Military Sleep System Review


Just recently I had purchased two of the newer issue military sleep systems (one in the older woodland camo issue and the other in the newer ACU/digital camo) to upgrade some of my existing bug-out gear. I wanted to take some time in this post to do an in-depth review.

Overall Production Quality

First off, I love the fact that these sleeping bags are American made (made by Tennier industries). So much of the outdoor gear you find at many of the largest outdoor vendors is China made — which as a rule I try not to patronize if possible (not always easy I know).

What you’ll notice off the bat is the high production quality of this sleep system. The zippers are large and durable, do not snag and are designed for quick exits in an emergency. The material, made of resistant rip-stop nylon, is light-weight but does not feel “cheap”. Whether you’re looking at the straps, buttons, or fabric, you can tell that great care was taken in choosing the right kind of materials to support our soldiers in harms way.

Even with many of the higher-end vendors (TNF, Mountain Hardware, REI etc) most of the China-gear they sell — although lightweight (this seems to be the only important factor nowadays for outdoor enthusiasts) — much of it will not hold up to the rigors that soldiers or someone bugging out will put them through on a day-to-day basis.

The Components

The modular sleep system is made up of 4 components.

The outermost layer consists of a 100% waterproof Goretex bivy sack. For those not familiar with a bivy sack, it’s essentially an outer shell that acts as the most basic of shelters — protecting the user from exposure to the elements such as rain, wind, and snow. The next two layers consist of the Patrol Sleeping Bag (rated to 30 F) and the Intermediate Cold Weather Sleeping Bag (rated to -10 F).

Each layer is designed to be used independently of one another or combined as needed depending on the climate. For example, when you combine all three of these layers together, you have a sleep system rated for -30 F.

The final component is a compression stuff sack, which allows you to compress all the layers down to around a cubic foot as seen below:

The obvious advantage to this set up is the wide-range of temperatures and climates that you can use this system in. And since it includes a bivy sack, you can leave your tent at home — saving you extra weight when bugging out. It’s your one-stop shop to keeping warm and dry.

Assembling the Sleep System

Putting the sleep system together is a fairly simple task. If you’re sleeping in warmer climates (> 30 F) then just combine the bivy sac with the patrol bag. For temperatures ranging in -10 F to 30 F just the Intermediate Cold Weather bag in combination with the bivy would be used. And finally if you’re looking to sleep out in -30 F to -10 F then you’ll need to combine all the bags together.

To assemble, each bag is fitted with a number of snaps that allow them to be used with or independent of one another. This “mating of the bags” so to speak ensures that, when combined, they act as one unit. The advantage of this is that you won’t get tangled in multiple layers of bags through the night — very problematic if you’re needing to egress the bag in a hurry.

Testing and Ratings

One thing you’ll want to note is that all military gear is tested. Therefore the ratings and specifications are always candid and accurate. Unlike most other sleeping bags on the market that provide wildly optimistic temperature ratings, if the Army labs in Natick, Massachusetts say a product does something, you know it does.

Even with that, if you’ve been a regular reader to this blog you know important it is for me to test things personally. Since we are still in Summer here in New England I haven’t been able to give this military sleep system a fair shake. This I’ll do in the upcoming new year where I’ll put it through the rigors of a New England winter.

The Negatives

This wouldn’t be a decent review without pointing out what’s not so hot with these sleep systems. The biggest one for me is the weight. Pushing 11+ pounds these sleep systems are quite heavy compared to many of the ultralight bags you can find. Given that these bags are super durable, durability comes at the price of weight so I’m ok with that. Also, since I’d use these as my shelter (no tent required) their would be weight saved overall.

The second biggest negative for me is the size. When compressed, these systems are a bulky cubic foot. Still too big for most backpacks. However, they can easily attach to the outside or bottom of your backpack without issue.

