Touring - Thinnest & Lightest Sleeping Bag + Pad
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09-21-11, 09:45 PM
I'm going to take a trip to Spain and Morocco in October - November. I have a Coleman sleeping bag that I took with me for an 8 day tour trip. I felt took up too much space and was somewhat heavy. It was so big that it took up the entire rear rack.
I want a sleeping bag that is very light and thin enough that it could be compressed into a small size. I'm looking for decent pricing as well. I do not care for heat retention as I will bring comfortable clothes to sleep in (I'm also chubby, woo hoo!).
Is it necessary to get a sleeping pad? I have went 8 days without a sleeping pad and while it was uncomfortable, I could get used to it, really. Is it that necessary? Has anyone survived without sleeping pad? I just don't like the bulk that it carries on a bike. I want to go ultralight on my bike.
I don't know what the low temps you will be seeing, but this bag hits most of your needs, that's a great price too.
I'd use a pad if I were you, simple foam is better than nothing.
09-21-11, 10:38 PM
I would take a pad. I use a thing 2/3 rd length one. Also the dollar stores are selling those play mat squares that have dovetail keys. Cut it down to a bare minimum, it is still a lot more comfortable. Obviously you don't need one, but it doesn't weight much either.
The lightest bag is the Stephenson Warmlite. This revolutionary company pioneered a lot of stuff in the early days of ultralite camping. The have one bag shell that is just netting separated by 3/4" fam blocks to keep bugs off, see page 10:
Other than that I use a very light sleeping bag that was under 100 dollars from a fancy store, it isn't hot Another option is a pile bedroll. Another option still is the quilt such as ray jardine sells kits for. These cay be made up in any weight. I would imagine a non-sewer could tape the top and bottom together and knot in the stabilizing ties. There isn't a zipper. You could copy the instructions from Trail Life, or Beyond Backpacking, get some cheap insulation from a fabric store, and tape it together. While these things can be made nicely they are also made in disposible form by some. They just look nicer when sewn.
09-21-11, 10:45 PM
You don't seem to need a pad, so just skip that. A microfleece blanket, cut down to the required size, might satisfy your 'bag' requirements. About $35.
Conventionally, a 45F down bag and Thermarest NeoAir pad. About $250. Packs tight and light.
09-21-11, 10:49 PM
you do lose body heat thru the ground.. a thin, high density foam pad will stop much of that..
goosedown compresses the most, so it packs small.
and many down bags allow the insulation to be shifted to adjust for some temperature adjustment.
A good pad primarily insulates you from the cold ground, comfort is secondary. The ground sucks the heat out of you without a pad. You then need a warmer sleeping bag to make up the difference. Some good suggestions about sleeping bags and sources are listed above. Pick a bag with a temperature range suited to the climate, the season and the elevation - Spain and Morocco have some high mountains with surprisingly cold temperatures when lower elevations are pleasantly warm.
09-21-11, 11:36 PM
Thanks for all of your responses! These are all good suggestions! I'll do some shopping around to see what makes sense for me.
09-22-11, 02:57 AM
Can anyone comment about using these as everyday sleeping bags? They're small, thin, toasty, and quite perfect.
09-22-11, 03:46 AM
How much are you trying to spend? If you really want to go "ultra light" as you say, you're not going to get away for cheap.
I'd say for a high quality bag and pad, you'll be looking at around 400ish dollars. Light, good, and cheap, pick two.
As everyone said, you shouldn't forego a sleeping pad--their primary function is to shield you from the cold Earth, and secondarily provide comfort. There are different types of pads, but the most common are closed-cell (sometimes called cc pads) and inflatable. Closed-cell pads are extremely light and can't malfunction, but cc pads provide very little comfort. Inflatable sleeping pads (such as the Thermarest Neo-Air) have varying degrees of protection from the cold (called r-value) and are much more comfortable than comparable cc pads. Generally speaking, inflatable pads are heavier than cc pads and take up more room. However, in the past few years, there have been some inflatable sleeping pads that are very light, and very compact (Thermarest Neo-Air jus to name one, weighs less than a pound, and can pack down to the size of a 32oz bottle). In my opinion, the Neo-Air is the the best solution around in terms of value, r-value, weight, and size. If you don't mind sleeping on the ground, a cc pad will be lighter, much cheaper, and if you're carrying it on the top of the rack, the size doesn't really matter very much.
