Unfortunately your not going to find the "ultimate sleeping bag" under $180 bucks. A sleeping bag should be considered an investment. I'm not saying you have to spend tons of money, but as one of the most essential pieces of gear you will ever own, it should be placed high on the priority list.
A sleeping bag will either make or break your trip (comfort and warmth), will be the item which will save you the most weight or weigh your pack down the most, will last you 20+ years (quality down bag) or as little as 3 years (cheap synthetic), and will be the item that gets you excited to get out or will be the item that causes you to never want to backpack again. It is in my "holy grail" category (pack, tent, sleeping bag, pad). You buy quality here and they will last a lifetime.
I would stick with down if at all possible because they give you much more value than even the best synthetics. Down bags compress smaller, last significantly longer, are far more comfortable, but are more expensive. I've owned several Polarguard bags and they have a life of about 10 years max. before losing all loft. Any other type of synthetic fill will last about 5 years or less.
My suggestion would be the Marmot Sawtooth as a starting point (retails for around $200.00). You get an excellent bag, 600 fill down, the best hood IMO, a temp rating of 20 degrees, and reasonable weight and packability. Kelty down bags are ok, but lack the proper fit, construction, and are often not as warm as they claim. However, if it's between a Kelty down bag and any other synthetic I would go with Kelty. My only other suggestion would to keep my eyes open and be patient looking for a deal. Steep and Cheap have had decent down bags, most recently (a couple of days ago) a Big Agnes down bag and pad, retailing for around $350 for $170. Sierra Trading Post also have options, but I would be concerned in how they fit. Often there is a reason why they are on closeout.
My 2 cents.
Believe, then you will Understand...
Loc: California (southern)
A hearty "Amen" to Jason Livy's post. I spent five weeks salary on my first good sleeping bag many years ago. I used if for over fifteen years on all kids of trips and situations, and it gave me many warm and comfortable nights. I often chuckled when I thought about what a good bargain that apparently stupendous expense turned out to be, snuggled down in my bag while the wind screamed and the snow fell. That bag never wore out - it was eventually stolen.
This has been my experience every time I have spent serious money on well researched "core gear" (for me, that is sleeping bag, backpack, and boots). Money is trivial when we get out in serious conditions. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Loc: north carolina
Check the REI Sub-Kilo bag, it's often on sale for less than $200, and otherwise meets your specs.
We still have an original Mountain Hardwear Phantom bag, rated to 32-F and only 21 ounces. It's a size regular -- theoretically fits to six feet even. I might could be persuaded to part with it. (My wife has since moved on to a Western Mountaineering Ultralite Super.)
I snagged a discontinued Mountainsmith 30-degree pound-and-a-half down bag for around $150 (IIRC) that would fit the bill. (I also got my WM Ultralite on sale for under $200.) You only have to be patient and persistent, and jump when the opportunity presents itself. Good deals tend to disappear quickly.
I am looking for a bag that meets the following criteria:
1. Light (around 2 lbs or less) 2. Under $180.00 3. Good to at least 35 degrees F.
Is it possible? (Why do I predict that the first replies will be one word: "no")
Today Steep and Cheap had the Marmot Hydrogen (mens large) for 152.29! I own this bag and paid $300.00. I'm not at all disappointed because it has been an excellent companion on many trips. Like Rick D. said, keep you eyes open and jump at the opportunities. They will come;).
Believe, then you will Understand...
Jason, and others, I'd not be too quick to dismiss synthetic fills for sleeping bags until you know the conditions the user will encounter. Any damp cold climates will wilt the down faster than you can type a reply to this. I once had to help a camper out in Hawaii who thought a down bag in the Winter there would work <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> With as damp a climate as HI has it left him with no warmth on a 40f night. I lent him a synthetic bag and he survived the night and bought the bag from me the next day.
