Winter bag choice

9:04 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm thinking about buying a winter bag. I'm thinking about either a WM Puma or their Lynx or maybe a Feathered Friends bag in the same temp range. My question is this--do I go with the -25 or just -10? My current bag is -5C (+23F) and good for Yosemite, but I'd like a bag I can use without my overbag and parka tossed over it. Most likely I won't be anywhere except the Sierra and maybe Yellowstone. The weight difference is pretty minor, but I don't want to "overbuy" and wind up with something that is too warm and will make me wish I hadn't bought it.

I sleep cold or so I think, so that is a factor. As for price, I am looking online for a used bag and have seen a couple of Pumas. I like the color better than the Lynx.

Any thoughts? I think I know what Dewey would recommend-a Valandre Shocking Blue, but those are hard to find used.

9:59 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I know what I'd do but I'm not a cold weather sleeping bag expert so I though I'd just alert you to this Western Mountaineering Puma on eBay.

 $(KGrHqUOKkME6WrNbmR4BOrEOZlJTw~~60_12.J

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Western-Mountaineering-Puma-25-down-sleeping-bag-/250920864256?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a6c0c8a00

10:07 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, I saw that one-it's a right hand zip and I want a left side zip. There a few Pumas around surprisingly enough given the niche they fill. I think people buy them for Rainier or Denali, do one trip, then sell them.

10:24 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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If you are intending to venture into the High Sierra from late December to mid March, you will appreciate having a -25 degree bag.  Day time temperatures over 11K' often hover below zero that time of year.  If you are looking at only the warmer snow season, say late March and on, a zero degree bag will suffice, but keep in mid there can be a cold snap even that late in the season.   I recently replaced my thirty year old worn out down NF -20 bag with a new NF down bag rated for -25.  Both bags are in my kit specifically for the Sierras during that time of year. 

Ed 

10:31 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said:

Thanks, I saw that one-it's a right hand zip and I want a left side zip. There a few Pumas around surprisingly enough given the niche they fill. I think people buy them for Rainier or Denali, do one trip, then sell them.

 

That is exactly how it goes, with tents, bags, you name it. That allowes me to have lots 'O' fun "stuff" for really cheap. Relatively speaking of course.

10:32 p.m. on November 4, 2011 (EDT)
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i don't think you can miss with feathered friends or western mountaineering; i liked mountain hardwear down bag i'm using now during some cold weather last year, though it's a -40 job.

i sleep warm, but having spent some uncomfortably cold nights in bags that weren't warm enough, i tend to opt for the more insulated bag.   if it feels too warm, i unzip a little or sleep with a little more of my head or face exposed.  it's also a personal preference because i don't like sleeping in more than long johns.  

there are some pretty well-worn strategies to expand the range of the -10 bag.  i usually sleep in base layer and a thin beanie; when i was using a lighter-weight winter bag, i would sleep in a thicker fleece hat and add either a thin fleece vest or a patagonia r1 shirt on the particularly cold nights.  

you could also gain a fair bit of warmth in the -10 bag with a VBL liner; i find them too moist and don't end up sleeping as well as a result.  while i use a non-vbl coolmax liner to keep my bag clean, i don't think it adds much warmth.    

12:02 a.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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-25 and don't ever look back.  You can always open the zipper, but it is a real bugger when you can't get warm.  I tend to vent by putting my feet out the bottom.  I hate sleeping cold.

12:07 a.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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alan said:

-25 and don't ever look back.  You can always open the zipper, but it is a real bugger when you can't get warm.  I tend to vent by putting my feet out the bottom.  I hate sleeping cold.

 Yep!!

1:15 a.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I have camped at Badger Pass in Yosemite in February a few times-7500 ft. with night temps around +15, maybe slightly colder in my +23F bag with an over bag or my big TNF parka over it, wearing Capilene and a beanie and glove liners and socks. Plenty warm.

I am leaning towards the Puma, but I have plenty of time to find one.

7:25 a.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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eureka eagle point -15*F $55 6lb8oz w/compression,no tax,no shipping,spend the extra money on mountain house to carry the extra weight.P.S. i bought polyester shelled/fleece lined liners,1lb.,~20*F,10$ on clearance from wallys =~-35*F. YEAH 65$

8:36 a.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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-25,unless you consider buying the -10 bag as underbuying.P.S. i dont know anyone that has died from heat stroke in sub zero temperatures from having an overrated bag.analogous you can never have a tv that's too big.only problem is,nobody's arguing about what an inch is or what diagonal is.oops! maybe it's not analogous.

