Just before we left for our last Appalachian Trail adventure, we decided to carry only a single bag for the two of us. We’d spent hours trying to see if any of our existing sleeping bags would zip together. Five or six bags later, we had no matches.
With only a few weeks before we’d be at Springer, we began our search, not realizing how few choices we would have. And unfortunately, our thru-hike for two wasn’t a “money is no object” hike. There were some beautiful lightweight bags available from Featured Friends and several other manufacturers, but they were quite costly, $700 and more.
So, thinking economically, we chose the Thermolite fill, 15 degree Cabin Creek from Big Agnes. At 5-1/2 pounds, it was bulkier and heavier than we’d planned but it was shipped to Sandy’s nearly empty apartment just in time to head out on the hike. And it cost less than $300. Since we live in Florida, we realized that our winter hiking wouldn’t often involve snow, so we didn’t go with the additional warmth or weight savings of the down. We couldn’t justify the expense.
New to both of us was the Big Agnes design – no fill along the bottom of the sleeping bag. Instead, there are pockets for two self-inflating air mattresses, sold separately. That gave us separate comfort choices. Sandy had a full length Thermorest she’d used for many years, and I bought a brand-new smaller, oval model to replace the closed-cell foam I used for our first week on the trail. As I broke down the inside of our tent each morning on the AT, I could easily tell her side of the sleeping bag from mine. Hers was noticeably more comfortable.
While Big Agnes was roomier than we needed – cutting a foot out of the footbox would have helped us keep warmer – we were very satisfied with its performance. We were probably just about at its comfort limits when we awoke to snow just before arriving at Max Patch. Although it filled most of the body of my pack, being so large, it certainly was a spectacle! When we stayed in shelters, other hikers would come over and ask questions about it.
After using it on the AT for 350 miles, we were very satisfied with our purchase. As the weather was warming up, our friend Gutsy let us take over a couple of their more lightweight matching bags as we headed up to Harpers Ferry for the second stage of our hike.
Big Agnes works perfect in Primrose, our vintage VW camper. It fits just right on the folding bed. No messing with sheets or blankets. In the morning we just stuff it in the cloth storage bag and raise the bed back into the bench seat. In fact, a couple of weeks ago we woke up snug and warm inside Big Agnes and Primrose, which has no heat … and our windshield was covered in ice.