View Full Version : What mil surplus sleeping bag?

November 25, 2001, 03:05 AM
For general use in temps no lower than 35 degrees?

I've been looking in the Sportmans Guide and Cheaper Than Dirt catalogues and seeing U.S, British, Swedish, and others and wondering who here at The Firing Line might have some experience with this stuff.

The USGI intermediate and the USGI down filled Mountain bags look like good bags, any others?

November 25, 2001, 11:48 AM
Personally, I'd say DONT get a surplus bag of any stripe. Bags generally have a definate lifespan of use. After that period has passed (I think offically a couple seasons with synthetics, somewhat longer with down) -- you basically have a couple layers of fabric, and if you're lucky, a little bit of filler in between. I'd expect soldiers in the field all the time to wear 'em out faster that that. You will NOT be warm unless you're overnighting in Hawaii. In 35 degrees, you will freeze your tail off.

SO.. I'd fork up the extra dough and get something new. Many many people have suggested to me that the Wiggys bags are best. I got their bag rated to 20 degrees, and was only somewhat chilly one night when stuff froze all around the mountain, and I had not even a tent or tarp that night to break the wind.

And I sleep cold.

Anyhow, Wiggy also made that series of two nested bags for some branch of the military, or so he says, and you can get then in a nice olive drab if you like. (being often a lone chick in the woods, I like the chance to NOT stand out like I've got a neon sign around my neck, so I tend to go that way myself).

You can find out more at www.wiggys.com

Later --


November 25, 2001, 12:05 PM
If you are planning on doing any backpacking, know that military sleeping bags (at least the US ones I was issued) are really bulky and heavy. They are also very far from state of the art in sleeping bags. If you are short on cash and don't plan on having to carry it, I would think that any of them would keep you warm to 35 degrees. Just before I got out, I got a brand new extreme cold weather bag which I never turned in. I never used it, and ended up throwing it away. I own two bags. Both state of the art when I bought them. One good for something like 30 degrees and one good for something like 30 below zero. I find that they never keep me warm anywhere near the temperatures they specify. I use the one rated to 30 in the summer and the other in the fall. I don't play much in the winter. One thing that greatly improves the effectivness of a sleeping bag is a good sleeping mat. I once tried to sleep in my 30 below bag in the bed of a pickup with no pad. That didn't last long even with that impressive temperature rateing.

November 25, 2001, 01:06 PM
The modular sleeping system is the current issue for both (I don't think anyone in a unit that actually goes to the field gets the old bags any more.) the army and Marine Corps.

It consists of


Mummy design for temperate climates of 30 to 50 F as a single bag. Insulation Fill: Polargard (3lb)

Mummy design for colder weather climates of 30 to - 10 F as a single bag. Insulation Fill: Polargard (4lb)


The bottom of my intermediate bag says that the bivy, patrol and intermediate bags mated and ECWCS gear on it the system os good to - 50 F. But the coldest I have used it to was a little under 0 F.

November 25, 2001, 01:12 PM
Thanks for the update STLRN. It sounds like GI sleeping bags have come a long way. Nothing is too good for the Joes.

November 25, 2001, 02:20 PM
Uncle Wiggy's bags are the most durable sleeping bags you will ever own.I think only throwing it in a fire will ruin it.I've owned mine for about 12 years and it has never lost its loft.If you want a bag that'll last longer than you then check them out. www.wiggys.com

November 25, 2001, 02:28 PM
I've got a mountain bag and an extreme cold bag. The mountain bag I have used for hiking, but, is only good to 40 degrees. The extreme bag is good down to 20 deg with a mat, and zero using heavy plastic tarp as outside bag cover.

But, I guess it depends on what you are using it for.


Bud Helms
November 25, 2001, 03:08 PM
Off to Gear & Accessories, if Scott'll have it.

November 26, 2001, 05:11 PM
You might want to check out the bags by Moonstone---Mountain Hardware----and Marmot----all good stuff. I can't recommend North Face products---quality has gone way down in the last few years----bought a bag rated for 20 degrees from them----never had a warm night---unless it was the middle of summer.

My Moonstone goosedown bag is excellent. Nice and toasty---even in a couple 11 below nights on our last deer hunt.

November 28, 2001, 05:32 AM
I've decided against mil-surplus based on what Kaylee posted. So, I've done some looking around and read about synthetic vs. down and I think down is better with the only disadvantage is getting it soaked in a rainstorm. However, I don't imagine synthetic is going to perform that much better in those conditions either.

The Wiggys bags are interesting, especially if the claims he makes are true. Apparently, his Lamilil synthetic solves a majority of problems with both down and synthetics. The bag is washable and since moisture and oils ruin bags over time, this is a great feature.

