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  1. #1
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    Default Bulky Sleeping Bag

    I'm concerned about buying a sleeping bag online and finding it's just to big and bulky. Any advice?

  2. #2

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    If you're a Dirtbagger backpacker (i.e. financially poor)---you can stay warm with Weight and Bulk---like hauling one or two heavy bulky bags and sandwich them together to stay warm. This is all we did in the 1970s because we had no real cash. I even carried old time blanket quilts to lay over my inadequate fiber fill bag. And often used an old 9 lb boy scout rectangular bag to augment a North Face polarguard bag. And who hasn't used an old Army feather bag with the cotton shell to augment their other bag???

    Then in 1980 one of us somehow had the cash to spring for a $400 Marmot down bag---state of the art at the time. Wow---but who had $400?? We all salivated and were jealous.

    But Glenn---we just need more info to make any meaningful comments. The bag's weight, its rating, its fill etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And who hasn't used an old Army feather bag with the cotton shell to augment their other bag???
    Spent many nights as a youth in the back yard sleeping in an Army bag in a half shelter canvas pup tent.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    The Trek has a nice article on sleeping bags that might help with your decision. As I understand it, the higher the "fill" rating, the lower the weight and bulk.

    Trek ariticle
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
    Blog - www.tonysadventure.com

  5. #5

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    The site should specify the weight and stuffed sized of the bag. If it doesn't I wouldn't buy it from them.

    Rule of thumb - for a given temp rating, a down bag will be lighter and stuff smaller then a synthetic fill bag and cost a lot more.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kittyslayer View Post
    Spent many nights as a youth in the back yard sleeping in an Army bag in a half shelter canvas pup tent.
    As did I! My Dad had 3 M1949s, not checked back into supply! But, 1 w/cover lasted until 2004.....10lbs w/cover, but that thing was warm and dry! So it was no biggy replacing it with a 3.5 lbs Western mountaineering Puma! Which by the way is even warmer! I will suggest that if you find a way to squirrel the cash away, GET THE BEST BAG YOU CAN AFFORD! I good nights sleep while backpacking is just about the most important thing to have while you are out there!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The site should specify the weight and stuffed sized of the bag. If it doesn't I wouldn't buy it from them.

    Rule of thumb - for a given temp rating, a down bag will be lighter and stuff smaller then a synthetic fill bag and cost a lot more.
    IF you need a synthetic fill bag, one exception to the rule of thumb (on stuff size) is the Mountain Hardware Ultra Lamina and Hyper Lamina series.
    {Unfortunately, it looks like Mountain Hardware is getting out of the sleeping bag market, so these can be near impossible to find).

    My Ultra Lamina (superseeded by the Hyper Lamina series) has a stuff sack smaller than high-end down bags of the same temperature rating.

    However, on weight, that rule of thumb kicks back in. My Ultra Lamina 15 is about 3lbs where a comparable quality down back is usually closer to 2lbs.
    The stuff sack for my Ultra Lamina is smaller that many down bags of the same temperature rating.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by coach lou View Post
    As did I! My Dad had 3 M1949s, not checked back into supply! But, 1 w/cover lasted until 2004.....10lbs w/cover, but that thing was warm and dry! So it was no biggy replacing it with a 3.5 lbs Western mountaineering Puma! Which by the way is even warmer! I will suggest that if you find a way to squirrel the cash away, GET THE BEST BAG YOU CAN AFFORD! I good nights sleep while backpacking is just about the most important thing to have while you are out there!
    This post says it all. And dangit I didn't know my old feather bag weighed 10 lbs!! The weight alone atop my other bag is what really kept me warm. Weight and Bulk.

    Johnny B in celo during a cold winter night smaller 91.jpg
    My old backpacking buddy Johnny B used to live in a Tipi on a creek in Celo NC and right below the Black Mts and of course used the mentioned bag. I remember taking this pic cuz it was a bitterly cold night in 1986.


    And I remember the first trip I ever did with my new WM Puma down bag!! Worth its weight in gold. This would be Nov 2007. On Little Santeetlah Creek on the Naked Ground trail, NC. 12 years later it still has its loft---see pic---

    P1000036.JPG
    Current Puma. GET THE BEST BAG YOU CAN is TRUE.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The site should specify the weight and stuffed sized of the bag. If it doesn't I wouldn't buy it from them.

    Rule of thumb - for a given temp rating, a down bag will be lighter and stuff smaller then a synthetic fill bag and cost a lot more.
    THIS! Order from a great online retailer like REI. They have a great return policy if you get it at home and determine it won't meet your need.

  10. #10
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    I know a lot more now than I did this morning. Thanks for all the advice.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I'm concerned about buying a sleeping bag online and finding it's just to big and bulky. Any advice?
    Note the packed volume, insulation and shell choices, temp ratings and if there're EN Independently certified and compare. Outdoor Gear Lab does this. Higher bag purchase prices are associated with higher quality more UL materials. UL is about wt and bulk and.... your stated goals. A quality bag or quilt with decent care can easily last 10 yrs and more so cost averaging over a longer useful lifespan brings down the price comparing it to the cost of flimsy footwear, UL packs, high priced DCF shelters, DCF stuff sacks, etc. Two places I advise not skimping if a backpacker are footwear and sleep systems.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I'm concerned about buying a sleeping bag online and finding it's just to big and bulky. Any advice?
    If you're getting a 3 season bag, there's a few generalities that will help you get an idea what you're getting into:
    - many people start with a heavy synthetic bag that is pretty inexpensive. It absolutely will be bulky if it's a warm bag, except for a couple exceptions that are not the cheapest bags
    - lower fill power down bags (around 600fp) are typically a lot less bulky than a standard synthetic, but still come with a bit of bulk if they're warm
    - 800+ fp down will be quite a bit smaller, but also much more $
    - quilts reduce bulk, but have pros & cons

    If you narrow down what you're looking for, people can help guide. You can generally tell with a pretty good degree of accuracy what someone is getting into (in terms of bulk & warmth) with the fill power, fill weight, shell weight (which can also be found by total bag weight minus fill weight), and dimensions, which are given on proper sites

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I'm concerned about buying a sleeping bag online and finding it's just to big and bulky. Any advice?
    Where and when will you be using it? Summer only? Late spring thru summer and early fall? Full three seasons? And where - southern Appalachians or New England or both? Section hikes vs thru-hike? If a thru-hike, what is your start date? All of this is needed to figure out temperature rating, which will dramatically influence the price.

    If you do any reasonable amount of hiking at all, you are ultimately going to want a down bag unless you just need a lightweight synthetic bag for summer only use. Synthetics will be not only heavier but also bulkier when packed, requiring a bigger (and heavier) pack. Typically you can buy a top quality used down bag from Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Marmot, Montbell, etc. for around half-price or a little more if you shop around a bit (here on WB, ebay, etc.) They still won't be cheap. But if you find hiking/backpacking isn't for you, you can probably sell it for what you paid. Be wary of buying a "short" bag that only fits people 5'6" or shorter if you're not sure you'll keep it - they are much harder to sell down the road.

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