The last negative (only a minor one for me) is the camo patterns on the bivys. I’m not a big fan of Woodland camo or ACU (they both stick out too much in my opinion) and much prefer Woodland MARPAT (Marine Pattern) or Multi-cam in my area. The reason this is not a huge issue is that since I’m not wearing these bags while mobile it’s an easy process to blend these systems into the surrounding landscape without much issue if discreetness was crucial.

Pricing and Where to Buy

Just a cursory look online and you’ll notice a wide range of prices these bags are being sold for. On the high side you’ll see them going for $600 (for a brand-new ACU issue system) and on the low side for around $120.

The key is not to buy them brand-new (the $600 ones). Instead, you’ll want to get the gently-used surplus ones which can be found at your local army/navy surplus store or on eBay. In actuality even the “beat-up” ones I’ve seen look pretty good. These bags hold up well. I purchased the ACU camo system for $160 (brand-new) on eBay and the woodland camo system for $125 (slightly used but essentially mint condition) at the local army/navy surplus store.

If money is not an option there are other sleep systems that are better such as the Wiggy’s FTRSS sleep system (also American made) or the Snugpak complete sleep systems — both are much lighter, very durable and excellent quality.

But for the price that the surplus military sleep systems go for you get a fantastic, quality-made sleep system at a fraction of the cost of other bags on the market — many of which wouldn’t withstand the abuse that these bags can go through.

How to Identify an Authentic Military Sleep System

On a final note, it’s important for you to be aware of the many copycats and supposed “military spec” sleep systems on the market. You’ll find many sleep systems being peddled on eBay and elsewhere for around $50 – $80 claiming to be “GI Sleep Systems” or “Military Sleep Systems” but in reality are nothing but cheap knock-offs.

What you’ll want to look for is the NSN — the National Stock Number (or NATO Stock Number as our allies call it). This will properly identify the bags. Each bag, compression sack, and bivy will contain these numbers sewn on them. Here’s an example:

Here are the NSN’s and details you’ll want to look out for:

Woodland Camo Issue (NSN #8465-01-445-6274)


This was the original updated sleep system designed and made by Tennier Industries. It’s a 4-part sleep system consisting of a black compression stuff sack, a black Intermediate Cold Weather Sleeping Bag, a green Patrol Bag, and a woodland-camo Bivy Sack.

ACU Pattern Issue (NSN #8465-01-547-2757)


This is the latest release in the updated sleep system designed and made by Tennier Industries. It’s a 5-part sleep system consisting of two foliage-colored compression stuff sacks (one large and one small), an urban-grey colored Intermediate Cold Weather Sleeping Bag, a foliage-colored Patrol Bag, and an ACU pattern camo Bivy Sack.

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77 Comments»

Comment by Richard K
2010-09-01 11:10:24

Great review… I was curious, do you have the size of each bag. I am on the bigger side of normal and most bags feel claustrophobic to me. I am over 6 feet tall and (sadly) over 250 lbs.

Thanks,

Richard K

Comment by Erich
2010-09-01 14:02:22

Richard,

Good question. The smallest bag in this system, the Intermediate Cold bag (which goes inside the Patrol Bag) is 7′ 3″ long x 2′ 11″ wide at the widest point and 2′ wide at the narrowest point (the foot of the bag).

Your best option would be to go to a surplus store and try it out. The guys selling the stuff are usually pretty cool about that. This way it will give you a good indication if it’s too tight.

As I mentioned in the review, Wiggy’s sells an excellent sleep system with long/wide sizes available. You’ll be paying a bit more but it’s an excellent system.

 
 
Comment by Ish
2010-09-12 19:15:23

Very nice review, does anyone know how to wash these?
Also, can I carry these in one of these tactical backpacks?

Comment by bugman702
2011-01-21 10:15:04

Most bags come with washing instructions. A lot of them you can wash in a front loading machine on gentle cycle with mild soap. DON’T EVER wash in a machine with a center agitator unless you want a shredded bag. Then you just air dry.

