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#103612 - 09/22/08 08:49 PM Sleeping bags
Ryan262 Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 3
Hi i am getting into winter camping and was wondering what some good bags are? I am planning on doing a trip to Alaska in a few years for a week long winter trek. I was looking at a few bags here they are the first one is a kelty foraker 0 degree http://www.feedthehabit.com/gear/bcstore...egree_Down.html

this one is a north face Solar Flare -20

http://www.rei.com/product/732776

If these bags are not good can u tell me what ones are? Also what kind of cooker would u guys use for winter camping?
I am using a eureka k-2 tent wich works great

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#103613 - 09/22/08 09:32 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Ryan, there's winter, then there's winter in a place like Alaska, where I've never been I must add.

There are a lot of threads here on sleeping bags. Read back through the winter forum. If I had the money, I would buy a Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends down bag rated to at least -30F for Alaska or 0F for the Sierra.

My bag is a MacPac +23F bag which I use with an MEC overbag for winter in Yosemite where the temp gets down to about +10/+15F at most where I have been camping. I love my bag but it isn't a deep winter bag and MacPac bags are probably not available here anyway.

A good stove for winter is almost any reliable liquid fuel stove. You will spend a lot of time melting snow for water, so a good stove is a must. There are threads about stoves all over the forums. You'll read plenty of different opinions on winter stoves, so spend some time reading.
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#103614 - 09/23/08 12:38 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: TomD]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I HAVE been to Alaska, the Yukon, the NWT and was born, raised and live in BC; I have done LOTS of cold weather camping and I strongly recommend the following, based on owning and using bags from these makers.

The Western Mountaineering Puma or Bison, preferably the former as a -40 bag is pretty specialized. I have camped, solo, in January at -40 and I don't recommend it.

The Integral Designs Himalayan-XPD-II, a superb cold weather bag and you CAN get optional 900Fill down as I would.

The Valandre Shocking Blue, the finest sleeping bag I have ever had, used, seen or expect to see, or the Valandre Freya, Odin or Thor, depending on your desires in respect of cold sleeping.

Possibly a Feathered Friends Snow Goose

Look at the PHD Xero and Diamere bags, I am very interested in these and nearly bought one last winter, but, am going on reputation only here.

Stove, I like my Optimus Nova and my elderly MSR GK and the MSR Dragonfly impresses me, too.

You NEED quality gear for remote wilderness cold camping and this costs a lot, but, a gear failure could cost your life.......

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#103615 - 09/23/08 02:12 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
OttoStover Offline
member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 62
Loc: Norway
Very sound advice from both TomD and Kutenay. Just two points I would like to make. Regarding sleeping bag: In Europe there is a testing standard called EN13537. Only a few US suppliers comply to this. By using and comparing bags that have equal comfort temp you are better off with EN13537 than the old comfort temp. I've seen bags rated to -14C in the old standard. When tested in EN13537 the same bag was given a comfort temp as -1C <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> Quite a difference don't you think?

Regarding burner: The stove must be a solid fuel thing of some sort. I have the Omnifuel, but that was because it was on sale and I liked it. Dont forget to buy a rep-set for the stove, with ekstra parts for the pump and some essential gaskets. THEN you can be sure its working.

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#103616 - 09/23/08 03:45 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I get down to about -25 or -30 before I pack it in and walk out <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Dunno about others experience, but unless I am in a hot tent, I prefer multiple bags myself. In my experience the big hefty down bags will work really well for you the first night, and
then unless you can dry the frost out of them you'll get colder and colder. The problem is that the moisture from you ends up freezing *inside* the bag as you sleep. This wets out the down. You have several options to help with this:

1) Use a synthetic bag - this is big and heavy, but easier.

2) Use a VBL (Vapor Barrier Liner) INSIDE your down bag - this is basically sleeping in a moisture proof sack inside your sleeping bag. This keeps the water out of it. problem is - well, it's sleeping in a baggie - some people love em, some hate em.. I fall in the latter category.

3) Use multiple bags, and go for a hybrid approach. This takes a little more experience but isn't that hard. I sleep in very cold weather with a -10C down bag, *inside* a synthetic sleeping bag or overbag - typically anything from 0C rated exped bag to a "wally world" basic synthetic bag. it doesn't have to be that warm a synthetic bag - it just adds wamth, and most importantly, puts the frost layer (the depth where it is freezing) *outside* your down bag. This means the down doesn't wet out. If you haven't slept outside in such
temperatures before, consider your clothing as well. I sleep in full longjohns, cashmere sweater, often a pair of gloves and for absolutely sure a "bank robber" style balaclava (the kind with only eye and mouth holes) with a fleece toque *overtop* of the balaclava. You don't want to have your face and head so cold you have to keep your face in your sleeping bag (breathing moisture by the gallon into it)

Either way - if you take down make sure you consider frost!

