Tall women of MeFi! Give me your sleeping bag recommendations.
April 17, 2015 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I'd like a new sleeping bag that's mine, just mine. It should be perfect. Please advise.

For car camping, but I'd like it if it didn't take up huge amounts of room in the car.
The zipper has to work from both ends so I can free my feet.
Not a mummy bag -- I'd die of claustrophobia.
Cosy. My current one has a flannel lining that I like.
Hooded.
I'm 5' 10" and like room to flail around during the night. My current bag is a Tall and I like that.
If my hips get cold, they ache to the point that I can't sleep.
I'd like it to be three-season but I don't want to be hot in the summer. Would that be +35° and up?
Fits into the stuff sack without too much swearing on my part.
Attractive fabric or color. Not drab.
I camp in rain forests, sometimes without any shelter other than a roof. Needs to be good in damp air.
I also camp in high deserts.
Under $200. If it could be closer to $100 that would be great.
Going to REI is an option, yes.
posted by The corpse in the library to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know much about tall, non-mummy bags, but having the extra space/air around your body in a non-mummy bag will make it more difficult to stay warm.

If you're unable to get a bag that meets all your requirements, highly consider investing in a good, comfortable sleeping pad. I was in denial for a long time and was finally convinced to buy a new one. It's made a world of difference in staying warm all night and sleeping more comfortably (I can side sleep with no problems, and sometimes I wake up and think I'm laying in my bed!) The Nemos come in longer lengths as well.

I also highly recommend a sleeping bag liner. It's also made a big difference in keeping me warm, and best of all, it's cozy as hell. It allows me to snuggle up in my bag while still being able to flail around since it's stretchy fabric and it doesn't have a zipper to dig into skin (so orientation isn't important).

Both these items pack down to pretty much nothing and have made my car camping a million times more enjoyable and comfortable. Hopefully this helps if you need to relax your bag requirements.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2015


I'm 5'11 and I own one of these. It is so comfortable and roomy and warm and perfect that I'm sad I don't get to use it more often.

Unfortunately, I have no idea if you can buy it in the US - I got it from Amazon UK, and I'm not sure if it's an international brand or not.
posted by terretu at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2015


So much of what you are wanting says "buy a quilt" instead of a sleeping bag. They are great for thrashing about, it makes it much easier to control heat, they are light and small and easy to stuff. They tend to be a bit more expensive as they are catering the the 'very lightweight' crowd, but at least think about it. I've used this for many years and love it. There are cheaper ones out there too.
posted by H. Roark at 12:52 PM on April 17, 2015


Intriguing, H. Roark. I'm a side sleeper and have wide hips; do camping quilts work for people like me?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:50 PM on April 17, 2015


I don't have a specific recommendation, but have found that outdoorgearlab has good reviews for this kind of stuff.
posted by doctord at 3:05 PM on April 17, 2015


I'm not a tall woman (rather, I'm an average-height man), but I spend an inordinate amount of time sleeping in tents and sleeping bags in all sorts of climates.

* For car camping, but I'd like it if it didn't take up huge amounts of room in the car.
* Fits into the stuff sack without too much swearing on my part.

These are arguments for a down bag; they are way more compressible than synthetic bags.

* I camp in rain forests, sometimes without any shelter other than a roof. Needs to be good in damp air.

Argument for a synthetic bag, or a down bag with with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment. Either will make the bag less compressible.

* If my hips get cold, they ache to the point that I can't sleep.
* I'd like it to be three-season but I don't want to be hot in the summer. Would that be +35° and up?
* I also camp in high deserts.
* Cosy. My current one has a flannel lining that I like.

If you only want one sleeping bag, I would go with a 15-20 degree bag with a full-length zipper, as well as a lightweight sleeping bag liner and a thick and comfortable inflatable sleeping pad (as blueberrypuffin suggested). The sleeping pad will keep you from losing heat to the ground, as well as keep you comfortable. The liner is indeed cozy, but also serves the important job of keeping the interior of the bag from getting gross/sticky on longer trips. A 15-20 degree bag will keep you warm on cold nights (ie: high desert in February where it can get near freezing at night), but allow you to open up the zipper when it's warmer, or even turn the bag into a blanket (or a surface for sleeping *on top of*) if it's downright hot at night. For the warmer scenarios, it's even more important to have a comfortable sleeping pad.

* The zipper has to work from both ends so I can free my feet.
* Hooded.

Shouldn't be a problem. Just about any sleeping bag has a double zipper these days and most outdoorsy bags have hoods.

* Not a mummy bag -- I'd die of claustrophobia.
* I'm 5' 10" and like room to flail around during the night. My current bag is a Tall and I like that.

