sleeping in insulated pants

Posted by: bivouac jack

sleeping in insulated pants - 04/29/10 10:41 PM

hi everyone I'm new to the forum so I hope I'm posting this in the right spot. I have seen half legnth sleeping bags that you use with a down jacket, but I'm thinking about taking it a step further by experimenting with sleeping in a bivy sack wearing a down jacket and pants - no sleeping bag. Has anyone tried this before? What would be the disadvantages to doing this?
Posted by: Tango61

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/29/10 11:21 PM

It all depends. Give us a better scenario and we can give you a better answer.

I think the key word you used would be 'expirement'. Hopefully in a safe manner.

Disadvantages - limited options. If it turns colder than expected, what are you going to do? Where do you like to keep your stuff? What's the weather going to be like? What other gear are you carrying?

For the weight of a good bivy, you can carry a TarpTent and have room to spread out and be protected. Similar with a tarp.

If it were a truly effective option, then I'm sure we would have more examples of it being used. Not to say that it's not an option, but it wouldn't be for me (except in an emergency).

You can do as you please, but me and my old bones will hang from the trees.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/29/10 11:28 PM

It's hard to make a true comparison without knowing the exact jacket, pants and sleeping bag you want to compare.

But in general the bag will be warmer because it offers less surface area to lose heat from. There also could be a gap between the jacket and the pants that will lose heat. You can hunker down in a mummy bag, close up the face opening, and stay amazingly warm. Can't do that with jacket and pants. Yeah, you can close up the bivy but it's not insulated. It would help if the jacket had a hood but it's just not the same as a bag.

Are you considering this to save weight? Or for versatility? Or....????
Posted by: bivouac jack

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 12:07 AM

well I've just been going over my gear list looking for gear that I can use as "multi use". I usually carry a down jacket anyway and I thought it would be nice to have down pants for the cold mornings and maybe I could ditch the sleeping bag altogether to save weight. Its more of just a crazy idea I'm rolling around in my head at this point. Like Tango61 said, if it was effective more people would be doing it I guess. Just wanted to see if anyone had tried it before.
Posted by: Eric

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 01:19 AM

Something to keep in mind: Your sleeping bag is your last resort if everything goes sideways. If you fall in a creek and all your cloths get soaked and you're planning on sleeping in your cloths...
Posted by: Glenn

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 07:01 AM

This sounds like a good backyard project for next fall. Keep sleeping in the backyard as temperatures cool toward winter, and you'll soon know how cold you can go with the jacket and pants alone. (You might want to add down booties and mittens; cold hands and feet will keep you awake all night. Cursing.)

I'm not sure I'd trust jacket and pants alone, myself - but that's just me. I do know that I use my jacket and pants as part of a sleeping system, and carry a lighter sleeping bag than I used to as a result. I used to carry a 15 or 20 degree bag; now I carry a 30 degree bag, and use the down garments inside the bag to extend its range for the stray 20-degree night I might encounter. (As I'm getting older, I'm starting to avoid sub-freezing temperatures for backpacking, though I'll still go out for a night of car, or near-car, camping.)

I don't save as much weight as omitting the bag entirely, but using the clothes has saved me some weight - probably a quarter to a half pound, with the 850-fill bags I like; lower fill ratings might produce greater savings.

Interesting idea, but play with it at home first.
Posted by: ringtail

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 09:58 AM

It probably would work in limited situations. The daily temperature difference and amount of heat generated while hiking need to be considered.

In the airid west a 35 degree difference is faily normal - high of 60 and low of 25.

An outfit that will keep me warm highing at 30 degrees might only keep me warm around camp at 50.

That give an effective temperature difference of 55 degrees. Pants that are comfortable hiking during the heat of the day will not be enough to keep you warm at night.

In a coastal climate it might very well work.
Posted by: Fiddleback

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 11:30 AM

I do it "all the time". I use quotes 'cause the temps don't always require the insulated pants.

