Gear Guy

Q:

What's the cheapest sleeping bag for summer camping?

What is the absolute cheapest sleeping bag that the Gear Guy would recommend for summer backpacking? Some of us have several thousand dollars to spend on our gear—the rest of us are in college. Doug Chicago, Illinois

A:There are plenty of choices for affordable summer-weight bags, which I shall categorize as bags with a temperature rating of 30 degrees of higher. But, let's face facts: You could stuff a bag with shredded newspaper and easily reach that temperature rating at a cost of pennies. So it isn't an especially high bar.

You can even clear it with a down-filled bag. Lafuma's Warm'N Lite 600 Down has down fill, a temperature rating of 40 degrees, a weight of only one pound, three ounces, and the low, low price of $99 (www.lafumausa.com). For just $70 more you can get the Katahdin 20 from L.L. Bean, a pretty serious bag with a 20-degree rating, good-quality 650-fill down, and full draft collars at the neck and along the zipper (www.llbean.com). Or, Mammut's Island Summer has a 40-degree rating, 650-fill down, and very reasonable $145 price tag (www.mammut.ch).

There are also plenty good choices in synthetic bags, too. REI's Nooksack UL 35 ($159; www.rei.com) uses Primaloft insulation, which is my favorite synthetic, plus a durable shell of high-quality Pertex nylon. It weighs just over two pounds, compresses to nothing, and keeps you comfortable to just above freezing. Slumberjack also makes a line of decent, budget-priced bags, such as their Super Guide, rated to 30 degrees and costing only $69 (www.slumberjack.com). It would work just fine for you.

So there you go. Lots of bags for not much dough. You'll do well in your accounting classes if you purchase any of these.

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