 
 
Comment by Gen R
2010-09-23 12:11:57

As cadets we are still given the older woodland-camo sleep systems, they do come in XL, which is slightly taller than the normal size.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-09-24 01:43:27

Thanks for the info Gen, good to know.

 
 
Comment by James
2010-11-28 21:51:07

There are military bag in long lengths if you can find one.

 
Comment by bugman702
2011-01-21 10:25:19

If you have the money, get a Wiggy’s. I have read great reviews on them. Military is good also but still not cheap. If you are poor or just have too many bills like a lot of us…..you
can do like I did. I take a snug fitting mummy bag and use it inside a large roomy mummy bag. The large one is a 5 degree bag and the smaller is adjustable from 5 to 25 degrees. I bought my wife a roomy rectangular bag and a women’s sized mummy bag that can go in it. Her’s isn’t rated as warm as mine but with a few tricks I know(hot rocks and others), she will be plenty warm.
I bought her bags thru a discount store, both new for a total of $90. Affordable but, we don’t have the gore-tex covers and they aren’t as durable. Erecting a tarp or poncho hooch above will help and is cheap. I hope this is helpful.

Comment by TacticalIntelligence
2011-01-21 11:57:34

Great comments bugman. I love the Wiggy’s bags as well but they are definitely pricey. Thanks for the great ideas on cost-effective ways of keeping warm.

As for the Gore-tex, they do sell rolls of Gore-tex fabric at many Army/Navy stores for decent prices. With that you can make your own bivy.

 
 
Comment by RangerRick
2011-02-24 23:40:04

Is there a way to print an article as some sites have it so the advertisment does not take up 1/3 the screen when you print. I may have missed the magic button,But I like to hand out articles and its a pain having to fill in what is lost on the right border when I print the article out.
Great stuff,RangerRick

2011-02-26 00:57:14

Rick,

Which browser are you trying to print it from? Mozilla Firefox browser seems to be able to print the articles without issue. With Internet Explorer I have seen issues where text would be cut off. If you’re printing from Internet Explorer, then I would recommend selecting the “Print Preview” option which should give you the option of changing the view percentage. Let me know if you still have issues.

 
 
Comment by Justin
2011-04-08 15:38:14

I am currently in the armed forces, and i have one of these as my issue. It is great for what it is made for. Some of my friends use it as their camping bag as well. The modular system works great in a wide range of climates. The temp ratig is close depending if you are a hot or cold sleeper. In Afghanistan, in winter, in a tent with no heat I used the whole system and my frog longjohns and was still a bit chilled, so I would worry about anything below 10 degrees.

The system works great for flexibility. While jumping from base to base, I would just take my 3 day pack and the patrol bag. I got an aftermarket compression sack for it and would latch it to the bottom of my blackhawk bag. It works great for the military.

As a civilian, car camping or bushwhacking, for the money, you could probably get something more suitable. It is a very heavy system.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-04-08 22:58:20

Justin,

Thanks for the insights and personal experience. Much appreciated!

 
 
Comment by josh
2011-05-19 18:44:47

is there a website where i can purchase one of these sleeping bags.

2011-05-22 23:24:32

Josh,

I found the cheapest prices available via eBay.

 
 
Comment by BobG
2011-06-17 03:05:45

I live in the rainy NW. I’d like to know if the stuff sack is enough to keep the bag dry during a hike. If not, how is a waterproof bag utilized? (inside or outside the stuff sack?)

2011-06-17 06:53:14

Bob,

The stuff sack that comes with the sleep system is not waterproof. You’ve got some options though. You can either purchase a waterproof stuff sack from a third-party vendor or do what I do and ensure that both sleeping bags are securely inside the Goretex bivy before putting it in the stuff sack. Since the bivy is waterproof it will do fine keeping the two bags dry even though the stuff sack gets wet.

 
 
Comment by Mike
2011-07-06 16:49:20

I have been in the Military for quite a while and used this type bag in Bridgeport California during Cold Weather Mountain Training. I still felt pretty cold in it, LOL. A trick I used is to take my poncho liner (military type of couse) and lightly wrap my feet.

