Sleeping Bag Length For 5'7 Guy

9:11 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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   This is the year I finally upgrade my sleeping bag. I've used my MEC Something (the label wore off years ago, I forget the model) since 1999. It is a 6' sleeping bag, and although I haven't really had any complaints with the size, if I'm buying a new one, I'd like to get it as dialed as possible. It definitely flaps around my feet, so if I can shave off some extra weight, why not?

   The problem I'm coming up against in my research, is that sleeping bags tend to come in 5'6, 6'0, and up. I've read that some women's models come in a 5'10, but I can't find them. 

   Does anybody have any experience sleeping in a bag rated at 1" shorter than you are? I can imagine that if it's too short, I'd compress the down (I'm choosing down) at the feet. I've also read that they tend to be a bit longer as well. One article stated that a 6'0 sleeping bag would actually measure at 6'8.

   Help me, Trailspace. 

9:20 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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I am in that same, in between size. My preference is to have extra length rather than not enough. Hard to sleep well when you have to keep pulling at the covers to keep them on your shoulders.

If you are looking to cut weight, have you considered using a quilt in place of a bag? Assuming you are already using a pad or mattress, moving all the insulation to where it will be effective can drop a few grams.

10:57 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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Far better to deal with too much space than not enough - handy for keeping water bottles unfrozen, boots warm, etc.

10:59 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

"If you are looking to cut weight, have you considered using a quilt in place of a bag? Assuming you are already using a pad or mattress, moving all the insulation to where it will be effective can drop a few grams."

I haven't considered that, actually. Thanks. I'll check out some quilts.

 

11:15 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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I think a lot depends on your sleeping style. If you sleep on your side with your knees bent you will require less "height" (but possibly more width) and could use the shorter bag. If you sleep straight on your back or stomach then you need the longer length.

The wrong fit can affect not just comfort but also the warmth of your bag. If you have too much extra space in the footbox that will be less warm as some of the warmth you generate goes to warming that dead space (you can remedy this, however, by stuffing spare clothes in there or installing a couple of snaps on the inside that draw up the extra length). On the other hand, if your toes are pressing against the footbox that will compress the insulation in that spot, creating a cold spot.

A quilt is a great way to go (I switched several years ago and haven't looked back). You don't have the weight of fabric and insulation beneath you that will get compressed and ineffective, and they give you more width. It's more like sleeping "under" the quilt, as opposed to feeling like sleeping "in" a bag.

The right length and width, in an ultralight quilt, will get you the best weight savings.

11:16 a.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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hikermor said:

Far better to deal with too much space than not enough - handy for keeping water bottles unfrozen, boots warm, etc.

 Yeah that makes sense. Thanks.

6:24 p.m. on January 2, 2019 (EST)
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JRinGeorgia said:

A quilt is a great way to go (I switched several years ago and haven't looked back). You don't have the weight of fabric and insulation beneath you that will get compressed and ineffective, and they give you more width. It's more like sleeping "under" the quilt, as opposed to feeling like sleeping "in" a bag.

The right length and width, in an ultralight quilt, will get you the best weight savings.

   That's a lot of good points, JRinGeorgia. Thanks. I'm definitely going to look into quilts. Is there a brand/model you recommend? We're in Southern BC, just North of Montana/Idaho. We don't do a lot of winter camping, but it does get below freezing in the shoulder seasons. I've managed this last 20 years with a -5°C bag, and just dressed accordingly for colder weather. I feel like I'll probably do the same with this purchase.

   I really want something that will last another 20 years, so I'm going to do quite a bit of research. I appreciate your input.

8:58 a.m. on January 3, 2019 (EST)
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Backpacking quilts are mainly from smaller/cottage shops. The main players are EnlightenedEquipment, Jacks R Better, Underground Quilts, Hammock Gear, Nunatak, Zpacks, and Loco Libre. Some of the major manufacturers also have begun to come out with a quilt or a more bed-like sleeping bag.

I have owned 3 from Enlightened Equipment, great quality at a decent price. Not to take anything away from the others.

Note that some people don't like quilts for true winter/cold weather camping. A quilt could let drafts in on the sides, though with attachment straps and proper fit I've never had a problem with that and many others say it's not an issue for them either. A quilt does not have a hood built in so you would need not just a warm cap but in really cold temps something that covers your neck and parts of your face as well.

And, needless to say, a big part of the warmth you experience from a quilt or sleeping bag is from the pad you use, make sure it has an R value of 5+ for true winter camping. You can use an air pad and foam pad together, the R values are additive.

12:52 p.m. on January 3, 2019 (EST)
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I've been using quilts for about seven years now. EE, Hammock Gear, ThermaRest are all in my quiver and I tested one by Kammok for the GRC. Lots of options out there as far as colors and temperature ratings. You'll also have to decide between synthetic insulation or down.

Like JR mentioned, it isn't for everyone, but there is a pretty good resale market if you try a quilt and find it really isn't your thing. I don't use a bag any more at all, even sub zero. Folks who like them tend to never look back.

8:12 a.m. on January 4, 2019 (EST)
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Good question Poppa, I'm the same height and have struggled with the exact same choice. I've gone with the larger bag each time and haven't noticed any issues. I do plan to get a quilt this year and give that a go as these guys have influenced me over the years. :)

9:39 p.m. on January 4, 2019 (EST)
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Yeah, I'm going to give it a shot too. I kind of like the idea of buying from a smaller manufacturer as well. They're definitely not cheap though.

9:14 a.m. on January 5, 2019 (EST)
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LilPoppa said:

They're definitely not cheap though.

 But remember:

   if I'm buying a new one, I'd like to get it as dialed as possible.

   I really want something that will last another 20 years 

"Cheap" is relative. You could spend less, but it would be heavier and quality may not be as good. You won't be getting as dialed in as possible, and it won't last as well for 20 years.

It takes a bite up front, but it's not a "cost" -- it's an investment. With a high quality, high fill-power down quilt, you're getting state of the art and it can last a lifetime. And there's nothing on the horizon to suggest a way to significantly drop more weight off a 20F quilt that's already under 20 oz.

What you don't want to do is get on the "wheel of upgrades" trap that we all have fallen into at one time or another, and some people never break out of. You start with basic, cheap equipment because you don't want to spend a lot and you don't yet know what you're doing. Then you get some experience and want to swap out your kit but don't invest for the high-end stuff so strive for a balance of cost vs. weight/quality that you think is reasonable. But what happens is that your definition of reasonable starts to change. You see how much lighter you can go. So you upgrade again. And again. Several problems with this approach:

  • By the time you do upgrade to top-of-the-line you've spent way more than if you had bitten the bullet on price way back when.
  • When you upgrade to top quality ultralight you immediately gain the full benefits, while making incremental upgrades leaves you carrying what you'll ultimately determine is extra weight.
  • It's harder to justify incremental changes -- each upgrade still costs a pretty penny, but since you're not getting the most weight savings possible you're settling for less weight savings, which is harder to justify against the expense vs. spending a little more and getting that final, lasting upgrade.

I'm not saying everyone needs to go ultralight, what I am saying is that you should think of a gear purchase as a serious lifetime investment. For many reasons it makes sense to reach for the very best you realistically can.

February 20, 2019
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