In Southern New England I rarely use a down bag in the lower altitudes due to the damp wet. I prefer syn bags even though they are bulkier, they stay drier, lighter over a longer period of use, and can be field dried easier than down. But that's my personal preference after many years in the wet cold, YMMV. To each their own. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
Leave price out of the equation, then you can find the ultimate bag for your needs. A good down bag is going to last you probably 20 years of normal use. if the one you really want is $200 more, then you're talking about $10/year to have the best instead of something less. Per night it's going to be less than a buck. Think about it. I'd say it's better to wait a little longer so you can save up the extra dough than to get less than the best when it is something as important to the enjoyment of your trips as a good night's sleep.
I agree with Paul, we've all spent money on worthless junk for everything else in our lives <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> The way to look at the price of QUALITY (not name brand hype) outdoor goods is that YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON THEM, and then spend what you think your Life is worth <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
If you pay rent or make any other significant financial payments (like buying a house), the cost of outdoor gear pales in significance. I was always amazed at how much STUFF a month's worth of rent could purchase instead of a cozy apartment. A buddy in college was obsessed with avoiding paying rent in order to save money... he slept in our closet for a while and hawked me a few pieces of old gear in exchange.
Take $500, about a month's rent around here in California, depending on just where you live. That's the price of both a good winter bag, and a good summer bag. Or buy a tent, and a bag. Or buy a pack, camera, clothing, books, and 3 months worth of food with it. EVERY MONTH. Makes me think about moving out <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Once you realize this and what everyone else has said, you can buy gear confidently if you know you will use it well, despite a high initial price tag.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Uh, well, unfortunately most of us still have to pay the rent or house payment, unless we want to go live in our tents under a bridge! I fully agree that a high quality sleeping bag is worth saving up for, but I don't think it's worth going into debt for (especially not with credit card interest rates!). For those who face this situation, it has to be something less than ideal---or used gear--for now and start saving!
Check out Backcountry Gear; they are having a holiday sale on a number of good sleeping bags. Go through the TLB Gear Portal at the top of this page.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Bridge... tent... sounds good. I can still get electricity and post on forums, right? Oh wait...
Yes, I wasn't seriously suggesting moving into the wild unless that's your thing <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> It does help to put the price into comparison.
There's an old saying - you can get it done fast, cheap, or well. Pick two. For hiking, it's more like: You can get light, cheap, or quality. Pick two. Makes a lot of sense if you think about it. OregonMouse is right, if the original poster compromises on one of their demands, they will end up happy. Secondhand bags are cheap and quality... or cheap and light. But if you want a quality light bag, it won't be cheap.
The ultimate bag? How about 1lb at 35F (instead of your stated 2lb). If you’re patient you can get used Western Mountain Highlite bags on eBay for $180. I see them go about twice/year (but not in December <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />).
Here is a well made down bag that meets the specified criteria.
1. Light (less than 2 lbs) 2. Under $180.00 3. Good to at least 35 degrees
Luxury Lite V Bag 1 pound 14.2 ounces $125.00 4-inch two-layer loft
I need four inches of two-layer loft to stay warm down to 30-35 degrees in a tent or under a tarp with no breeze. And that is what I got with my new V Bag. So far I really like the salient feature of this bag-the center zipper, but I will need to add a couple of Velcro tabs, as the zipper won’t lock in place. That is the only complaint I have with the bag so far and that is one that is easy to fix yourself or ask Luxury Lite to do it before they ship it. I certainly agree that your sleeping bag is no place to skimp on quality vs. price. I have never owned an ultimate sleeping bag but, IMHO this is a well made down bag and the price is right. I paid $125 without any pillow and the bag is now listed at $165 with the 2.5-ounce air-foam Ultralite Pillowpad.
Luxury Lite specifies loft vs. weight instead of fill power of their down as you can easily measure both loft and weight. No one really knows the fill power of their down bag-they only know what the manufacture claims is the fill power. A couple of the top bag manufactures are well known for conservative fill power and temperature ratings. But there are also some that maybe stretch the truth a little. All you can do is measure the loft and check the weight and see if that bag works for you.
