$100 Sleeping Bag

3:40 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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So I'm shopping for backpacking bags for the wife and I.  Due to a move to the west coast (Eureka, CA), I'm planning a return to backpacking after a 15-year hiatus.

I'm getting together the necessities, but money is tight.  I'd like to keep to $100 for sleeping bags.  I'm looking for a bag that is as multifunctional as possible, since it will be our only one.  Synthetics are appealing because my understanding is it rains a lot in northern California.  At this point, I'm considering the following 3:

Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 ($120*, 2lb-14oz)

First Ascent Igniter 20 ($107*, 2lb-7oz)

Kelty Cosmic Down 20 ($83, 2lb-8oz)

Thoughts?  I'm also not set on a 20degree bag, but I thought that would be a good place to start.  I don't see us doing much camping below freezing, though.

*With pro deal discount

6:39 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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get the mountain hardware bag.

7:06 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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I don't know the other bags, but I have the MH Lamina 20 and like it very much.  At least for me, it's not comfortable below 30F without adding some clothing layers, but it has a really nice feel and finish, with more loft and more compression than I ever expected.

8:04 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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I'm partial to First Ascent. The gear that line has been putting out for the last year has been incredible.

9:24 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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If you are not familar with down bags, get a synthetic one. My first good bag was a TNF Cat's Meow, which I still have. I also have two down bags. No way you can find a decent down bag for $100 unless you get a used one, which is a good way to save money regardless of what you want once you've narrowed down your choices. Look on Craigslist first, then eBay. Stick to brand names.

Ratings - temp ratings are often deceptive and more marketing or wishful thinking than anything else. The standard test is the EN (European) rating. Look it up to see how it works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_13537

It is a bit confusing, but what you want is a bag with a rating in the comfort zone, no lower.

A bag without an EN rating is usually suspect. A lot of so-called 20F bags are really 30F bags. A bag with an EN lower limit of 20F will be sold as a 20F bag, when it really is closer to 30F unless you roll up in a ball and don't mind wearing all of your clothes.

For example, look at this chart-

http://www.rei.com/product/795996/mountain-hardwear-pinole-20-sleeping-bag

The EN lower limit is 26F, but they rate it at 20F, which means MH rates the bag 6 degrees lower than the temperature at which you will barely be comfortable, if at all.

http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Lamina%E2%84%A2-20-%28Regular%29/OU8503,default,pd.html

The Lamina 20 is comfort rated at 29F which is more realistic; the lower limit is 20F which matches with Islandesses' personal  experience. Women tend to sleep warmer than men due to their body composition, so keep that in mind as well.

 

 

9:15 a.m. on February 25, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the info.  I'm sure higher-end down is a step above anything else, but since I have so much gear to purchase I'm trying to keep costs down.  I appreciate everyone's viewpoint!

9:20 a.m. on February 25, 2013 (EST)
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Here is a "0F" bag from ALps using Primaloft insulation for $140 on amazon. There are few, if any, better synthetic insulations than Primaloft, and $140 is a great price on that bag. Alps is not the highest quality manufacturer, but they are far from the worst. I own the 20F Alps Slickrock, this one's little brother, and I have been very pleased with it's quality and warmth. With a base layer on and a jacket over the foot of the bag I have slept comfortably in it down to around 15F. 

http://www.amazon.com/Mountaineering-Lightweight-Primaloft-Sleeping-Degree/dp/B001LF3GE0

I'm also not set on a 20degree bag, but I thought that would be a good place to start.  I don't see us doing much camping below freezing, though.

Though you do not plan to do much cold weather camping, your wisest route is to always use a bag with accurately rated for temps 10-20 degrees colder than you expect. At the very least, you need to use a bag rated for the temps you may plausibly see. For me, that means having at minimum an accurately rated 0F for winter use, with backup insulation to get me another 10-20 lower.  And that's for the Appalachians.

 At least for your wife, I think a 0F bag would be a good idea. And that's not being sexist, most women physiologically have a lower blood to body mass ratio, and a higher percentage of their blood circulates near their skin, both of which cause cooler sleeping and need for more insulation.  

If you look at getting down, be sure to completely familiarize yourself with the limits and challenges for using it successfully. You might also look at some of the new hydrophobic coated down products. 

Here's a review I completed of one of those products: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/montane/featherlite-down-jacket/#review26572

7:21 p.m. on February 25, 2013 (EST)
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I know you asked for info on sleeping bags, but have you thought about using a single quilt to cover you and your wife? The advantages of a couple sharing a sleep system are so significant that I feel it should be mentioned.

