Sleeping bags...dare I ask?

Posted by: Gadgetech

Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/03/09 09:35 PM

I really need to get a bag since I plan on camping soon. I am going to camp with a meetup group in the area and will be doing some beginner stuff in march / april time frame. I really like the western mountaineering bags but I just can't decide which one. I was asked by one outfitter what I thought the coldest I would sleep in and my reply was 0 degree once I get more experience as I would like to travel out west some. We can have nights that get below 20 in the mountains around here in the winter months so I thought about the badger which is a 15 degree bag, large cut (which I will need) but I'm afraid I'll roast in the spring and fall. I plan on purchasing a lesser expensive synthetic bag for the summer months as I probably won't camp much during those times. I would imagine the spring and fall temps to be anywhere from 30-50 at night in the mountains.

Give me some feedback in terms of what degree bag I should look at. I am pretty set on WM bags based on my research which is not to discount other bag manufacturers, just that I have made my mind up on this one...I think. Uh, yeah.
Posted by: hikerduane

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 08:57 AM

I do the majority of my camping in the Sierra or extreme southern Cascades. You are hitting the shoulder seasons, where, on some trips, a summer bag may be ok for the weekend, but things can change in a hurry. I have used my WMCaribou bag on mid Spring snowcamp trips and in the Fall. If you have a good warm coat, you can get by. I have been out in mid Oct. and had temps in the mid twenties but I had a 25 degree bag. You may be asking too much out of one bag. Also, the rule of thumb, is get a bag, ten degrees warmer then what you expect to be exposed to. A 15 degree bag for a 25 degree trip, etc. I have had my 5 degree Antelope Super DL on a mid Spring trip and the overnight temp only got to 32. I was roasting when I went to bed, but the down will adjust, so I only suffered for a few hours. By morning I was fine. Enjoy your shopping and decision.:)
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 09:31 AM

WM bags are "adjustable" in a small way... In the BADGER model, since the down is contained in continuous baffles, the down can be pushed on top of you if you are very cold and off to the side or under you if you are hot. I use this feature for each night to be sure I match the temp with my bag & down to get a good combination. It's nice because my 20*F bag will serve all my needs throughout the year here in the south. The full zipper makes a nice vent too!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 11:46 AM

If you're going to backpack in the Rockies in summer, you really need a 20* bag. At high altitudes, clear nights are often frosty, and it can snow at any time. Last summer when I was in the Wind Rivers, it snowed down to 10,000 ft. on August 15. All the nights for the week after that were below freezing. My WM Ultralight Super (with me wearing a heavy base layer, balaclava and a vapor barrier inside) was a bit marginal a couple of those nights.

On the other hand, if I'd put the jacket on I could undoubtedly have withstood a colder night. I'm an unusually cold sleeper.

The continuous baffle bit may be fine for those who stay in one place for sleeping, but I do a lot of tossing and turning. As a result, I have to work at evening up the down along each baffle every night so I don't freeze when I turn over!

It's easy to use a warm bag as a quilt on warm nights, or just leave it open. However, we don't get the hot muggy nights out here in the Northwest that you get where you are, and during some of those you might drench the bag with sweat even if you just sleep on top of it. For your situation, I can't see any way out of having a light summer bag and a heavier shoulder season bag.

Posted by: sabre11004

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 12:36 PM

I think that WM makes some of the best looking bags out there. They are just impressive to look at and they are great bags too. With that being said, I think that you can get a bag with close to the same weight (I said close) and for a lot less money, especially if you are going to end up having to have two bags any way...I use a Marmot that is rated a "zero" degree bag so it is probably around 10-15 degrees. I works great and weighs in around 2 lbs. I think...I think that I paid around 150.00 for it but I got it on a web site (which one I don't remember) that was clearancing them out and only had a couple of them left... Hope that helps...sabre11004...

The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there !!!!
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 01:11 PM

I have WM bags too; what sold me on them is their reputation for --- if anything --- understating their temperature ratings, and I wasn't dissapointed.