I hammock most of the time and from the very start I read that wiggling into a bag was a chore. From this, other forums and BackpackingLight, I concluded that sleeping bags were merely an option and hardly necessary. After all, sleeping bags weren't invented until the mid-1800's. But cold weather clothing in my home range is important, May-Oct, and I've incorporated it into my sleep system. Once and only once I used a sleeping bag as a quilt...all other nights in my hammock have been in all or parts of this sleep system:

- insulated jacket w/hood (Integral Designs Dolomitti)
- insulated pants (originally ID Denali, now Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon)
- various other sleepwear which I always use regardless of hammock or tent, bag, quilt or other; fresh wool base layer, balaclava, fleece glove liners, fresh wool socks and booties.

With a 3/8" Oware CCF pad, this system has kept me comfortable into the mid-20s in the hammock. In the low-20's I felt cold coming through the pad...if I were to augment the pad with my sit pad or use a thicker pad the system's range would drop into the teens.

Besides the acceptable May-Oct temp capability and the convenience of a no-wrestle hammock system, I also get a good dual use function out of my cold weather clothing. Any night, spring thru fall, can have freezing temps around here and, except in the warmest part of summer, I feel I must always carry all of the cold gear. Still, I've never worn it while hoofing down the trail during the day. At night it all makes for a great sleep system and the sleeping bag stays at home saving me that bulk and weight.

Works just as well in a tent on the ground...I just don't need as much since that's a much warmer (though not as comfortable) way to sleep.

I chose synthetic over down partly for a 'safety' issue. Although there are some studies that say otherwise, most believe that down doesn't perform as well when wet. Given that I carry no backup sleeping bag shocked I choose to 'suffer' through the added bulk and weight of the synthetics. FYI, the ID Dolomitti is hugely warm.

Go for it! After some backyard experiments, of course. wink


Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 01:09 PM

I actually have done this to a lesser degree. I have a set of Montbell Down Inner pants and jacket. They are pretty thin as far as down clothing goes. They are my winter "pajamas". I find that I can get away with a lighter bag when I use them, but I would not consider going without a bag at all for the reasons I stated above.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 03:04 PM

A number of people, like Trailrunner, wear the insulated jacket and pants to "stretch" the temperature rating of a less-warm sleeping bag--for instance, to take a 30* sleeping bag down to the low 20's. It didn't work for me. Of course, I'm a cold sleeper!

As already mentioned, using the clothing without the sleeping bag exposes more surface to the cold outside air. Another problem is that clothing that lets you sleep comfortably at, say, 20* will be probably too warm for even the minimal moving around camp when you're awake. You'll get sweaty, which is something you want to avoid in cold weather.

Posted by: Tango61

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 04/30/10 11:05 PM

FB - what width is your Oware pad and is it full length or shorter?
Posted by: Fiddleback

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/01/10 02:03 PM

It's 40 X 60 X 3/8"...the current Oware pads are 1/4" thick. I find that, besides the stickiness of the foam, the size helps prevent slippage in the hammock. I'm careful to lay down to avoid wrinkling and after that the pad moves very little in the hammock. With the width, the pad cups around the shoulders a bit providing extra insulation and wind block there. All in all, I think it's great performance for 7oz.

For sleeping on the ground, the most comfortable pad combo I've ever found utilizes the same Oware pad. I fold it along its long axis and insert my nearly 30-year old ThermaRest. The two together provide super padding and insulation and, again, the boost to the ThermaRest for an extra 7oz is tremendous. And the Oware grips the ThermaRest decently and I've not had much trouble with the older pad slipping out of its taco. grin

As for clothing vs. sleeping bag -- I find some unanticipated benefits. Particular to the hammock and a little to tent camping, there is the ease of nighttime Nature calls. I sleep with booties so there's no fumbling around in the dark, no getting half dressed...just drop out of the hammock and find a suitable tree. When I come back there's no bag to fight into, no quilt to rearrange, nothing to warm back up. smile Similarly, in the cold of a western Montana morning I can wait to dress for the trail and do breakfast, some packing, etc., until things warm up a bit.

