Sleeping bag question

7:01 p.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

OK here's a sleeping bag question for you guys - 

I've got a Mountain Hardwear phantom 32 bag (1.5lbs) and a Kelty Cosmic Down 0 degree bag (3lbs and 14oz), and I'm looking for something in between for backpacking when it's going to get into the 20s and teens at night, and that will be lighter than my 0 degree bag.

I've got my eye on a (new) Kelty Cosmic Down 20 degree bag for $80 (2.5 lbs), or I'm thinking about getting this RAB quantum bag (http://www.geartrade.com/item/212542) and sticking it inside my Phantom on trips that are too cold for the Phantom alone, or getting this synthetic Lafuma with the broken zipper (http://www.geartrade.com/item/207478) and using it as a blanket over the Phantom.  It's hard to go wrong for $30...

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Thanks for your guidance - 

7:14 p.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
973 reviewer rep
598 forum posts

I personally wouldn't want to own 3 bags so close in temp range. If I were you I would look into buying a liner to suit your needs. Some will increase your bags temp by 10 degress. It would also allow you to use it in the Kelty 0 degree in colder temps and on its on in real warm trips. Just my two cents.

7:16 p.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
314 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

I've got the Kelty Cosmic D 20. I've been warm down to 25 in it. Dont know about 15 though. I think you might be pushing it a bit. But it is a very well made bag. And I truely think that it is the best bag for the buck that you can buy right now. I'm on my second year with mine. I'm very happy with it. Like any down bag DONT let it get wet! As you know I'm going to pick up a SOL EM bivy. That plus the bag should take you down to +10 I think. Worth looking into.

 

10:47 p.m. on November 29, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

Maybe I'm overthinking it.  How much does a tent add to warmth?  10 degrees if you close down all the mesh?  And you want the bag to be rated 10 degrees lower than the temp you're going to encounter?  So if it's going to be 15 degrees, then inside the tent is 25, but the bag is only warm to 30 at best and you want it to be rated for 15 to give you a 10 degree margin, right?  

Maybe I should just carry the 0 degree bag and do like Unk says and invest the money in extra food to be strong enough to carry the extra weight!

8:57 a.m. on November 30, 2011 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
9 forum posts

Don't discount the fact that various people sleep warmer or colder.  You really need to decide based on personal experience.  On my last bike tour I camped alongside folks with bags rated 20-30F lower than mine.  I was fine and they complained that they were cold.  Neither of us would have been happy the the other person's sleeping bag.

I do find a liner to be a good way to bridge the gap between bags of different ratings.  Also wearing or laying extra clothes on top of yourself can easily make a 10F difference.

9:51 a.m. on November 30, 2011 (EST)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

Hydration plays a part in the warmth factor as well. 

langcow you could most certainly invest in a liner. Sea to Summit makes a good one when it comes to the warmth factor. The Extreme is their warmest version of this liner.

http://www.seatosummit.com/products/cat/1

10:13 a.m. on November 30, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
239 forum posts

I have both the normal STS and the extreme STS Thermolite. Go for the extreme, it is warmer and increases the temperature limit of the bag more.

11:00 p.m. on November 30, 2011 (EST)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
708 reviewer rep
875 forum posts

Being comfortable in any bag makes it necessary to consider several factors.

1. A bag's comfort rating is a best guess estimate by the designers. Everyone has a different body furnace, and that varies with food and hydration. Bear in mind that hard to digest food will actually use more body energy than a food that is easy to digest.

2. Hoping that the tent will add perhaps ten degrees of warmth is, IMO, over thinking the issue.

3. Definitely consider modifying your bags comfort rating by the addition of a liner. As well, what you wear in the bag can significantly increase the temperature. Much heat is lost through the head, so adding a balaclava will help. As well, merino wool mid weight long top and or bottoms can up your comfort. If it gets really cold, you can also add something like a light down sweater.

The bottom line, is don't over think a bag's temperature rating. Modify your layering system in the bag with appropriate clothing/liners to be more comfortable. You will save on buying more bags, and also on weight and bulk on your trip.

