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Recommendation for a new sleeping bag
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Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Recommendation for a new sleeping bag on 03/20/2014 01:30:46 MDT Print View

Hey All

Wanted to get your input on recommendations for buying someone a new sleeping bag for a birthday present. I am looking at getting my girlfriend a new bag for this summer. She has done a bit of backpacking, but only has a very large, heavy and bulky -10 degree bag, that she says it is often much too warm. I am slowly turning her onto the lightweight stuff, but dont want to push it too hard. I was thinking a quilt, but dunno if she would like it, so probably gonna stick with the traditional mummy bag style. I am looking for a good bag that is a compromise of warmth and lightweight. probably a 15 or 20 degree bag. Any recommendations??


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Recommendation for a new sleeping bag on 03/20/2014 01:40:34 MDT Print View

Whatever model you decide on, make sure that you get it correct for right zip or left zip, probably the opposite of yours.


Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Left or Right zip on 03/20/2014 02:44:22 MDT Print View

I have always wondered why L or R zip is such a issue. I have had different bags with zippers on either side and it has never really made a difference to me, I dont even really notice. IS there any relevant reason for one over the other?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Recommendation for a new sleeping bag on 03/20/2014 03:42:30 MDT Print View

Hi Dan, Yeah, get a down bag, the same as what you have, only opposite zip.
While there are a few people out there that find mummy bags a bit confining for couples, the wife and I have been going out for 35 or so years using zipped together bags. If it is too warm, like 40F or more, we just lay one over us and sleep on the other. You can easily extend a bags warmth by 10-15F by zipping them up and sharing body warmth. We were often out in October with summer bags.

A sleeping system is one of those systems that must function on longish trips. You must have some sort of cover against rain and the elements. In spring and on warm summer nights, bug protection is needed. A good pad also lets you sleep fairly comfortably. The wife found foam pads inadequate. She instantly fell in love with the old NeoAir. In the ADK's, it is easy to find softer fabric soils or duff. Combined, a 3/4" pad and about 6" of duff kept her hips happy before inflatables. We were never comfortable in lean-to's and on platforms so we used to avoid them.

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
zipping bags on 03/20/2014 04:51:31 MDT Print View

Are you saying to get bags that have opposite zippers so that they can be zipped together? If thats the case, I use a I dont think that will work too well...

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
bag recommendations on 03/20/2014 04:56:34 MDT Print View

I was more looking for input on which bag is a good one. I was maybe thinking something from Montbell?

Edited by highsierraguy on 03/20/2014 04:57:18 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
New Sleeping Bag on 03/20/2014 06:05:12 MDT Print View

The Montbell bags are really comfortable - they have some stretch built into them so they flex around you as you move while sleeping. They also make it really easy to pick the right bag because they're organized into down versus synthetic and then by temperature rating. I sleep warm and have found their bags to be comfortable a little below the rating, but my wife is on the other side. For your girlfriend I'd probably get a bag rated 10 degrees below what you think you'll need.

As for the left or right zip...I usually buy my bags in pairs with opposite zippers. If I'm out with my wife we can zip them together (yes - you can do this with mummy bags). It's also nicer to have my zipper facing her even if we don't zip them together because it makes it easier for me to reach over and, for example, pull her hat back down for her.

The other reason opposite zippers are nice shows itself when I'm backpacking with another person (not my wife) and we're sharing a tent. I have a Lunar Duo which has doors on each side. In this case we arrange the sleeping bags so that the zippers face away from each other - towards the door. It makes it much easier to get in and out of the sleeping bag because you can go from the door straight into your bag rather than having to crawl into the tent completely to enter your bag.

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
sleeping bags on 03/20/2014 06:40:52 MDT Print View

Are there any sleeping bags besdies Montbell, that anyone would recommend?

Looking at Montbell, it seems there are a lot of choices. Opnions between the 650, 800 and 900?

bayden cline
(pyro_) - F

Locale: Ontario Canada
Zpacks on 03/20/2014 06:41:41 MDT Print View

I have been happy with my zpacks bag and am going to be ordering another one shortly

Jeremy Mader
(JeremyNoVa) - M

Locale: NoVa
bags on 03/20/2014 06:53:57 MDT Print View

Dan, I think it depends on how much money you want to spend. There's a ton of good ones out there.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: sleeping bags on 03/20/2014 10:22:28 MDT Print View

Western Mountaineering is the gold standard. They have a lot of different bags, but you are going to pay a chunk for them. Montbell makes a good bag also. I've seen Marmot Heliums on sale lately and those also get good reviews.


Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: sleeping bags on 03/20/2014 10:39:27 MDT Print View

"Are there any sleeping bags besdies Montbell, that anyone would recommend?"

Another +1 for zpacks - a nice hybrid between a quilt and a bag, plus very light.

At least look at western mountaineering - pretty much the gold standard - to get a baseline. (LOL, I didn;t see Ryan's post before I wrote this. So you have heard it twice now - it MUST be true).

