View Full Version : Only Gonna Have One Sleeping Bag

Double Wide
06-10-2012, 11:13
Hey gang--

I've been browsing around on here for the past couple of days, plus reading a ton of trail journals, and it seems to me that a lot of thru-hikers tend to use 2 sleeping bags on their hike; a cold weather bag from Springer to somewhere past Damascus, then a summer bag through the mid-Atlantic states, and then have the winter bag swapped back in around Hanover or thereabouts.

I'm still a couple of years away (most likely 2015 for my NOBO), but since it's never too early to get started, I have a question about my sleeping gear. I've *never* been able to sleep comfortably in a mummy bag, so it's pretty much out of the question. I did a lot of shopping around these past few months and eventually settled on the Kelty Coromell 25 degree down bag. I love the semi-rectangular shape and it actually stuffs down pretty well in the compression sack, so it's doesn't take up that much space in the pack.

Since I'm no ultra-lighter, I'm ok with the 3-lb weight (and can't afford a WM bag, nor do I want a mummy bag anyways). I also have a silk liner for it that's supposed to give me an extra 10 degrees (but let's call it five degrees in real life conditions), so I'm wondering if that'll be enough for a thru. I'm a hot sleeper, so I'm likely to use it as a quilt in the summer, but in March in Georgia and early fall in New England, I'm hoping that it's enough.

Any experience out there doing the hike in the same bag from end to end?


max patch
06-10-2012, 11:37
I left 5/1 and used a 20 degree bag the whole way and had some very cold and uncomfortable nites the first couple of weeks. After that I was warm enough the rest of the way.

With a 25 degree bag I certainly wouldn't be starting in March.

06-10-2012, 11:58
I started in March with a 20-degree bag which is essentially what you have with the liner. If I got cold then I would just wear some clothes to bed but this only happened 3-4 times. Sleeping in your tent vs sleeping in a shelter helps a great deal as your tent will be much warmer. I did use a summer bag and was glad I did because of the size and space savings, but you could definitely get by using your 25-degree bag as a quilt.

Summer bags are a lot cheaper than the down 3-season bags. I think my Marmot Pounder was around $100 so check around if that would be worth it to you. Otherwise, a 25-degree bag with a liner will be fine.

Odd Man Out
06-10-2012, 12:52
I have been shopping for quilts so as to address many of these same issues. They tend to be less expensive (check out the hammocking web sites), they are not confining, they can be used will in a wide range of temperatures (wrap yourself up for cold, open up for hot).

06-11-2012, 05:21
I have a Western Mountaineering Sycamore and Mightylite - both semi-rectangular bags, so on board with your view on mummy bags...no thanks!

Sleeping bag ratings are not overly relevant for various reasons, but assuming your rating is 'typical', a 25 rating should be OK for some people down south in early spring. I left Springer on 9 April with my Sycamore (25F) and had 2 cold nights where I struggled to sleep through the night, but that was expected. I don't believe a liner will give you more than 1-2 degree in most cases, liners are great foe keeping your bag clean, thus warmer as the insulation isn't compromised by oil and grime, but I wouldn't expect much. If you leave 1 March, I think you will have many long, cold, nights...but if you leave 15 April...you might be fine, there is a big difference.

For summer, a 25 deg bag would be way too hot for me, you will probably end up buying a lighter bag regardless of what you 'plan' on doing, Pearisburg-Vermont in June/July in a 25 deg bag...not a good move IMO.

I got a Marmot Pounder 40 deg Primaloft bag Im looking to unload if you are keen, brand new, never used in the field, PM me if interested. It's collecting dust in my house.

Take your bag out to test the rating, remember many things contribute to warmth other than the bag:
- shelter
- sleeping pad
- gender
- age
- are you wearing a insulating hat
- when you last ate
- are you near water, etc...

You will figure it out

06-11-2012, 05:57
I am doing the AT in 2013 and at this stage intend to use the one bag.
Not sure what it's official rating is but it is a 600fill down mummy bag that I have used in temps down to about 3-4 celsius and have yet to wear more than jocks and t shirt in it.
On warmer nights I sleep with it unzipped a bit and intend to use as quilt and the as extra mattress with the liner going in function from sheet to super thin bag on hot nights. From experience everything above freezing will (has) work(ed) for me.
I am confident with socks and thermals bag should be warm enough down to low 20's farenheit.
I will be journalling on trailjournals and will advise in there if it doesn't work.

06-11-2012, 07:05
Mine in a Campmor 20 degree rectangular bag, pretty much the same as yours. I'm fine down to the low 20's and could handle the teens if pushed. Remember that a tent is warmer than a shelter most of the time. If your smart where you pitch it you can handle some pretty cold nights. Also sleeping in wool socks and a wool cap help a great deal. Mid summer in the mid states is hot. That 25 degree bag is going to but unused some of the time.

06-11-2012, 09:06
I'd check out a quilt. Since you like it especially roomy, you can get it made very wide and it'll still be lighter than that Kelty Coromell. That bag isn't much more than a quilt anyway, aside from weight and bulk.

The quilt will be comfortable in a wider range of temperatures too, at least if you get one that has a footbox that opens completely. EnLIGHTened Equipment makes their quilts like that. They also have a special baffle system that allows you to shift down from anywhere in the quilt to anywhere else in the quilt. Both of those features allow the quilt to perform to its rating, and can still be comfortable on warm nights. And don't be scared to save weight just because you're not an ultra-lighter.

Btw, a liner is pretty much just for drafts. If you sleep like a log, it won't do much for you because you won't have drafts. I prefer to use a lightweight bivy instead. It greatly reduces drafts and has the same kind of warming effect as a liner, and it provides some weather protection.