0-15 Degree Bag recommendations

7:18 a.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I am looking for a bag for an upcoming trip to Utah in December. The average low in the area I'll be camping in is 30 degrees. I would like to spend under $500 and have been reading reviews on the Marmot Plasma 15, Feathered Friends Lark, Marmot helium, among others. I am a male, 5'10, 170 lbs.

Thanks

9:36 a.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering are two brands you can not go wrong with,also made in the good old USA.

11:55 a.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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same recommendation I have given to others - High Peak sleeping bags. They make a good product, and if you are thinking you'll see temps around 30, go with a 0 degree bag. You never know if it will be colder, and you can always vent to cool off.

 

High Peak is not a well known brand, so people generally don't trust them. Because they are not well known, they sell items for very cheap prices. Once their foot is in the door, I'm sure their prices will rise.

 

I have 2 sleeping bags and a tent made by them, and I'm very pleased with all 3 so far. I go on trips where my life depends on my gear, so I don't know what other confidence I can provide you.

 

I got a -20 synthetic bag for $100. Go to the high peak website and there is a list of seller's websites. They don't sell directly from the site.

11:57 a.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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P.S.

 

High peak is also getting lots of attention in Backpacking and hiking magazines as of late, and the reviews writers are giving are nothing but positive.

12:18 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I have had original Colorado-made Marmot Mtn,, WM, FF, ID and Valandre down bags plus a Fairey down from NZ and a Pioneer brand made here in the '60s in Vancouver and have used quite a number of others over the 47 years I have been backpack camping and wilderness working.

The best? Valandre Shocking Blue and Bloody Mary, no question. I would strongly suggest a Bloody Mary for your needs and it will be within your budget and will probably outlast you.

12:26 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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cypher185-out of curiousity what is the rating of the bag ya currently use? Have you explored adding a liner? Sea To Summit has a liner series called the Reactor. There are 3 different models and they add 15-25 degrees to your bag dependent upon which liner ya get. May be a way to get ya where ya need to be and save a few bucks.

Reactor Thermolite- up to 15deg/9oz

Reactor Plus Compact- up to 20deg/9oz+ (women/anyone under 6ft)

Reactor Extreme- up to 25deg/14oz

12:42 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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any of the bags you listed would be great, but understand that these are all kind of like buying a Ferrari.  you would have a hard time finding more expensive sleeping bags.  you could add the Valandre Mirage and the mountain hardwear spectre to your list, too.

for your size, a regular sized bag from any manufacturer will be fine. 

You could also buy a high quality sleeping bag rated to 15 fahrenheit for a lot less money.  the marmot sawtooth and pinnacle, the mountain hardwear piute, for example, are fine down sleeping bags that would fit your needs. 

in my view, you don't gain much by spending a lot on down sleeping bags in the +15 to +30 range you are looking at.  the most expensive bags may be a pound lighter than the less expensive bags, and they will stuff into a somewhat smaller sack, but that's about it.  some might say the premium brands have better manufacturing quality, but i don't think it's worth the very large price differential.   

1:53 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Good call leadbelly, its kinda funny to me in a way. I was looking at warm weather bags at a retailer(not dropping names) and I had the salesman trying to push a $200+ down bag on me. We started talking and by the time we were done I had him questioning his own logic.

I ended up getting a reasonably priced TNF Wasatch 40. Its light and compresses enough to fit in the sleeping bag compartment of my packs with room to spare. Now granted, I do have some pretty expensive gear but at the same time I have some reasonably priced gear as well.

Basically, I just got to the point that the Wasatch did what I needed to do and didn't see much sense on shelling out a chunk of money that I could put towards some other toys to save a pound and a few ci of space.

The bag with the Extreme liner I listed in my previous post was about $100 cheaper than the down bag. That's a new filter for the miniworks and a chunk of change left over. Then again I just shelled out $400 on a solo tent. Guess I'm a "mix and match" kinda guy. :p

3:12 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Where the real difference is in this and other items of gear is related to when, where and how much you use it. I would agree, there are LOTS of bags that will function well enough in the settled areas of North America and in the moderate climate one finds there.

