03 August 2011

The Hunt for a Cheap, Long, Light Sleeping Bag

I don't even like to talk about how many sleeping bags I have.

For years, in my camping and hiking adventures, pathetic though they may seem, I have always struggled with the problem of sleeping bags.  I am too tall apparently, and only relatively short people are supposed to do such things.  Of course, I am an anomaly in a lot of ways from other camper/hikers (besides all the other anomalies I have generally with humans), as I prefer my equipment ultra-cheap and relatively light, in that order.  If I pay more than $50 for a piece of equipment, I must really, really think it is going to save the world or some such.

Over time, I have collected an assortment of bags, each with features I had hoped that I would like, hoping one day to stumble upon that "holy grail" of fit, comfort, and utility.  Lightning hasn't struck yet, but even so far as yesterday, I keep trying.

Of course, when it comes to sleeping bags, cheap and light rarely come together.  I am told that part of the fun of camping and hiking is the procurement and testing of new equipment, but I have never gotten into that aspect particularly.  If a bag is lightweight, it costs a ton, as it is typically stuffed with down (a whole bunch of it) or contains some new-fangled synthetic batting that hasn't come down in cost yet.  The cheap bags end up being crammed full of shredded jeans or other recycled fluffy stuff (they may even have an asbestos one for all I know), so they end up weighing 5 or 6 pounds.  That's heavy, as Marty McFly would say on several levels.

Then, you couple that with the length issue.  I am 6'3'' tall and standard bags are cut all wrong for me, just like beds, pants, and just about everything else that seems to be standardized back in the days when 5'0" must have been the average height.  Tall bags are definitely made, but they seem to be a specialty item and the price reflects that.  By nature, a tall bag needs more material and more batting to cover more area, so it will also be heavier than standard, to add insult to injury.

Some cheap, tall, and light bags are actually starting to make an appearance, but I can now add a new criteria to the mix:  thermal rating!  The bag that meet my original criteria are often only rather down to 50 degrees and get described as "summer-only" bags.  That really doesn't work for me because I often car-camp on into the edges of winter, ending as late as December and picking up again as early as February.  However, as my lovely wife will attest, I am one hot-blooded guy and put out heat like a furnace, so I higher-temp-rated bag might actually work for me out of its intended season.  This would be the first example of a hope that I have always had about life which I call the Psychic Proximity Principle:  You will gravitate toward a place and circumstance that actually fit you and your nature.

So, I am brought back to the cunundrum.  But, I happened to be a Sam's Club yesterday and they had a Coleman 4-in-1 sleeping bag for about $30.  Of course, it weighs like it is filled with rocks, but I bought it and will try it out tonight for the car-camping that I do when I overnight for my work.  I have yet to even try a bag made for tall people (they say it works up to 6'6" or 6'4" depending on who you ask) and I am hoping it goes well.  I am really tired of having to fold myself like a pretzel to fit in a bag and stay warm!

Update:  Well, I used the bag on 8/3, but it was so hot all night long that I just opened it out and slept atop it.  It has a nice-feeling liner, which you can take out and use separately, which is one of its selling points.  So, I cannot say if it even fits, but I am hanging onto it.