Women's gear, up first
Are there any good sleeping bags for two people that can be brought on backpacking trips?
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.
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.