Last week marked the arrival of a few critical pieces of gear necessary for the early weeks of our upcoming thruhike: two Big Agnes Insulated Air Core sleeping pads and the Big Agnes King Solomon 15° bag.
Eager for any excuse to get out of the apartment for the night, Travis, Willett and I headed to Sky Meadows, a Virginia State Park just to the north of Shenandoah National Park, to test out our new sleep system. An astute reader (or one who followed the Big Agnes links) may have noticed that our new arrangement is comprised of two sleeping pads yet only one sleeping bag… How odd!
A couple of months ago I asked Travis if anyone ever used “doublewide” sleeping bags during the colder months of the trail to save weight and capitalize on shared body heat. For reasons I cannot precisely recall, that conversation ended within a few sentences of my inquiry. A few weeks later, the idea persisted and I began to do more research. It appears that Big Agnes is one of only a few companies making doublewide sleeping bags feasible for a thruhike (warm, light, and packable). Of those, only Big Agnes makes them in price range appropriate for us mortals.
We settled on the King Solomon, a 15° bag that should keep us quite cozy on all but the coldest nights of the trail. Because Big Agnes bags use an integrated bag and pad system, we also invested in insulated inflatable sleeping pads to ensure a good night’s rest. After last night’s trial in Sky Meadows, here are our first impressions:
- Integrated pad and bag system: Genius. For those who have not mastered sleeping in a perfectly mummified position for hours at a time, the ability to turn onto one’s side or back without sliding off the pad is a luxury.
- Mad floofiness: With the air mattress below and down all around you, sleeping in the King Solomon is like napping on a cloud.
- FEATURES! Because you cannot scrunch the bag around your face as you would in a one-person bag, the King Solomon has two kidney-bean-shaped down floofs that tuck around your chin to prevent cold air from creeping in. Can I please have some of these for my bed??
- Snuggle n’ sprawl: Cold? Scooch closer to the warm person next to you. Restless legs? Invade your neighbor’s space with ease and warmth.
- HUGENESS: The King Solomon is a monster and, as such, does not fit well in Travis’ GoLite Jam2 (a tall, skinny frameless pack). It works just fine in my Mountain Hardware Napali 50, however, so we just pack accordingly.
- Weight: At 5 pounds 7 ounces, our bag is a bit heavier than two ultralight down bags would be. That genre of bag would cost us a small fortune, however, and this system is just fine.
- Excess proximity: Maybe after 3 days with no shower and 50 miles of hiking before the next opportunity to do so, the allure of cozying up to Travis will be greatly diminished…
- Potential mockery: Yes, a doublewide is a silly thing. Two words: body heat.