For a general use bag in the types of conditions you're talking about, I'd be inclined to err on the safe side and get a 20 degree rated bag. If you get one with a full length zipper, you can open it up in warm weather and use it like a quilt (that can be nice in not-so-warm weather too).

It's tough to estimate what the right bag is without knowing all the variables, including your metabolism (how warm or cold you tend to sleep), what kind of shelter you use, what kind of padding you use underneath, amount and type of clothing you have along that you're willing to wear in the bag, the range of conditions you could reasonably encounter, and how close you're willing to flirt with the edge of discomfort/danger for the most extreme cold nights.
Posted by: Berserker

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 01:19 PM

I hike primarily in the Southeast, and my advice would be to buy a bag rated at the temperatures you expect to be in the most. This is probably something you will not figure out until you get out a few times. When I started hiking my first inclination was to buy a 0 or -10 deg bag. Now 7 years later, the coldest temperature I have ever even been out in was 12 deg, and I don't plan to do that again. So, I would recommend maybe a good 15 deg bag as a starting point, and then if you get into hiking you'll probably want to get additional bags for different scenarios.

Note that how you sleep (i.e. are you a cold or warm sleeper) as well as your shelter can make a big difference in your comfort.

Just for your info I have 3 WM bags: a Caribou (35F), an Ultralite (20F), and a Versalite (10F). I use the Caribou about 2/3 of the time, and just wear clothing inside of it if it's going to be cold. I use the Versalite the rest of the time. The Ultralite will probably get sold. I have also hiked out West a few times in the summer (Southern Utah and Sierras), and the Caribou was sufficient for these trips.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 02:46 PM

Three comments:

As mentioned above, continuous baffles are a great feature because they give you a degree of flexibility.

When choosing a bag I prefer to compare the amount of loft instead of temp ratings. It's a much more objective comparison. Temp. ratings can be all over the board and some manufacturers make some pretty wild claims.

Lately I have adopted a two bag system. A summer/fall weight bage inside an overbag. Not the lightest solution but cheaper and more flexible than buying a dedicated winter bag.
Posted by: Gadgetech

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/04/09 09:35 PM

Well all the advice is excellent. I think I will purchase the Badger as it is a 15* bag. I do not have any doubts that I will need a summer bag though. The sleeping bag is one area where I will spend some dough and WM seems to make a bag that's worth it. Also, the large size of the Badger will work well for me. In regards to hiking in the summer months when it is muggy, I don't think I'll do much of that. I also plan to ask some of the folks I'll be hiking with what they recommend. The guy I deal with at the local outfitter recommends the badger and he camps a lot in the area but I do like to hear advice from others.

If anything I sleep on the warm side but don't put out the heat like I used to. Being diabetic also requires some consideration as I have read that it tends to aid in colder extremities.
Posted by: kbennett

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/06/09 11:33 AM

Given your location in South Carolina, I would start with a 30-F bag like the Megalite. That's the bag I use from March through mid-November in the Southern Appalachians. It's warm enough to take well below freezing (if you have the right clothing), but not so warm that I need a separate summer bag. It is comfortable in a wide range of conditions.

For winter use, I have a WM Antelope 5-F bag. If the nighttime temps are above 25 or so, I roast in this bag.

My personal opinion is this: the "conventional wisdom" of the 15 or 20-F bag being the all-purpose holy grail is not correct for where we live. It may be the perfect 3-season/summer bag in the Rockies, or in New Hampshire, but it's both too warm and too cold at the same time around here -- too warm from April through Sept, and too cold in the winter. It's probably perfect in March and October, though.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Gadgetech

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/09/09 09:57 PM

Well, I threw out conventional wisdom and went with a 0 degree bag.
Posted by: BarryP

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/10/09 11:55 AM

Ouch shocked

Posted by: Gadgetech

Re: Sleeping bags...dare I ask? - 02/11/09 09:04 PM

Originally Posted By BarryP
Ouch shocked


Ooh, you didn't land on your head did you?

Sorry crazy