Finding your ideal sleep system can turn into a Goldilocks treasure hunt. There are a lot of decisions to make, and we are here to make them as simple as possible. The more you customize your bag to what works for you- the more comfortable your backcountry adventures will be.
Start with where and when you will be doing the bulk of your camping. Warm weather campers will enjoy a 30-45° bag. If you will be in a wide range of climates and seasons, try a three season bag, which are generally in the 15-20° range. Cold sleepers, winter campers, or shoulder season campers should consider 0 and -20° bags. The temperature rating on your bag is NOT the optimal sleep temperature of the bag. That number is based on the low end of the comfort spectrum. How cold you will be sleeping at that temperature depends on a range of factors from body fat to hydration to tent design. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. It is easier to unzip a bag than layer up in the middle of the night.
System Bags vs. Traditional Mummy Bags vs. REM Pad Sleeve Bags
We offer all our bags in three basic designs: System Bags, Traditional Mummy Bags and REM Pad Sleeve Bags
1. System Bags
Big Agnes system bags unite a sleeping bag and pad into one. When insulation material is compressed under your body, it loses most of its ability to insulate. So we got rid of the unnecessary bottom insulation and replaced it with a sleeve to slide your pad into. Binding your pad and bag together means no more slipping off your pad in the middle of the night regardless of the terrain. If you hate hearing your pad at night, the sleeve system helps reduce noise.
2. Traditional Mummy Bags
Traditional mummy bags are technical, minimalist bags. Ideal for those Spartans who want to sleep in a bag without a pad. They are also great for hammocking, couch surfing, hosteling, back seat of the car naps or the ultimate red-eye flight portable bed. These bags offer insulation all the way around. They can be used on top of a sleeping pad or stand alone.
3. REM Pad Sleeve Bags
Who says you can't have the best of both worlds? New for 2017, Big Agnes REM Pad Sleeve™ bags marry the coverage of a traditional mummy bag with the stability of a pad sleeve. The detatchable pad sleeve secures your pad to your bag and doubles as your sleeping bag's storage sack. REM Pad Sleeves may be easily removed by unclipping simple loops and clips allowing for use as a traditional sleeping bag for when you want to keep it simple.
Down vs. Synthetic
When to go synthetic: Moist, humid climates or consistently rainy climates. If you will be packing up a damp bag every night without the possibility of drying it out during the day, go synthetic. If you are on a budget, and size and weight are less important than price, go synthetic.
When to go down: Preferred by Thru-hikers, down is lighter, more breathable, packs smaller and is absurdly comfortable. That said, it is more expensive and requires more care. All of our 2017 down bags feature DownTek water repellent down. This means that if you have to use your down bag in New Mexico during monsoon season or in Georgia in August, it will still perform very well and not turn into clumps of wet feathers.
Sleeping Bags are not a one-size-fits-all, fancy Snuggie. For maximum warmth for your backcountry bed, choose a bag that contours to your body without being too tight. The heat trapped between your body and the bag will keep you warm at night. You need sufficient room to create that pocket of warm air. Too much room and you won’t be able to efficiently heat that air pocket causing your body to expend more energy for less warmth.
That said, you want to be comfortable in your bag. If you like having your sheets tucked in while you are sleeping, the cocoon feeling of a mummy bag may be the right choice for you. If you hate that swaddled feeling and run marathons in your sleep, try a rectangle shaped bag, doublewide bag or Park Series Bag.