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slims
11-06-2011, 12:31
The time has come for me to purchase a sleeping bag for my thru-hike attempt next year. Something tells me that the old 6lb synthetic bag my uncle gave me years ago when I was a cub scout isn't going to cut it. Of course I've been gazing at things like the Marmot Helium and Montbell U.L. Super Spiral but these are way over my budget. Basically I'm looking for a good, lightweight down bag for somewhere around the $200 price point. I've been looking at the Marmot Sawtooth, Sierra Designs Ridge Runner and Pyro and the Kelty Light Year. Are any of these good choices? There are so many options out there that it feels a bit overwhelming.

Also I'm looking at a March 20th start so should I be considering a 15 degree bag or perhaps something not as warm like a 20 degree bag? I am a fairly skinny guy that lives in a hot and humid climate so I figure the cold may affect me a little more at least until my body gets acclimatized.

Nutbrown
11-06-2011, 12:37
Have you considered a new synthetic? There are big advantages/disadvanteges that go along with both down and synthetic, so look into what will work for you. Synthetics are usually cheaper, so for what you want to spend on a down bag, you might be able to get a warmer synthetic.

slims
11-06-2011, 13:02
The main reason I've been looking at down bags is that they're usually lighter and less bulky than synthetics. I know they're cheaper but I was looking to see if I could get a good quality down bag at that price before exploring synthetic options.

swjohnsey
11-06-2011, 13:11
Look at the Kelty Lightyear bags. They make 'em in several different temps and they are not as pricey as some of the botique bags. I used a Lightyear 40 and experienced a few nights that it got down into the 20s where I had to don my fleece tops, bottoms, hat and gloves to stay warm but the bag only weighs 2 lbs. Look on eBay for used high end stuff at big discounts.

This time I'm usin' a Western Mountaineering Highlite (35 degree), about $270 but 1 lb.

Tom Murphy
11-06-2011, 13:19
My son has a MARMOT Sawtooth and it has worked even better than its 15 deg F rating for him. He is a teenager so he is a furnace. It has been go to ~ 20-25 deg F for me with just my syn top and nylon hiking pants [no thermal layers].

A great bag for the money and I have seen many sales over the years.

burger
11-06-2011, 14:31
I'm an ultralight backpacker, and I would still choose synthetic over down on the AT. It's just too wet to keep your down bag dry for an entire thru-hike. You will have multi-day periods where it rains every day and you don't get a chance to dry your bag. If it's cold, that can be a real problem. Better to take the slight weight penalty of synthetic insulation for the assurance that you can sleep warm.

If you are worried about weight, you might try a quilt instead of a traditional sleeping bag. Mountain Laurel Designs makes synthetic quilts that are well-regarded.

Rocket Jones
11-06-2011, 14:35
The Campmor $120 down bag seems to be well regarded.

Moose2001
11-06-2011, 15:43
It's just too wet to keep your down bag dry for an entire thru-hike.

Really! Thousands of thrus have proven you wrong on that statement. It's rare to see a syntheic on the AT.

O-Boy
11-06-2011, 16:08
I have a 40F North Face fiber filled back that I've used for over 30 years and although most of my camping has been in Florida, on those rare occassions that its gotten down in the 20s, I've been pretty comfortable.  And one September I was in Yellowstone were the temp dropped to 16F almost everynight, I used a flannel sheet inside the bag and stayed pretty toasty.  Now I'm go to switch from a tent to a hammock and my underquilt will probably be a filber filled bag rigged to fit my hammock.  Lots cheaper than a down, dries fast if it ever gets wet and weighs and snugs down pretty well.

10-K
11-06-2011, 16:38
The Campmor $120 down bag seems to be well regarded.

I was going to post this and you beat me to it.

Also disagree that you can't keep a down bag dry. It's not hard at all, you just have to be diligent.

STICK
11-06-2011, 17:15
I love my Helium...just wanted to add that...

