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542 Alder
Western Mountaineering

Western Mountaineerings Alder Sleeping Bag -

Amy and I were married about ten years ago. Since that date, we have been looking for a sleeping bag we could share. Finally, after years of trial and error, we found a bag that met all of our needs - Western Mountaineering's Alder. It is a great bag but it took us a while to finally find it.

Our bag journeys were ...

We originally tried to zip bags together but, oddly enough, we didn't have two bags with matching zippers at that time. The other problem we saw was that the weight and space of the bag was still the same; no savings.

We then found a backcountry quilt. It came with a funky mat and velcro (which we never used) but the synthetic bag lasted us for a couple of years until it died in the laundry.

Next, we tried a bag extender. The extender was designed to make a single bag big enough for two. It worked okay, but when zipped, it was very cramped and only one person had a zipper on his side.

Next, we used one of my big bags, completely unzipped, for both of us to use as a quilt. The bag kept us warm but the mummy design was not quite roomy enough and Amy's feet continually went uncovered.

Then we bought a very large and heavy double sleeping bag from one of the Deal of the Day sites. We didn't like it at all. It was too heavy and bulky even for car camping.

Through the years, we were regularly searching for other options but just couldn't decide what to buy. We were leaning towards buying me another bag to match Amy's bag, but still there was the weight of two bags instead of one.

Finally, we decided to look into a semi-rectangular bag. We tried to order one from a company that has made several of our sleeping bags but they were not gong to be available until fall. We wanted it for the summer.

We then looked at the Western Mountaineering bags. Well, we were only able to see them online. Our luck was not changing yet; the first store we tried to buy from told us that Western Mountaineering didn't have any of the bags we wanted in stock. The company does not sell directly to customers, so we tried another store.

The folks at Backcountry Gear were very helpful. They took my calls several times and helped with bag and accessory selections.

We finally ordered our bag from Backcountry Gear. It was better than expected. We also ordered a coupler for the bag that allows you to connect the top to a bottom sheet. Backcountry Gear did not have the coupler in stock and said that Western Mountaineering didn't have any made! I don't know how it happened but Backcountry Gear found one and sent the coupler to a friend's address in Boulder where we could pick it up while we were in Colorado.

A few bag notes ...

We ordered the long bag. It weighs 33 ounces. The coupler adds a pound but you do not have to use it.

The shell of the Alder is a microfiber that resists wind and moisture. It is not waterproof.

There are two sets of zippers. One set of zippers is along the side of the bag and the other is just for the foot of the bag.

The bag has a great lightweight snag proof zipper flap.

The coupler was delivered to our friend Mark's house before Amy flew to Colorado (when we needed it).

We did not use the coupler during the first part of our trip and debated whether we wanted to keep it or not. I know, even after all of the trouble we had getting it. The problem was the sleeping bag functioned fine without the coupler.

When we traveled backcountry we tried the coupler. It kept our slick sleeping mats in place and added warmth to the bag. We decided the coupler was a keeper.

Though we haven't tried it, we thought the bag would also be quite useful in the winter, allowing us to carry lighter individual bags and using the Alder as an overbag.

The folks at Backcountry Gear really were that good.

We have been very pleased with the bag and feel it was a good investment, even though it was expensive.

Jake likes the bag also!

Happy Alder bag trails.


None of our affiliates sell the bag. We still recommend the bag and Backcountry Gear.


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