However, if your hikes take you into really rugged, remote and often trackless wilderness, as in much of western and northern Canada, where I have and do backpack, the higher quality, lighter weight and tougher durability make a substantial difference. Money, is a factor, but, it is not impossible to save and buy topgrade gear and a really fine bag will probably last most people a lifetime.

If, you consider price as a set amount spend once and do buy a bag like a Valandre "Bloody Mary", which retail under the OP's budget limit and use it for 45 years, then, the cost per whatever unit of "time" you choose, is less than the cheaper bag that is done in 5-7 years, as I have seen more than once.

If, after years living in bags alone in the most remote parts of the above region, I had to choose just one bag for the rest of my life, I would take my Valandre Shocking Blue, without a second's hesitation, these bags are that good. But, each to his own and if someone prefers a lowend bag and that makes him happy, well, that is great as this is mostly about fun, anyway.

5:24 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick - I currently have been using a cheap synthetic 40* bag with the sea to summit reactor liner and have been alright down to about 30*. While it is unlikely I will see much temp colder than that on my trip, I'd rather be unzipping than freezing.

Thanks for the responses, I will definitely check into the suggested bags before i purchase. I would also like to add I will definitely use a liner to keep the bag clean and all, regardless of need for added warmth

5:38 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Another question, do any of you happen to have any insight into the customer service of the mentioned brands? As someone who has worked in sales and also had rough experiences with customer services this is an important selling point to me. I have seen that FF offers washing and repair services and their customer service seems pretty solid over all. But what about the others?

8:30 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick - I currently have been using a cheap synthetic 40* bag with the sea to summit reactor liner and have been alright down to about 30*. While it is unlikely I will see much temp colder than that on my trip, I'd rather be unzipping than freezing.

Thanks for the responses, I will definitely check into the suggested bags before i purchase. I would also like to add I will definitely use a liner to keep the bag clean and all, regardless of need for added warmth

 

Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

8:48 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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cypher185 said:

Rick - I currently have been using a cheap synthetic 40* bag with the sea to summit reactor liner and have been alright down to about 30*. While it is unlikely I will see much temp colder than that on my trip, I'd rather be unzipping than freezing.

Thanks for the responses, I will definitely check into the suggested bags before i purchase. I would also like to add I will definitely use a liner to keep the bag clean and all, regardless of need for added warmth

 This is a personal quirk, but, after using various liners, I actually detest them and avoid such use as much as possible.

Your trip to Utah, sounds as though you will be camping in temps. much like those most experience in their "shoulder season" treks and what I have come to prefer in all my sleeping bags is to wear a light layer of either silk or thin merino wool longjohns specifically for sleeping.

I find this really helps with using a lighter bag in colder temps and have slept wearing these at well below freezing in my old FF 40*F bag several times. I always carry a set of LJ's like this, perfer merino to silk and, after trying it, I find synthetics feel "cold" to me, in this application, YMMV.

If, you like, I can PM you some info. on a person in Utah, with extensive experience there and in Wyoming, who can help you in your search and selection.

10:10 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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As far as The North Face and Mountain Hardwear I have has very good experiences with them. Big Agnes has stood out with me. Very helpful. They may have a bag that fits your criteria as well.

6:13 p.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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My Moutain Hardwear bags have served me well. I have a Phantom 15 for really cold trips and a Phantom 32 I use on 95% of trips. I dont find that liners add any real warmth to a bag, I use them to keep the bag clean. And, as Rick said, better to have more bag than you think you need. It is easy to unzip and let heat out, you can't get heat in if it gets too cold.

 

7:05 p.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey - "lowend bag" is a subjective term based on brand name and nothing more. Off brand name products can provide years of service with no problem without the price tag.

Again, my LIFE relies on my gear in areas I go, and I don't find the need to spend the money some of you have suggested. I do not have a death wish, but I have faith in my skills and my gear, and thus my LIFE relies on products like I have mentioned. I don't know what other vote of confidence I can provide for my gear. I love my life, and don't plan on dying during any trips, so that should say enough.

You can offer lots of anecdotal evidence about why the shocking blue bag is great, but I provide lots that says why High Peak's sleeping bag is great too. It's all word of mouth, it's all brand loyalty. Nothing more.

