I'm sure that you don't have this problem, but some of us are a bit bigger around than most sleeping bag manufacturers think we should be. I've seen expanders that claim to add six to ten inches to a bag's girth. Do they work, or should I just hunt till I find a bag that fits out of the box (so to speak)? Joe Raleigh, North Carolina
Mountain Hardwear Expander
So what to do? As you note, Joe, several companies make "expanders," which attach to a bag's zipper and act like a big gusset. Mountain Hardwear, for instance, sells what it calls simply the Sleeping Bag Expander ($55; www.mountainhardwear.com), which is a down-filled device that adds eight inches of girth (at the shoulders) to any bag with a number eight YKK zipper. Which is most of them. And you can use it with either a down or synthetic bag, so don't worry about that. Big Agnes makes a similar product, called the Wedgie, with PrimaLoft synthetic fill that sells for $49 (www.bigagnes.com).
For that matter, if you'd rather just get a bigger bag, Big Agnes' Lost Ranger ($199) is nearly twice as wide as most mummy-style bags. Big Agnes makes their bags with an uninsulated "bottom"as in, you insert a sleeping pad into that area to add insulation beneath you. So the three-pound weight is not bad for a 15-degree bag. Or Marmot's Sawtooth is an extra-wide bag (70 inches at the shoulder) made in the traditional insulation-all-around style. It's $239, filled with down, and rated to 15 degrees (www.marmot.com). REI's Syn Cat bag ($119; www.rei.com) puts wide-bag comfort into an affordable, synthetic-fill bag.
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