10:08 a.m. on December 1, 2011 (EST)
33 reviewer rep
20 forum posts

I am moving this reply that I previously posted over on Beginners - Tents to the Gear Selection to help answer this question.

You may be able to get a 22deg bag by simply and easily adding a bag liner to your 32deg bag.

Silk, nylon or mirco fleece liners can easily extend comfort range or provide warm weather options. I use a surplus poncho liner for this application. Its light,  poly and in warm weather all you may need.

Think of it like layering your clothing.

AR

I feel that layering is the cheapest and easiest way to add temperature range to your "sleeping system". There is no one bag that will do everything that you want it to. Think modular and combine the pieces for the weather at hand. If you are packing light your clothing is part of the sleep system and an additional layer to consider.

Hope this helps,

AR

5:03 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

Hey thanks for all the info you guys. I've done some testing based on your suggestions and will report back my findings soon!

5:13 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

Erich said:

2. Hoping that the tent will add perhaps ten degrees of warmth is, IMO, over thinking the issue.

 I agree to some extent based on the fact a tent will add a max of maybe 15 degrees or so. 

At the same time this is solely based on the design of the tent(zippered vents, how low the fly/outter goes to the ground, etc) and how one utilizes the shelter. 4 season tent for 4 season use, blah blah blah.

Also it has a bit to do with occupancy ratings and how many people you have in the shelter. 

I typically use solo shelters. Trying to warm up a tent designed for 2+ occupants by yourself can be a losing situation due to the amount of interior space inside the shelter.

I have noticed a somewhat substantial difference in regards to inside/outside temps in my solo shelters when I batten down the hatches. 

While the difference is somewhat small its still a difference all the same. 

5:21 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
973 reviewer rep
598 forum posts

Lets keep in mind that you are just asking for danger when you are relying on your tent to keep you warm. That is not their purpose, it is an additional positive sometimes to using a tent, but not their main function. Having a sleeping bag that is 10 degrees warmer then the temps you are expecting gives you a buffer of a safety zone. Tents can break, and relying on them for warmth is pushing it to close to the "risky behaviour" line for me.

5:36 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

All the same the zipper on your bag can fail, down can get wet, etc. 

I am in no way shape or form saying that a tent is the difference maker. I am just stating that a tent/shelter makes a difference. 

Especially in harsh wind in exposed areas. 

I have a summer bag rated at 40, another bag rated at 0, and another bag rated at -40. I also have a STS liner(same one Otto mentioned/extreme) that I carry to cover my tail in a pinch. Hey lets face it, the unexpected on the mountain can happen quick. 

I do agree 100% that I would not buy bags that are close in temp rating. 

On the cheap one could snag up a Kelty cosmic down 0, a STS extreme and wear a base layer which should be pretty good for when the temps drop. 

Unless one is heading out in seriously harsh conditions. 

Granted the bag is 550 down and won't compress as well as 800+ and may weigh a bit more than a comparable(rating wise) high end bag but nevertheless it will work.  

Then there is the whole vbl thing which may very well be an option as well.

Its all about keeping your digits intact. Definitely go with a colder temp rating than you expect.

Its easy to vent a bag.

I am the same person who always sets my guy lines no matter what the weather. Better than having to get up in the middle of the night and do it.

Hope for the best and expect the worst and you will never be let down. :)

6:27 p.m. on December 8, 2011 (EST)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,757 forum posts

If you want something light, you could look at a quilt. Ray Jardine makes kits for them www.ray-way.com

I've never used one, but many UL hikers think quilts are the best thing going.  You could use the quilt by itself or over a bag. I don't see much point in buying another bag to fill in between the temp range you mention. I'm getting another bag, but the temp difference between it and the bag I use now is slightly more than 30 degrees (+23F v. -10F).

1:06 p.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
200 reviewer rep
4,077 forum posts

 

Golite which is a Ray Jardine spinoff company make some very light sleeping bags as well as other gear (packs,tents, etc) I used a bag called the Featherweight for 12 years. Made from UL material and down it weighed 1.4 lbs and had just a chest zipper with a foot hole at the other end for venting.

