U.S. Armed Forces Modular Sleep System MSS
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $65
Great value, flexible, a little heavy, but extremely durable.
- Waterproof Goretex bivy
- Dated tech
- Wide range of prices
- Knockoffs abound
This system is exceedingly durable and very flexible. A huge bonus for this system is that depending on the conditions you can get by with either bag or both to cut down on weight. The bivy can almost be a tent in itself in a pinch.
It is a little heavy and their are better performing lighter weight options available, but for the price this system is a very safe purchase that will perform reliably for years.
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $99
The 4-part MSS system might be a great solution, depending on your needs.
- -30 to 50deg operational temperature range
- All weather, all climate capability
- Widely available, often only lightly used
- Dependable, low risk choice
- Heavy (10lbs!)
- Obsolete design
- Unwary buyers may pay too much
Military-grade, -30 to 50deg, all-weather, all-climate capability comes at the expense of some compromises.
First off, all 4 of the components are about 50% heavier than cutting edge civilian equivalents on the market today. Second off, the state of the art of design has progressed significantly since this was created — there's too much of the wrong kind of insulation in many places and too little of the right kind of insulation in others, so to speak...
Inefficient and heavy gear, but undeniably well-built and field-tested. For REMFs or car campers in any weather it's the business. For traditional soldiers, hikers, and mountaineers it's worth considering. For fast and light travel by special operatives, alpinists or thru-hikers, there are superior options on the market at a variety of price points.
Temperature Rating: -30F
As long as there are Modular Sleep Systems (MSS) available online and through surplus markets, I won't be using, nor recommending the use of any other system.
The MSS is just that, a SYSTEM. It's modular and will adapt to whatever environment you may find yourself in.
The quality of the materials used and manufacture of each component is high. This is definitely hard-use kit.
The bivy is excellent, and I can think of one particular night mission where we bedded down in the dark on a rainy night and woke up in the middle of a small stream...still entirely dry. The bivy is a shelter in and of itself, cutting wind and water out of the equation completely.
The patrol bag is nice and light, and can compact well. Even though it is the light bag, it is still a very warm sleeping bag. With me living in the American Southwest, the patrol bag is more than sufficient for most outings.
The intermediate bag is larger and heavier, but the warmth it provides makes it all worth the expense. During the winter, knowing how cold the desert can be at night, this is usually my bag of choice.
When the entire system is integrated (patrol bag, intermediate bag, bivy) you have an extremely warm sleeping system, more than capable of handling temperatures below freezing.
I'll be the first to admit that the MSS isn't the latest or lightest wizbang sleeping bag, but it's affordable, extremely capable, and the modularity lends flexibility to your load. Bring only what you need...
Forget the silly $500 sleeping bags. Get a 3-part MSS, which is very similar to Wiggy's FTRSS. Comes with 1 lighterweight "patrol" bag rated 32-50 degrees F, the intermediate cold weather bag for 0-32 F, and a Gore-tex bivy cover. In moderate weather you've got bags for two people. In cold weather, use all three, with some layers of ECWCS stuff--longjohns, grid fleece, and an outer fleece layer, and the set-up is rated down to -40, and claimed to give 4 hours of sleep at -50. (I'd add a fleece cap, I think!)
No wishful thinking, optimistic temperature ratings here--this system is tested and rated by the Army's testing labs in Natick, Mass. It's a roomy mummy with a big footbox, tough zippers, and is machine washable. Plus, like Wiggy's, they're made in the USA. No horrid Communist Chinese factory output with this product. And, it's low key--the latest version has two shades of green for the bags and ACU digital camo for the bivy. The version up until about 2005 has one black bag and woodland camo. No painfully bright colors here.
Look out for, and avoid, the cheap Chinese knock-offs. You'll find both the real and wannabe versions on eBay. The real deal is made by Tennier Industries. All in all, a compact, superbly-designed and built bag. Best of all, it's warm, warm, warm!
Where to Buy
The U.S. Armed Forces Modular Sleep System MSS is not available from the stores we monitor.
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