Q:

I need a little more wiggle room than my old mummy bag offers. Any suggestions?

I went camping in the Adirondacks recently, and my sleeping bag—which once seemed comfortably roomy—had mysteriously become pretty tight. It must have shrunk in storage; weird, huh? In any case, who makes a good synthetic, roomy bag for middle-aged people in the 15 to 20 degree range? John New York, New York

Oct 23, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Big Agnes Encampment Sleeping Bag

Encampment Sleeping Bag

A:

Yes! That’s a common problem—shrinking sleeping bags. The darned things!

Chances are you no longer want or would be comfortable in a mummy bag, the bag you probably had in storage. Mummies are efficient because you aren’t heating up a lot of extra space inside the bag. But they can be, well, snug. Like a mummy! Full rectangular bags are much roomier and more comfortable, but they’re inefficient because you do have to warm up a lot of interior air. The solution: A semi-rectangular bag. It’s trimmer than a full rectangular, roomier than a mummy, and pretty warm.

Big Agnes makes a bag called the Encampment ($169; bigagnes.com) that would suit you. It’s a 15-degree, synthetic-filled (Polarguard Delta), semi-rectangular bag (although they call it a “rectangular") with a full hood, draft yoke around the neck, nylon shell, and other good features. The weight is not bad—three pounds, four ounces—but that’s in part because it has no insulation on the bottom side. You need to use a good-quality pad with it.

That said, the gold standard in semi-rectangular bags in your desired temperature rating is the Western Mountaineering Ponderosa MF (westernmountaineering.com). It’s a down bag, which helps make it light (two pounds, nine ounces). And it has a naturally water-resistant polyester microfiber shell. Yeah, water can be an issue, but this bag would have to be pretty soaked before it lost a lot of insulation. The Ponderosa is not a cheap bag—$420 in the model that can fit people up to six feet, six inches—but it’s a lifetime investment.

Check out the new 2007-2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide, packed with reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves. It’s available on newsstands now.

Filed To: Sleeping Bags

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