Hey folks! I've been browsing on here for awhile and finally decided to take it to the next level. I'm an avid camper/hiker and recently got into backpacking in the last year or so. My goal is to go light and buying new gear one at a time as I get the money. I've narrowed down some sleeping bags and I'm looking for some input or other bag suggestions that aren't on the list. Mainly I'll be backpacking in MN and the surrounding area with the hopes of the Superior Hiking trail this year, and working my way to Isle Royal maybe next year and the big trips. Most likely I'll be backpacking in the Midwest and Canada from early spring to late fall. I'm a 5'4" female but male bags always fit better for me. I'm a little over weight (hope to change that) but pretty muscular so I'll need a slightly bigger bag, plus I move around a lot at night. I sleep warm. Hoe that helps.
Also I'm hovering in the degree ratings and unsure if I should go 15/20 degrees or if 30 will be plenty.
-Western Mountaineering Megalite -Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger # 3 -Big Agnes Heart Mountain SL 30 -Big Agnes Zirkel SL 20 -Big Agnes Mystic SL 15 (Big Agnes depends on what rating I'll go for)
Western Mountaineering, if price is at best a minor consideration. I've found all WM bags to be about 5 degrees conservative - that is, the WM Megalite is really about a 25 degree bag, which you can push down to 20 with long johns, stocking cap, and maybe a down vest - or, as I did last weekend, 15 wearing a down jacket and down pants over longjohns inside the vest. (The WM Flash hooded jacket and pants are great, when you get ready to look for insulating garments.)
If you decide to go with a 20 degree bag, try the WM Alpinlite. It has a draft collar that fits around both the front and the back of your neck, and cinches down separately (which means you have 4 cords, one each for the hood, chest, front draft collar, and back draft collar.) In this, I stayed warm with longjohns to 10, and to zero or just below with the down jacket, pants, and booties.)
The Marmot "Element" series would be my second choice (Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Atom); their ratings are pretty much dead on.
I'd get a bag rated to 15F. In general, females need a bag rated 10-15 degrees colder than males due to metabolism rate differences.
I have the Montbell #3. I like and recommend it, but it's not rated conservatively at all. In general, you can't actually sleep in a position which stretches the bag significantly because there will be a cold spot where your knee or shoulder is uninsulated. They work well unzipped and used as a quilt too.
I've considered trying the Big Agnes bags, but I'm a bit skeptical of drafts and cold spots with that design.
Loc: Washington State, King County
I too suggest that a 30F rated bag sounds light for most people for the areas and time range that you want to cover. No way to know for certain, however; what you might consider is renting a bag and going on a trip in the near future (I think this counts as early season still for three season hiking) to get a sense for what works for you personally.
In terms of manufacturers, I only have experience with Western Mountaineering, but I quite like their products FWIW.
Thanks for the help. I guess when I say early spring to late fall I should elaborate. I generally wouldn't go when the lows are below freezing. That's where I was caught with the temp rating and where to go because the vast majority of my backpacking would be during the warm season. Renting is a good idea, I should check into that. Price is no matter. Well I want to be realistic, but if I also know that if I'm gonna spend the money on a new bag, then that bag will last me years.
I'm also thinking of a no go for Big Agnes. I'm not fond of having a mat shoved in the special pocket. I'd be nice to sit up in my bag
Loc: Northern Maine
Originally Posted By watertones
What do you all think about the Western Mountaineering Megalite with a liner for spring/fall? That way I can save on weight and volume in the summer months.
Its a bit spendy for my tastes, but I have heard good things about that bag. I Live in Northern Maine and it gets cold here, even in the summer! I myself use a 35f bag and a homemade liner in the cooler temps, and in even cooler temps a homemade linger and a wool blanket. Works well and lets you save money on not having to have more than one bag in your collection.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I tried a silk liner once. Got thoroughly tangled up, every time. In addition, although the package said it would add 9*F to the bag, I could detect absolutely no difference with it or without it.
Since I sleep cold, I'd rather have a warmer bag. Some try wearing more insulating clothing (down jacket and pants) inside a warmer bag to stretch the rating. Works for some, not others.
If you're going to be in northern Minnesota, I'd suggest a 20* Western Mountaineering bag--Ultralite or Megalite, depending on girth needed. Be sure to measure shoulder girth over your arms while wearing all your insulating clothing. That will take you down to at least 15*F or a bit lower, if your sleeping pad is warm enough. If it's a hot night in summer, just leave the bag unzipped and lie on top or use it as a quilt.
Edited by OregonMouse (04/03/1111:07 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Watertones nice to see a fellow upper midwesterner even if you are from Minnesota . I don't know how close you live to Lake Superior. But if you've haven't had much exposure to it you may want to consider a 20 degree and skip the 30 with a liner the extra weight and volume isn't really worth it. The only months you might be warm would be July and August. I just leave my bag unzipped and use it like a quilt during the warmer nights. The SHT sits close enough to the lake that you get a pretty steady on shore winds from daytime heating which will match the lake's surface temp which is generally below 50 degrees add to that a fog or fine mist that often follows the winds off the lake and a little warmer bag is nice to counter the damp air. Its based on my experiances from backpacking along the upper Great lakes and working at a golf course a few miles away from Lake Michigan.
Yay Midwest! I live in the cities now, but I grew up in Northern MN by the BWCA area. I'm very familiar with how Superior is, but thanks for the heads up! I found a killer deal on a montbell Super Stretch 7, which I believe they don't make anymore. It's rated a 50 degrees, which would be perfect for me in the warm summer months. So that should solve my summer heat problem. So now I'm back to getting a bag that is rated for 20 degrees or 30 degrees.