Painted Sky Sleeping Bag -A DIY Sleeping Bag

Stats

  • Finished Weight: 31.5oz
  • Fill Weight: ~20oz
  • Interior Length: 68”
  • Width: 52/64/60/40 (top edge/shoulders/hip/foot)
  • Target Temperature Rating: -7C/20F (TBD with testing, will likely have to wait until fall for limit testing)

Features

  • 3/4 length zipper
  • Zipper draft tube with anti-snag strip
  • Auto-locking zipper pull
  • Closed foot box (with no sewn-through seams)
  • Hoodless
  • Horizontal baffles in the foot box and vertical ones on the body to minimize down shifting
  • Over sized draft collar with cinch
  • Roomy cut through the torso, hips, and thighs, tapering at the neck and foot
  • No sewn through seams!

Having no sewn through seams in the foot box was an absolute requirement for me. What a terrible place to have cold spots! The challenge was I needed to come up with a method of construction to do this, and still have a way to stuff the baffles, from scratch. I couldn’t find one example on the internet anywhere, every example I found either sewed a pre-stuffed foot box straight into the quilt body (so a sewn through seam and potential cold spot all the way around the bottom edge), or sewed the back edge of the footbox closed through both the inner and outer layers (a cold spot right down the back of the quilt). I needed to get creative!

What I ended up designing was rather unorthodox, but worked! I’m rather proud of having pictured it in my head through all the steps, then having it work out exactly as pictured. That was a culmination of over a decade of design and sewing experience coming together for me. It was a nice strike against my impostor’s syndrome! I plan on putting together a pattern and set of instructional videos for this bag later this summer, so stay tuned! Here are a few brief clips of how I put the bag together in the mean time (sound on!):

The Bag

So puffy!

Preliminary Testing

The night I completed the sleeping bag, we had an unusual cold snap for the end of April – projected lows of -2C. Likely the coldest I would be able to test until fall, so I jumped on the opportunity! I set up my car camping tent fly-and-footprint, tossed down 2 ccf pads (since I was setting up on top of 3″ of snow) and settled in for the night. I wore a set of base layers, socks, a hat and a buff, as those would be the clothes I would have if I were expecting these sorts of temperatures on the trail.

It was a windy night, and still snowing. Due to my lazy backyard pitch, I had wind gusting under the fly and snow blowing in on top of me. Not exactly the expected use case for this bag! Come morning, my thermometer recorded an overnight low of -3C.

Despite the conditions, I was very happy with the performance of this bag.

I’m used to my sleeping bags twisting around me as I toss and turn at night. That was why the zipper draft tube was critical for me: I couldn’t bank on it staying in place in the centre back where it would be bolstered by the warmth of my sleeping pad. I was pleasantly surprised however, that I had no twisting, despite having my usual restless night. I think this is due to having a cut that actually fits me, so the bag wasn’t dragged along with me while I moved. I also loved having room to pull my knees up a bit without having cold spots develop where my knees and toes poke into the down. All and all, the roomier sizing may have cost a bit of weight, but I am happy with that trade off!

In order to test the draft tube, I positioned it on top where I could feel any cold spots if they were to develop. Good new: no cold spots! The need for a draft tube on the zipper was clear however, if I ran my hand between the draft tube and the zipper, the cold coming through the zipper was very noticeable. That cold was not transferring through the draft tube to the interior of the bag though, with means that the draft tube is doing its job!

The anti-snag strip also appears to be functional, as even when zipping and unzipping the bag several times I never had fabric get caught in the zipper pull.

The decision to go with a one sided auto-locking zipper is still up for debate, but I think I will be happy with the trade off. I hated with my old bag that I couldn’t set the zipper partially open, the pull with just slide back down to the bottom. The auto lock pull gets rid of that issue, but you need to be careful not to put excessive stress on it when locked out.


I am IN LOVE with the draft collar! It is so poofy and cozy around my face and didn’t let any of the gusting wind into my bag.

At no point in the night was I cold. In fact I was a bit too hot falling asleep, but was a good temperature for most of the night. With a low of -3C over night, my intended temperature limit of -7C seems like it will be close to accurate.

I look forward to using it for my trips this season and doing limit testing in the fall to see where the rating ended up falling!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s