Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gear-Sleeping Bags

Over the years I have accumulated a few bags. The rectangular bag in the center (brand unknown) is great for tent camping when the temperature isn't too low. It opens all the way up and doubles as a blanket that will easily accommodate two. The bag on the right, a Timber Creek 40 degree mummy bag, is a cheap solution if you don't have a bag or want an extra. It was $25 (including a compression/stuff sack)  and will do for the casual, occasional camper. If you are camping a lot, especially in lower temperatures, you'll want something of higher quality.

The bag on the left is my main bag, a Mountain Hardwear Flip 25/40. Considered a hybrid bag as it is a mix of a rectangular and mummy bag, it is extremely versatile. Normally I hammock camp and therefore have a thin base layer under me. The two sides have different temperature ratings which allows me to use the appropriate side for the situation. In very cold temperatures I use an additional layer between the hammock and the bag and put the warmer side facing the top. The fill is burly and provides a good layer of padding against rough ground if there is no place to pitch the hammock. It also opens all the way up if you want to use it as a blanket or zip it into another bag. Dual zippers are a nice feature if your feet get hot or you need to get or keep an arm out.
Selecting the right bag depends on your needs. What type of camping will you be doing? Do you have to have a mummy bag? What features are must haves and which are just extras? The zippered external pocket on my bag is nice but was not essential for me. I would have bought the bag even if it didn't have it. Shopping around and looking for sales at outdoor stores can save you some serious cash. I looked at this bag at one store and was going to pick it up. I decided to check another local store the following weekend and caught the bag at 50% off.

This bag did not come with a compression sack, a must if saving space is a priority as it is in my pack. Sea to Summit has good, well-made bags that are very affordable. Quality materials and craftsmanship come into play here as the bag will be under stress to compress your bag. The bag on the left came with the bargain basement mummy bag and cannot hold a candle to the Sea to Summit bag on the right. The straps do not ratchet and release as easily and the seams are coming apart in a couple places.  

If space is not a concern a carrying strap like the one above is handy to keep you bag closed and provides an easy solution for transport. After time on the road I always let any bag that I take dry in the open for at least 24 hours. I store the good bag open under the bed. You should not store a poly-fill bag in a stuff sack as it will compress the insulation and considerably cut the fill's warmpth. This is not as much of a concern with the older flannel bag, we keep it rolled up but not ratcheted down. I split the difference on the cheap mummy bag: I store it in the bag but not compressed.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea for the strap-guess I could make one out of 550 cord? LOL
    The FLIP bag-wow what an idea! Wish I knew about it last year!


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