Do I really need a sleeping bag?

10:51 a.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey guys,

I started doing some thinking after a recent trip to my local Goodwill.

I have been buying (like new / unused) insulated ski & snow board clothing recently for about $4.00 each. Stuff like Columbia, Bonfire, Hely Hanson, Bogner, etc.

The cheapskate in me just can't pass up a like new pair of insulated Bonfire pants for $4.00, especially when they fit really good.

So I got to wondering, since I already forgo a sleeping bag half the year, could I use this clothing to forgo a bag during fall & spring?

I tend to sleep in clothes now anyway, and always change into a dry base layer to sleep in at night, usually silk or cool max. I don't like heavy base layers inside a bag though.

Please bear in mind that:

1. I live in coastal SC with mild temps, spring and fall nightime temps may not get below +40F much of the time.

2. I am trying to put together clothing systems on a budget right now. ( I am fixing a boat and buying parts-haha)

Could the clothes serve double duty as back-ups or extra clothing during the day VS. my sleeping bag which is next to useless during the day inside my pack?

I also wonder if these insulated clothes, like the Columbia insulated bibs, could be worn under my neoprene fishing waders for winter wade fishing? I currently use heavy fleece or heavy poly pro under my waders. Would the nylon shell of the insulated clothing (ski bibs) cause a wicking problem under neoprene waders? Compression shouldn't be a problem in loose waders.

I could also use this system while hammock camping if I need more warmth than I get from my quilt, since I wouldn't carry a sleeping bag anyway. (?)


11:25 a.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Of course not.  The sleeping bag is a relativelly new invention in human history.

4:57 p.m. on September 8, 2012 (EDT)
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stick with the quilt. I have been thinking about getting one to replace my bag. I wouldn't rely on ski bibs for warmth, they're good for skiing and not much else. don't know how the do when they get wet, but that would be a factor if wearing with waders in the water, imo. with overnight temps in the 40's it sounds like you may not eveen need a quilt, just a thermarest. are you using a tent or not? I would think a tarp would be all you would need for the rain.

7:28 p.m. on September 9, 2012 (EDT)
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My first hike I did in the Grand Canyon in October 1983 where night time temps were too warm for my 20 degree bag I had then. I got by with just my clothing, a quilted military poncho liner and a tarp to sleep on.  It worked fine for the month worth of backpacking trips I did in the canyon.

11:29 a.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi trout - I think the most relevant calculation to figure that out is by weight. If you're sleeping in clothing you'd be bringing anyway and save on net weight by not bringing a bag, it might be worth it (of course, if you freeze your tail off, it might not be worth it regardless of weight savings). But, if the amount of garments you have to pile on exceeds the weight of a sleeping bag, you might reconsider.

Either way, I have to start visiting your local Goodwill more often!

12:33 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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I often find I have my sleeping bag mostly unzipped, especially in summer, but that's usually because my tent provides more than enough insulation.

Sleeping bags have been used by the Inuit and other northern cultures for millennia, but in your climate you can probably get away with warm clothing and/or a quilt.

If you're already comfortable going without the bag in the summer, the transition to shoulder season shouldn't be too difficult. I'd want to carry something extra just in case, though, until you figure out how well your system works. 

As for wearing insulated pants while fishing, I would think a nylon shell would breathe better than neoprene.

1:27 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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i'm sure you could do this.  the question is whether it will be as comfortable and comparable in terms of warmth and weight.  i'm guessing that sleeping in clothes won't be as warm as a sleeping bag or quilt.  personally, i find sleeping in heavy clothes kind of confining. 

3:58 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Having done a fair amount of sleeping in clothes on bivouacs in my climbing days, and a few planned ones while hiking, there are a couple of issues. Warmth, especially in a mild climate, should not be an issue. A nice pad is important for both comfort and warmth. In my experience, I found that clothes are not meant to be slept in. Buttons, zippers, seams and the like can form pressure points and at times I've thought I have car keys in my pocket, only to find out it was something on the clothing itself. Even a slide toggle can be annoying. 

7:30 p.m. on September 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you all for the replies so far, you have given me some things to think about.

I will be sleeping in an all mesh MH solo tent & using an Exped Airmat 7.5 cm.

I need to weigh my clothes & sleeping bag.

I've been sleeping in a bag rated around 40*F along with a light base layer so I should weigh those together.

Buckles, toggles, and zipper pulls would be irritating, I do sometimes wake up and pull keys, spare batteries, or other stuff out of my pockets if I fall to sleep with my hiking pants on.

I may not know for sure about the warmth until about 3:00 am - so it would probably be a good idea to take the quilt along until I know.

I should also try this at home a couple of times once it cools off.

Keep it coming.

Mike G.

6:38 a.m. on September 12, 2012 (EDT)
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I think with the temps so mild in SC you could pull the no bag deal trout. But when you sleep in clothing only no bag you pick up the humidity in your cloths and feel heavy and unwashed.

9:33 p.m. on September 12, 2012 (EDT)
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I wouldn't try wearing the bibs under neoprene waders.  They don't breathe, and the nylon bibs will just hold your sweat, affecting their insulating ability.  Stick with the fleece.  We wear fleece under neoprene when steelhead fishing in Erie - while dodging mini icebergs floating down the streams:)

12:31 a.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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I like the idea.  I always found that crawling into a mummy bag was a welcomed psychological cocoon at the end of a tiring day (perhaps due to the sleeping bag I was carrying), but if the night was too warm, I would end up on top of the bag, not in it.  Guess I'll carry a towel (Doug Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). 

7:46 a.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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I lived for fifteen yrs in coastal nc. I camped many times without a tent, if you can sleep in heavy clothes it will be no problem. They will prob weigh more than your sleeping bag unless it is an antique.

1:40 p.m. on September 15, 2012 (EDT)
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I see a sleeping bag as a benefit. Mine is waterproof synthetic, so it's not only a comfy place to sleep, but an emergency shelter, or if it's too warm, extra padding to lay on.

I guess I can't weigh in on this too much since when I overnight hike I'm used to temps below 0, which would be flirting with danger without a sleeping bag.

2:06 p.m. on September 15, 2012 (EDT)
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You could always utilize something like Western Mountaineering's down garments. 

I am using WM as an example. There are other cheaper, viable options out there. 

To me this is somewhat off a toss-up. 

Are you truly saving here?

I mean ya dump the bag and then you are just carrying extra clothing to make up for the difference for negating the use of a bag...

To me it just seems as though there really isn't much benefit as far as weight goes. 

If you are too warm in a bag you can just unzip and vent. 

Now with some garments(zippered top) you can vent but when it comes to bottoms you might either be hot or cold(no in between) w/o the ability to adjust for whatever temps you are experiencing.

Another thought is I have a feeling that if the clothing is warm enough to keep you comfortable at night while inactive I have my doubt that they will be comfortable during the day while active due to the increase in core temp from your constant movement while on trail. 


I said this on the TS FB page and I thought I would share it here. 

"Let's take a look at the initial question "Do I really need a sleeping bag?" Answer, no. Over time, many throughout the world have proved that. I think the thing here is having the ability to ascertain a level of comfort as well as having the ability to survive in the conditions one is subjecting themselves too. Regardless of the approach if one finds alternative means that work for them then by all means have at it. There is no right or wrong approach; only what works and what doesn't. This will be determined by the individual utilizing what they are comfortable with, not what is comfortable for the masses."

5:14 p.m. on September 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Cool tent. will tou be using it with/without the fly? This could make a difference in warmth. I don't know what kind of rain your getting down there, but that could be a factor too.

June 22, 2018
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