High Rock sleeping bags

6:02 p.m. on October 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Anyone out there have any experience with these bags? I just looked at one with a $750+ price tag. 

With that kind of price tag they are in WM/FF territory.

Here is the one I was looking at on ebay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Extreme-Weather-Sleeping-Bag-1240G-Goose-down-Explorer-/170677283877?_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D3%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D3571580665830802439#ht_3188wt_1203

11:20 p.m. on October 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Haven't heard of HighRock before.   After reading several of the ads the grammar leads me to believe that this is some oriental brand.  Maybe somebody that makes gear for one of the other high-end companies.

One of the stoves is listed as the Fire Maple brand and I saw somebody complain about one of their stoves on here.

2:47 a.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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I am planning to take a 40 degree bag for an early august trip on the JMT. What are your thoughts on carrying the light bag and wearing my insulation layer to sleep, which I have to carry anyway, to boost the warmth of the bag. Trying to avoid buying a new bag and at the same time, lighten the load. I am carrying a tent instead of tarp to increase warmth. Do you think this will be warm enough?

4:11 a.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Everything I've read says there was still snow this past August on the high parts of the trail which tell's me that the temps are most likely in the 20's & 30's in August higher up.

Personally I would want to have the proper rated sleeping bag with me.  You could then use your layered clothing as a base if the weather got colder than expected.  The way your planning  doing it does not allow for back up if it gets really cold.  I don't know what your budget is but if you look on EBay and or Criagslist you will find outdoor gear going for silly cheap prices as not very many poeple are buying this type of gear this time of the year.

10:30 a.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Oakley33, 

Welcome to Trailspace! 

I think Apeman is right on the money with his advice. I am no that familiar with the JMT, and have no experience on it. However, I would not a consider or advise hiking at that altitude with just a 40F bag. I was just in the Tetons in mid September, and the passes had only just melted open a couple weeks before. Even in the summer, when it storms up high temperature can get really low and the precipitation really nasty. Wet conditions where the temp is fluctuating near freezing are often more dangerous than temps well below freezing. 

You can find synthetic bags of acceptable quality that stuff quite small for between $50-100. I have a ledge Featherlight 0F that far outperforms its pricepoint. It is available on Amazon and other places on the web for $50. The Featherlight 20F is available for the same pricepoint

http://www.amazon.com/Ledge-2600-Featherlite-Bag-0/dp/B002J8YKUC/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1319034047&sr=1-2

12:29 p.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Oakly33, welcome to Trailspace. Great to have you aboard.

Bags are an iffy subject. Due to the difference in how people sleep(some hot, some cold) the temp rating can mean a vast array of things. Its all dependent on the individual using the bag.

At the moment, I personally use a TNF Wasatch 40 for late spring through early fall. This is sometimes combined with a Sea to Summit Reactor liner(extreme.)

Now while this is a 40 degree bag keep in mind that this is the rating where the bags limitations are on the temperature spectrum. Basically its the rating of how cold the bag will keep you alive, not comfortable, alive.

Also pay great attention to EN temp ratings. I have found them to be alot more accurate when it comes to the bags overall performance.

Here is an example of an EN rating:

EN-Rating-004.jpg

I would suggest when going to sleep make sure you are properly hydrated. This will most certainly factor in when it comes to your body maintaining its core temp.

Not saying you drink but if you do another thought that comes to mind is people have this thought that drinking whiskey(or comparable) helps with keeping one warm in colder temps. This is actually the opposite. Alcohol thins the blood and drops ones core temp.

Also if staying in a tent when ya seal it up the inner temp can be 10+ warmer than the outside temp. Just figured I would throw that out there as well. There are alot of factors that can play into "keeping warm 101." ;)

If it were me personally I would check into the liners I mentioned above just to have the flexibility that if the temps drop and the 40 doesn't cut the mustard you still have options. This could mean the difference in a good trip and a miserable one.

As my grandfather always said when I was growing up. You can always take it off if ya have it on but you can't put it on if you don't have it.

Happy hiking-Rick

4:13 p.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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digging a little, the bag you identified on Ebay claims to be a -40 bag, using 750 fill power down.  with that down and temperature rating, you're looking at a pretty heavy, bulky bag.

the highest of the high end winter bags will set you back 800-900; i'm thinking of the feathered friends snow goose, WM Bison, Valandre Odin, all of which use 800 or 850 plus fill power down.  don't write off Valandre because it's a European brand - it's a top-end manufacturer, and sometimes available for somewhat less than WM or FF.    

you can also find -40 down bags from perfectly respectable brands for less.  mountain hardwear's ghost, Marmot's CWM, north face's inferno should set you back $525-$680 for 800+ fill power down and proven designs.  i use the ghost for winter.  it is well-designed and ridiculously warm.   

