OUTDOOR GEAR: I Call BS on All Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

This is about what it’s like to sleep in a transit tent in Iraq

About 4 or so years ago I was working on a gig in Iraq where I had to fly and drive to FOB’s* all around the country and stay in tents, empty buildings, transit housing and even the great outdoors. But the majority of times I ended up in a transit tent on the ass end of the base.

After spending a about a month freezing my ass off in the tents (believe it or not the AC in transit tents in Iraq is freezing) with no blanket (on some FOB’s they have 9 to 5 billeting or they don’t give linen to transient folks) I got smart and started lugging 2 furry-ass hajji blankets around with me base to base.

The problem was the 2 hajji blankets I had took up way too much space (everything I used I had to shove in a ruck) and were a bit heavy, so I decided it was time for my ass to get a real sleeping bag. It had been about 15 years since I last bought a sleeping bag so I really didn’t have a point of reference when looking for one. I basically needed one that was light and took up very little space.

I spotted an ad for a sleeping bag that was rated to 40 F and rolled-up into a pretty small package, I knew it didn’t get anywhere that cold in a tent (probably no colder than 60 F) so I ordered one up. When it arrived I was all too happy that I wouldn’t have to lug my furry bright red hajji blankets around with me anymore.

And luckily for me the day it arrived I ended up going on mission that same night to a FOB where I knew I would be staying in a cold ass tent.

After arriving and settling in the tent I jumped in my brand new 40 F rated sleeping bag expecting a nice warm night’s sleep. Well I still ended up freezing my ass off, not as bad as before but I still couldn’t sleep worth a shit (a combination of anger and cold). My cheap ass hajji blankets kept me warmer than that bag.

40 F rated my ass

So after spending another 20 bucks X2 on hajji blankets I managed to hop on a computer and look for another sleeping bag. This time I was smarter about my purchase, I bought a real full-size “extreme weather” sleeping bag that was rated to 25 F, figuring that I would sacrifice space over comfort.

Confident that my “extreme” sleeping bag would keep me warm I again left my hajji blankets behind on my next mission and rolled-up my brand new big-ass sleeping bag and strapped it to my pack like an 1800’s British adventurer and hopped in a Hummer.

And again I was cold that night, not freezing like before, but still not completely comfortable – and to add insult to injury the bag was so tight I couldn’t even roll over wile inside it. So not only was I chilly – I had to sleep like I was a fucking mummy with my legs stretched out lying on my back the whole night looking like an idiot.

At this point I was pretty damn furious, not only had I spent like 500 bucks on sleeping bags with BS cold ratings that didn’t keep me as warm as two 20 dollar hajji blankets, I was pretty fucking tired.

All I could think was “how in the hell do they rate these sleeping bags, by using a midget wearing 3 layers of thermal underwear in them?”

“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” – needless to say I didn’t buy another sleeping bag, I ended up just going back to lugging around my 2 hajji blankets for the next year.

Anyway, fuck a bunch of lying-ass sleeping bag companies.

This is where all sleeping bag manufacturers can go

* Forward Operating Base, basically a small to medium sized military base

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~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and kicking kittens.

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50 thoughts on “OUTDOOR GEAR: I Call BS on All Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings”

  1. Bags are rated for outside temperature when the user is inside a cabin with a huge wood stove roaring. Same rating system used on insulated boots so that you can be confident that your toes will be completely frozen within moments (unless you’re in the cabin).
    James, well done!

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  2. Unfortunately, the rating of sleeping bags is a bit misleading – the temperature quoted is often one that’s meant to tell you what temperature the sleeping bag will keep you alive to – not what’s comfortable. Some of the more legitimate companies provide several temp ratings – comfort rating, and then survival ratings for males and females.

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  3. The current and 90s army issued ones are the best sleeping bags of all time. Fuck the rest.

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  4. i carry a wiggy brand poncho liner and sleeping bag – rated to 0 degrees.
    tho, i can / will still freeze my ass off in below zero temps.

    last december in montana I slept out a -10 F using 3 bags – a light summer weight, a cheap walmart bag, and an army patrol bag in combo.

    the only problem was that my sweat kept freezing in the sleeping bags and I was forced to beat the frost out of them daily.

