Sleeping bag question

I need a sleeping bag for my husband (45" chest) that will pack small enough to use for kayak camping and be warm enough down to around 30F, probably a 20F bag. I have had him try various bags that seemed absolutely huge to me and he says that they are too tight in the shoulders. He is not overweight, just has really big shoulders. I wonder if he is trying to get out of going kayak camping, is overly claustrophobic, or I just have not found the right bag for him. Any suggestions?

Montbell bags have elastic cord in them so they stretch with your body. They are great for sleepers that move around a lot like me or for larger people. The are mostly down, but also have some regular goose feathers also. They pack small because of the down, and also because of a lightweight shell. Even my -15 bag that I used in the Himalayas packed pretty small.


have a 44-45 chest myself (32 waist also a virgo who enjoys kayaking and taking long walks =0)

I find I have tons of room im my goslein sleeping bag. I have had issues with other sleeping bags where I would have to zip it up in under my armpits…I feel his pain.

heres my review:

Big fan of the Montbell bags. Thinking about buying another one. Their web site was down for maintenance this afternoon. Don’t know if it is back up yet.

Ditto Montbell
I have several in different weights. I love them, and we have the right/left so we can zip them together. The ability to stretch, move, and have the bag move with you is great.

Get ol’ boy…
… a canoe and bring some beers and a grill. He’ll sleep much better.

Big Agnes
Big Agnes makes some good sleeping bags with more room than typical bags. I have one, a long Zirkel, that I’ve had for at least 5 years that I like.

Big Agnes bags are unusual for a couple of reasons but the thing that stands out is that there is no down (or other insulation) on the bottom, only a sleeve for your sleeping pad.

The idea is that the insulation below you is compressed by your body weight and not much use anyway.

See for more about Big Agnes bags.

You can use most any pad with them though I recommend the insulated air mattress. It’s about 3 inches thick when inflated, pretty warm, and extremely comfortable. It’s not quite warm enough for me when I’m sleeping on snow but otherwise it’s great.

Some folks a few years back had durability problems but my air mattress has been great. AFAIK, Big Agnes stood behind their air mattresses and replaced the defective ones.

However, putting an air mattress in a sleeve on the bottom of your sleeping bag has some side effects.

One side effect is that you can’t roll off of the mattress at night. Another effect is that the mattress wants to be flat. That prevents the bag from wrapping around you and you have to heat the resulting spaces. The last effect is that it’s hard to sleep on your side, especially when it’s cold. I’ve adapted so that I can sleep on my side but then I’m fairly flexible about the way I sleep.

If Big Agnes isn’t quite right, then I suggest looking at sleeping quilts. Nunatak makes some excellent ones (and priced to match) Sleeping quilts are sometimes called variable-girth sleeping bags.

Sleeping quilts are open on the bottom, where you lie on the pad. There are straps that hold the quilt on top of the bag. For your husband, the best part is that the tightness of fit is adjustable. Most people would adjust the girth to adjust the warmth of the quilt.

Sleeping quilts only come up to your shoulders, so you’d wear a separate down hood.

Some of the very high end sleeping bag companies will do a specially made bag. I think Nunatak and Feathered Friends will do that and maybe a few others like Stevensons Warmlite.

Google Ray Jadine (yes, he’s a strange bird) for more info on sleeping quilts and a fairly low cost kit for a synthetically insulated quilt and hood.

Some of the comping hammock camping companies (Speer, Jacks-R-Better) make quilt that could probably be used for sleeping on the ground. Most of the companies that I’ve mentioned are small operations; if you call, chances are good that you’ll talk to one of the owners and get good info

Ditto Big Agnes
It would be hard to overstate how comfortable it is sleeping with the integrated pad, and the lack of insulation on the bottom helps the bag pack down really tight. Now if only they made a bag with elastic seams!


I usually just carry a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt, and 3 heavy wool blankets and sleep in that. I can’t stand sleeping in a bag, they all seem too cramped to me too

Big Agnes on sale
You didn’t tell us if he’s regular or long. Here are links for regular.

BA’s are nice because they’re wide, as stated, but don’t take up quite so much room because they’re missing one side (the sleeve where your 20" wide air mattress goes). Good luck!

Good Suggestions
Thanks all for the very good info. We actually found a Big Agnes bag on sale at REI earlier today and the 70" shoulder girth was still a little tight on him. I see that Big Agnes also makes some really wide bags (80" girth) in the “Park” series. I may order one and see if that fits the bill. Will also check out Montbell options and others. Thanks! I think he is warming up the the idea of kayak camping since he did buy a therm-a-rest pillow at REI today. It’s a start!

how about a double
Don’t they make pads and sleeping bags that zip together so you can keep each other warm? Now that may be some additional incentive to go kayak camping!