[pct-l] Sleeping bags...WORD of CAUTION

Reinhold Metzger reinholdmetzger at cox.net
Wed May 1 14:20:15 CDT 2013

[pct-l] Sleeping bag

Hey Mark,
I have about half a dozen sleeping bags.
Some are the older heavy bags rated at 0 degrees or lower to my
UL Western Mountaineering "High Lite" rated at 35 degrees.
Which bag will work best for you has a lot to do with your comfort
level and what your priorities are.

For real cold weather, and if weight is not a problem I may take
my 0 degree bag.
Like you said they are very warm and sometimes I have to take all
my cloth off to prevent getting uncomfortably warm which can be a
For instance, some years ago our group, including some young
ladies, camped at Return Creek in Yosemite.
It was a warm night and I was in my bag stark naked.
As I woke up, I'm usually the first one up, I noticed a huge bear
staring at me from about 20 feet.
I immediately started shouting YAAHH...YAAHH...YAAHH.
Of course everybody immediately jumped out of their bags and joined
me in the YAAHH...YAAHH...YAAHH.
The bear however did not seem intimidated and just starred at us.
That put me in a very compromising situation...there I was, naked in
my sleeping bag desperately fishing for my underwear with my foot,
but I could not seem to find my underwear.
I was thinking if that bear charges I am in trouble...you don't run
so good standing in your sleeping bag and if I jump out I will be
streaking through the wilderness...stark naked...not a good option
neither way.
Let that be a lesson...warm is good...too warm can put you in a
compromising situation

The bag I use most frequently for most my High Sierra hiking, when
weight is not an issue and comfort is the main concern,is the REI
Sub Kilo.
At just under 2 lb and a 20 degree rating it is a good all around bag.

However, on my JMT "Fastpacks" where weight is the main concern and
UL is taken to the extreme and comfort goes out the window, I carry
my trusted Western Mountaineering "High Lite", generously donated to
me by Western Mountaineering for my JMT record attempts.
At 16 oz and a 35 degree rating it is hard to beat this bag.
I just love that bag...it may be not warm enough in the Sierra for
most people, however it is warm enough for most occasions and in the
Sierra I just wear my cold weather gear in the bag and that makes it
warm enough 99% of the time.
So, if comfort is the main concern, the "High Lite" is probably not
the bag.
However, if weight is the main concern and you are willing to sleep
in your cold weather gear on cold nights the "High Lite" may be the
bag for you.

A few years ago, while acclimating for one of my JMT record attempts
I met a hiker on top of Mt. Langley filming the area.
I asked if he was a professional photographer doing a documentary.
He replied  "I'm doing it in honor of my friend who died on top of
Mt. Langley."
I asked, did he fall?....He replied.."He died in his sleeping bag
from suffocation."
To make a long story short,...his friend had one of those old
sleeping bags made from none breathable material that zipped up all
the way and sleeping in that none breathable bag, zipped up all the
way because Mt. Langley, at 14,000+ feet, gets pretty cold, he
suffocated in his sleep.


I guess that's why sleeping bags now days usually are made out of
breathable material and or do not zip up completely.

I remember when I first climbed Mt. Whitney with Karen, my wife, in
1968 or 1969, before the UL Revolution, with an ungodly heavy pack
and those heavy sleeping bags and wearing combat boots.
BTW.....you ain't really "Hard Core" until you climbed Whitney in
combat boots.
I was a "bad ass" recently discharged Marine Grunt (Infantry), used
to hauling heavy packs and it went against my grain to burden my
recent bride with a pack, so everything went into one monster pack
strapped onto a military pack board and onto my back.
BTW,...I also had to carry Schatzy, our miniature dachshund, most of
the way.
But Karen cooooing into my ear "Reinhold you are my hero" made it all
worth it.
Of course I was Schatzy's hero also.

Say guys,...I understand now days you guys make your women carry
their own packs.
Yes,...Things have really changed from the days when Switchback
and Reinhold ruled the trails

I think I will sign off now
Hope to see you all on the trail someday.

JMT Reinhold
Mark wrote:
Hello all, I want to know if a 30 degree down sleeping bag is enough for
the whole trail? I have a 15 degree bag, and it is very warm. Sometimes too
warm. I'm thinking of buying a new Montbell UL Super Spiral 30 degree down
bag. Any thoughts? Thanks, Mark

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