Vintage 1974 North Face Sleeping Bag

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I have a North Face sleeping bag, mummy shaped filled with Dupont Hollowfill II. The tag says manufacture date is April of 1974, I remember buying this bag as a teenager and it has followed me thru several moves. If I may have used this bag 3 times at most. I am planning an October Tent camping/fishing/hunting trip in the Adirondacks and wondering if this bag is still good enough or are today’s sleeping bags “much, much better”? I have a couple of camp style bags rated at 30 or so degrees that work fine in summer or inside a cabin. I think the North Face is rated at 0 and above. I am a tent camping novice!
 
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If the bag was stored properly(loose and not stuffed tight) it should be still good!! Open it, lay it on the floor and see how much loft it has!! If you know the temp rating then you can find out if it lost its loft or not
 
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I had -30 Fahrenheit Hollowfill II bag in the ‘80’s.
Used it hard for 4 months straight.
Then lightly for two years.
At the end of this time, it was about a +20 Fahrenheit bag.
Down only for my wife and I because of durability, comfort, and weight.
Thanks
 
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Synthetic bags lose their loft/warmth more quickly than down bags, though that's mostly due to use and stuffing. If it's been stored stuffed for that long, then it will be a heavy summer bag. If stored properly as Canotrouge mentions, it might be adequate. I'd expect probably a 20 degree or more warmth loss from the listed rating, i.e. don't expect it to keep you warm at 0. You should be able to find loft-temp guides on the web.
 
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I still use my circa 1990 North Face "Snowshoe" bag (material is Polarguard -- Hoechst). It was originally rated +5F, and I'd say it's in the 15-20 range now. It's been stored well, never compressed. Maybe the thumb rule is 5F per decade?

Today's everything is lighter and more easily broken.
 
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Honestly, if I were you, I'd retire the bag and purchase a new one. The prices, unless you're looking at a "serious" down bag, aren't that great and you'll ensure a better night's sleep if you do. I'd also recommend, if you do decide to purchase a new bag, look at a down bag. While this may seem to go against my comment about down bags being expensive, they don't have to be. I've seen reasonably priced down bags from LL Bean, REI, etc. and for the $$$, I've come to believe they are a better value.

Long ago I bought into the line of thought that down bags don't mix with a water environment but honestly, that doesn't have to be true. Be sure to line your sleeping bag liner with a good plastic garbage bag liner and you should be fine. Bottom line, a quality down bag, stored properly (not crammed in the stuff sack and allowed to fluff up in a storage bag) and treated with care will last much longer than a sleeping bag with man made insulation; at least that's been my experience over the last 20 years.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper
 
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You might consider a jog over to REI in Rochester to see what is on sale. I have a 1965 Gerry Down bag that used to have a lot more feathers than it does now. It is still used for a summer bag ( used to use it in the ADKs in the fall and spring). Can't remember the temp rating as back then it wasn't advertised.

Put your bag in a commercial dryer with tennis balls and see if the loft comes back and is distributed evenly.. Holofil should not be as clump sensitive as down. You can also add some flannel sheets inside the bag for added warmth or a commercial sleeping bag liner

Another crucial thing is underneath.. Back in 1974 there were no good insulated sleeping pads. And we suffered from the cold ground. Bag insulation when compressed does not work. There are quite a few reasonably priced sleeping pads. Look at Klymit. You can cheap out and buy some blue pads from the camping section at Walmart but you will need about three of them in Oct.

I am a down fan and a down bag is a good investment but you really should try your candidate on. Mummy bags have to fit you. Too big and you sleep cold. Too small and you are feeling confined.

But one might not be in the budget now as you have other camping items it seems you have to gather.
 
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Wow, I am amazed and thankful for all the responses! Thanks everyone! As a genuine canoe camping newbie, I am especially grateful.

The bag has been stuffed in its storage bag pretty much since 1974, so I am sure it has lost quite a bit of its loft. I will try the dryer and tennis balls and see how poofy it becomes, but it looks like it has some pretty good loft already. I will try to take and post a picture later today. I do have an insert and my friend has pads to sleep on. My main concern is that we pick a weekend that goes below 30 and the bag is not up to the task. We will be in a tent and have a small propane heater. So we would probably be ok, but that is not the time to find out! The other issue is it being a mummy bag and I am what is called "husky" - I do find it constraining. But for 3 or 4 nights, I could probably take it, as long as I am warm and dry. And since it is a portage and canoe trip, I want to keep both the volume and weight of things at a minimum. I would imagine newer bags are both warmer, smaller and lighter than in 1974.

I have points to burn at Cabelas/BassPro and will also look at LLBean and REI to see what they have available - I understand a lot of this equipment is hard to find due to Covid, so I may have to make due with what I have for now.
 
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Stuffed for 46 years, even with an original 0F rating, I’m not sure I trust it. I’d at least spend a night in the backyard first to make certain the fabric didn’t crap out, zipper work, no cold spots, didn’t smell funky, etc.

