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  1. #1
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    Default Summer sleeping bags/quilts

    I am trying to determine what the best sleeping bags/quilts/etc would be for hiking part of the AT in June and July. I am looking at the MD/VA area or the NY/MA/CT area, in terms of weather. I will be hiking with 3 elementary age kids for about a month, so in the interest of them carrying their own stuff, weight and packability is an issue. Cost is also an issue, since they don't have their own backpacking gear yet (all of our gear is for car camping and day hikes, so heavy and bulky). I have considered 45 degree backpacking quilts, but most have a hefty price tag. I have also thought about the sea to summit reactor bag liners (without bags), but I'm not sure if this would be enough. I have seen some people suggest Walmart-style fleece blankets for summer backpacking, but, again, I don't know if this would be enough. 1 of my kids is actually kid-sized, but the other 2 are both over 5 feet and don't fit in kid-size bags. They are more petite woman sized. Can I get some suggestions on what some of you have taken as a bag/quilt/blanket for SUMMER AT backpacking and what you think would be a good idea? I don't want to put us in danger of hypothermia at night, but I also don't want to overpack for the weather and always be hotter than necessary while having to carry the extra weight as well. Thanks for your advice.

  2. #2
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Costco 50 degree quilt = $30

  3. #3
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    Do you have a budget in mind? Are your kids interested in future backpacking trips and the items will be more of an investment...or is this a one-time deal? REI has reasonably priced 20 and 30 degree sleeping bags in the $100 range. Personally, I would want something more than a blanket to provide more protection against bad weather. It is plausible to get cool temperatures even in June and July and especially if you have a nasty rainy stormy streak.

  4. #4
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Army poncho liner. Get them from a surplus shop. "Used" doesn't mean unserviceable. Example: I got several field jacket liners (similar, but in coat form) for a project at $7 apiece that were "used" but in better condition than any I had ever been issued.

    If they never hike again it makes a great "emergency blanket" for the car.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  5. #5
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    Budget-wise, I definitely don't want to spend $250 or more on a summer bag. Depending on what I hear here, I might only need to buy for 2 people. I already have a 45 degree mountain hardwear down bag, and I also have an REI backpacking 30 degree down bag (don't remember the name) that isn't too big or too heavy. I am thinking of bringing one or both of those. We have a variety of other bags, both summer and winter, but they are all too heavy and too bulky for backpacking. I wouldn't mind putting a little money into lightweight bags because I don't see this backpacking trip as being a one and done. However, I can't really afford expensive bags, especially if they aren't really needed. I also haven't really seen a lot of bags in the above 30 degree range from reputable companies, and i'm not sure if a 30 degree bag is necessary. That being said, I don't want my kids to suffer because I am cheap. So I'm really looking for advice on what the trail conditions really are in these areas and what normal people that hike them tend to feel is needed. From what I have seen online, low temps seem to average in the upper 50s and 60s at night, but I also remember a few years ago being quite warm at night at GSMNP in June, and not really needing much covering.

  6. #6

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    The HG econ quilts are a bit lower than some for price. $140 for 40f https://hammockgear.com/economy-burrow-custom/
    That would be something they could use for years and is around 1 lb

    Or, if you want to go cheap... synthetic bags around 40f (whatever is one sale) don't tend to be terribly heavy, but more bulk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Costco 50 degree quilt = $30
    Do you think that just the quilt will be sufficient? Do you hike a lot in the summer on the AT and is this what you would take? Are there nights when it would be too cold for this?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    The HG econ quilts are a bit lower than some for price. $140 for 40f https://hammockgear.com/economy-burrow-custom/
    That would be something they could use for years and is around 1 lb
    Thanks for this suggestion. This is one that I will definitely consider!

  9. #9
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    Whatever you end up with, it would be good to camp out in your backyard with your gear for a couple nights. That will give you more confidence when heading out.

    My own experience is I require a warmer quilt than what I see other people get by with. If I get the least bit dehydrated hiking on the trail, I sleep colder. So I always have my 20* quilt with me.