Remember to hit the sack with dry clothing I use the issued Polypro longjohns and a fresh set of socks, this will also keep you warm…

Another thing to remeber is your ISO mat. This will keep you off the ground (whichsaps your heat) and keep you a little more comfortable than bare ground..

tact.medic

 
Comment by David
2011-08-07 21:21:24

What color is suitable for desert use? Can these be had in desert camo bivy or coyote tan bivy? If so what is a good source?
Many thanks, David.

2011-08-08 21:54:58

David,

From the two options, I would choose the ACU digital bivy for desert camo. Besides woodland camo and acu, there are not any other options unfortunately.

 
 
Comment by Sandy
2011-09-15 04:16:14

I’m very sure that there is a large and a regular size. You would need the large size. I hope that the author can find the actual part number for both sizes and post them here.
Sandy

 
Comment by Whiskey
2011-10-25 02:26:51

Gotta say, the ratings they put on these bags are very generous. I have been cold in these things at just below freezing. I am almost certain they must be rated for survivability, IE you wont actually die if you use this bag in that temperature, but you may still freeze your fourth point of contact off.

2011-10-25 03:57:25

Hey Whiskey,

Yeah, I think you’re right (they are rated for 4 hours of sleep), they are also rated with the assumption that you’ll have the appropriate kind of clothing for the climate. Given that is a relative variable there definitely will be inaccuracies.

 
 
Comment by Rick
2011-11-16 18:08:21

Are the separate pieces of this system compatible with each other over the different year models? For example, could you have the green patrol bag from the woodlands, then have the urban intermediate from the ACU, and then use either bivy color? Are all the snap positions and specs identical?

 
Comment by Phillip Duke
2012-01-03 23:43:07

I have a complete woodland set and also have a woodland set with the ACU intermediate bag mixed in as a replacement for the black bag.

The only difference I can see in the improved intermediate bag; is the black bag has a bib at the front neck area and the improved bag has a full ring bib with drawstring. The snaps are in the same locations and the ACU intermediate bag snaps in exactly as the woodland Black bag does. Dont know if they weigh the same but they both feel about the same thickness.

Because the snaps on both versions of the intermediate bag are in the same locations, I would assume all items of the sets are interchangable. If I was completing a set and needed the intermediate bag, I would opt for the improved bag. I cannot attest that the EX-Long versions of the bags have the snaps in the same place as the Regular Length version does.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-06 18:04:52

Phillip,

Thanks for the info!

 
 
Comment by jeffy whats
2012-01-17 17:07:55

If you had to choose a bag for an “inch bag” would you go with this or a civilian one for the cash?

remember, this would be the last bag youd ever buy.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-20 12:47:01

Hey Jeffy,

I’d certainly be happy with this one given the abuse it can take (and has been proven with the military). Wiggy’s bags are very good as well but more expensive.

 
 
Comment by Bob
2012-01-21 00:04:45

I finally put mine to the test last weekend. Slept in a wall tent with a wood stove. (below 20 degrees outside, about 40 degrees in the tent.) Brought a cot, but forgot my sleeping mat. Used both bags. Found anywhere I made contact with the cot, I got cold. Not freezing, but enough to wake me up several times a night.
Tried placing some aluminum foil between the cot and bivy, hoping it would reflect some heat. Found a lot of condensation on it the next morn, but the bivy kept it out and the sleeping bag remained dry.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-23 03:40:32

Bob,

It’s great to hear of some personal experiences with the bag. Yeah, the lack of a sleeping mat will definitely keep you from being warm due to the loft of the bags being compressed and no insulation between you and the cot. I’m actually doing some experiments with cold-weather hammock sleeping right now and am facing a similar issue due to the sleeping mat sliding around at night in the hammock leaving me cold and uncomfortable wherever I’m touching the hammock.

