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Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

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Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby InsaneBoost » Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:21 am

I'm not sure what to call it, but a buddy of mine who has been interested in going on camping trips for quite some time with me is finally taking the plunge and getting some gear.

The major issue I've found is he doesn't like sleeping bags as he starts to feel claustrophobic in them due to not being able to move freely as you would in a bed.

Is there anyway to get around this? Or something that might work? I've thought about maybe just having him use a nice down sleeping bag as a cover, and having him tuck his feet in the foot area, but then thought that might be a bad idea for when it does get cold at night as he might not be warm enough.

Would that work? Am I over thinking it? Or are there other options? I know there are quilts, but don't those still technically wrap around you?

Just trying to figure something out that might work for him. Or if we'll just have to stay in elevations that don't get too cold at night.

Thanks all! Happy New Year!



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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby rlown » Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:44 am

One of my hiking buddies has a similar issue, but I don't think it's bag related. He carries a WM Badger which is quite roomy and generally unzipped.

He's had this problem more as he got older (only in late 40's now). It happens as low as 8500' and gets worse as we went higher. This is independent of whether we're cowboy camped or in a tent.

I believe the altitude tricks his brain into thinking when in the bag, he can't breathe. His approach was to get in the bag at first, then he'd get up and put all his clothes and rain gear on and sit outside, even in below freezing weather.

I made him go to his doctor and discuss the issue. Benadryl and Xanax was the answer he got. It works sometimes and sometimes he just stays out in the cold.

A tough nut to crack.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby cmon4day » Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:30 am

I've heard of some backpackers use a blanket in lieu of a sleeping bag (ala John Muir). This might work for your buddy.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby Jimr » Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:40 pm

John Muir also burned whole logs.
What?!
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby The Other Tom » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:44 pm

I use a down quilt instead of a bag. It's made specifically for camping. It works for me but it's not for everybody. There was a discussion on quilts a few monte ago. You might find it via the search function.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby maverick » Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:03 pm

Have your friend check out Sierra Design sleeping bags: https://www.sierradesigns.com/sleeping-bags
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:55 pm

My husband has the same problem. He sleeps in a North Face Expedition down parka and an "elephant's foot" made to specifications at Feathered Friends. A bonus is that he gets up in the morning and wears his down parka in the morning, never really having to get out of his warm sleep gear! This system is not cheap. A good down parka will run $250+ and the custom made elephants foot $200-$300. You also need good down gloves. We used to do technical alpine climbing in the Sierra, and for us, we already had this gear, because it is pretty standard for bivouacking on longer climbs. I personally prefer a standard sleeping bag for backpacking, because the weight per warmth is much better. But then I do not have the claustrophobia problem.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby rlown » Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:30 pm

InsaneBoost wrote:
The major issue I've found is he doesn't like sleeping bags as he starts to feel claustrophobic in them due to not being able to move freely as you would in a bed.



Does he have this problem at low altitude as well? If not, it's not the bag, unless the bag is just too small. Do a test trip at way lower elevations with him. Much cheaper than dumping money into equipment before you know the reason.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby InsaneBoost » Sat Jan 03, 2015 7:52 pm

rlown wrote:
InsaneBoost wrote:
The major issue I've found is he doesn't like sleeping bags as he starts to feel claustrophobic in them due to not being able to move freely as you would in a bed.



Does he have this problem at low altitude as well? If not, it's not the bag, unless the bag is just too small. Do a test trip at way lower elevations with him. Much cheaper than dumping money into equipment before you know the reason.


From what he's told me, the inability to move freely is what does it, so I don't believe it's an altitude thing, I think it's more of how close the sleeping bags are, rather than like a cover.

That's why I was thinking if there was a way to use the sleeping bag like a cover, he'd be fine. I know I do that a lot and just tuck my feet in at the bottom when we're in weather from 35 and up, but I just don't know if that'd work for him below of 35 being I haven't camped in those temperatures yet.

Not trying to have him freeze to death of course.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:27 pm

I have a three season quilt and a 0 degree quilt (and same-rated underquilts, for the hammock) - no more bags for me. Because I too prefer something that can be tossed off, or easily ventilated, no zippers to abrade either the hammock bottom or the sleeping pad.

Jacks R Better, Hammock Gear, Warbonnet, all make excellent quilts, and some makers are more than happy to customize the dimensions or the color or the features of the quilt. My 0 degree from Hammock Gear is easily my favorite piece of gear.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby rlown » Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:51 pm

have him sleep at home in the bag, even unzipped. Think of it as an experiment. If he can't, ok, maybe he's bound for a quilt. And his own spacious tent. I know my friend opening the zippers at night every 2 hours was not ok. Sooo, if he goes, he brings his own tent.
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Re: Claustrophobic Sleeping Bags?

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:09 pm

Rlown wrote:
have him sleep at home in the bag, even unzipped. Think of it as an experiment. If he
can't, ok, maybe he's bound for a quilt.


Or it could be an anxiety disorder, which is psychological, and will have to be dealt with
professionally.
Had a friend experience an anxiety attack out of the blue once, the combination of the
sound of thunder and being under a tarp, made him feel claustrophobic, he just needed to
get out of the backcountry immediately, which we did.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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