Everybody loves a good deal and when I see one I try not to pass it up. If I do, I am usually reminded of that great opportunity that I wasted at some point in the near future and have a Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment where I slap my head in disgust. Fortunately for me, I was able to take advantage of what I considered to be an excellent opportunity to get a piece of very high quality survival gear for a ridiculous price.
I was at a gun show recently and as I was scanning the tables I noticed a vendor with sleeping bags laid out. I noticed that they were the military style sleep system so I went over to take a look. He had one on display opened up and invited me to inspect it further which I did. I knew that these were surplus, but on inspection it appeared very close to new. The only signs of wear really were some slight fraying along the edge of one zipper but the bags were in great shape. What sold me was the price and $75 later, I walked out of that gun show with an awesome piece of equipment for a huge savings.
For some background, the Modular Sleep System as it is officially called was designed by Tennier Military Products specifically for use by the Military. It is also known as the Extreme Cold Weather sleeping bag. The system itself consists of 4 pieces counting the sack. The bags all join together giving you a Lego set of sleeping options. You have a green Patrol bag, black intermediate bag and a woodland camouflage waterproof bivy sack. Each piece can be used by itself or in conjunction with the other pieces to give you a system that is rated to keep a soldier warm to -20 degrees.
In warmer climates you can use the patrol bag by itself which is rated for use at 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The Intermediate bag is designed for use in cold climates ranging from -10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Add them all together and you should stay nice and warm at temperatures lower than most of the country normally sees. If you are wearing long johns and a fleece, the modular sleep system is supposed to keep you warm down to -50. I don’t believe I will ever get a chance to test that but if I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Why was I looking for a sleeping bag? Actually I wasn’t, but that is the way the last couple of gun shows have gone for me. I walk in there looking for one thing, but end up walking out with another. No matter how many times I pass the tables with the nice Barrett M82 beasts on them I can’t do more than linger. I spend my time going up and down each aisle because from time to time you can find great deals. I wasn’t really looking for any specific firearm although several caught my eye so after making my rounds once I came back for my second pass.
I have Wiggy’s brand sleeping bags that I purchased for my wife and myself. The motivation was camping, but I wanted to have something that would last in other environments and situations too. The bags are well built and very nice but they aren’t small. The model I have doesn’t have a cover or sack over the bag but it is supposed to be warm down to -20. My feet were a little cold at 26 this past year and that was with long johns and socks so I don’t imagine 40 degrees colder would be any better.
Last year I also went with my son in law to the woods for our yearly hunting trip and he had his issue Military Sleep system and I admit that I was impressed with the options he had. We didn’t have this system back when I was in the service and all I got was a regular bag. No cover or liner went with it and my son-in-law talked about sleeping out in a field in the middle of a rain storm and staying nice and dry. Plus this equipment was made in America which is more than what the major bag manufacturers can say. Impressive!
All of these thoughts came to me as I was standing at the gun show looking over the Military Sleep System bag that had a lot of great benefits and a super price so I bought it. I don’t believe you can find a better piece of sleeping gear for the price I paid. Brand new these sleep systems cost $499 on the US Calvary website. If you get a comparable bag made from Wiggy’s with a bivy cover it will be about the same cost.
You can find these older systems yourself out on Ebay, but make sure you are getting military surplus and that the bag is manufactured by Tennier. There are knock-offs from China out there which won’t be anywhere near as good and the new models are made with ACU camo pattern.
If they have actual photos, you should try to match up the NSN# from the Military
Camo Green Patrol Bag- NSN # 8465-01-398-0685, X-long NSN # 8465-01-452-1688
Black Intermediate Bag-NSN # 8465-01-398-0687, X-Long NSN # 8465-01-452-1690
Woodland Camouflage Waterproof Bivy Cover-NSN # 8465-01-416-8517, X-Long NSN # 8465-01-452-1695
Black Stuff Sack-NSN # 8465-01-398-5428
Good Points and Bad Points
I’ll start with the bad points first. This bag is a beast and the whole setup weighs about 11 pounds. If you are worried about weight you should consider that. With the weight comes bulk. The sleep system comes with a compression sack, but you aren’t going to be able to roll this up into a nice tiny Chihuahua sized ball and throw it in your cargo pocket. I can handle the weight if needed, but a smaller frame person won’t. It is also something you have to consider if this is your plan for a bug out bag. Is it possible to carry this bag? Absolutely, and soldiers do it every day but you may want to adjust weight in other areas.
The good points are construction, price and utility. This bag is made of heavy duty rip-stop nylon and Gore-Tex. Anything that the military uses is designed to stand up to abuse so you can rely on these bags by Tennier lasting you for a very long time with normal use and care. The price is unbeatable and I have even seen some places on Ebay that are cheaper than what I found. If I could go back to the gun show right now I would buy a few more. These bags can be used in place of a shelter if needed so you don’t even have to have a tent to stay warm and dry. And, they don’t have to be used for camping only. If your power goes out in the winter, this would give you a great way to stay nice and toasty without power or a fire.
So, if you are in the market for a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and cozy in a wide array of environments, is made in America and will last you a lifetime of use I would look into picking up a Military Surplus Sleep System. You won’t be disappointed.