Stove? white gas. don't mess around. Lots of them will do well. MSR whisperlite, or something similar. I don't mess with canister stoves or alcohol in winter when I'm melting snow. (and I never use white gas otherwise either <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#103617 - 09/23/08 04:24 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I have had some down bags " wet out" to a degree, but, not my original Marmot Mtn. from the Grand Junction days, just a fabulous bag I used from 1978 to 1999, when it was stolen from my home here by vermin who are most fortunate to be unknown to me...I am not the "liberated" type........

I DO use a VBL in my winter down bags, especially with my wpb-shelled ones and wearing silk weight MEC synthetic longies with it makes it far more comfortable. Mine is also a silnylon one from Integral Designs of Calgary, AB. and FAR nicer than my old coated-nylon Marmot one in respect of comfort. You get used to them and they DO work.

I seldom camp in real cold for longer than 3-4 nights, so, I am good with my Valandre bag to roughly -20F and am too old to go out in colder, although I used to do so often.

I tried the MEC synthetic OB and down inner technique 30 years ago, didn't care for the extra bulk, weight and it did not work any better than what I usually use. I like a highend down bag, eVENT bivy/bag cover and VBL better than anything for sold sleeping and also use an Exped 9DLX with an EVA foam under it...works for me.

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#103618 - 09/23/08 04:40 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: kutenay]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Yep, everyone's different. I've never been able to stand a vbl. I wish I could.

BTW, I ususally sleep on a sandwitch of ccf foamies with a thermarest or big agnes insulate aircore in between in winter. You need lots of underneath insulation.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#103619 - 09/23/08 09:47 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
Ryan262 Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 3
Thank u guys for all of your help. I am checking into the western mountaineering Bison GWS bag or the XPD2-Himalayan bag.. Do u guys think I need this good of a bag or do u think i can get away with like a coleman 0 degree? What would u guys go with a down bag or a syn bag?

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#103620 - 09/23/08 10:14 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Ryan
Somehow you seem to have gotten some very deep advice from some real winter experts - head it well when the time comes. I too have spent time out at -40 (-40C = -40F) and it is simply not fun, not for an extended trip of a week. From your words I think you are much too new at this to be serious and are sort of dreaming a bit. No problem, "have dreams and live them" (Doby Gillus). <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I did the same and when I got to Alaska with a 5 pound down bag in the summer I questioned my reality analysis a bit. Start easy, you can die in weather like that and not even know it.
So I guess I'll add - don't skrimp on insulation under you, have a pee bottle, an consider that your mouth, moustache, nose, throat may freeze. I found that a rabbit hide over my face and breathing through as much fur as possible, warmed the air I breathed and my face. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#103621 - 09/23/08 10:18 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
phat
I read in a Norwegian dog ski jouring book that the best warmth for winter camping comes from just plain green reindeer hides, over and below you. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Reminds of my uncles story of a guy who shot a caribou, got benighted, crawled into the body cavity to keep warm, it froze and he had to rescued. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#103622 - 09/23/08 10:22 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Jimshaw]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Yuck!..

Closest I get is good heavy wool blankets. and by the way those are fabulous - just heavy and hard to get.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#103623 - 09/23/08 10:36 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
Are you going to backpack or use a dogteam, mechanical vehicle or just how will you travel? NO blanket, skin robe or other contraption OR cheap POS bag from Coleman will consistently work in real cold like a top end down bag, properly used.

IF, you are going to backpack in cold weather in Alaska, you cannot carry everything you require plus all the heavy extras suggested here and this IS a BACKPACKING forum. Do not be led astray by what "might" work or comments about situations much different from the reality of backpacking in cold weather, buy and use one of the bags I told you about and you will enjoy your trip.

A GOOD -25F bag, like the ID-XPDII, WM Puma or Valandre SB or Odin is by far the most efficient way to go and, with care, such a bag is a lifetime investment. The weight will be between 4-4.5 lbs. plus VBL, maybe an eVent bivy at 1.25 lbs and your pad(s) at roughly 3-3.5 lbs. all in. This WILL WORK and better than any other option; a synthetic bag that is warm enough is too heavy and bulky to backpack...and I have 3 now and have had several others.