"I would stick with down if at all possible because they give you much more value than even the best synthetics. Down bags compress smaller, last significantly longer, are far more comfortable, but are more expensive."
Far more comfortable? (huh?) Value? Synthetics are generally cheaper for those with similar levels of quality and warmth. The top synthetics (i.e. Primaloft) will resist moisture much better than Down and will continue to insulate at least some degree if wet - down won't. For those who say that their down bag never gets wet, they are wrong. Everytime we sleep we emit about 1.5L of moisture over a 7 hour period - more if we are sweating to any great degree. Every down bag will absorb this moisture and lose some of its loft and hence ability to retain heat until it can be dried out, which may or may not be possible on the trail. This is not the case with the top synthetics. Synthetics will also resist loft breakdown over time due to compression - down bags will not. Down bags will last longer if taken care of but they also tend to be fragile.
However, synthetics will be heavier than their down competitors, apples to apples, with similar temp ratings.
IMO I don't like synthetic bags as they just take longer to warm up. I am a cold person, and I want to be warm fast when I get in my bag. Down does that. It simply feels better. Reason why I use both down at home and on the trail.
Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond: www.trailcooking.com
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Everytime we sleep we emit about 1.5L of moisture over a 7 hour period - more if we are sweating to any great degree. Every down bag will absorb this moisture and lose some of its loft and hence ability to retain heat until it can be dried out
Oddly enough my quilt never weighs over three pounds MORE, each morning. I'm pretty sure I'd notice that. Winter camping aside, I would not assume that moisture sweated out is automatically trapped by a bag. It's vapor, and (obviously) most of it passes through the material.
Don't trust this often-repeated statistic and ones like it without a quick grounding in common sense. Winter expeditions report stuff like this; not in my 3-season experience however.
Yup - should have said that the down will absorb some of this moisture, not all of it. (some of that moisture comes from your breath, which doesn't hit the sleeping bag) Did not mean that the entire 1.5L would end up in the bag as you mentioned (Yikes). But over multiple days in cold or humid conditions, a down bag could very well look like a pancake. I assume this is why many expeditions into high altitude, cold conditions will employ high loft synthetic bags over down.
I was not speaking about winter hiking; 3 season for some of us means facing a lot of moisture during these months - i.e. 12K feet in the Rockies.
I would like to know the fill power because then you can judge the price better. But at least he’s giving specs at 2 lbs total weight and must be greater than 8cm loft. This corresponds to a 40F rating.
Based on 2lbs and 3.15”, I think Luxerylite needs to lower their price from $165. As a comparison, the 5” loft and 2.25lb Campmor 20F bag http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores...mberId=12500226 is $110. If that loft can be knocked down to 3” (which would drop the weight), I’m sure the bag would cost less.
So compared to other good quality bags and comparable weights, I’m thinking this Vbag would be more of a deal at $80. The Vbag has less down (because of lower loft) thus should be cheaper. Down is the most expensive component. The Fill Power should dictate the price. If he’s using 550 down, then it should be $80. If he’s using 850 fill, then it should be lighter (at the same loft) AND more expensive <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
To be fair to the LuxuryLite V Bag, it two-layer lofts at a full 4-inches. The 8cm loft was the minimum loft specified to the manufacturer but they have exceeded that with 4-inches loft as stated on their web site. And the bag I bought did measured out at four inches and it weighed 1-pound 14.2-ounces. It cost $125 plus $10 shipping/no pillow. That was about the first of November, now it is on sale as a package deal now listed at $165 with the 2.5-ounce air-foam Ultralite Pillowpad.
I don’t disagree with you about fill power at all, but I can’t measure it without removing down samples from the bag. As I ain’t gonna do that-I have to use loft and weight and compare same size bags. And according to Western Mountaineering, fill power can vary a full 10%. So 850 down would be anywhere between about 810 and 890.