1:37 p.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
708 reviewer rep
875 forum posts

I think the basic question was that the OP is considering buying a couple of bags that are very close in temperature ratings. Given that from different manufacturers, a 20 degree bag and a 25 or 30 degree bag may actually feel the same to an individual, trying to fine tune a comfort zone is an exercise in time management. For sure, a tent can add warmth, and will certainly be a benefit in, for instance, the wind blown snow slopes of a big mountain. However, for most, the additional heat in average lowland or low mountain conditions that a tent will offer is academic. It can add heat. However, in cold, wet conditions such as we have here in the NW, I have had rain falling in well ventilated double wall tents, and not just because I exhale a lot of hot air. Rain inside a tent dampens insulation which doesn't insulate as well. My advice to Langcow is to go with what he can afford and what functions(a broken zipper can be fixed) and is simple, and pick a bag and/or system that will allow him to adapt to changing conditions by adding clothing or opening a zipper, always keeping in mind that if the regional weather man says it'll get down to 20F, in your location it might drop to 10F because of local conditions.

7:32 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

Hi everybody - thanks again for all the advise.  I decided to pass on the Kelty 20 deg bag but I did grab that $30 Lafuma with the broken zipper.  I figured that $30 was pretty cheap for a decent lightweight "blanket"!  I also managed to find one of those Sea to Summit reactor liners used for $30 but I haven't had a chance to test it yet and it's the regular one, not the extreme.  

Since I've never done cold weather camping, I decided I needed to test everything out and see how it performed in low temps before relying on it deep in the woods somewhere.  I went up to a trailhead at 7k ft on Mt Shasta on a cold night and camped in the snow/ice for maximum cold testing conditions.  It was a great night for testing - clear and cold, with no wind and a big moon.  My little pocket thermometer isn't the best, but it logged 20 deg inside the tent at around 5am and 11-12 deg outside the tent.  I believe it was 2-3 degrees lower (around 17-18) inside the tent an hour earlier but I was 1/2 asleep so I can't be sure.  

Regardless, I was never cold at all.  I had 2 medium-sized dogs in the tent, so that helped, but normally I'd only have 1 with me.  I closed down almost all the mesh venting in the tent - I just kept enough little holes open here and there to keep condensation down.  What condensation there was, froze to the inside of the fly, but none inside the tent itself.  

For my part, I was in my 30deg bag with a silk liner (hadn't received reactor yet), and I had on a pair of lightweight smartwool longjohns (top and bottom), medium-weight warm socks, a double layer lightweight smart wool beenie, and a fleece neck gaiter.  I was never cold in my bag and I think that with that setup I could probably go 5+ deg colder and still be relatively comfortable.  

My biggest (minor) problem was the sleeping pad.  I had my neo air pad on top of a z-rest foam pad, but I may need some other layer there because the neo air felt cold to my back for the first hr or so when I was laying on it.  I believe the air inside of it just needed to warm up since the cold did finally go away.  

1:28 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,424 reviewer rep
1,283 forum posts

what you observed about your air pad is pretty common for air pads, it's not peculiar to the neoair.  it's the reason i stack foam pads rather than using air pads in cold weather.

that setup you used should be good to 10-15 degrees; any colder, you might consider a slightly thicker pad. 

5:05 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
102 reviewer rep
2,280 forum posts

leadbelly2550 said:

..i stack foam pads rather than using air pads in cold weather...

 +1

Blue foam rules the cold!

Ed

5:31 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

whomeworry said:

leadbelly2550 said:

..i stack foam pads rather than using air pads in cold weather...

 +1

Blue foam rules the cold!

Ed

 +1 more. :)

6:37 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
1,195 reviewer rep
1,063 forum posts

The blue Wally World ones are good. Now that Prolitegear.com has a 1/2" thick Evazote pad available (at 83" long!), that's what I'd go for. In fact, I need a new winter pad, so that is what I'm going for...

7:49 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,253 forum posts

GaryPalmer said:

 

Golite which is a Ray Jardine spinoff company make some very light sleeping bags as well as other gear (packs,tents, etc)

 Actually Ray never had a direct interest in GoLite. He licensed GoLite to make his gear designs and IFIRC got some royalties. But GoLite deviated quite a bit from his designs fairly quickly. Only a few of their items are his original designs, one or two packs, I think.