4:20 p.m. on October 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey leadbelly, very valid points you make there. I was really curious about this company. I think the price point was what initially sparked my curiosity. 

I have a great deal of respect for Valandre bags. I have heard nothing but good things about them. 

12:31 a.m. on October 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

..Not saying you drink but if you do another thought that comes to mind is people have this thought that drinking whiskey(or comparable) helps with keeping one warm in colder temps. This is actually the opposite. Alcohol thins the blood and drops ones core temp...

Actually the reason alcohol drops body temp., is it acts as a CNS depressant, causing the capillaries in the skin to dilate.  While this makes you feel warmer it also increases the the amount of body heat you radiate into your surroundings.

Ed

12:38 a.m. on October 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Oakly33 said:

I am planning to take a 40 degree bag for an early august trip on the JMT. What are your thoughts on carrying the light bag and wearing my insulation layer to sleep, which I have to carry anyway, to boost the warmth of the bag. Trying to avoid buying a new bag and at the same time, lighten the load. I am carrying a tent instead of tarp to increase warmth. Do you think this will be warm enough?

Early August?  You mean next year?  While it can be relatively balmy that season, I'd plan for nights to be in the low thirties in the high altitude that time of year.   

Wearing clothing inside your bag will significantly increase its thermal performance.  This is an old mountaineering/UL trick.  Since you have a large lead time, take you bag out this winter and test your kit in  20 - 30 degrees, that will dispel any guessing.

Ed

9:40 a.m. on October 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I have been doing a lot of research on the JMT this year, I am hoping to do it next summer some time, probably late August.  This last year was a VERY heavy snow season and it looks like this year may be also, only time will till.

Because of the snow most of the passes had snow on them all this year, it has yet to melt off.  But from what I have been reading on the trail journals no one was sleeping on snow.  BUT, most everyone, at least that listed their gear, had a 20 degree bag.  From what I understand the temps can swing from the 80's in the afternoon to the mid 30's at night.  And lower the higher you camp.  Several people reported frost or ice on their tents in the morning.  

I would try to get a decent 20 degree bag if you can.

Hopefully their won't be as much snow as this year and the season trail will be open a little earlier this coming year!

Wolfman

10:07 a.m. on October 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

I have a great deal of respect for Valandre bags. I have heard nothing but good things about them. 

 The Bloody Mary or Shocking Blue are are my dream list. You know, that list of gear that one isn't likely to be able to afford for another couple decades :)

2:11 p.m. on October 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Hmmm ... somehow I wonder about the seller of the bag - gives his name as "King of Slime". Doesn't give a comfortable feeling.

2:27 a.m. on October 21, 2011 (EDT)
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It is a serious mistake to buy a WM Bison, FF Snow Goose or Valandre Odin bag for 98% of the hikers on this or any other such forum. These bags and the equally superb Integral Designs Arctic model are FAR too "warm" for comfortable sleeping in any but the most extreme temperatures and they are actually uncomfortable unless you are in VERY cold weather.

I had Even Jones of ID make me a custom Himalayan overfill bag in spring 2003 and I seldom use it as while it is equal to the WM Bison in down fill and BETTER made, this is based on owning and using bags from all of the above makers over more years than I want to think about, it is simply TOO damn "hot" except in really cold weather, below 0*F.

One of my closest friends, who has climbed and hunted over much of the globe, worked in Labrador, where winter is just brutal and also in northern BC, which ain't exactly "tropical" in January, has a Snow Goose and  he found it FAR too warm up there, even in winter. He bought this before he met me and based on my advice, he now has a pair of ID bags, the Himalayan like mine and an Andromeda overfill for summer, plus my light FF custom bag I gave him as I never really liked it.

Long story short, for THE down bag  for most winter and shoulder season camping in most of North America, the Valandre Shocking Blue is the single finest bag I have ever owned or tried and I have used most of the highend stuff since the early '60s. It is just an amazing sack and would be my choice for the only down bag I would have if I were restricted to one.

The only other gear now made that impresses me like Valandre does, is Westcomb clothing made here in Vancouver, BC and Hilleberg tents.

