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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:38 pm 
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Location: Colorado
Here in Colorado I use a Marmot Helium 15 degree bag. This is very light, and has a little wider cut than most. It is perfect for Colorado when using a tent in all but the coldest conditions. I have an older -5 degree bag with goretex shell that I use if I am expecting really cold conditions (-10 F and lower). I also have a full on expedition bag (North Face Solar Flare, -15 degrees, Dryloft shell) that I use for Alaska-if I ever go back.
As mentioned here, Western Mountaineering makes excellent bags as well, but the Marmot Helium had the perfect specs for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:21 am 
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Location: British Columbia
I'm planning a 5 day trip in the Whistler-area backcountry around end of December and am deciding which sleeping bag to use. Options:

1. MEC -12 degree Celsius mummy bag - SYNTHETIC
2. Western Mountaineering Summerlite 0 degree Celsius - DOWN

I'd like to take the WM down bag mostly for the significant weight saving and packing compression. To make it a bit warmer, I'll bring a cotton liner as well and may opt to wear more layers for bedtime. We have a 4-season mountain hardwear Trango tent which should keep us pretty warm.

Anyone have experience with using down bags on extended winter camping trips? I'm wondering if it'll keep its loft and keep me warm after 5 nights.

With the combination of a 4-season tent, insulated sleeping mat and a foamy underneath, I'm hoping to get away with a 0 degree bag instead of a much heavier and bulkier -12.

Any thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:51 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:02 pm
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Location: St. Croix Falls, WI
Marmot Helium 15. I also have a Western Mountaineering 35 bag... that thing is light as hell! Then an Exped 9 for the high R value... toooooasty!

I have a BD Firstlight tent which to me is the most bad ass 4 season tent ever. I always have a heavy duty space blanket with as well. I throw the small canopy from my Hennesy Hamock in with my BD winter bivy. Dig a coffin put the canopy over top, and wrap yourself in the space blanket. You'll be comfy... It does depend if you run hot/cold.

It's easy for me to practice seeing it can get cold as shitski in MN.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
Yeah I got hella thoughts.
The MEC -12 is probably no warmer than the WM 0 Celsius, so I wouldn't let that be a factor. WM's ratings are conservative by comparison, and the only real measure is bag loft.
Another thing to check out is that most WM bags have continuous baffles to allow you to shake the down to the top of the bag where you need it, rather than to allow it to collect beneath you where you just compress it out anyway.
I'd skip the cotton liner and instead get the Montbell drytec bag cover, it weighs like 6 oz and provides significant wind and water protection to help keep your bag dry. You can sleep in snow caves with it safely. Montbell UL liner bag is great too.
Another key investment is puffy pants - Montbell, Integral Designs, and some other manufacturers make some good ones. These are critical for comfy winter camping and sleeping. Sleep in them with your puffy coat in your big puffy bag and you are a happy camper.

Which leads to another thought: learn to build snowcaves - once you are good, you and your buddies can shake one out in an hour that will sleep four at a much more comfortable temperature than a tent. IMHO,tents are for climbing when you have no time to build shelters or no snow/space.

My last trip was eleven days and I had no trouble keeping my bag dry. Once in awhile, on a sunny day, it can be a good idea to hike with your bag on the outside of your pack, or if you are base camping, unzip it and string it up between two skis - the sun will evaporate moisture out of it even if the air temp is below freezing.

If you are thoughtful about all of this you should be able to get your base pack weight down to 15 pounds or less. Definitely keep it below 18 pounds (this is excluding boots/board/binding, clothing worn, food/water/fuel).


ARKANA wrote:
I'm planning a 5 day trip in the Whistler-area backcountry around end of December and am deciding which sleeping bag to use. Options:

1. MEC -12 degree Celsius mummy bag - SYNTHETIC
2. Western Mountaineering Summerlite 0 degree Celsius - DOWN

I'd like to take the WM down bag mostly for the significant weight saving and packing compression. To make it a bit warmer, I'll bring a cotton liner as well and may opt to wear more layers for bedtime. We have a 4-season mountain hardwear Trango tent which should keep us pretty warm.

Anyone have experience with using down bags on extended winter camping trips? I'm wondering if it'll keep its loft and keep me warm after 5 nights.

