Cheap, durable, versatile, cheap 3-season sleeping bag for cheap roller.

12:59 a.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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It's time for a new sleeping bag, and I'm in the market for the perfect one.  I want it to compress into my coin pocket, weigh 12 grams, cost less than five bucks, keep me warm in Alaskan Winters and cool in Death Valley in August. It must be so waterproof it floats, so breathable I could run marathon in it, so indestructible I could hit it with a few passes from the belt sander and then tow a half ton truck with it.  I'm sure you already own this bag and are keeping it a secret from me.

But, seriously are my details/priorities in order of importance:

1. I am honestly, but reasonably, cheap.  I actually believe in the "buy the best you can afford..." maxim, but what I can afford might make that maxim moot.  My budget is a slightly flexible $100 - $150.  I'm not just a skinflint, either, my wife and I are currently grad students, and our income is several years away.  We also have a 5 year old, and apparently factories and coal mines in the U.S. aren't hiring 5 year olds anymore.  When did that happen?  And, yes, I HAD a job in comedy, that's why I'm now a grad student.

2. I will be sleeping in a wide variety of places and weather, but probably never in winter.  Temps ranging from the mid-20s to much higher.  Most common environment would be fall/spring above 7k feet, Oregon/Montana/Idaho/Washington.

3. I have slept in clothes, and am not afraid of the "carry a liner" recommendation, as long as that liner and bag combined do not exceed my previously mentioned space and price wishes.

4. I'm not afraid of some weight (nothing more than ten pounds, though, please), but the thing had darn well fit into my pack (~65L) and let the rest of my things fit in there too.  My hope is stuffed/compressed it is less than 8" x 14"

5. I roll in my sleep.  so much, that it's possible I could take out a tent;  my neighbor's.  I don't wish to lose precious saved warmth because I moved.

6. I don't want to be afraid that my bag will rip because I got in it.  I am -- right or wrong -- tough on gear.  "Be more careful" unfortunately is not a bag I can afford.

I'm a 5'8", 165lb male, with a 38" chest.  Also not afraid of having a woman's bag, as many women's longs seem to (by the numbers, anyway) be closer to my size.

I have looked at campmor, backcountry edge, REI online,, and Sierra Trading Post, and a couple other online stores whose names I don't recall.  I'm in San Diego, CA and nearby, I have REI and Adventure 16, and the various non-specific "sports" stores.

I have read guides and reviews, and the following threads:

It is now October 2011 and I have until late winter to decide.

There are several bags that I've seen that look to be in the running (Kelty Cosmic Down 20/Light Year 20, Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20, TNF Cat's Meow), but feel I would benefit most from the combined wisdom and experience of the trailspace members.  So, please, if you could name a current specific bag I would appreciate it.

Or just link to that thread that I apparently missed, as I am a N00b (I swear I tried).  Please let me know if my subject could be better titled, as well.

And seriously, thank you.

1:41 a.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I have last year's Kelty Light Year downbag (long) with a twenty degree rating and for the price, it is a good bag.  I have used in temps into the low to mid twenties and I was warm with a pair of merino wool socks, thermals and a hat.  I had a silk liner but I did not use it, however, if I did, I could have probably just worn shorts, instead of the long underwear.  It compresses down to 8 x 14 and it fits into the bag compartment of a 60L Gregory pack I use.  There is very little down leakage as well.

5:08 a.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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davidtierney:  Here's what I'd do to get started.  Go REI and Adventure 16 and try on bags.  Try any and all bags you might be interested in including ones that are in the $100-$350 range.  Take a notebook with you and write down all your thoughts on the bags you like including their prices.   I'm going to suggest first that you will have some decisons to make.  Do you want down or synthetic. Do you want a mummy, semi mummy or maybe semi rectangular or even rectangular.  If you buy new then you will have to pay new prices.  If you look on Craigslsit and or Ebay you will be able to make your money go much farther.  This will either mean you can save a bunch of money or spend the same amount your were going to spend on a new bag and get a really high quality bag used .  I would take a look at Marmot's line of bags as well as the ones you listed.  I personally own three Marmots and really like them, alot.  As we start to get into winter you will start to find silly cheap deals esp. on Craigslist and maybe even some on Ebay.  Keep an eye on end of the season deals if yoiufeel you need to buy new.  I believe REI has second's or returns and some of the guys/gals here can tell you some of the sites that have discounted gear as well.  I just can't remember any of them at the moment.  If you toss and turn alot like me you just might hate a mummy bag though you have to balance that out with the fact that you don't want to loose heat when tossing and turning.  I feel it's better to have a little extra insulation and room so I can move freely, but you will have to make that choice.  I think REI rents equiptment, you might rent some of the bags you think you might be interested in and try some out for a night.


