Get Your Ride On!
Make Your Own -20 Degree Sleeping Bag? I need a sleeping bag that can keep me comfortably warm in weather as cold as -20 F. I want to customize it with lining, pockets and such. What material would you recommend and what synthetic filling would you recommend?
I sewwd several sleeping bags back in my 20’s when I was into winter backpacking and mountaineering. You used to be able to buy kits with all the materials to make them from several companies: Frostline, Altra and Holubar were the major manufacturers of these kits. In fact I sewed the ONLY model of kit bag that was available in a minus 20 degree version, the Holubar Ultimate, which contained over 3 pounds of goose down. it was such a ridiculously warm bag I ended up selling it to a guy going on a polar expedition — it was too hot for me too sleep in at any temperature above 0! I found it more useful to use a two bag system consisting of a lightwieght 3 season down mummy bag (rated around 20 degree F above 0) and a second overbag that the mummy goes inside, made of polyester insulation and rated to around 35 degrees. I can use the overbag alone in the summer or on canoeing trips (where you would not want down because it could get wet), use the down bag alone in Spring and Fall, and carry both bags in the Winter. 2 bags like that are easier to carry than one honking big winter bag like you are thinking of making.
Sleeping bag construction is complex. You have to be able to stablize and compartmentalize the insulation so it stays maximally lofted around your body. This is not a simple engineering task in sewing. You can buy the materials you need from Seattle Fabrics (nylon ripstop or taffeta for the shell, down or various types of polyester fill for the insulation and hardware like 6′ two-way zippers and cord locks.) I think they may even still sell patterns to make sleeping bags. Even though I had been sewing for more than 15 years and was an expert seamstress, sewing those sleeping bags was the most difficult and complicated assembly I ever did.
Sleeping out at such low temperatures is a life or death situation. You really need a bag that is designed to keep you reliably warm. Personally I would not risk that with something that I tried to invent myself when there are affordable and well-designed options already available and proven for such conditions. Campmor has many choices in sleeping bags for a range of conditions. You will spend more buying the materials and probably wasting a lot of them tweaking the design than it would cost to buy one already made.
I suggest you buy a bag and then, if you want, sew a liner with the pockets and other features that you want that will fit inside. Many people like the idea of a fuzzy Polartec fabric liner but I can tell you the reason most sleeping bags have slippery nylon lining is that it makes it easier to get in and out of the bag and to move around once you are inside. If you try using linings that are fuzzy, like fleece or flannel, they will stick to your skin and get tangled up when you move around.
Also, as I said, any bag made to keep you warm at 20 below 0 is too hot to sleep in above freezing — my old bag felt like a sauna — hot and sweaty — when I tried using it in milder temperatures. I would have to unzip it and leave a leg hanging out to stay comfortable. When I used to sell sleeping bags we had many customers who made the same mistake (though we would always try to talk them out of it.) They would get cold overnight using some flimsy Walmart bag and decide they needed the “best most expensive” bag. They would buy a polar expedition weight sleeping bag and then discover it was just as miserable to be too hot in it as it was to be chilly in the cheap bag. This is why you should choose a bag for the condition range you are most likely to sleep out in OR do the two bag system like I use.
How Much Down In A Winter Sleeping Bag? I’m going to make a winter sleeping bag and am having trouble finding out how much 800 fill down I should put in the bag. The bag will be around 80″ long and 40″ across at the longest point. It will be a mummy style bag.
I have sewn down sleeping bags in the past and used a number of different bag combinations for winter and mountaineering for over 30 years. A true winter bag (sub-zero rated) typically takes 2 to 3 lbs of high-loft fill. I have a question: first off, did you really mean that your bag would be 40″ wide? 40″ across would be far too wide to be a “mummy bag” and 40″ in circumference is too narrow for anyone but a small child. Also, more important than any volume or weight of down is the design of the shell and baffles which allow the down to expand to create the insulating air space. This is a complex sewing problem. I’m a very skilled seamstress and have designed and built lots of different types of gear but would be very reluctant to do a sleeping bag from scratch (the ones I have sewn were from pre-fab kits from Holubar, Frostline and Altra, all of which are no longer in business.) They were incredibly complicated in construction and assembly.
Are you planning to do this to save money? I think in the long run you will waste money on a project such as this. If you truly plan to sleep outside in the winter you can’t risk bag that won’t keep you warm. Constructing a shell that will maximize loft is really tricky. For around freezing you need at least 4 inches of maintained loft above you. Down to 15 to 20 degrees F you need around 5″or 6″. If you might encounter 0 degrees F or lower, you might need up to 7″ or 8″.
I have a more economical and practical suggestion, one that I have proved in years of winter camping. Buy yourself a moderate temperature rated down mummy bag (rated for around 20 to 25 degrees F). It should weigh around 3 # total or less and stuff down about the size of a large bread loaf. Then buy a slightly larger (tapered rectangular or modified mummy) single-layer polyester fill mild weather bag that will fit OVER the mummy bag. One of these should weigh in at 2 to 3 # and also pack down just slightly larger than the mummy. I have one that doesn’t even have a zipper (to save on weight.) Using 2 bags together has a number of advantages:
1. two small packed bags are easier to pack than one big one (and even a down cold weather bag will be bulky and weigh 4 to 5 # or more)
2. you will be warmer with the down bag inside the fiber bag than in any single down bag.
