About | Blog | Forums | People | Free Newsletter
Trailspace is a product review site for outdoor enthusiasts. Use it to find and share great gear.

military sleeping bags

12:51 p.m. on December 20, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

I am new to backpacking and am looking for a sleeping bag to
use until I am sure this is the sport for me and mine. The
military bags are darn cheap at ebay and I thought maybe
I would try them. The only problem I see is that they are
bulky and heavy for backpacking. I am not as concerned about
this as I am their water retention characteristics and their
warmth. If you have experience with these please respond.

5:43 p.m. on December 20, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

Military sleeping bags - I wouldn't

The weight and bulk will likely be more of a concern than you may think it will be. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to force a sleeping bag to go into a smaller space than it wants to be in. My wife nearly ended up in tears on our first backpacking trip after her sleeping bag popped out of its (too small) bag for about the 100th time. A compression sack could help, but even stuffing a sleeping bag into a compression sack can be a pain sometimes.

You could always get one of the lighter military bags (not the "extreme cold" ones) that might not be so heavy and bulky. I for one, was never thrilled with the military bags, however. They never looked terribly well-made, but I haven't looked one over carefully in several years. Maybe things have changed.

Instead of buying a bag, you might want to rent one first. You don't say where you're from, but if you're near an REI, you can rent sleeing bags there. Many universities have outdoor recreation programs and will rent to non-students for a slightly higher fee. Then you'll have an idea of what you like and don't like about sleeping bags.

Finally, there are decent backpacking bags that don't cost much more than the military bags selling on eBay (which go for about $50 as far as I can tell). If you shop around, you might find a Marmot HV fill bag for around $80. They used to make one called the Wind River that was a decent backpacking bag, compressed fairly well, and went for about $85 on sale. Do an internet search and see if you can find something like that. Keep it under five pounds (under four if you can) or you're likely to be sorry.

7:01 p.m. on December 20, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

Quote:

I am new to backpacking and am looking for a sleeping bag to
use until I am sure this is the sport for me and mine. The
military bags are darn cheap at ebay and I thought maybe
I would try them. The only problem I see is that they are
bulky and heavy for backpacking. I am not as concerned about
this as I am their water retention characteristics and their
warmth. If you have experience with these please respond.


I tried a Canadian military bag 8 years ago. It was down filled, and the inside felt like a pincushion. Luckily I tried sleeping in it at home before I hit the trail(The store exchanged it for a commercial synthetic fill).

They maybe using synthetics now, but I don't think so.
Try a military surplus shop where you can check the bags for damage, and can return it if you aren't happy with it.

Try sleeping in it before you go out.

If you are in Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op rents almost everything you need. Tents, backpacks, sleeping bags etc.
hope this helps.

Ian

1:10 a.m. on January 5, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. George of the Jungle
Re: Military sleeping bags - I wouldn't

Quote:

The weight and bulk will likely be more of a concern than you may think it will be. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to force a sleeping bag to go into a smaller space than it wants to be in. My wife nearly ended up in tears on our first backpacking trip after her sleeping bag popped out of its (too small) bag for about the 100th time. A compression sack could help, but even stuffing a sleeping bag into a compression sack can be a pain sometimes.

You could always get one of the lighter military bags (not the "extreme cold" ones) that might not be so heavy and bulky. I for one, was never thrilled with the military bags, however. They never looked terribly well-made, but I haven't looked one over carefully in several years. Maybe things have changed.

Instead of buying a bag, you might want to rent one first. You don't say where you're from, but if you're near an REI, you can rent sleeing bags there. Many universities have outdoor recreation programs and will rent to non-students for a slightly higher fee. Then you'll have an idea of what you like and don't like about sleeping bags.

Finally, there are decent backpacking bags that don't cost much more than the military bags selling on eBay (which go for about $50 as far as I can tell). If you shop around, you might find a Marmot HV fill bag for around $80. They used to make one called the Wind River that was a decent backpacking bag, compressed fairly well, and went for about $85 on sale. Do an internet search and see if you can find something like that. Keep it under five pounds (under four if you can) or you're likely to be sorry.

Regarding military bags, the old ones were made of heavy cloth and the zipper/snap openings run up the middle. Great for bivuoacing with a need to get out quick with your rifle, but hard to manage temperatures.

The new system is a three layer one that is quite effective. It has a Gore-tex overbag, a light summer bag and a heavier inner bag. I have used it in Bosnia from winter to summer and in the eastern Sierra in the winter (with/without a tent). I was always comfortable. This system runs around $200-300 in surplus stores and gun shows. It may not be as well finished as say a North Face or Sierra Designs bag, nor may it be as light, but as a system it does offer versatility (you can mix and match any of the bags) and has a bivy sac to boot. Look at the weights and prices of civilian bags for comparison. The stuff sack for the system is a compression bag that is the size of a basketball when compressed. I was able to compress it into a civilian (North Face) stuff sack with some encouragement for a slightly smaller and more elongated size. Good Luck, George

April 17, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Fuel Cannister swapping Newer: new MSR stove
All forums: Older: JMT trail Newer: Any good hiking near San Jose, CA?