My work and hunting bag(s) is the ID North Twin/Andromeda Overbag Primaloft synthetic combo, good to about -10F, but, it weighs 5.25 lbs. and is NOT as warm as my 3lb. Valandre Shocking Blue down bag....THIS is the bag you SHOULD buy.


Edited by kutenay (09/23/08 10:43 PM)

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#103624 - 10/02/08 11:05 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Exactly WHERE in AK will you be doing your winter trip? Where you are can make a tremendous difference in what sleeping bag will be best. Our winter conditions here are as diverse as the lower 48... Barrow is a whole different world than Juneau. In winter there can be as much as an 80 degree difference (or more in some extremes) from one location to the other.

MNS
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#103625 - 10/16/08 01:46 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: midnightsun03]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Kutenay, all good advice, but I fear Ryan is just a troll or a teenager who's got no clue of backpacking to start with. Why else would he repeat his idiotic statement, "can't I just use a Colamen 0F bag" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> It's folks like him who find out how tough the outdoors can really be in any Season, let alone Winter, which has killed experienced outdoorsmen many times.

I for one appreciated all the posts that gave valid information on the subject. Winter is as someone said, "No place for cheap gear, your Life depends on it"... I could'nt agree more.

Marmot's 2 high end 800fill down bags a -20F and -40F are nice quality but not cheap either.
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PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#103626 - 10/16/08 05:12 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Earthling]
Jester20 Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/10/08
Posts: 4
Ok first off Kutenay, I am not a troll or a young kid i am in my twenties. Then i was asking for postive help not the crap that u said. The coleman i was asking about was to see if it was good or not..

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#103627 - 10/18/08 10:47 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Jester20]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Here's the deal Jester, we get lot's of folks who come through here just wanting to 'cherry pick' information without becomig a part of the community. It's all well and good until someone who's gotten advice of that type goes out and gets injured or worse. This ain't bowling where a bad night's score can be worked out for the rest of the season. The topic of backpacking, especially backpacking in a severe weather climate; is not something that one can take lightly nor proceed down the path with little to no knowledge. What happens when the gear choice does'nt pan out for the weather conditions? If you have the knowledge to self rescue you do so, otherwise death by hypothermia is not pleasent.

Do not miscontrue a poster's adamancy of advice as declaring you a dolt. You asked a question and it was answered by knowledgeable people with REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE not a Walmart clerk. You buy your gear and you take your chances. Do no make the mistake of being thrifty with your dollars in return for your comfort/safety in the outdoors. One does not have to buy the most expensive gear, but it exists because it is the best; work with what you have to buy the best gear you can. Buy a better quality used bag over a lesser quality new bag, etc.

I remember being 20 something and spending my money on gear, and thought it was way more expensive than it should be. Then I started using better gear and found out why it cost more.

Ok, so you are not a troll, but your choice of a 'coleman brand' bag for use in Alaska sets off alarm bells in any experinced outdoorsman's mind. Colamen is a family brand which is great for use in a campground. It's not considered the gear of choice for the majority of backpackers when it comes to sleeping bags or tents, little ditty stuff maybe, but it's not stuff that will last.

If you've not had much camping experience it's ok to say so. What we don't want here is for someone to walk away with half the knowledge they need to enjoy their outdoors experience. Read as much as you can in the Beginner's forum where lots of threads cover the basics. Lots of folks over the year's have gotten miffed at my suggestion they were a troll. If it saves one person's life because they reposted as you did, then it's worth it.
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#103628 - 10/18/08 12:57 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Earthling]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Jester-If you come here for advice, you are going to get it and it may not always be what you want to hear. New members make the mistake of saying very little or nothing at all about who they are or what experience they have when asking questions.

Responders will make assumptions based on your questions. Don't be offended, they have your best interests in mind, which given that we don't know you, you should appreciate that people even take the time to answer your question.

As MNS said, the weather in AK in winter varies wildly. Your best bet is to plan your trip, choose your location, check with a company like AMH or one of the commercial guiding companies in AK for gear recommendations and either buy or rent whatever they suggest for that area-not by brand, necessarily, but by type (-30F bag, etc.).

As far as bags go, there are dozens of good ones and no one I know has them all or can compare all of them. People are going to recommend what they own and like. Bag ratings, especially in the US are always suspect. The ratings on cheap bags are even more suspect in my view.

When I see a lightweight cheap bag with a rating the same as an $600-800 WM bag, I am really suspicious because I know someone is exaggerating and it's not likely WM.