12:54 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Unk, I'm not trying to be snarky.

The Western Mountaineering only weighs 3lb 4oz - 3lb 10oz depending on size and compresses to 10x20. The Eureka is 6lb 4oz and compresses to 13.5x22.

The extra 4lbs or so will be taken up with winter gear, heavier tent, etc. If you were car camping the Eureka would be okay. The other thing is that WM's bags are probably warmer at the same rating.

3:59 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said:

I'm thinking about buying a winter bag. I'm thinking about either a WM Puma or their Lynx or maybe a Feathered Friends bag in the same temp range. My question is this--do I go with the -25 or just -10? My current bag is +12 and good for Yosemite, but I'd like a bag I can use without my overbag and parka tossed over it. Most likely I won't be anywhere except the Sierra and maybe Yellowstone. The weight difference is pretty minor, but I don't want to "overbuy" and wind up with something that is too warm and will make me wish I hadn't bought it.

I sleep cold or so I think, so that is a factor. As for price, I am looking online for a used bag and have seen a couple of Pumas. I like the color better than the Lynx.

Any thoughts? I think I know what Dewey would recommend-a Valandre Shocking Blue, but those are hard to find used.

 Very simply, you want to buy a bag rated at least 10*F colder than the lowest temp. that you expect to encounter and one that FITS you, not a "coffin" to save a few ozs. Avoid the wpb shells other then Endurance as they cost more than they are worth now that Pertex is available.

If, you can afford the Valandre, there is nothing better and no real equals in it's class, but, there are very acceptable substitutes at less money. Your idea of looking for a used WM bag is an excellent one and I often see these for sale, with very little use on various forums, "Kifaru.net" is one and I think that there is a "Badger" for sale there now.

WM bags seem to fit "tight" for the given dimensions they advertise and FF bags are a BIT "looser" based on those owned by friends and myself; it is a good idea to check this fit before you purchase.

I avoid "layering" in bags as it is an inefficient and uncomfortable way of sleeping and buying a GOOD bag and pad is well worth any sacrifices you make of less important items in your daily life. You can find a LOT of perfectly serviceable clothing and pots, etc. for backpacking at thrift and surplus stores, but, buying a topline pack, boots and sleeping rig will always be money well-spent.

Keep an eye open for pre-owned Integral Designs bags, ONLY those made in Calgary before Evan sold to RAB. These do come up for sale once in awhile and they are among the finest I have ever used and one will last longer than you will, given decent care. Look for the "Rockies" model in your size and this WILL keep your tootises warm down there in the Sierras.

4:40 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I don't buy a lot of gear or clothes. While I appreciate other opinions, I would never buy a cheap, heavy bag for backpacking, never.  My question is really about temperature range more than anything. I know there are about half a dozen top brands in the US, but WM and FF are pretty much at the top as far as I know. Valandre is up there, but hard to find.

5:07 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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In my opinion, the most important item in any winter kit is the goose down sleeping bag. 


TRIP-117-217.jpg

And yes, here's my WM Puma hanging to air out during a trip last year.  It took me 30 years to finally afford one but I got it!  Dewey makes some great points:

**  Avoid "layering" in bags.  Uncomfortable---about says it all.

**  Get something 10F colder than the lowest temp.  This is the one most backpackers screw up.

**  And don't scrimp on the bag purchase.

Question for Dewey:  Some of the best down items (bags and parkas) used to be made from eVent (Feathered Friends), but this seems to have changed to Pertex.  Which is better?



9:35 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Dewey, I looked on the ID website and don't see bags anymore. Did they quit making them? All I see is hard gear-tents, bivies, etc., no softgoods. I remember some discussions a while back about synthetic ID bags and I think you have had a couple.

When MacPac was sold a few years ago, the manufacturing went from NZ to China. My MP bag is a "made in NZ bag", but only good to -5C, the new ones are even more than a WM bag, at least in NZ dollars. Fairydown is another old Kiwi brand, now owned by the company that owns MacPac.  Hillary used a Fairydown bag on Everest.

The older Pumas seem to be made with DryLoft like my TNF Parka while the new ones are Goretex Windstopper whatever that is or Microfiber, which I take is not water-resistant.

