Army Surplus sleeping bag - Opinions?
I am looking for a sleeping bag that will enable me to extend the number of months I am able to utilise my tent. I have been looking for a 3 or 4 season bag. Those available in specialist shops are expensive when compared with what is available from a local Army Surplus store which stocks the Softie Elite 3, 4 and 5 at £80, 85 & 90 respectively. I am aware the fill is man made fibre and they are bulkier than those from outher outlets but...does anyone have any experience as to whether these bags do what is required i.e. keep you toasty warm on cold nights? Your views would be appreciated.
Are the bags used?
But to help out any bag a pad or two under the bag will help as will getting the smallest bag to fit you. A silk or any insert will help as well. To help your self do not go to sleep in any thing you had on in the day it will have sweet in it and that will rob you of heat all night. One trick is eat something with a lot of fat in it just before you go down for the night your body will heat up as it digest it.
As with most kit you get what you pay for.
I don't know about about the models you have specified, but I'm going to something I would usually avoid: Not answer the poster's question but offer a completely different product: so apologies before hand for my hypocrisy!!
Basically for that budget you could buy a whole stack of bags from reputable brands. For example I bought a Nanok Comfort -10 that has some nice features, is rated to, you guessed it -10Celsius, but unlike many brands, reviews suggest this claimis not widely optimistic, but in fact quite accurate.
Presently the end of line 2009 models are reduced to £64!!! If you want to get a good bag, but cost is a concern, this might be of help. If not please ignore!
Suppliers of Klättermusen, 66 North, Aclima, Fjall Raven, Tentipi and other Quality Scandanavian Outdoor Equipment - Nordic Outdoor
I've not got much experience of current army surplus bags but the stuff I've bought in the past (many years ago) has been useless for anything other than summer camping.
That said, I must "sleep cold" as the ratings on sleeping bags seem to correspond with the temperature at which I'd not quite freeze to death. Others may be more comfortable in them but I only fall asleep when I'm (k)nackered from all the shivering.
My current bag RAB - for the most extreme conditions in the world. a Rab 800, is rated down to -20C but I get a comfortable night in it at temps in the 0 - 10C range. I've been chilly in it in the Sahara. (and no there isn't anything medically wrong with me!) Treat all of the sales info like temp ratings with huge suspicion and make an assessment based on whether the thickness of insulation would keep you warm if it was on your bed at home. Either that or get someone to share it with you - a much more effective option than a load of feathers. :thumbup1:
The MOD arctic bags, while huge, are still the standard by which other bags are judged and for the 100-quid mark are a very good option. The requirement to be able to sleep on ice was a very basic one, but it got the real clowns out of the market (they all sell to Argos instead!).
The brands you mention are, I believe, commercial sleeping bags sold for use by the cadet force and military people who want a little more control over the weight they carry and the amount of comfort, they aren't issue? I'd need a personal reccomendation to touch any of them. A minus 10 commercial rating means you won't die at minus 9, you can't sue the manufacturer if you can't get any sleep. There is a lot of real **** out there with a 4 seasons rating. If I wanted comfort and couldn't live with the bulk of the arctic bag I'd throw money at it and buy something from someone with a brand name to protect.
Don't forget the bag is only part of the system. While you can take your arctic bag, dig a hole in the snow, climb in with your boots on and not die, this is only a good idea if people with guns and bombs are a real threat. Personally I'll take as much straw as I can under the tent, a layer of laminate floor underlay under the thermarest, a wool pile liner and a clean pair of socks and pyjamas come bed time. And don't forget the power of cocoa at bedtime and a pack of biscuits slowed within easy reach in case you wake up cold in the night for reasons other than filling the empty (plastic not Sigg) bottle you'll also want in there with you.
I personally use a Gortex bivvi bag as an outer to a 3 seasons bag. That way if it's not too cold I can use either the sleeping or bivvi bag on it's own.
