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I would like to see some input from you all about sleeping bags. What you have, have used, recommendations, etc.


From my experience, most Scouts tend to get inexpensive bags rated down to maybe 40F. Generally from discount stores that generally don't sell very high quality bags. That doesn't mean that some of those bags will serve reasonably well under many conditions. In our area, for about 9 months of the year, a 40F bag will work fine. In fact, in the summer, many of us just sleep in shorts and t-shirts on top of our sleeping bags.


But, for a few months, the temperatures can change frequently and at times drastically, sometimes in a very short time. I have seen it go from 70F at dusk to the lower 40s by late evening. I have gone to sleep on top of my bag in shorts, to wake up at 0200 to a freezing rain.


I own several sleeping bags. One is rated to 0F, a couple to 20F, and then some others.


What we recommend to our Scouts, if money is an issue, it to get a bag rated to 40F, AND an inexpensive fleece sleeping bag, that when inserted into a regular sleeping bag, can give you another 10 to 20 degrees. Works for me anyway. And the fleece is comfortable, soft and warm, and most of those bags can be unzipped and double as a camp blanket. We also advise them to stay away from bags with the insulation baffles that are sewn clear through - makes for cold spots.


Personally, I don't like mummy bags. They are too restricting, and it seems that I get cold in them - especially my feet, and the hood is just uncomfortable, and I always seem to wake up with it twisted side-ways covering my face. My 0F bag is a mummy and I really don't use it much - It is a Camp 7. One of my bags is a modified mummy. Rated to 35F - not too bad. But I prefer retangular bags. My favorite is rated to 40F and is very comfortable.


A friend of mine, recently tried a very lightweight down bag, I think it was like 1 1/2 lb, and when the temperature dropped to near freezing, out came the retangular bag. From my expience, those extreme, high-end lightweight bags will not keep you warm. I have one Coleman bag rated to 20F, but it is so bulky, that I only use it in cold weather, when we can drive to our campsite. But it is very warm (flannel lined) and comfortable.


For sleeping pads, I normally use a low cot - if I can, with a closed cell foam pad on the bottom and an self-inflating foam pad on top of that, then the sleeping bag. - If I can't use a cot, I just place to the two pads on the tent floor.


BTW - adding a lightweight tarp, INSIDE, the tent, on top of a sewn in tent floor, can provide a bit more insulation from the ground, and when the tent leaks - never seen one that hasn't, most of the moisture goes between the addiional tarp and the tent floor. For backpacking, you can use a lightweight piece of plastic sheeting instead of a tarp inside the tent.


I hate getting out of a sleeping bag when it is cold. One thing I find has helped is to select clothes I am going to wear the next morning, roll them up and put them in the foot of the sleeping bag (usually pants, socks, and a clean t-shirt, and longsleeved shirt). That way they are not freezing cold and it is much easier to put them on. I usualy wear sweat shirt and sweat pants, clean dry socks, and a knit cap in my sleeping bag when it is cold out. Works for me. Some say to wear as little as possible in a sleeping bag, but I get cold doing that. I say whatever works for you, works for you. Don't you just love it when someone tells you "Aw it ain't cold." If I am cold, I am cold and no one is going to convince me that I am not. Everyone has different temperature tolerances.


The foot gear you worn during the day will be wet from perspiration. I recommend, taking them off, and wearing moccasins or sneakers before bed - giving the boots a chance to dry a bit. Wipe them out with a small towel and get them as dry as you can. Then, either stuff socks or towels in them when you go to bed or at least cover them. It helps.


What do you all do for sleeping bags and such?




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Coleman makes an excellent 32 degree poly bag in their Exponent line. We paid $35 for them on sale. Weighs maybe a pound, packs real small. We used them for our Northern Tiers trip this summer. Excellent bag down to the 50s. Any colder and you will need something else, or augment it. The zippers kinda stink, but other than that, its a pretty good bag.


I like down bags for backpacking (weight and pack size). I have a Big Agnes 15 degree down bag, 1.5 lbs. The bag has a pocket on the bottom that you slide the pad into so you never slide off the pad (Big Agnes makes the best inflatable pad too!). Really cool idea. With the pad and bag connected, I can roll around inside it without getting all tangled up or sleeping on the zipper. The bag always stays loft side up.


I can put the entire bag/pad inside the Coleman Exponent bag to give me a cold weather system.


I would rather do that than use my old -5 poly bag I've had since college. Sure its warm, but heavy, doesn't stuff small, and always too hot unless its really extreme out.


