Best sleeping bags for Americas trip
Hi- What type of sleeping bag would people recommend (or not recommend) for a trip to the Americas (Starting in B Aires in Oct, down to TDF then north).
I'll be using a Thermarest Prolite 4 mat (4 season, regular size) and North Face Tadpole 23 tent.
I have a pretty warm bag but is easily 20 years old and is bulky and a bit 'coffin' shaped (ie tapers in at the feet) so doesn't allow much movement. Not sure of the filling either as theres no labels on it. I've also got a thinner, lighter bag but it was bloody cold camping in Glencoe last August though didn't have the Thermarest then.
Do you really need somthing that will go to -10degC, 3 or 4 season?
Best to go for manmade fibres?
General shape? etc
Any recomendations appreciated!
With regards to bringing a sleeping bag out here to the americas, i´ve been here for 15 months and have camped most of the time, i too use a thermal mat but a good sleeping bag is a must. I´ve just come from Peru, i camped in cusco where it was -5 most evenings in other parts it stayed around zero, last year in Bolivia near the lagons it went down to -20. But it can also get real warm as well, i have a cotten liner, i sleep in this on top of my sleeping bag when it is two warm, it also helps keep the bag clean. Its best to check out the waight of a bag as well some are very heavy and bulky. I hope this helps Skip
You have a choice, synthetic or down (plus the temperature range that's right for your trip). Both, of course, have their ups and downs, pun intended (I'm talking about quality bags in both camps, not the cheap stuff):
Down bags last longer, I'm speaking about the actual insulation. Down bags pack smaller. High quality down bags cost more than high quality synthetic bags in the same temperature ranges. Once down gets wet, it has a very poor insulative property. Once down is wet it is slow to dry.
Synthetic bags tend to lose their insulating qualities sooner than down bags. Synthetic bags rated for the same temps as down bags will not pack as small. Synthetic bags rated for the same temps will typically cost less.
Synthetic bags retain some insulative value even when they're wet, much more so than down bags. Wanna experience warm and wet?- try a hot tub.
Touring the America's, I'd suggest a good synthetic bag. There are 3 kinds of sleeping bags: rectangular (roomy), mummy (as you described your bag), and semi-rectangular.
Bags are cut in different ways for reasons, mainly efficiency. Your body needs to stay warm, therefore it needs to keep an area warm. The mummy bag allows you very little room to move about- and it requires less space for your body to keep warm, it is also smaller/lighter/more efficient. You won't find someone high in the Himalaya with a roomy rectangular bag.
Modern synthetic bags have come a long way from yesteryear. After the rain is gone you can chuck your light-weight synthetic bag over a clothes line and it will dry out nicely while you pack your gear- maybe not completely!
What it comes down to is this: if you plan to ride in areas where you and your gear are likely to experience wet/humid conditions, go synthetic. In dry areas? Go down!
thanks for the useful info guys. A 4-season synthetic bag with some leg room and a liner should do the trick.
Been camping in America for 50 years cause I live in America. I disagree with most of the advice so far. I would recommend a zero degree F. bag with down insulation.
They pack small and last very long. If you get the bag wet go to town and dry it but why get it wet?
With this bag you will not be cold. Ever. In hot weather sleep on top. I don't think you need the liner, just extra bulk. Bring along a pair of synthetic long underware, top and bottoms cause you will need them in the mountains if the weather turns cold, which it will. Good to sleep in to. Pajamas.
Just say no to synthetic bags.
I would agree with Bill. We are planning to go to SA early next year and we will take down bags. They pack small, theyr'e light, and if you want to keep dry just keep it in an Ortlieb bag or something like that!
We are thinking to take one light and one warmer. We hope to be able to find bags than can be zipped together so that if it is cold we use the warm one on top and vice-versa. We had this idea from Susan & Grant marathon talk! Nice tip Grant! :)
I also think that a silk liner is very useful when in dodgey hotels or when very hot or cold.... they are tiny so not an issue I think. OK until I try to cram all I plan to take with me in the panniers, I know I know.... ;)
How's planning going Mike? When are you guys leaving?
Not bought anything just yet so still reading the useful comments. Yeah, I like the idea of a down bag for the packing size, and I'd agree, how often is it going to get wet? Not too sure about how high humidity or sweating etc would affect down though...
Maria- Plans are coming on well thanks, flights to Buenos Aires now booked for 24 Oct! Going with Iain and Michelle from London but we've still to finalise the bike shipping though they will be going by sea freight around mid/late september.
When are you guys off?
We will flight our bikes though. We decided, despite the cost, that it makes sense. Last year we bought some piece of furniture. The shop said it needed to order and ship it from the US as they were out of stock in the UK. Boat went all around the world before arriving in Holland, rather than the UK. To cut a long story short it took 9 or 10 months from the time we ordered to time of reception!
