Sleeping bags

We are in the market for new sleeping bags.

Our existing ones are good for 20 below, and they are much too big and bulky for getting into a kayak compartment with all our other gear on multiday trips.

The old ones were great for up north, and Alaska, but we don’t need anything near a 20 below rating any more, since all our paddling is in the south

Looking for recommenditions on what brands to get and what to keep away from.

Our Specs:

1 Synthetic, (not down)

2 good for 20 above zero, (which means they will be smaller)

3 Want straight ones that can zip together, (not mummy type)

4 Would like waterproof if such a thing exists

Jack L

Big Agnes
has a lot of synthetic square foot-box sleeping bags that zip together. I don’t have a particular bag in mind, but if you carry an air mattress, they mate with that to make the whole thing lighter and pack down smaller than a full bag. I like the design. Here’s one.

Sure looks like a "mummy bag"
to me !

Jack L

Well… I missed point 1…
of your query.

Why not down?

You’re clearly a paddler, you should know how to keep stuff dry. Nothing compresses and packs as small as down - just about as warm as you get get for the weight.

I’m 6’1", wife 5’6. Years ago, I bought 2 mummy down bags that zip together and after zipping together they really become a big-semi rectangular. 6’ 6" size for me, 6’ for Mom. Quite roomy for 2 - no need for the mummy hood - just slide on down.

When I paddle solo the 6’6" foot bag is plenty roomy.

When I looked recently, if you’re looking for shoulder room, Marmot has about the best width I could find in a down bag.

I paddle overnight in the boat frequently - and while synthetic was my first bag - the last 25+ years it has been down. Keeping it dry is key - obviously.

I’ve been pretty happy with a Kelty synthetic semi-mummy I got about 8 years ago (previously I had mostly used down bags but find this one just as comfortable). I see Campmor has a rectangular Kelty Callisto 20 degree mummy on sale for about $80 at the moment. Also a North Face Dolomite 15 degree bag for $110 and a Slumberjack Timberjack 20 for $70. I like the Kelty bags for quality of materials, warmth and compressibility. I’ve found I can easily use a smaller stuff sack than the one they supply to reduce the packed size.

I have mixed feelings about waterproof fabric bags. From all accounts I have read they tend to not breathe all that well and you end up clammy inside. My preference is to use a Goretex bivy sack over the bag if I know I may be exposed to rain (like camping under a tarp or lean-to). And they are goddawful expensive – a separate bivy is cheaper. In fact I made my own double bag bivy using a 2 yard length of Goretex from Seattle Fabrics stitched on three sides to an equal sized piece of coated nylon packcloth (for the underside). Cost about $100 all told, far cheaper than the premium for waterproof bags. And easier to wash and to pack separately.

I have four simple specs
They are all for certain reasons

Jack L

Zipping together
perhaps a mis-read on my part but your spec suggests you want rectangular for the ability to zip together. Mummys can be zipped together - synthetic or down.

Hope you get what you’re looking for.

i dont
Think a bag exists that has all those criteria. You would probably have to be flexible on the mummy or the waterproof. There are bags that zip together that are mummy.

Ryan L.

Don’t even know what that means

A waterproof sleeping bag?

That would require a waterproof outer layer, a zipper that was completely waterproof, and the zipper would have to zip all the way closed.

Are you trying to keep water out when it’s packed in your boat or while you are actually sleeping in it?

If you are reasonably sure the bag is going to get wet, a synthetic bag makes sense. But at some point you might be better off just using trash bags to keep the rain off the bag (stowed or while sleeping).

I don’t want mummy
I hate the GD things, and yes just about all the rectangle ones zip together.

Jack L

I guess you didn’t read my …
number 4 carefully.

I said if "such a thing exists "

Jack L

I wou;ld sure like to get around a
camp fire with you guys. We would have a slug fest arguing about what I want !

jack L

Drives me nuts…
…when people don’t listen to the question(s).

You were very clear and reasonable.

Hang in there.

they most definitely


MEC Bags

– Last Updated: Mar-12-13 10:55 PM EST –

I have been very happy with the quality of MEC bags having just bought two for my kids. I only have experience with the down ones though but I assume the quality would be the same with synthetic. If you get opposite side zippers apparently they will zip together. They also provide a packed volume size in the descriptions. Happy Shopping.

Edit, hopefully the barrel bags are rectangular enough.

Recommendations for others (not JackL)
Can’t answer Jack’s question because he wants sythetic, but for those looking for down, here are two sleeping bags that are hard to beat:

  1. LL Bean semi-rectangular 35 degrees.

  2. LL Bean 20-degree rectangular Red&productId=1287265

    I’ve been using exclusively down for the last 10 years for backpacking and kayaking, after 25 years with synthetics. I’ve never gotten a down sleeping bag wet. It’s really not difficult to keep them dry. For me personally, down has every advantage over synthetics.

    Some sleeping bags have a water-repellent coating. Bean’s uses “DownTek” which is treated to retain its loft when wet.

think I understood
You want:

  • full rectangle bags that open flat and mate top over bottom
  • 20 degree rated
  • synthetic fill
  • waterproof shell if possible

    The only waterproof shell bags I have found are higher-end down expedition mummies so I think your guess that a mild climate rectangular doesn’t come that way is correct.

    I listed those ones from Campmor because I had been looking at similar bags myself for us to use in our small camper trailer. Also, since I mentioned the Goretex “slipcover” I had made for the sleeping bags, I checked on Ebay and found some less costly Goretex than that from Seattle Fabrics. If you feel up to making something similar there is a guy selling military camo and also navy blue goretex nylon for under $12 a yard (58" width). At that price you could construct a double bivy bag for under $40.

Nope, that’s not a mummy
The fact that a sleeping bag has a hood doesn’t make it a mummy. “Mummy” refers to the tapered foot and being form-fitting throughout. Quite a few rectangular bags have a hood.

Big Agnes sleeping bags are huge rectangular bags. However, they are made specifically for people who sleep on their back. There is no insulation on the bottom bag. You insert your sleeping pad into a pocket on the bottom of the bag. The result is that there is only one sleeping position that really works: on your back.

Semi-rectangular is a very comfortable shape. It allows full movemet but reduces the huge air space that you have to warm up around your feet. At a temperature of 20 degrees, that air space is a significant concern.

Thank you
I’ll paddle with you any day !

Jack L