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#129221 - 02/21/10 09:45 AM Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag???
AKLoganTX Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/19/10
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas
For many years I have used my North Face cat's meow and it has served me well. But the time has come to find its replacement.
I remembered a friend of mine in college bought a REI sub Kilo which seemed like an excellent bag. (20 degrees, very light and packed down to the size of a large grapefruit)Unfortunately it appears that this bag has been discontinued.

So my question is what is the lightest 20 degree bag that you know of.

Thank you

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#129223 - 02/21/10 10:03 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I do not personally own one as they are a bit pricey for me at this time. But I have read nothing but good about the WEstern Mountaineering ultra light! People state there temp ratings are on the low side. I beleive rei carrys them around 400.00
Good luck the lighter it is the priceyer. However with good care they can last for years.

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#129224 - 02/21/10 10:12 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Kent W]
AKLoganTX Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/19/10
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas
Yes, I have seen the Western Mountaineering bags and really like them. I was hoping that I could find something that I wouldn't have to save up as long for. But I guess all good things come with time right?

I have been entertaining the idea of attempting to build a bag but my sewing skills ate a bit lacking.
Is there a down that is better than 900 fill?

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#129225 - 02/21/10 10:44 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By AKLoganTX
Yes, I have seen the Western Mountaineering bags and really like them. I was hoping that I could find something that I wouldn't have to save up as long for. But I guess all good things come with time right?

I have been entertaining the idea of attempting to build a bag but my sewing skills ate a bit lacking.
Is there a down that is better than 900 fill?


The big question is what are you prepared to spend? WM, Montbell and Feathered Friends all make high quality bags, but they will also set you back $400+. Campmor has a budget down bag that people who are trying to find the lowest price to weight ratio seem to really like.



Edited by ChrisFol (02/21/10 11:31 AM)

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#129227 - 02/21/10 11:00 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: ChrisFol]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I own the WM Ultralight and it is indeed a fine piece of gear, and ditto have heard the same things about Feathered Friends (I have their down booties and like them) and Campmor down bags for folks on a budget.

It might be, however, that a different phrasing of the question would better serve. Temp ratings applied to bags vary a lot, so that one of two 20F rated bags that's lighter weight unfortunately could also be substantially less warm. Typically folks solve this by sort of adjusting their expectations based on the manufacturer quality, so that a Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Nunatak sort of bag is expected to be more "honestly rated"; I think Montbell might be pretty good too, if not quite up to the standards of those others (?).

At some point, the European rating standard may take hold here, EN13537. This article says that in the U.S. only REI, Mountain Hardware, and Marmot have adopted the standard so far.

Another approach is to ignore the rating and look at the total loft (assuming, of course, that THAT is consistently and honestly measured ...). For example, I think that Jacks 'R' Better doesn't give temp ratings for their quilts, but just the loft.

Bottom line though, for me, is that just measuring the weight of the bag isn't sufficient if I don't have a good handle on how warm the bag might really be.

I should also say that if weight is paramount for you, there are some interesting dual use type of approaches out there where you sleeping bag (or quilt) sort of doubles as camp clothing. Jacks 'R' Better as listed above is one example; an Exped Wallcreeper is another, and Nunatak does a different sort of hybrid (half) bag approach.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#129229 - 02/21/10 11:31 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I have a Jacks R Better 3 season quilt and can say that I slept comfortably into the low 20F temps with it. 20 oz.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#129231 - 02/21/10 11:43 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Another vote for the WM Ultralight--mine is about ten years old and still in great shape. The FF equivalent Hummingbird is likewise excellent. Other high-end choices include the Valandre Mirage and Nunatak Alpinist. For maximum warmth for minimum bulk and weight, they can't be bettered unless you look at quilts and top bags.

IMHO competing bags are a step down from this category but there is no reason to avoid them. The Marmot Helium is a nice bag and can be found on sale by the persistent shopper--probably for under $300.

Happy shopping.

Originally Posted By AKLoganTX
For many years I have used my North Face cat's meow and it has served me well. But the time has come to find its replacement.
I remembered a friend of mine in college bought a REI sub Kilo which seemed like an excellent bag. (20 degrees, very light and packed down to the size of a large grapefruit)Unfortunately it appears that this bag has been discontinued.

So my question is what is the lightest 20 degree bag that you know of.

Thank you
_________________________
--Rick

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#129253 - 02/21/10 02:41 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
Loc: Portland, OR
The lightest 20 degree bag will not only be very pricey, but is very likely to have less than a full side zipper, which saves maybe an ounce, but also would limit your ability to ventilate it when the night is merely coolish. Just be sure to evaluate other factors beside the number of grams it weighs, before you sink a load of money on a premium bag.

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#129292 - 02/22/10 08:56 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Another vote for Western Mountaineering. I've had a couple of their bags, and found them to be about 5 degrees conservative. So, you might look at the Western Mountaineering Megalite, which is a 30-degree bag - but I've used it with longjohns down to 25 degrees, and with a down sweater to 20 degrees. Add light down pants, and you're good to 15. The bag weighs just over a pound and a half; the clothing is what I'd be taking regardless of bag choice.

