Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One-Pound Sleeping Bags

The nights can be warm during the dog days of summer, which means you need only the bare minimum of insulation to keep you comfortable while sleeping in the backcountry. It also means that you can save some serious ounces by investing in an ultralight sleeping bag. Here are the lightest of the light, five options that hover around a single pound.

For the most part, these sleeping bags are designed for nighttime temperatures down to the low 40s at the coldest, with temps in the 50s being the most comfortable. (As always, you may be able to go colder if you're a warm sleeper.) They also make for a great emergency item in your winter daypack for the unexpected night out. They all feature 800-plus fill power down.

Western Mountaineering HighLite
850-plus fill power down provides the insulation in this classic, the first one-pound sleeping bag ever made. Features a half-length zipper and, like most superlight bags, is relatively narrow. (59" - 60" shoulder girth, depending on length). Available in short (to 5' 6", 15 ounces, $260), regular (6' 0", 16 ounces, $270), and long (6' 6", 17 ounces, $280). Made in the USA.

MontBell U.L. Spiral Down Hugger #3
MontBell touts this bag's unique baffle design, which is cut at a 45-degree angle and increases the amount of stretch in the bag. This helps you to comfortably shift around inside the bag and makes the narrow cut more bearable. A full-length zipper helps as well. Available in regular (to 5' 10", 19 ounces, $259) and long (to 6' 4", 20 ounces, $279).

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45
Features the best hood of the bunch, which cinches snugly and comfortably around your noggin. The cut is also less narrow (60"-62" shoulder girth, depending on length). The hood and integrated neck baffle help increase the bag's warm, but also (along with the full-length zipper) add weight. Also available in three lengths (18-20 ounces, $240-$260).

Feathered Friends Vireo
This is a specialized hoodless, zipperless sleeping bag designed with alpine climbers in mind. It features more insulation in its narrow lower half (rated to 25 degrees Fahrenheit) than its wide upper (45 degrees Fahrenheit) and is specialized for overnight alpine bivouacs (and emergency winter use). It does double well as a summer sleeping bag, offering maximum warmth-to-weight and a wide shoulder girth (64") for large-shouldered folks. (16-18 ounces, depending on length. $269.)

Nunatak Ultralight Arc GhostAnother specialized option, this one is actually a modified quilt design. The lower half is enclosed like any sleeping bag, but the zipperless upper opens up like a blanket. It secures to your sleeping pad with two attached underside straps, which also allow you to adjust the girth to your comfort and warmth desired. Another good option for ultralighters who like warmth and room in one package. The lightest of the bunch. Small (to 5' 4", 12 ounces, $326), medium (5' 10", 14 ounces, $359), and large (6 '4", 16 ounces, $399).

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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