Need some bag advice

12:21 a.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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OK...I am not exactly new to camping..but it has been several years since I have been outdoors.
My son is old enough now to be in scouts and I have to admit that I might be more excited about the upcoming camping trips than him.

I am trying to gear up the both of us now.
And while most of the gear is easy enough, the sleeping bag is throwing me for a loop.
And oddly enough, the bag I am having trouble with is mine.

There will be plenty of hiking and a 3 season bag is a must.
Of course at least damp weather resistant.
What has me concerned is the mummy bags.
They seem like they would be the best choice...BUT...I tried to fit in one that a friend had.
I am 6'1" and have a 38-40 inch waist.
I thought somebody was going to peel me out of the thing.
Talk about tight!!!
Look...slightly snug is one thing.....feeling like you are going through another birthing process is another.
I have been to a couple of stores but nowhere I can just pull the bags off the wall and start crawling in.
I have looked all over and they size by height....but never by weight also.
So is the mummy bag just for the thin..if not..what size fits a person like me?

3:01 a.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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You've been shopping in the wrong places. Seriously. If the store won't get the bags down so you can try them out, go somewhere else. You definitely need to try out the bags.

I love my bag. I like the color and how it feels. I've looked at other bags that may be just as good or better, but the material feels strange or the color is too weird for me so I'd never buy them. The same goes for fit, like you said. I have no idea what size fits you. I couldn't tell you the dimensions of my own bag; all I know is it fits me.

If there is an REI near you, go there and start trying out different bags. Some brands, like Western Mountaineering for example, (which REI doesn't sell), make bags in different circumferences to fit larger people. By looking at comparison charts on their websites, you should be able to see who makes the bigger bags. WM makes bags with an internal circumference from 59-69" depending on the bag and temp rating, so big differences. Feathered Friends makes a Wide series that looks like a semi-rectangular bag that opens up so you can use it like a quilt, according to their website.

10:45 a.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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Big Agnes makes some nice mummybags that are built with a bit more girth, and not very bad on price either. :)

4:07 p.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I have a Big Agnes bag and love it! Check out Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide Issue. It lists most new bags currently avalible with all diminsions. That is how I was turned onto this bag. Another good source for info are retail web sites like REI, EMS, Campmor, Mountaingear, Backpacker, etc. Do your research then find a store to try out the bags. You should never just buy it without trying it out. There should be an EMS or REI in some mall...

10:55 p.m. on September 26, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi lottathought,

As already mentioned, try before you buy. If that seems to be a problem for a store who sells outdoor gear, find a real store that not only will let you try the bags, but can tell you what brands offer what you need whether they sell that brand or not.
That is real customer service, and smart sales people should know if they help you, you will come back for future purchases.
I have a friend named "big Tim" and he had to look a little but had no real trouble finding a bag that fit.

Keep in mind it is important to have ample room in the bag, not only for your initial comfort, but a bag that you have to squeeze into will not perform well due to the bags fill being compressed by the tight fit.
If you compress the bags fill, it will loose it's insulating ability.
This is also the reason it's important to have a sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground, since that part of the bag will be compressed by your body.

Definitely try out the bag for fit, feel, and function!

Happy hunting.

2:31 p.m. on September 27, 2008 (EDT)
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Finding an appropriate bag for your build is EASY, what you will BUY also depends on your budget. Do you want a lifetime, top of the line bag, a good but not absolutely topend bag or an average sack?

For you, IF, you can afford it and want one of the finest bags out there, I would strongly suggest a Western Mountaineering Badger MF Long and, if, you look after it, you will use it for your lifetime and then pass it on in great shape to your grandson.

The Integral Designs Sierra Broad/Long is another superb bag of this type and probably the BEST is the new Valandre "Bloody Mary".

For good but not the "best" bags, look at a "Couloir" Long by Marmot and I am also impressed with the one Exped bag I have. ANY of these WILL be comfy, keep you warm and happy and last forever.

6:49 p.m. on October 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Take a look at ALPS Mountaineering mummy bags. Most have a 34' girth. You will not suffer from cramped shoulders come morning.

The Backside mummy bags have an 35' shoulder width.

7:14 p.m. on October 7, 2008 (EDT)
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7:00 a.m. on October 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I'm 6'4" with 38 inch waist. I own a Marmot Tall size bag and it is plenty large enough for my huge frame.

1:11 p.m. on October 9, 2008 (EDT)
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minister said


ALPS Mountaineering mummy bags. Most have a 34' girth.

A 34 foot girth would be a bit on the large side for any critter smaller than a whale or elephant. Yeah, sure, you meant 34 inch.

But a 34 inch GIRTH would be an extremely tight fit for lottathought, who says he has a 38 to 40 inch waist.

ALPS lists their bags as having 32 to 36 inch widths. So presumably you meant 34 inch WIDTH.

lottathought -
All the top-quality bag manufacturers (as well as most of the second, third, and lower tier manufacturers like ALPS) make bags in various widths. Some make expandable bags (Sierra Designs is one, among the better manufacturers). A few of the top tier manufacturers will make custom bags for you (Feathered Friends is one, for down bags, and Integral Designs will sometimes do custom bags in down or Primaloft, though they have had some large contracts recently and Evan tells me they won't do custom work when they have the pressure of doing the large orders - they are very diligent in keeping their quality level high).

As already mentioned, the top tier include Integral Designs, Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Valandre, and a few others. The second tier include Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Big Agnes (a fairly new company that has come along very nicely), The North Face (though their quality is quite variable sometimes), plus a few others. I would include Stephenson's somewhere in the top or second tier, though the company and some of their designs are a bit funky - great quality, very warm for the weight (honest comfort ratings, but a few strange features that some love and others hate).

In terms of warmth for weight and packability, mummy bags are the best choice by far for backcountry travelers.

As others have said, and I can't emphasize too much, try the bag out in the store BEFORE you buy it. Good outdoor stores will not only allow you to try the bag out, but will strongly encourage you to do so. Obviously, go prepared to do so - clean clothes, take your shoes off, not sharp attachments to your clothes or body that might damage the bag, etc.

4:41 p.m. on October 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I love ALPS, and especially their Scout discount, but boy their bags are heavy. Want something that will fit you easily? Look at a quilt. Something like a Golite Ultra 20, paired with a POE Ether Thermo or BA Air Core.

12:09 a.m. on October 17, 2008 (EDT)
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i totaly understand your problem when it comes to height, im 6'3 so i have to consider length for all components of my sleep system. bag, tent, thermarest ect. if i were you, i would go with a big agness bag. some of their models provide plenty of length, and if the bag you chose still feels claustrophobic, you can buy a bag expander. good luck in your search.

1:57 p.m. on October 22, 2008 (EDT)
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I have had the same problem, although it is mummy claustrophobia with me. Have a Marmot 40* rectangular bag that works well in the 30s. BUT, I also have a bivvy bag and coupled with a down jacket, a warm cap and mittens or gloves it is a lightweight, multi purpose arrangement. I also take along a fleece throw just for something to cover me, and hold on to while I suck my thumb waiting for the sandman.

This is not to knock the bags. I mostly canoe camp so can take a big load but when the bladder calls at 0300 with the bag/bivvy arrangement, you are not having to crawl out of a bag into the cold, no matter how you got to camp.

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