With plenty of winter camping and winter backpacking coming up, it helps to take a good look at your camping and backpacking gear and see what's missing. The big hole in a lot of people's winter backpacking gear is a good winter sleeping bag.
Of course plenty of insulation is only one important thing for a winter sleeping bag to have. Depending on where you are heading it might be a good idea to take waterproof sleeping bag with you, or at least a method of making your sleeping bag waterproof.
Waterproof Sleeping BagHere are a few good waterproof sleeping bags to consider if you are in the market for one.
- Marmot Col Membrain - This is one of several waterproof sleeping bags that Marmot makes, all under the name Membrain. This particular model uses 800+ fill down to get down to a -20 temperature rating. The weight is about 1770 grams, which works out to 3.9 pounds, which is not all that lightweight. But then not much at the -20 mark is going to be lightweight.
- Exped Waterbloc 1200 - Exped is well known for making a lot of really excellent sleeping pads, but they do a few other products, including sleeping bags. This particular sleeping bag is indeed waterproof, and is good down to the -20 as well. The weight, however, is 2280 grams, or 5 pounds, so not very lightweight either.
- Western Mountaineering Puma Gore WS - Western Mountaineering makes a lot of very lightweight sleeping bags, and they come through in that regard with the Puma Gore. The weight is a mere 1644 grams, or 3.6 pounds, and the temperature rating is -25. The sleeping bag is only "weather-resistant" however, whereas the marketing for the other two sleeping bags is "waterproof." How much truth there is to any of these claims is very debatable. I don't think you would want to be caught out in a rainstorm in any of them.
- Lightweight Bivy bag - Of course if you really want a waterproof sleeping bag, your best choice is always going to be a bivy bag. There are some great bivy bags on the market that weigh next to nothing, and will keep you dry even in that rain storm (see the compare bivy bags list).
- Sleeping Bags List - You can find plenty more sleeping bags over at the compare sleeping bags list if none of these fit your needs.
Synthetic insulation is the one you want if you plan on getting wet. It weighs more, on average, than down does, but it retains a lot of its insulating properties when wet. So while your backpack will end up weighing more, you want have to obsess over keeping your sleeping bag.
The other choice, down, is typically lighter than synthetic sleeping bags. The trade off is that if you get down wet you are going to be cold until you manage to dry your sleeping off, which can be next to impossible on a winter backpacking trip.
Of course you don't want to get either kind of sleeping bag wet, which is where a waterproof sleeping bag can pay off. If you don't want to spring for an expensive waterproof sleeping bag, however, a good, waterproof bivi bag is the best backup option.