Best Gear Features: Sleeping bags
Aside from fill or temp ratings, certain design features add a lot to a bag. For me, the two features that extend a bag's performance the most in small ways that make the most of performance:
1. Mummy cut with hood/drawstring - The single best features I like for venting exhaled air (moisture) while making the best seal to keep cold out. The mummy shape also reduces packed weight/bulk
2. Heavy protected zipper - baffles that protect liner material and keep out the cold
Other features of some bags -
Collars - keep cold drafts from getting past your neck
Waterproof/breathable shell - keeps moisture from degrading fill performance - esp for down fill bags
Some bags give you a choice of zipper side and often can zip 2 bags together (potentially warmer). Some (Big Agnes) have a sleeve for your insulating pad, sewn-in pillow pockets, loops to hold liners.
Focus on features, but which brands? Not sure which sleeping bags really shine because they're well designed - really squeeze the most warmth out of their weight because of how they're built? Any favorites? North Face? Feathered Friends? Western Mountaineering? Marmot?
Wiggys is one of the best!
I have many different sleeping bags.
Two of my favorites are:
Integral Designs Rennasaince 20F Broad - Pertex shell with primaloft pro insulation. weighs right at 3lbs. It is warm right to 20F and is extremely compressible and weather and water resistant.
Western Mountaineering Badger 6"6' - Microfiber shell with 800 Fill down and weighs 2 lbs 11oz. It is warm to 10F and is also extremely compressible. It is probably the ultimate 3 season bag in less wet environments.
Check the Fit
I think, all too often, people shopping for sleeping bags overlook the importance of fit. If one is in the market for a backpacking bag (read: best warmth-to-weight ratio), then the fit must be considered. Most manufacturers of high quality bags list not on the length, but also the inside girth dimensions at the shoulders, hips, and foot box.
I order to be the most thermally efficient, you don't want too much dead space. However, you do not want a bag too snug as to compact the insulation, thus you need to account for any clothing that you may choose to wear in your bag.
I am rather thin-built and have fallen in love with my Western Mountaineering UltraLite because its narrow cut gives me the most comfort/warmth from a lightweight bag. I find this bag to be an order of magnitude more comfortable than my TNF Cat's Meow that I was using previously, due--in my opinion--to the switch to down and a cut that better fits me.
Just something to consider...
Definitely consider the fit...
Great point: try the bag on for size. There's more to a good night's sleep than being warm. Although snug fit can make a bag more efficient, some individuals don't tolerate too snug a fit. The only complaint I've heard about WM's bags for bigger folk is the snug fit:http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=421793, too bad if weight is a priority. Some features you have to try on for yourself though.
Another feature that's hard to compare from specs is how good some synthetic fills are. Wiggy's bags are one good example. Owners rave...about the warmth and comfort of these bags (http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=4833). The only specific feature I recall being mentioned is loft; something about their fill makes it spring back alive after compression. They seem to be very well built too. Not all synthetic fills are apparently equal.
I had a TNF cats meow and found that it was too tight. One bad thing about having a too snug bag is that if you push against the bag you will compress the insulation and it will be less effective. Nothing like waking up w/ a cold knee, elbow, or arse because you were pushing tight against the side of the bag. I went to a wiggys glacier hunter bag which as far as I am aware is only available through wiggys alaska in Anchorage (Marc Taylor on the forum). It is not the most compressible bag out there but it is pretty light and very warm. The best part about it is that I can lay all of my wet gear in the bag with me spread out on either side (not crumpled up) and by the next morning it would be dry and I was warm. That is one thing you won't get with down...EVER!
My MontBell addresses the fit aspect rather well. It's super stretch hugger feature allows it to fit a larger group of frames than a standard bag would. It has just the slightest bit of elastic to snug the bag around you minimizing air gaps and keeping you warm.
MontBell U.L. Super Spiral...popular bags
Voted "Most Comfortable" in current Backpacker Fall/Winter 2010 Gear Guide. Available in several models. Info at:
Originally Posted by mod elan
Moontrail has the #5 bag (regular and long) discounted for clearance:
...and the Expedition model (Rated -15 deg, 1 only avail) too:
Western Mountaineering Ultralite is an awesome mountain bag. I have the long version too. Very warm for its weight but as mentioned above its a little tight and will not fit everyone.
Don't buy without trying it on......fit is very important for a good night's sleep.....The Integral Design model that I tried was just too close on length so I ordered a longer one and couldn't be happier. Lotsa good bags out there now.