Looking for a first cold weather bag.

Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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21
Most of my camping is in the south, very hot and wet climates. Largely over water or very close to it, I typically prefer a hammock to stay dry.
Have a little shack in WY, and do quite a bit of back packing there whenever I can get away and just relax. Thus far I have not packed a shelter or sleeping bag, but use either brush or a sleeping pad, and a tarp. Additional clothing for warmth. I have managed this in snow and sleet at some pretty decent elevations. Mostly managed to have and keep decent fire and hot stones. Anyway, I am a very warm sleeper, warm in general, but have never been particularly comfortable, enjoyed the simplicity. Probably dangerous.

Going to Colorado to help a buddy that lives out there. We'll be out for second rifle. Walking in. Figured I should have a bag and shelter for this. Any particular recommendations on bag temps and bags? I like the idea of the WM and FF bags, made in America, high quality. But they might be a lot of money for how much use I'd give them. So far Its been suggested that I get 0-30 bags, which is quite a spread to choose from.

I am a warm sleeper, I don't mind wearing clothes to bed. I can sleep on rocks, the deck of a boat, the bed liner of a truck.. you get the idea. I am 6'1" and a larger build. I sleep on my side at home, but not so much on the hard for obvious reasons. But I guess I wouldn't mind it as an option. Down south I have cheap Kelty Synthetic bags, pretty wide mummy bags. Barely any insulation. Good for what we do, but not something I could imagine packing with additional insulation.

Thanks for your help!
 

dutch_henry

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Mar 5, 2018
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84
Location
New Hampshire
WM and FF are both excellent but pricey. If cost is a factor there are plenty of other brands that don't give up much on them. For ex, Big Agnes and Nemo both make some sleeping bags for bigger guys and those go on sale more than the WM or FF. Sites like REI and Geartrade sell used bags and they pop up here in the classifieds too. IF they've been properly cared for, down bags can last practically forever.

If you're looking for a down bag (I prefer them over synthetic), take a close look at the bag's fill weight and fill power (try to stay at or over 650) as much as you look at temp ratings because those can be subjective.

October in the mountains can be all over the map. I sleep cold and would want a bag between 0 and 10F. Probably the warmest I would go is 20F
 

Krieg Hetzen

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Nov 19, 2018
Messages
206
Location
Wasilla, Alaska
I ran a Nemo Sonic 0 degree down bag for moose this year. Nighttime temps were high 20s - mid 30s, we were at 3500ft and within 20 yards of a 15-20ft wide creek. Never had an issue with getting cold or too hot. The sonic (I’m sure other Nemo models have them as well) has vents or gills that 2ft long that you can open up to vent heat on the body, and another vent at the neck of you are zipped all the way up. I only ever zipped up for the initial going to bed and never had the gills closed.

It was paired with a Nemo Tensor insulated sleeping pad in a Nemo Chogori 3P tent (Nemo has some amazing products). Between the bag and the tent we never slept past 10:30am (both nights we snagged moose it wasn’t bedtime till 4am) due to it getting too hot when it was about 45 degrees for the ambient temperature.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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WM and FF are both excellent but pricey. If cost is a factor there are plenty of other brands that don't give up much on them. For ex, Big Agnes and Nemo both make some sleeping bags for bigger guys and those go on sale more than the WM or FF. Sites like REI and Geartrade sell used bags and they pop up here in the classifieds too. IF they've been properly cared for, down bags can last practically forever.

If you're looking for a down bag (I prefer them over synthetic), take a close look at the bag's fill weight and fill power (try to stay at or over 650) as much as you look at temp ratings because those can be subjective.

October in the mountains can be all over the map. I sleep cold and would want a bag between 0 and 10F. Probably the warmest I would go is 20F

Thank you for the great info. I just put the Big Agnes Beryl SL 0 on my list. Its 650 downtek, and doesn't appear to require their insulated sleeping pad system. I started checking out Nemo too.

Again, thank you for the great response.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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I ran a Nemo Sonic 0 degree down bag for moose this year. Nighttime temps were high 20s - mid 30s, we were at 3500ft and within 20 yards of a 15-20ft wide creek. Never had an issue with getting cold or too hot. The sonic (I’m sure other Nemo models have them as well) has vents or gills that 2ft long that you can open up to vent heat on the body, and another vent at the neck of you are zipped all the way up. I only ever zipped up for the initial going to bed and never had the gills closed.

It was paired with a Nemo Tensor insulated sleeping pad in a Nemo Chogori 3P tent (Nemo has some amazing products). Between the bag and the tent we never slept past 10:30am (both nights we snagged moose it wasn’t bedtime till 4am) due to it getting too hot when it was about 45 degrees for the ambient temperature.

I've started looking at the Nemo bags, and have already put their Dagger 2P tent along with a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 2P in my shopping cart, just haven't decided on which.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like getting a 0 degree bag is probably the safe bet, and it seems as long as it has a full length zip, and maybe vents, I'll be alright over a solid range of temperatures. Cold night or not, I am normally a feet out.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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Check out Montbell have enjoyed my zero degree bag for a decade plus snuggly it is👍

Thank you for the suggestions. I'll look into them further. They appear reasonably priced and competitive in packed size and weight.
 

Catahoula

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Jul 25, 2018
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1,613
Location
Loveland, Co. was Az.
Myself I use a BA Summit Park 15 and my spouse use a Nemo 15.... both are very comfortable and affordable. In the $300-$400 range. Better bags out there for more cash I’m sure.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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Myself I use a BA Summit Park 15 and my spouse use a Nemo 15.... both are very comfortable and affordable. In the $300-$400 range. Better bags out there for more cash I’m sure.

