From hot showers…to cold feet!

Cold feet….don’t you just hate it?

Picture it….you’re wrapped up in your sleeping bag, out in the wilds od Alaska, Oregon, oe what-have-you….your upper body is nice and snug and warm, but darn it, can you get your tootsies warm? Like hell you can, as John Wayne would say!

I’m sure you’ve been in that position many times when trying to get a decent night’s sleep after a hike. I usually find that adding extra blankets or coverings over the bag, or even inside it, ends up making you feel too hot…..result? The same as before…no sleep!

Having experimented with different sleeping methods over the many years I’ve been hiking, I found very few sleeping bags that can accommodate me and my cold-feet problems.

One of those bags was given to me as a birthday present and was used for many years, until it finally gave out through natural wear and tear…I don’t even recall what the make was or where it was bought.

Anyway, I recently bought a 2nd back up bag for myself…..what do you need a back-up bag for, I hear you say? Well, with the rigors of dirt and dust, there comes a time when you have to wash your bag out, in which case you’re gonna need another one! That’s why I paid a visit to my local MEC store.

There I was regaled by a very knowledgeable salesperson about all the bags within my budget and for my type of hike. I finally settled on the Mirage sleeping. It cost me only around $108 all-in, which I think is great price.

As with all things, the proof comes in the pudding, as they say, so the first thing I did was to plan a hike that would take me to a cold part of my area, partly to get away from the city, partly to try this new bag out.

I found it to be very roomy indeed, with plenty of space in it allowing you to move around…..I always need to shift myself around many times before I settle down to sleep….I know, it’s a bad habit that I grew up with and often results in little arguments between me and the wife, as she gets sick and tired of me moving around on the bed when she’s trying to sleep!

But back to the original problem of cold feet. This bag was the only one, aside of that old one that I threw away after many years service, which warms me up from head to toe… need for extra covers etc.

I slept like a little baby, all snug and sound, in temperatures down to around -10C, which for a light bag like this one is simply fab. What is it like to pack? Easy as pie, even though it is a little heavier than some bags. The zips are good and strong, and as a bonus, the bag doubles up as a comforter in warmer weather.

One little addition I found really handy…was that the zipper pulls glow in the dark…handy, eh?

See this bag here



What kind of bag should I take on my trip?

I always get questions from readers asking about equipment, hikes, general travel, etc but it gets difficult answering them all, as well as keeping down a job that’ll pay the bills!

The most common question I get seems to be……”I’m flying off to India (or Asia, Africa, S America etc), so what bag can you recommend that will allow me to carry everything I need on buses, trains etc? I need something small, light but strong!”

There are as many answers to this as there are…I dunno…tea leaves in a pot of tea!

But the best bag your money can buy, has to be, in my opinion, the Fast Track 40 Roller from MEC.

This bag is very well made, is light but strong and has the ability to withstand any hard knocks or grazes it will most definitely get during it’s lifetime!

The 40 stands for it’s capacity, which is 40 litres.

It also has a mean set of wheels…ok, not alloy mags like on your car but good, strong ones that roll really well with the minimum of fuss.

Price is a reasonable $99.

As always, I speak from experience…..I’ve had one of these myself and it has been to India, Europe, Africa and back to Canada I don’t know how many times, and it still goes on rolling and working as it should!