Here are some more comparisons: Two 20-degree bags @ 6’6” long x 32” wide x 5” loft: Campmor 20------20oz. of 550 down-----38oz tot.wt---------$120 WM AlpinLite-----19oz. of 850 down-----29oz tot. wt.-------$400 Difference----------1oz.------------------------9oz-------------------- $280 I understand the difference in total weight due to the heavier fabric in the Campmor bag, but I don’t see how 20oz. of 550 can equal 19oz. of 850 down? And the equal 20-degree rating when the AlpinLite has a down collar and the Campmor does not.
Two 30-degree bags @ 6’6” long x 30” wide x 4” loft: LuxuryLite V Bag-------?? oz. of ??? down----30oz tot. wt-----$125 WM SummerLite--------10oz. of 850 down------21oz tot. wt.----$260 Difference------------------??--------??-----------------9oz-----------------$135
Looks like it is going to cost roughly $100 to over $250 to save less than a pound and get close to that ultimate sleeping bag. And in the long run it may well be worth it. A well made, well cared for down bag will last just about forever. So an extra couple of hundred bucks prorate out to a couple of six packs per year. There are a lot of other things to consider in choosing a bag then what a simple chart can show, such as quality of workmanship and materials, comfort and fit, extra features, and good sales when you find them. And I don’t want to give up my center zipper
IMHO it makes a great quilt. That is the way I like to use all my sleeping bags unless it is too cold then I will zip up. The V bag center zipper is full lenght and as a quilt it puts the hood right in the middle. As a side sleeper the hood lays over my shoulder and tucks around my ear. I have only used the bag a couple of times but I think it will be my sleeping quilt from now on. And that solves the non-locking zipper problem. Us quilt users don't need no stinking zippers!
Loc: Hervey Bay, QLD Australia
Two years ago I bit the bullet and bought a WM Versalite Super. Now I can't imagine sleeping in anything else. It's not just the weight savings that you are buying, but the thoughtful quality construction. (this is not a plug for WM - there are lots of great, well made bags - I just happened to buy from WM). My previous bag was a very nice Northface down. It kept me warm enough and was comfortable, but nothing like the Versalite. I am a toss and turn sleeper and the Versalite floats over me so I can turn inside the bag - which keeps the top on top where most of the down is. And, of course, there is the weight savings because, lets face it, your sleeping bag spends most of it's time in your pack. In my case I dropped a pound and a half out of my pack when I switched. It was pricey (I think I got it on sale for $340), but I'll have it for years, and I now look forward to climbing into it every time I go out.
i really don't think that applies to me.
He still only guarantees 3.15” loft. It’s lucky you got 4”.
Your difference is still based on $125 V Bag which we can’t buy anymore; we have to pay $165 even though we don’t want the pillow. This is as of 12/26/07 unless Bruce changes it.
Still, look at your numbers: “… 20-degree bags @ 6’6” long x 32” wide x 5” loft: Campmor 20------20oz. of 550 down-----38oz tot.wt---------$120”
“…30-degree bags @ 6’6” long x 30” wide x 4” loft: LuxuryLite V Bag-------?? oz. of ??? down----30oz tot. wt-----$125” (BTW, that $125 should be $165)
Now let’s knock some down out of the campmor bag to get it down to 4” loft. This would probably be 8oz, or 30oz total weight. Since it’s ~$8/oz for 800 down I would suspect it to be 1/3 that for 550. Anyway, the new campmor 30F bag should be ~$20 less or $100. I don’t see how the V-Bag will catch on since it’s expensive and has been tried before.
