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What is the best sleeping bag for climbing Mt. McKinley?

What sleeping bag do you recommend for a Mount McKinley Expedition? What is the best sleeping bag for climbing Mt. McKinley (Denali)?

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The best sleeping bag you choose for a Mount McKinley Expedition will depend on when you plan to climb the mountain and how cold you sleep.  Personally, I'd go with at least a -30 Sleeping Bag to be safe. I'd rather have a sleeping bag too hot that I can unzip, than one that is not warm enough zipped up, especially when sleeping at 17,000 ft. You'll be spending 3+ weeks in your sleeping bag, so you'll definitely want a warm bag you can trust.

Here are the most popular sleeping bags used when climbing the West Buttress route on Denali:

Mt. McKinley Expeditions from late-April thru mid-May sleeping bags should be rated to at least -30F (-34C) 

Mt. McKinley Expeditions from end-of May thru June sleeping bags should be rated to at least -20F (-28C) 

A sleeping bag suitable for a Mt. McKinley Expedition should be:

  • Down Only. Synthetic bags are not acceptable due to their size and weight.
  • Sleeping bag needs to be a mummy-style down bag rated between minus -20°F and -40°F.
  • Rated to -30F (-34C) for the early and mid-May expeditions; to at least -20F (-28C) for expeditions in June.
  • Up until high camp, a -40 bag may be too warm.
  • Many people are happy with a -20°F bag, but if you sleep cold you'll want a warmer bag.
  • The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth.
  • Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range.
  • Unless you are shorter than 5’ 8”, the long version is better to accommodate all the items you need to sleep with: 2 water bottles, liner boots, any thing else that needs to dry out.
  • At High Camp, if you need extra insulation to sleep warm, you can wear your overpants and drape your parka over your sleeping bag.
  • Using two sleeping bags together is not recommended.

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