It seems like discussions about sleeping bags on here (and the web in general) mostly focus on bags for cold weather – see pretty much any thread here for someone bringing up the berg. But, living the beautiful R of SA, a large portion of the year and a lot of hiking locations simply do not warrant this level of preparedness.
I recently took my K-Way Kilimanjaro II out to Magoebaskloof, and it was total overkill. Lovely bag, served me well when camping in the sub-zero Northern Cape winters, but actually quite uncomfortable in the summer in a hut.
I’ve got another hike lined up in 2 weeks, and I’d like to take a more appropriate bag. Now, my only other bag is a Mr Price model that my dad got me when I was a kid. It’s worn out, scratchy, and not really smaller or lighter than my down bag. I reckon that warmer weather is a good opportunity to save on space and weight, so thinking of getting a new bag for this and future hikes.
This Naturehike bag looks like a good bet: Takealot weighs 680g, stuffs up pretty small, and based on a YouTube review I saw, it’s really easy to pack into the stuff sack.
I’d like to find some alternatives though. It seems like there must be some cheap and light local bag that would also do the trick – maybe something from Makro or Mr Price. Anyone here have a go-to for summer hiking?
Otherwise, I’m also interested in trying out a quilt – they’re all the rage over in the US – but I can’t seem to find any that don’t require an expensive import. Quilts ought to be cheaper than bags! Are there any available? Or would it be possible to MYO?
In terms of safety should the weather go south, I intend to always pack a base layer and light-but-warm down jacket. I prefer the versatility of wearables for warmth, and only really want a bag for comfort.
Hello @phlippieb. Have a look at the First Ascent Amplify Down Light. I have fastpacked with it extensively in the drakensberg, can definitely vouch for it. It’s not as cheap as the Nature Hike, but definitely a better long term investment.
It is more versatile if the weather should go South, I have used it mid-winter before (not recommended though). It offers better warmth than the naturehike (looking at the specs, as I do not have experience with the naturehike) and stuffs smaller. Some of the benefits down bags have over synthetic.
You can buy fleece at a fabric shop, range from lightweight R60/m to heavyweight R110/m (1.5m wide). You can just buy 2m; fold it over and get someone to stitch the footend and open side together (suggest you leave top 30 - 40cm unstitched). whala - super cheap comfort bag that can double as a liner when venturing out into extreme cold. hope you’re not wider than 75cm though
I actually have done exactly this to make a warm inner for winter camping. It’s wonderfully cozy, but not the most compact or lightweight piece of gear – probably because I used a very thick fleece blanket bought at Makro. A lighter fleece might just do the trick! Thanks.
I’ve been on somewhat of an insane sleeping bag research mission myself, acoss the temperature and price spectrum and here’s my 2c.
That Naturehike item (I did not look at deeply) is super cheap. I actually went to Nh and had a closer look at two of their down sleeping bags and was sorely disappointed, they looked cheap, the low quality spiky down clumped in the baffles with acres of empty (cold) spaces surrounding them. Everything about it said cheap for obvious reasons. I do not think it’s value for money. Sadly. Worse though was the foul smell of the down. That really put me off.
As to your question, well, it depends on how much you’d like to spend and consequently how long you’d hope for this bag to last. Also how tall you are, if you’re less than 183cm there are more options, I’ve learnt. Many synthetics are at a sweet price point / weight / size / quality. I say sweet with a few years of use in mind and all my recommendations lurk around the R1000-R1500 mark. One of the better synth fills around is Primaloft, look at Kway’s Zermatt (longer, for men) or Chamonix (for woman, and shorter men). My girlfriend has the Chamonix and is happy with it…also, she nabbed it on sale for a mere 700-bob. If you scour around on the forum you’ll see the Zermatt gets some favourable nods.
Also at Cape Union Mart is the Deuter Dreamlite 500, packs small, is light and reviews a plenty on the web.