12:34 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I would never denigrate anyone's choice of gear and can only offer my suggestions based on my experience in the wilderness of BC, Canada's northern territories and Alberta. However, the term I used is what is commonly used in the gear industry as I found during my employment there and was not intended to be a derisive comment on any item or person, in particular.

I have no brand loyalty and my comments on the functional quality of various bags are based on ownership and use of them, as stated. I do not care what anyone buys or uses, but, I have found that some gear is superior to other gear and the price does reflect this.

I am happy that you have faith in your skills and gear, I have seen and assisted in all too many fatal incidents in the mountains of northern and western Canada, to ever suggest that anyone go into the areas of seemingly great danger that you do without the right gear and your level of wilderness expertise.

That said, I would still suggest the Valandre Bloody Mary as the best option available to the OP, based on the parameters set forth in his initial request. You might look at one and see what you think, these are simply amazing bags and represent the current "state of the art", IMHO.

3:53 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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 Welcome to Trailspace cypher185,

 First you said you were buying this bag for a trip in Dec.  That gives you 6 months to Dec and five months to research a bag.  Second you said that the avarage temp in UT where your headed is 30 deg.  Is this the avarage a 24 hr. temp?    I'm originally from CO and spent much of that time in the high rockies above 8000 feet (15 yrs.) and I know for a fact that the avarage night time temp in CO in December (which is very simiular to the Mountains of UT) is colder than 30 deg and can at times fall below 0.  Add in the wind chill from a good storm front, you get the idea.

All of the bags listed above are great bags.  There are also very, very expensive bags with the exception of the High Peak.  Do you really want to spend $400-$800.  That's what you will do if you buy a new bag and buy it at this time of the year.  As leadbelly2550 said "any of the bags you listed would be great, but understand that these are all kind of like buying a Ferrari."  What if you could buy your Ferrari for the price of a chevy or ford.  You can if you watch the classifides here, search craigslist and watch ebay.  I have many sleeping bags, backpacks and tents (esp. tents).  In the 32 years I've been buying equiptment I've only bought two new tents and two new backpacks new from the store.  Even these have either been on sale or closeout.   80% of my gear comes from people who bought it to go on their "Denali trip" and then it got canceled or from people who have only used the equiptment once or twice.

This is the wrong time of the year to buy backpacking equiptment and save money.  This is when the stores have no problem selling gear, so, (A) they don't want to discount gear near as much (if at all), and (B) they are more likely to have less selection.

I just did a quick search of the High Peaks sleeping bag recomended by iclimb.  They appear to be a bag that is a great deal and a quality product.  As they are a great price new you don't have to buy it now as they will be here in the 5 months you have to search for your cold weather bag.  I buy equiptment with the intent of keeping it the rest of my life.  If you do your research  you will find exactly the bag you want that will fit your needs.  Before buying anything check out the "Gear Review" section here on Trailspace, good stuff.  I would also check out the thread in  "gear selection" titled  Astronomical gear prices.  This is just my opionion but there is no reason with the materials used in todays sleeping bags that they cost what they do other than people keep paying the prices that they set (brand name marketing).

As far as sleeping bag liners, personally I hate them.  I already feel traped in the mummy style bags of today.  I'm actually in the process of buying some rectangular down bags for when the weight savings of a mummy style bag is not needed.  I use light weight long sleeve medical scrubs and wear socks and glove liners instead of a bag liner.

As far as customer service.  You might read Sent my sleeping bag to Golite in the "gear repair" section.  It has a lot of good info including some on different experiances on different manufactures.  I have two Marmot dryloft bags that are about 12 years old and do not feel there is any need to replace them.  Marmot has one of the very best customer service depts.  They sent me a new bag after a motorcycle accident ripped my 25 year old bag to shreads.  I sent the bag in to see if it could be fixed and they sent me a new $600 bag.  I didn't even ask them to, they just did it. They own Dana Design brand  and all I've heard is good about things about them taking care of people.  TFN seems to be hit or miss.  It's my opionion that part of buyin a "$500-$800" piece of equiptment means it should not need to be fixed, but, if it does it better happen with the utmost haste.  If I want crappy service I can buy low dollar crappy equiptment.