Both are expensive, as are most down bags. But these are one item that could last a very long time if taken care of.

The marmot helium (15F) is my favorite bag, partly for sentimental reasons. The one I have is around 2 lbs. Women are supposed to sleep colder so if you are unsure go a bit warmer. There is more of a chance you might find one of those used on here, or somewhere at a discount. Still, a major buy. A regular bag (not zpacks) will be warmer and easier to use in the coldest weather without additional knowledge/techniques, so that is something to think about.

I feel like the advice to look for matching sleeping bags is a bit of much (as well as expensive) when you are just trying to find something she will like, and if you already have one YOU like. In some cultures that is tantamount to a marriage proposal, so be careful. ;-)

Edited by millonas on 03/20/2014 10:56:48 MDT.

Rob P
(rpjr) - M
Re: Left or Right zip on 03/20/2014 11:00:33 MDT Print View


Sometimes it depends on your shelter. I used to have a Hilleberg Soulo, and that tent was much better with a quilt or a right zip bag. (and much better with a 6-0 bag, not a 6-6 bag).

You could use a left zip if you needed to, but in that shelter, right zip was much better.

It had to do with the door design. If you put your bag in so the door was on your right, the T shaped door on that side had a nylon backing and a screen backing, and both could be zipped or unzipped. If you put your bag in so that the door was on your left, there was no screen….you only had the nylon.

If you had a left zip bag and still had the door to your right…well, it was doable but not exactly comfortable.

I also have a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1. That tent is better with a left zip bag. The head is wider than the foot which puts the only door on your left. You can use a right zip bag, but it's just more difficult.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
women on 03/20/2014 11:16:11 MDT Print View

for women

unless the bag is en-COMFORT rating to the temp you want ... be sure to add 10F or so to the rating as most women sleep colder to men ... and many non-specific gender bags are advertised to the MENS rating


Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Feathered Friends on 03/20/2014 12:28:27 MDT Print View

Feathered Friends makes light, very high quality women-specific bags.

I have an overstuffed Hummingbird UL 20 and love the thing.

Edited by milesbarger on 03/20/2014 12:29:16 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Sleeping Bags FOR WOMEN on 03/20/2014 13:58:56 MDT Print View

I'm a bit surprised that no women have joined this thread -- so I'll step up.

Eric Chan got it 100% right -- most women sleep colder than men (hence the EN Comfort norms for women, that are 10F-15F different from the men's ratings). You probably already know whether your GF is a colder sleeper than you, so that you can buy accordingly.

As a general rule, I prefer women-specific bags for a couple of reasons:
1. They are usually cut a little narrower in the shoulders and a little wider in the hips (to match our physique); and
2. Many of them add a little extra insulation over the torso and foot areas (where we tend to get coldest).

That said, beware of the putative temperature ratings on women's bags -- my Women's Marmot Helium 15 is "actually" rated to 29F (NOT 15) for the women's EN comfort norm. I can tell you it's true after being a bit cold in 24F weather in that bag.

Depending on what temperature ranges she'll be backpacking in -- be sure to read the Women's EN ratings carefully. Apart from that, there's the usual compromise between price, quality, and weight, because you just can't "have it all" in life! ;^)

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Sleeping Bags FOR WOMEN on 03/20/2014 19:54:35 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the great insite. I think I am gonna look into a Western Mountaineering or Montbell bag. DO either of these make women specific bags? I was looking on their websites and didnt see anything about women specific bags.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Sleeping Bags FOR WOMEN on 03/21/2014 10:49:10 MDT Print View


Neither MontBell nor WM make women-specific bags. Personally, I found Montbell bags to be especially cold for their rating (I bought one, but sold it because I didn't think it would be warm enough). I have one WM bag, and I find it to be much more true-to-rating. Feathered Friends makes women-specific bags, and many people would probably agree that Feathered Friends is in the same "elite" manufacturer category as WM.

BTW, there happens to be a really sweet Women's Marmot Phantasia 15F on eBay right now. They are very nice bags (I am not the seller, nor do I know the seller -- I just thought I'd let you know).

Lonna Myers
Re: Sleeping Bags FOR WOMEN on 03/22/2014 21:44:50 MDT Print View

I have a ZPacks 20* sleeping bag that I use as a quilt for three season backpacking. I also have the Western Mountaineering Versalite(10*) that I use in colder weather. Neither are women specific and I am a cold sleeper. I love them both!

Brian Reyman

Locale: Rocky Mountains
+1 to WM and Montbell on 03/23/2014 07:14:21 MDT Print View

If money is no object, I agree with other posters. If she doesn't mind a bit more of a mummy feel, I can't recommend Western Mountaineering highly enough. If she needs/would like the extra room, Montbell rocks - there isn't another sleeping bag even close to the same roomy feel. They are 10-15 degrees off for most, though, so get one a bit warmer than the estimated low temps. I have the Montbell UL SS #1 and it's my favorite bag when I'm not using a quilt (I really like/need the extra room).

Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends are both rated fairly accurately.