If you aren't going for a few years, why worry about it now? You have plenty of time to get informed, look at bags and other gear and buy whatever you want.
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#103629 - 10/20/08 06:34 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: TomD]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I just returned to this and am somewhat surprised as I DID NOT refer to this poster as a ...troll... or use ANY other derogatory term; he seems to have confused MY advice with comments by another poster.

I also tend to disagree with TomD, in a friendly manner, of course. I have not found that many REALLY good winter bags over the years and I have owned/used nearly twenty different bags myself, plus used issue bags and sold them as part of my final job, before early retirement.

I have seen some famous winter bags perform VERY poorly here in BC and this is one item of gear that I really do think should be chosen very carefully, with cost being a lower priority. If, anyone can show me a bag that will do what a Valandre Shocking Blue will do in sub-zero weather, at the SAME over-all weight, I would like to know about it....but, I doubt it exists.

BTW, I know about "Bask" the supposedly superior Russian bags sometimes sold in Canada, Woods as I used them, Fairydown as I had one and the various Scanadavian bags as I also had one of them....pos that nearly froze me solid. NOTHING I have EVER seen is equal to a VSB and that is simply from using one.

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#103630 - 10/20/08 11:45 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: kutenay]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
In response to Kutenay, I think my definition of "winter" is a bit broader than his, so I can understand his comment. I would agree there aren't that many -40C/F (same at that temp) bags around since the market is so small for them. He has a lot more deep winter experience than me, so I defer to his judgment on this one.

Kutenay is right about "very good" v. everything else. Then again, not everyone is out as much as he is in the kinds of conditions he is in and can get along fine with something less than the absolute best. My winter camping experience is an example of that.

As an aside, Kutenay mentioned Fairydown. When I bought my bag, I had a choice between Fairydown and MacPac and bought a MacPac. The story behind what has happened to Fairydown and MacPac is no doubt of little interest to anyone here, but it represents a microcosm of the consolidation in the outdoor gear business. There are various websites with the story if anyone is interested.
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#103631 - 10/20/08 02:41 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Ryan262]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
It has been years ago, but I have taught three NOLS winter courses 2-3 weeks duration (Wind RIver Mountains and Tetons) where it got to -40 and never above 0 F in the day. We usually established a base camp snow cave after a couple of days skiing in sleeping in tents. Most of our clothing was specially made, by NOLS and not sold to the public.

You have a lot more to consider than just your sleeping bag. Feet, hands, face--all very vulnurable to cold -- navigation in a white-out, avalances, frozen equipment --wind (what are you going to do when your tent blows down?) frozen lungs, death. There is little room for mistakes in serious winter weather. You will never get enough information from a book or forum - you need hands on instruction. First become a top-notch efficient summer backpacker-camper. All camp chores need to be second nature. Practice setting up a tent, cooking, etc WITH mittens, in the dark, in a white-out! Although it will cost some $$, do an initial winter trip with a guide service that supplies equipment. Hey- you may decide you do not even like winter backpacking.

If you DO like it, then buy your own equipment and get experience in little steps - a weekend trip in moderate winter weather, then a weekend trip in more difficult winter weather. Make these initial trips close to the road so you can bail out if things get ugly. Get a buddy for serious winter trips - safer and two warm bodies in a tent beat one.

Also, if you grew up in a cold climate (I mean below 0 F regularly), you are miles ahead on experience. Remember sledding until you turned blue and your Mom came and carried you in the house and fed you hot chocolate with little marshmellows? She also taught you to keep your tounge off the chain link fence! If you do not know what this means, you definitely should not be winter camping! If on the other hand, you grew up and live in a warm climate, you really have no idea of what cold really means. You may want to move to a cold climate and do a few years of winter backpacking before venturing into serious winter trips in Alaska.

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#103632 - 10/20/08 04:18 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: wandering_daisy]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
Ah, Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment, Lander, WY., I remember it well! I had some of his gear 30+ years ago, heavy, bulky and BUILT. I still have a pair of wind pants I bought from them circa 1977 and my vest lasted years of hard use, such as being worn crossing Georgia Strait to my Canadian Coast Guard Lightstation in the winter gales in an open 14 ft. boat.....really neat and you can get right among Killer Whales who just calmly look you over and don't bother you, at all.

I still have a copy of Petzoldt's wilderness how-to book and it is one olf very few that I always considered worthwhile, alolng with the Royal Canadian Airforce manual, "Down but not out", Monte Alford"s "Winter Wise" and the Seattle Mountaineer's books.