All sleep systems are particular to the individual and where/when he/she is camping. Perhaps this style of system is even more specific to the individual and the conditions. But it's working great for me...

Posted by: DJ2

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/01/10 06:43 PM

I've experimented with a down jacket for the upper and a half bag for the lower part of my body. I was much colder than I would have been in a sleeping bag of equal or quite a bit lower weight.

The warmth of a sleeping bag compared to a coat/pants combo is, in my opinion, similar to the warmth of a mitten compared to a glove. The mitten is much warmer, other things being equal.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/01/10 09:35 PM

Fiddleback's experience is enough to show that there are some who like this setup! I guess my final advice to you would be to try it out (in the back yard or a trip close to the car where you can bail out if needed) to see if it works for you. As mentioned, the other option is to use the puffy jacket and pants to extend the range of a warmer (and therefore lighter and less expensive) sleeping bag. The cost of the jacket and pants therefore won't be wasted! Let us know if it works for you!
Posted by: TomD

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/02/10 02:32 AM

You won't be as warm in pants and a jacket as you would be in a sleeping bag of comparable design (amount and type of insulation) because of the way the bag retains your body heat compared to sleeves and pant legs. With a bag, your whole body is heating up the still air in a single compartment, which is insulated from the outside air by the bag.

I extend the range of my bag by using an overbag or tossing my parka over it. I have a deep winter parka that is about as bulky as my bag; I'm wearing it in my picture. I could sleep in just my insulated pants and parka, but I'd only do that in some kind of emergency where I was day hiking, had my cold weather gear, but no bag with me and got caught out.

Posted by: Fiddleback

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/02/10 12:14 PM

That kinda puts the lie to the common concept of 'warming up' the sleeping bag. In my experience, backpacking forums are replete with cautions that larger bags needlessly suck up body heat to warm the larger space...hence the popularity of mummy bags. I never gave much thought to that contention but it seemed logical. And I've slept in enough bags to know that, on a chilly night, it takes some time to rewarm a cooled-down bag.

If in fact the theory is true would it not apply to wearing warm clothing in lieu of using a bag? Wouldn't less body heat be spent warming up the surroundings and more be available to keep one's body warm? Indeed, properly fitted layered clothing may be warmer than a sleeping bag. And that's what this sleep system is, a fresh base layer covered with a layer of insulated clothing.

Perhaps the key phrase is, "as warm as...". If one is comfortable...if one is 'warm', one doesn't have to be 'warmer.' That's implicit in lightweight backpacking...don't over do it...don't carry more than you need...don't over engineer... The kind of sleep system proposed here and the one I use is has it's limits as do all systems. But the limit of my system is keyed to where and when I use it. I watch the weather before and during a trip, I know how long it will take to bail out, I carry enough to allow a 10 margin (10 colder than forecast). Except for the safety factor, I don't carry more than I need. And that applies to the sleep system, cooking fuel, food, extra clothing, etc. In fact and as I posted previously, I carry the cold weather clothing specifically for the safety factor and this system allows me to get some dual use (read, some use) out of those three pounds. Fifty degree swings during any one day are common in the arid mountain west...freezing temps occur in any month once you approach 6000' or so. I gotta carry the clothing 'just in case' but, May-Oct, the clothing has yet to be used when I'm hoofing down the trail. Still, in a hammock it provides comfortable sleep into the 20's, the pad being the limiting factor. On the ground, drop the range another ten degrees.

Bags can be efficient and comfortable. They can also be bulky and add pounds to a backpack. What they are not is essential. Bags were invented in the mid-1800s. In North America prior to that, Native Americans, explorers/mountain men, settlers and others didn't use 'em. And ya' know what? There were survivors. grin

It's all very individual and specific to who, what, where, when. It can save weight and I believe that's in the spirit of this forum,"The Lightweight Zone." If you're experienced and skillful enough, if you practice good judgement and safety, you can minimize pack weight. And that includes the sleep system depending on who you are where you are when.

Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/02/10 01:29 PM

A sleeping bag does take time to warm up, however, after warmed you have less surface area to loose heat. It may take 2 hours to warm a bag, but then you have 6 hours to loose heat. A sleeping bag has better warmth for weight - less nylon for the given amount of down. To get the maximum advantage out of a bag, you have to be willing to cinch it up with just hour nose hanging out. A lot of people cannot sleep this way. My husband uses a half bag and down jacket because he is claustrophobic. I do envy him when he can get "out of bed" in the morning and keep on the warm jacket!

Another thing to consider is that any sleep system should allow you to "survive" in 99.9% of conditions you may face. "Survive" does not equal "comfort". I think if you buy into the light weight concept you realize that occasionally you will be uncomfortable because of your gear, however I do not compromise "survival". And the line not to cross is really hard to establish without experience. The sleep in the backyard idea is a good one to test your own personal reaction to your proposed sleep system. I have spent a few nights halfway up a mountain with only my day gear and teeth chattering. Nothing is as welcome as seeing the sun peek over the ridge!
Posted by: aimless

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/02/10 02:20 PM

you have to be willing to cinch it up with just your nose hanging out.

This cannot be overemphasized. Especially for those who have pared every ounce out of their load and find they are at the limits of their warmth system.

If you are in a situation where you need every scintilla of warmth your bag can provide, you must cinch the head opening down as far as you can, while being careful not to trap the moisture in your breath. That means leaving a nose-sized hole and nothing more! Otherwise you are not utilizing your bag to its maximum warmth.
Posted by: whcobbs

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/03/10 04:15 PM

Bivouac Jack--

I've been doing exactly this sleeping in pants thing for about 6 years, since I made myself a pair of primaloft pants for winter use. The idea was a light weight outfit that would dissipate moisture on an extended winter trek with just body heat. It's all synthetic (Primaloft, polarquard) because down doesn't breath all that well, so to dry clothes with a down bag the vapor barrier is a bag with you and your damp things inside; with synthetics you wear a vapor barrier suit next to skin or almost, then your damp things with a stretch layer over, finally the fiber-insulated outer layers. I do use a 2 lb synthetic bag over, with a home sewn windsack sleeping bag cover to keep snow off. Also, I have an insulated Primaloft Parka. An elastic draw cord helps the midriff heat leak. Walt
Posted by: Tango61

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/03/10 10:34 PM

One other piece of gear you might consider in cold weather is a fleece scarf. When I'm in my hammock/quilt I've found that using a scarf around my head/neck can really trap the heat in.
I think it would also work well in a sleeping bag to help trap the heat.

I don't like wearing a toque to sleep in. It makes my hair hurt by morning.

Posted by: TomD

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/11/10 07:04 PM

How and why sleeping bags work is a much discussed topic, as you can see. However, the way any kind of insulation works is to isolate whatever you are trying to keep warm or cool from the outside environment. Whether it's your house, a thermos or a sleeping bag, it's the same principle.

Without repeating the obvious, a bag only works because it isolates you from the cold outside air (that is, air outside the bag). It doesn't matter how you do it. Some methods are more efficient than others at creating the dead air space you need, but that's it. A mummy bag works better than a rectangular bag because it is more efficient in creating a shape that will be smaller in volume and less likely to leak air in or out. A longer bag may take a bit more time to stabilize the temperature, but I doubt it is that big a difference.
Your head is a big radiator (one reason divers in cold water wear hoods) so wearing a fleece hat, balaclava or something similar will make a big difference.
Posted by: Fiddleback

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/13/10 01:56 PM

TomD -- I can't find anything here to disagree with...

And that's one reason I'm suspicious of the claim about bags being more efficient or having less surface area, etc., than that what is experienced when wearing insulated clothing in lieu of a bag...

You've made two winning points; 1)the head is a big radiator and, 2)the difference between bags (and, I believe, clothing) is not that big of a difference.