    Remember that insulating yourself from the ground is very important.

    If you sleep in a tent with a heater tho, i dont see the problem with just using one of those haji “mink” blankets.

    tomahawk

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    1. Good discourse there Tom

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      1. So cute! My cats feel the same way about our Roomba. I’m visiting your blog from yokdnagultboous.wordpress.com. You’ve won the book giveaway! Send me an email with your details: youngadultrocks [at]gmail [dot] com.

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  5. Those mink blankets not keeping you warm ain’t the problem…. they are just too bulky. If you are a fobbit, they are great. If you have to move a bunch, they fricken suck. My favorite is the one with the wolf on it. Classy. As far as sleeping bags go, the el cheapo ones have done me fine for years.

    D

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  6. Yep – the mink blankets were the ones I was lugging around (2)

    I guess I should have gotten a 0 bag like Tomahawk – well, too late now

    I still think the temp ratings are just straight-up fraud on the part of sleeping bag manufacturers

    @ Dusty – I currently have the red flower one

    ~James G

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  7. Before tour I bought a bag from MEC (www.mec.ca); it was good enough to keep me toasty up to 1400m elevation during winter in Zhari Province. Not anything extreme, but I had a fairly lightweight bag, and MEC makes ones that are rated for plenty colder so maybe it’s worth checking their site out before your next trip.

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  8. I wouldn’t bother using anything but Wiggy’s. I’ve had some other brands and most of their ratings aren’t even close. I have slept in -17F temps in a tent with a solid 16″ of snow on the ground – and with the wiggy’s superlight (0F) + the wiggy’s overbag (40F rating) zipped in, I was snug as a bug in a rug.

    Wiggy’s uses a solid, continuous polyester fill that does not contain seams around the bag (except for the zipper, but the draft tube covers that area) – it’s the only one warranted to maintain its loft after machine washing it. In my experience, they don’t really maintain their loft relative to new as the years go by, but they still retain most of it – it’s the loft (thickness of barrier) that keeps your body heat in.

    I don’t work for Wiggy’s – I just appreciate a quality product.

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  9. @ James G,

    Info on sleeping bags and what the ratings actually mean.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_bag

    There is a push on now to standardize the ratings for all sleeping bags, there is a fairly accurate matrix online, but it was developed in Europe, and Western manufacturers don’t like it, yet have to come up with anything accurate or meaningful of / on their own.

    Try using a sleeping pad, such as the ProLite 3, underneath the blankets and on the cot, or, get off the cot, place the mattress on the floor and sleep on top of that.

    Or ….. tell me how tall you are and we’ll let you trial an AESS or AESS-E for 90 days and if you like it and agree to tell us and others the results from sleeping in it (minimum 12 times), we’ll let you keep it for free.

    Our sleep systems can be used with the frame erected or in a lay-flat configuration. A 10C (50F) rated sleeping bag in our shelter is good to -20C (-4F). In summer conditions, you really don’t even a sleeping at all, and unless the ground is really shitty, or you’re prone to cold spotting, a mattress is not required as well.

    And if you’re not interested maybe someone else might be, but we only have one available for T&E at this time.

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  10. The guys at REI told me that the temperature rating was subjective (duh) but that the “testing standard” was someone wearing one layer of thermal underwear while sleeping in the bag. If they were “comfortable” in a refrigerated room set at 40° then that was where they rated the bag.

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  11. I learned this the hard way in Iraq, just like you. Sleeping bag temp ratings are so subjective that they should just rate them either “cold as fuck” or “hotter than hell” – if you’re going to be cold as fuck, you buy the cold as fuck bag (and vice versa). I did like the Army’s multi-component sleep system, though I’m not sure if it still exists. There was an intermediate bag and a “holy christ my balls just melted” bag. The two together worked pretty well. And there was also a gore-tex bivy sack. I never used that, though. Anyway, I’m going to now climb into a $300 20-degree-rated sleeping bag and freeze my ass off because of the portable AC. I’ll end up using a polartec blanket to keep my ass warm.

