Q. 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 REI.com 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; www.marmot.com). Here’s hoping you’re name changes to Toasty Cooke after reading this!