Thank you for the reply. Do you notice any quality difference between Nemo and Big Agnes?
 

hikenhunt

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Jan 28, 2013
Messages
271
Location
WA
One thing to keep in mind about bag temperature ratings, I have had two WM bags and both were very true to their ratings. I imagine FF would be the same. Most other cheaper bags, I've tried, not so much. They market the survival rating not the comfort rating.
 

Whaledriver

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Feb 4, 2014
Messages
352
Location
Colorado
Been real happy with my Sierra Designs Zissou 20 - very warm and lightweight. I'm 6'4" and 210 and the long version is plenty roomy for me.

I second this. I have run the 6* Zissou for 5 years and it is still like new. I have a WM Kodiak now for rifle season and still run the Zissou in archery. Never been cold in it.
 

ctjester123

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Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
18
Location
WY
Great suggestions. The most flexible temp bag is around a 20 degree bag, where you can layer up if it gets cold or open up the bag if it’s warmer. It’d kinda suck to get a great bag for the Rockies and be too hot to ever use back in the South. Don’t get caught up on names but technical specs and the feedback from people who use it. Case in point- Kuiu makes some great products. Their down bags are way over priced. Montbell is a reputable company with comparable gear for significantly less. I watched and waited and snagged a gently used Montbell for 1/3 the price of Kuiu. Keep in mind the option of a quilt vs a mummy/sleeping bag.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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Hello Everyone,

I really appreciate all of the advice, really helped me make a decision. I ended up getting a new 19* Patagonia bag for a fair price. 850 Fill goose fill. Long, and a very spacious cut. The loose cut will allow me to manipulate the temperature a bit. Based on their fill specs, loft, and general reputation, I estimate it will be pretty true to its temp rating. I did my best to make a equitable compromise between cost, comfort, weight, warranty, safety, and versatility.

I'll report back as I use it for the next couple of months.

Thanks!
 

Fins_N_Tines

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Sep 7, 2016
Messages
1,059
Location
El Dorado HIlls
One thing to keep in mind about bag temperature ratings, I have had two WM bags and both were very true to their ratings. I imagine FF would be the same. Most other cheaper bags, I've tried, not so much. They market the survival rating not the comfort rating.


This is very sound advice. Just know that the majority of companies list temp rating at the lower end, meaning ai 20 degree bag would actually closer to 30 - 35 degrees for comfort rating. Off the top of my head Kifaru, Western Mountaineering, and Feathered Friends list their bags as comfort rating. Just know as great of companies such as Nemo or BA their bags are not listed at comfort rating. Pay attention to the down fill weight. If the bag dimensions are equal the bag with the larger fill weight will be warmer.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
Messages
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This is very sound advice. Just know that the majority of companies list temp rating at the lower end, meaning ai 20 degree bag would actually closer to 30 - 35 degrees for comfort rating. Off the top of my head Kifaru, Western Mountaineering, and Feathered Friends list their bags as comfort rating. Just know as great of companies such as Nemo or BA their bags are not listed at comfort rating. Pay attention to the down fill weight. If the bag dimensions are equal the bag with the larger fill weight will be warmer.

Agreed. I really focused on FF and WM as preferred options. Given enough time, I would have picked up a used Versalite, Badger, Swift ect. Couldn't justify the price of older bags without putting hands on first. The rating systems were a metric I payed close attention too, but design and construction took precedent. For instance Sierra Designs current zippered mummy, the light weight BA's. and Nemo offerings... All half zip. Thats an automatic deal killer for me.
 
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Lowbrowroyalty

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Sep 11, 2019
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Thought I'd drop off a little report.

We bivy camped over a week at various altitudes around 11k. We got some pretty early weather, and snow fall commenced on the first night, more or less continuous from then on. Morning daylight temps were generally around -5f. I don't know what kind of night time temps we saw, but I wasn't getting out to take a pee. We had solo UL 3 season tents.

Using the Patagonia 19f lower limit bag, I managed pretty well. Had a couple cold nights, but never a shiver. With a little creativity, I was able to create comfort. Sleeping pad, a Thermarest APEX with R-value of 4, was a weak point and produced the most felt cold. I largely alleviated this by layering pine needles under my shelter and placing my soiled clothing under the pad. I never felt unsafe.

After the first night, and before we made any elevation gains, we had to walk back out. Buddy could not sleep, and was very cold. NEMO 15F bag. We went and purchased him a 0F bag, then started back up. Had to walk him down on the fourth night in the dark, a bit of panic maybe, again very cold. He felt unsafe. More gear. Wasted time. After that, we got back up and stayed, this time only returning with Elk on our backs.

So the lesson I took away was - Ones expectation of comfort and ability to adapt is seemingly quite different. Seems largely psychological, but maybe there is a physiological component.

My experience leads me to side with the suggestions for the lighter bag and its versatility, making up for it by other means. That said, my buddies experience would suggest quite the opposite position.

I'd like to research shelters more. My tent was largely iced on the interior, as well as the exterior of my sleeping bag. I don't know if this is avoidable at temps like this, but maybe? I will likely bring an additional closed cell pad moving forward, and possible change the inflatable for something like an x-therm as well.

I appreciate everyones suggestions, it was a great learning experience.

Best Regards!
 
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