View Full Version : Anyone a fan of Big Agnes bags? Or other favorites?

12-01-2009, 10:13 AM
I've been keeping my eyes on the gear sales going on this season and though this might be the time to upgrade my sleeping bags if a good deal pops up. Currently I've got a Marmot 40* for summer and an REI 15* for winter. Both are mummy bag styles and I have a really tough time getting sleep on hikes in them. I'm more of a side sleeper and tend to roll and shift in my sleep.

I started looking at the Big Agnes bags since they have the wider foot box. But the other thing that is unique to them I see is that they have little material on the bottom side of the bag. Instead they have a sleeve built in that you slip your pad into. They claim with this system you never roll off the sleeping pad, which sounds great.

Anyone have opinions or experience with their bags? Or have similar sleep situations and found som other solution?

This is their 50* summer bag:


and the 0* I'm considering


12-02-2009, 06:52 AM
I just spent a fair amount of time researching a winter bag and was turned off by the BA bags for the reason you cited about the built in pad sleeve. They appear to use very little insulation in the bottom of the bag using the argument that your body squishes the insulation anyway. The idea is that the pad makes the insulation layer for you.

The argument falls very short on me because it overlooks the way you actually sleep (humans anyway). Most non-flat people (sorry Flat Stanley) do not squish a large area of insulation under their bag; they concentrate their weight on a few "heavy" areas. Even with a pad the area under insulation squishing pressure is small compared to your body size. Try this... lie on your side on a pad and see how much area allows you to easily stick a thin object underneath your body. Now also consider how much area of the bottom surface of your bag is even covered by your body and you are left with a big uninsulated area on one portion of your bag.

Now you may say "what about the pad?", but most pads provide little insulation. Foam insulates well, but is usually too thin (and heavy if thick) to provide the level of insulation that a well lofted bag insulation provides. Air mattresses are thick and light, but the design is usually a poor insulator because of "convection cells" that occur in large insulating airspaces (which is similar to why 2 pane windows aren't made 3" apart to provide fantastic insulation).

As for space...I can't argue. I also sleep on my side and the BA seemed to allow for more rolling space. The integrated pad is convenient for rolling/tossing/turning issues, but a Bivy does the trick too and on decent (clear) nights you don't even need a tent (even in the rain they work as a tent).

I personally went for a colder rated bag to make sure that I'm toasty. I felt that a 0* bag was OK, but that a -20* bag would be that much warmer if for some odd reason I found myself camping on a -10* night. Using the -10* night, I wasn't comfortable trusting a BA bag that had little insulation on the bottom. The supposed weight savings was just too small to be worthwhile to me. For example The Farwell 0* bag you show above is the same weight as the North Face Tundra (sythetic fill) I ended up buying (although I did sacrifice space)

my .02 (where is the cents key on my keyboard?)

12-02-2009, 04:14 PM
That's some great info! Thanks. Its a tough decision, because the ones I like, like the BA bags, aren't generally carried in the gear outlets. So you can't walk in, touch, feel, etc. Another brand that seem good in the Mont Bell (sp?) with their elastic setup.

12-03-2009, 04:26 PM
I hadn't even heard of Big Agnes until a few years ago, when saw my roommate's unbelievable thin and light BA sleeping pad. She had just come off a stint as a rep on Backpacker Magazine's "Get Out More" team, which was sponsored in part by BA, so she had aaaaall their gear (along with a ton of other really great, high-quality outdoor gear). She fell in love with their stuff, and has used it ever since as a NOLS instructor (read: more field time than any of us will ever get!). I have also since purchased a BA pad (can't recall the exact model, but it blows up to a luxurious 2.5" thick and looks like a pool float). You have to blow it up yourself, but it gets way thicker than my high-end Therm-a-Rest, and packs down to the size of a small Nerf football. Yes, you read that right--it gets TINY!! It has changed the way I backpack; I love it!!

Oh, and it also does actually double as a pool float. My roommate was in one of their catalogs surfing hers down some river in Colorado and I've used it in many a high alpine lake. Sweet fringe beni!

I don't have a BA bag, so I can't vouch to the whole bag-and-pad system, but I can tell you that my BA pad does provide a lot of insulation. Mostly because of how much air you have between you and the ground. It is definitely warmer than my Therm-a-Rest. I do plan to make my next bag purchase a BA bag, and have high hopes for the system. I love the idea of not sliding off my pad!

I should, however, note that I don't do winter camping. I would imagine you'd want better insulation for anything below 20-ish degrees.

02-24-2010, 11:38 PM
Nice post, keep up the good work