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#129301 - 02/22/10 12:26 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
Redfacery Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 82
Loc: NY
Speaking of Campmor being more budget, I have been using a 40F down bag for several years, and have never really been warm enough in it, even summer nights well above 40.

Last month I got a 20F Kelty synthetic bag - I know, heavy, but compare the price. It came to 78$ at my door. If you're talking about more than 300$ extra, go for it, I'll pay for gas and food for a dozen trips and carry the extra weight the whole time.

Of course, I would sing a different tune with a light-weight down in my possession...

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#129302 - 02/22/10 12:37 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Redfacery]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
A handy thought experiment is to amortize an expen$ive down bag over ten years or more. It's relatively easy to get a decade or two out of a down bag and the cost per year really isn't bad. The problem of course is you can't set up a ten-year payment plan on a sleeping bag. shocked

By contrast I've never had a synth bag retain its loft nearly that long. They seem to start going flat after about five years, despite my taking scrupulous care of them.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#129303 - 02/22/10 12:46 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Rick_D]
idahosteve Offline
member

Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 62
Loc: Idaho
Along the lines of amortizing your bag out is the other question that I didn't see here in your post? What EXACTLY are you using your bag for? 20 degrees sends you past the "typical" seasons, and that would make me ask just how many nights are you going to be out where a true 20 degree bag is needed? If you only do a couple of trips in these shoulder seasons, then you could do with a true 30 degree bag, and then add some clothes to make up for the temps, or an additional pad to insulate better?? I use a 30 degree MH bag, with 800 down fill, and regularly get into the 20's with it. I just add base layer, and a good hat and I'm good to go. Then I have the added benefit of having a really light bag all sumer as well. Worth thinking about! So in summary, really plot exactly how many nights you would need a true 20 degree bag.
_________________________
I dare you to move, like today never happened...
-Switchfoot-

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#129307 - 02/22/10 01:07 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: AKLoganTX]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
My wife & I have the older and newer WM Ultralight. They are both good bags and the newer one with the draft collar is very nice.

Just a comment about temp ranges. People have mentioned that what is comfortable varies from one individual to another, but you should also be aware that it varies from day to day for the same individual. About 3 years ago in January in the Grand Canyon I had the toughest solo hiking day of my life. I was wiped out when I crawled into the bag about 10:30. Temps didn't get down to freezing and I was definitely cool all night even with longies and fleece and down jacket. Not so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep, but definitely on the edge. The next night, at higher elevation, the temps got down below freezing and I was warm and toasty and didn't need to wear as much. Same bag, but a completely different set of physical parameters -- early vs. late start, half the mileage, 1/3 the elevation change, leisurely pace vs. really pushing it, well hydrated and fed vs. going to bed on empty.

Based on that experience, I would say that my physical state created a 14* variable in the "comfort range" of the bag. The first night the thermometer in the campground showed a 34* low and the next night, my tea bag froze solid and I have no doubt I could have been warm down to the 20* rating of the bag.

Your sleeping bag is arguably a critical piece of survival gear (don't we need to survive every day?). When you are "out there" you will absolutely not care about whether you saved $100 if you are not comfortable. Poor sleep and hypothermia are classic predecessors to outdoor tragedies.

One further comment: Going out into the yard from a warm house after a nice supper and a day sitting in the office to "test" a sleeping bag is not a valid trial -- or at least should be taken with several grains of salt. Personally, I would add about 10* to the rating of the bag based on "yard testing".
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#129310 - 02/22/10 01:13 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Keith]
rionada Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 493
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
WM Ultralight. I've had it for six years. As well as using it for camping trips - I took it around the world for 4 months. Slept in it or under it almost every night. Still works like new. Has a full zipper. Super warm. Very light. Worth every penny.

rionada
_________________________
i really don't think that applies to me.

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#129311 - 02/22/10 01:21 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Redfacery]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Originally Posted By Redfacery
Last month I got a 20F Kelty synthetic bag - I know, heavy, but compare the price. It came to 78$ at my door. If you're talking about more than 300$ extra, go for it, I'll pay for gas and food for a dozen trips and carry the extra weight the whole time.


Well, actually not. The synthetic bag will go flat in 5 to as little as 2 years and the down will be going strong at 20.
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#129312 - 02/22/10 01:34 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Keith]
Redfacery Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 82
Loc: NY
Then give me a few years, and I will get back to you to say how right you are! grin

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#129313 - 02/22/10 01:41 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Redfacery]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I've also used synthetic bags, especially when cost was more of an issue than it is now (empty nesting is VASTLY underrated!) They always performed well, and there's nothing wrong with using them. However, there was no going back once I got my first down bag (a TNF Blue Kazoo, back when North Face bags were held in somewhat the same awe as Western Mountaineering bags are now.)

Price does matter, a lot; quality matters even more. Given the choice between spending the same amount of money on a lower-tier down bag versus a top-notch synthetic bag, I'd probably choose the synthetic.