Unfortunately, the more empty space inside of a bag, the more work your body has to do to warm up the inside. I'm a bit of a thrasher/side sleeper myself, and for the most part I don't have any problems with mummy bags as long as I'm able to rotate inside the bag and/or just bend both legs together so that the whole bag bends with them. I'd suggest trying out bags at the store (REI usually has demo bags for you to do this with) and see what you can live with.

* Under $200. If it could be closer to $100 that would be great.

This probably means you'll want a synthetic bag. Decent down-filled 15 degree bags start around $250.

tl;dr: Maybe something like a Cat's Meow by North Face? I would go to REI and try it out. Also, the importance of a good sleeping pad and bag liner cannot be overstated.
posted by strangecargo at 5:20 PM on April 17, 2015


Intriguing, H. Roark. I'm a side sleeper and have wide hips; do camping quilts work for people like me?

Sure - I'm a side sleeper too. For me successful side sleeping is more about the pad than the bag/quilt (and the occasional benadryl). The quilt also makes it much easier to toss from one side to another without getting all tied up in knots in the bag, especially if you are using some kind of knee pillow (I usually put my pants into the sleeping bag stuff sack). The thing about the quilts that might not be obvious is that you are now sleeping directly on the pad, which is not always the nicest surface. I'm more of a mountain camper so I wear thermals to bed so being on a plastic mat does not bother me, but if I was in a wet rainforest it might feel clammy on my skin?

Also in relation to strangecargo's answer, I'm not a fan of synthetics. Down compresses much better, is lighter, and generally more comfortable. The whole "down does not work when it gets wet" may be true but its a lot easier than it sounds to keep a bag dry. A simple garbage bag will keep it dry even from an unexpected dunk in the stream.
posted by H. Roark at 5:51 PM on April 17, 2015


I have something similar to this bag, that I got at a hunting store. I'm 5'10" with extremely wide hips, and also thrash around when I sleep. This bag isn't hooded, and it's drab, but because it's so tall and big, I can make the top into a hood by squishing it. I love how much room I have for my legs and arms, and that I don't strangle myself in the bag. It doesn't have a stuff sack either, but straps on the outside, which is awesome.

I can take a photo of mine when I get home, if you want.
posted by culfinglin at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2015


Another recommendation for the quilt. I'm a warm stomach/side sleeper who thrashes around a lot, and my sleeping system upgrade last year is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. I was never comfortable in a mummy bag (and mine had an expanding panel), and the foam/inflatable Therm-a-Rest left me with aching hips the next morning. Now I have a nice thick NeoAir and a down quilt. I also use a silk liner (rectangular for international travelers rather than mummy for campers) to keep my skin away from my quilt and pad. I can cinch the quilt around me in cold weather until it's practically a mummy bag, or, in warm weather, I can lay it over me to start and throw it off in the middle of the night when I get to warm. On one of my trips earlier this year, I introduced someone to the quilt system. When I ran into him a month later, he told me I had changed his life (that is a direct quote).

I see that you have a hood as a requirement -- my quilt doesn't have one, though you can get an extra long one and pull it up over your head. Or wear a hat, earmuffs, neck gaiter, etc, which is what I do. You get a little more control of your temperature that way.

I got my 20* quilt from Enlightened Equipment for $230. They're nice because all their quilts are made to order -- you get to pick down type, fill weight/temperature rating, length, width, inside color, outside color, fabric, etc. It looks like their regular sized synthetic 30* quilt is $170, so definitely take a look.

And yes, you should also take a look at a new sleeping pad. The best sleeping bag in the world won't help your cold hips much. The down underneath your bottom hip (where most of the cold is coming from) will get compressed and lose most of its insulating properties. That's the beauty of quilts and the Big Agnes bags with the sleeping pad sleeve in them -- you don't have to carry/pack the down that would otherwise go underneath you and be mostly worthless.
posted by natabat at 8:54 PM on April 17, 2015


I am very, very tempted by the Enlightened Equipment quilts -- I like the colors, that they're made in the USA, and that they have a great reputation.

One thing I don't understand: if I'm a car camper and rarely carry things more than 1/4 of a mile, is there an advantage to having a quilt over having an unzippered sleeping bag?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:22 AM on April 21, 2015


I ended up getting a Nemo Celesta, for those playing along at home. The tall fits me perfectly, the hood and the extra blanket flappy thing make it the cosiest bag imaginable, I can flail comfortably and sit up cross legged, and it's pretty enough.

I used it last weekend when the temperature got down to the low 40s or high 30s. I had a sleeping pad with an R-value of 6.0, a thin layer on top of that (actually my hammock, just because I had it there and so why not), and a double-thick fleece blanket on top of me, was in a large tent by myself, and I slept just fine. I probably wasn't wearing a warm enough layer while I slept. I don't know how it would've been if I hadn't had that fleece blanket.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:52 PM on May 7, 2015


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