I have used the army sleeping system which is a 4 season bag for the last 20 years..( mine is the one I was issued with. It consists of 1. sleeping bag, 2. gortex bivi bag and 3. compression sack.) I have used this bag at -50cent above the artic curcle and in the deserts of saudi, sarhara, at +50 so can recomend this bag. Mine cost new over £300 so £80+ is good for a bag that should last you a life time. All new adventure/artic sleeping bags are based on this system. The Commandos recommend this system when training in Norway.... Best bit of kit ever issued. BUT CHECK THAT THE ZIP STILL WORKS AND YOU RECIEVE ALL 3 PIECES
1. Sleeping Bag.
2. Gortex Bivi Bag.
3. Stuff bag. ( this is used to commpress the sleep system down to hight 4 inch. width 6 inch) so can be very small.
HIGHLY RECOMMENED AND GIVEN :D:D:D:D:D
Commandos in Norway from Jan to March. the Norse and swedes use this bag aswell....
not mad but it helps.
Many thanks for all your opinions and advice.
A new Softie sleeping bag is pretty good, however as the synthetic bags age, they become less and less effective - to the point where my Softie 9 Hawk (-5 rated,-10 extreme) is now pretty much useless in anything but warm summer camping (here in Canada at least)
Ive got through at least 5-6 synthetic bags over the years, but my 2 down bags are still going strong...
Synthetic bags are bulky and relatively heavy for the temperature rating, a decent down bag, properly looked after, will last you 3 or 4 times as long as a synthetic, will keep you warmer and every time you pack it up, you will be glad you spent the extra
After 12 years in the British Forces, several years on the road and lots of time spent in tents, hammocks, bivis and just dossing on the ground, in over 40 countries both very hot, very cold, very wet and temperate I can only recommend investing some more dosh on a good quality down bag and using a lightweight bivi bag over the top when required, if its cold, damp, or use it even if you get lots of condensation in your tent.
As for brands, theres good but expensive suff in the UK, or check out MEC here in Canada - good quality kit without paying for the name.
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Join for $5 CAD and get it shipped.... * Free shipping is within Canada I guess *
The genuine British Army Sleeping bags ( synthetic ) are very warm, tough and keep insulating even when wet....however, they pack down to the size of an average rucksack.Because of the horrendous size of the thing, most soldiers went out and bought the Snugpak series of sleeping bags with their own money.
The Snugpak has a very good reputation for its design and robustness as well as its insulation and impressive stored size.
I used a Snugpak Antarctica RE when deployed to Bosnia in the early 90's.The coldest I used it in was - 56 degrees ( with windchill ) in a broken down truck in the middle of a windswept plain outside Tomislavgrad.....I am here to tell the tale..so it works.This is proper military expedition grade equipment.
Antarctica RE Sleeping Bags - Antarctica RE Code Green - Antarctica RE Military - Leading Suppliers of Clothing & Sleepingbags - snugpak.com
Most people who use the Snugpak systems use them in a unique way suggested by the the company and their customers themselves.
Due to the compactness of the compressed bags, it is very possible to carry a couple of lower rated bags in the space of a normal sleeping bag.....this means you use one bag for warmer weather and use them both for colder weather.( one inside the other ).
Softie 3 Merlin Sleeping Bags - Softie 3 Merlin Code Green - Softie 3 Merlin Military - Leading Suppliers of Clothing & Sleepingbags - snugpak.com
Softie 10 Harrier Sleeping Bags - Softie 10 Harrier Code Green - Softie 10 Harrier Military - Leading Suppliers of Clothing & Sleepingbags - snugpak.com
Just for example, the Merlin 3 which is a very lightweight bag combined with a Softie 10....makes for a very warm nights sleep.
With the addition of a silk sleeping bag liner....which itself can add an extra seasons rating to your bag, you can have a proven,effective and lightweight sleeping system.
From experience....this is one area of equipment you do not want to cut corners on.
Contact Snugpak direct, they are very helpful for advice....and they do different colours rather than just military stuff.
After 22 years of service ended 2003 I still have my hands on the Army New Sleeping stystem as was mentiond above the old fether sleeping bag was ok for summer only the new i have used in Norway & the saudi dessert (dont ask!), they do stuff down to the size of a football. but you do need to really use a liner never used in the Army just a plastic bag round your boots lol
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