You used weight comparisons “Two 30-degree bags @ 6’6” long x 30” wide x 4” loft: LuxuryLite V Bag-------?? oz. of ??? down----30oz tot. wt-----$125 (BTW, that $125 should be $165) WM SummerLite--------10oz. of 850 down------21oz tot. wt.----$260 Difference------------------??--------??-----------------9oz-----------------$135”
I think it is worth the extra $95 (not $135 BTW) in materials and workmanship for the much warmer and lighter bag. Also the WM takes up less space in the backpack. Bruce does point out for cold nights (30F?) that you would need a coat in the V bag. You don’t have to with the WM SummerLite. I see two reasons here: 1. The top zipper of the V Bag. It promotes down shifting to the sides (instead of staying on top). That’s why top zippers haven’t been popular (though tried several times). 2. The web site even says there’s less down in the torso.
Another note. You also stated “I understand the difference in total weight due to the heavier fabric in the Campmor bag, but I don’t see how 20oz. of 550 can equal 19oz. of 850 down? And the equal 20-degree rating when the AlpinLite has a down collar and the Campmor does not.”
You’re right. They’re not equal. Two things going on here: Campmor is using a heavier bag material (though rugged) that squishes the loft of the down (thus limiting warmth); and Campmor is VERY liberal on its temperature rating; campmor actually needs more 550 down to equal the 850 down.
Back to the original poster, I do not think this V-bag is a true 35F bag. You need to wear a coat for those temps.
The V-Bag looks fine for a quilt. But aren’t there cheaper and lighter quilts out there (for same temperature)?
Bruce does point out for cold nights (30F?) that you would need a coat in the V bag. You don’t have to with the WM SummerLite.
I bought a Summerlite earlier this year, and although the lowest temperature at which I've used it is about 40F, I could tell that if it dropped much lower, I'd be putting on (at least) long johns. The Summerlite is a fine bag for it's intended use, but it has some limitations. It's a little underfilled...the down is very easily shifted to top or bottom with a gentle shake. This is a legitimate way to make a bag, of course, but the tradeoff, as always, is warmth for weight. I think my bag is typical, BTW, as it weighs just what the manufacturer states. Fill weight for the regular length Summerlite is 9 ounces...10 for the long length. It's rated at 32F, but I think that's optimistic unless you're a fairly warm sleeper, which I am not.
This has been a very informative thread with a lot of input from users of a lot of different sleeping bags. Over 15 and counting the last time I read through the whole post. Pose a question about the WM SummerLite bag and someone such as bilk chips in with an answer based on their actual experience. This is great, I have learned a lot about bags I have never used and hope to learn even more.
The last thing I want to do is hijack this thread and turn it into a “LuxuryLite V Bag” thread. I would rather hear more about other bags but I feel I must respond when I disagree with statements about something I have some experience with. So I will mount up and ride off in all directions one more time.
BarryP Quote: “He still only guarantees 3.15” loft. It’s lucky you got 4”.
It has been a long time since anyone called me “lucky”. The last wooden leg I ordered came with a knothole in it.
Of course the V Bag has a full guarantee and if my bag had not lofted a full 4-inches I would have sent it back. To quote the LuxuryLite web site: “Loft (thickness) 4” total” and this is posted right under a small picture demonstrating the 4-inch loft. The picture is a nice extra touch and I don’t know of anyone else selling sleeping bags that have done that. It would be even nicer if some of the other V Bag owners would jump in at this point with their pro and con opinions.
I don’t think it is fair to include the extra $40 for the pillow when you are comparing the price of the V Bag against other bags without a pillow. The V Bag prices are all off-season sale prices anyway and subject to change. In season and over the long haul I would not be surprised to find the average prices of a high volume dealer like Campmor to be lower. I did screw up on the price of the WM SummerLite long bag; it should have been $305, not $260.
If what you say is true that “Campmor is VERY liberal on its temperature rating” and their heavier fabric material “squishes the loft” than I can’t very well evaluate or respond to your comparison of the 20/30-degree Campmor bags to the V Bag. And this would be a good spot for some Campmor bag owners to respond. At least Campmor lists loft measurements for their brand of bags. So many others do not and that is a big turn off for me when I am shopping for sleeping bags.