If only used a few times and stored unstuffed - ours are loosely draped over thick wood hangers in a closet - maybe. If (when) you get a new bag don’t leave it stuffed between trips.

October in the Adirondacks I’d want something rated at 30f or below, and because of the way I typically use sleeping bags, and usually pack for one-season colder, probably 20F or lower. Last October trip to the Adirondacks I brought a 0F bag and didn’t regret it, even with nights in the 20’s.

I’m a warm sleeper and am rarely zipped up inside a sleeping bag, usually just lofted over me like a big quilt, so I can stick a foot out if I get warm. If it does get surprisingly cold I can always zip up.

That lack of compression, sleeping atop the bag bottom, occasional airing out of accumulated moisture as I toss and turn at night, and thoughtful home storage may explain why my sleeping bags last for decades.

BTW, I had a beloved 0 degree North Face down bag from ’74-ish, probably the most expensive piece of gear I bought in the 70’s. I might still be using it (as a shoulder season bag) if some jackass hadn’t stolen it out of my truck.

(That bag went to Nepal with a friend. When I lent it to him I put a very lifelike rubber Corn snake deep inside the bag before stuffing it. He admitted to no surprise when he first climbed into the bag and wondered what that clammy thing on his legs might be, but reported that the Nepalese guides had a great time teasing each other with it)

Another crucial thing is underneath.. Back in 1974 there were no good insulated sleeping pads. And we suffered from the cold ground. Bag insulation when compressed does not work. There are quite a few reasonably priced sleeping pads.

Absolutely. Any sleeping bag fill, laid on compressed atop cold ground, has damn little R-value. Sleeping bag design and fill maybe have gotten marginally better in the last 40 years, but sleeping pads have improved by leaps and bounds.
 
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You can restore some of the loft by putting the sleeping bag in a dyer, no heat, and add a clean tennis shoe with no laces. I have a North Face Superlight mummy down sleeping bag that I bought in 1980. I do this at the beginning of each camping season. It really helps the loft.
 
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I have 30 years in outdoor retail, and longer than that in the outdoors...

40+ year old synthetic sleeping bag that has been stored in its stuff sac, and is probably too tight now, I wouldn’t trust it.

A quality bag (not necessarily “expensive”) from a reputable brand, bought from someone like REI or a local outfitter will serve you going forward.

if finances are tight, even a bag from Walmart (no cotton!) would be better for one trip.
 
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Try it some night in the back yard. See how it feels. If it was a 0 degree bag at one time, it might still be a 30 bag and good for many months out of the year. Hollofill was one of the first good man made materials for sleeping bags. We had kapok. We had military bags made with some duck down and chopped chicken feathers. I have used wool blankets and lots of other things. I would not be so fast to give up on it. Besides the way bags are stored, the two things that ruin them are human body oils and washing machines. Your bag has not been used much so you can eliminate the last two problems.

I bought two duck down sleeping bags from REI in 1968. I still have them and they are still functional.

As much as I love down, it is not suitable for some conditions like wet. I took a down sleeping bag to Alaska around 1996 and climbed over Chikoot Pass. We had solid rain for 4 days. My sb eventually got wet. It was no good in a little tent above tree line in the sleet and wind. The closest I have ever come to freezing to death and the date was August 31.
 
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As much as I love down, it is not suitable for some conditions like wet. I took a down sleeping bag to Alaska around 1996 and climbed over Chikoot Pass. We had solid rain for 4 days. My sb eventually got wet. It was no good in a little tent above tree line in the sleet and wind. The closest I have ever come to freezing to death and the date was August 31.

I agree about wet down bags, but even down has comes a long ways, with hydraphobic nanomolecular down coatings (the jury is still out on that treatment) and improved vapor barrier bag fabrics (jury is almost in).

I am more protective of my sleeping bag than another other piece of gear, no matter whether down or synthetic. In a water-resistant compression bag (or at least stuff sack lined with a kitchen garbage bag), stored in a proven dry bag. And no seepage in the tent, whatever it takes to maintain a dry bedroom.

Wettest trip ever was 11 straight days of nothing but constant rain and drizzle in Olympic Nat’l Park. I finally understood why I so saw many billboards for fungal cream on the drive there, my fingertips looked like I’d been pickled. Hoh, it’s a damn rain forest, but at least my sleeping bag was dry. Nothing else was.

Sleeping bag design and fill maybe have gotten marginally better in the last 40 years, but sleeping pads have improved by leaps and bounds.


I should amend that statement. There actually has been considerable improvement in sleeping bags since the Pleistocene kapok era, or even 1970’s And not just in coatings and fabrics, baffles and hood designs and zip flaps, but other innovations.

The Big Agnes system, where the sleeping pad slides into a sleeve on the bottom of the bag. No reason to have a lot of insulation on the bottom of the bag, your body weight will compress it to scant R-value, and when using a decent sleeping pad you don’t really need it.

https://www.bigagnes.com/Gear/Sleeping-Bags/Big-Agnes-System-Bags

Or Flip-bags, with different R-value insulation on the “top” vs “bottom”. We have a 30f – 50f Mountain Hardware down flip bag that is a (not for me) family favorite. OK, the 50F side is essentially a summer weight couple dozen feathers between two layers of fabric, but damn it packs small.

