from a slightly different point of view ... if you have to bring a down jacket to wear at reststops, then this same down jacket can be used to supplement your sleeping system, thereby saving weight on your sleeping bag. If you have to bring a down jacket for rest stops instead of using say a wind jacket or your rain jacket along with a hat and neck muff then you likely would likely need flexibility for the cold weather you encounter that the down jacket would give anyway. My Patagonia down sweater (XL) weighs 11.5 oz and might be the primary insulation of a summer sleeping system I am putting together for the SE. So my down jacket becomes my sleeping bag !

Edited by WildMan on 06/08/2005 06:39:17 MDT.

William Webber
(micwebbpl) - F
Take warm clothing! on 06/08/2005 09:08:35 MDT Print View

I tend to use a lighter bag and then make it warmer with my warm clothing. I don't want to skimp on warm clothing in case I have to wear it to hike out in inclement weather - some people will carry a really warm bag and skimp on warm clothing, figuring they won't need the warm clothing once they are in their bag, but you can't hike out in a bag!

Also, taking a lighter bag, but warmer clothing, means when you get out of the bag in the morning, you still have insulation.

The combination of bag + clothing needs to meet the coldest emergency temperature you are likely to encounter - it doesn't mean you have to me comfortable in this "worst case scenario" but you have to be able to survive.

I really like the new Micro-Puff pants from Patagonia. There are a lot of upper body options these days, but not too many lower body options. Micro Puff pants are a lot more efficient than using polartec longjohns.

Keep in mind that "clothing + bag" is never as lightweight as a bag alone; because no clothing is as efficient as a 900 fill down bag - there are more seams, more material, the material is heavier etc. with clothing. But I don't think it pays to hike in to the wilderness in shorts and then count on weathering out an early or late snow storm by hiding out in the sleeping bag....

Edited by micwebbpl on 06/08/2005 09:10:04 MDT.

(sdurgo1) - F
Exped Wallcreeper PL on 06/15/2005 15:15:48 MDT Print View

For potentially wet but not cold weather.(Cascades in summer?) I like the Exped Wallcreeper. Hood, armholes, drawstring foot closure, handwarmer pockets. 1 lb, 10 oz. but you don't carry as much top/bottom insulation clothing. Available in PL (primaloft) or down.

dan kutcher
(danscapes49) - F
multiple use sleeping bag (no bag) on 07/06/2005 07:18:54 MDT Print View

I've been experimenting with multiple use sleeping systems that include an ultralight synthetic bag (50F) and lightweight insulative clothing. Last weekend I went with some friends on a two night, three day hike on the A.T. in Vermont. I carried no bag at all, just a lightweight fleece jacket and pants. Though a little warm around camp in the twilight hours, they were perfect in my Hennessy Hammock with a 3/8" foam pad (with wings of padding duct taped on for torso) through the night. I used a Golite Wisp pullover to keep my torso warm enough the first night, when temps dropped into the low 50's. It can be done, just don't push it. I figured I'd be safe, since the weather forecast was clear and warm weather through the trip, and I had friends to borrow a jacket or other warm items from, if needed. If going solo, I probably would have brought my Golite Coal jacket, which is a bit warmer than the fleece.

The beauty of this system, especially for hammock users, is that you can get up, do chores, tighten lines, visit the woods (ahem), etc, without having to wriggle out of, then back into, a sleeping bag. I also have a Feathered Friends Rock Wren, which I'm fond of for cooler weather, as the drawstring bottom allows you to pull the bag up to your thighs and walk around, and the front opening zipper allows you to zip down past your waist for nighttime trips to the woods to intentionally dehydrate.

Edited by danscapes49 on 07/06/2005 07:23:20 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Down Jacket/Sleeping Bag on 07/06/2005 11:27:19 MDT Print View

If you are hiking out in bad weather, it seems like the most important thing is to keep your head and body warm. It is my understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) that you can get frostbite and be mighty uncomfortable with cold hands, arms, feet or legs, but you are unlikely to die from it. Plus, if you are hiking out, your legs and feet are likely to be warm. So, it seems like the obvious route is to get a good half bag (for your legs) and carry a good jacket for sleeping and hiking. Plus, I would think it would be more comfortable (you stick your arms out). Now my question: Who has done this? Any recommendations on a half bag?

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Down Jacket/Sleeping Bag on 07/06/2005 12:17:04 MDT Print View

The Nunatak Akula ( is a true half or elephant foot sleeping bag. I have no experience with this bag.

However, I do have some experience with the Feathered Friends (FF) Vireo ( which is an extended length version of the half bag. This bag is part of the FF layering system and is available in 3 lengths to cover your shoulders; it is designed to either take a light weight vest or jacket inside the sleeping bag and a heavy weight jacket outside the sleeping bag. If you purchase a Vireo at the same time as a FF down jacket there is a 15% discount on both pieces. FF also offers the Volant Hood which with snaps can be attached to both the Vireo sleeping bag and the FF Hyperion, Helios or Volant jackets. If you order the Volant Hood have the snaps added to the the Vireo sleeping bag and the hood flange and snaps added to the jacket.

Edited by naturephoto1 on 07/06/2005 12:18:35 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Down Jacket/Sleeping Bag on 07/06/2005 17:59:39 MDT Print View

I like feathered friends, as their staff has always been really helpful (I'm a Seattle guy). However, I think the nunatak is more like what I would want (besides, you have to support those Twisp folks too).

One thing I've noticed is that the nunatak site suggests putting your hands inside the half bag. To me, that takes some of the value out of having this two part system (I can't wave my arms around). Which begs the question: Does anyone know any really light weight mitts? Functionality wouldn't matter (they wouldn't even need the thumb hole if that saved weight).

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Nunatak Akula vs. FF Vireo on 07/06/2005 18:14:05 MDT Print View

One thing to consider about the Nunatak Akula, you will need a heavier Down or synthetic High Loft jacket to equal the loft and the warmth of the sleeping bag used for insulation of the lower half of your body. That is, you are not relying on the sleeping bag itself (with the Vireo some of the down insulation supplements the insulation of the jacket) for any warmth much above the waist.

Look at the total weight of the sleeping bag and fill weight of both the Nunatak Akula and the FF Vireo (and the loft distribution of the Vireo from the top to the bottom of the bag; you can use a lighter jacket with the Vireo than the Akula sleeping bag which should make for a more flexible system) as well as the price of both complete systems (the Vireo and the Volant Hood cost about the same as the Akula alone, and a heavier Nunatak jacket will cost substantially more than one of the 3 mentioned FF jackets). Addionally with the Vireo, you can use lighter gloves or mitts if you put the much of the jacket, jacket arms, and your hands inside the sleeping bag.

In most instances, unless it is extremely cold, particularly for 3 season hiking, any of the high loft jackets will be too warm when actively moving. It will normally only be used at rest stops, in camp, or for sleeping.

Edited by naturephoto1 on 07/06/2005 18:42:25 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Nunatak Akula vs. FF Vireo on 07/06/2005 18:58:53 MDT Print View

I was thinking the same thing. It comes down to how much overlap you want and how much you want to spend. Both bags have about the same fill weight. Since the FF bag has a lot more surface area (because it goes up higher and is cut to accomodate a jacket underneath the mid section) I would expect it to be much cooler (thus the lower temp rating). In other words, if your mid section (above the waist but a couple inches below the arm pits) gets especially cold, the FF makes a lot of sense. If your shoulders and legs get cold, maybe not.

Like you said, Nunatak gear is steep (must be the high cost of living in Twisp).