Is a down sleeping bag appropriate for a humid climate?

I'll soon be living in my tent for six weeks in Tanzania, and I’m looking for a lightweight, compressible, and not-too-pricey sleeping bag that will do well over that stretch of time. I like the idea of a down bag, but I'm worried that moisture from me or humidity could accumulate over a long stretch of time. Thoughts? Sara Stony Brook, New York


I like the idea of a down bag, too. But I can’t help but think the humidity will pretty well kill it. So I’d go with synthetic. It’s not as if you’re going to save a lot of weight by going with down, anyway—not in a bag rated around 40 degrees.

Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 45 Sleeping Bag

UltraLamina 45 Sleeping Bag

You could, for instance, get a Mountain Hardwear UltraLamina 45-degree bag ($170). The name is the temperature rating; it’s strictly a warm-weather bag, but likely would be just the ticket for you. Its fill is a proprietary polyester material, which is a good thing because polyester is reluctant to absorb much water so will stay dry. It weighs a pound and a half, so it won’t make a big dent in your luggage allotment. The Sierra Designs Yachiyo 45 ($109) is very similar in weight and temperature rating, and it’s also considerably cheaper—perhaps due to fill that isn’t quite as durable. But it would work well for you.

You can add some warmth to either bag, or have a standalone sleep-shell for very warm nights, with a Cocoon Ripstop Silk Bag Liner ($65). I’d recommend one in any event, as using an easily washed liner will help keep your main bag cleaner and extend its life.

And, for a warmer bag, look to REI’s Nooksack +35 UL ($170), a bag that uses Primaloft insulation, a material I like a lot because it’s soft and down-like, yet resists moisture extremely well. It weighs just 28 ounces—not bad!

So there you go. Hope you have a great trip!

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Filed To: Sleeping Bags
Lead Photo: courtesy, Mountain Hardwear