Sleeping Bags for Camping

camping in the south
I camp a LOT in North Carolina on the coast. It’s HUMID all the time. I have a synthetic big agnes bag and 2 down quilts (1 winter, 1 summer rated) Depending on the temps, I’ll use a combination of 1 or 2 of these. Last week, temps close to 100, I used just the summer quilt. Little rain expected. I have used the summer quilt and had huge downpours at night. Make sure your tent is well sealed, mine leaked that time. Stayed up all night trying to wipe up puddles forming inside the tent. Next morning quilt was still mostly dry, just had to hang it out in the sun for an hour. Under my sleeping mat was soaked, but a quilt doesn’t go under you!!! When packing your gear, have clothes & sleeping bag in waterproof bags then double bag it. The tent can get wet but it’s really better to try and keep it dry. I also use a silk liner, they dry really fast if they get wet. Check out a good backpacking forum for ideas on sleeping bags vs quilts. I ended up making both of mine. Have fun on your trip.

Wal Mart Bag
I have the typical bulky synthetic sleeping bag from Wal-Mart that I’ve used while car camping and was thinking about buying a compression bag to get it down to a size that makes it easier to pack. If anyone can recommend a good compression bag please let me know. Thanks

What kind of bag is it?
If its a mummy bag and the cheapo fiber fill isn’t too dense, then you may be able to stuff it. But if its a slumberjack quilted special, then you won’t have any luck.

Search on for compression sacks. They have a huge selection and their prices are reasonable.

camp blanket
I’d get an ultralight bag or a camp blanket or sheet you can climb inside of. Or a bag plus a liner.

I can’t believe people are suggesting you break the bank on high end (or down) bags for where you’ll be camping in the south. It’s not a competition.

Nobody is suggesting a competition. Some of us are of the philosophy that quality and weight savings are usually worth a little extra cost. Furthermore, REI’s no questions asked 1 year refund policy on most of the merchandise they sell make them a sensible company to buy from. I know of many others who think it is better to buy cheaper, more poorly made merchandise from Wal-Mart. I have no beef with folks who shop this way, though I generally disagree with this approach. I would prefer to support smaller, more quality-oriented businesses who know their products and have some concern with where they come from and how they were produced. But that is only my personal preference.

Inexpensive synthetic

– Last Updated: Jul-07-08 11:55 AM EST –

I use an inexpensive (~$45) synthetic bag I got from EMS (check Campmore too). It's rated at 40'F but that is likely optimistic. For summer, if it gets colder than that, just wear some extra clothing.

One key to keeping the bag small is not getting one that is warmer than you need. Also, since a mummy bag uses less material, it will pack smaller.

Make sure your bag as a full zipper on the side. Not many mummy bags have zippers that go around the foot (which would be nice for summer).

It's not as compact as down but I don't have to be concerned much about it getting wet when kayaking.

We synthetic
"I wonder how many people have actually tried sleeping in a wet synthetic bag?"

The point is to never get any bag wet.

The issue with down is that it’s useless when wet and very hard to get dry.

I agree that many people do manage to make down work. It’s also much easier to get a down bag into a dry bag.

I just got a
Guide Gear synthetic 50+ sleeping bag from sportsmans guide. You might think guide gear is a cheapo brand (some of their stuff is), but this sleeping bag is actually pretty nice. Weighs a little over a pound, stuffs into a size smaller than a football, works great for summer camping when it is warm out. Best of all it only cost 25 bucks.

Ultrafluffy fleece type of blanket
We bought two interesting fleece blankets on sale at Wild Oats last year. They are extremely light and fluffy, yet when balled up inside a WxTex drybag with purge valve, they compress very flat. And when removed from the bag they puff right back to their normal state. The only thing I’ve tried that compressed as well was down. The stuff makes me think of dog undercoat, it has such fine “hairs.”

I would not use them for camping in the Rocky Mountains but they are probably warm enough for summer camping in the south. Machine washable and quick to dry.

hands down. A bit pricey but well worth it. Small stuff size, all temps available.


– Last Updated: Jul-07-08 8:03 PM EST –

For what you hope the bag to do, almost every suggestion given will work. Probably the only two questions you need to answer is how small do you want it to be and how much do you want to spend. I've used a number of bags in a number of settings. Keep down dry and it is hard to beat for lightness, compactness and ability to keep you warm, but pricey. On fiber filled bags I have seen differences. Mostly in longevity and ability to hold their loft. Of all synthetics I have used the one that I have had the longest and proven to be the most durable has been a Wiggy. Unfortunately I see they have drastically increased their price from the one I bought over twenty years ago and still using regularly . Unless you are planning on using a bag for weeks, year in and year out, many of these suggestions will work just fine. If you are considering a lot of nights/weeks/years in it then you may want to give one of these a look.

This discussion is out of control

– Last Updated: Jul-07-08 8:46 PM EST –

There is SOME good advice here, but also stuff that misses the point. Lighten up folks. Arguing that down bags are a worthy investment, or aguing about why synthetics are better might be appropriate in some other situation.

The original poster prefaced his question with:

"I intend to go on a canoe and camping trip", and then he said that the trip will be in summer in the deep south.

This does NOT seem like the kind of situation where we need to worry about giving this fellow the best damned sleeping bag ever made, no matter what each person thinks the best bag happens to be.