I gotta say, the WORST thing was sticking your tongue on the metal drainpipe outside the house, that BONDED and boy, my mother would go apesh*t when the older kids would trick one of us into that! Good memories, I LOVE cold weather, deep snow, big mountains, big timber and big water.

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#103633 - 10/20/08 07:27 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: kutenay]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
Via thrift stores and other means of scrounging, I've turned up two PPWE bags, two wool shirts and a set of insulated parka and pants. Great stuff - built like a tank. The insulated parka and pants are not the least bit compressable, but you could bivy in them in very cold weather. I'm still looking for a PPWE tent, a NOLS wool sweater and the snap front shirt to compliment my button syle.

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#103634 - 12/01/08 08:41 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
Quote:

3) Use multiple bags, and go for a hybrid approach. This takes a little more experience but isn't that hard. I sleep in very cold weather with a -10C down bag, *inside* a synthetic sleeping bag or overbag - typically anything from 0C rated exped bag to a "wally world" basic synthetic bag. it doesn't have to be that warm a synthetic bag - it just adds wamth, and most importantly, puts the frost layer (the depth where it is freezing) *outside* your down bag. This means the down doesn't wet out.


Sorry to bring up an old post and I understand what you are describing but If the vapor is traveling from your skin to the synthetic bag it has to pass through the down so wouldn't you still have vapor "in transit" as you get out of your bag? So depending on the temp couldn't that vapor freeze in the down while your packing up and be exactly what you are trying to avoid or do you do something to prevent this?
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#103635 - 12/01/08 09:18 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Cesar]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Quote:
Quote:

3) Use multiple bags, and go for a hybrid approach. This takes a little more experience but isn't that hard. I sleep in very cold weather with a -10C down bag, *inside* a synthetic sleeping bag or overbag - typically anything from 0C rated exped bag to a "wally world" basic synthetic bag. it doesn't have to be that warm a synthetic bag - it just adds wamth, and most importantly, puts the frost layer (the depth where it is freezing) *outside* your down bag. This means the down doesn't wet out.


Sorry to bring up an old post and I understand what you are describing but If the vapor is traveling from your skin to the synthetic bag it has to pass through the down so wouldn't you still have vapor "in transit" as you get out of your bag? So depending on the temp couldn't that vapor freeze in the down while your packing up and be exactly what you are trying to avoid or do you do something to prevent this?
I think if you are on a long trip in very cold temperatures any sleeping bag is going to ice up, gaining a couple of ounces each day from what I understand. I don't see the advantage in putting a down bag inside a synthetic bag as you will still get ice in the synthetic bag. Maybe it does less harm there because it doesn't clump up the down, but you are also paying for the weight of two extra shells, which is 12-16 ounces. I think a better approach is to always sleep such that you don't sweat, naked above the bags rating, and with dry wool underwear when below the bags rating. This will not only keep the bag dryer, but it will also neutralize the 10-20 kcal/hr of heat lost in the form of water vapour, capturing it in the wool. You will need to dry the wool out before the next cold night. That's the catch. This can be done with sunshine or fire or by walking/skiing a few hours in just the underwear.

Even when your not sweating your skin still gives off water vapour, which accounts for 10-20kcal/hr of heat loss unless its captured in a wool layer or the sleeping bag. When it freezes inside your bag you are actually recovering some heat, but it will eventually build up and reduce the bags r-value, especially if its clumping up the down. I think wool underwear and a down bag is the proper way to go, but wear the wool underwear only when needed. Never sweat. If you sweat get out of the bag, stand around, then get back in.

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#103636 - 12/01/08 10:37 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are some very good winter bag discussions in the forums and gear sections of www.wintertrekking.com, which Rick linked to in another thread.

Why you Canadians have been hiding this site from us southerners is a bit of a mystery to me. Hehehe.

When someone describes -20C as a veritable heat wave and too warm for their bag, you know they must know something about cold weather. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

One thread I read had an interesting discussion on whether to wear separate clothes at night, which some people didn't do, but they did wear a clean balaclaca or toque to help keep the hood of the bag clean.

Vapor barrier clothes also got some yeas and nays. Worth looking at.


Edited by TomD (12/01/08 10:40 PM)
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#103637 - 12/01/08 11:11 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: TomD]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I think the vapor barrier concept is worth looking at for going up a mountain or a long arctic expedition. I don't know about that stuff, but for a typical winter hike I would rather take that same weight as wool underwear that can capture that same moisture and provide some insulation as well. Perhaps I'm missing something. I think it must depend on how and when and whether you will be able to dry the wool out again.

