Friday, March 4, 2011

More gear - sleeping bags

The last time I went camping for that long was in Elementary School. This is going to be practically brand new for me. Luckily the ALC ride is fully supported so we don't really need to bring meals and cooking utensils. Even the tents are provided and volunteers help to put them up!

We will need a couple sleeping bags. The ALC ride limits each person to a single duffel bag weighing no more than 70 lbs. This is quite a bit of weight for regular traveling, but I need to also keep my trike gear in there as well.

A good way to shed some weight is with a compact ultra light-weight sleeping bag. I looked at my favorite online retailer, Amazon and found the Suisee Sport Adult Adventurer Mummy Ultra-Compactable Sleeping Bag.

That's a mouthful eh? These things are tiny. I really don't think it gets much smaller than this. With the color aside, I only have four requirements:

1. Needs to meet the temperature requirements. This one is good for down to 30 degrees F. That should be fine for the June summer nights. Although I don't expect temperatures to go down that low, I was recommended by buying guides that the rating should be 10 degrees lower than what I'll anticipate I'd need.

2. Compact and light. The smaller the sleeping bag, the more room I'll have for my other gear.

3. Mummy style that covers the head. This will be the warmest type. The shape tapers down towards the feet for a snug warm fit. Yes, I read all 115 reviews on Amazon. I'm a bit crazy when it comes to research.

4. Price. As far as sleeping bag prices go, I saw that they ranged from $20-80. At $37/each shipped for this one, it didn't take me long to order a couple. The Alpine one with the same features which I was considering from Sports Authority was $25 + $2.38 tax = $27.38. But the temperature rating wasn't as good as the Suisee's. The $10 difference is worth our 6 nights of improved comfort.

I'll respond to comments made on Amazon regarding this sleeping bag. Yes, the end strap on the compression cap is weak. It's a cheap material not up to par with even the most basic of school backpacks. Made in China? Probably - at least the straps were.

Is this thing really as compact as the picture above shows? Definitely. One would think that when removed from the manufacturer's packaging that it would be difficult to get it back down to that size once using it - not the case. It's fairly easy. Rather than folding the sleeping bag to nicely slip it back into it's case, it's much easier to just stuff it by the handful. This technique was supposedly recommended by the manufacturer when one of the Amazon buyers called them about it. It works, just stuff it by hand w/o bothering to fold it and it will easily fit back into it's original size.

I was surprised to find that the inside of the sleeping bag has a built-in zippered pocket perfect for valuables. I can see this will come in handy.

Size? Yes, this sleeping bag is much more narrow then other sleeping bags I've seen. Being a lanky 145lb lad in a 5'-8" frame, I fit just fine and have space to move. I can't say for certain this would be true for someone over 200lb's with an average body type.

Like most sleeping bags, it has a zipper on the inside so you can close it up while using it. The top also has a Velcro closer. The head wrap part of this mummy style sleeping bag has a nylon draw string that can keep the bag snug against the body. Since I was indoors in normal a normal room temperature environment, I didn't use it. I can imagine it would come in handy in colder conditions.

The compression sack works very well. The four straps securing the bag can be drawn quite easily keeping the bag tight and compact. All in all, I'm happy with the purchase and would highly recommend it to anyone. The price fits perfectly for even people who aren't necessarily looking to camp multiple days outdoors. The extra features of this bag compared to cheaper $20 bags is well worth the $17 difference.


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