My wife and I currently use a Ray Way quilt my wife sewed together from a kit.

Ours has two layers of Rays "alpine" synthetic insulation for a 20 degree rating, the "draft stopper" all the way around and no zip split.

Our completed two person quilt weighs about 2-1/2 pounds, and is very warm. The only real disadvantage is you have to sew it together yourself and if you or your wife don't already sew this can be a minor challenge, not to mention you'd need a sewing machine.

A few words may be helpful if you are not familiar with sleeping quilts. They are much like a bag, but have no zipper. Instead of a zipper they are sewn up for a short distance on the bottom to make a foot pocket, and the quilt does not go under the rest of you. All your bottom insulation is provided by your sleeping pads. This makes sense if you think about it because the sleeping bag under you is so compressed by your weight that the sleeping bag under you is of little use, so why bother with it?

Here is Rays web site to check it out if you wish -

http://www.rayjardine.com/index.shtml

I think you can buy a two person quilt from several vendors if you don't wish to make one, or simply buy a big rectangular sleeping bag and use it open over the two of you.

For close to twenty years this is what my wife and I have done. Our old sleep system was the discontinued "thermanest" sleep system made by thermarest. It consists of a sheet to join two regular thermarest pads with a zipper on three sides. The top cover is provided by a single rectangular sleeping bag with a matching zipper. Here is a picture of it laid out on a recent trip -


image.jpg

 

One sleeping bag on top, two pads joined in a zippered sheet below. With the old regular R5 thermarest pads this is a remarkably warm and comfy sleeping arrangement, and is lighter, cheaper and less bulky than carrying two of everything!

The advantages of a double sleep system are many - So much so that I wonder why a couple would ever use anything else.

A double quilt or single rectangular bag is alot cheaper than two sleeping bags.

They are very warm because you get to share body warmth! The last really is such a significant advantage I wonder why all couples don't sleep together when camping, and instead sleeping together is reserved as a survival technique for people with hypothermia and extreme mountaineering. This doesn't make sense at all to me!

A quilt has no zipper to snag, jam, and break, so it is more reliable than a sleeping bag.

Why oh why carry two of something when only one will do?

When my wife and I go backpacking she carries our quilt and our two sleeping pads. She also carries our dopp kit and first aid kit. This makes for a somewhat bulky but light load.

I carry our shelter, our stove and cooking gear, and the bulk or our food.

All that is left is our rain gear ( inexpensive Dri Ducks suits that weight 10.1 ounces for the jacket and pants combined, and serve as both wind shells and rain gear, and maybe Golite 6 ounce umbrellas if we expect real precipitation ) and whatever extra insulating clothing we feel is needed for the trip.

I'm sure you know about the backpackers Big Three - The three heaviest things a backpacker carries - Shelter, sleep system, and what is often the heaviest single thing, the backpack itself.

My wife and I each carry only two of the Big Three, so we cheat! You and your wife should too.

Our frameless Golite Jam backpacks weight only two pounds, and easily handle our light loads. Since my wife doesn't have the best knees or back, this system keeps her total loads with water to less than 15 pounds, and even with food for four or five days my load usually doesn't exceed 25 pounds. My base load, that is to say without fuel, food or water, but with a tarptent not just a bare tarp as shown above, is typically 12 to 14 pounds, depending upon how cold it is.  

You can do the same, making your hikes very enjoyable and saving coin at the same time.
  

 

 

 

8:02 p.m. on February 25, 2013 (EST)
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The Kelty Cosmic D is a good buy at $84. I great bag at a low cost. But it is down. If you are going to camp in the winter in the PNW ( yes that includes Northern California). This may not be the right bag. Look at some High Peak bags. They are low cost and very nice quality.

11:10 a.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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EtdBob said:

The advantages of a double sleep system are many - So much so that I wonder why a couple would ever use anything else.

A double quilt or single rectangular bag is alot cheaper than two sleeping bags.

They are very warm because you get to share body warmth! The last really is such a significant advantage I wonder why all couples don't sleep together when camping, and instead sleeping together is reserved as a survival technique for people with hypothermia and extreme mountaineering. This doesn't make sense at all to me!

A quilt has no zipper to snag, jam, and break, so it is more reliable than a sleeping bag.

Why oh why carry two of something when only one will do?

