Mountain Project Logo

Sleeping bag suggestions for winter in Rockies


Original Post
Dirt Squirrel · · Golden , co · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 50

Hey all, I'm wondering what temp bag to get for tenting and snow caves here in the Rockies. I was going to go with a zero degree bag and it is going to be used in conjunction with long underwear. Before everybody says, "well it depends... do you sleep hot or cold?" I know there are variables. I have heard and found that a bivy bag will add 10 degrees or so to a bag. What do the hardcore winter nuts take out with them??

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

Most people say zero. Personally I sleep a little colder outside as opposed to a furnace inside so there are some things you can do.

Silk / Fleece weight liner. I use a silk anyways to keep my bags cleaner.
PADS! For cold weather I'll use a 4 season thermarest and one of the fold-able pad
Hot water bottle. Boil that puppy up and throw it at the bottom of your bag.
Eat before sleep - get that metabolism cranking
Hat when sleeping - Must have

The price point for a good down bag will jump up considerably from 0 to the negatives unless you find a good deal. I think I picked up a -20 down pertex EMS one a while back for the mid $200's, but it ain't small.

Andy Spellmeyer · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

My winter setup is a 20* down bag zipped to my GFs 15* down bag, both are on top of their own z-lite foam pad coupled with an Exped Synmat 7. I would probably do away with the foam pads if we had 0* bags but i don't really want to have to buy another set of bags just for winter.

Also, the boiling water inside a nalgene works wonders and stays warm for hours. I usually tuck it between my thighs.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

Most of the time a 10 degree bag is probably fine, but if you're going to buy one a 0 is probably the way to go, that's what I always use. I also sleep a bit colder than some so a 0 with a good inflatable insulated pad works great for me.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Ryan Hamilton wrote:Most of the time a 10 degree bag is probably fine, but if you're going to buy one a 0 is probably the way to go, that's what I always use. I also sleep a bit colder than some so a 0 with a good inflatable insulated pad works great for me.
Those new pads are pretty awesome. Makes me think it's time to upgrade.
Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
Scott McMahon wrote: Those new pads are pretty awesome. Makes me think it's time to upgrade.
Western Mountaineering Antelope or Lynx (if you sleep really cold). The most loft of any down in the industry (consistently tests 1000+), hand crafted construction, and they only use molted down which most if not all others, use down that's a byproduct of the food industry. But like everyone else said make sure you have a nice insulated pad first.
Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183

Some of the insulated pads aren't even that pricey. I have a pair (one for myself and one for the wife) of Big Agnes Air Core Insulated pads that work great. Not the lightest pads out there, but lighter and smaller than a comparable Ridgerest or self-inflating Thermarest.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

If possible, try to get a synthetic bag over down as it's gonna get real wet from condensation. I'd focus more on the pad you're sleeping on top of than the sleeping bag itself.

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
eli poss wrote:If possible, try to get a synthetic bag over down as it's gonna get real wet from condensation.
OP, I'd largely ignore this advice a little condensation won't wreck a quality down bag plus the weight savings, packability, and warmth outweigh this consideration unless you are camping in the PNW maybe.
Nat D · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 765

Being from the PNW I still choose down. It isn't so much where you are, once you get cold enough to need a 0 degree bag, the climate is the same.....cold.

Modern fabrics (the pertex family, gore windstopper, etc) will keep tent condensation out well enough. Your habits are what matters. My main advice is: Don't jump into the sack as soon as you stop for the day. Hang out a bit if the weather allows, let yourself settle down a bit and dry out your base layers while wearing them for a little while before you get in your bag. You want as little sweat as possible in your clothes and your skin before getting in.

Leave wet items out of the tent unless you really need to dry them out overnight.

There's tons of great 0 to -10 bags out there, look for a good deal.

Karl Henize · · June Lake, CA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 570

I have used a -7 C / 20 F rated down sleeping bag down to -30 C / -22 F, and haven't wished to buy a warmer sleeping bag (as long as the bag remains dry), although I do occasionally wish for a less-warm sleeping bag.