Kerosene
11-06-2011, 18:45
You will have multi-day periods where it rains every day and you don't get a chance to dry your bag. If it's cold, that can be a real problem. Better to take the slight weight penalty of synthetic insulation for the assurance that you can sleep warm.There are also multi-day periods where the sun is out and you can dry your bag. I've never had a problem keeping my down bag dry through multiple rainy days. Also, down bags typically have a DWR coating to repel all but a soaking. Plus, unless you're operating right at the limits a damp mummy bag should still provide sufficient warmth once you cinch everything up, especially if you wear your dry camp clothes to bed. The North Face Cat's Meow (http://www.rei.com/product/807886/the-north-face-cats-meow-sleeping-bag), a highly respected 20-degree synthetic mummy, still has a 13-ounce weight penalty over a down WM UltraLite (http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=products&page=Sleeping Bags&cat=ExtremeLite Series&ContentId=17), which is much more than "slight" in my opinion.

10-K
11-06-2011, 18:55
If you've ever washed a down bag you know how hard they are to get completely soaked.

Blissful
11-06-2011, 19:38
My son took a 20 degree Cats Meow for a March 5th start. The few cold days we had, we happened to be in town.

g8trh8tr
11-06-2011, 19:52
Also recommend you take a look at the EMS brand down bags....I have their 20 degree down bag and have been happy with it.

jeramie75
11-06-2011, 21:18
If anyone is interested, I have a like new, used once, Marmot Plasma 15 I will let go for 325 with shipping. Stuff and storage sacks included.

Mongoose2
11-06-2011, 21:33
I have the Campmor 20 degree down and the REI 15 degree down, both great price and both very good bags....I've been out on hikes when it rained for days and never had a problem with a wet bag.

slims
11-07-2011, 13:09
Is this the Campmor bag you guys are talking about? http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40067 It's the only one I see on their site. Thanks for the input so far, going to research all the suggestions made and see if I can make a choice this week.

trailangelbronco
11-07-2011, 16:16
I hike in Oregon and Washington year round, and it rains all of the freakin time. I have nevr slept in a wet bag. I use an event dry sack even in the damn deserts, and also use em to store my clothes as well.

trailangelbronco
11-07-2011, 16:18
The Kelty Lightyear 20 degree bag is best bang for buck that I have ever bought. I have one and have used it for years and it is warm in the winter but not too warm in the summer. Footbed unzips so you can walk in it, too.

Snowleopard
11-07-2011, 16:33
Check sales at EMS and REI. The EMS mountain light down sleeping bags are decent quality at a good price when on sale.

Storm
11-07-2011, 19:29
I have a Campmor 20 degree down bag in a long I'd be willing to part with. I used it one night and it was too snug around the shoulders for my liking. If interested send me a PM and we can work out the details.

slims
11-07-2011, 21:09
PM sent. The Campmor bag sounds good. Right now I'm leaning towards the Kelty Lightyear or the Marmot Sawtooth. Anyone have any experience with Sierra Designs sleeping bags though? amazon.com has the Ridge Runner on sale for $149, a little over $60 less than retail. Wondering if that might be a good buy too.

slims
11-07-2011, 21:11
Forgot the link: http://www.sierradesigns.com/p-328-ridge-runner-15.aspx

Pound Hound
11-14-2011, 17:27
Marmot Helium is a great bag. Have used it with a silk liner down to 0 degrees F. Spend the money and get a quality bag.
For warmer temps we have Western Mountaineering summer lite and high lite both great bags.

good luck as bags and their temp rating accuracy depends on who is in the bag. Borrow or rent a couple and try them out.

Pound Hound and Garage Man

Tinker
11-14-2011, 20:03
Something like this? http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Sleep%20Gear/Sleeping%20Bags/Feathered%20Friends%20Great%20Auk%20Sleeping%20Bag/Owner%20Review%20by%20Richard%20Lyon/

I have one with a 2 oz. overfill (750 fill down) that's good to 10 degrees (lower with clothing). It weighs 2.5 lbs and is made of lightweight breathable nylon. The color is purple. The reason I'm selling it is because I used to use it as an outerbag on winter trips until I got 1) too old for cold winter trips, and 2) too fat. The bag will fit someone up to 6'8" and takes a standard or short Thermarest (1-1/2" thick) or closed cell foam pad 20" wide. The inner girth of the bag is 60-60-60. It's been used a total of maybe 20 times (my wife has used it more than I have) and looks brand new. Always stored hanging from foot end. I'd have to get around $200. for it (somewhat negotiable). If I don't sell it this winter I'm entertaining the idea of making an underquilt out of it.

