Need new sleeping bag

So I have a monstrosity 0 degree poly fill bag, and a very small 20 degree poly fill bag that is very restrictive around the chest area. I’m looking to get a new bag and have decided that I want down, since I backpack as much as I paddle, and I want a bag that takes up less space.

Can anyone suggest a good, light, budget down bag that sheds moisture that has done well for them in the Boundary Waters? I go to the BWCA in mid-September, so I don’t need a bag that’s extremely warm. Something rated between 20 and 30 degrees should be fine.
The guys on there are all about lightweight stuff. Some too much. But they have great ideas about gear and sleeping bags. Alot of them have stopped using sleeping bags and just use “quilts” ie a sleeping bag with no bottom because the compressed fill doesn’t insulate anyway. Western Mountaineering seems to be the lightweight bag of choice but not cheap. I hope to own one when I’m all grown up. but then I’ll be to old to pack…



– Last Updated: May-12-09 11:17 PM EST –


not cheap
but a very nice bag

a little cheaper, but still…not cheap

my favorite summer bag …so far

still …not really cheap

Best Wishes



I’ve liked
North Face bags. All mine are poly since I’m usually near water and weight isn’t as much an issue but they do make down and I’m sure they make them well. Got one that I’ve had and used for winter camping since the early 80’s. I got a 20 deg North Face last year and like it. (The Aleutian) Think I paid about $70 for it. Not too bad.

I bought a bargain bag (~$20, can’t go wrong…)a few years ago and after maybe four years of pretty hard use I woke up one morning shivering. That isn’t too surprising as I do camp well into the cold weather. What was surprising was that I knew it was morning because I could see light though the bag.

LOL see light thru the bag
Heh he h heee… that might indicate a problem!

I have a synthetic Big Agnes that I absolutely love. They also make down…and have some great zipper baffles that completely eliminate that chilly spot along the zipper that many bags have.

Thanks for all the suggestions… I’ve been all over the Mountaingear, REI, Campmor, Travelcountry websites… I’ve seen several that sound good. It seems like the bags that are the best fit (the Helium, and the other brand bags in the same category) are a little bit more than I want to pay. I’d like to come in under $280. The bags I’ve found in that price range, though, don’t have the packability and weatherproofing that I want - so I’m thinking that I’ll probably have to spend somewhere in the $350 range to get the qualities I want.

I was wondering if anyone had any down bags in the $200-250 range that they’ve used in the BWCA in the semi-rainy season… I’m cool with having a down bag while backpacking, since the chances of it getting wet are pretty slim… but canoeing in September in the BWCA presents a few different problems - water from various sources, full days of rain,wet clothes, wet tent, water inside the gear bag, condensation, etc is more persistent than the occasional rain that one encounters backpacking. So far, in two trips, I haven’t had any problems with getting my synthetic bag wet, but I’m wondering if I’ve just been lucky.

I am concerned about saving weight in general, but a big priority is also space, so finding a bag that is comfortable temperature-wise as well as being spacious enough for me, AND taking up less pack space is leading me to down. I’m actually leaning toward Feathered Friends… if I’m going to spend the bucks, may as well get top shelf quality.

Feathered Friends
Interesting company. I use a Widgeon sleeping bag for winter camping and like it. I also have a Frontpoint parka and Volant pants. All products are very nice, and very simple. Customer service is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes you get an absentminded stoner…

I have a friend who uses a Rock Wren, and I have to say, I’m always jealous. I plan to pick one up whenever my current midweight back bites the dust.

Marmot Arroyo $249

– Last Updated: May-14-09 1:24 PM EST –

is a decent compromise between weight and price. I have one, as well as the Marmot Hydrogen and Helium
bags (I'm bringing the Hydrogen with me to Quetico for a Memorial Day trip. The Arroyo is a 30 degree bag, same as the Hydrogen, just a bit bigger and slighly heavier - realisticly, not enough difference between the Arroyo and Hydrogen to worry about. I've found the Marmot bags to be realistic in thier temp ratings.

For mid-Sept in BWCA, I would say a 30 degree bag is fine - I think that a 15 degree bag is too warm.

edit - I changed the link, this one works -

I have been using down bags in Quetico for years, and elsewhere canoeing and backpacking with zero problems with getting them wet - most good bags have some water repellant treatment that keeps any small moisture from getting into the down. You do want to be careful packing - I always put a small trashbag inside the stuffbag; after you put the sleeping bag in, compress it, twist the top of the trash bag, fold and rubber band and it is waterproof - then it goes into two or 3 more layers of trashbag or drybag lined packs. As soon as you set up camp, pull the bag out and allow it a little time to fluff up, and air out in the tent. Storage should be in the large cotton bags provided when you buy one.