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  12. I’ve been using the same North Face mummy bag for over 10yrs. I did get it before they sold out, so the quality is definitely better than what you’ll find now. But, nonetheless it was rated to 20*, and I’ve used it in a tent with a sleeping pad on the Appalachian trail in NH in fall with great success.

    I’ve been looking into one of these… Look interesting…

    http://www.lippiselkbag.co.uk/

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  13. quit sleeping in the nude James…that mite help

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  14. James G, you are right. We test our bags and to get the same wonderful ratings as our competitors our bags end up being much heavier and bulkier. The bulk and weight comes from two things….we don’t lie about the performance and we cut them bigger for comfort.

    To be honest it hurts my sales as the customers who buy on specifications look at the weight, and the temperature ratings only. I know this because I spend a lot time trying to explain why our competitors bags are cheaper, lighter, and have better ratings.

    The only guys I believe that are not bullshitting are:

    Drop Zone
    Kifaru
    Wiggys

    Kindest Regards
    Brian Kroon

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  15. Sleeping bags are designed to be slept in either in the nude or in your boxers. If you are wearing clothes in your sleeping bag the insulation wont work properly and you’ll freeze. I’ve learned that the hard way in the mountains of Afghanistan.

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  16. Sleeping bags are designed to be slept in either in the nude or in your boxers. If you are wearing clothes in your sleeping bag the insulation wont work properly and you’ll freeze. I’ve learned that the hard way in the mountains of Afghanistan.  

    huh?? having spent countless nights in the extreme cold, i have never found this to be true.

    the more you have on to insulate yourself from the cold – the better.

    sleeping nude is a myth, but if you say you do it, that is fine with me.

    tomahawk

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  17. James, what was underneath you as you “slept”? Even if you’re lying on a cot instead of the ground, if its cold in the tent then you will need a noncompressible layer underneath you regardless of the bag used. Just a simple foam pad will make a world of difference.

    If you were using a pad underneath a 25 deg bag and you were still cold in a tent… then yeah, the bag sux.

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  18. @ Bryan Kroon – I checked out the Drop Zone Tactical site and I found your page on sleeping bags, damn great info on sleeping bags you have there. I wish I saw that before my Iraq sleeping bag fiasco.

    Check it out guys, great Sleeping Bag info from Drop Zone Tactical (and some cool gear):

    http://www.dropzonetactical.com/sleepingbags/sb-info.html

    @ LeakyBandage – I was on a canvas cot, didn’t use a pad, mostly due to packing space. If I had to carry a full sized sleeping bag and a mat that would have defeated the purpose of buying a sleeping bag over lugging 2 hajji blankets – I was trying to have a single piece sleep system. Thanks for the info.

    @ Everyone – thanks for all the comments and info (and humor)

    ~James G

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  19. Kifaru bags are really good (if you want to splash some cash). I carry around an old army blanket and a sleeping bag when I’m out in it.

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  20. As long as you’re in a tight unit and not afraid to catch “the gay”, extreme temperatures can be cured by zipping two bags together and using your battle-buddy as a radiator (get a big fat bastard, they’re warmer). Learnt this the hard way just south of the Arctic circle (Skorp, if you’re reading this, I love you man!).

    However, when using sleeping bags one needs to think about basic physics. The bag insulates by trapping warm air between fibers (artificial or down/feathers). If the bag is compressed (usually by one’s own fat ass pressing it onto the cot/ground) the bag will not insulate and you will freeze your nuts off. To alleviate these problems one uses a foam pad which will not only give you some softness against rocks & twigs but also insulate your ass from the elements. Using a sleeping bad without ground/cot insulation is like wearing winter boots without soles (stupid).

    Great blog but I call BS on your winter skills! ^^

    /Lew, certified for Arctic Ops by the Swedish army.

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  21. A great post about what has been a problem in the civilian camping/hiking gear market for years. One suggestion (other than spending boatloads of cash buying one of everything) is to find a manufacturer whose gear you like and then figure out the BS factor of their rating system, e.g. “always add 25 degrees.” If they’re exaggerating, at least you’ll know by how much and you can adjust accordingly. But there is no free lunch, unless you are using vapor barriers (which have their own issues), you need volume and mass to keep warm.

