Sleeping bag help!

9:54 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
82 forum posts

I am reading about down fill, and synthetic fill and all types of fills and styles and temperatures, and my head is spinning...

I really want a sleeping back that will cinch up and pack down small enough to fit into the bottom of my pack without taking up 2/3rds of it.

I know that I need a 40-60* bag, so there ya go... now what am I looking for?

11:18 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
136 reviewer rep
623 forum posts

40-60 degree bags are generally going to be tiny and light compared to bags when you get ratings closer to 0 or below.


I have a synthetic 20 degree bag that compresses down to 12 inches long and 7 inches in diameter. It fits into a day pack I have, so I know it would fit in my expedition bag's compartment no problem.


There are people far more experienced here than me, but from what I know, down bags pack a little smaller and tend to be a little lighter in the same rating when compared with synthetic bags. 


Down bags also typically cost more than synthetic bags in the same temp rating.


Down bags are typically useless when wet - down can't insulate or hold heat when wet, where as synthetic bags, especially the right kind, can keep you warm when wet.


hope that helps, but if you are looking in the right places, you might have already known everything I said.


If you're going to be camping in such warm climates, you might want to just look at cheap bags since at those temps it's generally more about comfort than survival. It's generally recommended to get a bag rated 10 degrees below what you think you might encounter. So maybe you want to go with a 20 degree bag?

11:59 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
82 forum posts

Also to give you a bit more info, I live in Florida, so temps dip down to 35/40ish at the LOWEST and that is during winter.

6:41 a.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
389 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

I use a synthetic bag for my summer trips. They will pack down to the size of a football and are light. When temps are going to dip below 40 I get out my down. Plus I have heard that down bags that are rated at 40+ have so little down as they are prone to cluming and will give you cold spots. Both my bags are true to the temp ratings, but the rule of thumb is to get a bag rated 10-20 degrees lower than the temps you plan to be in.

12:45 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
19 reviewer rep
11 forum posts

For many years, I was involved in the design, testing, and manufacturing of ski, backpacking and mountaineering gear.  I also worked as a guide.  I've been able to use a lot of different gear. I live in the Pacific Northwest and spent a lot of time on the Cascade glaciers teaching ice-climbing and such.  I used synthetic bags -- many were just given to us to test.  If they were thick enough they worked fine.  If they were thick enough to really insulate, they were heavy and bulky.

There's a pretty basic old rule that says, "Thickness equals warmth."  A thicker quilt is warmer.  That quilt can be filled with either down or poly-whatever.  Sleeping on compressible insulation renders it virtually useless.  I sleep on my pad with my bag on top like a quilt and have done so for years  because it puts all the insulation I carried in to work.

I can say that if a bit of care is taken, down bags don't get wet and insulate the best ounce for ounce.  They also weigh less rating for rating, and pack down the smallest.  I base those statements on personal experience like sleeping ten nights in an ice cave in a down-filled bag.

A cheap bag that is not quilted properly will allow down shifting and cold spots.  There are some synthetic fills on the market that can also shift.  Whichever bag you buy, in whichever temp class you decide is right, needs to be properly made.

1:42 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

The only time I use a synthetic bag now is when I car camp where I don't have to lug the weight around in a pack.

When it gets warm, I just use a liner to sleep in on those cooler summer nights where it's still too hot for a bag.

Rest of the time it's a down bag.

I just bought a new Kelty Cosmic 20 degree down bag from my local Academy for only $59.00.  It was the 2010 Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide "Killer Deal" award winner at $99.00.  $59.00 was a steal and couldn't be passed up. 


2:33 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
29 reviewer rep
29 forum posts

I'd go synthetic for your particular use. 40-60 degrees is basically a little more than a blanket and I think down loses some of it's advantages in this use as there is minimal need for loft and proportionately more of the weight is in the shell, lining, zippers, etc. You'll probably find that the synthetic bag will be only 6 oz more than a comparable down bag (in this temp range) and will cost half as much.

I'd check out the North Face Wasach/Allegheny: $80 at 41 ounces or even the Slumberjack Tour Lite $50 at 36 ozs. In this temp range, a down bag is probably going to weigh at least 28 oz. (Kelty Lt. Yr - $99), so you can decide if the weight is worth it. Also, the Slumberjack is not a mummy, so it's got more elbow room.

