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Winter Sleeping Bag Opinions

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Hi everybody,


I haven't found a forum rules and policies page so I am not sure if this is something that can be asked or not. I assume it can, so please read on.


This past weekend we got back from our first winter campout and I got the pleasure of sleeping in a bag that was rated for 35 and it got down to the low 20's. Anyway, I have learned a lot today reading here and some other backpacking forums in regards how to get warmer.


One of the first things I want to do is get a warmer bag. I am currently considering the BackSide X-fiber -15 or 0 degree bags. I also saw a -40 on ebay that looks interesting. Question is, will these be too warm when it only gets to say 30 degrees or, maybe mid 20's? I would think I could open the bag up and vent a bit to regulate the temperature. These are mummy bags and the backside brand was given some good recommendations in the backpacking forum, but I hesitate to ask their as I am just a scout and no where near backpacking denali etc.


So, have any of you used a Backside bag? These are really inexpensive bags and have a lot of features that typically are found in $300 bags.




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Hi GT: Not knowing where you're located or what you do in the winter, but I'd have to think twice about buying something rated below 0 - are you sure you're going to be out there? Would tend to stay away from down; don't know for certain but it seems like too much of a special-purpose unit and somewhat fragile. Recently have seen some pretty good deals in the Campmor catalog on Slumberjack and a couple of others, much less expensive than I would have imagined. Recently acquired an inexpensive fleece liner that makes all the difference as well, although would appreciate it being longer than 60"

One last thought: my last bag (Slumberjack) was sized properly on paper but just too snug - perhaps my maturing physique to some degree but claustrophobic regardless. Went to the next length up (6'4" and I'm 6') and made all of the difference - now when I zip up the hood my feet aren't driven into the bottom of the bag and I've got a bit of room to squirm. Campmor exchanged it without a question even after I'd used it once.

Your mileage may vary!

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Have not used the bags in questions. But I can tell you what we have.

I have a slumberjack -20 big timber BIG bag, this is not a mummy bag, it is huge, it weighs over 6 pounds, it is rated for a 7 foot person. I am 6'4". I have used it 0 degrees and stayed warm. But it would be nice to have a hood on it. If we where to camp below zero, I would use this bag and put a summer bag in it. I have not found a fleece liner that will fit me, yet.

Going camping this weekend weather is calling for 12 degrees, I will have an extra bag with me, well actually I will have about 4 extra bags with me, just in case, someone needs one.

My son has a Coleman 0 degree Coleman mummy bag purchased at walmart for 40 bucks, he says he has never gotten cold in it. He has had it for 4 years, but has only used it about 10 times, I had the same bag but sized for 6'4" used it once and returned it, to small.

I purchased 2 LaFuma bags this summer for my son and I, they are rated at 23 degrees, these are lightweight bags, we use for high adventures, got down to 35 degrees one night and I was a little chilly with it. I got these at Gaylans, for 50 bucks each, plus if you have your scout card you get 10% off.

My rule is thumb is to take 20 degrees off of the bag, to keep yourself warm.

But my first 2 years with scouts, I used a 30 degree bag inside an old 40 degree bag and stayed really warm at 10 degrees, actually a little to warm, I was sweating.

I think you could probably get away with using a little cheaper bag, Like the slumberjack, I have had mine for 2 years and have used it maybe 5 times. Unless you are going to backpack with it, than you will want to go with a lighter more expensive bag.

Remember to keep your bags unrolled and uncompressed when not being used.

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My first sleeping bags when I was a Scout were about a waste of time. When it started to look like I might stay in, my parents bought me a down filled Icelantic bag. I had heard that Sir Edmund Hillary had used it. I still have it and do use it in the summer. I remember it was for the time a lot of money. Something like 35 pounds uk.(about $58.00) That was in the late 60s or early 70s. I did try a coleman mummy bag with a synthetic fill. It was ok for the fall but I ended up giving it to my son.I bought it at a coleman outlet store and remember that it wasn't very expensive.

I now use a Northface Cat's Meow. which is great. A little bit expensive I got mine at a store that was closing and had a 50% off sale and still paid $95.00 I think the real price is about $160.00.

I am one of those "cold people" and do not like being cold. But I am also very frugal. So much so that some people think that I'm cheap.

I think anything over $200.00 is too much.

Northface has the Blue Kazoo which is nice at around the $200.00 also the Marmot Pinnacle is really good but it is nearly $300.00.

You need to look at how much you are going to use this before you lay out this sort of cash.

One thing that really hurts a sleeping bag is dirt. You do need to keep it clean. Alot of the new Dryloft filled bags wash up well. Something that the Down filled bags don't.

EMS has a bag that is rated at 15o that comes with a fleece lined stuff sack which you can turn inside out fill with soft stuff and use as a pillow. It sells for about $170.00.

Welcome to the forums. We are not big on rules. Well some more then others (Duck!!) Please feel free to ask away. We do try to act like we are Scouts.