8:15 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,253 forum posts

langcow said:

My biggest (minor) problem was the sleeping pad.  I had my neo air pad on top of a z-rest foam pad, but I may need some other layer there because the neo air felt cold to my back for the first hr or so when I was laying on it.  I believe the air inside of it just needed to warm up since the cold did finally go away.  

 I suspect you have the original NeoAir. I have the NeoAir Allseason, which is a rather different air mattress. I was skeptical of it at first, given the fundamental problem with air mattresses. The problem is that they allow a lot of convective transfer, which means that on snow or ice, they will never get warm - you might as well sleep directly on the snow (in which case, you will melt a gradually deepening canyon into the snow, slowly dragging your tent down in with you - don't ask how I know this. The original NeoAir has a double tube construction (much like the Hunter-Douglas Duette window coverings). This helps a little. The NeoAir All-Season is a different thing. The inner tube structure, like the Hunter-Douglas blackout Duettes, is a mylar, so that the aluminized material cuts the radiant heat loss as well as the convective (and reduces the heat transfer driving the convection as well). When we rebuilt our house, we installed the blackout Duettes in the family room where we get together with hiking and climbing friends to share slides, and discovered that they cut the summer heating through the large windows incredibly (and they qualified for a government rebate as an insulating material).

Alicia and I tried the NeoAir AllSeason demo at the OR Show (they had it on a refrigerated platform. I tried the regular one (without the mylar inner) as well, and it was pretty much like a regular air mattress, maybe a bit better. I was impressed enough with the AllSeason to try my Antarctic tentmate's  (had my regular ThermARest close to hand, just in case). It really worked well, so now I possess one of my own. However, I do keep my blue foam close to hand, just in case of a puncture.

The big problem is the cost, something like $150. Luckily, Cascade Designs (MSR, ThermARest, etc) had a Black Friday sale at a substantial discount (hmmm, substantial discounts often mean a new version is coming out - I wonder ....)

Anyway, at least get a blue foam or two to put under your NeoAir. That will help a lot with the convection problem. Blue foam is pretty cheap ($10 these days, I think, for a 20x72 inch piece), and lighter (8-10 ounces) than a regular ThermaRest (2 pounds for the 3/4 length), and even lighter than the NeoAir All Season (1 pound 3 ounce).

12:19 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

Hey everybody thanks for the info.  I've got the yellow NeoAir like this one: http://www.campmor.com/thermarest-neoair-mattress-large.shtml?source=CI&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=40755 which supposedly has some sort of insulating, reflective barrier thing in it.  Surprisingly, REI doesn't seem to list this one now, but they've got two others: one is the "all-season" that you (Bill) mentioned and one is the "trekker".  

I see now that the yellow one that I have has a R value of 2.5, while the new trekker is 2.0 and the all-season is 4.9.  Both are heavier than mine.  I've got the large (not the regular) and it's only 19oz!

Maybe with the blue foam pad underneath it'd work better, and then put the z-lite on top if I need to be separated from the air pad.  The Z-lite has that egg-carton shape which might have been letting in more cold air underneath the neoair.  Everything did eventually warm up and was fine the rest of the night, but I put my gloves under my butt for the first hour or so (that was where I was feeling the cold the most).

I'm going to do some shopping for a blue foam pad...   :)

12:23 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

Hey what about something like the Big Agnes insulated air core pad?

1:19 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
REVIEW CORPS
1,195 reviewer rep
1,063 forum posts

If you're interested in the BA insulated ones, I would, alternatively, go with an insulated one from Bender: http://KookaBay.com

Otherwise, if you don't want to go the cottage maker route, their are better (read: much warmer for the weight) pads to be found from Exped (their DAM) and Stephenson's Warmlite (their DAM). Or, if you can wait a bit, the new Thermarest NeoAir XTherm (claimed r-value of 5.7...) will soon be available...this might be the pad OGBO alluded to...

July 29, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: 2012 Nemo Equipment Transform Tarp Newer: help me choose new boots
All forums: Older: Editing posts Newer: Dayhike today Friday Dec 16th near Tucson