As far as bags go, down will be the lightest, warmest, most compressible, but also the most expensive. I bought myself really nice bags (Western Mountaineering) because biking and camping are my hobbies, and touring overlaps the two, so I figured why not treat myself? If I were you, and I was trying to get away cheap, I'd watch eBay and steepandcheap.com for down bags. I know steepandcheap has been clearing older model Stoic down bags that are supposed to be nice--they're definitely worth looking in to if you're trying to save money. If you want to throw your budget to the wind, Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, and Marmot make some of the nicest and easiest to source down bags around (there are other companies that make high quality stuff, but some of them are European and hard to import, and some of them are "cottage industry" bag makers who don't keep a stock of bags, but rather build them as ordered). I have a WM Megalite (rated 30ºF) and a WM Alpinlite (rated 10ºF)--the Alpinlite was an impulse buy because it was on sale and I figured if I ever need to go down to one bag, I'd rather have a lower temperature rated bag for a wider range of possible uses. If you do get a down bag, make sure you store it uncompressed either by hanging it in a closet, or in a big breathable cotton bag. For Spain in October, you would probably want something like the Megalite (30ºF temperature rating).
If you look companies other than Marmot, WM, or FF, just make sure you can find reviews attesting to their temperature ratings--there isn't any real "standard" to which temperature ratings are measured to in the US, and some companies list the "extreme" comfort rating as the bags rating, so you can buy a 30ºF bag that is only comfortable down to 45ºF.
I'd recommend visiting backpackinglight.com. They have lots of users that are waaaaaaayyyyyy more knowledgable than I am, and lots of in-depth user reviews (or reviews by the site, but those cost money unless you're a member).
09-22-11, 07:31 AM
Go to your local army surplus store and look at a lightweight military poncho and a poncho liner. The poncho can be a coat, tarp, bike cover, tent, etc etc. I have even rode with it on and let it cover the bars and hands. The liner is a super thin warm blanket that is the exact size of the flattened out poncho and has ties at each of the grommets on the poncho. It can be laced to the poncho to make a sleeping bag.
It is a minimalist setup but I think that is what you are asking for.
The aftermarket ponchos brand new are around $20 the surplus liners are about the same. My poncho is digital camo and blends in almost anywhere. Most of the surplus liners I see around are a woodland camo. Mine is a solid green. I don’t know the exact insulation that’s in them but they work pretty well.
kind of what mine looks like
09-22-11, 07:49 AM
It is probably an age thing with me, but I do like to sleep on a mat. A good nights sleep in my view makes for a better ride the next day.
In the past I have used various Therm-a-Rest self-inflating mattresses but have recently started using an Exped Synmat UL 7 (http://www.aushiker.com/2011/07/owner-review-exped-synmat-ul-7-s-first-impressions/). These are light, pack down small (see the photo) and are very comfortable - oh so much more comfortable than a Therm-a-Rest. You can also probably buy them cheaper here in Australia at http://mainpeak.com.au than the US which is nice for a change :).
In respect to a sleeping bag, I would consider either a quilt (these can be lighter and pack down smaller) or a bag such as the Western Mountaineering Hilite (http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=products&page=sleeping-bags&cat=ExtremeLite-Series). These are both light and small in terms of packing. Seriously good bags by all accounts.
http://BackpackingLight.com is also worth checking out for ideas. These guys are all about lightweight backpacking.
09-22-11, 10:04 AM
I have down bags but save them for altitude and winter where both their features like low weight and bulk, and their bad points like loosing loft when moist are optimal. In the OPs particular world, down would seem like the worst choice.
You absolutely can have light weight and low price. Make a quilt. Go to your local store and get a top and bottom layer, and some light insulation. Staple the edges together, or tape them, and use the yarn loops to stabilize the fill. High performance and low cost.
09-22-11, 10:06 AM
I backpack and use a NeoAir air mattress. I also have a Montbell Super hugger 25 degrees bag. If you are "large" the montbell is graet because if gives a bit (stretches). Also very light weight.
You need a pad. For insulation, not comfort. The comfort is a bonus.
As for the bag, think about getting a quilt instead. Less material=less weight, and the material underneath you in a sleeping bag isn't doing any good anyway since it's crushed under your weight, and compressed insulation is no insulation. Down is a lot lighter and smaller, but also more expensive, and you have to be careful that it doesn't get wet. If you know what you're doing and never take the bag out except once your tent is standing and secure, this shouldn't be an issue.
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