Advice on the best lightweight sleeping bag for backpacking.

natylka

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Dec 29, 2014
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I had a synthetic North Face sleeping bag before but it took up too much space in my Osprey 65 liter backpack when I went backpacking. I would like to invest in a down sleeping bag that will keep me warm for under $400. Any ideas?
 

steve

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warm at what temperatures? Do you like a snug fit or a more roomy fit? (Roomier will be colder)

I consider western mountaineering and feathered friend bags the best, though there are tons of other great options. Get the one that's the fit and temp rating you're looking for. If properly taken care of, these bags should last 20-30 years.


zpacks also makes an incredibly light and warm bag, but it doesn't have a hood. It's considered a quilt.
 
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Mullet

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I second the opinion of Western Mountaineering. Although they are very spendy you will never have to purchase another sleeping bag ever ( if you take care of it)
 

Bob

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I have used a Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 15 synthetic for the last 7 years. It stuffs into about a 8x8 cube. I like the syn's because I am a lot of places were getting a down one wet would not be fun. Temp ratings are the biggest variable, what is warm for one person is cold for another. There has been an attempt to normalize the ratings but they are still relative to the person 'cold factor'. I get chilled in mine pretty close to the 15 degree rating. Add a silk liner, then thermals as well and you can use a little lighter bag or take one a to a lower temp. Western Mt and Feathered Friends do make a good bag though.
 

Joey

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I have a few Western Mountaineering bags. If I were to pick one brand specific to gear to live by, I would say Western Mountaineering. You really won't need to buy another bag, unless you start getting into multiple bags for different ratings. They are expensive, but well worth it.

I don't use Feathered Friends, but they are definitely in the same group as Western Mountaineering. I know a handful of people who swear by them.

North Face's temperature ratings used to be a complete joke. I'm not sure if they have improved at all. The biggest issues are both about temp ratings. One is whether the bag your buying is really going to keep you warm at the retailer's suggested temp rating. The other is whether your a cold or warm sleeper.
 

natylka

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Dec 29, 2014
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warm at what temperatures? Do you like a snug fit or a more roomy fit? (Roomier will be colder)

I consider western mountaineering and feathered friend bags the best, though there are tons of other great options. Get the one that's the fit and temp rating you're looking for. If properly taken care of, these bags should last 20-30 years.


zpacks also makes an incredibly light and warm bag, but it doesn't have a hood. It's considered a quilt.
I'm not that great of taking care of my stuff. But I would like get at 0 degrees and snug fit.
 

Parma

@parma26
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Feb 12, 2014
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I recently got the North Face Blue Kazoo down sleeping bag. It's rated at 15°, and is $279 at many websites, I happen to get mine via Dicks.com:
http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=30831106
or the women's version: http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=30831146
it's also at Scheels here in Utah
I haven't used it outside yet. But I will the first weekend of February. I can let you know how it does.
it weighs about 2.5 lbs and North Face uses "water resistant 650 ProDown"
 

Bob

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Blue Kazoo and Cats Meow have been around forever and are decent.
Don't know if you have checked but backcountry.com has pretty good info and is local to SLC
 

WasatchWill

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Looks like WM and Feathered Friends have a lot of love here. I've seen some rave reviews on the Marmot Plasma as well.

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk
 

Vegan.Hiker

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I use the same sleeping bag as @Bob except the 32 degree version... Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 32. I don't use down (not vegan) and this is the lightest synthetic sleeping bag I could find (1 lb 11oz) and it's highly compressible. I bring a fleece liner along if it's gonna drop below 32. You could also just get the 15 degree version that Bob has but not sure what it weighs. I think I paid $190 for it.
 

Bob

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My UL15 weighs about 2lb 8oz.... Only thing I really don't care for is the two half zippers instead of one full zipper. It's tapered as well so if a mummy bag isn't your thing you won't like it.
 

John Goering

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The North Face High Tail 3S is exactly 2lbs for the regular, 1 lb 14 oz for the short, and 2 lbs 2 oz for the long. I have the regular. With a compression bag, it packs really small. And those glow in the dark zipper pulls are really nice.
 

steve

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Dec 11, 2013
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Keep in mind that a 0* bag is for 0* Fahrenheit. We all know that bag ratings are typically quite optimistic, but the better bags are typically pretty accurate with their temp ratings.. Unless you're regularly camping in temperatures below 15*, I'm thinking a 0* bag may be too warm for you, especially in the summer. I have a 30* bag for March-Oct camping and it's fine for me. I have heavier bags for winter, but if you're mainly above 30* when you're camping, you probably don't want the weight, bulk, and cost of a good 0* bag.
 

Nick

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What Steve said. Lugging around a 0˚ all year long would suck. I use 32˚ for most of the year. Also keep in mind that a woman's bag generally has more insulation at the same temp rating as a men's bag. For example, a women's 20˚ is actually warmer than a men's 20˚. This is because they assume women generally sleep colder and need more insulation. We found this out the hard way when I bought my wife a men's 15˚ bag because it fit her better. She was super cold all the time and now she uses a 5˚ down bag on most trips. She also runs really cold though.
 

steve

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@Tess and I have the following bags (plus others that aren't worth mentioning). Here are my thoughts on them. We've stuck to the slim fitting WM bags because I get cold in a giant bag, regardless of its rating. I sleep cold and to me, most WM's ratings are spot on. For colder temps, I usually buy a longer bag so I can pull my head inside. I know that's a big no-no, but I do it anyway.

