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Sleeping bags

We are in the market for new sleeping bags.
Our existing ones are good for 20 below, and they are much too big and bulky for getting into a kayak compartment with all our other gear on multiday trips.
The old ones were great for up north, and Alaska, but we don't need anything near a 20 below rating any more, since all our paddling is in the south

Looking for recommenditions on what brands to get and what to keep away from.
Our Specs:
1 Synthetic, (not down)
2 good for 20 above zero, (which means they will be smaller)
3 Want straight ones that can zip together, (not mummy type)
4 Would like waterproof if such a thing exists

Jack L


  • Big Agnes
    has a lot of synthetic square foot-box sleeping bags that zip together. I don't have a particular bag in mind, but if you carry an air mattress, they mate with that to make the whole thing lighter and pack down smaller than a full bag. I like the design. Here's one.

  • Sure looks like a "mummy bag"
    to me !

    Jack L
  • Well.. I missed point 1..
    of your query.

    Why not down?

    You're clearly a paddler, you should know how to keep stuff dry. Nothing compresses and packs as small as down - just about as warm as you get get for the weight.

    I'm 6'1", wife 5'6. Years ago, I bought 2 mummy down bags that zip together and after zipping together they really become a big-semi rectangular. 6' 6" size for me, 6' for Mom. Quite roomy for 2 - no need for the mummy hood - just slide on down.

    When I paddle solo the 6'6" foot bag is plenty roomy.

    When I looked recently, if you're looking for shoulder room, Marmot has about the best width I could find in a down bag.

    I paddle overnight in the boat frequently - and while synthetic was my first bag - the last 25+ years it has been down. Keeping it dry is key - obviously.

  • Kelty
    I've been pretty happy with a Kelty synthetic semi-mummy I got about 8 years ago (previously I had mostly used down bags but find this one just as comfortable). I see Campmor has a rectangular Kelty Callisto 20 degree mummy on sale for about $80 at the moment. Also a North Face Dolomite 15 degree bag for $110 and a Slumberjack Timberjack 20 for $70. I like the Kelty bags for quality of materials, warmth and compressibility. I've found I can easily use a smaller stuff sack than the one they supply to reduce the packed size.

    I have mixed feelings about waterproof fabric bags. From all accounts I have read they tend to not breathe all that well and you end up clammy inside. My preference is to use a Goretex bivy sack over the bag if I know I may be exposed to rain (like camping under a tarp or lean-to). And they are goddawful expensive -- a separate bivy is cheaper. In fact I made my own double bag bivy using a 2 yard length of Goretex from Seattle Fabrics stitched on three sides to an equal sized piece of coated nylon packcloth (for the underside). Cost about $100 all told, far cheaper than the premium for waterproof bags. And easier to wash and to pack separately.

  • I have four simple specs
    They are all for certain reasons

    Jack L
  • Zipping together
    perhaps a mis-read on my part but your spec suggests you want rectangular for the ability to zip together. Mummys can be zipped together - synthetic or down.

    Hope you get what you're looking for.

  • i dont
    Think a bag exists that has all those criteria. You would probably have to be flexible on the mummy or the waterproof. There are bags that zip together that are mummy.

    Ryan L.
  • Options
    Don't even know what that means

    A waterproof sleeping bag?

    That would require a waterproof outer layer, a zipper that was completely waterproof, and the zipper would have to zip all the way closed.

    Are you trying to keep water out when it's packed in your boat or while you are actually sleeping in it?

    If you are reasonably sure the bag is going to get wet, a synthetic bag makes sense. But at some point you might be better off just using trash bags to keep the rain off the bag (stowed or while sleeping).
  • I don't want mummy
    I hate the GD things, and yes just about all the rectangle ones zip together.

    Jack L
  • I guess you didn't read my ...
    number 4 carefully.
    I said if "such a thing exists "

    Jack L
  • I wou;ld sure like to get around a
    camp fire with you guys. We would have a slug fest arguing about what I want !

    jack L
  • Drives me nuts......
    ...when people don't listen to the question(s).

    You were very clear and reasonable.

    Hang in there.
  • they most definitely

  • MEC Bags
    -- Last Updated: Mar-12-13 10:55 PM EST --

    I have been very happy with the quality of MEC bags having just bought two for my kids. I only have experience with the down ones though but I assume the quality would be the same with synthetic. If you get opposite side zippers apparently they will zip together. They also provide a packed volume size in the descriptions. Happy Shopping.