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  10. #10
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracysibole View Post
    Do you think that just the quilt will be sufficient? Do you hike a lot in the summer on the AT and is this what you would take? Are there nights when it would be too cold for this?
    I think it would suffice in Md and Va the further north you go you'd have to confirm with others here. You'd also have rain gear or other clothes to sleep with if a rare extra chilly night should occur. Yes i hike the AT all 4 seasons and yes I've used this quilt alot in the summer, packs down super small.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon View Post
    Whatever you end up with, it would be good to camp out in your backyard with your gear for a couple nights. That will give you more confidence when heading out.
    We have several overnight and multi-day trips planned in the fall and spring. Since we are in Texas, those fall and spring temps will be testing the limits of the gear we'll take for summer on the AT.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    I think it would suffice in Md and Va the further north you go you'd have to confirm with others here. You'd also have rain gear or other clothes to sleep with if a rare extra chilly night should occur. Yes i hike the AT all 4 seasons and yes I've used this quilt alot in the summer, packs down super small.
    Thanks for the insight! I know that I've heard of these costco quilts being used, but I wasn't sure how feasible they really were. It's good to know that you've tried alot and find it reasonable!

  13. #13
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    I use my poncho liners down to about 50*, below that my 23* down bag. I’m no longer part of the “travel light and freeze at night” crowd. RLTW
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
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  14. #14
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    ATW RangerZ (who's crammed more suffering into 6wks than most do in a lifetime lol)

    I made a quilt inspired by the 'cho liner except more for someone 6-3. On 2 hikes it unexpectedly dipped into the low-mid 30s. I wore my hat and down sweater to plus up my upper half. I stuck my feet in a dry bag and lay my rain shell over my butt/upper legs. Wasn't ideal but I stayed warm enough to sleep comfortably. Not advocating that for your kids but if its 50s and your tenting with more than one body in a tent, you'd probably be fine.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  15. #15

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    This is what I use for summer in the South, though there has been another version since, and I don't know the current equivalent:
    Marmot Trestle Trails
    https://www.campsaver.com/marmot-tre...ular-left.html

    Heavier than my down quilts(24oz-same as my poncho liner), but I like it, because it packs down small, and there are no worries about durability or washing, since it's just a shell with DriClime for "insulation".

  16. #16
    Registered User Mikerfixit's Avatar
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    Md during those months is hot and humid. Its just a sticky marsh of weather. There are good chances for thunderstorms which will drop the temperature quickly from the 90s to the 50s or 60s for a short bit and pour tons of rain which only fuels the humidity later on when the temps jack back up into the 90s.

    For inexpensive gear you could try a twisted root designs top quilt (https://twistedrootdesign.com/produc...sted-top-quilt) which I find to be very warm during the summer but very easy to toss off when it becomes too warm.

    Or a top quilt from this vendor (https://www.etsy.com/shop/HangTightShop) who does the work of trimming up the Costco down blankets and turns them into camping quilts.

  17. #17
    Registered User ChrisMek's Avatar
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    I've done several section hikes, all in mid to late September and several boy scout camp outs. I use a hammock. My sleeping bag for all these is a 40 degree Walmart backpacking bag that packs down really small. I picked it up for $30. I sleep cold so I have a liner for nights that get cold. Honestly, I have only used the liner once.
    Trail Name: Gadget
    Completed:
    NJ - 2016
    NY- 2017
    CT - 2018
    PA, DWG to Pt Clinton - 2019

    Planned:
    NJ (Again) - 2020

    PA, Pt Clinton to Duncannon - 2021
    PA, Duncannon to Pen-Mar - 2022

  18. #18

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    Look for Kelly Cosmic sleeping bags. They’re usually inexpensive, come in both down and synthetic fills, and work quite well. You can often find them for sale.

  19. #19
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    I sleep cold and hate to be cold. Especially for those cold rainy evenings , I now always carry some type of wide mouth hard sided water bottle and a little extra fuel. Stick a very hot water bottle in a sock and it will warm the bag and last half the night.

  20. #20

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    I made my own quilt. It is good down to 45F. Can you sew? It's a fairly easy project.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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