Sleepin' bags

-- Last Updated: Nov-07-06 1:54 PM EST --

Wha Ho, Pilgrims;

Jus' hankerin' ta find out wat ye folks use fer yer sleepin' bags on yer paddlin' adventoors? Down or synthetic; mummy, tapered or rectangular?
Jus' got back fro' a two day NJ Pine Barrens canoe trip waar it got ta be 26 degrees. Ok wit me an' me' rectangular synthetic 3 season bag. Ah's jus' been a'thinkin' dat maybe one o' dem days ah' might git me one o' dem down bags dat pack up real small. Me last down bag hit de trail wit me ex-squaw. Wat sleepin' bags do ye recoomend? Thanky kindly.

Fat Elmo

I prefer down
primarily because of the packability. More warmth per cubic inch of space. I use a North face Blue Kazoo (20 degree mummy)for spring and fall and winter if it doesn’t get real cold. I also have an older Sierra Designs but can’t remember what model. Except in very warm weather I use a mummy style bag.

synthetic tapered
down is great till it gets wet!! why risk a bag that is usless when wet for packability

use both
I use both.

I have a synthetic 3 season bag (Kelty Lightyear 3d 25) for temps above and around freezing because I have had issues with wet bags before. When I’m not worrying about liquid water, I use a down bag (0 degree).

A down 25 degree bag could save me up to three quarters of a pound if I wanted to use it, and pack smaller, but it would cost me about 4 times what my kelty did to get those result (850 fill and ultra light packable shell). A cheaper down bag doesnt give much benefit over my current bag.

Now for 0 and colder, down is the way to go. Liquid water is less of an issue, and down really makes a difference in bulk and weight when your talking about a bag for those cold temps.

Montbell Bag
I tried this last summer for the first time, and I was REALLY impressed. I am a very cold sleeper and this bag was truly warm enough. I got the synthetic number 3, packs small, is super warm, and has the stretchy in it so that you can move comfortably. The stretchy part is a cool concept, you don’t feel like you are trussed up like a mummy in it, as it moves with you when you flex. We actually bought 2, right and left, they zip together nicely too.


Down is a deathtrap when wet!
Sorry, I don’t actually believe that, but I know that whenever this topic comes up, someone inevitably says this, and then the fireworks will start, and I like watching fireworks.

What? Down gets wet?
Sounds like a personal problem.

Do a good job of waterproofing your bag, sleep in the right shelter (with an interior ground cloth) and your bag won’t get wet.

Wet down bags are an admission of poor technique, or bedwetting.


Of course down gets wet
The only way to keep a down bag from getting wet when camping in low temperatures is to have a waterproof liner. Otherwise the water vapor will condense in the bag and it will always be damp if not wet in the morning. Same for a synthetic bag. Unless you take the time to dry both in the morning, moisture in the bag becomes a problem after a few days. For moderate weather use, this is typically not an issue, and I agree most of the time getting a bag wet is due to bad luck or bad technique. I too prefer down bags.

i really like mine


After I had down for years and my last one lost its temper (insulation…), I bought a hybrid:

Synthetic on the back and feet, down on top. All the advantages of down where you need it and without the diss-atvantage where you don’t.

Dries a lot faster in the morning than down but a bit bullkier to pack. I can still fit all our four bags and pillows in one large canoe pack and close it watertight (prooven by trial). And my ten year old can carry the pack on the portage trail.

3/4 of a bag as good as a whole bag?
Have you seen the bags that have no fill (down or synth) underneath you? All the bag’s insulation is on top and on your sides. There is a built-in pocket for your sleeping pad. The intention is that your pad will provide the underneath insulation.

I believe that the concept is that the weight of your body compresses any fill under you to the point that the fill has no insulating properties left. Since it’s not providing any significant insulation … they remove that bulk from the bag.

Since your pad doesn’t compress all the air out, it maintains its insulating properties even when you are laying on it.