    Edit, hopefully the barrel bags are rectangular enough.

  • Recommendations for others (not JackL)
    Can't answer Jack's question because he wants sythetic, but for those looking for down, here are two sleeping bags that are hard to beat:

    1) LL Bean semi-rectangular 35 degrees. http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/73136?page=llbean-goose-down-sleeping-bag-semi-rectangular-35&subrnd=0

    2) LL Bean 20-degree rectangular
    http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/77723?feat=506849-GN2&page=l-l-bean-down-sleeping-bag-with-downtek-rectangular-20&attrValue_0=Mountain Red&productId=1287265

    I've been using exclusively down for the last 10 years for backpacking and kayaking, after 25 years with synthetics. I've never gotten a down sleeping bag wet. It's really not difficult to keep them dry. For me personally, down has every advantage over synthetics.

    Some sleeping bags have a water-repellent coating. Bean's uses "DownTek" which is treated to retain its loft when wet.
  • think I understood
    You want:
    * full rectangle bags that open flat and mate top over bottom
    * 20 degree rated
    * synthetic fill
    * waterproof shell if possible

    The only waterproof shell bags I have found are higher-end down expedition mummies so I think your guess that a mild climate rectangular doesn't come that way is correct.

    I listed those ones from Campmor because I had been looking at similar bags myself for us to use in our small camper trailer. Also, since I mentioned the Goretex "slipcover" I had made for the sleeping bags, I checked on Ebay and found some less costly Goretex than that from Seattle Fabrics. If you feel up to making something similar there is a guy selling military camo and also navy blue goretex nylon for under $12 a yard (58" width). At that price you could construct a double bivy bag for under $40.
  • Nope, that's not a mummy
    The fact that a sleeping bag has a hood doesn't make it a mummy. "Mummy" refers to the tapered foot and being form-fitting throughout. Quite a few rectangular bags have a hood.

    Big Agnes sleeping bags are huge rectangular bags. However, they are made specifically for people who sleep on their back. There is no insulation on the bottom bag. You insert your sleeping pad into a pocket on the bottom of the bag. The result is that there is only one sleeping position that really works: on your back.

    Semi-rectangular is a very comfortable shape. It allows full movemet but reduces the huge air space that you have to warm up around your feet. At a temperature of 20 degrees, that air space is a significant concern.
  • Thank you
    I'll paddle with you any day !

    Jack L
  • I'll repeat:
    It sure looks like a "mummy"
    And I'll add: vs. a conventional rectangular one

    Jack L
  • Wiggy's
    has what you need if you're willing to spend the cash.
  • Options
    Was trying to clarify
    What you meant, thus the follow up questions. What is the scenario where you want it to be waterproof?

  • That looks good except for the size
    the reason I was asking for 20 degrees, is the higher the degrees, the less insulation, which translates to a smaller bag which translates to taking up less room in the kayak compartment.


    Jack L
  • Quilts?

    Here's someone else you might want to consider. The latest craze in the ultra-light world are quilts. They are like a sleeping bag, with a footbox, but the bottom is open to save weight (to use the insulation of your pad). The bags have no zipper (so no zipper snags), you drape it over you. Cords are provided to cinch the bag around you in colder weather. If you roll around a lot, you might have trouble with drafts, but I love mine.

    I used an Enlightened gear Prodigy 40 degree bag (wide cut) on the Everglades Challenge this year. It weighs only 22 ounces. I was able to get my total camping load to under 30 pounds (not including water).

    They make Prodigy quilts for 20 degrees, 30, 40 and 50 degrees. http://www.enlightenedequipment.com/product-category/prodigy/

    Greg Stamer
  • Not answering for Jack
    but my reaction is how does that work if you are kayaking with a partner? How doe you snuggle up and, well, you know?
  • Google is your friend, Jack
    I suppose I could research your four specs, but so can you, so therefore I won't.

    I'll say to others that I have used rectangular LL Bean 20 degree, DOWN, sleeping bags for 35 years for all my canoe, kayak and car camping. I still have my original bag, with some seamstress patches, which I now use as a comforter on my bed. My second one, about 8 years old, still looks new.

    These bags pack down sufficiently to get through the 6" hatches on my outrigger canoe, and I have NEVER gotten the down bags soaked in all those years. (Well, once a little soaked when I left my tent door open during a rain while I was chewing the fat under a tarp.)

