Five years ago, few lightweight sleep system products deviated from the design of the conventional mummy bag, with the exception of a few quirky products available from a number of companies serving smaller niche product segments.
To say that this product category - that of unconventional sleep systems, or "not-mummy" bags - has progressed with the agility of a cheetah would be a gross overstatement, but it's getting better. We have more options to choose from, but cottage industry products still dominate the category. The adoption of unconventional sleep systems in the mass market is halted simply because of limited distribution and lack of understanding by the mass market consumer of how unconventional sleep systems work. However, prospects for the lightweight hiking community are bright. A variety of designs are available at prices that appeal to those that live out of their trunks and those that live out of their trust funds, and everyone in between.
In this document, we present an introduction and overview to unconventional sleep systems - and the techniques to use them - that comprise one of the most rapidly changing, and difficult-to-categorize product categories. In addition, we provide some scenarios of unconventional sleep systems used by the Backpacking Light staff in various regions of the continental U.S.
10,200+ words; illustrations by Mike Clelland!