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Need Advice on Winter Sleeping Bag Length
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By John Gassel
From Boston, MA
Nov 27, 2012

I'm planning to buy a winter sleeping bag (-20) and I'm not sure if I should get a regular or long... I'm 5'11" 175lbs. Main use will be for overnight and extended winter climbing trips. Will also see some general winter camping use.

Pro's of a long bag are to keep gear warm in the bottom of the bag.
Con's are extra size and weight.

Big question is will it be colder having 6+ inches of extra space at the bottom of the bag.

Don't have much experience with this at all myself, so I'm looking for any suggestions/advice. Thanks!


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By Josh Wood
From Oneonta, NY
Nov 27, 2012
hotlum / bolum route on Shasta

I'm 5'9" and 185lbs and I have plenty of room in a normal length bag. If I were you, I wouldn't get a long bag or a -20F. For me, 0F and the clothes that I carry with me are plenty. I've slept in a Marmot Couloir at -30F (but I was in a tent). It was plenty warm.

If you are set on getting a warmer bag, I have a Marmot CWM -40F for sale. It's in great shape and I'll sell it cheap.


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By KathyS
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 27, 2012
Me at the summit of Inner Course (5.4) in the Outlets.  Long, lovely, mellow route.  Well protected even.  My favorite lead from the trip.

I'm 5'5" and got a regular length (6') 0F bag for a couple mountaineering trips this year. Lots of foot space for water, fuel and electronics at the foot, but my feet definitely got cold unless I filled that space with some extra layers, too.


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By wivanoff
Nov 27, 2012
High Exposure

Not sure if you do this but, we used to put our boots in a plastic garbage bag at the bottom of our sleeping bag to keep them from freezing. The extra length bag was nice to have.

And hot water in a Nalgene bottle inside your sleeping bag was almost as good as a woman ;)


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By Andrew Mayer
Nov 27, 2012
top of mt. lady washington - rmnp

I would also recommend getting a Long, so that you have room for boots, fuel, water, layers, etc. that you want to keep warm at night.

But as mentioned, you will need to try to keep this space filled to prevent a big pocket of air robbing you of some warmth.


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By Graham Johnson
Nov 29, 2012

I am 6' and about 165lbs. I was young and inexperienced when I purchased my long -20 bag - I had visions of exposed bivys and long cold nights with everything I owned stuffed around me. While that happened (mostly due to me being young and inexperienced) I would have been just fine with a regular sized bag - probably even warmer. If you can go into a store and try out a few, that's best. If you can fit comfortably in a regular then go for that.

just my 2 cents


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 29, 2012
Cleo's Needle

Your body will have to heat the extra internal volume. Sleeping bag manufacturers try to reduce the dead space in sleeping bags and you're trying to increase it. Just buy a bag that fits you, all of the extra stuff you want to put in it will still fit.


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By OldManRiver
From Cottonwood Heights, UT
Nov 29, 2012
Red Rock, Cannibal crag

i recommend going large. If you're ever going to have to dry out gear overnight, accommodate a cold dog, get that cocoon feel, etc you'll need the room. Having a bag that doesn't cover your shoulders blows and that can easily happen if you find the perfect fit and move around a bit. Heating a few sq ft of air in an enclosed bag is much more energy efficient than heating earth with exposed shoulders/face/arms, etc. in a snug fitting bag. fo realz


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 29, 2012
Cleo's Needle

OldManRiver wrote:
...accommodate a cold dog...


LOL


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By OldManRiver
From Cottonwood Heights, UT
Nov 29, 2012
Red Rock, Cannibal crag

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
LOL


my dog digs under covers and into sleeping bags. He's a glutton for warmth, I've woken up to him pushing me out of my own sleeping bag from the feet out.


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By ClimbBaja
Nov 29, 2012

Go long. You will need the space to keep boots and water bottle from freezing. The advantages far exceed the small sacrifice of extra weight and bulk in winter/snow camping situations. The exceptions might be planned bivys on a climb or speed/distance trips where you are trying to shave ounces from your pack.

Pay attention to what OldManRiver wrote, he's right.

Btw, there is little standardization of the temperature ratings. The rating is whatever the manufacturer decides to label it. In my experience, you will want a bag that is rated for temps 10 less than you anticipate in your environment. In other words, if you expect temps of zero, then purchase a bag rated to -10. For women, make that 15 to 20. That formula assumes that you are in a tent or out of the wind.

A bigger question than regular vs. long length, is down vs. synthetic.
Have you resolved that one?


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By sarahw
Nov 29, 2012

I would not go with the long one. I am 5'1" and froze in all sleeping bags, no matter the temperature or rating until I purchased a Feathered Friends women's bag for people 5'3" and under. A bag must fit you in order to be warm, otherwise you will never be able to heat the dead air space around you. I've noticed this with bags that are too wide as well.

I don't know about all manufacturer's, but my -10deg FF seems to be more spacious than my 20deg FF and I can fit a lot of gear into it. I also put gear along the side of my body.

Maybe you should go to a store and lay in the bag and see what gear you can fit in the bag with you?


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 29, 2012
Cleo's Needle

OldManRiver wrote:
my dog digs under covers and into sleeping bags. He's a glutton for warmth, I've woken up to him pushing me out of my own sleeping bag from the feet out.


We must be thinking about two different kinds of winter climbing.


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By Tom Grummon
From Golden, CO
Nov 29, 2012
Top of Montezuma's Tower

I too would suggest a long (that is after you go to the store and try out some bags just to make sure) You can always fold the extra length under you to reduce the dead space. I am 6' and while I would fit in a regular bag, I like keeping extra layers in the foot of the bag. Also my western mountaineering ultra lite long is only 2oz heavier than the regular.


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