I measured the loft of the V Bag with two 4-inch book stacks and a PVC pipe. I drug the bag under the pipe and had good contact with the pipe in both the upper torso and lower leg areas of the bag. I think the extra down in the lower area may be denser but I could not detect much difference in loft. This is probably why bilk and I have had comparable results at around 40-degrees, we both have 4-inch loft bags. I sleep colder than I used to, but did not need my down vest using the V bag as a quilt until the temperature fell to 30 degrees and when it bottomed out at 25 degrees, I zipped the bag up. I stayed warm on what has been my coldest night.
And so far, I have not noticed any excessive down shifting nor any other issues with the location of the top center full-length V Bag zipper. I have told my wife I need to get out more and do a lot more “field testing.” I won’t repeat what she told me.
There are several good bags out there that have half-length center zips. The Nunatak Alpinist should probably be on anyone’s ultimate bag list. It is listed with 2.5-inch high baffles, which should two-layer loft about 5 inches. The 6’ 6 inch long bag is 23 ounces and costs $411. Here is what Nunatak says about the center zip Alpinist.
“First we moved the zipper from the side to a center front location. This gives you full use of both arms while still having head and back in the sleeping bag, a must when performing camp tasks in less than ideal conditions. The center zip also gives you more effective torso ventilation. Sleeping on your sides is also more comfortable since a zipper on your shoulder sucks.”
I have found lighter weight down sleeping quilts such as Nunatak and Jacks R Better, but none as cheap as the V Bag. And I like having a back up zipper for those cold nights when I chicken out.
If you make your own you can get what you want. If you want someone else to make it for you - add their labor and profit to that. Anther option - if you are ever in China.....pick one up. I bet you could get one over there for 75.00, that would sell at REI for 375.00.
Now we could use some input from Big Agnes bag users. Anyone side sleeping in one? Or using a “normal” bag inside one of these? I have been thinking about the BA system as a winter over bag for my LuxuryLite V Bag/quilt. I am a side sleeper but I only roll over when I am awake. I know I can do this under my quilt and inside an old 32-inch wide synthetic fill mummy bag without turning the bag over. I don’t care about the hood except as a place to hold my pillow. So would a BA system work for a side sleeper like me?
I don’t see the Moon Hill model on the BA web site? The specs quoted by totem pole look great.
I am looking for a bag that meets the following criteria:
1. Light (around 2 lbs or less) 2. Under $180.00 3. Good to at least 35 degrees F.
I am looking at the Kelty Cosmic 20, duck down, $112, no shipping, if you look around. Reviews are good but the bag is 2 lbs. 9 oz. A little heavier than you (and I) would like, but apparently good to at least the upper 20s. I am going to be buying in the next few days, I will let you know what it looks like in my hands. A field test will neet to wait until next spring. Stay tuned.
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
My criteria were; Under 2.2 pounds: one Kilo Pretex shell 800 Down or better Good Reviews under 20 degree F rating (-6 C) A brand with a good reputation From a company I could return it to if necessary. After many years of experience I find this one the best I have ever had. Warmest for its weight. https://www.thenorthface.com/shop/hightail-3s Spend the bucks. It will last a very long time.
These days there is a lot of talk about how camping quilts are better than sleeping bags because the part of the sleeping bad you are laying on becomes compressed anyway and does not provide insulation. A quilt without the under part makes it lighter and still provide about the same warmth. So I am wondering if you Ultimate sleeping bag quest can be expanded to be an Ultimate sleeping bag or camping quilt quest.
I'm still using a North Face UL Down bag I bought some time around 1991. I think it retailed at around 500 or 600 at the time and I grabbed it at a season clearance for 300. At the time I thought I was an idiot for spending so much for a bag. It was really my hiking buddy who talked me into it. I should probably thank him next time I see him. It still keeps me warm and weights in at about 1.5 lbs