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Old 08-24-06, 08:43 PM   #1
tajsss
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Sleeping bag help

My wife wants to go touring and we plan on maybe 70/30 camping and staying in motels. We've never had nice sleeping bags and I'm a bit at a loss what temperature range to pick. We live in North Texas. Very hot. Most of our touring, if not all, I know will be in fair weather times and mostly local. I know she is not interested in riding much during the winter/cold.

What temperature bag should we get? Do you get something in 30 or 40 degree range because of the warmer nights? Will a colder bag be unbearable if it is warm? I'm kind of worried about getting one too cold and just being hot all the time or getting one too warm and end up having colder nights than expected.

Any insight? Thanks.
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Old 08-24-06, 09:06 PM   #2
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Get one that's warmer that the expected temperature. You can always unzip it, or sleep outside of it. I use a -18°C bag for summer car camping and it's never a problem. I prefer it because it's down and just feels better.

If your bag isn't warm enough, you're definately gonna be uncomfortable.

EDIT: By warmer, I mean rated at a colder temperature.

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Old 08-24-06, 09:09 PM   #3
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Old 08-24-06, 09:12 PM   #4
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We used two down bags for our tour down the West Coast this summer. Amanda's is a zero degree rated bag and mine is rated at 32. Before leaving I thought they might be too warm, but after three month of camping I can say that I was almost never too hot.

I bought the bags from thrift stores. They were good quality but older models. After running through the reglar washer they came out looking new.

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Old 08-24-06, 10:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tajsss
My wife wants to go touring and we plan on maybe 70/30 camping and staying in motels. We've never had nice sleeping bags and I'm a bit at a loss what temperature range to pick. We live in North Texas. Very hot. Most of our touring, if not all, I know will be in fair weather times and mostly local. I know she is not interested in riding much during the winter/cold.

What temperature bag should we get? Do you get something in 30 or 40 degree range because of the warmer nights? Will a colder bag be unbearable if it is warm? I'm kind of worried about getting one too cold and just being hot all the time or getting one too warm and end up having colder nights than expected.

Any insight? Thanks.
Keep in mind that there is no industry standard for determining the temperature rating of a sleeping bag. Temperature ratings can be a good rough guide, but you should also be looking at the quality of construction and the design of the bag. Good bags will have a draft tube for the zipper and the baffling will be designed so that there are no cold spots anywhere in the bag, you are covered with insulation from head to toe.

My personal theory is that you can always make a bag a little warmer by putting in a silk liner (keeps the bag clean, too), wearing a hat to bed, or zipping two bags together and sharing the double bag with your partner. My concern is that a bag that is designed for colder temperatures than you are actually sleeping in will make you sweat more, leaving you dehydrated and the bag wet in the morning.
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Old 08-24-06, 11:04 PM   #6
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REI sells some nice down Travel Bags that are rated to something like 35 degrees. If you are touring around North Texas between late spring and early fall, even these will be more than warm enough. I also recommend a silk bag liner. You can use this alone on warm (hot) evenings at least until it cools down enough in early morning hours to give you a bit of chill. Usually, you would just open up the sleeping bag at this point and use it like a quilt. The silk liner will also add a few degrees of comfort to the bag on a chilly night when you are zipped in. Finally, the liner will keep the bag cleaner and is much easier to launder than a sleeping bag.

Skip those 20 degree (or lower) bags unless you plan on camping in winter.

BTW, the Travel Down bags pack small and light.
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Old 08-25-06, 03:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markf
Keep in mind that there is no industry standard for determining the temperature rating of a sleeping bag.
There is an European standard (EN 13537). You may run into it, many manufacturers, including manufacturers from U.S. use it to rate their bags. It has its shortcomings, though. Here's a Wiki article about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_13537

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Old 08-25-06, 06:25 AM   #8
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Hi,
here's my rule of thumb. I buy a bag that is rated at least 10 degrees lower than the lowest temp I expect to see. That time of year around here it goes into the 30's at night, so a 20 deg bag is a minimun.

So if I expected it to hit 40, I'd buy a bag like the ones I linked. You can always lie on top of the bag if it's warm, or get in and leave it unzipped.
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Old 08-25-06, 06:53 AM   #9
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You need to have some sense of whether you are a cold or a warm sleeper. Some people just like more warmth than others, some give off more radiant heat etc. etc.

My girlfriend sleeps under a comforter in the summertime, I can barely stand anything on me in the same conditions...

That said, for late spring through most of the fall, I use a 35 degree bag, partly because it was on sale at the time, and is really compact. I like synthetic for it's warmth when wet, but in North Texas that might not be an issue.

+1 on the silk liner. It's the size of a tennis ball when packed, and it adds (hypothetically) 15 degrees of extra warmth to the bag.

One trick that I've found helps me is to eat a snack/meal right before bed. Supposedly it adds enough calories to keep your body warm for an additional hour or two in the morning. I think it's that you have enough energy to create heat for longer, but I do know that it works for me...
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Old 08-25-06, 07:08 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the great replies everyone. This is making a choice a lot easier. I'll probably look at something in 30-40 degree range then. They are lighter than the 20 degree models too which is always good. The silk liners sound like a great idea. We'll probably end up using just those most of the time, we are both warm sleepers.

One more question, as long as we buy the same model bag, can they all zip together, or is that only a feature of some bags? That sounds like a good backup plan if it gets exceptionally cold all of a sudden.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
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Old 08-25-06, 07:31 AM   #11
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Combining bags is a feature. You will have to buy a "left" and a "right" bag to be able to combine them (zippers need to be located at facing sides of the two bags) and your bags need to be same size (some models come in various sizes). This will make sure you can close the joining zipper completely. If there's significant difference in your tallness, this may mean that the shorter one sleeps in too big a bag. This may not be a problem in fair weather.

And if your bag is too cold for conditions, combining the two bags will not make it warmer. You will not be able to properly adjust the neck opening and the hood, for example, which leaks cold air in every time you move. You will most likely also have more extra air in the combined bag per person, than if each of you slept in your own bag. That extra air will have to be heated somehow.

But as it is not really cold where you plan to sleep, the advantages of combining may well outweigh the disadvantages.

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Old 08-25-06, 07:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tajsss

One more question, as long as we buy the same model bag, can they all zip together, or is that only a feature of some bags? That sounds like a good backup plan if it gets exceptionally cold all of a sudden.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
Some bags can be zipped together as top and bottom (typically the less expensive square bags) mummy bags will require you to get a right hand and left hand zipper. I use a North Face Cats Meow with a right hand zipper and my wife has a Woman's Cats Meow with a left hand zipper. Ours are the older style back with the soft liner. We also use silk liners...helps cut down on the amount of bag washing required.

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Old 08-25-06, 07:35 AM   #13
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When I tour with my girlfriend we have one warmer sleeping bag and one cooler one. If it's a warm night we put the cool sleeping bag on top. If it's a cool night we put the warm sleeping bag on top.
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Old 08-25-06, 09:15 AM   #14
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Yeah,
sometimes we would take a sheet and a couple blankets in addition
to a couple old rectangular bags. We'd lay the bags down unzipped and then the blankets on
top of them. That was a lot cushier than a lightweight mummy bag.

Last edited by late; 08-25-06 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-25-06, 11:09 AM   #15
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I've seen a lot of people recommend just carrying a blanket for couples touring together. Some people have even made their own out of sleeping-bag-like material. If you're going to be travelling in largely fair weather, this may be a cheaper and lighter weight option.
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