Sounded reasonable to me!

Wet down bags are an admission of poor t
in a perfect world and incident free trip. plan for disaster so you’re ready if it happens. wet leaves are better insulation than wet down

You down guys are dangerous!!
How can you possibly be soooo irresponsible in recommending down :slight_smile: I got my ass kicked on the last thread when I recommended down…I’m dangerous and so are ya’ll. BAD…

I have one of those
I have a bag with only down on top and a pocket on the back (Macpac Neve). They pack up smaller for the same warmth than a normal bag but the one thing I don’t like about it is that to use the hood you must be lying on your back.


Defending down again
I have been canoe camping since 1968, and have never suffered from a wet down bag. Pack correctly and you will sleep dry.

The comment about condensation soaking a down bag in the winter is correct, but can be overcome with vapor barrier liners and/or DWR fabrics.

I currently am campaigning a Big Agnes Lost Ranger with a sleeping pad sleeve and no insulation underneath. Seems a bit cooler without soft insulation filling in the gaps between you and the pad, but a fleece garment corrects that.


REI-Synthetic mummy!
Keeps you warm if wet, packs smaller than rectangle bags, and REI quality at a very fair price that the company will back up if there is a flaw/problem/repair needed. Look at any other brand that REI sells too. I get tons of stuff from their outlet.

Down is warm but pricy and no good when wet.

This is a no brainer!

Sleeping bags
I have a synthetic Big Agnes bag without any padding on the bottom. You slip your sleeping pad inside the sleeve. Not only does this insulate it also stops you from slidding off your pad at night. Works great.

REI sleeping bags are for people…
with narrow shoulders, the kind that get sand kicked in their faces at the beach. For a good night sleep I’m happy to pay decent money for a decent brand, like Marmot. It has their Membrane DWR technology that works well enough to keep me dry, even when I found a creek running through my tent one night in Alaska and my whole foot bed in it. The temp rating of 15 degrees is primo accurate, based on how I sleep.

My 2 synthetic bags, one by The North Face is not even close to its rating of 35F. I have to be wearing my drysuit in order for that fantasy to come true. It packages a little smaller than my 15F Marmot down. My Sierra Designs synthetic is like trying to pack one of thos flannel bags you get at Big 5, you know the ones with the little deer and duck themes printed on them. No wonder Pacific Northwest boats are so huge, you people bought all that crap about down and all the glories of wet synthetic so you had to paddle a frickin roro container ship just for a weekender. No thanks, I bought that horn rimmed philosophy once and it is pure bunk. Spend decent money on your sleeping bag and don’t buy crap. Read Backpacker or something intelligent about reviewing outdoor equipment. Protect your stuff with sensible precautions, like using a lightweight drybag (maybe Granite Gear?) over your stuff sack so you are waterproofing but not adding much bulk. Have fun yall, down with the down cynics ; )

Augustus Dogmaticus


what he said
Big Agnes synthetic bags are plenty warm and the space saved with the pad underneath means that they pack almost as small as a comparable down bag. You may be fine with down–I use mine all the time for short trips above freezing expecting mostly good weather–but there’s a very sharp edge to a useless wet lump that doesn’t exist with a synthetic bag.

Switched from synthetic to down
Down bags pack smaller for a given temp rating. I also think it breathes a bit better but am reserving judgment on that till I’ve used it a lot more, in various conditions.

I put mine in a compression dry bag inside the hatch. That way, the bag stays dry while paddling and while bringing it into the tent in the rain.

Another thing I like is that not only does down pack smaller and weigh less, it’s EASIER to compress it.

The main, umm, downside, is that down costs more than most synthetics (PrimaLoft costs the same or more than down). My REI down bag can even be handwashed, according to the instructions.

If you’re a small person, get the “women’s” bag size, good to 5’6" in most brands. I’ve owned both regular-length and women’s bags, and the short bags are definitely warmer. Also, lighter and smaller when packed.