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#103638 - 12/02/08 07:32 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Cesar]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
Quote:

3) Use multiple bags, and go for a hybrid approach. This takes a little more experience but isn't that hard. I sleep in very cold weather with a -10C down bag, *inside* a synthetic sleeping bag or overbag - typically anything from 0C rated exped bag to a "wally world" basic synthetic bag. it doesn't have to be that warm a synthetic bag - it just adds wamth, and most importantly, puts the frost layer (the depth where it is freezing) *outside* your down bag. This means the down doesn't wet out.


Sorry to bring up an old post and I understand what you are describing but If the vapor is traveling from your skin to the synthetic bag it has to pass through the down so wouldn't you still have vapor "in transit" as you get out of your bag? So depending on the temp couldn't that vapor freeze in the down while your packing up and be exactly what you are trying to avoid or do you do something to prevent this?


Yes, but so what, a little bit of humid air will be ok. 10 hours of humid air condensing inside the bag is not. The point is not to have 10 hours worth of condensation in the bag.
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#103639 - 12/02/08 07:52 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
It seems wrong to me for the down to be anything but the outermost insulation layer.

I just thought of how I might use a vapor barrier layer. As I said, my preference is to sleep near naked in conditions above a bags rating, and to wear dry wool underwear or a dry wool liner inside the bag when well below a bags rating, but never to the point of sweating. The wool captures the water vapour, and the insensible heat of the water vapour, that your body gives off even when not sweating. There is always some. You need to dry the wool out for the next cold night though. That's the catch. The vapour barrier would be handy if you get caught on a night of extreme cold conditions where for whatever reason your wool is already wet. So you could wear the wool under the vapour barrier in those conditions, to stay warm, but protect the bag also. I think my wind layers might be good enough though, for that remote possibility.

We can get -30F, there is a chance of that, but there's no way I'm buying a -30F bag for that. I'm not saying what rating it needs to be cause I'm not exactly. I've down -30F in the backyard in my 3 pound 20F synthetic bag, but that was just one night and not a true test and I can't remember what clothes I have. I will test it out some more this winter though, then finally get the winter bag I figure out I really need for around here. I'm thinking still 3 pounds, but good quality down.

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#103640 - 12/02/08 11:01 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: phat]
Cesar Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 217
Loc: El Paso, TX
Quote:
Yes, but so what, a little bit of humid air will be ok. 10 hours of humid air condensing inside the bag is not. The point is not to have 10 hours worth of condensation in the bag.


So the following night does the vapor that froze, unfreeze and get pushed out to the synthetic layer as you heat up the bag from the inside? Pretty much starting the process all over again? Sorry Ive only camped twice in below freezing temps and would like to start going out more in winter but would like to to get a better understanding on how you do it without a vapor barrier.
Thanks again.
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#103641 - 12/02/08 05:01 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Cesar]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
caesar

As soon as you get out of a down bag, while it is warm, press all of the air out of it, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />then loft and do it again, you can get rid of a lot of moisture that built up overnight but is still warm enough to be a gas.

There are a lot of very widely different ideas about condensation and down bags freezing up - I have never had it happen to me at any temp. Its important to remember that water, water vapor and ice can all exist at the same temperature and that it can pass from any state to anyother. It can snow at very low temperatures, and vapor can be in the air at any temperature. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#103642 - 12/03/08 05:05 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Jimshaw]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I like that word for when water passes directly from solid to vapour, or from vapur to solid, 'sublimation'. Isn't it sublime? This winter I'm going to do some experimenting in the backyard with multiple nights, leaving the bag outside, and weighing the sleeping bag, and perhaps my underwear if I wear any, at the end of each night. It's just a synthetic bag, but I think they gain the same weight they just don't clump up enough. I'm curious also if -30F rated down bags gain more weight than 0F rated bags. At some point you gotta figure some bags are just too much to handle. It doesn't make that much difference over 3-5 nights, and I certainly wouldn't want to skimp if caught out in -30F.

I think what I would like though, as much for fun reasons as for practical or principled reasons, is I would like to have the clothing and gear and skills to spend the full month or even the full season, of whatever month or season I was hiking in on that particular 3-5 day trip. In that way the only real consumable would be my food. I doubt I will ever have the time for much more than a 9 day trip in the coming years but it should be fun to do some experimenting in the backyard to figure out just how its done.

Of course here in New Brunsick there is enough sunlight and firewood even in January to dry stuff out. It would be interesting to spend a winter up in Labrador. That would be a real challenge, especially the further North and inland you go. It's interesting to think about what would work best on such a trip. There was a fellow that manhauled a big sled on a really long trip, he did that on two trips several years apart. I don't remember him saying much about his sleeping bag. I remember he ate alot of chocolate.