2:58 a.m. on October 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

Hmmm ... somehow I wonder about the seller of the bag - gives his name as "King of Slime". Doesn't give a comfortable feeling.

Ya know,  I noticed the exact same thing.  If you notice however he hails from Hong Kong.  I'm not sure what exactly "King of Slime" might translate into as far a Chinese goes?

9:54 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey: no doubt, most people don't hike or climb in the winter and don't go out when the  mercury drops below zero, or -20, or worse.  i generally agree that most people don't need sleeping bags designed for -20 fahrenheit or colder.  at the same time, more than a few of us (including you, i suspect) have slept out in conditions that might warrant a -40 bag.  because Rick was contemplating a bag that purports to be suitable for minus 40 degrees, i thought it might be useful to lay out some options. 

the Shocking Blue is an interesting sleeping bag - more technical than most in some respects.  it is made to accommodate a down parka or suit, by design; as Ed pointed out, it is not uncommon to use a winter sleeping bag in concert with a down jacket while sleeping.  it's a very warm sleeping bag regardless, but it is very spacious inside to accommodate the layers - the large size had a noticeable additional amoung of shoulder space than the winter bag i ultimately picked up.  most of the sleeping bags we're talking about are more traditional mummy bags. 

11:04 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I have corresponded quite extensively with Nils and I suggested to him a few years ago, that a "red" bag made a little lighter than the SB might well be an "ideal" addition to their line. I don't know how much influence my suggestions may have had on the introduction of the "Bloody Mary", however, I certainly have discussed the technical aspects of bags with him and have found him a very courteous and honourable guy.

Yet, I have never heard that the SB is or was designed to use while wearing a down parka,or, as the French call them, a "duvet" and they have made many of the finest of these for over 50 years. This is a very inefficient and not particularly comfortable method of dealing with sleeping in extreme cold and will tend to result in sweating, dampening of your insulation layer(s) and is too restrictive.

One of my favourite aspects of the SB IS the very carefully shaped design that allows for sufficient shoulder room as well as letting the bag "drape" over a recumbent human so that there is not an excess of inside air to warm by radiant body heat. I have never found a bag that is so light for what it will do and I have spent a great many nights sleeping outside, often without a tent in sub-zero cold.

I wear a light complete layer of merino wool and a head covering and find that this works far better than any other means of covering my hide inside my bag. I have slept at -41*F this way, inside my old Marmot Mountain Works custom bag that weighed 4.25 lbs and I was OK at this temp., although I would not recommend this as a starting point for solo winter camping.

You do not need a huge, heavy and bulky bag to sleep in cold weather, you need a high quality bag, with protection from damp and a good insulated and comfortable pad underneath you.

 

 

1:01 a.m. on October 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Somehow the thread got off topic from what the OP was asking. The original post was asking for info about a "too good to be true" extreme temperature bag offered on eBay. Then there was a post from a new member asking about using a +40F bag for the Muir Trail in summer and the advisability of wearing clothing in such a light bag, a question which should have been posted in a new thread. A few posts about the Muir trail, then somehow the thread drifted back to talking about sub zero bags (-40F/C was mentioned in several posts) and wearing supplemental clothing inside a -40F bag.

So, first a reminder - stick to the topic of the original post. Which includes not drawing the thread farther off topic.  If you have a question or comment which is only vaguely related, that belongs in a new thread (or maybe even in a different forum).

So now I will try to tie up the multi-thread:

First Rick's original question (topic 1) about an unknown manufacturer sold by someone on eBay who may or may not be related to the manufacturer - while, as a couple posts noted, many (most?) gear is manufactured in Southeast Asia these days for major name brands, and some of it is reasonably high quality, this particular brand is an unknown quantity. I have not spent much time in the "new exhibitor" part of the OR Show admittedly, but I have not seen this brand. It is true however that most down fill these days comes from Chinese geese, including that used in WM, FF, ID/Rab, Valandre, and others. These top-quality companies do re-grading and sorting at their own factories (I have been in the Feathered Friends manufacturing facility and witnessed the re-grading, rewashing, and re-sorting procedures). But the companies I named (and Dewey named), do their final manufacturing in their home countries with very high quality control. Some of the well-known names that are using the final manufacture in SE Asia these days have slipped a bit in quality control (take a close look at the seams - I have seen some wandering seam lines on some famous-name sleeping bags and filled parkas). So I would be a bit reluctant to be a guinea pig for some of the new name companies (unless it was for a Trailspace Gear Review Corps test, and then, as readers here know, I tell it like it is - if it is good, I will tell you so, if it has flaws, I will point them out - same is true for all the Gear Review Corps).

