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Sacking Out With New Sleeping Bag System

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2000, Feb. 17, 2000 – The problem with military sleeping bags was you were either cold or carrying too much.

And let’s face it, as a service member you may end up anywhere in the world, so your supply personnel had to stock sleeping bags covering all climes.

But no more.

The U.S. Army Soldier Biologic and Chemical Command has developed a modular sleeping bag system that adapts to any number of climates. It's based on layering, or as the Army calls it, the “bag-within-a-bag” concept.

“If it is extremely cold, you put the intermediate bag within the warm weather bag and the combination is good down minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Jimmy Hodges, the command's program manager for soldier equipment. “We asked soldiers and Marines what they wanted, and this is the design they came up with.” Hodges is based at Fort Polk, La.

The modular sleeping bag system consists of a water-resistant Gore-Tex bivouac cover, a lightweight patrol sleeping bag, the intermediate bag and a compression stuff sack. Depending on the area and mission, service members need take along only the parts of the bag they need.

The patrol and intermediate bags are made of nylon and filled with polyester fiber. The old military "mummy sacks" use goose down.

“If you are wet, you are cold,” Hodges said. "Polyester doesn’t soak up as much moisture, it dries more quickly and even wet it retains its insulating abilities. The old mummy sacks were great in a cold, dry environment, but too often service members were in cold, wet areas. Down soaked up the moisture.”

The patrol bag, what the commercial world would call a “three-season bag,” is good for temperatures down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The intermediate bag by itself is good to minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets really cold, the bags are so roomy enough troops can wear arctic clothing to bed for extra warmth.

The Gore-Tex "bivy cover" is a windbreaker-type casing that can be used with any bag configuration. The shell "breathes" -- allows body moisture to pass out while keeping water from coming in.

“We wanted to make the system as light as possible but with adequate protection,” Hodges said. “Total weight of the system is 8.75 pounds.” When the stuff sack is used, the whole system compresses to a bundle about one-and-a-half basketballs around.

“You can make it round or in the shape of a salami,” Hodges said. “Service members can carry them underneath their rucks or inside them.” He said all services are using the the $276.76 system.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA soldier zips into his new modular sleeping bag. U.S. Army Photo.  
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