As promised, here’s the gear review for the Tennier ACU Pattern military sleeping bags I bought recently.
First of all, let me explain what you get and how it works. The system is broken down into four parts: the compression bag, a bivy sack, patrol bag, and intermediate bag. You can use various parts of the system as needed or the whole thing at once for cold temperatures. For example: if it’s warm out and you want something to keep a slight chill off the patrol bag is probably what you’re looking for. If it’s colder – say down to the mid-twenties to the forties, then you’ll want the intermediate bag. Keep in mind that the system is designed with the idea that you’ll be sleeping in ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) long johns in these bags.
The bivy is good for when it rains or snows plus it adds a little in the way of thermal protection as well. If it’s really cold out you combine everything and sleep in it like that.
Here’s the progression for combining them: take the intermediate bag and place it inside the light patrol bag, then take that combination and put it inside the bivy sack.
I tested this system in 25 degree weather, which I’ll discuss at the end of the post. Below I’ve added a bunch of pictures with notes underneath. Read on!
Here’s what it looks like in the compression sack. This is NOT compressed down as far as it will go.
Inside the compression bag I put the bivy sack on the outside, so if it rains the sleeping bags won’t get wet. If I were going on a hike I’d make sure everything was *inside* the bivy sack to guard against wet weather.
Here they are laid out (above). At the bottom is the patrol bag, in the middle is the intermediate bag with the stuff sack at the head, and at the top of the picture is the bivy sack.
The intermediate bag.
The bivy sack.
Pros and Cons
Cons – being military these bad boys are heavy by civilian standards. I picked one up and stood on the scale and after doing some math figured out they way about ten pounds apiece. (Give or take a little given the accuracy of my scale.)
Another thing is the size. These bags compress to about a cubic foot, so you need a big pack or find a way to attach it to the outside of your pack.
Pros – These are sturdily made bags. The zippers are heavy duty and designed for a quick exit and the bags feel like quality bags when you hold them.
Despite the fact they are heavy and bulky the fact that it includes a bivy sack means that if you have to bug out you won’t need a tent. Get in the bag, zip it up and you have just alleviated the need for a tent.
Another pro is that you don’t have to take the whole thing with you. If you’re camping on a fairly warm night just take the patrol bag and the bivy. That compresses up nicely and you won’t be carrying the extra weight of the intermediate bag around with you.
You can throw a couple of these in the trunk or the back of your truck and even in the winter you’ll know that if your car goes off the road and you’re stuck you’ll at least have your sleeping bag to crawl into.
As you can imagine I’ve slept in many many sleeping bags in my day. By far the absolute warmest was the 80’s style extreme cold weather sleeping bag they gave us for Norway. It also weighed a ton and compressed down to the size of a Volkswagon.
First, these bags are in very good shape. My biggest worry was getting the bags in and finding out they had holes in them. Thankfully, this was not the case. They looked good and the only hole I saw was a small tear in the seam of one of the compression sacks. Other than that I didn’t see any holes or overt signs of wear and tear. The bag I tested was one grabbed randomly out of the pile.
I slept out the other night in temps ranging into the mid-twenties. I was in a five-man cold weather tent with my Ammo Can Stove (more on that later) sleeping on a cot with a camping mat. For clothing I had on a polypro cold weather top, a pair of cotton sweat pants (poor choice for sleeping in cold weather), wool socks, and a wool hat. After the stove went out the temperature dropped into the high twenties for a bit inside the tent.
Overall I was comfortable. When I first crawled into the bag it was still semi-warm in the tent, so I unzipped the patrol (inner) bag to my waist and let my arms hang outside of it. Of course I was still zipped up inside the intermediate bag and was very warm. A couple of hours after the stove went out I woke up chilly and zipped up the patrol bag and pulled the hood(s) up over my head.
You have to screw around with the hood system for awhile to get it right and I suggest you do it before actually trying to sleep in it. I yanked on cords and adjusted stuff for what felt like an hour, but was probably closer to a couple of minutes. Once I had it adjusted properly I slept fine.
I didn’t use the bivy bag except to put my feet in. I left it unzipped from the knees up.
One final note… at 25 degrees the bag felt comfortable, but my gut feeling is saying I should have been warmer than I was. Maybe those thin cotton sweatpants were the culprit, or maybe it was because I didn’t have the sleeping bag hoods adjusted properly, but being comfortable in the mid-twenties got my spidey sense tingling.
More likely it was the fact that I used the system incorrectly. After talking with a friend of mine (thanks TwelveToe) I figured out that I had the intermediate bag inside the patrol bag and the instructions call for it the other way around. I also just noticed I had the intermediate bag inside out. Der!
Therefore, I intend to wait for another cold night and sleep in my lean-to to get the full effects of the cold weather. I’d really like to test it when it gets down into the teens or colder, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ll let you know how that works out when it happens.
Overall I like this bag. It’s heavy by civilian standards, but it’s rugged and if you want to drop some weight you can dump the bivy sack. I haven’t checked how much weight you’ll save, but I suspect it’s at least a couple of pounds.
As promised I did order extras and I am placing them up for sale. If you are interested in ordering one or more of these bags let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work out the details on how to get them to you. I’m asking $90 per bag and that includes the shipping price.
I’m looking to set up an online store here for whenever I happen to get items to sell to make this process easier, so if you see weird things happening over the next few weeks keep in mind it could be me screwing around with WordPress.
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