I pick up a new bag to Texas backpacking. I was camped out up in the hill country this weekend. It didn't get colder than 45. My new bag is an REI Igneo which is rated to 19 and comfort rating about 30. I didn't get cold but I wasn't comfortably warm. The reviews on this bag are good. Most people say the rating is dead on. I figured at 45 degree I would be unzipping it but I didn't. Had a full stomach and I slept in only shorts and a t shirt. My pad is a Nemo Tenslor. Nemo doesn't give an R value but they say it will keep you warm between 20 and 30 degrees. Also I am thin. 6'4 200lbs. I have always been a cold sleeper. I have a EE Revelation that's rated to 10. I haven't been able to test it in super cold temps so I don't know how it will work but I have a Marmot Trestle 15 for car camping that has kept me comfortably warm down to 30. Has anyone else had this issue with down bags?
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
I have often slept cold when I rely on my bag alone for warmth. A sleep suit makes a big difference and just a pair of warm bulky socks helps. I'll wear a fleece or knit cap, occasionally a balaclava. The pad has seldom made a lot of difference to me as far as warmth.
Loc: Portland, OR
First off, I find that if I am slightly chilled when I get into my bag it takes forever to warm up, because once I'm lying down I'm completely inactive. After all, a sleeping bag can only capture your body heat, not produce any heat on its own. When I notice that I'm a bit chilled at bed time, I deliberately run about, hop up and down, flap my arms, etc. in order to generate some heat before slipping into my bag. This helps a lot, compared to getting in while still chilled.
The other factor you can control is how well-fueled your body is when you go to bed. Generally speaking, you've been burning fuel like crazy all day carrying your pack. You need to reload your fuel if you expect your body to generate heat at night. Eating something with simple sugars, backed up by some fats or oils, right before bed can supply some concentrated fuel. Chocolate comes to mind, but if you're sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate be sure to make it milk chocolate or white chocolate, not some 70% cacao mega-dark chocolate.
Lastly, wearing a warm hat is always a good idea when you are cold. So is cinching up the top opening of your mummy bag as small as you can stand it, because leaving it wide just makes a big hole for your precious heat to escape out of.
If these tactics don't help, then maybe you need to think about a higher-rated bag or a more insulated pad underneath you (yes, the R-value is quite important). But I recommend you try the cheap, easy approach first and run around like a madman and stoke up on a sweet treat as you go to bed.
Edited by aimless (01/02/1703:03 PM) Edit Reason: added a couple more thoughts
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The testing for EN13537 ratings is done with the tester (a dummy) wearing base layers (long underwear top and bottom). long socks, and a knit cap. ( I just found out that the cap actually consists of a face mask.) This clothing makes a significant difference, and I suspect that your shorts and T shirt and, presumably, no cap, make the comfort rating at least 10* higher--which means you were approaching that barrier with the temp at 45*.
The testing is also done with a rather thick pad (actually a board floor with a thick pad over it). Some state that it's probably the equivalent R rating of 5. Since the R rating of pads has become a standard specification (although rather approximate) in the US, I would never buy a pad that does not have this information.
I also find that the "standard" man or woman defined in the EN13537 testing standards is 25 years old. Most of us here are older than that, and age does make a difference! And, of course, few of us are "standard" and none of us are dummies!
Finally, I also just found that the testing is done after the sleeping bag has had at least 12 hours to adapt to the conditions in the testing chamber--i.e. to loft fully. I don't think any of us unpack our sleeping bags 12 hours before we go to bed! However, it does make a lot of difference if, when unpacking, you immediately fluff up the bag thoroughly and then let it sit a couple of hours to loft more before bedtime.
My own bag is a Western Mountaineering UltraLite. I am female and a cold sleeper (getting even more so as I get older). While WM doesn't list the EN13537 ratings on their website, they do sell their bags in the UK and Europe, so someone is having them tested! The advertised rating is 20*F; on UK websites I found the "lower limit" rating (converted to *F) at about 17*F and the comfort rating at about 25*F. That seems about right to me, because when the outside temp gets down to the mid-20s F, I start putting on extra insulating clothing to wear inside the bag. I have taken the bag down to 16*F by wearing Capilene 4 long underwear, a vapor barrier suit (nonbreathable rain jacket and pants) over that, all my insulating clothing on top of that, and underneath an Exped UL7 downmat (approximate R value of 5.9). I find that WM's draft collar, pulled up quite snugly around my neck, makes an enormous difference. So does that extra warm sleeping pad!
Edited by OregonMouse (01/02/1703:52 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Normally I do wear wool socks, thermals 9tops and bottoms). I was thinking because it was 45 I didnt need all that. I figured it would get hot. I was sleeping with it completely closed. I am hoping it get down to 30 degrees this year so I can test it out again. this time with thermals.