What one uses for a sleep system is an individual thing. The system is/can be made of many parts and the bag (or clothing) is just one. Beyond consideration of the multiple parts is consideration of the individual sleeper and the conditions faced (temp being only one factor of the conditions...there's humidity, precip, wind speed, hammock hanging or on the ground, etc.).

I certainly don't advocate everyone leaving a bag at home although I and others do it quite successfully. But the blithesome disregard for the idea of not using a bag has surprised me.

Posted by: Redfacery

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/13/10 05:05 PM

Fiddleback, I agree with your point, and have learned through poor decisions that there are times when I can leave the bag at home successfully, and times where that just means I'll be waking up every hour for some calisthenics and shivering.

The idea that one must carry a sleeping bag comes from habit, people always consider it a necessity. And usually, it is. But with good layering, and a hardy, hot dinner, I've slept plenty of nights without one. Usually that means I wear most of my gear to bed (often including unlaced boots), and sometimes it can involve my hotpad/bandanna wrapped around my face.
Posted by: TomD

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/19/10 11:40 PM

I'm not suggesting you can't do without a bag, people do it all the time either intentionally or not. I could get along fine in pretty cold conditions if I just had my thermals, insulated pants and my big parka (the red one in my picture), down booties, balaclava and gloves or mitts and a mat to sleep on.

My point is why bother. I'd much rather be in a bag and be comfy than wrapped up in my clothes all night.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/20/10 12:02 AM

On a few trips lately I've actually gone in the opposite direction....instead of using clothes as part of a sleep system I use part of my sleep system as clothing. I use an Exped Wallcreeper (now called the Dreamwalker)as a jacket. It has a full hood and arm holes on the sides. It's a blanket, a jacket and a sleeping bag. Quite versatile and better suited for the hammock I find myself using more often lately.
Posted by: Fiddleback

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 05/20/10 10:27 AM

And there it is...once one gets beyond minimum safety considerations, it does, seemingly, all come down to I think all lightweight backpacking considerations do. What TomD outlines above, substituting a medium weight jacket for the parka and adding insulated pants (topic of the OP), is my sleep system.

Here's what I think is key for me. I haven't added anything to my backpack and I took out the bulk of an approximate three pounds of sleeping bag. The result is I have integrated my shelter and clothing with what's left of the original sleep system, i.e., the pad. Ryan Jordan of BackpackingLight published a 2003 technical white paper on this very subject but darn if I can find it on the 'net.

I always sleep in 'thermals' a bag or out. There are several reasons I do this; extend temp range of sleep system (bag or not), keep the bag/quilt clean, the SmartWool feels so much nicer than the the feel of the bag on bare skin, etc. Effectively, all I've done is add a layer of insulated clothes (jacket and pants). Since I started using this sleep system coincident with my start with hammock hanging I can't address the individual comfort level...all I can say is that combination has been sweet! grin There's been minor, spinoff benefits too...not having to wrestle a bag in the hammock, not having to get dressed for a frigid nighttime Nature call, no need to dress until the Sun warms the morning up...

Comfort and individual perspective. Rather than feeling "wrapped up in clothes all night" I relish the feeling of not being restricted by a sleeping bag. smile And the three pounds I left at home is a major percentage of what is now my approximate 15lb base weight...

Everyone is different and they face different trail conditions. The key is to get everyone to think differently from what they have been locked into. A bag is just one of many options; a backpacker's 'big three' is not a Holy Trinity. laugh

Posted by: crazysquirel

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/09/17 04:41 PM

I've considered it myself. I have been sectioning the PCT during my summers away from school. I think a lot of the responses you received deal less with ultralite hiking and more with hiking in general so maybe I can help there. Weather does play a part, I would consider the setup for some desert-rat running but not for the northern mountains.

my thoughts
less weight: (pants: 6-12 additional oz) vs (bag: 20-30 additional oz)
less clutter/chore: Fiddleback mentioned this as well.
layer: can quickly be pulled on when resting
Less space: smaller pack
Flex: Someone (sorry I forget who) mentioned this as well, you can own one lighter bag and use your jacket and pants to extend the temp range.

colder: I imagine this to be like wearing gloves vs mittens, the fingers can't share heat in gloves, similarly the legs and arms can't share your core heat stored inside a bag.

