Forums The Gear Room Sleeping bags – whatcha using?
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  • #570538
    bigdood
    457 Posts

    Curious what you guys (especially you Sierra guys, but you Cascaders and others feel free to chime in) are using for your go-to winter bag? I’m thinking I’m going to need a new one as my winter synth bag is HUGE, would have to go up a pack size 😆

    #609417
    bcrider
    4150 Posts

    I’m all about down for its lightweight and packability. If I lived in the PNW or somewhere really damp I might look at an ultralight synthetic bag.

    As for brands. If money is no object or you see the bag as an investment, Western Mountaineering probably can’t be beat. If you’re looking for something less expensive, I’d look at the usual suspects like Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, Marmot, etc.

    I’m a Mountain Hardwear grassroot athlete so that’s what I use. For the Sierra’s I use the Phantom 15 degree. You’ll need the Long which is only 2oz more than the Reg at 2 lbs 1oz. Pretty damn light and packable. To make the bag warmer you can sleep with your down jacket in the bag too which will make it go down a few more degrees. I’m getting softer in my old age so I got a zero degree Phantom for this year (2 lbs 14oz).

    Lots of options here:
    http://splitboard.com/site/Sleeping_bags.html

    #609418
    96avs01
    875 Posts

    Pretty much the same as BCR, I use a MH 15 degree down bag for most winter Sierra stuff, with the exception of Shasta where I carry a MH 0 degree down bag. A 15 degree bag plus some synthetic pants and an ultralight down jacket should be good to at least 0 and provides you a multitude of options for around camp and on daytrips out of basecamp. If you will be using a double wall tent you should be warm to much lower temps. with this setup.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #609419
    Taft
    287 Posts

    budget option for the keen slacker.

    I’ve rocked an mec raven for a few years now. combind it with an Emporor Pinguin and you’ve got every thing from fast and light summer trips to stashing out in a tree well at -20c covered.

    though if you’ve got the money for a Western Mountaineering bag, go that way. those bags are very good. :thumpsup:

    #609420
    Ecobrad
    2068 Posts

    I’ve got a 10 year old 20 degree down NF bag that keeps me warm in the Sierra. I run hot so I’ve never had an issue staying warm, even while not in a tent. As bcrider says, I am getting a little more finicky in my old age so I’m seriously considering a 0 degree bag as soon as the right deal comes along.

    #609421
    samh
    726 Posts

    Really cold: Marmot Couloir (goose down)
    Kind of cold: Backpacking Light UL 180 Quilt and a Backpacking Light UL 60 Quilt as well as my puffy coat and pants (all synthetic)

    --
    samh.net

    #609422
    bigdood
    457 Posts

    Cool, thanks for the input everyone. About what I thought. And yes, will more than likely be using an REI Arete 2 (double wall) for trips.

    #609423
    Snurfer
    1448 Posts

    Bump….
    Any thrashers out there found a good bag to accommodate the mummy bag challenged? I rarely, if ever get more than a couple hours sleep in a mummy bag. :banghead:
    I’ve looked at the Big Agnes stuff and it looks perfect. Unfortunately, the reviews by people in actual winter conditions all point to sketched out performance.

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc

    #609424
    bigdood
    457 Posts

    Have you tried any of the down quilt setups? They seem to be more the realm of the UL weirdos, but there’s probably a quilt setup that would work better for you than the mummy setups. Maybe one of the Montball stretchy mummy bags?

    #609425
    chase_e
    81 Posts

    @Snurfer wrote:

    Bump….
    Any thrashers out there found a good bag to accommodate the mummy bag challenged? I rarely, if ever get more than a couple hours sleep in a mummy bag. :banghead:
    I’ve looked at the Big Agnes stuff and it looks perfect. Unfortunately, the reviews by people in actual winter conditions all point to sketched out performance.

    I am/will be using a montbell super stretch 15 degree synthetic. I wish it was a bit warmer, as i have to layer some clothing to sleep comfy on cold nights. But as far as having it “stretchy” nothing beats it! I can actually change all of my clothing while still in my sleeping bag.

    #609426
    96avs01
    875 Posts

    Some of the bags in the Western Mountaineering lineup offer a wider but through the shoulders and footbox for those that like a little more room to move.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #609427
    nothingmuch
    358 Posts

    You can also try an alpine quilt type thingy:

    http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Quilt-Kit/index.htm

    It’s basically the same idea as a big agnes bag.

    Feathered friends have a variety of shapes to choose from:

    http://www.featheredfriends.com/Picasso/Bags/SleepingBags.html

    BTW, two notes regarding weight: a rescue bivy (esp. inside the bag) might not be very comfy or durable (doesn’t breathe, rustles, tears) but it lets you stay safe even with skimpy gear, and sure beats staying up doing situps. Secondly, a 5lb 0 deg bag is meaningless on a 3 season mat =P

    #609428
    Snurfer
    1448 Posts

    Thanks for the replies… Western Mountaineering fits the bill perfectly.

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc

    #609429
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    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.

    #609430
    ARKANA
    41 Posts

    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?

    #609431
    SPLITRIPPIN
    709 Posts

    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.

    #609432
    Incalescent
    225 Posts

    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?

    http://goldenincalescent.blogspot.com/

    #609433
    firstlight
    721 Posts

    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

    Adam West

    www.firstlightsurfboards.com.au
    www.firstlightsnowboards.com.au
    www.splitfest.com.au
    www.snowsafety.com.au
    www.mrbc.com.au
    www.backcountryglobal.com
    www.alpinefirstaid.com.au

    #609434
    nothingmuch
    358 Posts

    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,

    #609435
    Incalescent
    225 Posts

    ^^ 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!

    http://goldenincalescent.blogspot.com/

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