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#154806 - 09/18/11 11:31 AM What I've learned about sleeping bags
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
These are my observations and is not expert advice. It's just to stimulate conversation.

It seems like everything has changed in the last 10 or 15 years and sleeping bags seem to be no exception. My old bag is a Coleman I bought in 2001. I spent about 4 months cowboy camping in it without a tent, or even anything to put on the ground under me. It was comfortable and warm down to its rating of 20 degrees and even a bit lower. When it got dirty, I just tossed it in the washing machine. It doesn't seem to affect it.

A chance remark at a store led me to learn that temperature ratings now assume a 1 inch pad and wearing long underwear. Women also sleep colder than men, so they need a lower temperature rating or they should use the comfort and not extreme rating on the bag. So I did some research and found an article by REI which I'll link to later if I can find it again. The tests are done with an instrumented dummy who doesn't move. I find not moving makes me sleep warmer.

In my old Coleman, there is more insulation on the bottom than on top. Newer sleeping bags often have the reverse because of the assumption of a pad. Some bags even have a certain pad that is designed for them.

Now I cacoon my sleeping bag over a hammock. I've been using an Alpine 20. As it's getting cooler, I've been observing cold and warm spots. The hammock holds the sleeping bag just off me and it feels like heat is radiating from it inside and warming me. But if I pull it tighter it becomes cooler. Same if I raise it off me by raising a knee. In other words, there seems to be an optimum size for a sleeping bag. Not too tight and not too loose. For this reason, a side sleeper may be colder than a back sleeper in the same bag as the bag is pressed closer to them.

There is a constant debate between clothes and no clothes. I generally wear clothes because I get up in the middle of the night. I've found there is little difference for me on the bottom. On top, wearing a shirt and a fleece works best for me when it's cold. If it's warm, I won't wear the fleece. Others will have a different experience.

From articles I read, a lot of heat loss occurs out of the top. I'm too paranoid about a zipper getting stuck to pull it all the way up on a mummy bag, so I generally leave it down a bit. Sometimes I'll sleep with my head in the bag. It's warmer and I've never had a condensation problem. Other do have one.

In summary:

When taking another person's recommendation, be sure to know their size compared to you. Also ask if they are a side sleeper or back sleeper and if they use a pad. It seems to make a big difference.

I find a bag that fits closely all around, but not tightly is warmest. For those that are claustrophobic, this would probably drive them crazy.

Personally, I wouldn't buy a bag now without trying it on. Temperature rating doesn't seem to tell the whole story.



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#154809 - 09/18/11 01:52 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Great observations Gram Cracker.

When you consider a standard for rating sleeping bags I'm sure you find there are so many variables that nothing would reflect real world situations for everyone, so no matter what you'd use, you'd have to adapt it to current external conditions and your personal conditions.

What you're left with is choosing the materials and fit that works best for you and your budget.

For me, right now that's a Coleman exponent Canyon 32 bag combined with a Coleman Fleece bag. The two together are still pretty light, and they offer a lot of flexibility. But I mainly use them because I bought them both on sale, and together they cost me under $60 bucks. At the very least that fits my budget pretty good laugh

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#154813 - 09/18/11 02:54 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: billstephenson]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
It's starting to get more complicated as I research it. There are 3 sources of heat loss.

1. Conduction
2. Radiation
3. Convection

Convection is the biggest and it's mostly out around the shoulders. There may be some along the zipper.

Radiation is the heat that rises off your body. The best idea is to reflect it back with light colored material. When picking a color for long johns, the lighter the better. Then cover them with a dark shirt or fleece during the day so radiation works in your favor.

A light color for the top of the sleeping bag will radiate less heat than a dark color. The inside of my old Coleman is a pale yellow which may partially explain why it's warm.

Rather than try to figure out the science, tonight on the hammock, I'm going to put a ridgeline inside the sleeping bag to see what happens. My theory is my body will heat the air around me better than it would heat the sleeping bag which is higher density. If it makes me colder, then I'll save it for warmer weather.
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#154823 - 09/18/11 06:37 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
You should definitely play with the emergency blankets and bubble foil too.

This past winter I did a lot of experimenting with the bubble foil and I wouldn't sleep on the ground or a tent without it now. I also carry a small square piece for a sitting pad.

This year, I've got several emergency blankets I'm going to play with too. Putting one on top of my bag is one of the things I want to try. Using a ridge line to suspend it over my bag is worth trying too and I hadn't thought of that, but I will try it now. Thanks for putting me on the that!

I use a fleece liner in my bag when it's cold, so I'll also try sandwiching the emergency blanket on top of the fleece and under the top of the bag. I expect this will work, but it might be noisy.

If it does work good, the company that makes "Space Blankets" makes an "Emergency Sleeping Bag" out of the same stuff...



Putting my fleece bag inside that, then both those inside my Coleman bag, may work the best of all, and it could replace my bubble foil sleeping pad.

The problem with mylar is that once it starts tearing it won't stop, and the trick to making the mylar work is providing some insulation (air space) between you and it. That's why the bubble foil works so good. It addresses both of those issues very well.

Definitely let me know how the ridge line on the sleeping bag works for you, and if you get a chance to try an emergency blanket or bubble foil let me know how they work for you too.
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#154832 - 09/19/11 12:48 AM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
what color is something in the dark? I don't believe the color of underwear matters from a thermal perspective.

However, I personally like to disuade people from carrying and relying on space blankets. They can cause an otherwise warm sleeping bag to become soaking wet.

Definitely try on a sleeping bag because fit is as important as fit in a pair of pants.

Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#154846 - 09/19/11 10:50 AM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
Allison Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/11
Posts: 21
I totally agree! I have a REI Sub Kilo +15 bag that is made for women. I tried it out at the store and love it! You are right when you said that choosing the bag is specific to your sleeping habits and body type. I haven't been in this bag below 30 degrees yet, but was very warm and comfortable without a pad. It's so light because it's made with goose down, but I can't just stick it in the wash.

Allison

http://4000-footers.blogspot.com/

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#154849 - 09/19/11 12:55 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If I'm reading this correctly you are wrapping the bag around the hammock. In other words, not as most people would.

There are a number of considerations with that - are you attached it to the hammock via shock cord, or static line? Because a hammock is a dynamic system, meaning you are moving a lot, and what it sounds like to me is there is no play in the system and you are compressing the loft in the sleeping bag. It may also be that the bag is not true to rating, but that is a separate issue.

"Women sleep colder than men" is a stereotype that doesn't always hold true. There are many factors in that - I am finding that being more active, my metabolism has changed, so while I am frequently cold before the men are, I am also frequently feeling less chill than other women.
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#154852 - 09/19/11 02:26 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
However, I personally like to disuade people from carrying and relying on space blankets. They can cause an otherwise warm sleeping bag to become soaking wet.


I've read that in some of the reviews on them. Seems like a few slits in the mylar would solve that for the most part.

One of the biggest downsides I see to using one as I've described would be getting in and out of the sleeping bag. The inner fleece bag I use has a zipper. The mylar bag does not, so a mylar blanket over me might work better with my bubble foil pad under me.

Drapping the mylar over the bug net on my hammock might help retain some heat too. I also want to line the inside of my tarp with it and build a small fire in front of it and see if it will keep me warmer when I'm sitting in my hammock.

The main thing is, it will be fun to experiment with when I'm out there wink
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#154853 - 09/19/11 04:23 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado

Lori,

I'm just attaching the foot of the bag to the the bag to the bottom of the hammock so it can't pull up too far when I pull the bag over me. Otherwise the hammock will come through the hole in the bag. Otherwise, the bag moves freely with me and the hammock and the bottom is within a couple inches of the hammock every time I've felt it. There is never any pressure on the loft so it doesn't compress except a little bit around the feet which doesn't see to make a difference.

The ridgeline is going to need another night of testing to draw any conclusons.

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http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#154856 - 09/19/11 05:59 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Unless the fabric of the bag is stretchy, I wouldn't rule out compression. It will only sag so far when you move.

If you can feel a couple inches of space, there is too much air space between the bag and the hammock. The inner fabric of any insulation suspended under a hammock needs to be against the hammock. Gaps of a couple of inches will cause cold spots.

There is a reason most of the underquilt suspension systems use shock cord - they need a lot of give, but they need to be against the hammock.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#154878 - 09/20/11 10:36 AM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
From what I'm reading, it's going to take a lot of money and extra weight to get down to a temperature I can get just laying on the ground.

For now, the Speers Peapod is looking the best, but I'm not ready to spend $389 to get to 20 degrees when I can do that now on the ground with the tent.

Meanwhile, I'll experiment in my yard with space, no space, different combinations of clothes and things to see how low I can get. Right now, the high 40's is all I've tested. If I can get to 40, that would be fine for my summer camping.

The ridgeline didn't work. The space is there anyway with the bag over the hammock, so there is no need for it.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#154883 - 09/20/11 12:54 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I've been getting down to 20F for a few years now with a Jacks R Better 3 season quilt set. Cheaper than the peapod, easier to use with the center drawcord on the foot end.

You'll easily spend $500 on just a down sleeping bag, so two 3 season down quilts are actually cheaper than a pad and bag for the money.

I picked up a Winter Yeti from Warbonnet a couple years back - it's a 0 degree down 3/4 length quilt with a mylar liner, and I do not doubt that it's rated accurately - there's some serious loft to it and it's got a differential cut to the baffles, so no compression possible. I haven't been down to 0 with it yet but maybe this winter. It actually weighs less than the 20 oz JRB 3 season full length quilt.

Shop the options... you will be suprised.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#154898 - 09/20/11 05:39 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
It may cheaper, easier and even more comfortable to sleep on the ground unless your "ground" is a swamp or a lava flow.
Jim smile
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#154905 - 09/20/11 09:19 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Jimshaw]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Lori,

Thanks for the specific recommendations on gear. One of the reasons I'm considering a hammock is there are a lot of places I can camp with a hammock where a tent wouldn't work. Haven't run across any lava flows or swamps yet.

And now that I've slept in one, I'm hooked. (Pun intended.)

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#154940 - 09/21/11 02:38 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I'm trying to get to as low a temperature as I can with my hammock with just the gear I carry in my summer pack. Then, I'll start to work on extra gear to go lower.

Here is some good information by Sgt. Rock. Last night, I wore my rain jacket as the outer layer and put the hood on. It made a lot of difference. (I'm too tall to fit my head in the top of a mummy bag.)

I think the small airspace under me created by cocooning is an advantage as it stays at a temperature higher than air temperature. The alternative would be putting the sleeping bag on top of the hammock, compressing the insulation and losing heat that way.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#154952 - 09/21/11 05:27 PM Re: What I've learned about sleeping bags [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Ah, there would be the difference. 20F is my summer low, so all the gear in my summer pack works, whether it's pad or underquilt.

I have to be prepared for lower than 20F in mid to late fall and winter. That means two pads, or a down mat or all season NeoAir is in my future.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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