Q:

What are some good duo sleeping bags?

Are there any good sleeping bags for two people that can be brought on backpacking trips?
—Jen Moore
Orangevale, California

May 27, 2010
Outside
Outside Magazine
A:

I have a story for you. On a gear testing trip with Outside's staff a couple of years ago in New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness, I wasn't paying nearly enough attention as the gear was divvied up between backpacks. My husband--a lover of practical jokes--managed to slip an iron skillet into my pack without me knowing. I can only picture the snicker that came out as he slyly got away with this.

It wasn't until about an hour into the trail that I noticed how uncomfortable my pack felt and how sore my shoulders had become. I blamed the backpack--a new piece of gear I was testing--for its awful design and thought it just didn't fit me right. (This is leading into two-person sleeping bags, I promise.)

Finally, we reached camp after about four miles of trekking. I threw down my pack and began to pull everything out, only to discover the iron skillet (about a quarter my size). My husband burst into laughter, much to my dismay. But, I was able to force him to give me massages for the rest of the trip.

Moral of the story: Don't take a two-person sleeping bag (about as heavy as an iron skillet) out on the trail unless you're feeling like playing a practical joke on your loved one or friend. You won't likely find a doublewide under five pounds, and that's a lot of weight to add to your load when hiking the trails.

Instead of trying to find something already built for two--like the fifteen-degree Big Agnes Cabin Creek ($240, bigagnes.com) or the Kelty Supernova 30 3-in-1 ($280, kelty.com)--opt for a single bag that can be zipped to a second one. That way, you and your honey can split the load between your two backpacks.

Our favorites include the North Face's twenty-degree Cat's Meow ($159, thenorthface.com), with synthetic insulation, and Kelty's 650 down-fill, zero-degree Coromell ($220, kelty.com).

Here's the key: Both bags are available in a right- or a left-handed zipper, making them able to zip together (when the mood calls for it).

Me? I cherish my time in my own sleeping bag when I'm out camping; I don't have to deal with my husband's flailing limbs or his heat-lamp-high body temperature. (I really do love him.)

But if you do manage to sneak a two-person bag into your boyfriend or girlfriend's pack, let me know how you did it. I think I still owe my husband one.

Alicia Carr, assistant managing editor of Outside and managing editor of Outside's Buyer's Guide, is a guest columnist for Gear Girl.

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