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Suggestions for sleeping warmer with temps in 30s

Hi All,

Another cold legs and feet question ... lol.

I used the North Face Eco-Trail 20 F Bag for the first time a couple of days ago and my legs and feet were cold in 34 F. 

I had a sleeping pad, 2" mattress pillow topper (I'm a wimp ... LOL) plus an open summer bag, in that order, under me. 

I had on medium weight base layers on, top and bottom, stocking cap, plus merino wool socks.  I was ok until temps dropped below 40 F.  I then added a synthetic bag liner which was a little better, but my legs and feet were still not warm enough.  I think the padding below was adequately warm as only the tops of my legs and feet felt cold. Torso, arms, hands seemed to be OK. Head was warm, but face felt a little cold.  I had the hood pulled pretty tight around my face with just a small hole to breath through, but the air still felt pretty cold on my face.

My legs and feet are usually colder than the rest of my body when I sleep. 

What would be better for extra warmth? a quilt on top of the bag, a blanket on top of the bag, another warm weather type sleeping bag unzipped on top of the bag, place the Eco-Trail bag completely inside of a larger warm weather bag or a better sleeping bag liner.  I don't want to be too warm either.  This would be for sleeping temps in the 30's.  Any other suggestions?   

I read that an insulated balaclava would help and have one on order. 

I would not camp in temps below 30 F and usually sleep in the van in cold weather.  





19 Replies

If your bag is synthetic, I would try down. I find it to be much warmer. My synthetic bag had cold spots and felt drafty. Other than that sounds like you were  planning to be plenty warm. Exped makes a down filed sleeping pad too.  


Thanks, Howard.  I have a slight allergy to down, at least I used to, so not sure I want to try it again.  I've heard that newer down is more sterile and less likely to cause a reaction though.  I do like the North Face bag.  Synthetic handles moisture better, too. Down may make my upper body too warm so that's another concern that's why I was thinking of something on top that can be moved to adjust for temps. I was thinking a camping quilt with a toe box would work well but I'd have to find one with a large toe box so that it wouldn't effect the loft of my bag. 

Thoughts ...



I rarely zip up my bag. I usually wear it like a quilt and put my feet in the toe box. I’ve been pretty warm into the teens in the high Sierras with a 20degree down bag, a liner, and thermals and a beenie. I tend to sleep warm, but not my feet.   I’d like to try those hand warmers in the foot box sometime. Best wishes.


@TEDthebed if your legs are cold in your bag you could look at the mountain hardwear compressor pants. They have full length side zips and compress pretty small. I often pair them with my sleeping bag to extend its comfort range. 


Your bag was probably not a 20° bag, I suggest you go back and double check the label. That said, a 20° bag is probably only good down to 40°. But if it is indeed a 20° bag suggest you take a look at your sleep pad rating and think about throwing in A couple of handwarmers.

If you do a search here you’ll find a couple of threads with a list of things you could do to stay warm, it’s a great subject.

good luck!

REI Member Since 1979

I understand that a bag rated 20 F is a survival temp not comfort temp, which to me would be 10-15 degrees higher so I'm not faulting the bag. 


I assume you meant this one

Seems like it should be warm enough but the ratings are really only a guide because people vary a lot.

If you don't want throw money at it I would try using a hot water bottle on cold nights to kick start the warmth in your bag.

But probably you just need a warmer bag for winter use but if you are car camping and not too concerned about bulk, a light over quilt would boost the bag you have.   I have not tried this but this might work and is relatively inexpensive...why I point it out is that it has fasteners to wrap around like a quilt.   There may be a reason it is discontinued...some claimed it was loud but there are similar choices.

Your sleeping pad arrangement sounds a bit of a hodgepodge and I'm not convinced it is as insulating as you claim.  Possibly you would do better with an higher R value pad. More than 5 for winter is the rule of thumb.  As an example (I have not used one) this one has a R value of 8.1 and is probably great for car camping although it is quite expensive.

Synthetic or down booties might help your feet stay warm and would be useful if you had to exit the bag during the night (as a certified geezer, that is a guaranteed event for me!!) 

Might you have impaired circulation in your legs??

A nutritious meal before hitting the sack would probably help.

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The water bottle idea I did consider and actually took an old rubber hot water bottle/bladder with me.  I didn't try it as I worried when the water cooled off in a couple of hours that it would be even colder than just the bag.

Yup, my "sleeping pad" is a hodge- podge, but my back and back of my legs didn't feel cold.  It was just the tops of my legs and feet.  Of course, with better padding below, my legs and feet may have been warmer.  BTW, I was on an elevated wood platform with 3/4" plywood top.