I like the Mountain Hardware, Moonstones, and the Marmot brands that were suggested. I'd like to hear more about the Wiggys.

Jeff White
November 28, 2001, 10:09 AM
I've had a Wiggys modular bag setup for at least 10 years. It is the model the military copied for their modular set. best bag (s) I've ever owned. I guess Jerry (owner of Wiggys) is still pretty upset that he didn't get to continue to produce them for the military. I don't know what the real story is, but current USGI aren't as good as my old Wiggys set. The current contractor uses a different fill then the Lamilite that Wiggys has patented.

It is washable and very compressable. Mine stays in the stuff sack most of the time, but it lofts right out when you unroll it. If I'm ever in the market for another bag, it'll come from Wiggys. I've used mine from Camp Ripley MN in January to the mountains of Ojo de Auga Honduras in July and about every climate in between. The two bags and a ponch liner are about all you need to sleep comfortably in about any climate you're likely to encounter.


November 28, 2001, 11:41 AM

by modular do you mean Wiggys' FTRSS (flexible temperature sleeping system)? The option that adds about $160?

November 28, 2001, 01:37 PM
Can't comment on Wiggy's or anything current for mil-issue - never used the former & way out of the loop on the latter.

For some general gee-whiz stuff, no bag will keep you warm without being insulated from the ground - bag's insulation is compressed to 'bout nothing under sholders, hips, etc. Depending on what circumstances, you may be well served by a simple closed-cell foam pad. They roll up pretty tight & are lightweight. Maybe use a 1/2 length one to go under just shoulders to hips - clothing can be stuffed under the rest of your body.

GoreTex bivy bags are worth their weight - saves having to take a tent, stop the wind & prevents much convective heat loss - greatly improves bag's efficiency.

Decent bag, pad & bivy bag & you can be set for some pretty serious conditions.

Down is lighter for any given insulative value & compresses better than synthetics, but, the synthetics are catching up & perhaps, except for the most demanding, are just as "good" & are a bit less expensive.

Marmot is top-notched stuff & I use a 2lb5oz down bag (Swift - mummy ~$120) rated at 20F for 3-season CO use to 14K'+ An old Holubar (precusor to North Face) -20F down for winter.

Weight for my summer package is under 5lbs for pretty bullet-proof protection.

Big advantage of synthetics is you can squeeze out the water & it will dry much faster than down. A wet synthetic will keep you wamer than wet down, but it will suck anyway - keep it dry.

My one fast rule about bags is get one warmer than you'd expect to need - you can always get colder if you want.

Jeff White
November 28, 2001, 02:30 PM

The bag I've got is the forerunner of the current modular sleep system the Army issues. Apparently Wiggys made them first and sold them to the military on a limited basis. Years ago they advertised in a small ad in the back of Army Times that they would sell the system to any active or reserve soldier for the (then) govt. contract price of $185.00, I jumped on that deal and haven't regretted it. I'm not sure who underbid them for the MSS contract, but mine is exactly like the current one on the outside, green patrol bag, black intermediate bag, black stuff sack. But it has the Wiggys' lamilite insulation rather then polarguard.

Looking at their website, it looks like the FTRSS is pretty close to what I have. You might want to contact them and and ask what they sold to the military about 12 years ago. I'll see if I can dig out the literature that came with mine when I get home.


November 28, 2001, 04:18 PM
The ultimate snoozin' system, assuming you're NOT backpacking:

I hate sleeping in zippered sleeping bags. And I'm pretty big anyway.

Got a surplus used folding cot - the big heavy sucker with the aluminum frame and such... (spent $50)

Stuck a closed cell foam pad on top ($15). The put a sleeping bag on top of that ($20), tucked under the cot (and stuff don't shift - see below). A pair of sleeping bags goes on top, one heavier than the others ($20 and $35), both spread out like comforters and hanging down around the cot.

This served VERY well for week-long trips in both in April and October - Was very comfy, and never even thought of going for the "3 bags inside each other" approach. Generally just used one cover on top, and pulled the other one on as the evening passed... Temperatures were as low as 35 degrees. It was quite difficult to get outta the thing at 6:00 ayem...

Only downside was that the end-rails want to come off the cot - That doesn't happen anymore, after I tied the whole sucker together with a pair of those load straps with the ratchet buckles on 'em ($8)...

November 28, 2001, 07:28 PM
Bogie brings up a good point = how it'll be used. "Not" backpacking makes a huge difference in what you can "get away with" regards bulk & weight.

If not too concerned with "excellent quality," occassional use, etc. you could probably get by pretty good with something along the lines of a Coleman rectangular bag well under $100

November 28, 2001, 11:57 PM
Another point------get a closed cell foam pad ($15)---makes a world of difference as far as comfort and warmth.