Bicycle Travel > Gear Talk

sleeping bags

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I would suggest you hit lots of backpacking equipment review sites. The thing about sleeping bags is there are hundreds of models. It's difficult to make a bad decision but it's easy to get a great bag that is inappropriate to your needs.

Here in Idaho, down rules and, brother, I take VERY good care of my down bags. I have not shopped for a synthetic bag in twenty years. I have no clue what's out there.

You may need a synthetic for lots of reasons but sleeping warm and comfortably is a complicated recipe of clothing, insulation, separation from the ground and, of course, ambient conditions. You can get by with a much lighter synth bag if you have an excellent pad and sleep wear and maybe a silk or polypro bag liner.

Good luck in your quest. Please think about returning to tell us what brand/model you purchased and how it has performed.

I pack two sleeping bags and use them in combination or individually as needed. One is a very lightweight bag that packs into a bag a bit smaller than a football. The other is a Mountain Hardware "40 degree bag" that is, frankly, only good down to about 50 degrees. Below that I use them both with the lightweight bag inside. Below freezing I also put on plenty of clothes and zip up the tent good and tight. If it is very warm I lie on top of both of them. I use a shorty Thermarest pad.

Like Lightspeed, I carry two bags, both by Marmot: one pound and two pound ultrahigh loft down. I also carry a silk liner. The liner protects the bags from soil and moisture and adds 5-10 degrees to the comfort range. I sleep cold so I pack silk or polypro sleepwear, too.

But I must say I do not travel self-contained. I'm strictly a luxury bike traveler, participaing only in supported tours. My days of carrying my own gear like backpacking are behind me.

"Three season synthetic?  Synthetic are great when you have unlimited space and a motor to carry your gear.  Car camping for instance.  When you have to carry the gear with your own muscles and have limited space like panniers or a backpack, DOWN sleeping bags are the choice.  Small and traveling on your bike with a synthetic sleeping bag?  Good luck."

I traveled cross-country with a down bag. Bag getting wet when camping was not a problem. Problem was bag drying after being washed; took too long. After that trip I switched to high grade synthetic bag. I don't plan on going back to down. My synthetic bag packs small. In looking for a synthetic bag I set weight limit at two pounds. That's what my bag weighs. I suggest a high grade synthetic bag. Highest grade synthetic fill gives you just about all down fill provides, with a lot less care. I used to buy down vests, jackets, etc; now all synthetic.

That's why we are all here, to share our stories and opinions. Personaly, I have not looked at the new synthetic materials; my down bags still have many years' of active enjoyment left in them. Backpacker magazine usually runs extensive product reviews and gear recommendations in their late winter issues. Watch for the reviews and try to have fun shopping.


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