On Seattle Craigslist:

Mamut 750 Down Sleeping Bag $125


Marmot Sawtooth 15F down sleeping bag - $160


NorthFace BigFoot -20* Sleeping Bag  - $150


North face Dark Star Sleeping bag  - $100




I would check Portland OR Craiglsit

There are a slew of bags on Portlands Craigslist with this one looking like a good deal.

Camping Equipment:  Marmot Sawtooth, Headlamp $160



I checked San Diego Craigslist and did not find anything except a $20 down? military bag but I'm thinking that if would be to heavy, it would however be able to handle your tough on gear demands.  Here it is in case you think it might work.

Military Mummy Sleeping Bag - $20


12:15 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Check out Alps Mountaineering's bags.  I've got the Clearwater 20 degree wide.  Took it this summer on a 2 night trip on the AT.  It compresses fairly well and comes with a compression sack. It probably got into the 40's and I slept in just my underwear and was a bit warm.

Other places to look. ('s outlet) This website consolidates's one-deal-at-a-time websites and sends alerts to you based on keywords and items you pick. Their text alerts are not reliable but their email is. My gmail account automatically forwards the alert email to my phone's email address that converts the first part to a text message that goes to my phone.  There are times you can get some absolute steals on the ODAT sites. I got a pair of Costa Del Mar Havana sunglasses with polarized glass lenses for $39.00, Normally around $150-180.  They accept returns with no questions asked just like This website is kind of like a craigslist for outdoor stuff but better (more pictures, searchable,  .  Backcountry seems to list all of their returns that can't be sold as new on here also. 

Currently listed Kelty Cosmic 20 degree back packing sleeping bag $40.

Like apeman said. Go to the "big box" outdoor store and try out several bags and find a few you like.  Then go online and find your deal.

4:17 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Keep looking but wait longer as bags will get cheaper closer to the end of winter and probably buy last years better model at the same price you could buy this years not so good model.

6:18 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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@rob5073, Backpacker magazine's nod to the Lightyear interested me.  Glad to hear you had positive experience.  The Cosmic Down, on the other hand, that I saw in the store was puffing down as if it were coated with it as opposed to stuffed with it.

@apeman, thanks for general advice, the poking around and the links.  I've looked through them all.  The one in San Diego reads that it is a "cold weather" bag, and it looks just like the one I slept in (mine was not down, and I certainly got used to carrying THAT weight).  The one I had was fine around 32-33f...if you wore the thick fleece issue underwear while you slept.  And it was tough, until the concertina wire ripped it apart while rolling through minefields.  I'm usually not THAT tough on my gear; I haven't been that close to concertina wire in a while.

Regarding shape, I'm pretty sure that a loose-fitting mummy is what I would choose (I'm replacing a failing Kelty Mistral 20 which compresses to roughly the size of a VW Beetle).  I'm used to it, but if that runs counter to my tossing nature, I'd certainly consider other shapes.  I not worried about my comfort vis a vis restricted movement, I'm just worried about opening up the neck area and pumping out warm air when I move.  Maybe I shouldn't be?

Regarding used stuff, I ain't opposed to it, but I don't know if I've done enough bag-ogling to be able to differentiate "last year's" from "ten years ago's" (aka unrecoverable lost loft).  But, darn straight I will be looking at used stuff, and @Callahan, I will be looking after December (at both used and new).

Regarding down vs synthetic...I am superficially aware of the pros and cons of each, and -- being cheap -- I've never had a down bag.  I have used down in urban outerwear (in Neg.40f) and am convinced of the glory of down warmth.  Based on my superficial knowledge of materials used in backpacking bags, though, I don't really care.  If somebody will convince me that one or the other -- as contained in a particular bag -- meets my wants, then that's the one I'll favor.

@ocalacomputerguy, I have used steep and cheap before, but I did not know about departmentofgoods and geartrade.  Awesome.

I will go to the stores and try stuff on.  Great idea.  I already haunt those places without buying anything...I'm like a carrion bird, if the carrion were deep discounts.  I also like the idea of renting to try, too (and, besides REI, I've seen a few websites which do this).

Keep the ideas comin'! 

6:42 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm a little in love with right now.

7:27 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I've used a TNF Wasatch(40/EN 43) for warmer seasons with a Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme liner before. Not a bad combo. Ya may have $120(maybe less if ya shop around) wrapped up in the package and the bag has a lifetime warranty on it.

Works well and is a pretty flexible set-up on the cheap.

I'm around 5' 9"/215lbs(broad shoulders) so I think you would have a bit of room.

7:35 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I have and thoroughly love my TNF Nebula 15F bag. I have retired it since going to a hammock and quilt setup however.

It's a little over your stated price range, but if your interested I am looking to sell it for 250$

8:01 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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@Rick-Pittsburgh, the price is right.  Lifetime Warranty is always good.  The liner you mentioned looks pretty slick -- S2S claims 15deg added to your bag.  Though the Wasatch might not rate cold enough for my hopes, a synthetic 30deg bag will probably be smaller than a new 20deg bag, and cheaper.  I'll start looking in those, too.