    +1 on using sleeping pads. I thought they were for pussies for a long time. “Real men sleep on the cold, hard ground; roots and rock don’t bother them.” Then I spent a week in SE Alaska (during the summer), sleeping on a glacier. Nothing like sleeping on a slab of ice to make you realize the limitations of puffy insulation when it’s compressed by your body weight.

    When I got out of the Army, after spending far too many nights shivering in my woobie, I vowed to never sleep cold in the woods again. I bought a -40 (the coldest rating I could find) Sierra Designs synthetic bag, size long, with a zip-in expander to avoid the “Mummy’s Tomb” effect. It’s big as a house, and warm as hell. I’ve used it in winters in Minnesota, the Wasatch and Maine, and I’ve had no problems with “sleeping cold”. Getting out of the bag in the morning to face the cold is a different issue, of course.

    To tame the volume problem, compression sacks can’t be beat. They’re hard on the insulation (squishing it down like that ultimately destroys the loft), but can dramatically reduce size. There are inflatable sleeping pads that get really small (close to 1 qt canteen size), available too. Packing up in the morning can be a pain, but it might be worth the time to have gotten a good night’s sleep.

    I haven’t tried their sleeping bags yet (dtrain isn’t kidding about cost), but I’ve used the Kifaru Woobie, and it’s awesome. I’m considering getting a Kifaru sleep system, because I really like the idea of being able to add or drop insulation on a single bag rather than having a closet full of differently rated bags.

    Unless you’re sharing a bag with someone you want to get to know better, there is no reason to sleep nude in a sleeping bag in the cold. Insulation and layering will always keep you warmer than not.

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  22. To all you guys saying sleeping in the nude is BS, have you ever tried it? If I know I’m not going to have to jump up in a hurry I go down to boxers, maybe a tshirt and balaclava if it’s a lil drafty and am always waay more comfortable. Your clothes absorb moisture, even if you weren’t sweating too much that day. This moisture becomes your enemy at night. YMMV I guess but that’s how I roll.

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  23. Get a poncho liner. They aren’t expensive and they pack small. You can wrap up in that inside just about any sleeping bag and be reasonably comfortable. Even in the bitterest winter campouts here in the Hoosier State, I’ve not been uncomfortably cold with my woobie and a milsurp mummy bag.

    It’s all about layers

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  24. what is a “woobie”???

    tomahawk

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  25. word up dawg! sleeping nude is a bunch of BS – it is all about layers.

    tomahawk

    To all you guys saying sleeping in the nude is BS, have you ever tried it? If I know I’m not going to have to jump up in a hurry I go down to boxers, maybe a tshirt and balaclava if it’s a lil drafty and am always waay more comfortable. Your clothes absorb moisture, even if you weren’t sweating too much that day. This moisture becomes your enemy at night. YMMV I guess but that’s how I roll.  

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  26. @ Tomahawk,

    If you’re using old technology, then yes, layers matter, and the answer is “True”.

    But if you’re using bio-mechanical technology, then layers do not matter, andthe answer is “False”.

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  27. Notice James did not deny sleeping in the nude……gay
    Man up and wear your undies in the rack.

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  28. I picked up a couple mummy bags a while ago and they’re rated to about 20F. Knowing that the ratings are complete bull based on previous experience, I’ve learned a few things.

    - I always carry an emergency blanket as a wrap around inside the bag.
    - I ALWAYS carry a thin silk liner to wrap around the emergency blanket.
    - I always carry some sort of liner to lay on the ground, usually a poncho or poncho liner.

    Putting the liner on the ground (or between me and the hammock), and then lining the silk liner with the emergency blanket gives one hell of a good layering system for inside the mummy bag. I make sure I get the ‘big boy’ bags so that there’s plenty of room inside no matter what I’m wearing. I also usually end up carrying a huge garbage bag in case things get a bit wet.

    Haven’t had a wet or cold night yet.

