Hello! I will be starting a new job in February as a field instructor with a wilderness therapy program. I will be backpacking year-round in ochoco national forest near Bend, OR. I need to purchase a new sleeping bag for the winter season, and I’m looking for recommendations. Temperatures in the area can get down to 5-10 degrees F, the average low for the coldest month is 17 F. My orientation packet recommends a -15 degree bag, but this seems like maybe overkill?! I’m wondering if I can get away with a 0 degree bag if using a bivy (OR Helium) and a liner. We’ll be sleeping under tarps, not in tents, and my sleeping pad has an R value of 5.
I don’t feel excited about shelling out $500+ on a bag I’ll only be using a couple of months a year. I would love input on how warm of a bag I actually need, and recommendations for specific bags (preferably less than $300). Weight is somewhat of a factor—we will be backpacking up to 10 miles in a day, but not every day. So not looking for ultralight but it needs to be compressible and reasonably lightweight. Durability will be really important as I’ll be sleeping in it every night on a one week on, one week off schedule.
Thanks so much for any input and recommendations!