The Arroyo
The Arroyo

What’s the best sleeping bag for the John Muir Trail?

I will be thru-hiking the John Muir Trail this summer and would like your opinion on sleeping bag. I currently own a synthetic, zero-degree bag that is an unappreciated 4 plus pounds. I know this is too heavy (as I thru-hiked the Colorado Trail with it). My real question: can I get away with a 30-degree down bag, or should I look more at a 15- to 20-degree bag? I tend to be a somewhat cold sleeper. I am 6'2", 190 pounds. I know the temperature ratings are guestimates at best, but your input would help. DaveDolores, CO

The Arroyo
Doug Gantenbein

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Well, if it were me, I’d go with a 30-degree bag. I really doubt you’ll see many temps much lower than that, and you always can go to bed with extra clothing on—just wear your fleece jacket to bed.

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As to which bag, three come to mind. For several years my go-to bag has been the Marmot Arroyo ($269), now in its second or third iteration. A great bag, with a 30-degree rating, 800-fill down, and light nylon shell with a DWR treatment to shed light moisture. And weighs 1 pound 11 ounces in regular; you’ll need a long, so add a few ounces for that. Packs down to the size of a softball, and is very comfortable.

I also really like Mont-Bell‘s U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 ($305 in long). Weird name, great bag. Rated to 30 F, and has a stretchy shell that “hugs” you very lightly. That’s a good thing, because it eliminates air gaps inside the bag and reduces “bellows effect,” the tendency for a bag to draw cold air into it as you move around. Very light as well. Only 1 pounds 8 ounces in the long.

Lastly, take a look at the Feathered Friends‘ Osprey ($344 in long). This is a really high-end bag—almost a custom bag (in fact, you can customize it by having it over-filled a little). Rated to 30 degrees, 1 pound 11 ounces, super high-quality. Cut just a bit wider than some bags, for a bit more comfort.

Hope you have a great trip! That’s beautiful country.

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