Bridging mid-November to mid-December, fifteen good friends and I spent twenty-eight magical days rafting the Colorado River down the Grand Canyon. On this trip Jonathan Cooper and I put one of Big Agnes’ doublewide sleeping bags to the test to see how it would hold up on cold winter nights. Paired with a set of Insulated Double Z sleeping pads, we slept through torrential rain, gritty sand storms, and sub-freezing starry nights with the King Solomon 15 degree two-person sleeping bag.
The way I see it, there are two main benefits to having a two person sleeping system. The first is that you get to have all the same benefits you get at home from sleeping next to another person but in the backcountry. For people like me, this means that I get to sleep surrounded by someone else’s heat, use them as a body pillow, and enjoy reflecting on the day while cuddling up with my partner.
The second biggest benefit is, depending on you and your partner’s individual sleeping systems, this might be a lighter and easier to pack alternative than bringing your own kits. While I expect mostly couples would be looking for a sleeping option such as this, I can also see this being useful for climbing partners, best friends, parents and children, or just a lone person and their many dogs.
King Solomon 15 is designed like other Big Agnes sleeping bags, in that they don’t have insulation on the underside of the bag. One of the intentions behind this design is weight saving, with the idea that the insulation underneath the bag is compressed anyways. In theory this is a great idea, but the technology incorporated in the two-person sleeping bag seemed to cause a couple of issues. I’ll preface this by saying that my partner and I are not the largest people, and the King Solomon sleeping bag is fairly spacious for two people of our stature (we happily could have fit a dog in there with us).
Despite how enjoyable it was to have a two person sleeping bag for such a long trip, there were a couple of features that had us wondering if it would be the most effective in a different environment. The biggest one was the presence of a few cold spots in the bag. One of them was at the feet, and we think it has to do with the lack of insulation on the underside. The pad and bag combo left a space for cold air to sit. One way this could be solved would be to make a completely insulated foot/lower leg box (similar to a normal sleeping bag), that way any cold spots would be done away with.
The second most notable was at the top near the neck where normally you could cinch a mummy hood up tight around your head. However, with this type of multi-person hood, you can only tighten it around your collective heads and this creates some cold air leaks. Because of these cold spots, this sleeping bag didn’t quite feel like a 15 degree bag to me. In the future, I would only use this system in temperatures above freezing.
Other than a couple of cold spots, which we are largely contributing to the fact that we are smaller individuals, the bag has many noteworthy features that make it a great option for the right conditions. One of these features is the “pillow barn,” a small flap on either side that allows you to stuff a camp pillow or puffy coat under it, and holds it in place.
Another excellent feature is the ability to use two individual pads or one of Big Agnes’ doublewide pads with the King Solomon. I was worried that we would have the dreaded gap in between two individual pads, but the coupler straps under the bag solved that problem beautifully. As mentioned, we used 2 Double-Z pads, which were plenty thick and comfortable. My only gripe with these inflatable pads was the incredible lung capacity required to inflate them each night (so much so that we utilized our raft pump to inflate them).
Overall, Big Agnes King Solomon 15 was a good sleeping system for us on our trip down the Grand Canyon, and we’ll use it on other mountain adventures, and definitely for car camping.