So a bit dubious about sea freight!!!!
Christ, don't say that! The agent reckons its a 19 day journey with weekly sailings from London to BA and said that they haven't had problems with late arrivals. But they would say that...
I'd looked at air freight but probably double the cost. The quote from one of the shippers was around £750 for crating, shipping, taxes and clearance costs in BA. That was Luna shipping and there was some good feedback on this site from someone who used them.
It will be fine though, I'm sure (repeat as necessary)
I'm sure it will be ok! Very reasonable price. I've also heard good feed back on Luna shipping. Still, I stick to my guns (is that the correct expression?) and will fly our bikes! ;)
Keep in touch, and good luck with the preparations!
If you are wanting a down bag, RAB do make exelent bags, i think they are even still made in sheffield, if you have the cash they will make you up a bag to your own spec, but their range of bags is huge, down and synthetic.
i agre with down though as long as you keep it dry. so so much more comfartable than synthetic in my books. a washable cotten liner is a good investment for insects, washability and tmperature regulation.
if you want to keep dry just keep it in an Ortlieb bag or something like that!
Wow, if it were only that simple. Bags don't just get wet from rain on your leaky storage sack. They get wet from the conditions you're sleeping in: moisture, humidity, your own breath given a certain environment, etc. Get nice and rain-covered setting up your tent, then climb into your tent, wet gear and all, and keep that bag dry. Rain alone doesn't make your bag a wet sponge. I hope you find dry conditions on your trip- and I mean that. As far as using a certain bag in "America," do you mean: Hawaii, Alaska, New York, Florida, California, Arizona, Montana...and at what time of year? There are lots of variables. If there was one bag that did it all- we'd all have it. And a zero degree F bag for a motorcycle trip through South America? Even climbing Aconcagua, a 20 degree F bag is more or less standard- given a summer climbing season. H.
I would go with one of the Mont Bell Super Light Apline Stretch bags. They are some of the lightest and smallest packing bags out there. Plus they actually stretch while your in them. Voted by back packer as the most comfortable bag. The #2 will cover just about anythiny. If you need a little cooler back go with #1. Of course they are one of the most expensive bags as well, but I would not trade mine for anything. I have a #2 and a #5. One for the mountains here in CO and one for Moab.
Down or synthetic
For starters the bag you mentioned that's twenty something will have lost some loft by now. The high end bags are all well made using most of the same components. The weight and packed size of the different insulations is minimal. However the price of a top end down bag is almost double of a synthetic bag, of the same temperature rating. The synthetic bag will dry quicker if it get's wet and will retain it's insulating properties when wet. Down however, will not dry very quick and has almost no insulating properties when wet. Most of the new down bags have a membrane to help with water repellency. If you decide on a down bag, look for an 800 to 900 fill rating. This being the lightest and "fluffist" goose down. The higher the down rating, the better the insulation properties. As for the synthetic bags, Polarguard 3D and Polarguard HV are about the best out there. Coming in a close second is Primaloft.
As for the humidity and sweating thing you mentioned. Down will absorb moisture in humid conditions and sweating in the bag will affect it as well. It really comes down to personal choice. If your able to try out some different bags with different insulation in varied conditions, it makes the choice easier.
The shape of the bag is important as well. The mummy shaped bags offer the best heat retention due to the fact that there are less cold spots and less area inside the bag. A rectangler bag does offer more wiggle room, but may get cold spots due to the extra space. There are also, hybrid bags if you will, that have a little of both bag shapes incorporated into them. Some other design features are the head gasket or draft collar, which is an insulated collar stitched to the bag that comes over the shoulders to help with heat retention. A draft tube, which is an insulated tube on the inside of the bag to prevent heat escaping from the zipper. Remember to that a layer or two of synthetic long underwear will give a bag a few more degree's of warmth. There are also, upgrades and fleece liners that can add up to fifteen to twenty-five degree's to the bags rating.
For what it's worth I use a thirty degree bag, The North Face Climber 3D in the summer. It's synthetic and weighs one pound six ounces stuffs to about the size of a roll of paper towels. In the winter I use a zero degree Marmot bag. It weighs less than four pounds, packed size is about eleven inches by fourteen inches. I use a Mountain Hardwear bag for the in between temperature's of the above bags. Wether it be touring, climbing or backpacking none of the bags have ever left me needing more.
The old mountaineering adage is, "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad dressers". This applies to sleeping kit as well. Some sites to check out are listed below.
Save yourself some space and gain some warmth and comfort by ditching the thermarest and get yourself an Exped Downmat. They are brilliant - light weight , superbly comfortable (and I am very fussy on that point) and they pack up way smaller than any thermarest. The biggest one Model DXL ( I think) is the one I have and it is the best bit of camping kit I have bought in years.
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