FF bags are made from Nano, Epic or eVent and I'm not up on all the differences.  My MP bag is made from some kind of really silky feeling fabric, but not one of the newer water-resistant fabrics, so I use it in a BD Winter Bivy-a pain in the you know what because of the cross zip, but it keeps the bag clean.

10:02 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said:

FF bags are made from Nano, Epic or eVent and I'm not up on all the differences.  My MP bag is made from some kind of really silky feeling fabric, but not one of the newer water-resistant fabrics, so I use it in a BD Winter Bivy-a pain in the you know what because of the cross zip, but it keeps the bag clean.

 I swapped emails with FF recently and they do not use eVent in their bags or their parkas anymore, even though their bag ads say eVent.  Look at the fabric choices and you'll find Pertex.  I always thought eVent to be the top of the line breathable fabric---obviously not good enough for FF.  Or maybe cheaper??

I found this---

http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/gear-features/the-event-verdict/2001.html

10:19 p.m. on November 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I had a Fairydown bag for a few years in the early '70s and then my youngest brother got it from me. It was very nicely made, but, the down was not up to some of the others I have had over the years. I won't buy "China" and that is that.

EVent is fabulous for shells, bibs, pants, bivies and tents, it is too stiff, IMO, for bag shells and I would not have a bag with it as shell material. The only wpb shell I have had that is totally satisfactory is the "Endurance by Pertex" one on my custom ID XPDII "Himalayan" and it works better than anything. ID is still making SOME bags in Calgary for the military market, which was always their big customer. They produce some versions of the synthetic bags I have from them and the "Arctic" XPDIII, which is beyond the scope of this thread and is a very costly bag.

Given the shell fabrics now available, I no longer want a bag with a wpb shell and prefer Pertex or Ahsahi (sp?) shells and eVent bivies, when I feel they are needed. For a WM winter bag, I would buy Microfiber and never look back.

The wpb shells on winter bags really only work as they are intended to if you use a VBL, other than 1-2 noght trips and I see no point in doing this except for long treks and perhaps Arctic camping. I seldom used my VBL with my old Marmot Mountain Works GT-down bag and often went 4-5 nights in BC's wet cold with it alone in a tent and in perfect comfort. Sooooo, thems my thoughts on it.

2:08 a.m. on November 6, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for the info. I wondered what was going on with ID.  My MacPac bag is very comfortable, not stiff at all, none of that "crinkle" you get from some fabrics; doesn't feel quite like my old TNF bag,but I have no idea what is made of-not Goretex for sure-my parka is Dryloft and that seems a lot stiffer.

WM mentions using a VBL with their Goretex for certain conditions, but they don't elaborate. I'm not keen on the idea of climbing into a plastic bag, but I do understand that bags will absorb moisture. It happened to Will Steger on his big Arctic expedition, but I'm not going to be doing any of that.

 

8:12 a.m. on November 24, 2011 (EST)
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Tom D said:

WM mentions using a VBL with their Goretex for certain conditions, but they don't elaborate. I'm not keen on the idea of climbing into a plastic bag, but I do understand that bags will absorb moisture. It happened to Will Steger on his big Arctic expedition, but I'm not going to be doing any of that.

 

 I used to have a WM Puma WS. I got it for a relatively cheap price but I sold it for the following reasons : it was to big for me and my tent (I had the Large size), too heavy and above all I found a very good bargain on the bloody mary and the Shocking blue but I was short on money. 

The bag is made of windstopper, so it's not a wpb membrane. It is much more breathable but repels water and wind very well. but if i had the choice i would too go for the microfiber version.

2:51 p.m. on November 25, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks Brumo, I have read that Goretex doesn't work all that well in sub zero weather, so the MF might be a better choice, but of course, it will depend on what I find used.

8:16 a.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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because this thread touched on vapor barriers, and because it seems like they are often misunderstood, i thought this article might be helpful.  http://www.andrewskurka.com/advice/technique/vaporbarrierliners.php

ID and Western Mountaineering sell pricy vapor barrier liners (60 to 90 dollars); campor sells inexpensive liners (less than 25 dollars).  the more expensive liners tend to be lighter-weight siliconized parachute nylon (4.5 oz), whereas the campor liner is heavier coated nylon (10 oz).

these days, i rarely take winter trips long enough for the liner to matter much, but on longer trips i have done in the past (wearing baselayers of yesteryear that weren't nearly as comfortable as what we have available today), i found them uncomfortable but effective.  having read this thread, i'm debating giving it another chance with my 15 degree bag - see if it extends the range to zero comfortably, and how it feels with capilene or merino long johns. 

