Ok, I never thought I’d like a sleeping bag.
I’m a stomach sleeper; I toss and turn in my sleep; I need to hug a pillow; I’m so used to my weighted blanket it might be an addiction.
I was VERY apprehensive about trying a bag. In fact, for one first two car camping trips I just brought my blanket and my pillow and it worked just fine.
Why I finally bought a bag was:
A. The weather is going to get colder.
B. Blanket and pillow take way too much space in the car.
C. I will really need a bag for my upcoming backpacking trip.
D. I wanted to feel like a real camper 😜.
Now, my criteria were:
1. Warm. I am a warm sleeper, and I will need it in colder weather.
2. Lightweight. I’d mostly use it for car camping, but I have my first backpacking trip coming up.
After a lot of research, I narrowed it down to:
1. Teton Trailhead – https://a.co/d/eXWo0ix – $69 on Amazon
2. REI trail break 20 – https://www.rei.com/product/157769/rei-co-op-trailbreak-20-sleeping-bag-mens – $109 on REI
3. Kelty Cosmic 20 – https://a.co/d/1hxoPSi – $169 on Amazon
4. Nemo forte women’s 20 – https://a.co/d/9oM0lRS – $219 on Amazon (same on REI)
All four bags had similar techs. All are rated 20 Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius). That means that you can survive in it up to that temperature. Comfort temperature is individual and obviously higher. All are reasonably lightweight: Teton 2.9 lb (1.3 kg), REI trailbreak 3 lb 7 oz (1.6 kg), Kelty 2 lb (1.16 kg), Nemo 3 lb (2kg). Nemo is the heaviest, but 2kg still sounds like perfectly reasonable weight to carry around.
All 4 bags are highly rated (I scrutinized the reviews) with all the same problems people mention: 20F is a generous temperature rating.
After learning more about bags, I added the 3rd criterion: NOT a mummy.
Basically, sleeping bags come in 2 shapes: mummy (the bag material hugs your body closely. You can’t move inside the bag. When you move, you move together with the bag) or rectangular (you can move freely in this one), and variations in between. I did not want a mummy bag because I was surrrrre I’d feel claustrophobic in it.
This made my choice really easy: Nemo is spoon-shaped and is recommended for side sleepers. That’s what did it for me.
After a 2 night trip to the Shenandoah National Park, I can say that’s it’s an amazing bag. It’s insanely comfortable, the material is very nice (although I will buy a sleeping bag liner for it. Those are basically protective sheets that go inside your bag so you can wash the sheet and not the bag).
I could sleep on my side and even on my stomach.
I also tried sleeping in a hammock. I will write about it later (it’s awesome), and the bag worked great for it.
I am a little concerned about the temperature rating as my feet were getting a little cold during the night, but I’m sure the liner will help, and anyway I’m planning to sleep in a pair of nice thick socks when fall comes.
My one regret is not waiting for the discounts. I bought it for $230 (womens; long; including tax), and right now (August 30, 2022) REI sells them with a whooping 50% discount for Labor Day sales.
My second small regret was getting a women’s long instead of men’s long. I’m 5’10” (178 cm), and women’s long is rated until 6’ (183 cm). I fitted nicely but I think I would have been more comfortable with more space. on the other hand, I liked the extra space at the hips that a women’s model has.
Overall, my rating is 8/10, taking 2 points off for the manufacturer being too generous with the temp rating. As far as I understood though, that’s a very common problem.