 
 
Comment by wyatt
2012-01-21 19:15:36

I am overseas and have a Wiggy bag that was issued to me and I need a compression stuff sack – both vertical and horizontal. This sack looks perfect, but can’t tell if it will be too big. The issued bag measures 11″ by 20″ with sleeping bag in it, uncompressed, and I need to be able to make it just a little smaller to fit in my duffle. The length will be fine, but am not sure it will compress much with only that bag in it. Any information would be helpful.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-23 04:00:23

Wyatt,

The compression sack that comes with these bags may just work for the single Wiggy bag. I say this because if it were possible, the standard issue sleep system would still compress more (in other words, the straps that you pull to compress it still have more slack to tighten) so a smaller bag put inside the standard-issue compression sack should tighten up some more. Aren’t there any guys in your unit that you could ask to test out the compression sack with your Wiggy bag?

 
 
Comment by wyatt
2012-01-24 09:31:14

Unfortunately, no. I am in Kosovo as a police advisor, but since they torched the border crossing into Serbia back in July, we fly to work and stay several nights at a time in tents on site. They issued the bags, and the stuff sack with it just doesn’t fit in my duffel bag very well. I have someone in the states bringing back a compression bag for me. Most of them these days only compress height, not girth, so this seems to be just the ticket. I think I will try it, and thanks for the information.

 
Comment by Wm White
2012-01-28 12:19:46

If all you have on is your tidy whities and its -20 and all the bags together are rated to -20, YOU WILL FREEZE YOUR ASS OFF. The MSS requires the use of ECW long johns for the system to be complete. If all youre going to wear is scivies you better subtract 20 degrees from the max lowest temp. And deffinately use atleast a sleeping mat. And take along a poncho liner.(ALWAYS, DUH)

 
Comment by toguspyder
2012-02-14 10:00:57

There are a couple of different generations of these bags, and not all of them are rated at the temperature listed here. The ACU 5 piece definitely does not make the grade for -15 degree. I was in 14 degree weather over the weekend with my ECW, skivies, ACUs, and my cap and was still cold beyond comfortable.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-02-14 19:49:32

togu,

The ratings (provided by the Army labs in Natick) on these bags are taken in combination with full issue ECW clothing as well which may count for the difference you are seeing. I’m assuming by “skivies” you only had underwear on right?

 
 
Comment by Lee
2012-03-04 20:58:57

Thanks for a great review. I will be looking over the other sleeping system. You talked about. As well as this Military.
Do you know what other bags Tennier Industries makes?
Thanks again, great job!

Lee

 
Comment by Joe
2012-03-12 16:49:04

I used the standard woodland camo bag while in the ARMY. Being 6′ 4″ and a healthy 220 pounds, I found the bag very comfortable and long enough for me to easily sink my whole body into. I actually had one of the best sleeps of my life sleeping on the ground during a ice storm in Oklahoma. Slept for 6 strait hours (a rarity while field training) although it felt like 20 minutes. Woke up and forced myself to get out of my bag to see EVERYTHING covered with about a half inch of ice.

But yeah if you can find a real military bag you won’t be disappointed with the size, durability, or comfort.

 
Comment by Bill Clark
2012-03-14 13:48:53

If you take a look at the label pictured, you’ll see that as long as you are getting the ‘real deal’, laundering instructions for each article is documented on the label. Also FWIW for the person asking about sizing, I’m still in the Army, 5’10″ and 200#+, and just spent a week in mine in a barracks. Although they slide around on the slippery (and undersize) plasticized mattresses we were on, my bag was absolutely spacious with regard to room both in height and width. Since my bag has a different NSN than the one in the picture (that NSN is for the Woodland Camo System compleete), I also took the time to verify that mine is size ‘regular’.

 
Comment by Pappy
2012-03-14 21:22:10

I know that if you add the poncho liner to it you can get down lower than the military ratings. I used this system with liner on top of a Korean mountain in February, with the wind chill it was -45 that night, I slept like a baby. (Of course I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning either).