Granted, we haven't done much camping, but we both like our space when sleeping.  We have a king sized bed and sometimes keep a pillow between us to keep us from kicking each other.  We'll snuggle before going to sleep, but when it's sleep time, it's sleep time.

8:48 p.m. on March 4, 2013 (EST)
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high peak also makes great products. I have a 20 degree bag and a -20 degree bag. The -20 degree bag was only a little over $100, so the 20 degree bag was well under $100. I find their products on ebay sometimes, but you can also get a list of website retailers on their High Peak USA site.

3:36 a.m. on March 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I jst picked up the MH bag for 100.00 and they have a 20% off coupon going at REI right now. (I did pay less because I used my dividend, bu the price before dividend was around 100)

12:16 p.m. on March 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Lots of choices.  I like down, but for really wet locations the dacron/polyester is best.  You probably only need a temp rating of 15-20 degrees.  Go by weight after you get down to a few choices.  I like reputable names in sbs.  I like Marmot. 

6:18 p.m. on March 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I am not sure the kelty is real 'down'. It seems to be just a part of the bag name in this case.

I tend to like Kelty products, owning a ancient frame pack from the early 70's faded but still strong, a later 1990's Kelty Vortex II 2 man tent, I like better than any tent Kelty offers now. And 2 weeks ago i bought a Kelty 12 x12 Noah's tarp, for a place to be in rain out of a tent.

I am in the market for rain gear sleeping bags too. +20 might work..

reading reviews i liked all the hanging tabs pad belts and that like too.

7:43 p.m. on April 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole, the Kelty Cosmic are real down and are a very good value if a bit on the heavy side ( Heavy for me, anyway.  Why carry a 2-1/2 pound sleeping bag when a 2-1/2 pound quilt will do for you and your wife? ).

Good reveiw of the Cosmic here - ( Hope I don't ruffle to many feathers posting this link! )

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/kelty_cosmic_down_20_sleeping_bag_review.html

My solo bag is the higher priced and lighter Kelty Lightyear 20 degrees down bag. I got lucky and found a " long, womans" version on sale a few years back that fit me like a glove.  It's just over two pounds.

But, I'lll never buy another sleeping bag again. Quilts are to durn easy to make and comfortable. I just made a new synthetic sleeping quilt for my "Get Home Bag" and have another to make for my wifes Get Home Bag for her car.  It's a little heavy for backpacking at 2-1/2 pounds but it is fleece lined and can sleep two in a pich.  More like a "quillow" than a tapered backpacking solo quilt, and my wife and I have spent one night under it to test it out and it was amazigly comfortable. 

For rain gear take a look at the DriDucks stuff, cost twenty dollars and my medium jacket and pants weight 10.1 ounces.  Not the worlds most durable stuff, but it is breathable and you can make a nifty rain skirt / kilt out of the pants easily enough.  

 

  

8:13 p.m. on April 2, 2013 (EDT)
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gonzan said:

There are few, if any, better synthetic insulations than Primaloft,

My TNF Tundra -20 utilizes Primaloft Infinity.

TNF-Tundra--20-004.jpg
TNF-Tundra--20-003.jpg
This bag came with many different fills over the years and the Primaloft Infinity fill was the last variation before all of the Summit Series synthetic bags took the Darkstar name which comes in 3 different temp ratings currently: 0F, -20F, and -40F.

The -20 Darkstar that is offered today with Climasheild synthetic fill comes in at 5lbs 3oz while my Tundra comes in at 4lbs.

I have seen many mixed reviews here on this bag but not 1 with the Primaloft fill that mine has and I have to agree with you.

(I may have to change that.)

Primaloft makes one heck of a good synthetic insulation. At least in regards to their continuous filament synthetic fill.

Also for a synthetic with this type of rating I believe it compresses quite well(the size of a soccer ball for reference.)

I have had this bag more than one time very close to it's temp rating and I have yet to be cold in it.

Then again a bag is only as good as what you put under it.

At the moment that would be a Downmat 7M(built in pump model.) 

With this combo I feel more than comfortable heading out into anything I could encounter here in SW Rocksylvania.

...but yeah, Primaloft rocks. ;)

8:24 p.m. on April 2, 2013 (EDT)
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As far as the OP goes I would keep an eye out here:

Synthetics:

http://www.geartrade.com/browse/synthetic-sleeping-bags 

Down:

http://www.geartrade.com/browse/down-sleeping-bags

Quite a few suitable bags in your price range in regards to synthetics. The down bags are somewhat pricier.

Hope this helps.

November 21, 2014
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