With the combination of a 4-season tent, insulated sleeping mat and a foamy underneath, I'm hoping to get away with a 0 degree bag instead of a much heavier and bulkier -12.

Any thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:51 am
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Location: Surfing or Splitboarding Downunder
Guys
I use a Vango -24° C Viper 750 Compact DOWN Sleeping Bag with an Exped DownMat 9
The Down mat makes all the difference.

Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 6:09 pm
Posts: 388
Location: Chamonix, France
5 nights should be no issue as long as it doesn't get wet.

If you're sweating at night, open up the bag or something, otherwise it'll absorb moisture and lose loft. This is usually more of a concern on longer trips though. A rescue bivy works as a noisy, fragile vapor barrier and weighs/costs almost nothing.

Secondly, I think the 12° difference in the bag rating is negligible. Even if we assume vendors rate their bags similarly (which they don't), people vary even more. On 3 separate occasions I shared a tent with a different woman, all of whom borrowed my 0° bag, while I was using my 40° marmot atom bag (doesn't even have baffles), and both slept comfortably. I have never heard of a sleeping bag with a 40° comfort range ;-). The rating is really meaningless until you learn what works for *you*. I've never lent my sleeping bags to guy friends so I'm not sure how I compare to men in general, but for the record I've also used that 40° bag to camp on a glacier, so I might just be a really warm sleeper...

All that said and done, in my opinion/experience the single biggest factor to warmth at was *always* the mat, not the bag. You didn't mention the R-values of those mats you intend to use. A 1/2" foam mat and a summer oriented air mat is probably not enough for sleeping on snow.

A down or primaloft jacket and pants will help when the bag is too cold, but will do almost nothing if the mat is too thin. Fleece will be slightly better than a compressible insulator, but still won't trap as much air as an inflated mat or closed cell foam, because of the body weight compressing it.

The bottom line is that the dead air (trapped by a mat with some filling or closed cell foam to prevent convection) underneath you is the actual insulator. Unlike insulation that's on top of you, it's not easy to improvise because what's beneath you needs to needs to hold that air while supporting your weight, whereas what's on top of you only needs to prevent convection.

If it helps drive the point, I've had a miserable night on a glacier on a 3/4 size ultralight thermarest (the new green one) with my feet on the rope and bag, wearing everything I could find including my boots. On my exped downmat I rarely wear more than underwear and I usually don't even zip up the sleeping bag all the way, regardless of which bag I'm using.

Finally, another big factor (for me) is how much I ate/drank before going to bed. If I'm cold a big spoon of peanut butter or a snickers bar helps for a few hours because it keeps the body busy.

Update: Duh, I converted everything to °f and then realized you're SI-savvy... marmot atom = 5°c, MHW phantom = -20°c,


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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:08 pm
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Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
^^ Excellent points.

I neglected to speak to padding - the Down Exped's look heavy but when you compare them to the weight of a 6oz Evazote pad, a 14 oz ridgerest, and a 13.5 oz Prolite 3 Thermarest, you're closing in on the 36 oz weight of the Exped 9, which has a whopping R-value of 8, as opposed to 5.5 for the aforementioned system (which I carry for winter). You can go to a lighter bag when you have that much mat.

Couple more things - eat enough fat! 15 / 65 / 20 is a good protein / carb / fat ratio for ski touring. Keep a pee bottle close by, holding your pee when you sleep is a waste of warm energy. And before you get in your bag, do some light work around camp to raise your body temperature - not to a sweat, obviously. Digging a snow trench or packing blocks for a wall for a few minutes can be just the ticket.

Another thing re: keeping moisture out of your loft - keep your head warm with an extra warm hat and a silk balaclava that you can breathe through. If your face gets cold, the temptation is to draw your collar over your mouth, whereby you soak it with the condensing moisture from your breath. Resist the urge and wear the silk balaclava instead.

Have a great trip!

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:38 am
Posts: 38
Location: British Columbia
Thanks everyone for your replies. Having camped not on snow, but in huts during the winter I'm not sure what may/may not work in terms of the gear I have and/or use.

The sleeping pad I have is the MEC Kelvin 3.8 Sleeping pad which has an R Value of 3.2. In addition I plan to purchase at least one (or even two) foamies which will add another 1-2 points on the R Value. I think the smart thing to do is a bit of a test-run on an upcoming weekend. My biggest concern was the down not holding its loft over a longer period of time in the backcountry in various weather conditions.

