View Full Version : Backcountry Sleeping Bag

03-01-2011, 10:04 PM
I am looking for a lightweight, early season (Sep.-Oct), down sleeping bag for highcountry hunts. I tend to sleep slightly cold so I'm leaning towards a 15-20 degree bag. With so many brands (Big Agnes, Alps, Marmot, Western Mountaineering, Mountain Hardware, NorthFace, etc...) and so many models, I am having trouble narrowing down my search. I'm hoping I can get some help from you guys.

03-02-2011, 03:36 PM
I got a Western Mountainering Megalite three seasons ago. I'm 5'9" and got the 6'6" bag and I'm glad I did. First couple of years I spent a lot of time in a bivy and would pile all my clothes in the bottom of the bag and woke up to nice and warm clothes every morning. The extra room also allowed me to change right in the bag before getting out to hit the cold mountain air. I have fairly wide shoulders and had plenty of room in the bag. It's super warm and I've had no problems sleeping through low 20's. Bag is only rated to 30 but I think that is conservative, especially in a bivy. Your pad has alot to do with your warth as well. I'd recommend the Big Agnus insulated aircore. It's super comfortable and very warm. Something I'll throw out too, at least for me, is that I sleep warmer in the bag when I'm just down to drawers. Sleeping with my sitka gear layers didn't keep me as warm. One last thing, on really cold nights, I'll do about 50 quite jumping jacks then hop in the bag. That intial blast of body heat really helps things. Good luck on finding the right bag for you!

03-03-2011, 12:04 PM
I have a Marmot Helium bag and I love it. I got the 15 degree version and it has been wonderful. It packs super small in a compression bag, is nice and light, and has been bulletproof for me. I use it in my bivy sac and I have spend nights out at -15 C and been toasty all night. The price tag on it isn't that bad either. I paid just over $250 for mine. What I really like about it is that is a 1/4 zip, I find that holds in a lot of extra heat for me.

03-03-2011, 01:00 PM
I'm 6'3" and about 220ish. I bought the BA Storm King Long bag and really love it. My sleep system is on the heavy side for backpacking, but that is one luxury I'm willing to carry around with my. My bag, compression straps, pad and pillow (all Big Agnes products) come in at 6lbs. The bag is rated at 0 degrees. Last year during second week of archery elk in Colorado I was warm the first night. The remaining mornings we woke up to our water either being slushy or iced up. I was very comfortable and slept well.

Personal preference which also costs you weight is the overall cut of the bag. I would not sleep at all if I were in a mummy style bag. The Storm King is cut so that you have more room to move around. I appreciate that with my size. Pigs in a blanket type bags are not for me.

03-03-2011, 03:57 PM
Western Mountaineering is all you'll ever need. I also checked out the Mont-Bel stuff which can sometimes be had a for good price. Most important, try to test it out. Get in it. I found they are all cut so differently that you really need to try them.

03-04-2011, 09:34 AM
You say you tend to sleep cold - so do I. I went with the Big Agnes 0 degree Pomer Hoit. It's still very lightweight, but I'd still gladly pack a couple of extra ounces to not freeze in colder than expected temperatures up high. Too unpredictable.

03-04-2011, 09:39 AM
Just to add to this the Western Mountaineering are warm. Much warmer than their rating. If I had to do it over again -- I have an alpinlite -- I would have gone with the microshell version. Sort of an in between material that's not goretex but not as permeable as the ultra light material. They are spendy for sure, but worth every dollar. I have some Big Agnes gear too and have always been happy with it so you can't go wrong.

03-04-2011, 12:01 PM
Thanks for all the info. Big Agnes came up several times, so I was wondering how people like the integrated pad sleeve in the BA versus the normal down-filled bottom?

03-04-2011, 01:31 PM
The integrated sleeve that accommodates the insulated core pad is AWESOME. I have the same bag as Ryan and have had no complaints. I haven't slept so comfortable since going to the Big Agnes system with the air pad.

03-06-2011, 09:49 PM
I have a Big Agnes Horse Thief and really like it. I use it with a Big Agnes insulated pad and really like the setup.

03-08-2011, 05:12 PM
Western Mountaineering is all you'll ever need. I also checked out the Mont-Bel stuff which can sometimes be had a for good price. Most important, try to test it out. Get in it. I found they are all cut so differently that you really need to try them.

x2...WM makes a great lightweight warm bag. They are a little pricey but when it is 10 degrees out and you are not cold you won't think anything of it.

03-12-2011, 07:06 PM
I love my BA pad sleeve system as I also cannot do the mummy and get a good nites sleep cause I move around too much. In a mummy, it takes me so long to squirm around and get restraighted. I've had the BA about 3 yrs now and although not perfect, it's a major improvement for me!

03-12-2011, 10:26 PM
i went through 4 different bags and brands finally forked over the cash for the western mountaineering 20 degree
now i never go into the high country without it

03-18-2011, 09:01 PM
I picked up a big agnes zirkel a few years back due to the sizing looking nice. I am a bigger guy and like my space. I have always hated being confined to a mummy bag. However, when I put the pad in the slot, it made it too confining for me by holding the entire bottom of the bag flat(I am a side sleeper/roller). So, I would use it just on top of the pad which was okay unless it got below freezing and the cold would come in where the uninsulated back part rode up. Eventually, I sold the bag and have since found Montbell. I have a couple of their UL SS downhuggers in a couple flavors and I love them. They have some stretch to them which gets me passed the confined feeling and I can roll over without cold spots. Check them out if you get a chance.

03-18-2011, 10:57 PM
Thanks again, good information!

03-23-2011, 11:50 AM
If you want a Big Agnes, but dont want to pay to much to try one out, look at this website. They have used bags for great prices. I picked up a BA Horsethief for $80 and love the bag.

03-24-2011, 12:43 PM
Anyone tried the Thermarest Haven? At 24oz and rated for 20 degrees it looks like a decent bag, but not easy to get in and out of.

08-13-2011, 10:00 PM
This is my first time trying the Big Agnes and was skeptical about the pad system. It is very nice. I did have one cold spot that the baffle didn't seem to seal out. I also have numerous bags from Marmot (Couloir, Axiom, DriClime Maverick, and a Kid bag). Also have a Mammut bag. It induces claustraphobia, but is warm for its weight and packs super small. If I had to choose one pack to cover most of my needs I would probably go with the Helium Membrain by Marmot.

08-13-2011, 10:14 PM
Another vote for the BA storm king.

MT backcountry hunter
08-14-2011, 01:46 PM
I have a Valandre Mirage and love it. It is a 20 degree bag easy. The big three in sleeping bags are Valandre, Western and Feathered Friends. You buy one of those 3 bags and it will be the last one you buy.

08-14-2011, 10:33 PM
Western Mountaineering 20 degree Alpenlite = Awesome!

08-16-2011, 12:35 PM
I recently bought a Big Agnes Lost Ranger bag, after watching this buyer's guide (http://elkmtngear.com/blog/ultralight-backpacking-sleeping-bags.html), and reading a lot of forum posts. I'm very happy with it so far.

Best of Luck,

08-25-2011, 08:27 PM
I am sleeping on the Montbell U.L. spiral hugger #1 and NeoAir pad. My system weighs just under 3 pounds and is rated to 15 degrees. It is very compressable and I love it.

My partner is on a BA blackburn with insulated core pad and he loves it. I believe his weighs about 1.5 pounds more than my system but is rated for colder weather.