On a remote hunting trip, in a place like northern British Columbia, having a quality sleeping bag serves a few major benefits. The most obvious upside is comfort. But a high quality sleep system will also be lightweight and take up less room in your backpack or duffel. Quality sleeping bags provide a higher warmth-to-weight ratio.
If you are preparing for a combo hunt in B.C., or a hunt in any remote location, here are three critical things that you should look for in a sleeping bag.
1. Quality Materials
The best sleeping bags are made with the best materials. While many sleeping bags may look alike, materials and construction make a world of difference.
Start by looking at sleeping bag manufacturers that have a reputation for quality. This starts with the bag’s fill. Premium down is by far the lightest and warmest option in fill materials for sleeping bags. Some examples of quality manufacturers include (but aren’t limited to), Western Mountaineering, Marmot and Big Agnes and Stone Glacier.
It’s true that synthetic materials offer more moisture resistance than down. However, synthetic bags can’t compete with the light weight, packability, and warmth of down. Additionally, synthetics won’t last as long if you use your bag regularly.
Many hunters worry about using down, particularly in wet climates like British Columbia, because down loses its insulating properties if it gets wet. But most manufacturers now use water-resistant down that repels water and dries quickly. These are probably the best options, since they offer the best of both worlds.
Be aware that the difference between high quality and low quality down is massive. Look for sleeping bags with 800 or 900-fill down. The higher the fill power, the fewer feathers it takes to achieve the same warmth. For example, imagine two comparable 15-degree F sleeping bags, one is filled with 850-fill down and the other with 600-fill down. The lower quality bag might require a stuff sack that’s twice as big, and weigh nearly twice as much.
Finally, the face or shell fabric of any sleeping should also be lightweight and water resistant. High quality face fabrics aren’t cheap, but they are a critical part of your sleeping bag’s construction.
When you start with a sleeping bag that’s made with high quality down and materials, you might be surprised how warm a sleeping bag can be that weighs so little and packs so small.
For a typical mountain hunt, we’d recommend a sleeping bag with a temperature rating between +15F (-10C) to 0F (18C). If you’re a warm sleeper, go with the higher temperature rating to save space and weight. Bags rated for colder temperatures require more fill. You want to sleep comfortably, but remember that the more fill you add, your sleeping bag will get heavier and bulkier.
3. Weight and Compression
As we’ve already mentioned, sleeping bags with the best materials and technology will weigh less and compress smaller. The higher that warmth-to-weight ratio, the better. When comparing two sleeping bags side-by-side with the same temperature rating and one is much cheaper than the other, the cost is almost always a factor of weight and compression size.
A quality sleeping bag that’s warm enough for a wilderness hunt will typically weigh between two and three pounds. A good bag will keep you warm and comfortable on a multi-day hunt in the Canadian bush, plus, it will be easy to carry wherever your travels take you.
Like sleeping bags, a good sleeping pad is a sum of its materials, weight and packability. For early season hunts, consider the Thermarest NeoAir XLite. The XLite is extremely lightweight and comfortable. For hunts later in the season, we recommend the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm. The XTherm adds a little insulation for comfort in colder weather. A full-length pad is the most comfortable, but a ¾ length pad will work great and save weight, particularly on early season stone sheep and mountain goat hunts.
If you have questions about packing for your British Columbia hunt, please feel free to contact us. If you’d like details on our combo hunts, please explore the rest of our website or contact us for details and availability.
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.