Another alternative is Vaude (at Mountain Mail Order / City Rock), Arno did a review of one on this site somewhere, the Sioux 400 I believe. I actually checked them out last week at City Rock in Jhb, the Sioux 100 may be the item for you, nice and compact. Vaude is also a ecologically minded company so it’s good to support them and score a few moral points along the way. The Sioux 100 packed smaller than both the Chamonix and Zermatt. As a ‘summer bag’, I would go for it. Cost about R1100-R1200.
and oh, another 2c…
I have also looked at quilts, but not extensively. Thing is, the best options are in the States , but I remain unconvinced. My cousin is though and has touted their benefits, linking me to youtube clips where people re-enact how you have to sleep like this but not like that, and if only this but not that etc etc. Seems like little more than an ‘open sleeping bag’ to me. They have to have toggles you can jimmy to close the fit with in adverse conditions and so forth.
That FA quilt is just a blanky, you’d need to customise it, watch tutorials, get aunty to help sew and awh man…
And, lastly, if you’re under 183cm and not afraid to blow some money Sea to Summit have some excellent kit. The Traverse2 springs to mind. Available at Drifters Bryanston. Pricey though. Make you weep.
…another nifty option is the Vango Planet 100, also available at Drifters, small, well made.
JR Gear is there too but I’ve checked them out closely and the zips were irritatingly fiddly, not what I want, in a tent, tired, in the dark.
By the by, that S2S Traverse I noted is really a 2-3 season bag, but it’s just so versatile and soundly thought through I couldn’t help add it in. The detailing and construction is fantastic.
I’m a pretty big proponent of quilts. But this is also as a fiddly stomach sleeper who runs warm, so mummy bags are a living nightmare for me. Your mileage may vary. Temperature range is pretty personal, as some people just feel the cold a lot more than others. The common take is if you think of yourself as a “cold” sleeper to bump down another 10F with a quilt.
But the big thing with a quilt is that it is made by your sleeping pad, it’s part of a sleep system. Throwing a 20F quilt on a half centimeter of foam pad in winter is going to leave you unhappy.
If you are bringing something across from the states I have had a good time with Enlightened Equipment, decent price to quality. Their 20F Enigma which has a closed footbox has been a great winter quilt in the Cederberg. Summer I use an older 40F Sea to Summit Ember quilt I have been pretty happy with. If I was going to buy again though I would probably replace that with a 30F Enlightened Equipment Revelation. That feels like the sweet point, warm enough for most situations but with a footbox you can open up when it’s hot.
If you are picking up an EE quilt from the US, you can buy off the shelf stock from a company called Garage Grown Gear that also has decent first time buyer discounts plus awesome support. Still not cheap, but nothing down based is.
That is extremely helpful! Yeah my wife and I have already been playing with the colour options on enlightened equipment’s website We were looking at Hammock gear but EE had more colours! I think a 30F for myself and a 20F for her will work for us. I have never been able to sleep in a mummy bag… I would rather freeze and keep the zip open than be constrained like that!
Yeah we are looking to spend a bit extra on the bags and pack and make do with the other stuff. We are in our early 30’s so we would rather buy right and use it for many many years. Other gear I am more than happy to get from Aliexpress.
I use a First Ascent Adventure Light (500gram down) as a summer bag. I also have a Desert Rock Outer bag (lightweight) which can either be used as a groundsheet or an outer if it gets cold. It keeps the Adventure Light clean as well. My wife sewed me a sheet inner, which I can put inside if needed and it keeps the inside clean as well. Like layered clothing I have layered sleeping bag.
Over the years Ive got a few sleeping bags (family helps there too.
For warm weather Deuter Dreamlite 500L has been stellar
Spring on Jutten Island I thought I would be cold -not, Malgas island over Christmas, not too hot. Kgalagadi camping in January, and Kruger in February. For the Kruger Trail in July Im taking it with a closed cell foam pad.