As far as being American made.  The only time it's a deciding factor for me is if I'm looking at two items; one American, one foreign.  If they have the same or comparable material, price, customer serv. Then "American made"will be the tipping point.  If the foreign is better, well then it's better.  Heck, even Hilleberg tents aren't made is Sweden anymore. ( I just talked to them last week).

The advice to buy more bag than you need (iclimb) can not be overstated enough.  Do not forget vintage bags, alot of them around for good deals.  This gear is kinda like the computer thing.  I used my first IBM for 15 years while all my friends bought new computers every year or two. I spent $150 (used) on it and they spent hundreds & hundreds and in some cases thousands of $'s on their computers (new).  Try to buy your gear like you will own it forever.   I still have my first oval intention from 1976/77  and though now a little worse for wear, it's still a very usable tent.

5:44 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, I never even thought to check around for used gear. I will definitely take a peek at that.

And 30 was listed as the average low. I'll be in Zion national park if that sheds anymore light on the situation. Most likely in the lower half of the park for most of my trip to be specific, as it is less likely to be snow covered

6:20 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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cypher if you check the reviews on my profile, I reviewed one of my high peak bags. It is the High Peak Rainier -20 bag. 

You might think -20 is overkill for where you are going, but like you said, you can unzip it if you're hot, but if it goes below 30 degrees you'll be glad to have something warmer.

In my review I talk about the first time i tested it. It was 30 degrees exactly, and I wanted to test the bag, so I laid down in a snow bank 8 inches deep with no pad between me and the snow. I couldn't even feel any cold on my back, and I fell asleep in like 5 minutes. It was comfortable to say the least.

The other good thing about this bag is that for any other -20 bag made by the brands previously mentioned, you're going to spend $500+

For the High Peak bag, look on the Blue Mountain site listed on highpeak.com, and it costs a little over $100.

11:04 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Apeman, makes a very good point in suggesting buying used gear and one can find some superb deals, IF, you know what to look for and what YOU actually require. I just bought an Integral Designs MKI-Lite, a tent I have wanted for sheep hunting here in BC, for less than half it's new cost and it was used on two "family" camps in Georgia, USA, by a gentleman there whom I have assisted with gear and sheep hunting advice in  the past.

This, was not offered to me alone, it was initially listed on an open forum along with his other two ID tents, both as new and his Wedge Bivy with porch, NIB. He just was not using them and has several Hilles. that he prefers. Deals like this are "out there" and I have bought 3-4 Bozeman-Dana Design packs this way, as well, because I know from 34 years of using these how well they work for me and how they last in very harsh conditions.

That said, the Valandre bag I suggested costs just within your original price limit and would be ideal in the conditions both you and Apeman describe. A friend of mine in Utah, the chap I PMed you about, actually used his Shocking Blue at -20*F in the Winds in Wyoming, IIRC and while that is not really "cold" by Canadian-Alaskan mountaineering standards, it is getting a little chilly, eh!

I learned a long time ago, that "brand name" is just bullcrap, but, real quality in gear is worth spending coin for and, like Apeman, I try to buy for life. With over a half century of experience in some of the most remote, coldest and wettest wilderness regions left on Earth, I have found that this works for me and I hope my suggestions will/have helped you.

One aspect of the "highend" bags not often mentioned on sites like this is that they will work at temps. FAR colder than they are "listed" for and that is a major plus, IMO. My original Marmot Mtn. rated to -20*F kept me toasty inside an Early Winters GT bivy on a solo trip to the Kokanee Glacier when the temp. fell to -41*F at night and, again, IME, the lowerend bags will not do that. I had these issued to me in the BC Forest Service and on several occasions, dang near froze my butt off in Sept.

Cost IS important, but, some items of your gear are worth paying to get gear of the quality used by major mountaineers and explorers and thus not having to worry about possible failures, which, could have disastrous consequences.

11:18 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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There are alot of bags on ebay. Here is a 0deg bag that caught my eye.

