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Sleeping Bag with Optional Liner

Basic Bag

We recommend a 0 degree F or colder sleeping bag.  Be careful that the bag is rated 0 degrees F, and not 0 degrees C.  There is a 32 degree difference between the two.

The temperature a bag is rated assumes that a “cold sleeper” is sleeping on his side, just barely not shivering.  Each person has a different comfort level.  Most men are “cold sleepers”, and can sleep comfortably in colder temperatures.  Women tend to be “warm sleepers” and are not as tolerant of colder temperatures.  However, there are a lot of exceptions.

If you don’t know if you are a warm or cold sleeper, we recommend de-rating the bag by 20 degrees.  That is, a 0 degree F bag is good for 20 degrees F and up.  As you gain experience you can adjust this de-rating.

Zero-degree bags go on sale in the spring.  A synthetic bag hag holds heat even if wet, while a down bag is lighter.  Most of our winter camping does not involve moving the gear very far, and the synthetic bags are much less expensive than down bags.
Most prefer a mummy style bag because its warmer and lighter and should have a hood built-in to keep your head warm.  Not everyone tolerates the closer confine of a mummy bag though.
The bag should not be too long, the extra room requires extra heat.  However, some campers are of above average girth.  In this case, its best to try the bag out before you buy it.  And some campers are of above average height–there are long versions of many bags.
Women’s bags.
Mummy bags are generally wider in the shoulder than the hips.  This fit is fine for most men and some women but other women need a bit more hip room.  Some mummy bags have a “women’s version” that accommodates this.  Again, its best to try before you buy.

You also may want to get a sleeping bag liner.  This can be a specialized item (ie expensive) or a simple fleece sleeping bag.

If you only have one bag, then In the summer, you may open the bag and sleep in just the liner, or with no cover.  In the coldest campouts, you may use both liner and bag.
Double Sleeping Bag

Some sleeping bags accommodate two people either by zipping two rectangular or two mummy bags together, or as a specialized bag.  If you are of above average girth, this may be something to investigate.

Other Sleeping Bags

Some scouts (including adults) have additional sleeping bags.  You don’t need to buy these but some do.

Summer Bag

Inexpensive 20-30 degree F bags are available in Costco, Walmart, Target and other stores and online.  These are rectangular bags without hoods.  Some have features like vents or liners that can help make you more comfortable in the warmer months.   This may be a good investment because the boys don’t always keep their gear pristine, and there is often mud tracked into the tents.  Having a seperate bag for summer means less wear and tear on the basic 0 degree bag.

Cold Weather Bag

Troop 71 camps in the winter.  Sometimes the nighttime temperature goes below 0 degrees F, but they rarely go as low as -20 degrees F.  There are bags rated to -20, -40 and -50 degrees F.  If you find yourself shivering at night when its 20 degrees, then you may be interested in a cold weather bag.

A good liner is another option to extend the temperature range of your basic bag.

Backpacking Bag

A backpacking sleeping bag is lightweight and packs down small.  These tend to be more expensive and are not required.   Some scouts have them, the weight difference is only a couple of pounds.


A small camping pillow or inflatable pillow is nice, and you can use an extra shirt as a pillowcase.  Or if you put your “next-day” clothes in a zip-lock bag, just put a shirt over the bag, clothes and all and use that.

Adults:  when car camping, just bring your regualr pillow.  or you can buy a travel pillow or specialized inflatable pillow.


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