4:49 p.m. on November 26, 2011 (EST)
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Here is some more information on vapor barriers in relation to sleeping bags. Stephenson/Warmlite makes a sleeping bag called the triple bag. I will show you some pictures as to why and how it got its name. The bag incorporates vapor barriers into the bag itself. One of the things I hate about liners is that I toss and turn in my bags all night long. If your one of these persons like me who do this and your bag ends up wrapped up like a burrito casing around you try this with a liner in your bag. It's a double burrito. I think bears wait out in the wood in great anticipation of having a happy double wraped people burrito.

 

The Triple Bag with a Them-a-Rest Pro 4 incerted into the back of the bag.
DSC05161.jpg

 

The flip side.
DSC05158.jpg

 

 

The bag next to my Dana Design Kuasla tents.  DSC04844.jpg

 

The bottom of the bag.

DSC04847.jpg

 

again the bottonm of the bag,  The reasonfor the double zipper is because this is a panel bag.  youcan remopve sectiopns of the bag as need depending upon what temp rating yoru wish the bage to be.

DSC04849.jpg

 

 

 

 

The bag wiht the hood closed.
DSC04851.jpg



A closer viedw of the hood closed
DSC04852.jpg

Here we have the top panel partially unzipped.  Ech pannel is totally removable from the sleeping bag.

DSC04850.jpg


 

The top panel laying next to the bag with the second panal still on the bag.
DSC04859.jpg

 

yet againg the top panel laying next to the sleeping bag.
DSC04861.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have the second panel peeled a third of the way down the bag.  This panel comes of of the bag as well.
DSC04853.jpg

The hood pulled tight.  the balck material is the vapour barrier.
DSC04855.jpg

 

Here is a post of off the thread which I pulled from the add in the Trailspace classifieds in which I bought this bag form "

blackfox" under the thread "for sale stephenson warmlite and Henry Shires rainbow one" dated Sept 2 2011.

The best source I know of to learn about vapor barriers is a book entitled "Secrets of Warmth" by Hal Weiss. In this book he uses good science and common sense to explain why VB systems work. on page 45, "The vapor barrier blocks moisture, dirt, body odors and salt from getting into and contaminating the insulation. This means the heat retention of the insulation remains intact throughout the day".....A side benefit is that your clothing stays cleaner.”

“or in this case the sleeping bag and the expensive down that may be in it.

Despite the claims of most backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts VB systems do work if used properly. Stephenson Warmlite bags are certainly proof of that. blackfox"

If you go to the Stephenson/Warmlite website they can even explain to a great degree there theory upon how vapor barriers work. They have a number of different catalogs under different web sites and they explain there ideas extensively including a Complete PFD catalog. If you punch "stephenson/warmlite catalog" into Google you will find all you need regarding how they make their bags and there theories behind using vapor barriers. One of the nice things about this bag is that you can also buy a mesh panel so that you can use this bag in warm climates. This bag that I have shown here is about 30 years old but was sent back to Stephenson/Warmlite to be up dated with new down and new vapor barrier material. They claim that there newer bags are good down to -60. As these bags are made here in the USA and the fact that they do custom work I'm sure that they would be more than happy to add extra down to any and all parts of there bags. They also come in different sizes in both width and length for those do different body sizes. I have not and a chance to use this bag extensively but from my use of it so far I’m convinced that it is a very quality product that can be used in conditions from warm summer nights to freezing hard core storms.

http://warmlite.com/catalog

http://warmlite.com/about

http://warmlite.com/products-page/tents

 

If you need any more pictures let me know.

I also have to Marmot bags which I have used for years and have served my well.  The Aiguille wich is rated down to -5 buit I would trust it down to -15.  I also have the Marmot COL which I have uses very little as Idon't mcuh vebture out into the cold much anymore.  The Marmot is by fare the finest, nicest, best bag that I have had the pleasure to use during my time in the outdoors.

5:49 p.m. on December 3, 2011 (EST)
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I have the Western Mountain Lynx and I love it. Have not tested in real cold weather yet. If your getting a winter bag and you think you may need more insulation, don't hesitate get the lower rating. I been thinking of getting the western mountain Buffalo at -40 degrees rating,but may just put on anouther layer for the amount of use I would be  using it for. If your back on some Mountain side get the coldest rating you may encounter.

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