By the way, I've also used the Marmot Hydrogen and Helium, and they're quite good, too. The ratings are pretty much dead on, not conservative like the WM appear to be. (For the same temperature rating, I found the WM bag to be warmer.)

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#129321 - 02/22/10 02:20 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Glenn]
rionada Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 493
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
I'm going to have to agree with Keith. I've owned several high quality synthetic bags and none lasted more than a year (I did use them alot - roughly every other weekend and more). They were from reputable manufacturers (Sierra Designs and North Face - from when NF was good) and I was able to return them when they lost their loft. I eventually talked them into a swap for down bags. That was 15 years ago and I still own those down bags and they still function wonderfully. I have since switched to a WM Ultralight to save weight.

If you don't use them too much and you store them properly - I'm sure that you'll get your moneys worth out of the synthetic bag, but over the long haul I think down wins the race.

rionada
_________________________
i really don't think that applies to me.

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#129326 - 02/22/10 02:52 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: rionada]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Oops - left that part out of my reply. My synthetic bags usually died after a year or three of moderate use; longevity was one reason I sprung for a good down bag when I could afford it. I fully agree with you and Keith that a good down bag will outlast a good synthetic. (I can't speak to whether a second-tier down bag will outlast a first-tier synthetic since I never owned a second-tier down bag.)

I guess my point was more in the nature of affordability: I remember a time when I couldn't afford $400 all at once for a good down bag, but could afford $100 - $150 every two or three years for a good synthetic bag. Within those constraints (and recognizing that if I could have made the synthetic last for 5 or 6 years, I could have saved up), I'd choose a good synthetic over a mediocre down bag.

When I no longer had to operate within those constraints, there was no longer any hesitation: I gladly forked over the money for a good down bag.

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#129331 - 02/22/10 03:31 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Glenn]
rionada Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 493
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
I wouldn't say that I gladly forked over the money for a good down bag. It was more like begrudgingly forked over the money. But, It was money well spent - and I am glad that I did it.

rionada
_________________________
i really don't think that applies to me.

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#129333 - 02/22/10 04:03 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: rionada]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
I agree 100%. I would rather spend the additional required for a high quality down bag, than purchase a cheaper one that will need replacing in a few short years.

That being said, I have three bags. Two high quality bags; a +20 and a zero degree bag, my third is a really inexpensive and light +40 degree bag that I use for the height of summer when my +20 is just too warm.

Honestly, when my two bags need replacing I will gladly shell out the same kind of money again. A good quality down bag is the best backpacking purchase one can make IMHO.

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#129338 - 02/22/10 04:24 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Glenn]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Originally Posted By Glenn
I guess my point was more in the nature of affordability: I remember a time when I couldn't afford $400 all at once for a good down bag, but could afford $100 - $150 every two or three years for a good synthetic bag. Within those constraints (and recognizing that if I could have made the synthetic last for 5 or 6 years, I could have saved up), I'd choose a good synthetic over a mediocre down bag.


Good point Glenn. I see that what I wrote could come across as being sort of a gear snob. I think sometimes people may perceive it that way even when it is not intended.

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do and there's nothing wrong with that at all. The key thing to be aware of is that you aren't really "saving" money but just accommodating your current cash-flow situation in a creative way that will get you out on the trail -- and that is certainly a legitimate trade-off in my book: more days on the trail sooner at a higher Total Cost of Ownership rather than a lower TCO later.

Perhaps it's kind of like the difference between home ownership and renting. Owning is generally cheaper -- but in the meantime, you need somewhere to stay.
_________________________
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.

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#129353 - 02/22/10 09:41 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Keith]
skinewmexico Offline
member

Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 81
Love my WM Megalite, but I only have it because I found it on a great sale. You could always buy used, I saw a used 20 degree FF bag for $125 the other day. Didn't last long. Or get a Rab for 40% off at Campsaver - Rab @ Campsaver

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#129386 - 02/23/10 07:00 PM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: skinewmexico]
Tangohkr Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 57
Loc: Arizona
http://www.geartrade.com/browse/106/94/181

On the first page it has a Big Agnes Gilpin 10 degree down bag for $169. And a Montbell superstretch hugger #5 long for $119.00 tags still on it. It is the 650 fill power not the new 800. The longer a piece of gear is on the site the price drops. I didn't look further so maybe some great deals on the next pages.

I have bought several things from Gear Trade and have been very happy with them. I got an 11 oz down jacket that I saw for $189 at other places for $47 at my door!


Edited by Tango (02/23/10 07:17 PM)
_________________________
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

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#129422 - 02/24/10 07:54 AM Re: Lightest 20 degree sleeping bag??? [Re: Tangohkr]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Check the Big Agnes bag carefully before you buy it. I don't know about this particular bag, but the bags on their website are very clear: they are designed without any bottom insulation, and you insert a sleeping pad (naturally, they recommend one of theirs) in the sleeve that forms the bottom of the bag.

I'm not knocking their bags; this is just something you need to be aware of if you're considering one of them. (I have no experience with their bags, but haven't heard anything that would make me shy away from them.)

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