Big Agnes Pomer Hoit SL 0($470-$490 list)

Buy it now price $295-

http://item.mobileweb.ebay.com/viewitem?itemId=120727036079&index=20&nav=SEARCH&nid=67247937427

12:57 p.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Rick,  Good find.  I saw that as well last night on ebay but didn't have time to look at it.  It's a lite bag at 2 lb 10 oz.  No back insulation as it's designed to use with a pad.  Trailspace has one reivew and it appears to be a good one.  Here are some more reviews with the link below.  This is a bag I would consider if I  were in the market.  "This is the new version that allows you to use all different shapes of sleeping mats, not just a mummy shaped one, which was the case for the previous version of Pomer Hoit (and other Big Agnes mummy sleeping bags). You can use a square mat, or a mummy one, and you can use a full length one as well as a 2/3 length one (or perhaps even shorter)."  I belive this one has a pad pocket that the pad slips into so that you don't keep rolling or sliding off of the pad.  That has always been a problem for me has I'm a fitful sleeper.  I like this bag and it seems to have good reviews.  Great price, good price even at the buy it now price, better yet if no one else bids on it and you can get it for the $255 price.

 

http://www.backcountry.com/big-agnes-pomer-hoit-sleeping-bag-0-degree-down-bag0030

1:56 p.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Definitely a sweet bag for a good price. If I didn't already have a cold weather down bag I would jump on it. My bags are typically left hand zip but its really no big deal. Being able to use different shaped pads is a plus with the new one and its light. I would probably just snag it up and eat the $295. At that price I'm sure someone else will sooner or later.

2:11 p.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Went and checked out the temps in Zion Nationa Park.  You are correct as to the avarage temp being 30 deg.  This is the Normal daily min .  Extreme low is 6 deg.,  with 18 days being below 32 deg.  I'd say you need a bag that  is rated for around 0 deg.  You can always add clothing, a liner, and a outer shell to the bag if need for temps below 0.  I've noticed that once I get into bags below much below 0 deg they can be really to warm/hot/sweltering at anything above 10-15 deg.  Here's is the site I used to gather my info. It wouldn't be much fun to be on a trip where the temps are hovering around 0 deg with a bag rated at 30 deg.

 

http://www.zion-national-park.info/weather-climate.htm

1:25 p.m. on May 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks all, I appreciate the detail and time spent on each of the replies.

12:33 a.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I've used the Bloody Mary for two seasons now and really like it.  Compresses really well, lofts up great, roomy if you need to layer.

Valandre uses a very high grade of goose down...they have access to it right from the goose farms in France.

9:03 p.m. on May 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I go through bags.  New and used (eBay, etc.).  Also have a large outdoor-gear factory-outlet store nearby, and I'm on their "frequent-flyer" program.

Typically, I have around 6-bags in my kit ... covering most temperature ranges, down to about -15F.   Down, synth ... mummy, rectangular, semi-rectangular.

Now looking to get a "tandem" bag (not because I'm a restless, fat guy).

I seem to keep returning to my old 20F  Moonstone synth bag (with Moonstone liner) quite a bit.  Covers multiple temp-ranges.   That thing is "the bomb".  It will outlast me, that's for certain.

Big Agnes is impressive, as well.

My suggestion is to peruse the eBay offerings, and here at the Trailspace "classifieds".   Deals abound.

NoSmo King

3:44 a.m. on May 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Here is a bag that is worthy of consideration from a great company.  I've heard good things about them and read very good things as well.  I'm thinking of droping the dime on their -20 deg bag that I've found used for half price. This one is rated at 0 deg and is at $201 right now on ebay, but even at it's full retail price it seems a deal to me.  Weighs in at 3lb. 3 oz.  The auction is up May 25, 201110:46:38 PDT.   I know I'm not suppose to be swayed by looks but I think it's a really cool looking bag as well. Anybody else think this is cool looking bag or is it just me?

 

Mont-bell 650 Super Spiral Down Hugger #1 LONG LEFT
ZIP
15 degree rating! Used twice! RETAIL PRICE $289

#   180668900611


montbell-hugger-1.jpg
One thing I forgot to mention about the Marmot Dryloft bags I have is that they have open baffels which means you can change the inlulation or loft buy shaking the down to the top or bottom of the bag.  I have found this to be very useful when I have on of the heavy Marmot bags in moderate temps. so that I don't get to hot.   I don't know if any of  the other bags listed above are built the same, but I bet some will chime in and tell us.

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