Make your own -20 degree sleeping bag?

I need a sleeping bag that can keep me comfortably warm in weather as cold as -20 F. I want to customize it with lining, pockets and such. What material would you recommend and what synthetic filling would you recommend?

8 Answers

Relevance
  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I sewwd several sleeping bags back in my 20's when I was into winter backpacking and mountaineering. You used to be able to buy kits with all the materials to make them from several companies: Frostline, Altra and Holubar were the major manufacturers of these kits. In fact I sewed the ONLY model of kit bag that was available in a minus 20 degree version, the Holubar Ultimate, which contained over 3 pounds of goose down. it was such a ridiculously warm bag I ended up selling it to a guy going on a polar expedition -- it was too hot for me too sleep in at any temperature above 0! I found it more useful to use a two bag system consisting of a lightwieght 3 season down mummy bag (rated around 20 degree F above 0) and a second overbag that the mummy goes inside, made of polyester insulation and rated to around 35 degrees. I can use the overbag alone in the summer or on canoeing trips (where you would not want down because it could get wet), use the down bag alone in Spring and Fall, and carry both bags in the Winter. 2 bags like that are easier to carry than one honking big winter bag like you are thinking of making.

    Sleeping bag construction is complex. You have to be able to stablize and compartmentalize the insulation so it stays maximally lofted around your body. This is not a simple engineering task in sewing. You can buy the materials you need from Seattle Fabrics (nylon ripstop or taffeta for the shell, down or various types of polyester fill for the insulation and hardware like 6' two-way zippers and cord locks.) I think they may even still sell patterns to make sleeping bags. Even though I had been sewing for more than 15 years and was an expert seamstress, sewing those sleeping bags was the most difficult and complicated assembly I ever did.

    Sleeping out at such low temperatures is a life or death situation. You really need a bag that is designed to keep you reliably warm. Personally I would not risk that with something that I tried to invent myself when there are affordable and well-designed options already available and proven for such conditions. Campmor has many choices in sleeping bags for a range of conditions. You will spend more buying the materials and probably wasting a lot of them tweaking the design than it would cost to buy one already made.

    I suggest you buy a bag and then, if you want, sew a liner with the pockets and other features that you want that will fit inside. Many people like the idea of a fuzzy Polartec fabric liner but I can tell you the reason most sleeping bags have slippery nylon lining is that it makes it easier to get in and out of the bag and to move around once you are inside. If you try using linings that are fuzzy, like fleece or flannel, they will stick to your skin and get tangled up when you move around.

    Also, as I said, any bag made to keep you warm at 20 below 0 is too hot to sleep in above freezing -- my old bag felt like a sauna -- hot and sweaty -- when I tried using it in milder temperatures. I would have to unzip it and leave a leg hanging out to stay comfortable. When I used to sell sleeping bags we had many customers who made the same mistake (though we would always try to talk them out of it.) They would get cold overnight using some flimsy Walmart bag and decide they needed the "best most expensive" bag. They would buy a polar expedition weight sleeping bag and then discover it was just as miserable to be too hot in it as it was to be chilly in the cheap bag. This is why you should choose a bag for the condition range you are most likely to sleep out in OR do the two bag system like I use.

    Source(s): experienced in using and sewing sleeping bags
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.

    RE:

    Make your own -20 degree sleeping bag?

    I need a sleeping bag that can keep me comfortably warm in weather as cold as -20 F. I want to customize it with lining, pockets and such. What material would you recommend and what synthetic filling would you recommend?

    Source(s): 20 degree sleeping bag: https://tr.im/7geYy
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • chris
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    A brushed polyester fabric, and Hollow fill polyester fiber for the fill 4-5 lbs depending on an offset layering will give you a bag that's good down to -20. Time and labor though you could buy one for a lot cheaper. Here is an article on how to choose a sleeping bag that covers materials that may help you to make your own,

    http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/sleeping-ba...

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    With every day pass, our country is getting into more and more trouble. The inflation, unemployment and falling value of dollar are the main concern for our Government but authorities are just sleeping, they don’t want to face the fact. Media is also involve in it, they are force to stop showing the real economic situation to the people. I start getting more concern about my future as well as my family after watching the response of our Government for the people that affected by hurricane Katrina.

    According to recent studies made by World Bank, the coming crisis will be far worse than initially predicted. So if you're already preparing for the crisis (or haven't started yet) make sure you watch this video at http://www.familysurvival.tv and discover the 4 BIG issues you'll have to deal with when the crisis hits, and how to solve them fast (before the disaster strikes your town!) without spending $1,000s on overrated items and useless survival books.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 8 years ago

    I do not believe that you are going to find a synthetic sleeping bag that is comfortable down to -20 degrees. Furthermore, if you choose an extreme cold-rated container, then you will not be comfortable when sleeping in a warm night. If you persist with an extreme cold sleeping bag goal, then you will be spending a lot of money, probably in the range of $600. If you hope for a lightweight sleeping bag, then you are certainly talking about down.

    Marmot CWM EQ -40 Sleeping Bag, $700.

    Source(s): http://www.rei.com/search?cat=4500001_Sleeping+Bag... rating (F)=-50%5E0&jxInsulation+type=Down&hist=cat%2C4500001_Sleeping+Bags%3ASleeping+Bags%5EjxTemperature+rating+%28F%29%2C-50%7E0%5EjxInsulation+type%2CDown http://www.rei.com/product/795904/marmot-cwm-eq-40...
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • paul z
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    You can get a military surplus bag,and get the liner for it too,costs less than other available,and already made,making a sleeping bag from scratch is way too complicated sewing for even good seamstress to do correctly,so forget about it,buy one ready made.Primaloft and down are the only things that will keep you from freezing to death when it's that cold,military bags have the best stuff available.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 5 years ago

    I use PUL (laminated polyurethane traditionally used for cloth diapers) for the interior and exterior liners, then for filling I use multiple layers of thermal batting (traditionally used for making oven mitts). PUL is 100% waterproof and windproof plus it's incredibly lightweight and strong (sewing adds breathability), thermal batting is polyurethane batting pin pricked with Mylar for maximum heat retention. I trace my body form on newspaper to make two mummy bag cutouts, one with my head (bottom of bag) and one that stops at my chin (front of bag), then I cut my interior and exterior liners using the cutout. I cut my thermal batting based on the degree of the bag I'm going for, -20 dregrees requires 3" of filling front and back. Sew the front of the bag and the rear of the bag edges to make 2 panels. Sew horizontal lines across the panels each 6" to form baffles. Then sew the panels together adding a zipper and drawstring for the hood. Spray the exterior with breathable silicone.

    • These bags work exceptionally well because the Mylar pin pricked lining provides maximum heat retention even when soaking wet. These bags breath fantastic and dry quickly. Coat the seems with Campimg Spray Silicone to add waterproofing while allowing breathability.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.