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Why is my sleeping bag so cold?

sleepingbag-200x148Q. Dear Gear Guy, I have a 30-degree rated backpacking sleeping bag but still get cold in above freezing temperatures. Can you recommend a good bag that is light enough to carry and will still keep me warm? Thanks!
–Chilly Cooke, Troop #1, Jackson, Miss.

A. Hey Chilly, thanks for the question. The listed temperature rating of a sleeping bag is just a general guideline. Some guys are colder sleepers than others — so they need warmer sleeping bags. And older, poorly maintained bags won’t keep you nearly as warm as a brand new bag.

All that considered, here are some things that might help: Try buying a sleeping bag liner. These are basically silk or fleece sheets that you slip inside your bag and add about 10 degrees of warmth (you can find them at for about $35-$60). Also try wearing long underwear when you sleep, and maybe even a stocking cap.

If you’re still totally freezing, it’s time to start shopping for a new sleeping bag. Check out my Gear Guy sleeping bag buyer’s guide and focus on the slimmer mummy-shaped bags rather than rectangular bags. The more narrow the bag and the tighter it fits, the less air your body has to heat up and the easier it will be for you to stay toasty at night. Down-filled bags also provide more warmth-to-weight ratio, so take a look at a lightweight bag like the 2 lbs. 14 oz. Marmot Sawtooth +15 down mummy bag ($200; Here’s hoping you’re name changes to Toasty Cooke after reading this!

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10 Comments on Why is my sleeping bag so cold?

  1. Get a new sleeping bag.

  2. Hey,while youre on Jamboree,make sure the liner is safe.

  3. Make sure you put on dry underwear before you get in the sleeping bag for the night.

  4. Ed Zeppelin // March 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm // Reply

    Try wearing a hoodie: keeping your head warm will keep you warm! Also, get off the ground! i.e. use a pad or some other way to keep the ground from sucking out your body heat.

  5. Its called a blanket, put a few in your sleeping bag!!!

  6. Always use a sleeping mat or pad to keep your sleeping bag off the ground. This insulates you, preventing your body heat from going straight into the ground. You can also layer clothes while in your sleeping bag just like you would outside (close wicking layer, long underwear, regular clothes, fleece vest/jacket, beanie, scarf, etc). You use a neckerchief, bandana, or t-shirt to cover your face and keep it warm. Fill your water bottle with hot water (make sure it’s a good seal) before bed to get your toes toasty enough to fall asleep, it’ll be cool enough to drink at breakfast.

  7. Try putting a handwarmer in the bag about an hour befor bedtime.

  8. OldManJakens // August 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm // Reply

    Make sure you hve enough space

  9. Put blankets inside the blackets on top and under you. And get a mummy bag that covers youre head.

  10. Make sure your sleeping bag is clean and also store it properly. Don’t always leave it in your stuff sack that way your filling won’t be compressed and be better insulating.

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