This may be a silly question.. but still one I need to ask because I've heard various responses:

When combining a foamy and sleeping mat.. what item sits on the ground? Is the foamy on the ground, and you sleep on the inflatable mat? OR does the inflatable mat go on the ground, and you sleep on the foamy?

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:24 pm 
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Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
The one with the smoothest flush surface goes on top. Pads with nooks (Ridgerest) should go on the bottom as the nooks catch loose snow, which then melts when you lay on it and soaks your insulation.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:10 pm 
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Location: Now Oaktowntastic
I'm suprised that noone mentioned hot water bottles. I boil two nalgenes before bed and stash them in my bag. Sleep with one of those between your thighs and you will have steam coming out of your ears + water to drink.

If like myself you think fast and light is for pussies and furthermore you like to spread the legs and scratch the nutz on occacsion, these make for dee-luxe sleeping:

http://www.featheredfriends.com/Picasso ... gular.html

Feathered friends also make the tricked out dual sleepers if you want to get with your old lady.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:16 pm 
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Posts: 49
I prefer a a synthetic bag for Winter Camping (snow caves).

We use the Mountain Hardware Lamina -15 degree bag. http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Lamina%E2%84%A2--15-(Regular)/OU8447_R,default,pd.html and an MSR Rocket Stove.

We survived a cold winter bivy with theses bags and an MSR E-House http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/tents/fast-and-light-tents/e-house/product last Valentines. We would have been simply comfortable had we brought a full-link winter camp mattress, but the was a hut trip so we only carried a half length pieces of ensolite pads and our backpacks for floor insulation

I know that many will testify that down is great ( and it is....) provided that you mange your condensation in the tent and loose snow in your tent / cave. Down just takes more care to keep dry and maintain loft. Sure your can get a bag with Gore-tex or add a bivy sac but still require extra care.

However the winter Synthetic bags are heavy so, I have opted for a more creative solution to go with the following system for Winter-Springs Hut trips:

Exped Dreamwalker 650 - rate to 20 degres http://www.exped.com/exped/web/exped_homepage_na.nsf
Also see [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSCGVe_Ynmc&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
North Face Elephants Foot Bag http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/tnf-catalog-master/elephants-foot.html

Add a Mountain Hardware Down Parka and Exped Down Mattress for the really cold months (Dec - Feb)

I looked trying to get the most uses out of the above for hut/emergency bivy.

I will definitely include a full Length Exped mattress or another ultralight mattress in my kit this winter.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:51 pm 
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Skip the Cotton Liner! You will feel cold and wet! In winter "cotton kills".

In contrast a Vapor Barrier Liner (VBL) works great for winter camping, though it is misunderstood.
The VBL goes inside your sleeping bag.

Wear a thin base layer (merino wool helps wick and prevent the funky smell) inside the VBL

A VBL works by creating a vapor barrier which prevents a condensation to your bag from your sweat and more importantly creates a constant humidity for you. A constant humidity means your skin will not have to produce as sweat to lubricate the skin, so your body does not expel evaporative heat loss, it conserves it. You will stay warmer and not as dried-out (thirsty) from the cold dry air.

If you still do not believe most of us are wear a VBL and don't even know it; Thermo-molded liners and thin pair of merino wool socks.

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 Post subject: Re: Sleeping bags - whatcha using?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:41 am 
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Location: reno
I use a Golite quilt bag with a z-rest pad.

http://www.golite.com/sleep-systems/men ... lt-regular

I used this on my first snow camping experience on the BeeGee's trip on the eastside last year and was pleasantly surprised with how warm I was. The best thing is the bag only weighs 1lb 4oz and packs down much smaller than a 2 liter bottle. My old ass down jacket doesn't get that small. Layering is very important and those wool base layers rock. I sometimes wear fleece pants and down jacket if the temps really drop. This bag is F'n Rad!

Another important factor that most people don't realize...Pee before crashing and get up in the middle of the night if you have to. It takes a lot of energy to keep that piss warm in your bladder as well as making you uncomfortable while trying to get in some Z's...

I noticed someone mentioned Feathered Friends and I have heard nothing but good things from that company.

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