Ronnwell
11-17-2011, 11:10
Slims,
Your budget is your budget, but you should really try to get the highest quality down bag you can possibly afford. I know some people here will pitch a fit with this statement .. but you're not going to get a quality down bag for $200. BUT, you can probably get a really nice bag for $350. So we're talking about $150 to $200 of extra cash you need to come up with. I don't know what the average thru-hiker spends on the AT, but let's say its $6K. $150 is .025% of your total budget. What is that, 2 to 3 town nights? Just saying you can come up with that extra money by reallocating budgeted funds from other areas (i.e. shelter, stove, backpack) to put into your bag or making a concerted effort to get into town and get out of town a few more times that you normally would on your trip. Your bag is really important - it needs to perform and the weight should be as light as possible.

If you start looking into the sleeping bag market in the context of thru-hiking, you will see the some of the same bags come up over and over again ... and that's because they work for a thru-hike. Not saying you can't do a thru-hike with a Campmor bag ... but investing in a Marmot Helium (for example) is a much safer bet because its tried and true.

Here's what I'd do:

: Take a look through trail journals and see what people who have hiked and finished carried. You know the saying about opinions and a lot of people have them. If you're looking to thru-hike, I'd look pretty closely at what thru-hikers actually use.

: Narrow your choice down to 3 to 4 bags and do your research. What are the pros and cons of each bag?

: Solicit reviews from people here who actually have used and owned the bags you're interested in if you need more data or clarification.

: Get your hands on the bag and try it out to make sure the bag fits you well. You said you're slim, so that's good as you can get a slimmer cut bag.

: It is possible to get used bags so take a look here or backpackinglight to see what's out there. Definitely check that out.

: If you can't get a used bag, keep your eye out online for sales. If you want a Western Mountaineering bag, look to see where they are sold online and call around. Is there a time of year that the retailer may put the bags on sale?

Best of luck to you!

Ronnwell

Feral Nature
11-17-2011, 11:32
I just ordered a Campmor Kelty Cosmic 20* down bag, $89. plus shipping. It should get here any day now. I am going to test it out when the weather gets cold (it was 80 degrees here yesterday).

garlic08
11-17-2011, 11:49
You'd have to pry my Marmot Helium out of my cold, dead hands. I wouldn't head out on the AT in March without a really good 15F bag, or a lot of money for hostels and motels--your choice. Ditto the advice above about getting the best down bag you can possibly afford, and then really take care of it. I got my Helium for 1/2 price on Steepandcheap.com. Lucky score.

tuswm
11-18-2011, 16:58
sawtooth is a little on the warm side but is much larger around the upper body than many others.

slims
11-19-2011, 22:03
Thanks for the advice Ronnwell I think I'm going to bite the bullet and take it. I've been looking through lots of Gear lists on trail journals of people that have completed thru hikes and seeing A LOT of Marmot bags, everything from the Sawtooth and Pinnacle up to the Helium. The Helium seems to be on special now - $272 and at that price it looks like a great investment. The Sawtooth is actually as low as $160 too now, good price as well.

Grinder
11-21-2011, 18:13
I just got my new Campmor catalog and the Campmor goose down 20 degree bag wasn't in it. I double checked the web site and it said "This item not available"

You don't suppose???
does anyone know what the situation is??

That leaves the Kelty Lightyear 20 degree as the best buy for the buck.

Ronnwell
11-22-2011, 14:23
Thanks for the advice Ronnwell I think I'm going to bite the bullet and take it. I've been looking through lots of Gear lists on trail journals of people that have completed thru hikes and seeing A LOT of Marmot bags, everything from the Sawtooth and Pinnacle up to the Helium. The Helium seems to be on special now - $272 and at that price it looks like a great investment. The Sawtooth is actually as low as $160 too now, good price as well.

No prob, man. Gear isn't everything, but I think its one of those things that if it isn't performing can really up the frustration factor. Enjoy the hell out of your hike.