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What sleeping bag and other gear to buy

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by razorsdescent, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. razorsdescent


    Jan 16, 2005
    This is kind of a follow-up to my tent post. Im getitng out of the army in about 6 1/2 months which is less than 2 months after i return from afghanistan.

    I am purchasing all my outdoors gear before i ETS because as soon as i get out i am going to go hiking in washington state with one of my best friends before he goes to alaska to try his hand at being a fisherman there (why he wants to do this i dont know but he seems adiment about it) and following that im oging to go down the colorado river with my father (we havent spent more than a few hours together in literally 5 years) and following that i intend to be spending alot of time outdoors doing things like camping hiking and rock climbing. So im assembling alot of quality gear at once and i can afford it because ive been saving money for the entire deployment.

    Ive already got enough packs, and i just got two tents so now on to other gear.

    First and foremost is a sleeping bag and bivy cover. I would like a bag that is able to go to -20 or lower but still be fairly packable, ive been thinking of getting akifaru bag and pairing it with one of their woobies but it would it end up being quite expensive, but then again maybe that is okay.

    So id apreciate anyone who has sleeping bag suggestions or suggestions for any other gear that is essential for hiking and long term back packing.
  2. spoolup


    Apr 27, 2007
    I own 8 wiggys bags, or 4 of the FRTSS sets. A superlight, and ultra light, and 2 sets of the superlight hunter with hoods (regtangular bags with hoods) that the girls use. There are lighter and smaller options out there, but I for one, do not like down bags, we get speratic rains and such in the high uintahs so I prefure a synthetic bag. I have gone down to the temp rating on the superlight and ultralight with just a smartwool base layer, Tadgear merino watch cap, and smartwool socks with no issues and been fine. I highly recommmend them, more so if you have a big enough bag to carry them. But just bear in mind they are like your MSS, which is bulky and kind of heavy. I also usually pack a Woobie that takes up 0 room in my pack since its the last thing I pack and use it to stuff in the little dead voids, it can also be used as a outter or inner liner to help when temps drop below what I anticiate, only needed it once, last elk hunt. But its great to use when waiting for the 4 legged critters to come by in the late evening or morning as well.

    As for bags. I have several Kifaru bags as well. Koala, E&E, Molle Ex, ZXR and EMR, as well as a varity of pockets and pouches and pullouts. I am not dissapointed with any. Great products, but price has gone up, and there is a delay between purchase and delivery, more so on shelters and newer products. I also own 2 shelters, well 1 now and the 2nd is on its way in a week or two. I have a supertarp with annex and small stove and 6man with med stove on its way. The supertarp has been out several times with me and I love it, packs into a soda can size and is "roomy" inside. The down side is its a single wall tent so it can lead to moisture build up inside... another reason for synthetic bags.

    I do have a few USGI bivys, but really do not prefure to use them in heavy rain due to you feeling like your have a garbage bag over your head, or during the start of bug season since its hard to keep mosquitos out, but they do work. Your results may vary.

    Good luck on your hunt for gear and thank yor for serving our great nation. I for one am greatfull.
  3. Lawlor69


    Jan 3, 2007
    I will let more experienced outdoorsmen offer up gear selection, but I will offer up my well wishing for your safe return.
  4. razorsdescent


    Jan 16, 2005

    I already have two kifaru packs (2 of the g1 zxr's) and and 2 eberlestock packs (1 half track which i use in afghanistan and a dragonfly which i use for alot of stuff since it can conceal my shotgun and still haul a rediculous amount of stuff).

    My big thing right now is getting a sleep system and then i guess ill go to cooking stuff. so any suggestions are really apreciated.
  5. PayetteRucker


    Aug 4, 2009
  6. Bernoulli


    Jun 15, 2007
    I second Wiggy's for bags.
  7. HandofCod


    Feb 27, 2010
  8. PropThePolecat


    Jan 31, 2009
    Other gear might include a decent waterfilter. Katadyn and MSR both make good ones.

    Some cooking-gear ie. pots, kettle or pans, which are as lightweight as you can afford, Aluminium is good and affordable, titanuim is excellent but expensive.

    A small stove too, multifuel is a plus if youre considering serious wintercamping but gas will do for everything else. The MSR Pocket Rocket is real popular.

    Quality shoes or boots, since bad footwear can break a trip. Many, many quality makes out there.

    My advice would be, to only get the essentials now, and after a couple of trips youll learn what works for YOU, and youll be able to make a much more informed decision when shopping for gear.
  9. ROCK6


    Feb 8, 2004
    Congrat's Razor and I wish you a safe (and uneventful) redeployment.

    Sounds like you'll be kicking your trip off in early 2011 and WA will be cooler and wet. Wet weather gear is a must and you should have most of that covered...

    I like Wiggys and would recommend them to for a quality sleeping bag.

    What else are you looking for?

  10. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    Just a thought, but you might buy 'generic' products, and use them while you get a feel for what works best for you.
    No need to spend $500 for a tent at the start, or $400 for a pack, $300 for a bag.