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  29. @Tomahawk – woobie=poncho liner.

    @Norm W – I too always carry a “space blanket” with me. One of the best ones out there are the USGI “Casualty Blanket”. It’s a thick, rip-stop mylar blanket that is OD in color on the outside. Packs down pretty small and they last forever.

    If you’re sleeping on a cot, it’s the same affect that causes bridges to ice over before the main road. The air is able to circulate under the bridge and reduce the temperature through convection. That’s why one should use an insulating mattress on a cot in cold conditions too.

    I’ve been using a Big Agnes Lost Ranger sleeping bag for several years now. It’s the best sleeping bag I’ve ever used, and I’ve used a lot of them. The cool thing about BA sleeping bags is that they don’t have any insulation on the bottom, it’s all on the top and sides. They use an insulated air mattress on the bottom. My bag and mattress are rated to 25 degrees F. I would say that this is very accurate. I have slept in hammocks, in the S. TX winter, in this sleeping system very comfortably. My bag is a mix of goose down and synthetic insulation, it compresses very well and regains it’s loft quickly. They make both rectangular and mummy bags (with corresponding shaped mattress’), synthetic and down insulation and different versions for women too. This bag is the only one that I have used that allows me to sleep on my side, just like at home. Very comfortable, I highly recommend Big Agnes sleeping bags.

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    1. impressionner les me9nage8re9s d Achrafieh ?? hahhaa !! Il a essaye9 de se faire entendre aupre8s des femmes de me9nages incultes de Banlieue , mais elles ont une vision biaise9e entre deux voiles superpose9s, et pas beaucoup de temps non plus e0 consacrer e0 la lecture d un quotidien (diabolique) francophone entre deux poubelles e0 vider Sukleen n e9tant pas admis dans leurs re9gions qui bouillonne de cultures diverses et varie9es en e9prouvettes.Ma visite me9dicale prend fin. c0 dans quelques mois, pour le prochain bulletin sante9. S il est encore possible d en e9mettre un.

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  30. “Fuck a bunch of lying-ass sleeping bag companies” – That is my new quote of the day.

    Two other options are to sleep with fat chicks (which may be difficult as even fat chicks have standards) or wear a watch cap and down booties

    The addition of a fat chick adds 10 degrees if she is sleeping on your side and 25 degrees if she is on top of you.

    The addition of a Watch Cap and Down Booties raises your comfort level by 15 degrees and has the added advantage of not asking for your email address, phone number and facebook page in the morning.

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  31. As long as you’re in a tight unit and not afraid to catch “the gay”, extreme temperatures can be cured by zipping two bags together and using your battle-buddy as a radiator

    Great blog but I call BS on your winter skills!

    @ Lew – I would be the stubborn guy who freezes to death because he refused to hop in a sack with another naked man, I will never spoon naked with a man – I would rather die

    My winter wilderness winter skills are a bit rusty, back when I was a kid I used to camp out during the winter in Virginia all the time. The bag I used then was bag was way warm (I also slept in a tent) – I wish I knew the brand I used back then because it fucking rocked.

    Notice James did not deny sleeping in the nude……gayMan up and wear your undies in the rack

    I only sleep in the nude if I have the company of a gal or I really hate my hoochmate

    @ SPACE BLANKETS – they are ok for an emergency, but they are too fragile to use over and over again. They are also loud and sweat more than a fat guy in Iraq.

    @ Mike – Negative on the fat chicks, would rather freeze. James G. doesn’t roll like that, only beautiful thin gals are allowed entrance to my bag.

    @ EVERYONE – thanks for all of the great info and advice, good and funny stuff

    I am currently in a cold ass tent wearing a watch-cap under my Hajji blankets – Whooo-Hooo! (I feel like crying)

    ~James G

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  32. Three things to make life easier for under 50 bucks each:

    http://www.milldirecttextiles.com/throws.asp (see the “Army Green” and “Foliage Green” ones specifically at the bottom. Both are AMAZING and retardedly cheap!)