Campmor - The North Face Chrysalis
I was looking for the same thing back at the end of March. Backpacker magazine had their annual “Best Of” issue in April. They named The North Face’s Chrysalis the “best bargain” 3 season sleeping bag. I bought it in a long (I’m 6’4") on sale from (it was $40 or $50 bucks off “a Hot Deal” and rang in about $170). It’s a 15 degree bag and I can compress it down to the size of a basketball. Weight for the long size is about 3 lbs. Used it two separate times already and have been pleased.

Big Agnes System
I love the hell out of it. I think you can get down, but it is really nice to have the pad as part of the bag instead of under it. No more sliding off at night.


And you can roll over in your bag
… without it twisting around you.

Love the Big Agnes system. Only downside is sliding the pad pad into the bag when it’s raining outside. It’s hard to do while keeping you, the bag and the pad completely inside the tent.

Marmot makes great bags and are spot on
with temp accuracy. I’ve had a Sawtooth since 2002 and it is water resistant and warm down to 15 degrees. I will be buying their hydrogen for a lighter weight bag soon. Their long sizes will give you a 64" chest which is roomy for us larger guys. The only other bags I would consider are Feathered Friends.


A faster way is OR
waterproof compression bags.

That way everything wet in the pack cant infect your bag.

But I use dry bags in my pack to contain wet stuff…that way again wetness does not beget wetness…such as wet fly leading to soggy tent.

And everything goes in a large dry bag…I use an Ostrom liner.

I have a Marmot Arete and use a liner for temps below 40. Its about good to 35. It packs to the size of a 1 liter nalgene. OR sack 2 contains it. The new OR bags are liter specific and too big but there is a sale on the older ones!

Ahhh… many thanks
I appreciate all the suggestions, folks. I love the paddling community.

I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to a Marmot - either the Sawtooth (perhaps a good omen, since I use Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte when I go the BWCA,) or the Helium. I did find on REI’s website, that they had their brand Sub Kilo 20 on closeout for a ridiculously good price. I imagine whatever I go with of those three will be a good quality bag, and quite a bit less expensive than the Feathered Friends.

One thing I’ve found that works wonders for sleeping bag and clothes dryness is the giant sized Ziploc bags. Even in a drybag with other wet stuff, I’ve been able to keep my stuff dry, over two BWCA trips, and two Buffalo River trips (with at least two capsizings on each river trip)… I’ve gotten the sleeping bag liner damp at night in the tent, with condensation and general damp gear from paddling in the rain all day… so that’s really the chief concern I had. Sounds like general dampness isn’t going to be a problem with modern bags.

Thanks again, everyone!!

Check out
Big Agnes bags:

I have two and they are great. I use mine with an Exped air mattress or a compact self inflating pad.

Check the inside girth measurement
for REI bags. I found them constricting, but that was a while ago. The Marmot is not constricting, especially in L size (64"s). I have the Sawtooth and it is a great bag. In L size it weighs just about 3 pounds in a drybag. No big deal kayaking, but backpacking it’s a tad heavy. Check the specs for their 15 degree 850 fill bag. I think it drops a full pound. You may not think it is worth the extra dough, but it is worth the consideration. One thing I did with the Marmot to test its warmth rating accuracy was to sleep in a single tent without the fly at 9000 feet. It got down to 15 degrees that night. I was warm with just socks, lightweight capilene longs and a light capilene long T. The night before it was 18 degrees at a similar elevation, but I was in a bivy sack which can boost a bags rating by a few degrees. Good luck.


GIRRRRTH!!! (Kahn from Star Trek 2)
Yeah, that’s probably something I should have mentioned - inside shoulder/chest girth is important. I have broad shoulders to begin with, and it doesn’t help that I am carrying quite a bit of extra weight (something I’m hoping to address before the trip in September, but just in case it doesn’t work out…)so a bag that’s got a wider girth is important.

Good to know about the REI bags being narrow. I need to go to REI and just get in the bags I’m looking at to find one that’s comfortable.

My old backpacking bag is the Mountain Hardware 3rd Dimension - a great bag, it’s been durable and warm, but at 4 pounds and the size of a basketball when stuffed, it’s not a good backpacking choice, particularly for those beastly packing days off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Shaving a couple pounds and significant space there will definitely help, if for no other reason, it’ll allow for another water bottle.

But in the BWCA, space is the chief concern - this trip, we’re going to have three guys in a 3-man canoe, instead of 2 guys in a 2-man. That’s going to dramatically reduce the amount of storage space per person in the canoe.

Another fan…
of Big Agnes bags. Bought one last year on sale with an isulated air core mattress and really like it. Got the “long” model for my height but it has quite a bit of width to it. Not claustraphobic…