Budget-minded and toasty, the Big Agnes Mirror Lake and Bald Mountain sleeping bags do a great job of staying small and keeping you warm.
It’s usually the last thought on anyone’s mind. Sleeping is, after all, what you do with leftover time between sunset and sunrise. And at that, you tend to forget chilly nights or clammy skin when considering everything else there is while backpacking. One agonizingly cold night on California’s coast and I vowed never to do so again. It was time for a bag upgrade for my girlfriend, Mia, and I.
I’m not really sure when Big Agnes popped into my radar but things are certain that she probably won’t leave anytime soon. Maybe it’s the boisterous name but, so far, the slogan ‘Mother of Comfort’ lives up to its promise.
Going from a 30 or 40 degree to an 18/22 degree bag has already made a world of difference, even when night time temperatures aren’t all that extreme.
Bald Mountain 18 (Men’s)
For sleeping bags, I feel like there isn’t much to say, unless you’re extremely picky. The bag either keeps you warm, or it doesn’t. Small details make the experience better but may, or may not, not add up to the overall experience.
My most recent backpacking trip wasn’t all that cold but the Bald Mountain 18 kept me super comfortable. Nighttime temps dipped into the 40s and I was perfectly toasty in nothing but boxers and a shirt, which is how I prefer to sleep. I can’t say yet how comfortable I’ll be in colder temperatures, but was warm enough to confidently say this bag would be great into the 30s.
The bag rolled up into a nice football-sized sack and didn’t weigh me down too much. The Bald Mountain is a polyester fiber-filled bag, so it didn’t compress or weigh as less as a down-filled bag (below). It wasn’t any bigger than my my previous bag, a Marmot 30 Trestles, which I grudgingly used for a while. The Big Agnes squeezed into the carrying sack rather easily, but you have to buy compression straps separate, which felt a bit odd.
One other thing I didn’t like was the lack of a zipper on the opposite side of the main zip, for doing tasks and staying into your bag. Another thing I disliked was no internal pocket for keeping sleepy-time items, like chapstick or ear plugs. To balance those dislikes, most of the Big Agnes bags have convenient neck and face collars that wrap around the openings to keep you warmer than without and make you feel like a toasty human burrito. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the upgrades.
Mirror Lake 22 (Women’s)
The short version, this bag is oh, so soft, warm, and light. Going from half the size and weight of my old camping sleeping was a dream, literally. I’m usually a cold sleeper and wear as many layers as I can; Yes, even two pairs of socks while backpacking.
With the Mirror Lake, I didn’t have to wear much else than what I already had on. Everything was warm, my toes included. I wasn’t even sleeping on any technical pad and the bag was still super comfortable to be in the entire night.
I hadn’t used a down sleeping bag before this one, but I’m still amazed at how compact I can get it. This left me with a lot of space leftover for whatever else I needed. I felt the compression straps that weren’t attached to the bag were a bit goofy to get on every single time, but they worked well once secured.
One really great feature was the ability to zip the Mirror Lake into my boyfriend’s bag. I’ve read this compromises the heat rating a bit, but no matter, I get to steal all of his warmth. Genius move, Big Agnes.
At around $200 for each, Big Agnes offers a set of nice entry level sleepers that do a great job of keeping you warm and not weighing you down too much. Although we didn’t enjoy the lack of extra features, the Bald Mountain and Mirror Lake bags are good options for beginners or those needing an extra bag for different temps than what they already have.
Another plus is getting to say “Big Agnes” when people ask who you’re sleeping with.