Last night after many weeks of indecisiveness, I finally purchased a new backcountry sleeping bag. My first backcountry bag was purchased in 2001 and has lasted me all this time, which I find incredible! I did pay about $210 for the original bags. They are Jack Wolfskins and are super light. i think they were about 2lbs and were rated -5 but don’t quote me on that as I got them a very long time ago and they have long since been discontinued.
Until a few years ago, the bags were holding up well. I went on a backcountry trip for a Wilderness rescue course at Frontenac Provincial Park in May and found out from some long time backcountry experts that sleeping bags loose their temperature rating after time. I am that person that gets really really cold at night and can never seem to get warm and as of late, backcountry camping has not been as enjoyable due to me freezing in my bags! HAHA! Finding out the bags loose their rating would explain a lot of my discomfort. Even though backcountry sleeping bags are very expensive, I now know from experience that they can last many many years so the investment is definitely worth it. It was just what to pick that I was having a hard time with!!
In early June after not being awarded the job of #woodsexplorer I was watching a video from one of the successful candidates @mageewalker who was posting at the time, about sleeping bags and how to choose one. (post on June 2nd on the Wood Canada Facebook page). It seems Magee gets very cold at night like I do and to overcome this, she suggested getting a bag that has a much colder temperature rating than what is required. At that point I decided that was what I needed to do as well, but with no backcountry trips planned, I decided to hold off.
A few weeks ago, a friend contacted me asking if I would take her backcountry camping and teach her the ropes. I was thrilled and of course, said yes. We picked a date and shortly we will be heading off to explore http://www.ontarioparks.com/park/killarney Killarney Provincial Park, my first time there and I am beyond excited!
Our trip planned is not a long crazy trip with lots of portages, just a canoe trip where we will be staying on the lake we enter in to. I don’t want to scare off my new camping friend and thought this would be the best way to get started with her experience and teach her the in’s and out’s of backcountry camping. I definitely prefer to paddle into a site, over backpacking in, and generally book trips doing so. Therefore, this meant that weight of the bag wasn’t a huge issue when picking one out, so that was to be kept in mind. I also still had the lighter bags to use if I wanted to do so, so a heavy bag wouldn’t be a big issue if I ended up buying one.
I contacted my favourite person for gear, Jamie the owner of Outdoors Oriented in St. Catharines, ON and he recommended two bags to me http://outdoorsoriented.com/collections/sleeping-bags/products/marmot-trestles-15-women-s and the http://outdoorsoriented.com/collections/sleeping-bags/products/marmot-trestles-30-women-s-1 . One is rated -1 and one is rated -9. They are both similar in price but the bag with the lower temperature rating was also a pound heavier and when backcountry camping, that can be a big deal… if you’re hiking in, which I generally don’t do.
After a great deal of indecisiveness, i finally chose the @marmot Trestle 15 women’s bag rated for -9 and headed home with it last night. Still very unsure of my decision, as the bag weighs over 4lbs and is much bigger than my previous bags, or the Trestle 30 I was debating to get, I decided to test it out and see how warm it actually was. With Jamies’ advice, I cranked up my air conditioning last night to 66 degrees, 18 degrees celsius and put the new sleeping bag on top of my bed and slept in it. I was toasty warm but didn’t sweat or get overheated at all.
Over Canada Day weekend the highest temperature overnight we had was 14 degrees celsius and I went to bed wearing pants and tights under them, a toque and mitts and was barely comfortable, so figuring I would probably be wearing a bit more camping, but the temperature would most likely be lower than the 18 that my house was currently at, I decided this was indeed the bag for me, although a few people advised against it and thought it’d be too warm for me.
Making choices like these when buying gear, HAS to be your own. People can say all they like and give you as much advice as they want to , but in the end, it comes down to you, in that tent alone, in the cold and being able to tolerate the temperatures yourself, getting a good rest so you can carry on with your tripping the next day and enjoy your time outdoors and not be worried about being cold or not being able to sleep and being exhausted. This is a very important lesson I’ve learned in this process and I wanted to make sure to share it with others. Sometimes, you have to go against what others think and when they say, “you are going to sweat your a@% off in that bag”, you just have to do what’s best for you! This bag is perfect for me and I can not wait to test it out in Killarney, now that I know I won’t sweat my a@% off! I will always choose being too hot over being too cold!
For more information on the Marmot Trestle 15 bag or any others, please visit http://outdoorsoriented.com and talk to any of their wonderful staff who can assist you in making the right choice for you, as they did for me! They will guide you and give you the information you need to choose what is best for you, not tell you what to do, as everyone is different and has different needs! Thanks also to @mageewalker for her great advice on how to choose a bag that’s right for you!
Hope you enjoyed my blog post and it helped you in some way!