researching makes my head hurt

3:12 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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there are soooo many options out there.  every time i read what looks to be a set of good specs, i read a stinky review.  so, tell me....

recommend a sleeping bag:

1.  reasonable in price - (as far as possible) under $300.00

2.  20 degree

3.  compressible

4.  lightweight (which I assume to come with compressible)

7:23 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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Not quite enough information, Johnathan:

  • Where/when are you going to use it? 
  • Is this for backpacking or car camping? 
  • What weather conditons do you expect? 
  • Do you like a mummy bag or a barrel bag?
  • What kind of mattress will you have under it?
  • Where do you live? That will affect what's available in your area. 
7:23 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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And by the way, lightweight does not necessarily mean compressable, although they are both often design targets for the same bag. 

9:54 p.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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south carolina - this would be a "winter bag"...hence the 20 degree wish

backpacking

decent weather if at all possible.  i won't go in the rain and i hope not to get caught in it.

i don't have a shape preference.

i currently have a thermarest ultralite

10:48 p.m. on February 17, 2013 (EST)
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Might be out of your price range, but you could find a western mountaineering alder or sycamore that would give you all of the above except price.  about $400.  Hard to beat

8:32 a.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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all expensive things are hard to beat!!!  haha!

1:44 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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2:21 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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Research makes my WALLET hurt. ;)

3:57 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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and hurting my wallet is like hurting my feelings.

4:34 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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I , once again, am the odd ball out and will suggest checking out down quilts. All the warmth of a sleeping bag, and a lot less weight. They fit all of your criteria. Check out www.hammockgear.com, don't be fooled by the name, they work GREAT on the ground as well.

2:37 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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Don't be dissuaded from buying a synthetic bag just because down bags are preferred by so many hardcores.  There are plenty of amazing synthetic filaments out there and most will out perform down for insulation should your bag soak out.  Sure, they can be a bit heavier and have less loft but a good synthetic bag offers a great bang for your buck.  As I like to say, it's easy to pay double or triple the price to gain an extra 5-10% of performance.  Generally, gear adheres to the law of diminishing returns.  Not sure what your definition of lightweight is.  Personally, I would classify a sub 3lb bag as "lightweight, and a sub 2lb as "featherweight." I would put a 3-4lb bag in the "midweight" category.  I'm sure everyone has a different definition.  There are plenty of great synthetic bags rated at 20 degrees in the 3-4lb range that you can get for less than half of your price limit.  I guess you will have to decide if that extra pound is worth $150-200 to you.  As you probably know, there are tons of inexpensive or free reduction methods to shave ounces in other ways.  You can snag a 3.2 lb Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20 for $80 on sale.  The bag actually gets solid reviews.  The Sierra Designs Utopia 15 will only set you back $125 or so online and has a comfort rating to 28.  It also has SD's "Flex" system which makes the bag hug your body to keep you warmer.

If you are readily expecting to experience 20 degree temperatures then you will want a bag rated lower than 20.  Bag makers almost invariably rate their bags at the "lower limit", which is 10-15 degrees colder than comfortable.  Look at a bag's "European Norm Rating" which is generally the lowest temperature at which you will stay comfortable.  If 20 degree is a worst case scenario and most nights are in the 35-40 degree range then a 20 degree lower limit bag is probably just fine.  You may have to throw a couple of base layers on but it wont kill you.  I have a 20 degree TNF bag that I have slept in on nights in the twenties and, frankly, I've been quite cold.

In a $300 price range you will have no problem finding a quality down bag though.  My next bag will likely be the Sierra Designs Zissou.  It can be had (online) for $270 with free shipping.  Weighs just 2.4 lbs.  700 fill power "Dry Down" which is treated to be highly hydrophobic.  It will maintain loft and warmth for a night should your bag get wet.  It's not completely waterproof and will eventually soak through but it's way better than conventional down in that respect.

If you are going to splurge and invest in a killer bag then Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering both make bomber, Made-in-the-USA bags that people rave about.  It will cost you but you will get a pro-quality bag.

5:14 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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I'm really looking in the 2 - 2.5 lb. range and would lean more toward "packability" than the weight to be honest.   I'm not hung up on fill material either.  I am fine synthetic or down.   I really lean more toward synthetic as I am in the southeast and wet/damp is the norm.  Temps will bottom out in the upper 20's for me when I have the choice....and upper 30's when I get my preference!  I currently have a TNF Cat's Meow that I inherited.  It worked great at 26 degrees last weekend but it is a long (which I certainly don't need) and took up a lot of room in my pack.

So, bottom line is that I want a very compressible 20 degree bag at 2 1/2 lbs. or less.  Fill material is not a big deal to me.  I'll check out your suggestions!

5:22 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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and maybe I am just making it complicated...but how does a quilt work on the ground?  Just roll up in it?

7:51 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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Jonathansc,

    http://www.travelcountry.com/shop/marmot/couloir-sleeping-bag-0-deg.html 

      Marmot Couloir Main page says $329.97 but if you go to the specific page it list at $254.97 FREE SHIPPING , AND you get a $20.00 gift card for every $100.00 you spend. Can't beat that! Well actually I did. However that was on S&P for $189.00. Just caught that at the right time though.

                                      Good Luck!

9:51 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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sweet deal!

1:39 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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I have the Couloir and used it this weekend in the eastern Sierra in dry weather. The temps outside got down to 17-ish, maybe a couple degrees warmer inside the tent(?). I wore midweight smart wool base layer tops and bottoms and thick smart wool socks. I had the inner collar snugged up and the hood partway closed (my head got too hot with the hood fully cinched up).

I felt very comfortable.

. The only real "coolness" I felt was a bit underneath where the down was compressed. I used a Mountain Hardwear High Mountain hybrid soft cell/closed cell pad. It wasn't bad, but I think that may have been the weak link in my sleeping arrangement. My point is to suggest that you consider not just the sleeping bag but a good pad too.

10:20 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Sierra designs is making some surprisingly affordable yet good quality bags with their new hydrophobic (water resistant) down coating. 

With the TrailSpace Review Corps I tested and reviewed their first product in that lineup before they hit the market, and was quite pleased with it, especially at the approachable price point. 

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/sierra-designs/zissou-30-lite/#review26198

They've added a few more bags, and tweaked the original models a bit, but here is the one I think fits what you're looking for: 

EN comfort rating: 24F (12F lower limit)

Weight: 2lbs 10oz. 

Compressed size: 10-12" 

MSRP $270

http://www.sierradesigns.com/p-519-dridown-zissou-12.aspx

Other outdoor brands are also producing hydrophobic down bags as well, and are worth a look. They are by no means a replacement for proper shelter, or even synthetic insulation where the conditions demand, but the added water repellency and fast drying are nice features. Just don't go sleeping out in the rain or in a puddle :) 

11:27 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Man, that's perfect.  Thank you!

September 15, 2014
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