Sleeping bag for backpack hunts


Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2022
Zero experience with overnight backpacking hunts and it's something I'm ready to jump into looking for any info or tips for picking out a bag. Not looking to break the bank on one but definitely do not want to skimp on quality. Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Definitely look at the weight and packed dimensions as not all sleeping bags are designed to be carried, nor do they all pack down into a backpack size. Typically the "temperature rating" is not the most accurate, generally underperforming, and dependent on the individual. I personally always try to get a bag that is rated for more extreme temperatures than I intend to be facing. REI Outlet is a good place to find a good deal on a decent bag. Plus if you hate it you have a year to return it.|sleeping-bags-and-accessories
Search is your friend on this one. Way too many variables you did not cover to gather information. Weather, Weight, Dimensions, Shelter, Budget, etc. etc. etc.
Gonna be using a 3600 pack more than likely warmer hunts but can get into the high 30s at worst at night shelter will be a durston and budget is good
Gonna be using a 3600 pack more than likely warmer hunts but can get into the high 30s at worst at night shelter will be a durston and budget is good
Idk about a 3600…you surely won’t be any more than a day for sure…That dog won’t hunt for a multi day hunt man. As a guy who all he does is expedition hunts, this forum actually has a fair amount of people that pack hunt out west every year, but they don't post here often it seems.

Then all that good information gets drowned out with a bunch of weird opinions that you don’t typically see in real practice. Internet and all.

A pack with food, TP/wipes, stove system, water filtration, water collection, some type of layer like a down jacket, hunting gear (like a kestrel, ammo, mag, optic/tripod, kill kit, whatever) sleeping pad, and tent starts to push it. I know because my grab and go hunting day pack is a mystery ranch 3800.

For your bag, really check the rating. There’s kind of two standards and sometimes a brand will give one or the other..or occasionally both. Say a bag is rated for 20 degrees. There will be 20 degree survival and 20 degree comfort. You usually want comfort. If you sleep warm like I do, a 10 or 20 is good for the early season, even at 10,000ft+ usually.

Next is down or synthetic:
-Synthetic is better for survival in rough environment where you and or your bag might be wet and will still keep you warm, but is heavier.
-Down is lighter when talking warmth to weight ratio, but is not waterproof. However, another pro is it sometimes packs down really tight.

Another option worth mentioning is a down quilt. That combined with a decent sleeping pad can be just as good as a sleeping pad. I actually prefer it.

Brands: my general purpose sleeping bag isn’t available to the public. So not no point in talking it up.
However, I do agree with kelty being a decent budget sleeping bag. Another mention for “budget friendly” is a company less known amongst hunters…hyke and byke. My wife got a zero degree down. It packs down to just a little larger than a Nalgene, and is about 2 lbs.
I have a Nemo Sonic when I’m not using my other one in a system. Its pricy.

-Quilt: my fielded one is an Enlightened Equipment 20 degree.

Sleeping pad is Nemo Tensor insulated. I have a grip of others, but that’s the one I use the most. I like the 3 inches it gives and has been plenty good even for mountaineering.

My bag is usually a mystery ranch marshal which is like a 6200 bag. However, it’s a little excessive for JUST over night. I usually am out for about a week, and food takes up space. I put my bags in a waterproof compression sack. Not everyone does this, some dudes just stuff it in the pack. You end up wet enough times, and the decision becomes easier to sacrifice weight savings for waterproofing gear.

Good luck.


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I would agree that a 3600 is very limiting for multi night use.
5000-6000 is usually what I tell guys is best. For 3-5 days.
I live and hunt out west. Also guide in Alaska.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars on sleeping bags. 300$ to over 1000$ a bag! My bag is the last bastion for me when things get rough,wet and cold. After a long, long and very expensive search I can say that I have found my sleeping bag. The Stone Glacier Chilkoot 0*
Bag is a winner for me. I’ve used it 3 years now. 100+ days a year in the field. Including winter camping.
It has never failed me yet. It’s not cheap but well worth every penny.
A good nights sleep and the peace of mind are paramount when hunting in remote areas.
Just my 2 cents

Edit: I will also add that your sleeping pad is a key part of the sleeping system so don’t overlook that. I use the Neoair Xtherm NXT by therm-a-rest in the large size. I’m 6’1” and I like the extra width and length. Worth the extra 4 oz. for the comfort I get.
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I bought the same thing we use in the Army. It's a three piece system that if you know what the weather will be like, you can only take what you need. Compacts into a small ball, has its own carrier as well. Many other uses for it as well.
Spend as much as you can afford. In a bad situation your bag can save you. Synthetic vs down has been covered. I like to run a quilt personally I like to flop in my sleep. I also like to kick a leg out if I get hot. Quilts are in general lighter. I sleep in my base layer on cold nights and have never had a problem. I hunt the seirras in California and have been in snow and rain but rarely gets under 28°. I use a 30° down quilt for summer and early fall. I switch to a 20° Synthetic after that. Definitely know the rating of your bag what ever you choose. Comfort vs survival makes a big difference.
I agree with the others. A 3600 is too small for anything longer than a night or two at most unless you very very spartan. I have multiple bags but the one I use most is a Big Agnes Spike Lake 15 deg down. Bags all depend on how you sleep. If you wear minimal clothes, then I would rethink that. As long as it’s not wet, wear it and you don’t need a super low temp rating. IMO YMMV
May want to look into the Top Quilts instead. Compared to a zippered bag for the same space and usually less weight a lowered rated temperature top quilt can be used.
3600 should be plenty big as long as you consider the volume of your gear. It might be tight, but definitely doable. That's just under 60l. For backpacking trips, including multiweek trips, I carry a 34l pack. The 70l pack I carry for hunting has more room than I need. I can't imagine filling a 80-100l pack. I'd get all your other gear and see how it fits before thinking about a bigger pack.

I'd recommend skipping the sleeping bag and getting a quilt. They're smaller and lighter for the same temperature rating. When you lay on a sleeping bag you compress the insulation under you, causing it to lose most of its effectiveness. A quilt removes the area you'd normally be laying on since it doesn't really help. They don't have hoods, so you need a good hat to go along with it.

I like Katabatic's quilts. They're a semi- custom brand, so you can get a quilt made to your specs if you want. Enlightened Engineering is a popular brand, but at least as of a few years ago they were way overselling their temperature ratings. Nunatak is another popular semi- custom brand, but they often have crazy lead times.
Usually if you want quality you’re going to be spending some money. Before I get into it a, a quality sleeping pad is just as important and a quality sleeping bag. I have a Sea To Summing Spark 5°, it have been quite ample for me. Check for the loft rating as well as the fill weight to get a good idea of how warm a bag will be. I would recommend down, you can keep it dry if you’re paying a little bit of attention, it really not hard.
Buy once, cry once. If you’re serious about backcountry camping, a good bag can save your life. Western mountaineering bags are money well spent. Read reviews on them, you won’t find a bad one. They have a temperature comfort rating, not a survival rating. Pack down incredibly well, and repel water better than most down bags. I would gladly save money on a cheaper rifle, binos or any other gear before getting a cheaper sleeping bag!
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