In the meantime, unless you want to be the guinea pig, stick to the proven brands, even if they cost a bit more - the extra cost does pay off in the long run. My FF bag, for example, has served me well on Denali and in Antarctica at -40F/C and below, though I had to sleep with it half-open on Kilimanjaro and sometimes in Sierra and Tetons backcountry midwinter trips.

(topic 2) wearing clothing in the sleeping bag - wearing your long johns (the extra pair you put in, which is dry) does help. And merino wool is really nice. Wearing filled clothing (parka, pants) tends to result in getting all twisted up in the clothing, plus the insulation just gets crushed, hence provides a lot less insulation than you might think. If you don't regulate the temperature carefully, as Dewey pointed out, you just get the filled parka and your down bag wet, hence colder than the bag would have been alone.

(topic 3) On the Muir Trail - Oakly, a +40F bag is is probably a bit cool for the Muir Trail at the higher elevations (above 9000 or 10,000 ft) for May through June and again in September and later. It is fine for most of the JMT. This summer, though, with snow at the 7000 ft level still on the ground in Sept when the new snow started falling, a +40 would have been cool the whole time between Whitney and Tuolumne. A pair of midweight long johns would probably have been a sufficient supplement, depending on how you sleep. A lot of through-hikers on the JMT wear shorts and Tshirt during the day, even over the higher passes, with the long johns in the early morning. Many choose to sleep from sunset to sunrise, staying warm in the sleeping bag, then staying warm for the first hour or two of the day by hiking.

Thing is, the way to find out is to take some short trial hikes over a weekend or 3 days at the higher altitudes - go in over Kearsarge pass, or up Lyell Canyon (maybe do Tuolumne to Reds Meadows taking 3 or 4 days over the pass). Try it in May or early June, when you are almost guaranteed of snow over the passes in most years. Actually, if you haven't backpacked in the Sierra in the May-June timeframe or Sept-Nov, and done some 40-50 mile treks in those conditions (or similar ones in the Rockies), you really aren't ready to say your gear suffices. Doesn't matter how much comment you get on the Web - try the gear out in the field under actual conditions. What works for me doesn't necessarily work for you, and vice versa. Dewey and I are old codgers with lots of experience in conditions much more extreme that you will encounter on the JMT, and we might even get along just fine with just a light blanket and a tarp. But you might find you need something more. Take all the advice with a big grain of salt (although the websites devoted to the JMT have people who have actually done the trail recently and can give you the current weather conditions. See, I was in the highest parts of the Andes this summer, and haven't been in the Sierra this year except September, and that was only at 8000 ft (it was hot to me).


So now, folks, get back to Rick's original question - what do you actually know about King of Slime and the High Rock sleeping bags? Comment ONLY if you actually have direct experience with either.

3:27 a.m. on October 24, 2011 (EDT)
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One minor point here, learned OGBO, it is that Valandre does not use Chinese down, but, uses only specific French grey goose down from farms near their factory. The bag shells are actually now sewn in Tunisia, or so I was told and then these are filled and finished in the French facility.

Not to wreak epistolary havoc on this thread, but, Nils and his crew make a very major issue of the down and other components of their products and it is worth noting, IMHO.

3:03 p.m. on October 24, 2011 (EDT)
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i freely admit to knowing nothing about the "King of Slime."

One comment about layering within sleeping bags.   I agree that wearing too many layers or using a bag that's too warm for conditions can actually result in a colder or less comfortable experience - just like wearing too many warm layers while hiking.  another observation is that wearing layers in a sleeping bag can reduce a bag's (and the worn layer's) insulating properties by compressing all insulation.  i'm not thinking about wearing merino long johns, but about people who might wear a down vest, heavy fleece, or down jacket inside a bag.  if you plan to wear a relatively thick layer to increase a sleeping bag's usable range, make sure the bag has sufficient interior space and dimensions to accommodate your layers and avoid compressing the insulation.    otherwise, consider laying your down parka over the top of your bag, if you aren't a particularly tumultuous sleeper. 

7:11 p.m. on October 24, 2011 (EDT)
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I would refute some of the comments in the foregoing post, however, since OGBO's comments above are very clear as to what he deems acceptable on this thread, I will not. If, anyone is seriously interested in discussing sleeping outside in very cold conditions, perhaps, they can initiate another thread concerning this specific topic.

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