    Snuggies. Fuck you all. They work in a bag and pack light! (Get the leopard one for extra tactical sneakiness)

    Thermarest ground mats. Something to keep your body directly off the ground. Not the most compact, but you can save yourself a ton of discomfort if you can pack one.

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  33. Two words: ponch liner. If your still cold, three words: two poncho liners.

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  34. A multicam bag would most definitely keep you warm. It’s insulated with the kittens James keeps killing.

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  35. @James G:
    Dude, I’ve never slept buck naked in a sleeping bag. Damn, those bags were older than I care to know and had probarbly been used by some nasty in-bred SOB from the province of Västerbotten (don’t ask). That nonwithstanding it had a temp rating of FA, but with some layers and my also half-dressed buddy Skorp (night thermals, dude) we survived the winter.

    Another tip to keep the heat in your sleeping bag is to fill a plastic bottle (preferrably plastic canteen or Nalgene) with warm water (60-70 degrees C). Stick the bottle* in a couple of wool socks like those yo’ nana knits and and dump it at the foot end of your sleeping bag. It will keep you a bit armer through the night (especially your feet which are susceptable to frostbite even in a sleepingbag and with socks) and when you wake up you have water to drink which will be at about 18 degrees C (great when it’s flippin cold out).

    *And of course you should only use clean socks and close the bottle.

    Remember; don’t eat that yellow snow!

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  36. The thing about “doss bags” is that they’re designed to capture air and create a micro-climate. Keeping you nice and warm

    The first thing that happens when you crawl into your maggot is that you immediately compress the half you’re lying on and start conducting your body heat to the ground/pallet you’re lying on. Doesn’t matter a flying fuck if the bag is rated for the surface of the moon, you’re going to lose heat.

    So you really need some form of insulation. Use a standard roll matt cut big enough so that it fits across your shoulders to your lower back. This should fit easily into a back pack pocket when folded and formed into a tube. Use it inside the “gonk bag” so you don’t slide off it during the night.

    The other thing about sleeping bags is that if you need to punch out in a hurry, this is the time that the zipper always get stuck.

    Not sure if I need to mention it, but I will anyway. Keep away from down/feather sleeping bags. Go for bonded hollow fibre. The hollow fibres trap more air and being bonded means that the insulation doesn’t need to be pocketed. This avoids cold spots as there is no sewing and compression at the pocket boundaries.

    Finally, think about going for a two piece cold suit (http://www.unleashed-tactical.co.uk/2010/01/unleashed-charon-cold-weather-suit.html) with optional “bootees”. Use it in conjunction with a poncho or shelter sheet and the cut roll matt its good down to the low numbers of mercury.

    This last option totally avoids any potential for gay-ness or flesh on flesh and has the added benefit if you need to bomb-burst away you’re already dressed.

    Pitch.

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  37. Proper layering is everything to stay comfortable in a bag (whether its being naked or layered up) I agree the rating for sleeping bags is complete BS. This is ontop of the fact that different people have different comfort levels for different temperatures (cold sleepers vs. warm sleepers) its hard to create an international system that works for everyone.

    If your still looking for a good bag, check out:
    http://www.montbell.us/
    http://www.westernmountaineering.com/

    good luck.

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  38. i have been sleeping outside for over 40 years so I guess I have used both old and new technology in regard to sleeping gear.

    sleeping in the nude is BS with either type of gear.

    tell you what, come to montana in january, Ill give you a zero degree wiggy and you can sleep naked, ill use the same bag and keep my clothing on – we will see who stays warm.

    tomahawk

    @ Tomahawk,If you’re using old technology, then yes, layers matter, and the answer is “True”.
    But if you’re using bio-mechanical technology, then layers do not matter, andthe answer is “False”.  

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  39. Soooo fucking true.

    I do a lot of high altitude backpacking and hiking with a bag rated 20 degrees and it doesn’t mean shit. At 40 I have to curl up in a ball and shiver for the rest of the night.

    Great article.