 
Comment by Chat Rodgers
2012-03-29 23:06:41

Could someone please provide the NSN for the woodland system (4 piece) in the LONG VERSION.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-03-30 02:06:30

Chat,

The NSN’s for the X-Long are as follows:

Camo Green Patrol Bag – X-long NSN # 8465-01-452-1688
Black Intermediate Bag – X-Long NSN # 8465-01-452-1690
Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy Cover- X-Long NSN # 8465-01-452-1695

 
 
Comment by Chat Rodgers
2012-03-30 11:31:01

Thanks for your prompt response. I will now be able to look out for one.

Much appreciated!

 
Comment by Casey
2012-04-04 12:50:13

I love reading reviews. Very helpful on learning new products!
We just started carrying the 4pc Modular Sleep Systems if anyone is still looking.

http://www.militaryoutdoorclothing.com/product.php?productid=575&cat=0&page=1

 
Comment by GKohl
2012-05-07 10:19:00

Wiggys is having a sale

 
Comment by Stevie.
2012-05-14 10:32:11

Are these Bags made right and left handed…
I have a Right Handed Zip (as in the zip is on the Right Hands Side when in the Bag face up).

However All I seem to be able to find for sale are Outers with Left Hand Zips…

?????

Thanks.
Stevie.

 
Comment by Bryce
2012-06-06 15:43:48

Any idea what the actual weights are of the individual components? The Interwebs only seem to give widely varying estimates of 10-15lbs for all four components, and “shipping weights” for the individual components. I know for a fact that my old Army MSS was not fifteen pounds altogether…

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-06-08 11:24:30

Hey Bryce,

I’ll try to get the individual component weight for you (I’m not in a location right now to do that).

The whole thing though I weighed it out to be just over 11 lbs.

 
 
Comment by Giorgi
2012-07-18 15:07:06

my modular sleeping system is made by tennier but the NSN number is 8465-01-591-9571
can you tell me what does this nsn number means?

 
Comment by eujaee
2012-08-17 15:42:56

Bivy is not waterproof. I’ve woken up with a half inch of water inside after a maybe 2 or 3 hour rain shower. To waterproof, we used thick 30L trashbags, for contractors; shove it in the compression sack and throw it in the trashbag. If camping without a tent, I’d recommend wrapping a tarp around the whole thing.

 
Comment by Mike
2012-11-03 22:06:48

just place your sleeping bag inside a large trash bag and tie it up then put it inside the compression sack.

 
Comment by Pointman
2012-11-20 18:09:21

It has been over 40 years since I slept just using a poncho liner. However, I am hoping to do a little snow camping in my old age. I use a tent and probably wouldn’t need the bivy sack. Do you know what the temperature rating is of the system without the bivy sack?

 
Comment by woojae j
2012-12-06 18:50:13

great review. but I have a qustion to ask.

on your image for “how to identify authentic —”, nsn is 8465-01-445-6274,

however, nsn of individual green patorl sleeping bag is 8465-01-398-0685.

can you tell me the difference??? thank you…

 
Comment by Bruce Henthorne
2012-12-26 11:16:28

I got my mss from a surplus store really like the set up. The only thing is mine was not 100% water proof I have put a tent floorsealer on it in hopes it will make it waterproof. I have used it down to 17 degrees, stayed warm in fact had to shed a layer as I was hot. I use a thermarest self inflating air mat 73″ by 20″ ether in between the bivy bag and intermediate or under the bivy bag. One little tip if you have a stainless steel water, you can feel it with hot water and put it in your sleeping bag. As far as the weight goes I have a quest -15 degree bag that is about the same weight as the mss.

