I'm planning on hiking the AT leaving march 1 NOBO. Would this be a suitable bag for me? (I'm 6'5")
(for some reason I can't paste the actual link here)Marmot Helium Down Sleeping Bag
I'm wondering if I need to start with a cold bag and switch to something else as it gets warmer, or maybe switch to just a liner.
Thanks for any info, Douglas in the A-T-L, normal maybe slightly cold sleeper
@djmueller Thanks for reaching out!
While I've never used the Marmot Helium Down Sleeping Bag, I have had several climbing partners who have used it over the years and swear by its performance. It's a great sleeping bag and the 15 degree rating makes it very versatile for a range of temperatures. We'll tag some of our users who are experienced hikers on the AT or are looking to do it soon. Hopefully they can lend some insight as well:
Also, a fun post from our community is Changes to the Appalachian Trail. Feel free to take a look.
Hopefully we can get some good discussion going for you. Thanks!
Marmot is a good brand, and it'd suit you just fine. In fact, pretty much all the major brands are pretty good. There are also some cottage brands out there that can be both warmer and lighter (at the same time!), as well as pricier. Honestly, with comparable bags, it's mostly going to boil down to personal preferences. It may even jut boil down to color! It's kind of like beds; it's a big choice, and in the case of a good bag, it's probably going to be a lifelong choice. They build them to last. In an obscure way, that's actually a downside. Gear shopping is fun, and if you're cheap like me, you won't give a good piece of equipment until it's no longer serviceable, and maybe not even then. 😄
I'm not an AT hiker but from accounts of the AT I have read or watched I think it is not uncommon to start with a warmer bag and switch it out for something lighter during the hot summer part and then get the warmer bag back for the last part. A 20 degree bag seems adequate to start and end and may possibly be on the warm side depending on the year although March is apparently early so you may want a liner if it is very cold.
The AT can be wet so a down bag is not necessarily the best choice although it seems many people do just fine with it.
You will also need a light weight insulating sleeping pad of some sort. The Thermarest X-lite is a popular choice but some find them noisy and too narrow. They do now make a regular wide not sold by REI for some reason.
Thanks @REI-JohnJ for tagging me, but I don't know that I can be much help. While I hike frequently, I've only ever done section hikes along the AT. What I can tell you though, is that in the middle Atlantic states it can be incredibly humid through the summer months. In the summer, I rarely even use a sleeping bag; just a sleeping bag liner if anything.
That having been said, from what I understand, it can be pretty cold at the start and terminus ends of an AT through-hike, so I am not advocating no sleeping bag, but just letting you know that in June/July/August, you probably won't need much in the way of insulation. @OldGuyot hit the nail on he head about a good pad though. Perhaps a good quilt would be a good overall choice?
@djmueller Yep, too hot for a bag for me on the AT in summer, at least in VA, most of the summer anyway. I’ll use a poncho liner. But also carry a 35F quilt, don’t want to be caught unprepared for sudden change.
I’m also a compulsive weather checker.
I think that would work just fine. I didn't start the AT until towards the end of April, but have done a far amount of winter hiking too. I used a 20 degree bag and I use an inflatable roll pad. I've found that as long as you'r not on the ground you can stay warm. My backup if I am ever really cold is to wear my rain gear -pants and jacket. Rain gear never breathes well and so you can keep in all the body heat! At your height, I'd try the bag out and make sure that you have enough space at the bottom of the bag when fully in it. You really need a few inches of space for air insulation. I find that pressing against the bag makes my feet cold (warm feet is really the most important part for me, so I always have a warm pair just for sleeping along with my under layers).
I have been using a no-name brand for a few years now. I was so tired of the weight and lack of warmth during those cold fall/early spring nights. I just switched to the REI Igneo 17. While it's rated for a comfort level of 28 degrees, I think it would be fine for most of the AT. Of course, that depends on when you start.