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#103643 - 12/03/08 05:13 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I'm looking for a link on that fellows trip. Haven't found it yet but I found this.
http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/etext06/llbtr10.htm

Incidentally my father spent many years after WWII up in Labrador, as a civil engineer. He helped build the Goose Bay air drome, and did alot of surveying with these two Cree indian guides. I remember growing up we had these two HUGE, GIGANTIC, down filled sleeping bags that were wool lined on the inside, and canvas on the outside, and closed with these metal snaps. I can't image that he carried them, unless by dogsled. I could be wrong. I would have liked to have asked more about his time in the woods but we talked about other stuff before he passed away in 1986. He was born in 1921. I was born up there in Port Cartier so I feel a bit of a draw to the North. Love that book by Napoleon Comeau. I have my Dad's copy.

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#103644 - 12/03/08 07:11 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
JAK, I've had similar thoughts and aspirations as your own.

On a shorter trip the amount of body generated moisture building up inside a bag, down or synthetic, is likely to be negligible. However, on a longer trip this moisture build up has got to be a huge problem to deal with. Stegar's North Pole expedition comes to mind where the bags used gained a lot of weight from perspiration build up. I want to experiment more with vbl's, that's the best solution I can think of.

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#103645 - 12/04/08 08:10 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: alanwenker]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
alan

I understand that in Arctic and extreme conditions where it never warms up, moisture control can be a problem. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Vapor barriers, if you can stand them, I can't, can help keep moisture out of your bag. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

But learning methods of controlling moisture in your bag and learning to drying it out should come first.

Things like pressing all of the warm damp air out when you get up - twice or three times, and using a tent as a drying rack are important skills if you want to spend a lot of time with down. It can be handled by those who know how, and the others can swear at it because lots of us swear by it.

The Navy had a program where they put very thick insulation on steam pipes to conserve energy loss, but at the expense of all the space taken by the insulation. They kept going thicker and thicker (THICKNESS IS WARMTH RIGHT?) until they realise two things.
1) all of the heat radiated through the side of the pipe HAD to radiate from the outer edge of the insulator - making it warm,
AND 2) Thickness made absolutely no difference because as the insulation thickness increased, so did the radiating surface area.

I have never had any detectable frost inside my sleeping bag in the winter under any circumstances, not even on the shell, but then I do not live in Labrador. In the Sierras -5 is really cold and 10 above is more common.

So with the Navy steam pipe as an example and since all of the heat radiated by your body MUST exit through the outside of your bag, why shouldn't your bag be warmer than the surrounding air and why should water vapor decide to freeze on something without a catalyst like hoar frost?

There are too many holes to shoot in a lot of simplified models of how insulation works and there are vast areas of disagreement and experience of many experienced people. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Jim YMMV <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

I have slept in a blizzard at -40 in a 30 degree above rated bag and a snowmobile suit with no bivy sack and no tent and yes he next morning my bag was a bit crispy as I had been buried in the snow - probably kept me alive. But it was a synthetic bag <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#103646 - 12/04/08 08:41 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: Jimshaw]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Way cool. I'm definitely going to start doing the morning accordion thing with the sleeping bag. Sounds good.

On the vbl thing. What if you wore something like wool underwear or a wool lining inside of a vapour barrier lining, and then dried the wool out during the day?

On the gaining ice thing, I think there was a good paper on that with that arctic expedition in mind. There was a couple of guys that chose to sleep outside of the tent in a snow shelter and they actually did better than the fellows in the tent. I think down here though, somewhat south of the land of the midnight sun, even if we did go out for 40 days and 40 nights we would get some opportunities to dry our bags out now and then, with a good day of sunshine and low relative humidity, then maybe doing the accordion thing during a lunchbreak to give the legs a break and the arms a good workout. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

A dark colour should help also I think, but it might also make the bag colder at night. The heat radiation thing is a bit of a mystery thing to me when talking about really thick layers and an outer shell. But does makes some sense when you think about it. On average the earth cools down at night just as much as it heats up by day. In the mid-latitudes in mid-winter it cools down even more than it than it heats up. So this means a sleeping bag surface exposed to a clear night sky will be colder than the air temperature. How much? I don't know. Maybe 10 degrees in the extreme for a thick bag, being somewhat heated from within. Inside a tent or under a tarp it would be different. The tent wall might be 5 degrees colder than the outside air, and perhaps 5 degrees warmer than the inside air. It would depend on whether everyone has crawled inside their sleeping bags for the night. Plus there is the whole vapour thing going on and freezing on the inside of the tentwall. Anyhow, I know clear sky vs overcast sky makes a difference at night, on one hand because the night itself will be colder than otherwise, and also because of a little extra offset in surface temperatures, perhaps not so much with a tent. My limited experience with tents in winter wasn't that good however. It mostly helped in keeping the wind down. With it all opened up it was colder but dryer. With it opened up like a cave it was warmer but wetter. It was a bit of a wash either way, but that was only about 10-15F, and it was in the woods and not all that windy.

