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Winter Camping

I am winter camping the last weekend in January with a group of "seasoned winter campers".  Does REI rent sleeping bags?  I have winter wear, outdoor wear and snowshoes, etc.  I will be in a tent with a friend who is well equipped with winter camping and as a newbie am not looking to purchase a cold weather sleeping bag.  Thoughts or ideas are welcome.  

3 Replies

Specific conditions = How cold, any snow?  If you are car camping,weight and bulk are less of a concern.  Bring lots of blankets to supplement whatever bag you have, padding for underneath, etc.

Check around for loaners and the like.  If you do much of this, a good, warm, lightweight bag will be one of the best investments you will ever make.

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Some REI locations and other places do rent sleeping bags and pads.

I do not know whether they rent bags that are sufficient for "winter" camping so you should call.  Other camping outlets rent gear also and they may have branches more convenient to your location.

That said if you are not hiking far and don't mind carrying the weight you can find 0 degree bags for not too much...The trade off is that they are heavy.  This one weighs ~6 lbs...

I haven't used one of these.  Just pointing it out as an example.  You can find others for less money if you look around. 

If you have a 3 season 20 degree bag then you can extend the temperature range 5+ degrees or so with a bag liner.  Try this at home first since not everyone gets along with these and the range extension may not be enough for the you.  Also wearing insulating clothing while sleeping...base layer,  puffy, socks, beanie etc.  helps a lot. 

Another idea is to use a hard nalgene bottle as a hot water bottle.  Don't get it too hot and make sure it is closed properly so it doesn't leak.  Put it in a compactor bag if you are afraid of it leaking.  I have not done this personally but I have known people that do although that was for cold nights rather than winter.  If you are car camping or not hiking far then you could use an actual hot water bottle which is a bit safer and more comfortable.

In addition to a suitable sleeping bag you will also need an insulating sleeping pad which you can also rent.  Some people use two in the winter... a closed foam base pad with an inflatable pad on top for more insulation and comfort.  While the best inflatable pads can be quite expensive you can find less expensive options that will do for occasional use and you can get close foam pads fairly inexpensively. This is a good quality one although it is a bit bulky.

but you can find more basic closed cell pads suitable as a secondary pad for as little as $10 elsewhere.  Ideally you want a wider pad for winter use but you need to check what size your friends tent can accommodate.



@openair thanks for reaching out! 

@OldGuyot is correct, we carry different rental gear in different store locations, so your local REI may not rent everything listed, you can see our rental options here. Give your local store a call to see if they have what you need. Find your REI location

Also, consider a sleeping pad like @OldGuyot  mentions it will help with insulation. I personally like to wear midweight baselayers while I sleep it helps to keep me extra warm.   

Happy camping! 


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