We're now officially into Fall, which puts us into my favourite time of year to be backpacking. There's something so magical about the amalgam of colours, temperature and smells of this time of year; I can't wait to get out there on the trail.
There are many pieces of gear you will find yourself with on any trek, but most will agree there are some basics you don't really want to go without. My sleeping bag is definitely one of those basics. I'll go tent-less before I'll go bag-less, for sure!
That said, I love my Big Agnes Crater bag and pad system. They don't appear to be *making* this particular bag anymore, so this is a more general review of the bag and its sleeping pad system; as you see I've linked to the google shopping options (outlet and others seem to still have it).
The Crater is a 15 degree, down-filled mummy bag—I've found that for most cases 15 is perfect in the Southeast. When it's hot outside, I simply leave it unzipped. When it's cold, I cinch it tight and happily roast the night away; I haven't found any drafts or leaky spots after a year of using it. When I'm traveling with my fiancé, we zip our bags together and I leech off of his heat. This bag is a win-win on the temperature for me.
As far as the pad is concerned, the Big Agnes is different from all of the other sleep systems I've owned. Namely, it doesn't have a bottom! You must purchase a separate pad that you inflate then slide into the underside sleeve of the bag. I've heard this isn't quite the best for *super* cold conditions, but I've yet to find myself winter mountaineering. (When I do, I'll consider my options.)
The pros for this bag and sleeping pad system are simple:
- You save on weight in the pad by having an inflatable pad.
- The inflatable pad is way more comfortable, to me, than my other sleeping pads.
- You save on weight in the bag by basically having half a bag (the upper portion).
- You potentially save on space with the option to keep the pad inside your bag when you pack it up for the day, plus bag and pad compress nicely.
- Best of all, you don't roll off of your pad in the middle of the night!
- When I've been hiking all day, sometimes I really, really don't feel like blowing up my sleeping pad.
- You can't get too close to the fire. Not that I make a habit of sleeping close to fires, but some folks take these pads and insert them into fancy contraptions to make chairs out of them. Pop! goes a little piece of spark and pop! goes your sleeping pad.
- See aforementioned cold weather conditions (sleeping on snow) that I've heard about but not experienced with this bag/pad.
There are other sleep systems I look forward to trying, but for now I'm hanging on tight to my Crater bag.