9 cozy options for a great sleeping bag

  • By Brett Prettyman The Salt Lake Tribune
  • Friday, May 4, 2012 10:37pm
  • Sports

A lifetime of crawling into sleeping bags for a restful night of camping (at least most of the time) and more than a decade of checking out products at the biannual Outdoor Retailer convention have provided me just enough experience to offer some options when shopping for a bag. So, with the traditional camping season upon us, here’s a look at bags I’d suggest, starting with the model I am now using.

Big Boy Bag

Deer Park 30 from Big Agnes. I’ve been cramming my big shoulders into mummy-style sleeping bags for years. At some point last summer, I opted for comfort with a bag in which I actually could move around. The Deer Park’s rectangular shape and 25-inch width make me feel like I’m alone on a king-size mattress. With 600 fill goose down, the bag is rated for 30 degrees and, weighing 3.1 pounds, is light enough that some will figure the extra comfort is worth a little more weight. The Deer Park also features the brilliant full pad sleeve on the back as part of the Big Agnes Sleeping System. The sleeve holds pads so you don’t roll off during the night. Cost: $249.95. www.bigagnes.com

Family Camping Bag

Timberjack 40 from Slumberjack. If you’re looking for a solid choice for warm-weather car camping excursions, this is the bag. The price is right ($59.99) and the bag is comfortable, featuring a “soft touch” polyester liner, a pillow pocket and a draft tube to keep cold out and heat in along the zipper. The rectangular bags can be zipped together for a double-wide size. If you’re hunting for more warmth, the Timberjack has bags with 20-degree ($69.99) and 0-degree ($79.99) ratings. www.slumberjack.com

Cuddling Couples’ Bag

Supernova 30 3-in-1 from Kelty. Most couples don’t sleep apart at home, so why should they do so while camping? Many sleeping bags can be zipped together to create two-person versions. But companies also are focusing on bags with couples in mind. The Supernova is rated at 30 degrees and can comfortably fit folks up to 6-foot-5. The top of the bag also can be used as its own down bag and the bottom as a blanket. An honorable mention goes to the Bonnie and Clyde bag from Slumberjack. Cost: $299.95. www.kelty.com


Cloud 15 from Sierra Designs. There is significant jump in technology — and cost — between car camping and backpacking bags. Typically, the lighter the weight, the heftier the price. The Cloud 15 packs in 900 fill down, features super lightweight nylon ripstop and registers at 1.12 pounds. The Cloud features vertical baffles to keep down from congregating in certain areas. Backpackers should get a full three-seasons use out of the Cloud. Cost: $499.95. www.sierradesigns.com

Brrrrr Bag

Zissou 0 from Sierra Designs. Cold weather means more than f-r-r-rigid temperatures. Camping in the snow usually means condensation in the tent as well — from heating devices or even breathing. One of the main issues with down is the loss of insulation when it gets wet. Sierra Designs revealed the DriDown technology at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. DriDown, 33 ounces of the 600 fill version, is a vital part of the Zissou 0. Cost: $299. www.sierradesigns.com

Mr. and Mrs. Hardcore Bag

Mtn. Speed 32 from Mountain Hardwear. Imagine a sleeping bag rated at 32 degrees that weighs under a pound. That’s Mountain Hardwear’s Mtn. Speed 32. Tipping the scales at 15.7 ounces, the bag is packed with 850 fill goose down and includes a chambered hood to provide even loft around the head and a “down-filled gasket” to block drafts at the hood. If lightweight is your No. 1 requirement, then Mtn. Speed 32 could top your list. The bag is part of Mountain Hardwear’s Ueli Steck Project to provide the “lightest and most innovative” Alpine climbing equipment in the world. Cost: $400. www.mountainhardwear.com

Hunting Bag

Mountain Trapper 0 from Cabela’s. Not sure why it is, but most hard-core hunters won’t be caught with a down sleeping bag. Must be a tradition. I checked in with the Cabela’s in Lehi, Utah, and the Mountain Trapper is the store’s most popular bag. The Mountain Trapper has a heavyweight 100 percent cotton shell and a brushed cotton flannel lining. The zero-degree rating does not seem to be in question; online reviewers claim to have never become cold in the bag. If you are headed for the hills to hunt this fall and need a bag for your tent, pop-up trailer or camper, the Mountain Trapper is a popular choice. Cost: $99.99. www.cabelas.com

Kids’ Bag

Kindercone from REI. Those cartoon character bags for kids are good for sleepovers and July Fourth backyard camp-outs, but don’t expect them to keep kids warm if the temperatures drop below 50 degrees. The Kindercone comes packed with Thermolite Quallo to provide warmth and padding. There is a pillow pocket sleeve kids can stuff in their jacket for use as a pillow. It also means they will put on a warm jacket in the morning. A chest pocket is roomy enough for a headlamp, watch and glasses. A zipper at the bottom allows for walking around the tent or campground. Comes in different models for boys and girls. Cost: $64.50. www.rei.com

Just For Fun

Selk’bag 4G Lite Kids. I’m not sure that even as a kid I could get comfortable with legs separated in a sleeping bag, but Selk’bags will sure make your youngster popular at sleepovers. The bags are rated at 45 degrees and would be good for keeping kids warm around camp during early-morning breakfasts or for those cold winter days at home. Don’t worry, the soles on the bag are reinforced nylon to tolerate walking and are designed to provide some traction. Adult sizes are also available. Cost: $79. www.selkbagusa.com

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