3. the fiber fill bag will resist moisture and protect the down bag from getting damp from condensation inside the tent –always a danger in the winter.
4. you can tuck clothing between the two bags to add insulation and keep the clothes warmer and dryer.
5. If the weather gets warmer you can wriggle out of the outside bag and lay on top of it with your down bag. Also, a polyfill bag gives you better insulation underneath than a down bag because your weight doesn’t compress the fill as much.
6. The overbag keeps your down bag cleaner, saving drycleaning bills or the wear and tear of machine washing.
7. You will be able to use the poly bag alone in the summer (especially for canoe trips or any time the bag might get soaked) and also as an emergency bivy bag to take on day hikes and summit climbs. You can even use it as a sitting pad in the tent or outside in the snow. You can use the down mummy alone on Spring and Fall trips.
I have used this system for 20 years and much preferred it to lugging my 5 # 6 oz. hand-made down mummy bag on winter trips. That bag was warm, but lacked versatility and was often too warm.
Backpacking Summer Sleeping Bag? Backpacking with low temps being 60-65F should I just pack a pair of thermals for my legs, a fleece and my sleeping mat, or should I tote along my 20F rated sleeping bag. thanks
Well how warm is your 20*F sleeping bag? I use a 30*F sleeping bag, but its lost a lot of its loft so its not a 30F bag anymore. It was a high end bag so its lighter than a lot of the 40 or 50F bags out there and my new 0F sleeping bag is even lighter weight but 10x`s warmer than the older 30F. I would do whatever is comfortable for you. If you check the weather the day before you leave for the week youll be out you can decide to take your 20F and sleep in gym shorts or take a nice wool blanket and sleep in thermals and a fleece.
I dont think we can make this decision for you, do you like to sleep warmer or cooler? You also dont know what the temp will really be until the day before you leave. I`ve been out on summer nights where its in the low 40`s and the next night its in the 70s.
Does Sleeping In A Hammock Require A Warmer Sleeping Bag? Does sleeping in a Hennessy hammock require a warmer sleeping bag than sleeping in a tent?
If I plan on buying a 20F sleeping bag, what is the equivalent in a Hennessy hammock? The 0F sleeping bags are more expensive and heavy, so I’m hoping I don’t have to get something so warm.
Sleeping in a hammock does require a bit more effort to stay warm than sleeping in a tent. A few months ago I purchased a hennessy deluxe with side zip entry and I found out that my butt can get quite cold even on a relatively warm night. I remember the first time I tried sleeping in it I only had a blanket to cover up in because I thought I would be fine. It was only going to get down to the low 70s, but I woke up at 5am freezing my butt off. My whole backside was CHILLED.
I tried buying a heavy queen sized comforter to wrap up in and that worked okay on the warmer evenings, but I still found that my back got cold on the cooler evenings when it got down to the 50s. Come to find out, the blanket loses its insulating properties when compressed – which is why my back got cold. And I’ve read where the same thing happens to sleeping bags.
I’ve since learned that it is best to have a sort of undercover for the hammock with a pad between the undercover and the bottom of the hammock itself to help insulate your back side. I have tried using a space blanket sort of fastened to the bottom of the hammock, but I didn’t notice too much of a difference since I didn’t have anything between the space blanket and the hammock. I am hoping to get an undercover from hennessy and do it up right. With an undercover and a good sleeping bag – I would think you could stay warm down in the 40s – maybe even lower if not much wind.
So I guess it really depends on how cold it’s going to get at night where you’re at. I think you will be fine with just a good sleeping bag as long as you’re in the upper 50s or more. If you’re looking at dealing with some pretty cold weather but don’t want a really bulky sleeping bag – then you will probably need the undercover with pad and space blanket.
Warm Weather Sleeping Bags? I’m going to summer camp this summer and i needed a new sleeping bag last year because mine ripped at the last minute so my mom bought a $10 sleeping bag at menard’s and not to my surprise its already broken. So I need a new one and even thought im not going on trail this year i am next year so i might as well just get a good one this year but id like to spend under $70 so i need some details. Where should i look and i am wondering if i might need to wait until spring to be able to find a warm weather one. I dont want to be ordering online.
Go to a store where they have sleeping bags, all shops that sell outdoor equipment will have them now but just before the summer also many supermarkets and department stores will have them and those are often much cheaper.
Ask the staff of the place for permission to open the packaging before you buy your sleeping bag. If they do not allow it, go to an other store.
Of course, when opened and found to be not broken, you will have to buy that particular sleeping bag, whether you get it re-packed nicely or not.
If it is a proper store you can buy and open just after paying, before leaving the premises and if not alright you return it and can get a refund or a new bag till you have one that is in good condition.
For a summer sleeping bag you should be able to make do with any, if you are in need of a warmer one you need to check the packaging, there will be an indication for the warmth of the bag, three seasons is warmer than summer, 4 seasons is including winter, so warmer again.