Sleeping Bags

So what’s the best sleeping bag to have when you need to pack it into a sea kayak where the hatch is only 9" round? We want to do some overnight camping and our current bags are too bulky to fit in a waterproof bag that will squeeze down enough to get through the main hatches. The temps where we will be camping may drop down into the high 30’s F at night.

Why buy new bags…
…if your present ones are good?

Just put it in a good dry bag on the rear deck.

When we go on extended yak packing trips we put some of our stuff on the rear decks.

I know this doesn’t answer your question, but if your present bag is good, a dry bag is a lot cheaper than a new sleeping bag.



JackL took the words right out of my mouth. I wind up having to strap something to the rear deck anyway and something light up there helps keep the center of balance low.

Happy Paddling,


Sleeping bag for paddling
Light weight and compressability are important features for a canoe trip sleeping bag where portaging is involved. For about 25 years I used down bags, but the problem with them is once they get wet, you are cold for the remainder of the trip. This happened too frequently for me, so about 15 years ago I switched to a light weight, compressable synthetic bag. I use and have been happy with Woods Canada Kootenay 450 for summer weight and Kootenay 900 for spring and fall weight bag for canoe trip duties. The bag is stuffed like a down bag, and if it gets wet it will still keep you warm. It will dry nicely at the next days camp. It isn’t the prettiest bag in the world, but it is functional and reasonably priced. The Kootenays are rectangular, but Woods offers other styles with Lite Loft insulation as well.

Sportsmans guide
had some nice med. 40 -50 degree temp. bags that would rool up tight for around $40 or so.Contact Longshadow or Coffee if you are intrested,as they both had em, or have em.

Big Agnes
Your sleeping pad is slipped into a sleeve in the bag and is incredibly comfortable (no slipping off the pad at night).

Pricey bags, but well made.


Will your bag
compress? I use a Sealine compression dry bag to compress my bag to about the size of a soccer ball. Goes in my NDK hatch just fine :slight_smile:

Here is what Northman speaks of… $24

OR similar $29

And along with one of these… $34

You can make it water & bug proof for “no tent” use.

For a total of around $60 you can have a good 10-15 degree bag… Along with an military intermediate bag, I used these in -10 degree winter camping, with Northman & Longshadow…

Paddle easy,


Don’t laugh
Colemans makes a mummy bag good to 32 degrees. It’s synthetic filled bag weighs 2 pounds and stuffs into a 7"X11" bag. It’s still not too expensive at $75.00. I only like to camp when the weather gets a little colder so I need a warmer bag. If you like go look:


after years
of using synthetics that stuff poorly and are marginally warm we spurged and got killer down/goretex bags and love 'em.

we have:

  1. a very dry tent (MSR)
  2. an inside the tent liner
  3. very bomber drybags

    keep 'em dry and they rock. they are warm to 25 degrees and stuff to the size of a 2 lb coffee can.

    don’t ask me how much they cost.

    steve Gucci Camper

For Now
For now put the dry bag in the kayak before stuffing the sleeping bag inside. It’s not very handy doing it that way but it will work.

Mummy bags are better for stuffing than rectangular one.

Avoid down when around water. Sometimes dry bags will leak. Down takes days to dry.

I found a Thinsulate bag made by Slumberjack that I use for kayaking. It’s rated at 30 degrees and packs very easily. They had another one rated at 0 but I have a -30 bag for the cold.

get different dry bags
nylon will do it,line it with a kitchen garbage bag as it will make stuffing easier. Every manufacturer has a small synthetic bag,then get a liner to stretch the warmth. Basically splitting a medium duty bag into two.

Synthetics and liners
Agree with the above - we have a couple of very reasonably priced synthetic bags that are rated to 40 degrees and stuff down great with compression sacks (I have an Explorer LV so they have to). For overnight lows in the 30’s that we hit a couple of weekends ago, we just slept in the same Polartec 200 tops and bottoms that we have been using to walk around camp and were fine. We could stretch these bags another 10 to 20 degrees if we want with some inexpensive liners that can also be useful around the house for those who don’t want to own the utility company by the end of this winter.

Our bags are Hollowfill, which seemed good enough for 90% or so our our use. There are some nicer synthetics out there now, like the highest level of Polarguard, that may be more effective at warmth with even less bulk than t he Hollowfill.