But keep in mind, that I wear puffy expedition booties, pants, and parka made with 60g to 200g synthetic fill, when sleeping at temperatures colder than -10 C. If I wanted to push down to -40 C/F, I would probably have to resort to other tricks like using chemical handwarmers or hot water bottles.

Clint White aka Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 158
Karl Henize wrote:I have used a -7 C / 20 F rated down sleeping bag down to -30 C / -22 F, and haven't wished to buy a warmer sleeping bag (as long as the bag remains dry), although I do occasionally wish for a less-warm sleeping bag. But keep in mind, that I wear puffy expedition booties, pants, and parka made with 60g to 200g synthetic fill, when sleeping at temperatures colder than -10 C. If I wanted to push down to -40 C/F, I would probably have to resort to other tricks like using chemical handwarmers or hot water bottles.
What Karl does is a great way to carry less weight. I have used my 4C/40F down summer bag down beyond 0C/32F by wearing a light down hood and my base layer/socks. Same deal with my -10C/15F down bag near the -17C/0F. Read the Mammut detail on down and comfort ratings. Bags are not rated using the same standards. They changed their site, so I couldn't find the old info. Still some good stuff here:
mammut.ch/US/en_US/know-how…

A 0F bag should be more than enough for survival when combined with your layers in anything Rockies. Comfort when sleeping and how that relates to your ability to perform the next day needs to be considered.

A buff to cover the mouth and nose always helps too.
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

I just bought the new Patagonia Hybrid sleeping bag for this same reason. I always have a warm puffy coat with me, that I never wear when sleeping. I might as well save some weight and space and use the coat to sleep in.
patagonia.com/product/hybri…

Could be awesome, could be meh... I'll find out soon.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Ryan, post up a review once you have the chance to use your new bag!

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20
Nick Sweeney wrote:Ryan, post up a review once you have the chance to use your new bag!
Will do.
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Ryan Hamilton wrote:I just bought the new Patagonia Hybrid sleeping bag for this same reason. I always have a warm puffy coat with me, that I never wear when sleeping. I might as well save some weight and space and use the coat to sleep in. patagonia.com/product/hybri… Could be awesome, could be meh... I'll find out soon.
Sorry maybe I'm dating myself, but isn't that a half (technically 3/4's) bag just with a new name of "hybrid"?

Been around as long as cake. :o)
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20
Scott McMahon wrote: Sorry maybe I'm dating myself, but isn't that a half (technically 3/4's) bag just with a new name of "hybrid"? Been around as long as cake. :o)
Yes. I don't think they are taking credit for the idea. It's just a new sleeping bag with updated materials and design. Though, I'm not sure I've ever seen one with the upper half (quarter?) made of gore-tex type material to encapsulate the entire body and contain all of the heat.
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Ryan Hamilton wrote:Though, I'm not sure I've ever seen one with the upper half (quarter?) made of gore-tex type material to encapsulate the entire body and contain all of the heat.
Now that's a pretty solid idea. wonder what the weight comparison would be between that or a fully bivy sack.
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20
Scott McMahon wrote: Now that's a pretty solid idea. wonder what the weight comparison would be between that or a fully bivy sack.
The whole thing is only 17.3 oz. so it's pretty light. Probably a half pound more than a typical light bivy sack. Seems worthwhile, plus you'll be a lot more comfortable.
Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183
Ryan Hamilton wrote: Yes. I don't think they are taking credit for the idea. It's just a new sleeping bag with updated materials and design. Though, I'm not sure I've ever seen one with the upper half (quarter?) made of gore-tex type material to encapsulate the entire body and contain all of the heat.
The upper bit doesn't have a waterproof/breathable membrane though, basically just a windshell (I'd imagine same or similar fabric as the Houdini).
Dirt Squirrel · · Golden , co · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 50

Yeah, I'd be curious about the half bag... like if it's warm enough.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply