Q:

How can we make two sleeping bags become one?

My girlfriend and I are planning a yearlong trip to South erica, and we're looking for two extremely durable, sub-two-pound down sleeping bags with opposite zippers that will zip together. We have two heavier Sierra Designs bags that already fit this mold, but they're old and way too big for the trip. Can you help us? Landon Rifle, Colorado

Jul 13, 2005
Outside
Outside Magazine

Aspen MF

A: I wouldn't fix on the idea of two sleeping bags, Landon. Why not one, that works as two? That would be a bag such as Western Mountaineering's semi-rectangular Aspen MF ($290; www.westernmountaineering.com). It's a wide-cut 25-degree bag that weighs only one pound, 15 ounces. Unzip it and connect it to Western's Summer Coupler ($60), which turns the Aspen into a comforter-style sleeping system. Sleeves in the Coupler keep your pads in place. The temp rating stays basically the same—even when the Aspen is zipped up, the insulation underneath you is crushed so it doesn't add much. And with two in one bag, there's more, um, body heat.

As for durability the Aspen is second to none. The big issue will be keeping it reasonably clean. To that end, I'd recommend wearing long underwear to bed whenever possible. Or, get a Design Salt Silk TravelSheet in the double-wide size ($100; www.designsalt.com). It's a bed/bag liner that you can use as a standalone blanket in very warm weather, and as a liner in cooler temps. And unlike the Aspen, it can be washed easily.

If you'd rather go with true individual bags, then there are still plenty of choices. You could get a pair of Feathered Friends' Kestrels (www.featheredfriends.com), 30-degree bags that come standard with a half-zipper but can be fitted with full zipper so they can be attached to one another. They're not cheap—$265 a pop—but as with the Western Mountaineering bag, the quality is top-notch. And at about two pounds per bag, they won't weigh you down.

Have a great trip! See you in a year, amigo.

Check out Outside's 2005 Gear of the Year sleeping-bag champ, plus ogle a slew of other great swag, from tents to MP3 players.

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