Sleeping Bag

3:31 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)

Hi everyone I'm a beginning backpakcer that is looking for a good 3-season sleeping bag but I am hesitant to spend alot of money, any suggestions???

5:40 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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First, the standard suggestion we make for beginners here - tell us a bit more about your intentions. "3-season" means different things in different parts of the country. So, are you in New England, the Deep South, Texas, Great Lakes area, Pacific NW, Great Basin (UT, NV, AZ), Rockies (CO, NM, WY), California? (Hey Dave, you should put up a questionairre for beginners to check the answers to help us answer these standard questions).

Second, how far do you intend to backpack in the next couple of years - 5 miles or less to the campsite for a weekend, 5-10 miles, multi-day up to 20 miles total, add distance as fast as you can get your legs under you? This, of course, depends on how good health you are in and how old you are.

Third, will you be camping out in rain, pushing the 3rd season into the early or late part of snow season, or other adverse weather during the next couple of years, or will you leave the less pleasant weather to the future after you get a bit more experience?

Fourth, what's a "lot of money" for you? Are you a student with your total income coming from evenings working at a fast food place, a starving college student (or, even poorer, a starving grad student), got a good job so plenty of money as long as it buys quality, or what (general category, so we can get an idea how cheap or expensive to go)? Keep in mind here that the general rule in outdoor gear is that quality costs money. "Quality" includes not only the stitching, but also how well the manufacturer stands behind the product, how heavy the bag is, how long it will last, and so on. For example, a Primaloft mummy bag for temperatures above 15F from Marmot, Integral Designs, North Face, Sierra Designs, or other quality manufacturers will last 5-10 years of frequent camping, and runs currently in the neighborhood of $100-200. Does this sound like an ok range, or is it "a lot of money" for you?

Welcome to Trailspace, and be sure to share your experiences with us as you get out in the woods and hills.

5:59 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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3,899 forum posts

Bill covered the first and essential part of choosing gear: determine the details of how and when you are really going to use it.

I'd also suggest reading Trailspace's Guide to Sleeping Bags in the Gear Guide for help getting started:

6:06 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)

Alright sorry about that,
I live in Michigan and I don't do winter backpacking but will go late in fall sometimes, I do alot multi-day backpacking (up to one week) and will put around 7-1 miles a day. Since it is michigan I will expect to have to use my sleeping bag in the rain. As money goes I am a student but am willing to spend up to to 150 dollars for a good sleeping bag if there are no other options that fit me. The biggest thing for me in looking for a sleeping bag is how light it is.

8:37 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)

sorry I meant 7-15 miles not 7-1

9:33 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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1,902 forum posts

"The biggest thing for me in looking for a sleeping bag is how light it is."

Until someone comes up with a better idea, a down bag is the lightest bag you can buy for the insulation it provides. As Shakespeare said, "Ah, there's the rub." Down is expensive and must be kept dry.
Therefore, your choice is cheap or light, not both, although for 3 seasons, there are some down bags that you may find on sale for around $150 that will be good down to about 30F. Look online at REI, Campmor, and sites like those. Otherwise, for a synthetic bag, I'd look at bags made by Sierra Design or The North Face that run around $100-150. There are many in that price range. Get a name brand bag. Stay away from stuff at big box stores, no matter how cheap.

11:03 p.m. on May 29, 2007 (EDT)
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Hey Josh,
you might want to look at Cabela,s XPG Backpacker or their Boundary Waters sleeping bag,they're both in your price range,one line is down and the other is synthetic

1:15 a.m. on May 30, 2007 (EDT)
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102 forum posts

Consider not buying a sleeping bag, but first get a cover for $100+ and weight of less than twenty ounces. You may alreadly own various gloves, jackets, parkas etc., that can make this a very flexible substitute.

9:09 a.m. on May 30, 2007 (EDT)
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982 forum posts

Calamity: that's a horrible suggestion for a beginner, especially one whose requirements include the ability to do late-fall trips. An experienced backpacker may be able to get away without a sleeping bag under favorable conditions, but safely going bagless takes experience and leaves little room for error. Even the most hardcore ultra-lighters usually carry some sort of sleeping bag or quilt.

Josh: Take a look at Big Agnes's synthetic bags in your price range. Their design eliminates insulation on the bottom of the bag, which saves weight without compromising performance, while remaining reasonably affordable. Of course, a good sleeping pad is a must (though you'd want one with a traditional sleeping bag design as well).

2:19 p.m. on May 30, 2007 (EDT)
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391 forum posts

My choice for an inexpensive down bag is the Marmot Sawtooth, which I sold gazillions of during my time as a gear salesman/boot fitter/advisor. I REALLY like this bag and the version with the GT-type shell is, IMO, about as good an "all-around" bag as exists. Very ggod design, materials and quality for the price.

My personal choice as a new summer bag is the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite Super I just bought and it is fabulous; these are, overall, the finest bags I have EVER seen, used or dreamed about and I have had quite a few, still do.

IF, you spend your $$$$$ on the BEST pack, boots and bag, in that order, it WILL pay off in performance and value due to longevity.

May 25, 2018
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