Someone asked me before I started my bicycle trip across the United States what I thought was the most important thing I packed for my trip. Without hesitation I said – the right gear to keep me warm. However, I wasn’t only talking about staying warm on the bike. (I almost have cold weather riding down to a science. See
5 Step Guide on what Clothing to Pack on this web site.)
Staying warm at night is what worries me the most while touring, since I mostly sleep outside in a tent. The organizer of the coast to coast ride recommended that I bring a sleeping bag rated for 0°. The problem with his recommendation is that there are no standards for rating sleeping bags.
In many cases, sleeping bag manufacturers greatly inflate their ratings. The sleeping bag rating only means that you will survive at the rated temperature. It does not mean that you will be warm and comfortable. While my trusted 25° rated down sleeping bag did the trick for me, you should know how well your sleeping bag performs for you. And be prepared with additional warm dry clothing just in case your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough. In fact, there were a few nights I had to wear a wool beanie to bed to keep my head warm.
Originally Posted February 25, 2015
Updated April 19, 2018