Mt. Hardware’s 25/40 flip might have been an even better choice, but they only made that model with synthetic fill.

Neither design is a good choice for me. I don’t usually sleep inside a bag, but instead unzipped quilted underneath. But, if you habitually sleep inside a bag, something like those are worth considering for weight/volume savings or multi-season functionality.

Full confession about weight and volume savings – my 0 degree winter bag is a rectangular, synthetic-fill Wiggy’s, typically used as a thick, giant quilt. Even in a compression sack it is huge, just slightly smaller than a ¼ keg,

Don’t care, I love that bag; it is so big I can even sleep zipped up inside if need be.
 
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Otto, 40 x 86, 0F synthetic fill, 10oz cotton shell and flannel liner?

I’d pass. The packed size is not specified, but it must be massive and, even if you could find a big enough compression bag, it wouldn’t help much. I’m not sure I have a dry bag big enough in which to pack that monster.

FWIW the giant Wiggy’s bag I have is similar to this, or maybe exactly this:

https://www.wiggys.com/sleeping-bags...-sleeping-bag/

I’m not pushing Wiggy’s, but if you don’t mind camo and a bit of a mummy, Wiggy’s has some specials on 0F bags, including a sized compression stuff sack, for not much more than that Cabelas bag:

https://www.wiggys.com/specials/sale...sleeping-bags/

A good quality sleeping bag is definitely a buy once, cry once item.

EDIT: That 0F camo bag does not come with a compression stuff bag, but for an extra $15 it is worth including one.
 
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Otto that bag weighs 5 lbs.. And rectangular shape lets warm air out. Plus cotton flannel if it gets damp wicks warmth away.. I would pass too. The Kelty mummy bag looks like a better choice ( also at Cabelas) But I don't know its or your dimensions
 
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And rectangular shape lets warm air out. Plus cotton flannel if it gets damp wicks warmth away

Absolutely agree about flannel lining getting damp with body moisture. And no question mummy bags are warmer by design.

I am not recommending a rectangular bag; they just fit my purposes and warm sleeper style better than a mummy. I generally sleep with the bag, any bag, draped over me like a quilt.

It is trickier to poke just my feet out the bottom of a mummy bag for foot cooling temperature regulation, especially on warm days/cool nights, where it may be 50f when I first go early to bed and 25f when I awake. That still-warm evening foot reveal is impossible with some partial zip models.

For me the heavier fill of a synthetic bag works better in that over-quilt guise than down. Something in the Wiggy’s bag design/fill makes it drape closer to my body, perhaps because the fill is laminated to the cover. Sleeping under a down bag used as a quilt leaves undraped chill voids lofted alongside, / O \, and the seam on the non-zipper side, positioned directly above me, often has little thickness of insulation/loft.

I am an XL sized semi-fetal position side sleeper, tossing and turning and changing sides. Being zipped up in a mummy bag is the stuff of nightmares; I end up constricted, with the bag all twisted and the hood flopped suffocating over my face. Really not easy to heave and flop around still inside the bag and make that straitjacket snarl right without unzipping, getting out and starting over.

With a wide rectangular bag, if damn-it’s-cold need be, I can zip it up and sleep semi-fetal knees bent inside the bag, tossing and turning without becoming helplessly ensnared.

(Starting to think that I really don’t like sleeping inside mummy bags, eh?)

I don’t remember, even on the coldest of nights (maybe into the low teens where I winter camp), ever sleeping with the hood cinched tight, and face peeking out, around my head. Also the stuff of nightmares. So I don’t need, or want, a hood. Again, I am a warm sleeper, and like to keep a cool head.

That is all very much personal preference; we sleep in unheated bedrooms with a window or two open a bit, even in sub-freezing dead of winter. I am accustomed to sleeping under a heavy pile of blankets and tucking them aside my body without really awakening. At least until snow blows in and settles on my head.

YMMV.
 
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Otto don't forget the hat. Freeze is here. A hat on your head no matter what the bag will help keep you warm.
I was busy this am harvesting now dead herbs trying to save them for infusions.. The mint and basil is toast. The parsley endures. Got to 24.
 
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Ok you guys convinced me - a new bag is in order. I spent real money with Wiggys instead of points at Cabelas. I went to the site, just to research, and had a question. Called the 800#, left a message and Wiggy himself called me back. Someone needs to get him to write his life's story, what a character!

Anyway, I bought the 0 degree bag in some odd camo color, which I love anyways, and a waterproof stuff sack. $155 all in with no shipping fees or sales tax. I promise you Andrew Cuomo that I will be including it in my next NY tax return! I am all set and he promised me it would arrive before my trip. (September 30th) Great guy and made in USA so I am happy to spend that money with him.

Yellowcanoe - I have 3 hats packed so I will have choices!

Thanks for the tips, keep em coming on other fronts, but the sleeping arrangements are settled.
 
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