I personally carry down for 20 degrees and below, but for warm, humid weather, I think the synthetic bags feel less clammy. I also think they are great insurance for canoe trips -- but that's another story.

3:35 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
19 reviewer rep
160 forum posts

Rather than start another thread, I thought I'd jump in here and ask a question about bags.


In 09 when I went to the Wind Rivers I found myself getting cold a few times, and I have a Marmot 40* Minimalist bag. 


It was fine in most of the summer places I went, but I'm thinking about getting a 20* down bag to stay a wee bit warmer. I'll be visiting parks like Yellowstone/Grand Tetons and Glacier in June and wondering if that's a good idea.

5:03 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
389 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

I too bought the Kelty Gosmic Down 20 this year. At $57 it was a great buy. My summer bag is a High Peak Sirius $40. Love them both. For $97 you cant go wrong.

I hate the cold but if i wanted to i could put the high Peak inside the Kelty. For temps nearing 0.

9:26 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
136 reviewer rep
623 forum posts

mikekey - if you slept cold it can't be a bad idea to get a little warmer bag. If nothing else, if it adds extra comfort during the night, you will sleep better and have more energy the next day for the hike.


For 20* bags, I personally haven't experienced a huge difference in down versus synthetic, so unless weight is a big difference, I'm not sure you'd have to specifically get down. Synthetic will do better when wet if you are going to wet areas or areas with a lot of rain it might want to be something to consider. Otherwise you have to constantly worry about keeping water off or away from your down bag...or worse yet if it gets wet, you have to worry about trying to dry it out or you'll have no insulation when you sleep.

2:50 p.m. on February 27, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
82 forum posts

Would a fleece sleeping bag be acceptable on warm summer nights?

5:09 p.m. on February 27, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,871 forum posts

LAt- this I found on ebay-Do a search for it Marmot Pounder sleeping bag long new! Primaloft asking $90 9 dollars shipping..With tags never used. Comfert range figure 30-50 weight 1.6 pds.. You could use a military poncho liner..Its synthetic with poly filler..Alot of hikers use them during summer months...

4:39 a.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
102 reviewer rep
2,979 forum posts

..Synthetic will do better when wet if you are going to wet areas or areas with a lot of rain it might want to be something to consider. Otherwise you have to constantly worry about keeping water off or away from your down bag...or worse yet if it gets wet, you have to worry about trying to dry it out or you'll have no insulation when you sleep.

For this reason, given the temperature range the OP is describing, I'd go with a synthetic fill bag.  It won't weigh much or be significantly bulky, but will tolerate getting wet should you encounter rain or have to ford streams.


12:30 p.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
275 reviewer rep
1,370 forum posts

I would never carry a 40--60F bag, even in the summer.  Why?  Cuz it limits your freedom and ZAP just when you think you've got it made and want to head up to the high ground (around here, 6,000 feet), POW you get hit by a summer cold front with fog and cold winds.  This sounds nuts, but my summer bag is a 0F Marmot down sac.  Go anywhere, anytime.

1:30 p.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
26 reviewer rep
98 forum posts

I use a Big Agnes Lost Dog (discontinued by BA but still for sale) and a BA Yampa over bag for my 3-season hiking, mostly because I use a hammock in spring-summer-fall.  I like the combination because of the versatility, especially on warm nights.

I don't sleep well in the heat, and the Lost Dog (rated 50 degrees) is just fine down to about 55 degrees in the hammock.  Below that (down to about 40 degrees) I add the Yampa. Below that (down to about 30) I add a BA dual core pad.  

Below 30 degrees I'm out of the hammock and go to ground - mostly in lean-tos with a montbell stretch, BA dual core, walmart blue pad, all inside a military gore-tex bivy.

2:35 p.m. on March 15, 2011 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

Synthetic 35 deg bag.

e.g. Mountain Hardware Lamina 35 and then you could add a sleeping bag liner (e.g. Sea To Summit Premium 100% Silk Mummy Bag Liner with Hood) to reduce the wear/soiling of the bag and add warmth when needed.

May 24, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Introducing Myself Newer: Sailing
All forums: Older: Happy 10th Birthday, Trailspace! Newer: Enter the Trailspace Turns 10 Essay Contest