My rambling thoughts... I hope they help! I'll be following the thread and I would love to see others thoughts as well since I've been kicking it around for a few years myself. I just can't pull the trigger on a several hundred pair of pants that may or may not work out!

Posted by: JPete

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/10/17 10:09 AM

Surprised it has not been mentioned, but at one point, there were down pants that could be zipped at the legs to make an "elephants foot" half bag, significantly reducing the surface area problem, and a down jacket that zipped to the pants to prevent drafts. The "elephants foot" half bags are still available, I know, but I haven't seen the pants for awhile. If one can sew and handle down, one could make a pair.

I remember being quite interested in these at one point, but they were way out of my price range. The jacket and pants together also weighed slightly more than the sleeping bag I was using.

The system had a French name (translated as Elephant's Foot) and seemed aimed at the climbing community.

Since this approach seems to have largely disappeared, I suspect it was not fully successful, but do not know what the drawbacks were.

best, jcp
Posted by: shuddleson

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/12/17 12:39 AM

Originally Posted By JPete

The system had a French name (translated as Elephant's Foot) and seemed aimed at the climbing community.


A cagoule?

I Lusted after the expedition pants in the REI too. Too cool.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/12/17 02:01 PM

The cagoule is a knee length hooded raincoat like this. The French term for elephant's foot is pied d'elephant. (Sorry, my computer doesn't do accent marks.)

Elephants foot bags are still available. This is one of many different brands. Here's another. Here's another. google is your friend!

I personally prefer not to have all my critical insulation eggs in one basket, as it were. Also, having insulating clothing separate from my sleeping bag allows me an extra margin to stay warm even if the temp after a summer storm drops into the single digits, not completely unusual in the high Rockies (just ask W_D). Your Mileage May, of course, Vary.
Posted by: DustinV

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/15/17 02:21 PM

I happened to order some insulated pants yesterday, and here today I see a thread about them.

My reasons included being able to wear them in camp before sleeping, stretching the temp range on my sleep system and for making overnight nature calls much more bearable. I'll keep the quilt, since it's pretty small/light. And I'd have a margin of error if things got colder or warmer than expected. I guess the gist is I'm also trying to shift to wearing more clothes than getting a warmer quilt and insulated pants is a step in that direction.

Most of the time, we are in RMNP at sites that don't allow fires, so evenings in camp just get cold. And it regularly gets down to the 30's in summer at the higher elevations, or colder.

But if a herd of angry raccoons started gnawing on my hiking partner (in his hammock, several feet away) wearing warm pants would mean I'd be less likely to just yell, "Hey, can you keep it down!" from my warm cocoon. I'd actually climb out of the bag and yell.

But seriously, folks... I was surprised to see how few choices were out there for packable down or synthetic-fill pants. I spent about a week scouring the internet for deals or lesser-known brands, but ended up nabbing a pair on sale.
Posted by: wgiles

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/15/17 04:16 PM

I've got some of the M65 Pant liners for cold weather lounging. I had not thought about sleeping in them, although there is no reason that I couldn't. They are cut short to be worn with boots and they are cut very generously, so they aren't going to fit in any close fitting pants. Somewhere, I've got an old surplus mountain shell pant that should work with these liners. They are made to button into the cold weather pants that they were made for. This winter hasn't been that cold around here, so they haven't been outside yet.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: sleeping in insulated pants - 02/15/17 07:50 PM

FWIW, I've had a pair of synthetic insulated pants for years, and while they seemed like a great idea when I ordered them, in practice I always find that the weight and bulk keeps me from carrying them. I'm more likely to throw in a pair of silk longjohns plus very lightweight rain chaps; the combination is lower weight and lower bulk and more flexible.

I'm not saying that I never use them, just that the right combination to do so isn't common based on my personal hiking style, trips that I take, etc. So maybe they will turn out to be a wonderful purchase for you!