    Just saying.............
  11. razorsdescent


    Jan 16, 2005
    Well i dont quite know, im just so used to roughing it im not quite sure what im gonna need for a more comfortable stay, i already bought a waterfilter for the deployment, the katadyn hiker pro, but i dont yet have a stove or cookware.

    The more i look at the kind of products on the market the more i realize that i dont have a real grasp on the civilian product sector. Most of the things i have are military issue or things that i bought to make deployment easier like an ENO hammock or solar charger for my mp3 player. I kind of have more of a grasp of what i need to stay alive versus what i need to be comfortable. For instance i know alot about -acks because i haul one up and down mountains nearly everyday, but i eat MRE's so cookware isnt something id have given thought into.

    I'm going to be spending the times i go out during the summer with my fiancee and doing the winter or wet weather stuff solo. To be honest for alot of this im more worried about her being comfortable and having a good time the first few times we go out so that shell want to do it again than i am with my own personal comfort.
  12. blake g49

    blake g49

    Mar 17, 2008
    That my friend is an outstanding mindset - the more the lady enjoys herself the more likely you'll have a life-long outdoors companion!!!

    I have to concur with ROCK6 and others about Wiggy's, but I'd make a suggestion that you actually look at 2 bags to cover your temp range as carrying too much weight on a warmer trip and sweating you tail off is almost as miserable as freezing with a too light bag. Look for something lighter that can be mated with a mid-weight bag and perhaps a bivy to give you a more flexible 4-season solution.

    Thanks for your service and I wish you a safe and uneventful return and redeployment.

  13. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    As to stove/fuel/cookware/food vs. MREs, IMHO, if you can stomach dehydrated meals, all you need is a pot to boil water in, and a small cannister stove and pot. Fancier meals (fresh food) require a stove that will simmer, longer cooking times, and more cookware. Today's dehydrated meals, while pricey, are much better than those of yesteryear, and they don't weigh nearly as much as fresh foods or "wet foods" like MRE's.

    While you may be acclamated to carrying heavy weights, most people are not (such as your SO). I find that reducing pack weight adds greatly to my enjoyment and increases my range.

    I am also a proponent of having seperate sets of some gear depending on season (climate) and duration of a trip. Less expensive commercial gear, while not up to military standards, is more durable than many folks think.
  14. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    One thing I don't understand.

    You have a tent, but you want a bivy as well? That's like having a tent inside a tent...
  15. Evolute


    Mar 19, 2001
    The best sleeping bags I'm aware of are made by Western Mountaineering, but I may be out of date.

    The best bivy I'm aware of is the Bibler Big Wall Bivy.
  16. Pritch


    May 3, 2006

    First, thank you for stepping up. Come home safe. Regarding sleeping bags, I think you need to realize that a bag that would be good down to -20 F would be huge to pack, heavy to carry, expensive as all get out and pretty much unusable most of the year.

    For Washington, I can't imagine needing a bag that warm, even for serious winter camping. A quality 20 F bag will get a lot more use, but even that will probably be way to warm during the summer.

    I know you are a healthy military guy, and humping a huge load is not that daunting, but you wisely recognized that if your wife isn't having fun she probably won't want to keep going out. I'm not trying to start a "Wiggys War" but I would caution you to compare different bag manufacturers very carefully. Wiggys bags have not performed well in third party comparisons, especially in warmth to weight ratios.

    Something that is just as important is selecting your pad. Not only does it add to your comfort outdoors, it is a critical gear component to insulate you from heat loss to the ground. I can highly endorse the Exped DownMat, which has the comfort of an air matress, but is filled with down so it insulates very well too. For warmer seasons, the Big Agnes AirMat or Thermarest NeoAir would offer similar comfort with less weight.
  17. PropThePolecat


    Jan 31, 2009
    Youre not out of date, WM is still king of cold weather sleeping bags, but they cost a fortune.
  18. rt014


    Jun 21, 2001
    Which in the winter in a single wall tent may actually make sense....keeps the dripping condensation off your bag.
  19. iBlade


    Jul 24, 2008
    I'll add my 2c, get a down bag and a really good waterproof bivvy bag and a small lightweight inner bag, I have successfully camped in snow caves with this combo (with a thermarest tossed in the bivvy bag) and found it warm enough, down packs down smaller and gives more warmth for weight than synthetics and as long as you keep it clean (hence the inner bag) and dry (hence the bivvy bag), it will last you well.
    Pack it inside at least two big plastic bags in your pack, or in a dry bag, and you will be sweet.
  20. Evolute


    Mar 19, 2001
    But they last forever. I've been using my Western Mountaineering Antelope Super Gore-Tex since 1989. I've used it literally several thousand times. Fo a long-term investment that will be used a lot, the amortized cost is lower per night of use than most less expensive bags.

    As the saying goes: Buy the best, and only cry once.

    Western Mountaineering is also one of the few (perhaps only?) sleeping bag companies with honest temperature ratings for their bags.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010

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