One thing that is easy to fit into a kayak, and helps a lot, is a thin sheet of that fancy space-age plasticy material that lays under the tent and keeps damp out, slightly ups the R-factor. I got it when we got the tent from Campmore, and I have no idea now what it is made of, but I wouldn’t be without it.

Tyvek… You can buy it by the 100’x8’
Roll at the lumberyard. You can make tent savers, sleeping bag wraps, even tents out of it… breathable one way, put impenetrable the other

Paddle easy,


Goose Down!!
So all the anti down folks can get excited! I have used only down bags for over 20 years in SE Alaska, Pacific Northwest, climbing, skiing, kayaking. I have spent hundreds of nights as a guide and on private trips in some of the wettest country on the mud ball. I use a 15 degree down bag inside a very light synthetic overbag. The combo is superb, as I can use either, or the combo, and the overbag deals with any condensation. Both bags are very small packed, and easily fit into any kayak. Synthetic bags are bulky, and many people still use heavy rubbery dry bags that are neither truly dry when submerged, nor easy to pack. Sea to Summit makes great dry bags, or as LeeG says simply line a nylon stuff sack with a garbage bag, squeeze the air out, twist the g-bag and tuck in the excess, seal the draw cord on the nylon sack. Put that under water for as long as you like next to a silly dry bag, and see the results. The lined bag will be dry! The key to wet weather is tarps, and a good tent. Packing in small volume boats is a matter of many small sacks. Carry a light mesh duffel to toss all small sacks into.

After a miserable 5 day solo trip
Without a good bag I got a Slumberjack Red Thunder 20 degree bag. It packs down smaller than a soccer ball and my wife made me a drybag that compresses horizontally so it’s long and skinny. I also carry a few chemical handwarmers for extra cold spells.



New sutff sacks (long and skinny)
Just buy or make new stuff sacks that are long and skinny.

Don’t buy a down bag for paddling. I’m not biased against down in general, I have spent thousands on several Feathered Friends bags (6-900 a peice). But immersion threat is too risky. It’s like bow/stern lines, you don’t need them until you need them. It’ll be easier and more convenient to pack a down bag every time, until the time your bag gets soaked. Then you’ll be in a world of hurt, and depending on the nature of your outing may have actually placed your life at risk. It’s not worth it.

I just went through this: two solutions
I used to use a compact (5’6" long) synthetic-fill bag that I stuffed inside a compression drybag (excellent drybag, Black Canyon series made by SealLine).

But I thought even the compressed bag took up a disproportionate amount of space. Also, the old sleeping bag was 29 years old and the reason it fit at all was because it had lost so much loft! It was no longer warm enough for most of my camping needs.

My newer replacement for this old bag was warm enough but simply would not fit in the hatch no matter how much compression I forced onto it.

I gave up…I bought another 5’6" sleeping bag, this time a 600-fill DOWN bag. I could not believe how much more space it gave me, it compresses so much more. And it is warm. Since my sleeping bag is stored inside a drybag AND stashed inside the kayak hatch, the risk of it getting wet is very low.

That was my solution, and I am happy with it. Most of my camping is in semi-arid climates. However, if you absolutely will not use a down bag, there is another solution that might work for you: buy a lightweight liner and use that with a summer synthetic bag that compresses enough to fit in your hatch. This synthetic bag will probably be good only down to 40, but combined with a microfleece liner it will suffice to 30. I use this method with my car camping sleeping bag: big, lofty but not very compressible synthetic bag good to 25 combined with a 300-weight fleece liner makes it good down to 10 degrees. The advantages of using two bags are that you can pack them separately in your kayak (better use of space), and you have more temperature adjustability.

aluminized drop cloth
there’s one that’s like the blue tarps with threads spaced 3/16" apart,grommets and stitched edges,green on one side, aluminized on the other,

One of these days …

you are going to get that down bag wet on an extended trip and you are not going to be a happy camper.

If you have dry bags that don’t keep your stuff dry you should either get your money back or by a better quality one.

I am amazed that someone who has the background that you say you have is making statements like that.

Hmmmm---- SE Alaska; you don’t like gortex either do you?