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Old 27 Jan 2008
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Question looking for 2 sleeping bags to zip together, any advise?

hello forumristi,

after many years on the road we have dumped our sleeping bags and we are looking for new ones. as you know, to sleep comfortable and warm is important, so we dont just want to walk into any Globetrotter store and listen to the advise of somebody that has never traveled on a bike.

our new sleeping bags should be:

-possible to zip together
-fleece, or similar material inside
-equiped with an extra fleece inlets, also possible to zip together
-not of down, better of easy washable material
-not the mummy type
-equiped with head covers
-tough outside material
-light weight, but thats not so important
-very good quality
-warm down to minus 10 degrees celsius (without inlet)
-good packsack

price is not so important, as we are going to use them for the next ten years.

I had a very expensive and very good North Face sleeping bag for 11 years, but the last years it was not warm enough anymore.

Any advise? Any recommendation?

Thank you in advance

Damaris and Mika
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Old 27 Jan 2008
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Snugpak Softie Elite 5 Sleeping Bag. Security with WorldPay & PayPal

That is what I would recommend, all of Snugpak's kit is great, hard wearing and good value for money to boot.

Happy Riding

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Old 27 Jan 2008
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We'd be interested in other recommendations too

Although we will be travelling by Land Rover and sleeping in a roof tent, we are looking for sleeping bags with almost identical criteria. Any other recommendations people have would be a great help to us too.


Ollie and Jenny


Land's End to Sydney 2009
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Old 27 Jan 2008
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A few thoughts...
  • By buying a left and right zip sleeping bag they will zip together, just try it in the shop first as the zips teeth/per inch do get changed even in the same model.
  • Certainly buy a separate fleece insert for a boost of warmth/options, but avoid a sleeping bag with a cotton or fleece lining fabric. No quality manufacturer will currently use these fabrics because of weight, warmth (cotton feels warmer when you get in but once it becomes damp it's no good) and also these fabrics aren't "slippery" so cause any liner or your clothing to bind. "Camping" bags will have these fabrics AVOID they won't last like a good "hiking or outdoor bag. And also the "drape of the fabric prevent the loft of the insulating fabric
  • North American brands that make semi rectangular shaped bags (ie not mummy) tend not to have hoods and to be aimed at the car camping brigade (very bulky and not so great quality) in NZ and OZ you'll find more choice on that matter. However some mummy bags will have more room in the foot area than others.. jump in them in the shop and try them out! It will increase your choices 10 fold
  • Don't discount Down bags to quickly. They are a lot more comfortable, will last a lot longer. Washing a down bag isn't the easiest thing in the world but if you use a liner (see below) it's something you'd only have to do once/twice a year if using it daily. With a synthetic filled bag never wash it in a machine. A lot of people do but you are going to shorten the life of the bag considerably
  • Just as you would use sheets on your bed at home get a silk liner for your bag (regardless of the type) It will mean that you can wash the liner quickly and easily (as you wouldn't try to wash your mattress and duvet inner at home every week!) a silk liner will dry in no time and is a great thing to use in cheaper (read; dodgy) hotels when the linen doesn't look so great. or when you get to warmer climes on it's own...
  • Always stuff the sleeping bag into the stuff sack rather than roll it... For once the easier way is actually better ( for the bag)!!
Where are you now? Brands aren't available in every country, Might help some recommendations be a bit more helpful. Have a good look at Sierra Trading Post - Save 35-70% on Famous Name Brands they have a lot of clearance stuff.
'99 R1100GS - In a suitable shade of black

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Old 20 Feb 2008
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Big Agnes Encampment

The Big Agnes Encampment sleeping bag is pretty close to meeting your criteria. It is rated at 15 degrees F (just about -10 Celsius), has a hood, isn't mummy, is insulated synthetically rather than with goose down and can be zipped together (just get a right zip and a left zip). Because the zippers don't "turn the corner", each person will have their own footbox of about 8", and the zip goes right down the middle/top of the double bag.

The interior fabric is not fleece as you prefer, but that is easily remedied with an insert. The Encampment is equipped with loops for attaching whatever insert you come up with.

REI stores throughout North America were recently selling off their 2007 Encampments at extraordinarily low prices, but I think they are pretty much gone now. It might be worth doing an Internet search to find out if there are any great deals out there.

My company, Full Throttle Camping, carries Big Agnes sleeping bags, including the Encampment. I don't know if we have any 2007 Encampments left, but if you are interested just drop me an email at gregg@fullthrottlecamping.com and I'll see what we have.

Another option you might consider is to get two sleeping bags per person and do some "over bagging". Get Big Agnes' 30 degree Crystal and a 40 degree Cross Mountain. The Cross Mountain would be used when you camp in very warm weather and the Crystal would be used in cooler but still mild temperatures. For cold weather, you could insert the Crystal into the Cross Mountain, and the Cross Mountain would provide 25 degrees of additional protection beyond the Crystal's 30 degree range - taking you well below your -10 C criteria.

The Cross Mountain is synthetically insulated with Polarguard Delta and does not have a hood; the Crystal is insulated with a combination of 650-fill goose down and Primaloft Sport and has a hood.

Again, if you are interested in any of these, I'll be happy to give you the best price possible on whatever 2007 stock we still have. Just drop me an email if you'd like.
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Old 20 Feb 2008
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Not sure how usefull this will be but consider the Mountain Equipment Firewalker series. We have the Firewalker II, comfort zone to -5 or so, so the FW III should be good for lower.