WM highlight (35*, 0.9 lbs)
SUPER light, slim fit. No collar. It only has a half-zip, which my wife didn't like, so we're selling it to @Miss Buffalo. This is a slim, warm bag that packs down TINY. It's warm enough down to 30* and possibly lower with good layering. No continuous baffles to shift the down around, but that doesn't bother me. I love the weight, small size, and fit. The half zip can be annoying on super super hot nights where you want to unzip it even more. This is one of the cheapest WM bags, so if the half-zip doesn't bother you, it's probably your best bet.

WM summerlite (32*, 1.2 lbs)
This was my main bag 'till I got the Enlightened Equipment quilt. Super light, fairly warm, comfy. No collar, has continuous baffles that you can shift down around with. I can't comfortably go much colder than 30* in this one due to the lack of a collar. Slim fit, super light, and can be completely zipped open on hot summer nights.

WM megalite (30*, 1.5 lbs)
I absolutely love this bag, but it was a little wider cut than I prefer, so I bought the summerlite and gave this to @Tess . This bag is very similar to the summerlite, but it has a half collar and a bigger cut. @Tess loves this bag even though she's a lot smaller than me. We have both used it down to 20* with good layering and it was fine. I even took it down to 10* with a good warm baselayer and I was plenty warm. You can't go wrong with this bag if the cut is good for you. It's a bit roomier than the summerlight, but not tons. The collar is what allows it to go so much colder than the summerlite.

WM apache (15*, 2lb)
This bag is too hot for most backpacking. If it's going to get down below 25*, I'll consider taking this, or maybe a summer bag with a better warm layer while sleeping. This bag is toasty! Continuous baffles, full collar, and lots and lots of loft. I've had it down to 15* and it was just fine and toasty. This is my favorite late fall, winter, and early spring bag.

Marmot Coloir (0*, 3.7 lbs)
Super puffy, but cut too big for our bodies. Quite warm provided you fill the extra space. Not built nearly as well as a WM bag. Zippers suck. Threads are scratchy. Super big cut, so I need to stuff my bag full of extra clothes to take up extra room. I only use this when car camping because it's so big and heavy, and because the other bags work better for backpacking. I've been warm down to -7* F in this bag with proper layering.

Enlightened Equipment Enigma (25*, stupid light. I'm guessing ~ 0.8 lbs) I need to weigh it.
This is a quilt (no zipper, no back). I use this for 95% of my backpacking trips. I think the 25* rating is a little optimistic, though it's definitely warm down to 30*. I absolutely love sleeping in a quilt, provided it doesn't get below 30* at night. Vertical baffles are cool and I prefer them over horizontal baffles. Awesome company to deal with, awesome customization options. This thing saw a good 50 nights this year. I don't usually recommend a quilt as someone's first bag, so this might be a better option after a couple years when you're ready to venture into the UL world a bit.
 

Joey

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WM apache (15*, 2lb)
This bag is too hot for most backpacking. If it's going to get down below 25*, I'll consider taking this, or maybe a summer bag with a better warm layer while sleeping. This bag is toasty! Continuous baffles, full collar, and lots and lots of loft. I've had it down to 15* and it was just fine and toasty. This is my favorite late fall, winter, and early spring bag.
This is the bag I use most of the year. From late spring through fall, I'm up in the northern Rockies, where its cooler. If it gets to warm, I sleep with the bag open. Its still comfortable with all the down. I'm a very cold sleeper, so I like having extra warmth available. I've had this sleeping bag since 2009, use it regularly, and nave no problems with it.

My other main bag is the Western Mountaineering Antelope, which is rated down to 5 degrees. That would be way to much for a summer bag, especially around Utah.
 

Bob

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That's why I went with a 15 degree one.....decent unless really cold and not bad in summer up high or in the desert.
 

DrNed

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Let me offer a different perspective . . . I outfitted my family a few years ago and at that time I wasn't sure if the rest of the family was going to stick with it, so I got 6 relatively inexpensive (~$80) backpacking bags - SlumberJack is the brand and they're rated to 20 degrees and weigh just under 3lbs. I've used them in April, June, July, August and September at elevation and early March in the desert.

Summer and Fall were perfect. Spring at elevation was a little cooler than like so I got a fleece liner that I used when I took it to Moab in March with overnight temps in the 20's and again was perfectly comfortable.

In my opinion you'll keep a lot warmer by getting the best pad you can and then get the bag with whatever is left in your budget. If you've got a $400 bag and there's nothing between you and the ground, you're more likely to be cold than with a high quality air mattress that keeps you 3" off the ground and a less than sleeping bag.

Temperature and comfort are highly personal metrics so your mileage may vary.
 
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