The fleece liners are pretty nice and cheap. Good for augmenting a cold bag. In my parts, they aren't enough to do it on their own though. I have a couple I keep in the truck for emergencies and when a scout gets cold on a campout.


Personally, I wouldn't recommend anyone getting anything thinner than a 32 degree bag. Keep in mind pack size and lean towards poly fill over down unless you are an experienced camper and know how to keep your bag dry.

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For around $40, you can purchase a 20 degree, 3 lb good-sized mummy bag from Alps Mountaineering, through Scoutdirect.com. These bags are very suitable for cooler weather backpacking trips. Quality is first-rate. For warm weather, use a Coolmax mummy insert - on top of the sleeping bag. If it cools off, slide into the bag.



We just purchased one for my son; he used it the past 2 weekends, with the lowest temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30's at night, and said he was always warm.


Owl62, if you want to see lightweight down bags that will keep you warm, check out Western Mountaineering. http://www.westernmountaineering.com/

They have a great reputation among hikers. Just be prepared for some sticker shock - they run around $250 - $350. One day, I will own one of these... :-)



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I ditched the rectangular bag for a muumy bag. I bought it at

Wal-Mart and paid around $30, rated to zero ddegress. Very warm, stuffs easily into a stuff sack with compression straps, lightweight and fairly small. My shoulders kept getting cold with the rectangular shaped bag. I sleep on the ground with a closed cell foam pad under me.



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got a Coleman Extreme 20 degrees F mummy (~$45) ... added a fleece liner ... stayed toasty warm in 17 degrees. My oldest has a Coleman Extreme 0 degrees (~ $55). My second son has 0 degrees down bag that I got off REI outlet for about $60. He has no complaint, but if I know that it's going to be a wet weekend, I usually let him have my Qualofil bag. Down doesn't dry very well. Fleece liner is great in Texas since it is used the more often than the bags!



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One thing I've found is that the rating for all bags is about 20 degrees too low (if you sleep in your skivvies). A 15 degree bag is good to about 35. A 32 degree bag is good to about 52.

Fleece sleeping cloths and liners bring it back to the rated temps though.


Also, quality bags last literally a lifetime if cared for (a scout is thrifty). My wife inherited a couple of Gerry down bags she used as a kid, 35 years old. My son still uses one of those bags. Our CC was bragging at a campout he had the oldest bag in the troop. Pulled out an identical Gerry bag.

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I guess I have 2 questions about some of the sleeping bags mentioned:

1. Are you doing much backpacking?

2. How much do these bags weigh?


For younger Scouts who plan on going backpacking, I would suggest strongly watching the weight on these bags. For an 80 lb. Scout to carry 25% of his weight, that gives him 20 lbs. Add up a 5 lb pack, 3 - 4 lbs for tent (carrying half) and a 5 lb sleeping bad, that doesn't leave much room for clothes, food, water and any other equipment. I tell our Webelos to ask several questions about any new camping equipment they want to purchase:

How much does it weigh?

How much room does it take up?

Does it have more than one use?

Is it a good value (compared to the next level of quality for price vs. weight/space)?


Gern - if those 32 degree bags are the Canyon 32, they weigh 2 lbs 11 oz.


Sounds like a good bag; I only mention this because it is hard to estimate the weight that closely on an individual item, but when they are loaded on a backpack, all those extra pounds add up.

I take my gear to the post office and weigh it on the scales they have in the lobby, and keep the info on a spreadsheet. There are some programs out there that allow you to store the weight info and calculates total weight as you change the equipment configuration. Fun to play with.


I agree on the degree ratings. I have an REI Thermopod 15, with Thermolite Extreme. At 28 degrees, I was getting chilly; at 15, I would probably be freezing! It weighs 3 lbs 10 oz in the stuff sack, which is a little heavy. I want to replace it with a Western Mountaineering down bag, which would knock off around 2 lbs. and be much more comfortable. I'll keep the REI synthetic bag for wet weather and caving - I don't think I want to take a down bag in those super-humid environments. My summer bag is a Sierra Designs Fast Bag (1 lb 9 oz, 45 degrees, Polarguard Delta) which packs very small.

The WM bags are reported (by users) to be most accurate in their ratings. There is a podcast interview with the owner and co-founder on their website, in which he discusses how to properly wash a down bag and extend its life. You have to get through the first part about the history of the company, but it is worth the time listening to it.

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Yeah Brent,

Its the Canyon 32 I'm referring to. For some reason I thought it weighed about 1.5 lbs, sure seems like it. For a poly bag, its pretty light. Packs about the size of a football.


