Sleeping Bag Question

Planning overnight kayak trip to NC Outerbanks last week of April. Would appreciate recommendations of best sleeping bags. I am 6’2" and will be paddling a Tempest 165. Thanks.

I suggest
doing a little preliminary research at backpacker magazine. The new gear guide is out on bookshelves near you.

do you want mummy or no mummy

what temp rating are you looking for, outerbanks in april could be cold and wet. 30 or 40 degrees?

How much do you want to spend?

What material are you interested in down or synthetic?

What is the rest of your gear like? Is it backpacking gear, or carcamping?

I live in michigan and camp year round so I have three sleeping bags. I spent around 500 for all three. One is a down marmot 0 degree bag. Another is a simple 30 degree northface bag, and the other is a 30 dollar meijer fleece sleeping bag.

No bag will do it all.

good ideas
Like he says, no bag will do it all. For myself, though, I would tend to avoid down. Although superior and desireable in many respects, and despite the fact that there are many ways to keep a sleeping bag dry in a boat, and many fine waterproof storage bags available, the ability of synthetic materials to maintain some loft when wet coupled with an advantage in cost, and when weight is not a primary factor for consideration…I like synthetic fill.

Overnight vs. longer trips
You may want to think about whether you want to do longer camping trips as well as this overnighter.

On longer trips, you’d need more food and clothing than for one night, and a sleeping bag that fits with your gear for the overnighter might not fit in with more supplies. Especially in a fairly small boat such as the T165.

Though I avoid down in sleeping bags, it is possible you would need its compressibility if you intend to pack more gear for longer trips. You didn’t mention how cold nighttime temperatures would be, and this is one of the most important things to consider in choosing a bag.

One thing I do that increases cargo space utility is to use a sleeping bag PLUS fleece liner. The key is that they can be packed separately, which helps tremendously when packing a kayak.

I like down
I have a 32 deg marmont down bag and a zero deg western mountaineering down bag. It takes a little extra effort to make sure down stays dry but the weight and compressability are worth it. I have slept in a wet synthetic bag, and it was a miserable sleepless night. Ended up putting “all” my clothes and rain gear on so I am not sure any bag is that good wet. I think down will keep its loft better over the years so that one down bag will be cheaper than 2-3 synthetic bags.


Sweaty Sleepers Be Ware
I’d be a bit careful with purchasing a down bag if you like me have a tendancy to perspire when sleeping.

I am a sweaty sleeper and have terrible results with down bags getting soggy after a couple nights out. A fleece bag liner helps some but is not the end all solution. Maybe sleep acouple nights out in a down bag before you buy one.


I recommend Slumberjack Red Thund
er. I’ve only used mine in low 50s so far but I never zipped it. It’s a 20 degree synthetic mummy bag and compresses down to about volleyball size. I got mine on sale at Fin & Feather in IA for about $80.

Good Luck


Outer Banks in late April…
…can also have low temps between 45-60 degrees. As far as value is concerned, I would look at LL Bean. I have a 20 degree Bean bag (synthetic) and it’s very high quality, reasonably priced, and if anything ever happens to it, I can send it back and get a new one.

My only complaint is that the (mummy) bag, when zipped, is really tight–this, of course will depend on your build, but I’m starting to think that I will be happier with a lightweight rectangular bag (Bean sells those, too).

Do yourself a favor and check out LL Bean.

Whens the last time ya saw a wet goose
Good down is hard to get wet. Its the way nature makes it. A good down bag can last twenty years of hard use. A synthetic bag will only keep its loft for a few years at most. In more than thirty years of 4 season paddling trips I don’t remember ever getting a down bag wet. I have seen cheap milatery surplus chicken feather bags with cotton coverings get very wet but not goose down and nylon. I’ve even had my down bag blow into a river where it floated like a beach ball till it was retreaved, a little wet in the nylon covering but the inside virtualy dry. I also stuff my down bags in a very small stuff sack 6" by 10".I backpack with a down bag all winter in Virginia and West Virginia without a tent and its never a problem. There is nothing, absolutly nothing like a good down sleeping bag. The Idea that down is not as good in wet enviorment is a myth perpetuated by dupont and sold by every teenager working your local mall outfitter. Peace Joel

How do you clean it?
Synthetic bags have the advantage of being washable in an ordinary (but side-loading) washing machine and dryer.

I hate stinky gear.

You can clean them the same way
Except you need to use soap that won’t take the oils out of the down. Down dosn’t seem to get the odor synthetics do. kind of like polypro verses wool. Peace Joel

don’t forget the sleeping pad
Get some type of sleeping pad. This really helps in keeping the cold from the ground away from you. Also helps to stay drier,too.

Golite Flash
I just returned from a week in Northern Florida & the Okefenokee Swamp and was quite pleased with the golite flash. My bag is the oversize version that easily accomodates those of us who are 6+ footers. By design this one bag can accomodate three different temp ranges, 20/40/60 degrees provides a high degree of water resistance and its polarguard insulation remains effective even when wet. Highly compressible and weighs less than 3 lbs in its 20 degree configuration. The regular cost may seem a bit high (low $200s) but REI is blowing out their stock and I luckily picked one up a few weeks ago for under $60, so…

anyone use the ‘cat’s meow’?

Have two of them
Wife and I have two 2002 models with mating zippers. Comfortable bag and well made, though I find mine a little tight around the shoulders. They now make an expander for it. Can find these on sale for ~ $130.

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