They do zip together, but the are mummy type. However, I am not a big fan opf the mummy type but these were pretty spacious and I slept well. Other than this they meet most of your criteria. Hoods, synthetic filling, pretty lightweight and have good compression straps. Of course to get the most from you sleeping bag: get a decent ground mat. As far as I know they do not have a fleece liner, but perhaps you can buy sleeping bag liners. We upped the warmth of our bags by laying our woolen ponchos over the bags once they were zipped together: this was very cosy!!

Good luck: let us know what you find out there!
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(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 20 Feb 2008
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You'll sweat to death with -10C or lower bags in the most of motorcycle travels since it'll be maybe max 5-10% of the time of your motorcycle travel you spend in less than +5C nights, unless you plan to do RTW via norhern Siberian swamps/rivers and Alaska-North-Canada or visit deserts only in the winter time.

Mostly, only time I need a cold condition sleeping bag is in the high mountains. And even if you do get cold in the high mountains, you mostly will not be sick when being above bacteria zone altitude and this is where the real cold is independently from the seasons.

We're using relatively cheap Ferrino Quasar 1400 SQ. SQ means "square" so you can zip two bags together and most of all: you have room for your legs, for both of you. We bought 1 left hand zipped and 1 right hand zipped bag with my girlfriend and zip them together on our travels. They're +8/+10C rated, extreme is -3C. We're using liners in the colder nights that shifts the comfort level few degrees down and with proper sleeping mat (buy the best you can IMHO, we're using Therm-a-Rests and it's day-and-night difference compared to regular mats you freeze your butt off when the ground really gets cold in the night!) they're 0C and couple of minus degrees doable. In the more extreme conditions we lay additionally our motorcycle clothing above our sleeping bags for more insulation. Always sleeping naked seems to be working the best way, with socks and most important: hats on (you're losing most of your body heat via your head!) in the extremely cold nights.

But even with +10C bags we sweat in the warmer nights we encounter on the road, and it's the warm countries you mostly travel with motorcycle. Then it'll be uncomfortable sleeping - one time you get a bit cold and get into the bag, next time you are beginning to sweat and get out of the bag again etc. Sleeping together is better in the cold nights with combined body heats, but can be pain in the very hot nights - add an Antarctic purpose sleeping bag and you have the perfect equation for those "litre of sweat" nightmares when temperatures rise above +20C during the night and yet is uncomfortable to sleep w/o anything on you
Indeed it's important not to get too "lightweight" with sleeping gear eigther, since extremely cold nights can be real pain with sleeping bags made for warm conditions. That's why we chose around +5 to +10C range bags that seem to work "compromisingly" well in the warm conditions and yet we can live through very cold nights combining with liners, socks & hats on.

Last edited by Margus; 20 Feb 2008 at 09:38.
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Old 20 Feb 2008
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Sleeping bag temp ratings and pads

I suggest that you buy a sleeping bag that is rated at least 10 degrees F LOWER than you expect to need. Why? Several reasons: First, it is always easier to remedy being too warm than being too cold. Second, sleeping bag temperature ratings are not entirely subjective but they are notoriously misleading. And third, many factors unrelated to your sleeping bag's insulation will effect the thermal comfort you experience in your sleeping bag, including alcohol consumption, digestion, circulation, fatigue, hydration, etc.

Full Throttle Camping carries 40 degree F sleeping bags, and people buy them because they think, "Oh, if it is colder than that I won't be riding". But then they find out that warm summer days can give way to summer nights that can be uncomfortably cool, especially in the desert or at high altitudes. We plan to discontinue selling 40 degree F bags because very few people find them to be sufficient.

The lightest bag I would recommend is a 30 degree F (about 0 Celsius). I like to use a 15 degree F (-10 C) bag because I often camp in below freezing temperatures. However, as Margus noted, a 15 degree F bag will be too warm much of the time.

Margus also mentioned the need for a good sleeping pad/mat. A little known fact about sleeping bag temperature ratings is that the ratings are based on using a 0 degree F pad! That's right - every sleeping bag actually REQUIRES a very well insulated pad in order to deliver its assigned temperature rating. The underside insulation of a sleeping bag itself is almost useless because your body weight mashes it down and eliminates all of the insulation value, so every manufacturer assigns temperature ratings based on the use of a pad that will not allow any body heat to escape to the ground in spite of the bag's useless underside insulation. If you sleep without a pad or with a non-insulated air mattress, you are essentially trying to heat the planet instead of heating your sleep environment!

Sleeping pads are categorized as either self-inflating or inflatable. Self-inflating pads typically use open-cell foam which draws in air when the valve is opened, thereby inflating the pad. Therm-a-Rest is the long-time leader in self-inflating pads and still makes some of the best. Unlike self-inflating pads, inflatable pads need to be inflated by the user, either by mouth or with some kind of pump. Exped and Big Agnes are the recognized leaders in insulated inflatable pads (and also have excellent self-inflating pads). Exped also makes pads that have built-in pumps, as well as a pillow/pump that can be used to inflate Exped or Big Agnes pads.

The advantage of a self-inflating pad is the ease of inflation and the excellent insulating value. Disadvantages tend to be packed size and weight. Also, though they are self-inflatingthey are not self-deflating, and some require a great deal of effort to return the pad/mat to a reasonable packed size.

The advantage of inflatable pads is weight (low) and packed size (small). Disadvantages tend to be punctures! Though they are not self-inflating, they do a pretty good job of self-deflating if you aren't in a hurry: just open the valve and let the pad deflate on its own. The better inflatable pads are made with rugged nylon to resist punctures and come with puncture repair kits.

The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core sleeping pads are insulated on one side only. This gives the pad a unique versatility. In cool/cold weather, you sleep on the insulated side to keep body heat from escaping through the underside of the sleeping bag; in warm weather, you sleep on the non-insulated side to allow body heat to escape into the pad and dissipate to the ground or the atmosphere.
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