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Regular or Short length?
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Eileen Duncan
(eileensd) - MLife

Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area
Regular or Short length? on 07/02/2012 21:59:40 MDT Print View

I'm going to buy a new sleeping bag (considering SD Vapor 15 degree bag) and don't know whether or not I should get a regular or short length. I am *just* under 5'5" (65 in) and the short Vapor is 66 in (regular is 72 in). I presume the length is measured from the base of the foot to the top of the hood, I presume. Anyway, I want to be sure I can easily snuggle my shoulders under the neck. I know I don't want a bunch of extra space around my feet, but I just don't know whether there's some reason 1 inch might be cutting it too close. Or... maybe it's perfect.

Thanks for any insight!

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Regular or Short length? on 07/02/2012 22:11:43 MDT Print View

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that I won't buy any sleeping bag without getting in it first - or at least knowing that I can return it if I don't like how it fits. The numbers do not tell the whole story, neither in length or width. Two bags with the same specs may be different in actuality, due to variations in how they are measured. So try them out and see what feels good to you.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Short length, definitely on 07/02/2012 22:15:22 MDT Print View

If the regular is 72" and the short is 66", that is not the length of the bag, that is the height of the human. Those are very typical allowances from most manufacturers. Any shorter and it is a youth's bag. Longer and they call it a "long" although that can vary from fitting 6'2" to 6'8" with 6'4" and 6'6" being most common.

I once got a bag longer than my body thinking I could keep my clothes warm in the bottom, but that wasn't so helpful and it defintely weighs more and is bulkier. Being an inch shorter than the bag's size seems like the sweet spot to me - a bit extra to snuggle into, but not any excess.

Editted to concur with Paul, although not about the length. Girth at different points, ease of using the zipper, style of tightening the head/neck, and the feel of the fabric all vary greatly and can't be conveyed well by a chart of specs.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 07/02/2012 22:17:16 MDT.

Tyler Barcelli

Locale: Southeast
Re: Regular or Short length? on 07/02/2012 23:09:54 MDT Print View

The Sierra Designs Nitro was reviewed here, and it was found that the regular length would only fit somebody of about 5'10" comfortably, so the height was overstated. I do not know if the Vapor has the same issue as the Nitro but I do know there is nothing worse than a cramped sleeping bag.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Regular or Short length? on 07/02/2012 23:36:48 MDT Print View

If you want to sleep stretched out full length, note that when your feet relax, they go into a pointed toe position (something my current bout of plantar fasciitis has taught me). If you're right on the borderline, you probably need the longer bag. If you always sleep curled up, no big deal. The last couple of years, though, I've been sleeping on my back more, and in that position my toes just barely clear the end of the bag (I'm 5'4").

Remember also that if you're backpacking where/when it's below freezing, your feet will need to share the foot of your bag with your fuel canister, your water filter (in a plastic bag) and your camera battery to keep those from freezing.

Eileen Duncan
(eileensd) - MLife

Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area
Re: Re: Regular or Short length? on 07/03/2012 10:11:20 MDT Print View

Point taken about the importance of trying a bag. I agree... but the $229 sale price (from $415) at has my attention (can't seem to find their return policy)! Hard to pass up what looks like such a great deal. In person, I don't know where to go but REI - in the weight range I want, they don't have more than a couple of choices and they are too expensive. Hmm.

David, thanks for the clarity about how the manufactures indicate length. Tyler - yeah, I definitely don't want to be cramped and I actually hadn't considered Mary's reminder about possibly needing to store things at the bottom of my bag. It should be okay though, because I'm seldom in below freezing temps... thanks also for pointing out sleeping positions, I'm a back sleeper but tend to curl up on my side when I'm on the ground.

All in all, I think the shorter length may do it. The *real* problem, however is that there's no zipper at the foot (zipper stops about 1/3 of the way down the bag). My feet tend to be cold, but when they want cool fresh air, they want cool fresh air! The zipper might be the deal breaker.

Edited by eileensd on 07/03/2012 10:22:02 MDT.

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: Re: Re: Regular or Short length? on 07/03/2012 10:49:46 MDT Print View

Have you considered a quilt? Here is a comparison with Enlightened equipment revelation x:

Weight Cost
SD Vapor 15 27 oz $230
EE 20°+30% overstuff 22.5 oz $190
EE 10° 22.75 oz $190

The EE quilt can open up the whole length for very easy temperature regulation and comes in a variety of widths for a better fit based on your body type and sleeping style. EE is made in the USA (not sure where the SD is made).

Edited by bzhayes on 07/03/2012 14:12:02 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
short or long... on 07/03/2012 11:22:38 MDT Print View

At 5'6", I've found myself in a similar predicament over the years.

I think it is good to have a couple of extra inches in the bag as a bag exactly 66" is very constraining. (My fiancee' has a wonderful 66"; 0 degree bag that I used once. I fit in it. Barely. ).

In an ideal world, they'd have not-quite-as-short length bags for short guys like me. ;) (An off-the-rack 69" bag would be perfect. I know feathered friends makes custom bags)

Having said that, I started using a sleeping quilt recently. Think it may be a solution that will work for me (at least in three season backpacking). We'll see.

Edited by PaulMags on 07/03/2012 11:25:49 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Regular or Short length? on 07/03/2012 11:36:12 MDT Print View


Yeah, zippers. . . . They add weight, bulk and decrease warmth. Yet, they make a bag more flexible in terms of temperature range. Someday, I'm going to take the quilt plunge and see how that works for me. At home, I sleep under a quilt (in a cover) only and I seem to adjust my coverage without waking, so maybe it will go well.


Yes, butane needs to be kept above freezing although the heat capacity of a canister is so little, that you also want some reflected heat to keep it going once lit below 45-50F ambient. Propane-butane is better and more propane is better yet.

Camera batteries? Not so much anymore. NiCads - yes, need to kept warm, but I haven't had a NiCad in anything for a decade now. Lithium batteries are quite good in cold temps, down to -20F. For cameras, I manage the camera's temp to minimize condensation on/in the camera and use a ziplock bag to keep condensation from forming on it when the camera is cold and the surroundings humid.

Jeffrey McConnell
Nitro 15 on 07/03/2012 17:22:21 MDT Print View

I owned a SD Nitro 15 regular and found the sizing to be great. I'm 5'5" for reference. Not sure if the nitro runs different from the bag your considering but I'd guess not.

Eileen Duncan
(eileensd) - MLife

Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area
EE quilt on 07/03/2012 18:18:57 MDT Print View

I just emailed Enlightened Equipment (Tim). Thanks so much for the suggestion. Now, I'll have to see if there's any way to rush an order. I'm leaving town to hit the trail on July 24.