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#103647 - 12/04/08 08:49 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Hey, I found a link for you guys to be able to read my favourite outdoor book...

http://www.archive.org/details/lifes...orth00comerich
If you click on all files you can access different formats.

Here is a cool story on him and his brother sleeping in the snow. This was on the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence about 120 years ago. Alot of excellent stories in this book. One story is about getting stuck out on the ice on the St.Lawrence River. Also useful bits like lighting a birch tree as a signal flare, and how its often easier to catch seagulls and crows with a fishing line than fish. The section on getting lost in the woods etc is very informative. Also the section on trapping, and the chapters on eating bear and stuff with the Montagnais natives.

Here goes. Just a teaser...

Sleeping in the Snow

One winter I had my
permanent camp on the border of Lake She-
tagomau, the head waters of the east branch
of the Manicouagan River. About the middle
of February my brother and myself decided to
go on an exploring trip of about two days'
walking, further north, on the lookout for
suitable marten ground. As we were not out
for meat we arranged to go as light as possible,
so as to cover more ground. We each carried
one axe, a quart tin kettle, and sufficient grub for
four days, wrapping this last in our shelter tent,
a piece of cotton ten feet long, by six wide
which made our pack and which we carried turn
about. We made an early start, as we travelled
over six miles on the lake and then took to the
woods, and had a long day's tramp. About four
o'clock we halted to camp for the night. There
was the same old job of clearing the snow, cutting
wood and branches and setting up the shelter tent
in a half circle. When all this was done, my
brother went for water to a small lake nearby. I
got ready to light the fire, when to our discour-
agement we found we had no matches. I usually
carried these in my pockets in a small vial, well
corked, and thus absolutely waterproof. In some
way, probably while chopping or collecting the

wood, I had lost them. Neither of us smoked,
consequently we had no loose matches, although
we fumbled all through our pockets just the same.
Night had now set in and it was well nigh impos-
sible to travel back, besides which we were very
tired, so I proposed that we should have
something to eat and then try and get a little rest
by lying down in the snow. If we found it too
cold we were to get up and walk back the best way
we could to our camp, which we estimated to be
about twenty miles away. We ate some dried
smoked beaver and frozen galettes camp made
bread for our supper, and then set to work pre-
paring our bed. I tramped down a trough in the
snow six feet long by about three wide. On the
bottom of this we laid a lot of the fine branches
we had cut for our camp. Over this we laid half
of the shelter tent, then one of our coats, removing
our shoes and putting them also under us. Then
we both got into the trench, bringing the
other half of the cotton over us and piling on
snow, up to our waist, using our second coat as
an additional covering over our body and shoul-
ders. With a branch in one hand I then swept
over us as much snow as I could and covered our
heads with the cotton, shaking some of the snow
over. For a little while it was rather cold, but
it soon got more comfortable and we went asleep
and to our surprise only woke up at daylight.
On the inside surface the snow had melted and

glazed, retaining the heat, but we felt damp
and chilly on getting out, and had to hurry up
and walk to warm ourselves. We returned to
our camp, and felt no ill effects from our night in
the snow. After that night each of us carried
a vial of matches. I slept in the snow again
after that, but I was provided with a good hare
skin blanket and coton wrapper, and we followed
the same plan occasionally to save the time and
work of making a camp when after caribou or on
a long tramp.

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#103648 - 12/05/08 11:07 AM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
My very limited experiment with a vbl was in -10F temps and I was wearing wool long underwear. In the morning I was damp, not soaked but just damp, and I quickly got dressed and all was fine. I never felt cold while I got dressed - that surprised me a bit.

I have more issues sleeping in any liner - just the extra layer twisting around, than I do with the moisture retention specifically in a vbl.

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#103649 - 12/05/08 01:46 PM Re: Sleeping bags [Re: JAK]
chuck Offline
member

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 83
Jak, very interesting story. Can you please check link as I get a page saying it could not be found.

Thanks

Chuck

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