Speaking to the original poster now, I say get something cheap and easy, but not junk (you've already implied that avoiding junk is your intention). Get something rated for your temperatures, and NOT for weather that's much colder than that or you'll be uncomfortable at best, and miserable at worst. Pay attention to the posters who seem focused on the basics, not those who speak about the ultimate in quality of materials.

As for myself, I bought my first and only summertime sleeping bag a few years ago from REI. I was pleasantly surprised at how CHEAP (!) it was, and it keeps me warm down to 50 degrees, which is perfect for our summers and surely adequate for the deep south. If I need to make it down to 45 degrees I wear appropriate clothing (including a wool hat) to bed. It compresses to a size that's roughly two-thirds the size of a football, which is more than small enough for canoe camping, even when all of the space-obssesed kayakers on the trip beg you to carry half their stuff. Yeah, I could shave a few ounces off the already negligible weight and be able to scrunch it almost as small as a softball instead of the size of an undersized toy football, but do I want those features for 3 to 5 times the price? I don't, but if anyone else does, that's fine. I just don't recommend that approach for "going on a canoe trip" any more than I'd insist that you must also get youself a canoe from Placid Boat Works to be properly prepared.

I agree with Gnarlydog.

I have a summer weight down bag that
weighs only a pound. I have taken it on many backpacking and canoe trips around the country including in Alaska and Canada. It’s a great bag and use it even with frost on the ground by adding a liner.

I always put my sleeping bag in a plastic bag and that inside my Water Shed dry bag. It never got wet on the many trips I used it on. However, I’d probably replace it with a down bag that has a breathable, waterproof cover.

Since you’re paddling a canoe, you don’t have to worry too much about weight or size so a cheaper synthetic bag would work great if you don’t intend to backpack with it. Every year the synthetic bags are getting better so they’re worth checking out. You can’t beat the size and weight of a down bag with a synthetic – though perhaps some day.

in a society where consumerism
is galloping I see how appealing the “cheap” is.

Disposable seems to be a given.

In my disagreement with synthetic I emphasized the values of down but I forgot to mention that a down bag will outlast a synthetic one 10 to 1.

I also lied that I would not own a synthetic bag: I admit I have. It was given to me as a present ages ago. I hated the thing! very bulky and never comfortable to sleep in. Or too hot or too cold. As mentioned before a synthetic bag does not regulate your body heat and has a much narrower temperature comfort range.

If I recall correctly I also mentioned that if the original poster does not intend to camp in the future the down bag approach is indeed overkill. I would hope that maybe he might do more then one trip and maybe not in the heat of summer where a decent bag (regardless of material) will make him a much happier camper, so to speak.

I loat junk. It’s against my principles and in this day and age maybe we should all reconsider our approach to “disposable” goods.

But that’s just my opinion :slight_smile:


I see no reason to get a down bag in a wet hot humid part of the country.

Don’t forget that down bags are pretty inhumane to the birds so I see no reason to get one when there are better alternatives.

If you are a new canoe camper in Louisiana I would get an inexpensive sleeping bag liner. If it gets a little chilly come winter just sleep in you synth underwear. And it will dry quicker than any other option.

inhumane? how ?
northoceanbeach, surely you own a pair of leather shoes, don’t you?

or maybe even your couch at home is leather…

FYI most of the down sleeping bags are made from by product of the birds that are used as food.

Almost all down comes from China (very small amount of extremely high end comes from Europe, and that admittedly is harvested from live birds, but we are talking sleeping bags in the $800+ range).

So, the same way your leather goods are made from cows that made it to Mc Donalds as burgers, down sleeping bags are made from down from ducks used in Chinese kitchens.

As long as you don’t oppose to any animal product whatsover, down is not that bad :slight_smile:


EMS Velocity
I recently purchased the EMS velocity bag that packs down into the size of a nalgene for ~$160 for kayaking and backpacking. I’ve used the bag in two drastically different temperature situations: 1) 90+ extremely humid and got down to ~75 overnight (backpacking) 2) 75-80 day temps and ~50 in the evening (kayaking). This bag worked extremely well in situation 2 but did not in situation 1.

It seems as though you are looking at camping situations in my situation #1. After experiencing this bag for the hotter of the two situations, I would recommend getting a liner (non-cotton) for the extremely hot and humid days and then a bag rated to what you think will be the lowest temp for fall and spring situations. This bag was far too warm for the extreme warm and humid conditions.

Decide how much space your bag can take up for your trip and then visit your local retailer to see options in person.

As far as compression sacs, I have a larger, cold temp bag that I used a Outdoor Research compression sack for and it decreases the volume by ~1/3. However, depending on the type of bag you have a compression sack may or may not save you room.

Enjoy your trip!


of course not
But you can get a quality warm-weather bag for the weather conditions this person lives and camps in, and for the frequency which he camps, without going to the expense of a high end ultralight down bag.

Seakak, Seakak, Seakak…
Your last few posts have reminded me so much of… Me, when I was first on 6 years ago… LMAO!!

I still say, by the one I have suggested for $80. Then he can have 7 sleeping bags in one. Mix and match for the weather, climate, altitude, temperature as he sees fit.

Paddle easy,