I think all scouts should purchase equipment that could be used for backpacking primarily because that gear can also be used for car camping and extended camps too. You can't take car camping stuff backpacking. Teach the scouts to pack light and compact no matter the venue. If everything they need(personal gear) won't fit in a 5 gallon bucket, they are packing too much. Of course, compression sacks help compress extra clothes down to a manageable size.


Keep it simple.

Take for example mess kits. You can get the neat coleman nesting kit that has a bowl, plate, 2 pots, cup, fork, knife and spoon. Or you can get a plastic bowl and a spork (combo fork/spoon) and a insulated travel coffee cup. Scouts never need the full mess kit and will probably lose most of the pieces anyways. A bowl and spoon should be enough for every campout. I used a frisbee when I was scout. After dinner, a quick rinse and it was play time.


Of course it can all go too far too. When racing yachts offshore, our skipper would take our crew bags and go through each item. If you didn't need it for the race, it stayed on shore. We even cut down our tooth brushes to half size and drilled holes in them to minimize every gram. Amazing how many days you can spend on a boat with everything you own in a small grocery bag.

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I've got three North Face 20-degree synthetic fill bags -- got 'em overseas for a song about six years ago. Good for spring and fall in Korea, too cool for winter, and too hot for summer. Haven't used them at all in Hawaii.


Also have a few of the military OD green down-filled mummy bags, two cold weather, and one extreme cold weather. They're okay for most winter weather, but the extreme cold is very bulky, and if it gets wet, it's a 3-man lift.


I also have a couple of Coleman 40-degree cheapos, bought originally for sleepovers, but in Hawaii, we actually use them a lot for real camping. I used to monitor them for wear-tear until I could declare them unserviceable and replace them with something that has more outfitter cred, but the darn things are too sturdy -- I've given up and they'll be heirlooms passed to my grandkids, I guess.


My favorite bag is a military modular bag insert, light as a feather, tough as nails, and plenty of protection for Hawaii camping.


If it's a resident camp, I usually just use a cot and a poncho liner.



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For an easy, inexpensive, light entry-bag, I love my Slumberjack Denali Quest (40 degree). It's a little over 2 lbs and packs very small (thermalite insulation). Several of our scouts have bought it at my recommendation and love it as well. Sadly, this model isn't made anymore. I haven't found anything that I liked any more for the price (you could get it for about $40). While rated to 40 degrees, it could easily handle lower levels with a fleece liner. My son camped in a survival shelter this weekend with it and a fleece blanket (temps down in the 30s) and didn't get cold.


Slumberjack has some newer models that look similar but weigh a little more. I assume they are comparable products.


For cold weather I have my North Face 10 degree bag. (I don't camp any colder than that).



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Yeah, I forgot to mention the poncho liner!

I love mine. for those who don't know, the military ponco has grommets all around and snaps too. You could snap many together for a rain fly or wind screen. You can buy the poncho and poncho liner at surplus stores, or Brigade Quartermast, Ranger Joe's, etc. The liner has laces that line up with the grommets. Lay out the poncho, place the liner on top, tie it in, fold it over and snap the poncho closed. I've been warm and toasty in what Soldiers call the Field Expedient Sleeping Bag at 38 degrees, could probably be warm at colder temps. VERY LIGHT WEIGHT!!!!



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Yeah, I forgot to mention the poncho liner!

I love mine. for those who don't know, the military ponco has grommets all around and snaps too. You could snap many together for a rain fly or wind screen. You can buy the poncho and poncho liner at surplus stores, or Brigade Quartermaster, Ranger Joe's, etc. The liner has laces that line up with the grommets. Lay out the poncho, place the liner on top, tie it in, fold it over and snap the poncho closed. I've been warm and toasty in what Soldiers call the Field Expedient Sleeping Bag at 38 degrees, could probably be warm at colder temps. VERY LIGHT WEIGHT!!!!



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  • 5 months later...

Anyone out there have any experience with sleeping bags with built in sleeping pads?


I have see two different makes of this type of bag. One at Wal-Mart and another elewhere.


Seems like a good idea, but they seem bulky, maybe heavy, and I am not sure about what kind of pads are in them - open or closed cell?


We have a Scout's mom who discovered them and she thinks they are great.



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I would not purchase one. As you mentioned, if the pad is minimal enough that it does not cause extra bulk with the bag, then it must be a pretty wimpy pad. Also, I tend to roll, toss & turn when I sleep. I have been known to wake up with my bag hood over my face. If I did that in one of those bags, I would also end up sleeping on the hard, uninsulated, ground.


No thanks!



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