What kind of sleeping bag would you recommend for winter camping and why?
I live in Ohio where it can get down to -10 so I need a good sleeping bag for such extreme weather. What would you recommend and why? I'm looking for answers from people who have experience in cold weather camping.
There are a lot of fancy, name brand, rather pricy options out there but in my experience, and the one that I personally use, is the Military MSS or Modular Sleep System. It has 3 parts to it. One is an outer gore tex nylon shell that is water proof allowing one to sleep outside under all kinds of weather conditions. Although in the rain I still prefer a tarp or tent over my head. Inside this shell are 2 different bags. One is a thicker, cold weather bag that by itself can work to below freezing temps. Then inside that is stuffed a lighter, mild weather bag. All 3 parts together and you're good to well below zero. Mix and match parts for other conditions. All of this comes with a nylon compression bag. When assembled the 3 peices all snap together so nothing gets twisted around while you sleep. The zipper is on the side and SUPER heavy duty. The bags and bivy are mummy shaped but roomy. It is my go-to setup and expect it to last me my lifetime. You can find them on ebay or all around the internet. Try your local military surplus shop too.
Marmot makes a great line of sleeping bags that go all the way down to -40. Going with a synthetic bag is much cheaper, but the 4-season ones are quite heavy and bulky. If you go with a down bag, try to get one that has treated down, so that it will stay loftier if it gets a little damp.
It will run you about $500, but the Mountain Hardware Phantom 0 degree bag is super lightweight and efficient. If you're not willing to go that expensive, the Kelty Cosmic will do you well.
You can probably get by with a zero degree bag, if you have a good tent or are sleeping in a snow cave. Bring extra layers or a down jacket if you are worried that it won't be enough. You can also add a liner to a bag to make it warmer. Worst case scenario, you can take a summer bag and layer it with a 3-season bag. That might be heavy, but it will be cheap and toasty warm.
I manage a camping and fishing store, as well as go out on my own expeditions. Hope that helps.
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