    The outer layer fibers they use on many down bags these days is pretty water resistant.
  • You mean you slept ???
    I figure you just sleep while you are still paddling!


    Jack L
  • When we summer camp
    Patty & I use a double silk bag liner which stuffs into a fist sized bag and put it into two rectangluar polar fleece bags zipped together that we got at Walmart for under $20. You can put all 3 things into a small Sealine bag and stuff it in your hatch with no problem. It kept us comfortable to just below freezing.
  • indoor olympics
    A quilt is less restrictive than a bag (but much draftier since the bag just drapes over you), so you can use that newfound flexibility for more acrobatic maneuvers :^)

    The downside is that you are resting directly on your pad. Not a problem if it is cold enough to be wearing a base-layer, otherwise you might need a bag liner or small sheet to avoid sleeping directly on the pad.

    I haven't used them but have heard good things about the Big Agnes "doublewide" bags for couples -- if you don't need to separate the bags, https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Bag/bigcreek .

    Greg Stamer
  • onother option
    Thinking back to my long ago days selling gear at an outfitter in the heyday of backpacking in the US (the 1970's), another lightweight option a few manufacturers offered for tandem camping was top-over-bottom square bags where the two components were differing wieghts. You could have a 40 degree and a 20 degree bag and place whichever over you that suited the ambient temp. You could even get a bottom component that was uninsulated, basically a ground sheet to keep the top bag in place and eliminate drafts. Obviously your ground pad provided the insulation underneath. Some companies even made top components that zipped directly to the ground pad.

    For mild weather camping I've also used the liner and fleece combo somebody else mentioned. I have a poly blend liner (like a folded over sheet stitched halfway up the side and with a pillow pocket) that I tuck inside a lightweight Polartec zippered bag -- it's quite comfy down to near freezing. Adding the Goretex bivy bag takes it down another 5 degrees, even more if you lay clothing like a fleece jacket and pants between the fleece bag and bivy for more insulation atop. The fleece bag compresses well and the liner is so tiny it fits in a daypack side pocket -- in fact you could probably stash it in a Nalgene bottle.

    I've also found for packing that changing the stuffsack shape can make it easier to stash bulky sleeping bags. It is just as easy to stuff a sleeping bag in a long narrow tent sack as it is the usual short fat bags they sell with them (which are designed to be strapped to a backpack frame.) A long skinny flexible "wiener" is easier to snake into a kayak hatch or wrap around other gear in a portage bag.

    Anyway, it's been interesting to hear the various strategies for camp bedding people are sharing.
  • Thanks Randy
    That might be just the ticket.
    We already have two polar fleece bags.

    jack L

  • Very nice!
    And, sharks are waterproof.
  • There's something wrong with your eyes
    Big Agnes is famous for making just about the largest lightweight rectangular sleeping bags on the market.

    Do you know what "mummy" means? Narrow throughout + very tapered foot.
  • P.S.
    The foot of a Big Agnes bag is so big that at 20 degrees in order to keep warm you're forced to wrap the bottom of the bag around your feet as tightly as you can.
  • Why do you always like to stir crap
    -- Last Updated: Mar-15-13 6:10 PM EST --

    It is obvious that the picture looks like a mummy bag, and I completely agree with his opinion of it.
    He gave his specs and if you can't recommend what he is looking for why post?


  • this is what a mummy bag looks like:

    Not stirring things up. Truth.
  • "Looks like" but isn't
    Sorry, but that Big Agnes bag is not a mummy, period. You think stating facts is "stirring up crap"? Interesting.
  • you misunderstood
    I'm agreeing with you. I don't understand why someone can't identify the difference between a mummy bag and a rectangular bag with a hood.
  • No, I did understand you
    I was replying to RoanGuy, the gentleman with the impeccable manners.

    I too can't understand how anyone could not tell the difference between a rectangular (or semi-rectangular) and a mummy. Some people want to learn and some prefer not to, I guess.
  • You don't need to reply to me.
    Your advise is usually useless.
    No make that always useless

  • But you clearly want a reply
    Otherwise you wouldn't keep engaging me. So I'm obliging. Here's your reply. I hope it does something for you.

    As I said in another thread, I'm really sorry about what happened at Waterloo, but you can't hold it against me forever. If it hadn't rained the day before you might have been okay.
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