Also, I just saw this:

Any thoughts?  Besides that I need to stop poking around in for a while.

8:40 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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@TheRambler...yup, too high a price.  Read your review. Attractive to the techy in me though with the hybrid insulation and hyvent waterproofing.  But...

2:49 a.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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@ davidtierney :

I just checked Denver's Craigslist.  I don't know what's up in Denver but there are at least a dozen maybe more nice bags at good prices that may fit your needs.  Here's the link below.

1:16 p.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Awesome, apeman.  Ton's o' stuff.

2:59 p.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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I've had the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 for over a year. Its a very good bag for the buck.

3:32 p.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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@mikemorrow: Read your review, thanks.  The price, and the accurate temp rating (from what I've read), do make this one attractive.  I've touched the bag in the store and was surprised by the amount of down it was spitting out, and the fact that I could see through the shell into the insulation.  Given my general lack of ability to be tender with outdoor gear, what do you think?  Does it need extra attention to keep it in one piece?

5:45 p.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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a few general observations, some may seem pretty elementary:

-trying bags will help you figure out what fits and feels best. 

-used bags cost less, but like anything used, you should be fairly confident used does not equal abused.  used synthetic bags are a little bit of a crapshoot; if they were stored in an unduly small stuff sack, the loft can deteriorate pretty badly, pretty quickly.  so, you have to ask some intelligent questions about how the bag was used and stored, and hope the seller is trustworthy.  for down bags, just try to see if it has blown seams or baffles, messed up zippers, obvious rips. 

-for down bags, you're looking either at a used bag or one that uses lower-loft down, 600 fill most likely.  all that means is that the bag doesn't compress quite as much and weighs a little more. 

-down weighs less and stuffs into a meaningfully smaller space than synthetic fill; on the other hand, down sucks if it gets wet, whereas synthetic is marginally less miserable. 


for your price range, you should be able to find a bag pretty easily.  i wouldn't get hung up on brands.  for what it's worth, marmot and mountain hardwear make good bags, but quality for many brands is pretty good at the price point you are looking at. 

1:23 a.m. on October 9, 2011 (EDT)
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leadbelly2550, no observations offered in the spirit of friendliness and honesty are ever too elementary.  So, thanks.  Specifically, your advice on purchasing a used bag is great generally. The takeaway for me is that I would -- with a limited checklist -- be able to more likely securely select a used down bag than I would a synthetic bag.  For that reason, I think it would be best for me to concentrate any used shopping I do to down.

I have appreciated the advice I've received from all.  Because of this advice, I'm going to go into stores and try stuff on first.  I will also look at bags up to around $350 to allow for end-of-year sales or used purchases which might bring those bags into my actual price ceiling.  I will also look at slightly used down bags.

Thanks again!

2:57 a.m. on October 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Im not gonna be able to add anything to the excellent advice you've already gotten on various bags. But I will add to take your time once you find a bag you want. Shop it at all the online stores daily for a couple of weeks, you can ussualy find that some store has a sale going on that particular bag or one heck of a discount sale going.  ie. REI has 20% off on new, and 30% on outlet items sale right now, thats a pretty nice savings on a $200 item 

7:02 a.m. on October 9, 2011 (EDT)
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David, I have had no prblems at all with the Kelty bag, and have seen no down coming out. As far as the temp rating being true, mummy bags should fit snuggly. If they are over size you will have more air between yo and the bag. That air has to be warmed up before the bag will insulate you. To tight a bag will cause the insulation to compress and will lose it's r value. I have had a few bags, and I think that the fit is the most important factor as far as temp ratings.

As far as backpacking, the two most important things are #1 Tent, #2 bag. Take your time getting the right ones for you.

11:40 p.m. on October 9, 2011 (EDT)
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@mikemorrow, thanks for getting back.  perhaps what I saw was the one bag in the store and that example had been abused or was a lemon.  I'll try other stores.  Thanks for the advice on fit.  As far as snugness goes, I do roll around, so...I may have to upgrade the temp and opt for a looser bag, I'll get in a bunch and see what that's like.  Thanks for the tent advice, too, but I've yet to go solo, so at least until I get that income, I'll be sleeping in a trailmate's tent.

@azrhino, via that REI sale, I just found a Mountain Hardwear Spectre +20.  EN lower: 19f, EN comfort: 30f, wt: 2lbs 12oz, 800 fill goose down, waterproof, breathable, ripstop shell, stuff sack size is 8x14 (which means the horizontal compresses to less, no?), and sale+store giftcards = right in my price range.


Unless someone thinks I'm a fool.

8:21 a.m. on October 10, 2011 (EDT)
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No tent, no problem. I have one that I will PIF soon. I should be getting in a new backpack. When it gets here I'll let you know about the tent.

Dont know about PIF? Search it on trailspace.

April 5, 2020
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