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Welcome to the campfire. Only rules that I know of are the 12 points of the Law.


I use a oversize Slumberjack bag rated to 0 deg. The size is important to me at 6'6" and 250. This bag is large enough for me to move around in it without having to keep track of the zipper.


Almost as important as the bag you get is the pad or pads you use underneath it. I use a full length Thermorest that fills up to an inch thick. On really cold overnights I will put a closed cell pad under the thermorest. Have always slept good and warm. My bag has a hood with it but tends to be too thin for cold weather, but works well if I wear a mid weight balaclava at night. This not only keeps my head warm but helps me keep my face out of the bag. (prevents putting excess moisture from your breath into the fabric of the bag)



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You need to consider that the temperature ratings for bags are at best subjective, and that your comfort level may, or may not fall within the stated range of this bag. You really won't know until you get it out in the field. So spend a little time testing it the backyard, this way you can always bail out without jeopardizing your safety.

Remember, a sleeping bag, especially a winter bag is more than a warm place to snuggle into at day's end. It's your last line of defence against hypothermia.

So shop carefully, ask questions, and be very careful of hype.

As a sidenote, take a look at Sierra Trading Post, they've got a very nice North Face rated at 20 deg (remember, subjective) for 80 bucks.




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Just one recommendation. I've found that slumberjack has a tendancy of over-rating their bags. The 0 degree bag I bought was really more of a 20-32 degree bag. I don't know that this is true of all their bags but it was in my case and I've read a few reviews that mention the same thing.


Check around at department stores for clearances. I'm in the Air Force and one day while browsing the base exchange I noticed they had TNF 0 degree bags they had purchased but couldn't sell. I researched the model and found they were pretty good bags that sold for $89-$165 depending on where you bought them. I got 20 of them for our troop for $19 each.

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To reiterate what la Voyageur stated, sleeping bag temperature ratings don't really mean anything. They carry as much weight as "natural" in the food business. It sounds nice but it is an unregulated term and means nothing.


The "try it in the backyard first" is a great idea. Better find out it doesn't cut the mustard at home that some remote back woods.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I have can attest to le Voyageur and acco's statements that the ratings of sleeping bags don't necessarily apply to everyone. Like Eamonn, I can't stand being cold. And maybe I'm just a little abnormal in my exceptional ability to freeze my butt off, but my NorthFace blue kazoo mummy bag does not cut it for me... maybe in the summer, but when we went backpacking in the NJ Pine Barrens in October, a weekend when the weather was in the upper seventies during the day, and (to normal people ) considerably warm at night for the season, I still froze. Then camping in Gettysburg I shoved the mummy bag inside a fluffy L.L. Bean sleeping bag (I'm not sure of the rating, as it's a fairly old sleeping bag that I've had since I as a young'un), and I was still cold. It took both sleeping bags and a fleece blanket to get me warm enough to sleep comfortably.


As I said, I could just be a mutant cold-blooded freak, but ratings are a rough estimate, basically, and you should keep in mind your natural body thermometer when looking for a sleeping bag. If you get cold easily, go for the lower-degree rating, if you can sweat in 40 degree weather... I'd say no need to go all out and get that -15 bag

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Thanks for the replies. I thought I filled out my location info.


I'm in Texas! Just North of Austin.... so, no I'm not getting snow much nor sleep in it...yet. But, since I was cold...and I like being prepared, I figured I would get something warm. I have read on other forums to take about 20 off a rating, and I was thinking that if it was too warm, I could also open it up and vent. So a 0 degree is good, maybe a -15 would work also. Next week I am driving up to Kansas and Colorado, I wouldn't mind having a warm bag just in case...


I too read about slumberjack and read some reviews on 1 or two. I saw a lot of praise on the Backend and since it is around $100 I am still considering it as well. It is synethetic and I like that if it does get wet, it will still be warm. I too am 6'4" and need a larger bag. The bags I mentioned are all long bags and have a good width as well.


As someone mentioned, I think our air mattress didn't help us stay warm, although it has a velvety top, it did have all that cold air in it. Also, we did luckily have an extra sleeping bag, although it was a summer bag.


Thanks for the suggestions. GTeagle

(This message has been edited by GTEagle)

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Another method of helping your sleeping bag out is to consider layering, just as you would do with clothing.

Consider a base layer (such as Smart Wool), a middle layer (fleece, including a tuque for the head) with the bag serving as the shell.

Also, using a simple nylon liner within the bag will keep condensation down and out of the loft.

Wind blocking to prevent wicking, covering one's ground pad with an e blanket, plus a good meal, some additional hydration and an empty bladder will round out the ticket...

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I have heard of the fleece lines and that would probably work out great for my son who doesn't like the synthetic insides of a sleeping bag.


Before we left I looked high and low for my fleece balaclava and couldn't find it. Boy was I really missing that. I did have an head band that covered my ears, but I was really wanted that fleece mask.


Anyway, thanks. GTeagle

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