You can enjoy the outdoors even on a small budget. For most outdoors endeavors, the gear don’t have to be expensive or high-end quality. Although there are situations where you can’t compromise quality, for example, snow camping.
One of this sites objectives is to show how you can save money by means of acquiring used gear, or even make your own gear, and exlpain when it is better to buy new and higher quality gear.
I am hoping to add such content later, over time, but in this article, I am just going to share my experience buying a used sleeping bag.
Choice of sleeping bags depends on where and how you plan to use it. For a backyard-, or drive-in tenting, you would do fine purchasing a new roomy and warm sleeping bag for a decent price. And it doesn’t even have to be a warm sleeping bag since you can bring extra blankets to keep you warm.
But for backpacking you are limited to the light-weight sleeping bags, and any of the better ones are going to be expensive.
If you purchase a new several hundred dollar sleeping bag, rated for cold weather, then you are all set. In a high-end sleeping bag, you can be sleeping right out there in the snow, and you will stay warm. If you can afford it, it is definitely worth it!
Here in Southwest Washington mountains, at a typical camping elevation of around 4000 feet, it rarely goes below 10F. The store brand sleeping bag I purchased for less that $50 from a sporting goods store, is rated for 0F, but I wouldn’t trust it for that low temperatures. But it does keep me plenty warm at around freezing temperatures.
So what about used sleeping bags? Here is my experience buying a used synthetically insulated sleeping bag: The other day I found an old cold-weather mummy-style sleeping bag at our local Goodwill store, for $10 dollars. It was a REI brand, and I could tell it was a high end sleeping bag. But it didn’t have any labels with any kind of information, and I couldn’t find anything about it on the Internet. I contacted REI, and here is part of their response:
“From the photos, it appears to be a REI K2 Expedition Sleeping from 1979. At the time it was comfort rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, although this will have changed significantly in the last 30 years (synthetic insulation breaks down fairly quickly; after five years of moderate use, the synthetic fibers are no longer able to provide the loft they could when new).”
That was a really interesting reply! So even if it was rated at -25F, it won’t perform that well today. I did use it in an igloo last winter. It was below freezing in the igloo, but I still stayed plenty warm. But it is heavier than my department store sleeping bag, so I might prefer the new, lighter weight bag.
The sleeping bag was washable, so I ran it through our heavy-duty washer and dryer, before using it the first time.
In conclusion, I do recommend that you buy a new, even a lower priced, sleeping bag, rather than a used one, only because the breakdown of the synthetic material over time. On the other hand, if you are on a very tight budget, a used sleeping bag for a few bucks works too, as long as you wash it, and you know how well it still insulates. Try it out in the backyard, so you won’t have any surprises once you are out there in the back-country!
Well, if you find a used sleeping bag insulated with down, then, I assume, it would be a very good purchase! I don’t think the down material loses its insulation rate the way synthetic insulation does.