Jan 22, 2014 at 8:34 pm #1312347
Hello all, I know that sleeping bags and temp ratings are an individual thing, but I'm hoping to get some advice before laying out a lot of cash.
I'm looking for a down bag (my first…I've only used synthetic up until now), that will work for three season camping in the Sierras. Feathered Friends are high on my interest list, but I'd be open to other suggestions as well. I thrash and turn a lot when I sleep, and for that reason I'm not looking much at quilts.
My main question is what temp rating should I be looking at? I sleep fairly cold, but part of that might be that I've been using synthetic bags and quilts, and ones that tend to embellish their temp ratings at that. I sleep in double walled tents, so that is a mitigating factor. With these things in mind, would a 30* bag work, or should I be looking more at a 20*?Jan 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm #2065323
30. Combine with your clothing/puffy jacket if you need more warmth.Jan 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm #2065324
A 30 degree bag will work for most situations but I prefer to take a 20 degree bag/quilt to the Sierra. And if you sleep cold, I'd say go with the 20. I'd prefer to vent a little rather than sleep cold all night.Jan 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm #2065328
nmJan 22, 2014 at 9:02 pm #2065332
The 30F bag combined with your clothes/puffy only works if you actually bring extra clothes/puffy. I've been out in the sierras with just my long sleeved baselayer and a shell. This obviously doesn't work if you're the type that spends time around camp.
You have a good chance to freeze your ass off in November with a 30F bag. If you hike a lot in the shoulder seasons go with a 20F or 25F.
A 20F bag is usually the best bang for your buck IMO.
I have a 20F bag and a 32F bag for the warmer temps; if I had to do it again I'd go with a 25F to replace both.Jan 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm #2065341
+1 on a 20 degree.
We've had some freakishly hot summers up there lately, but I've been caught by cold snaps in June/July/August that had me glad I had a 20.
I think you'll get more bang for the buck out of a 20. If I only had one bag it would be a 20.Jan 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm #2065343
@andrew-fLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
If you're going to buy just one bag, I'd recommend making it a 20 degree one. A 30F bag works most of the time, but you'll surely run into a few cold nights where you'll wish you had a little more. Especially at high elevation or outside the summer months. My Katabatic Alsek 22F has become the one bag (well, quilt) that I use for basically everything and I rarely regret bringing the few extra ounces over a 30F version. In the middle of the summer I'll leave my puffy at home to save weight, but that's a small fraction of the trips I take.Jan 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm #2065350
nmJan 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm #2065351
I appreciate the responses and insights. I think I'm leaning towards the 20* bag, particularly since I don't really have puffy clothes, and I sleep cold. I also have a 40* quilt that I am comfortable using when I know it's going to be great weather. So given that, I think it makes more sense to add a bag that gives me a noticeably colder range than my current quilt offers.
I understand the logic behind multi-use gear, but my personal style is not centered around puffy clothes. I hike in shell type layers (pants and long sleeve shirt, and for jacket weather I have a thin softshell fleece. So aside from my thin smartwool baselayer, none of my clothing gear really adds much to the sleep system. I'm open to the idea of getting a puffy hooded jacket, but right now I can get a jacket or bag, but not both. I'm thinking that if I'm limited to one investment at the moment, I'd get more bang for my buck with a new sleeping bag.Jan 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm #2065352
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I prefer a 30 degree bag and a puffy. It allows me to regulate if it's too warm or too cold.Jan 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm #2065355
I have only two bags, and don't plan on getting a third (synthetic option) unless I take a trip to Scotland or long-term in PNW: Western Mountaineering Puma for winter and GoLite 20F quilt for everything else. I live in SoCal and hit the Sierras regularly. The quilt + Marmot Zeus down sweater takes me down to 10F… maybe with a hot nalgene ;) You'll be fine with most bags rated for 30 as others have said, but make sure to learn a few cold weather camping tricks just in case.Jan 23, 2014 at 5:08 am #2065390
"I appreciate the responses and insights. I think I'm leaning towards the 20* bag, particularly since I don't really have puffy clothes, and I sleep cold."
That and the rest of your follow-up makes sense to me.Jan 23, 2014 at 5:35 am #2065396
If you toss and turn take a look a the Zpacks with the goose hood.