Thanks OregonMouse. I didnt know the test dumnmy wore thermals. Where I was in the army they told us to sleep naked so all our heat gets into the bag. Back then they were supper heavy down bags. Boy was that a lie
Loc: Portland, OR
so all our heat gets into the bag
I fail to understand why they thought this would help.
When it is cold out you want as much heat kept as close to your body as possible. Heat inside your body is best, inside your thermals is next best. Once the heat moves into the dead air held in your sleeping bag's loft, it is that much further away from you and that much closer to being radiated away into the night.
one thing you have to keep in mind is the radiative environment. I've noticed in the dry west things can get much colder at night than the air temperature. If you have a clear evening sky temperatures can get much colder than the air temperature. I discovered this in Death Valley NP and Los Padres NF. Air temperature was predicted to be in the 40's and I woke up (after a cold nights sleep) to frozen water. How do you know it didn't get colder than 45°F?
I'd say being next to a lake makes a difference. I've had miserable nights sleeping near the ocean, or in the bottom of valleys where cool, damp area collects at night, even when the temps didn't seem that low. It's funny about the ratings being based on wearing a full layer of clothing and all: I recently bought an Igneo myself, which I haven't actually used yet. The REI sales guy had quite a bit of disdain for me when I said I liked to sleep naked generally, and gave me a stern and snooty lecture about how the rating was based on wearing thermals, etc and that's what I "should" use. News to me, but also, hey I'll sleep how I want to sleep! I'm not some rookie here, was my thought. (and yeah, I know there advantages for keeping your bag cleaner by wearing thermals, except that I usually end up sweating like a pig and stinking terribly in thermals at night: ugh!) But now I see that really is how they measure them these days. And here I thought bags were getting lighter! My old REI bag was a Helio (?) rated at 25 degrees at the time, yet the Igneo is a little lighter and rated at 19 degrees. I easily slept below freezing without a base layer in the Helio, nothing more than a thermal cap generally, sometimes socks. Now REI tells me I need a whole full set of thermals to get the new bag down to 19. That doesn't make their 19 sound warmer than my old 25. I guess all I'm trying to say is that the ratings are very relative to the person and also that though the system has changed and maybe actually become more scientific, it perhaps makes the consumer think she/he has a warmer/lighter bag than it really is.
Loc: Portland, OR
The real value of the EN ratings isn't so much to predict how well each individual camper will stay warm in their bag, so much as to allow a buyer to compare sleeping bags using a standardized rating that will accurately show the degree of difference between any two EN-rated bags.
alright. Testing it out tonight. will be in the 20's tonight here. Well be sleeping on a zlite sol sleep pad with the Igneo in the kitchen with all the kitchen windows open and the kitchen door blocked off
The bag's fit is important too. If it is too roomy you will not be as warm. or if you have a lot of empty bag beyond your feet. One reason a down bag feels warmer than a stiffer synthetic, is that it folds around you.
Another factor is the draft collar and hood design. Those temperature ratings assume you are fully zipped up with only your nose sticking out. If you cannot sleep that way, then the bag rating is not what you will feel. I have learned to sleep like this-actually like it! You really need to get a hood that works for you. I do not like my WM draft collar - they call the design cleaver - I call it inadequate. I wrap my down sweater around my neck and that works.
I agree, the standard ratings are good to compare bags. Although, new bags are used. Does not say much about the comparitive ratings 5 years down the trail.
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Originally Posted By toddfw2003
Where I was in the army they told us to sleep naked so all our heat gets into the bag.
I used to tell my girlfriend that!!
A lot of my sleep routine came from Colin Fletcher. Old school to be sure, but that's what I am! Anyway, my 2 cents, for what it's worth. 1) I carry a pair of clean, thick, soft socks that are dedicated exclusively for sleep time. 2) In colder weather, I always wear at least lightweight long johns. 3) Always wear a hat. 4) I have used a liner which was advertised as adding as much as 10 degrees to the bag rating. Didn't feel like it added 10 degrees but it added something. 5) Someone else mentioned eating chocolate before bed. I have tried it but not enough to say whether it really works but it makes sense. 6) Something I haven't tried but seems like it would help is to throw a pair of handwarmers in the bag. I believe that would definitely add a little warmth, especially for the feet.
I'd second the sleeping socks and long johns. My socks are thick fleece; my long johns are synthetic blend with some merino wool. I've also found that, if my feet are cold, I can kind of wrap my down vest around them to fill the air space, and that seems to warm them up pretty quick. Likewise the hat, but I'm not quite as strict about that.
You do need to have the right hood - the best hoods I've found are, believe it or not, in Thermarest's down bags. I can sleep on my side without having an ear stick out (the Thermarest bags are bottomless; your pad provides the insulation under you; as a result, you can't roll the bag with you.)