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  40. For 700 bucks, you could have got one of these no-nonsense Swedish-made sleeping bags….. http://www.klattermusen.se/produkt.php?lang=EN&curr=EUR&id=54&modell=Unisex&produktGrupp=Varmande&produktKategori=Sovs%E4ck

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  41. I got a pair of the Wiggy’s desert camo poncho liners several years back and one became my house blanket/fulltime woobie… possibly the best $17 i ever spent. Before that I scored a set of Ecotat sleeping bags on ebay, which were made by Wiggy’s for Ecotat. They served me well for several years and will again this winter I presume. The ones I have are like the brown ones in the picture here: http://soldiersystems.net/2009/09/28/ecotat-multi-purpose-sleeping-bags/ On cold mornings being able to unzip the bag and walk around with your head through the hole and snuggled in it is priceless. I didn’t pay much for mine but I’d pay a small fortune for another set if i ever lost them.
    -bill

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  42. @James

    There’s a lot of good bags out there, but as so many others have suggested, try Wiggy’s. You can get them in XL (extra long), XW (extra wide) and XLXW (Both). We’ve all got Wiggy’s bags and poncho liners for our gear and they are about the truest to their temp ratings as any I’ve seen.

    I’ve got an older Ultima Thule model 20 degree bag that’s a hand me down from dad and my older brother, but it’s in great shape, gets used a LOT, it’s warm and at over 10 years old it’s durable as all hell.

    We were doing some winter hiking during Xmas break in Vermont and got stuck in a freezing rain storm. Thick Ice started forming on the trees and all of us were soaked to the skin, even with our Gortex. Shivering so bad we could hardly set up the tents and so wet to the skin we had to strip down to bare skin, towel off with a pac-towel and climb straight into the sleeping bags. It was down into the single digits according to dad’s clip on thermometer, but within minutes I was toasty warm in my Wiggy’s bag.

    Also, like others have mentioned, you need some type of pad whether sleeping on the ground or on a cot. There’s several very lightweight models from ThermaRest – either self inflating or RidgeRest type that accordian fold.

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  43. I’m with tomahawk, after hundreds of nights outdoors my conclusion is less clothes = more warmth. I think part of this is about sweat. I’ve over heated while wearing clothes in a bag and that means sweat which means wet which leads to cold. Bottom line find the bag and method that works best for you, it just sucks that for many like James it becomes a trial and error exercise.

    huh?? having spent countless nights in the extreme cold, i have never found this to be true.the more you have on to insulate yourself from the cold – the better.sleeping nude is a myth, but if you say you do it, that is fine with me.tomahawk  

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  44. I’ve carried a Wiggy’s desert bag, the smallest Thermarest, and a torso sized foam pad for when the thermarest pops in my travel kit for places that were supposed to supply sleeping gear, but sometimes forget. Amazing amount of warmth for the packed size.

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  45. Wiggy’s -20 Antarctic for wintertime use. I think in that bag the only time I felt warm enough to sleep in the ’08/’09 Afghan winter. Snugpak desert bag was a lifesaver when caught without my big Wiggy’s, but I can’t really say it was warm, just better then a poncho liner. Wear a spare dry set of thermals and a polartech cap to bed and your set. Having blabbed all that I’ll still vote with the guys that said the BEST way to sleep is snuggled up to a pretty lady.

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  46. quit sleeping in the nude James…that mite help

    Actually, you should sleep in the nude in order to get the cocoon effect. If you ware clothes in the sleeping bag you are insulated and your body heat can’t heat up the air in the bag liner.
    Common mistake, but a deadly one if you’re operating in real cold conditions like here in the Nordics at winter.

    So, buy Swedish Haglöfs or similar and sleep in the nude next time.

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  47. something so enlightening for me, and I quote: The Constitution is one of the most awemose documents. It was written by men who had NO idea how much FOR the PEOPLE it would end up being. Their primary goal was to be free to own property and not pay taxes. They didn’t have non-property owning people in mind, they were securing their future as property owners. Throughout history, that document has opened the door for the freedom of slaves, women to vote etc.. This past Tuesday, while in conversation with a colleague, we hit on the constitution. His take is that the constitution opened the door and guarantees an open door for free enterprise. Between his comment and your comment, I think we’re on to something.Blog on!!Thanks, Dan, for starting these conversations that transform.

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