It allows you to roll over inside the bag with out the hassle of the a traditional Mummy bag. I switched from a Western Mountain Caribou to a Zpacks 20 deg just before entering the Sierras on My PCT through Hike last year and much preferred the Zpacks.Jan 23, 2014 at 5:48 am #2065397
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Stephen, thank you for the kudos on the ZPacks bag. I'm waiting for my bag to be delivered by the Postal Service, it went round and round in Sacramento for a week, but shows delivered now after two weeks of three day Priority Mail. I should be able to pick it up when I get home in another week. I go for the lightest options on my summer vacations, so a 30-35F bag/quilt is all I bring, even with nights into the upper 20'sF, I can get by.
DuaneJan 23, 2014 at 7:41 am #2065420
Another vote for a 20 or 25 degree bag or quilt.Jan 23, 2014 at 8:27 am #2065434
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
WM Ultralite (20*)Jan 23, 2014 at 10:01 am #2065455
I have a 20 and a 30.
If there is a warm weather forecast, I take the 30.
If it is not an exceptionally warm forecast, I take the 20.
I am a cold sleeper and sometimes even in a tent and wearing a light down jacket in the 20 degree bag I am cold.
Basically, being a cold sleeper I figure a 20 is good down to 30 degrees for me.
And a 30 is good for me down to 40 degrees.
Like was said above, if you only want to buy one, buy the 20… you can always unzip it to cool it down. I have a FF Humming Bird 20 F bag and love it.
I also have a 30F zPacks bag (sans hood) and love that in warmer spells…
BillyJan 23, 2014 at 10:08 am #2065461
@feetfirstLocale: Northern Sierra Nevada
"I'm looking for a down bag (my first…I've only used synthetic up until now), that will work for three season camping in the Sierras."
What areas of the Sierra do you plan to visit? Particularly, what elevations? There can be a pretty significant difference in overnight-morning temps at 8K feet on the west compared to 11K on the east. With that being said, a 20F bag will allow you to be comfortably warm during normal weather patterns and safe during cold snaps.Jan 23, 2014 at 10:09 am #2065462
Also… it depends on you definition of '3 season'.
If your '3 season' is June thru Sept, then I recommend a 20F bag for a cold sleeper.
But if your definition of '3 season' extends to October or November (or earlier in the Spring than June) and you are a cold sleeper you might want something warmer than a 20F bag.
Personally, I would take a 10F or 0F bag in the Sierra in Oct/Nov unless it were an exceptionally warm forecast.
BillyJan 23, 2014 at 10:23 am #2065466
Just to clarify. All my bag recommendations are based on my experience camping at 10,000 feet or above, in July, July or September. I almost never camp lower than 10k.
BillyJan 23, 2014 at 10:56 am #2065482
Thanks for the continued suggestions, folks. I'm really leaning towards the 20* bag now. Alex, I should have addressed that. Most of my backpacking has been on the Eastern side, out of Mammoth. 9,500+ is what I sleep at.
Billy, for 3 season I'm hoping to get to at least October. I love the fall colors in the Eastern Sierras. I'm not sure about November, but if we're talking a November like this year, then maybe. HahaJan 23, 2014 at 11:11 am #2065488
From what you describe I'd say 20 degree bag, for a cold sleeper and wanting some shoulder season use. And the beauty of the 20 degree bag for he sierra is you can push into winter with extra clothes, a bivysack, etc. if you decide you want to do it.Jan 23, 2014 at 11:19 am #2065489
I would probably go with my 20 bag in early October with a warm forecast.
But much later or a colder forecast and I would want something warmer than a 20 bag… even inside a tent and wearing down jacket inside the bag… but I do sleep cold.
But it's so hard to say for someone else.
In any case, I'm pretty sure you would be happy with a 20 bag June thru September.
BillyJan 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm #2065542
@tracedefLocale: Southern California
Thing about the Sierras is you can certainly get away with a 30 degree bag on many, many nights and be just fine … but you may have some miserable nights if you get caught in a cold front or other system that comes in …. and will wish you had a 20 degree bag … as least that has been my experience … ymmv.Jan 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm #2065587
@towalyLocale: Smoky Mtns.
At my age I sleep colder than when I was young.
For me, a 20 degree bag IS the bag I need for 30 degree conditions. If I need to push it to lower temps, then I can use the puffy clothing to augment it.
I'm done freezing trying to save a couple ounces. I will take a warmer puffy from now on too.
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