Announcement Announcement Module
No announcement yet.
Military Sleep System sleeping bags Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
- Aug 2008
One source for group gear could be your state's federal surplus warehouse. I don't know if each state creates their own rules, but in NC BSA units can apply to get government surplus with a low "service charge." I saw lg. ALICE packs as low as $50 with frame, and sleeping bags cheap.
If I could just point out a few things about the US Army system:
First my back ground, Former US Army Airborne Ranger, 10 years active service..
Worked and managed an Outdoor Adventure Store selling outdoor equipment also for ten years.
Avid Outdoor camper, BSA, And outdoor instructor. and in the outdoors over 30 days sleeping a year. outside of the BSA.
Now, the bags. I have used the old military feather systems while serving.= SUCK! Never been more cold..
Have also used the newer Black and OD with G-Tex Woodland Cover sacks. Better, but very heavy..
And have tested the newer Foliage 3 layer Army system, light weight, but expensive.
What I use after all of these years is a European system with the same design, and lighter weight, more compact, and very warm.
The system you use depends on more then winter and summer. You have to also think humidity and climate. Example. In Central Europe where I live, Swiss Alps. It's very humid. So I don't use down. Yes it's nice and light weight, but it also looses up to 30% of it's ability to keep you warm when it's wet. So I use synthetic bags. If I lived in a dryer climate, then I would use Down. or a mix of down and synthetic.
Example: The brand I use sold their Extreme Cold Weather System ECC bags to the Indian Army. Now what many people don't realize is that most of the Indian Army is stationed on the northern border in the Hymalayas. Very dry climate. But due to that they're also using their bags south where it's also humid along the rivers and valleys, in mixed climates. They use a 1000 gram down inner bag, and a 1000 gram outer synthetic bag together at -50C. These bags are made for it. So to get the best out of a system it depends on the climate your using it in. If you use your bags in Philmont and Washington State then a dual system would be better. How it works. The Synthetic outer bag absorbs the humidity from the inner down bag and allowing the inner bag to stay dryer. evacuating the humidity to the outside. The dual synthetic bags does the same thing. I use my summer bag inside and winter bag outside giving me a -40C comfort rating. The company i use makes bags for most of the European Militaries, and many US military people also use them because they cost less, roomy inside, and are compact.
The company I use is Carnithia Sleeping Bags from Austria. You can google them to find their site. Their military bags are cheaper then their civilian line due to colors. OD Sells more due to the price is lower then the blues and reds. Works for me. I'm sleeping in the bags, not hunting in them.
Anyway, you can also do the same thing by just putting two bags together. I've done this before in the military due to a very cold Winter one year. I was an NCO in the field at Bragg when the temp dropped well below freezing. We only got one 5 ton to come to the range, so we loaded it up with our soldiers, and the NCOs stayed the night. I keep the bag of one of my men to double up my bag. We went off line, built a fire, and called it a night. Was a tight fit because the bags were the same size. but I stayed very warm and was very happy the next day. This was 1995, so I stayed with my discovery.
So Get yourselves a summer bag and a winter bag and just put them together.
Now G-Tex bivy bags: Unless your sleeping under the stars, then you don't really need to use them. I have used them under the stars and they work great. But are heavy and very expensive. I went another route, and bought a bag from a company that makes tents. I can use this bag as a bivy cover or long jacket. works great. very light weight, and half the price of a g-tex bag. breaths like g-tex too. never been wet in it, and it's 1/3d the size when folded of a g-tex bag. and lighter in weight.
Hilleberg make that piece of great kit.
Another thing I never do, and that is wash a bag. And I camp over 30 days a year. I turn them inside out, and let them sit in the sun for a couple of hours. That does the trick. I also store them in a large pillow case folded not rolled. This keeps them lofty, and doesn't allow the material inside to crease. You wash a bag the temp rating goes down hill each washing from 10-15% the first wash. Again i have been using my bags for 5 years now. Still going strong. And never wash a down bag. you might as well throw it in the trash afterwards. looses 30% first washing.
Now one last bit of information.
When buying a bag pay a attention to the material inside. If you need a synthetic bag then check if the brand makes it's own material. Most bag companies buy their synthetic material from other companies. They compress the filling into sheets using glues. They ship it in boxes. The company gets the sheet of filling, and then adds a chemical to un-compress it. They material looses it's ability to keep you warm due to this act. But the information you get it from the filling before this is done. So find companies that produce this filling themselves. I know that Mammuth/Ajungulak "Same company now" makes their own fillings, but not sure about US companies. but beware.
Please don't take me as a jerk by saying all of this. Just trying to give good advice about something I know about to good people who have given advice too me.
Our kids like the system, they think it's cool to have Army bags.
In cold weather (for us that would be over nights in the teens) we loan a second bag to use as a over quilt. This along with a decent pad which costs about $25 seems to work.
I can appreciate top quality gear, I own a Feathered Friends Swallow 20 degree, Marmot 0 degree, and a MontBell 40 degree bag, all top quality down bags and very expensive, probably close to $1,000 total.
For our Scouts, the fact that we have any bags to loan, at no cost to them, is a blessing. Several of our boys can't afford the cost of summer camp, much less an expensive bag. We've found the military bags are a great improvement over the $30 Coleman bags sold at the local big box.
Eagle 732 I know what you mean. I was brought up in a simmular Troop in Louisiana. My dad formed the Troop and got donations from everyone to buy us all uniforms. And rented a Lodge for us. We had NO KIT. And I mean none. I remember having only a surplus US Army wool blanket to use camping. I'm not saying to buy something more expensive. In fact I am now in a Troop with mostly well off kids. So other side of the tracks from myself even. I think that a Troop that can do what yours does is better for the boys then one I'm with. We supply all of the Patrol kit, and tents for the Troop. And no fundraising is done. But I'm hoping to correct this problem. I am also the QM for the Troop. Anyway, I think that people should use what they can get. I at the moment am unemployed, and the kit I have I have to make due with.
If the boys aren't hiking the kit around, then heavy Surplus bags work. I wish I had a place to get Surplus US Army bags over here. Switzerland: Anyway, I was just trying to help educate, and not come across negative. Sorry if I did come across badly. Wasn't my intent.
Didn't mean to imply that you were coming across badly. Your service is commendable and appreciated! It's great that you are willing to share your experiences with others.
We were fortunate enough to have connections that got us two dozen of these bags. I think others could probably make some phone calls and procure them if needed. Most of the boys with means buy there own bag, but many, including those that have little use the military bags successfully. They have held up well. Yes they are on the heavy side but they are Scout proof!