U.S. Army sleeping bag
A military sleeping bag is required for all participants.
- Commercial sleeping bags, including commercial copies or reproductions of military sleeping bags, are not acceptable.
- Color and type of your military sleeping bag does not matter to us as long as it is up to the task.
- The later style MSS sleep system is acceptable but not the UCP bivy cover.
Choosing your sleep system
It gets fairly cold out there and nobody knows how you sleep better than you do. If you are traditionally an "always cold" type, consider picking up an warmer sleeping bag or additional layers. There are several popular options for sleep systems:
- The Modular Sleep System or MSS is probably the most popular and practical system to use at East Wind. It consists of a black intermediate bag, a lighter weight green patrol bag as well as a Gore-Tex bivy cover which provides a reasonable degree of foul weather protection. All three pieces snap together to form a single sleeping bag that is a good equal to the East Wind environment or individual components can be removed or used independently according to conditions. Used MSS Systems can generally be found for less than $100 and are a good investment for East Wind use. Do beware that there are cheap imitations of the MSS so be very careful when buying that you do not end up with a Chinese made replica bag as these are of poor quality and do not satisfy the sleeping bag requirements. The newer pattern MSS bags themselves are acceptable however the UCP (rather than woodland pattern) bivy covers are not.
- The previous generation USGI Intermediate Cold Weather sleeping bag is a common choice as well. They are generally cheaper than the MSS system bags and are comfortable to sleep in however lack any sort of foul weather protection, are quite heavy, and are not particularly warm. Regardless, many attendees pack them along for use in camp or as a supplementary sleeping bag. Shop carefully when looking at Intermediate Cold bags, bags that have been tightly rolled for years do not loft up much making them poor insulators. Look for fairly fluffy bags if at all possible since it is the loft of the bag which creates the dead air space that in turn keeps you warm at night. Intermediate cold weather bags can usually be found for between $30 - $40.
- The M1949 Mountain Sleeping bag is another older bag that occasionally makes it's way to East Wind. Like the Intermediate Cold bag, it is a cheaper option and again like the intermediate bag it is often popular for use as a base camp bag since it is a fairly comfortable bag to sleep in. The M1949's down and feather construction tends to retain loft better than the intermediate cold bag so despite the fact that the M1949 is a generation older than the intermediate cold bag, they do tend to be slightly warmer. In addition, the M1949 is generally found fitted with a lace on sateen canvas bivy cover which, if properly waxed, does offer some degree of foul weather protection. An M1949 Mountain Sleeping Bag with it's cover can usually be found for between $40 - $60.
- The USGI Extreme Cold Weather sleeping bag frequently shows up as well. It is a very large, very heavy bag that is really only suitable for camp rather than field use. In spite of it's considerable bulk and weight, they are frequently not all that warm to sleep in since like with the Intermediate Cold bag, they have often been stored tightly rolled for years leaving their filling compressed and their loft a fraction of what it once was. Again, like with the Intermediate Cold bag, there is no foul weather protection built into the bag so they are a poor choice for field use. The price range for the Extreme Cold weather bag is generally from about $50-$80 making them comparable to the much better MSS system cost wise.
Other notes on sleeping bags
- Many attendees choose to bring two sleep systems, one for in camp and one for in the field which they keep packed in their ruck sacks ready to go. This not only saves time when packing up for a mission, it also gives you a back up bag in the event that one gets soaked from rain or damaged.
- Remember that your sleep system is your decision and no one else's. If you choose to bring an Extreme Cold bag and step off on a multi-day patrol in the pouring rain it is a situation of your own doing. We will not shortchange the experience of the other members of your patrol to accommodate your gear decisions. If you bring it, be prepared to use it.