December 19, 2015

The Cold War Sleeping Bag

I'd heard that the winter military sleeping bags are a system of layered sleeping bags, making a cocoon that can withstand -30C temperatures. Well, I just bought a combination of old military surplus bags from a friend, and I'm extremely impressed.

They are labelled:

Case, Sleeping Bag, M-1945, Water Repellent
Case, Sleeping Bag
Rebmar Inc

Sleeping Bag, Arctic, Outer Shell, M-1949,
Type II
Size Large
Feather Filled

Sleeping Bag, Mountain, OD
Water Repellent Type I
M1949, With Carrying Bag (actually I have no carrying bag)
Size Regular
Feather Filled

It seems these may not be part of the same set, but they are of similar vintage (Post WWII - 1970s), and fit inside each other to provide the absolute warmest cocoon you could imagine. If you're car-camping and don't need to worry about carrying the weight of three sleeping bags, filled with feathers, I highly recommend this system. I weighed it, and it weighs over 15 lbs or ~7 Kg.
"Building on the success of the 1942 Mountain and Arctic sleeping bags, in 1949 the Army issued the Sleeping Bag, Mountain, M-1949. This mummy shaped, feather filled bag had a heavy zipper closure with quick release. It was intended to always be used with the same Case, Sleeping Bag M-1945 outer water-repellent carrier as the earlier sleeping bags. It was issued in two sizes, regular and large.
The M-1949 sleeping bag was issued for years, through the Vietnam War. It is common to find bags dated in the 1960s (if dated at all). The label sewn in at the head gave instructions for use including to lace the liner onto the sleeping bag, as shown in the photo. The outer liner had a set of eyelets that matched eyelets along the zipper line, as well as snaps that can be used to form a wind resistant closure. A length of olive drab parachute cord can be used to lace the outer water-repellent case to the sleeping bag itself, to form one unit. Other instructions included "avoid sweating" and to spread a poncho under the bag to protect from moisture, as well as to put padding, a pneumatic mattress, boughs or other materials under for insulation."
You can find this sort of layered sleeping bag system at your local army surplus store or eBay!

If you're Ottawa-local, there is even someone selling them in town for ~$200

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