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I went camping a week ago and it was so cold. I woke up many times at night shaking because of the cold. I have a cheap and old Wal-Mart sleeping bag, and I am thinking about buying one of these $150 good Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags to avoid freezing like this again.

Is it a good idea?

Camping with a tent - I live in Canada. Daily temp 10 deg C (50 deg F).

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Can you clarify what kind of camping? $150 isn't "expensive" for a good hiking bag. Lightweight hiking bags for cold temperatures easily run $300+. –  Russell Steen Oct 2 '12 at 13:19
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A sleeping bag liner might be helpful –  Amine Oct 2 '12 at 14:01
    
It was only 50 degrees F and you woke up shaking? I think you should expect it to get much colder while camping. In fact, I don't think you should ever expect it to be WARMER than 50 degrees F while camping. –  theJollySin Oct 2 '12 at 15:17
    
I'm not that of a rookie in camping. I've done camping in a double tent in the middle of winter. As I said, I was sick and had a poor sleeping pad. Also I said 10 deg Celsius during the day. I don't recall the temperature at night. –  Conrad C Oct 2 '12 at 15:25
    
I had a similar experience like you once. I believe at the morning I had first degree frostbite on the toes and fingers (and frost on the sleeping bag, 10C in the day drops below zero at dawn). Those $10 bags are for the beech. –  Vorac Oct 4 '12 at 5:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

How cold are you talking about? When you woke up, was there ice on your tent? Or was it 50F outside?

Anyways, to sum it up, sleeping bags generally boil down to this tradeoff:

Pick Two: Warmth, Small Size, Low Cost

If you are car camping, you should be able to find sleeping bags that will go down to 15F for $50-$75, but they will occupy well over 40-50 liters when rolled up.

While that size is prohibiting for backpacking, if you are car or RV camping, that should be no issue. You'll have to tell us more about your style of adventures for us to give you better answers.

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No ice, but when we breath out mist was visible. Thanks for the info. The thing is that, I was sick + cold. I don`t want this to happen again. So buying those Mountain Hardwear ones is a good deal? –  Conrad C Oct 2 '12 at 12:59
    
@ConradC For Backpacking? Yeah they're good. Good deal cost for performance wise? Honestly I doubt it. You usually want to use a bag within 5 degrees C of the typical temp. You can get liners to make it a bit warmer or fine tune it's warmth. –  MaskedPlant Oct 2 '12 at 15:02
    

You're talking about 2 extremes: very cheap sleeping-bag from supermarket and very expensive down sleeping bag for freezing temperatures.

I've bought myself the synthetic sleeping bag, which was about 4 times cheaper than proffessional down one. However, I've bought the sleeping bag in proffessional outdoor store, made by known outdoor company. Find the synthetic with possibly lowest comfort temperature and it should be OK for the temperatures you've mentioned. I've slept with my synthetic in temperatures about 0(C).

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I'm going to assume and interpret a little, and forgive me please if I put words in your mouth. What you really seem to be asking is: "Do I have to spend mad cash to stay warm?" I would say, in 50F (10C), certainly not!

With each item, I give my "cheap", and "good but costly" options (I have no associations with any company)

If you don't have a ground pad, you are wasting money on a better bag.

I personally use this combo for lightweight camping in the temperatures you describe and it works great. The liner seems like overkill but covers me for unexpected temperature changes.

$60 -- http://www.rei.com/product/731835/rei-travel-sack-55-sleeping-bag
$35 -- http://www.rei.com/product/829826/therm-a-rest-z-lite-sol-sleeping-pad
$65 -- http://www.rei.com/product/797114/sea-to-summit-thermolite-reactor-extreme-mummy-bag-liner

(Edit: I have personally used every item in this list except for the marmot bag. I do have a marmot bag that works great, but I have a 20 deg F bag, not the one listed here)

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A sleeping bag is like any other purchase, you'll get exactly what you pay for! Unfortunately, sleeping bags are used in many different situations/climates. A sleeping bag you carry and use in the summer months when the lower temperatures are 60 or 70 degrees at night, won't begin to work when you camp in the fall/winter/spring and the temperature lows are zero to 30 degrees. Then you have the fact that every person is a different type of sleeper. Some people are "warm" sleepers and some are "cold sleepers. A warm sleeper won't want a bag that keeps them overly warm and a cold sleeper may use a heavier spring/fall bag during the summer months. You can improvise by using a lighter summer bag in cooler weather by sleeping in some of your clothing inside the bag when necessary. Since your body heat is what warms the bag up at night, you don't want a bag with lots of "extra" space to heat up. Small bag ( mummy type ) in a small tent will be warm. A larger rectangular bag in a larger tent will never get toasty during the night. Really you have to choose a combination of tent and sleeping bag depending on the time of year, the location you'll be at ( flat lands or mountains ), and then prepare with clothing that can be used at night inside your bag. It seems like we never have too many "perfect" nights! Always buy the best tent and bag you can afford, for the season you will be in the most! Just remember, conditions can change rapidly when storms/winds come in, so your life may depend on your equipment and skills at staying comfortable!

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I would say, rather, you won't always get more than you pay for. Sometimes you do get less ;) –  Russell Steen Oct 2 '12 at 14:37

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