 
Comment by Kurt
2013-01-06 18:20:50

Just bought the woodland set for $55.00 on ebay

 
Comment by IW
2013-01-25 15:20:26

Hi, and thanks for the review! I’m just wondering if anyone could answer a question for me. Do I need a sleeping pad for these bags, or can I sleep right on the ground with them? I know that the outer sack is made from water proof materials and the bags are designed to work in very low temperatures, but can’t find any info on whetter they are designed to work by themselves or with sleeping pads.
I’m thinking first hand of -25-40 conditions, but also on warmer conditions when there are much moisture on the ground.
Any info would be much appreciated.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-01-26 15:54:40

IW,

Yes, you definitely still need a sleeping pad. Although the bivy will keep out moisture it doesn’t prevent body heat being lost due to conduction from the ground.

 
 
Comment by TG
2013-03-20 13:45:12

I just bought one of these bags and have been testing it inside of a cold unheated rv the last couple of nights. It kept me warm and I like it very much and look forward to using it for real this spring and summer.

I have a question about storage. Is it OK to store it rolled up in the stuff sack or should it be stored hanging in a closet ? Is it OK to fold or stuff the gore tex bivy without damage ? Or should it be rolled up also ?

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-03-23 00:56:36

TG,

I would hang it if possible to preserve the loft. Then, before you head out to use it you can pack it up. No issues with folding the bivy. it’s not going to damage it (as long as it’s not been sitting in the sun getting damaged by UV rays and becoming brittle).

 
 
Comment by Goldie
2013-04-03 19:27:49

ok, I just recently stepped down as a scoutmaster after 4 years leading the troop. We have these bags – got them for the troop through surplus property (state agency).

But I have to give you a personal experience about cold weather camping. FIRST I HATE IT! But then I’m cold blooded (or is warmblooded – always get it backwards – whichever one makes you freeze when it’s 70, lol…JK!).

I always used a cot and froze to death everytime. That is until one of our adults who was a nurse, after laughing her head off at me said, ‘Goldie, what freezes first….a bridge or a road?’. Had to think about that – I’m a bit dense.

Now, having said that and having this statement backed up by many a long-time scouter and winter camper…I have to ask….why would you sleep in a hammock in the winter? I don’t get it.

The boys LOVE these bags and say they sweat in them. Not me! For those that are current or prior military – what kind of longjohns (name, please) do they issue you now (I was in 20 years ago, but I can’t remember!). The ones have are the Wally world ones.

 
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Comment by John B
2013-07-16 20:01:40

I am 6 foot and 260-270 lbs and fit nicely in the genuine military sleep system bags. I hope this helps ;-)

 
Comment by Doug
2013-07-30 19:44:22

For the money you simply can’t beat this system. I got the Patrol and Intermediate bags off of Amazon for $50.00. They are built like tanks and will keep you warm to about 0 degrees F. The downside is they are heavy and bulky. The two together come in at about 10lbs. Compared to my FF Swift which weighs 2lbs and keeps me toasty at 20 degrees F this is quite a difference. On the other hand the Swift cost me over $300.00 and has to be well cared for, and is not machine washable.

For kids, or RV campers, this system just can’t be matched by any commercial bag company out there. Even if it only lasts one season, it more than pays for itself. The way it is built it will last forever.

Oh, and always, Always, carry a poncho liner! My wife sewed a zipper on to mine.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-07-31 11:27:31

Thanks for the great tip Doug!

 
 
Comment by DaveUSAF
2013-08-05 06:17:27

Uncle Smas Retail Outlet has the MSS in new condition for about $100. at times. They also sell the individual parts.

 
Comment by DaveUSAF
2013-08-05 06:18:48

Uncle Sams Retail Outlet has the MSS components for sale at decent prices and will even sell the entire systems for about $100.

 
Comment by rvlqcitizen
2013-08-07 18:38:12

Would you hike the AT (2200 miles or so) with the mil. issue system? With what you’ve been through, what would you suggest for such a long trip? Thanks.

