This past week as I watched the weather reports I got that sinking feeling of knowing your gear is not quite what you need. The prediction of a very cold weekend was looming and I knew that back on Labor Day Weekend I had been cold in my then current sleeping bag, an REI ladies Sub Kilo 15* bag. I bought the Sub Kilo a few years ago and in the past year had not been as warm. I was developing cold drafts and my suspicions are that the bag has lost a good bit of down (I often have feathers in my tent after trips). It was working fine as a quilt in summer but once zipped up…..brrrrrr. And frankly? The Sub Kilo is a tight fitting bag. Skinny and petite ladies? Yes it will work, but if you are above 5’4″ and above a size 12? I have come to feel it isn’t for me. I refused to face this – I didn’t want to carry a heavier sleeping bag. I like my lightweight gear!
But….lets face reality I told myself as I saw snow levels of 5000 ft and the threat of cold winds/freezing tempatures. So off I went to shop for a down sleeping bag that would be roomier, still reasonably light, not break my wallet and most of all keep me warm.
Every bag I got in felt like a snake was swallowing me – the biggest issue I have with mummy bags is I have to lie there with my legs together and cannot shift at night easily. I have a lower back injury that leaves me tossing all night on most trips.
And then I saw the Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15* bag hanging. Lord, it was U-G-L-Y. And massive.
But then I tried it out. Being a BA bag it has no under insulation – your sleeping pad provides that. I slipped in a Thermarest Prolite 3 ladies pad according to directions and jumped inside.
Oh wow. I could actually move! It was like all the best stuff of a mummy and a rectangle bag combined. With the pad intergrated I could zip up the bag and then roll around inside the bag – the bag never moves, never tangles up, the sleeping pad doesn’t shoot across your tent floor. Everything stays where it should!
Then I noticed: the bag comes in two versions, with the petite version actually fitting up to 5’8″. So I wasn’t touching the end of the bag with my feet!
The bag has draft collars along the zipper, on the sides where it meets your pad and a really cool one around your neck. It has a pocket sewn in for your pillow or clothing to go into. And that pocket actually works as well – it stays where it is supposed to be.
So on Saturday night I pulled out of my pack a sleeping bag that weighed nearly a pound more wondering had I been stupid to buy this bag….and been stupid to carry another lb of weight for 18 1/2 miles?
It had been at freezing all day and as soon as the sun set it went down sharply. By the time I got into my bag it was in the upper 20*s. Normally I lay there shivering for a good hour, down socks on and often a down jacket over my torso (heck, I have been known to even cover my legs with my rain jacket to block the wind!). But I wasn’t cold. In fact I was warm! I zipped up and snuggled in. The bag is roomy enough I could flip over and stomach sleep – no cold spots from the bag being squashed before I roll.
So in the end I realized something: with a roomier bag that was comfortable to sleep in I didn’t need a down jacket and socks to keep me from freezing. I was actually saving weight, not carrying more with this hevaier bag!
I can say it was the warmest cold night I have backpacked in.
The only warning is you have to have a GOOD sleeping pad – one with insulation in it.
If you are a tosser, you hate tight mummy bags or desire more room check it out – you might be surprised.
Well…..if you can get past the pea soup color 😀 Then again….it isn’t hot pink.