 
Comment by rvlqcitizen
2013-08-07 18:52:55

What hammock do you have? I’m about to do an A.T thru hike from GA to ME and my sleep system is my biggest concern. There is SO much info regarding equipment, and I’m budget concious. Going from south to north means I’ll be hitting the worst terrain, in the worst weather. One yr I was homeless in Maine and was lucky enough to get the mil.sleep system. It was friggin AWESOME. Till it got stolen. Whatever. The war never ends, just the outcome. Anyhow, I’m about to set out on this adventure and want to have a system that will suit me in all conditions. I’m considering a 3 season hammock ( though there are SO many brands nowadays I’m having trouble deciding), though the mil.system served me well. Or maybe both. IDK. Any suggestions? Obviously both weight and $ are concerns. Thank you.

 
Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2013-08-07 22:31:14

rvlq,

I’ve got a Hennesy. Great hammocks but like most, they’re tough in cooler temps. The best bet is to get either a 4 season hammock or one where you can attach a insulative layer on the OUTSIDE of the bottom part of the hammock (the part you lie on).

Even with the sleep system, since the insulation gets compressed on the hammock, you’ve essentially lost the insulation value causing the cool air to suck your body heat away. With the external thermal layer, you’ve created a nice thermal break. Also, I’d recommend an emergency blanket to put between your bag and the hammock bottom when sleeping inside. It helps a lot.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

- Erich

 
Comment by JP
2014-03-03 18:58:39

I got out of the military 10 months ago, and have had quite a bit of field use with my issued sleep system. The first thing I should point out is that a sleep system is only as good as your ability to produce body heat. These ratings mean nothing if you can’t produce that heat. It is also important that you go in warm, NOT cold. It’s just insulation, it doesn’t produce heat itself, so if all you put into it is cold, that’s what you’ll get out of it. I’ve spent miserable nights in the full system just freezing because I went in cold. On rare occasions I was able to warm up by a fire then enter the bag, and slept perfectly warm the rest of the night. Regarding the components…They do work together very well. The snaps can be a pain to disconnect, but it’s extremely convenient to be able to fasten the openings of 3 bags so that you only have to close a single zipper. If it’s really cold, you can close multiple zippers to stop the air leak you get from only closing a single zipper. If you find that you are continually sliding off your sleeping pad, just put the pad inside your sleep system between the bivy cover and the cold weather bag. The bivy cover is an amazing piece of equipment. I’ve slept through quite a few windstorms, rainstorms, and snow storms in one of these, without ever getting wet. It also blocks light a bit, and to some extent critters/bugs (I’ve never had issues with bugs inside, but they could get in through the hood if they wanted to). The flap that goes over the face keeps the rain off while allowing breathing room inside, and it’s very easy to open/close (no zipper, just a square of hook & loop). Like a tent, it will collect condensation inside, which will ice up when cold. However, that’s nothing compared to the amount of ice the bivy cover keeps off you on the outside. The stuff sack (or sacks if you have the ACU system) can be used to hold your boots & clothes/pocket contents to keep moisture and critters/bugs out. Sleep in your clothes inside the sleep system if you choose to. It will help in colder climates, plus then you won’t have to change clothes in the cold (should still check yourself daily for ticks of course). If you have a poncho liner (“woobie”), it can be used inside the sleep system for a little bit more warmth. Use the tan undergarments from the ECWCS Gen III line to keep even warmer (I’m talking about the lightweight longjohns (“silkweights”) and mid weight longjohns (“waffle top & bottom”)). These things are incredible, I still wear them. Combine those with a PT cap (the fleece beanies they issue) to keep your head warm and pull over your eyes to block light, and you’re golden. As a civilian now, I bought a bivy cover for personal use, but find the rest of the sleep system too heavy/bulky for my purposes, so don’t use it. The only thing you need to worry about if you do this is to make sure the zippers of your sleeping bag and bivy sack are on the same side or it’s kind of a hassle. FYI, I found it easiest to pack the bivy sack at the bottom of the stuff sack because if it’s anywhere else it blocks air from escaping when you’re trying to compress the system. If the sleep system is inside the bivy sack which is in turn inside the stuff sack, good luck.

 
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