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Cold weather sleep headware

8:15 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I've been testing Winter sleep systems lately in the back yard since we've been blessed with some early season frigidity 8p  I'm combining my 40° quilt with a down jacket with good results over several nights into the 20s.  With a NeoXLite stacked on top of an older heavy duty TRest pad I'm having zero issues with cold.

The issue I am having has to do with my head. I've been wrapping a wonderful rabbit lined Mad Bomber over the top of a balaclava and I'm totally cozy.  My problem has been that I keep waking up feeling like I'm suffocating trying to breath through the balaclava.  If I pull it down my nose freezes but at one point I was even dreaming about not being able to breath.

So...for you brave souls who cold weather camp and aren't using mummy bags; what are you using to keep your face from freezing off?

10:42 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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i like wearing wool beanies to sleep in.  pretty happy with ones from Ibex and Smartwool.  in really awful cold weather, i'll sometimes wear a thin balaclava - patagonia used to make one out of their R1 fleece, and i see they also make merino wool balaclavas now.

all that is predicated on using a mummy bag, though, for sleeping out in the winter. 

how do you keep cold air from leaking into the top of your bag if you winter camp in a rectangular bag - some kind of pull cord that tightens the top around your shoulders?

11:00 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I am not using a bag at all Andrew.  I have a 40° quilt with the footbox hooked around the pad as well as my feet.  It has very functional side curtains so I can roll around w/o losing too much heat so long as I don't sit upright.  For colder temps I am supplementing that with a down jacket over fleece layers on top and light thermal bottoms with sweat pants and double socks.  Those items are my basic Winter camp wear in or out of the tent once I'm done getting sweaty for the day.

With temps right around freezing I kept the quilt at waist level most of the night.  Down in the mid 20s I'm keeping it up to my shoulders but with the down jacket I'm not worried about drafts and am making an effort to keep the quilt down so I'm not breathing on it.

My balaclava is a pretty heavy duty material, synthetic I'd guess. Maybe I just need to find something in a lighter material like you've mentioned.  Hmmm, perhaps just a light swatch of something to cover my nose and mouth using my current layers to hold it in place.  I just know that suffocation nightmares don't make for restful sleep heh, so I've got to try something different!

11:16 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I like my Ibex "Trailspace" beanie as well.  It is perfect for sleeping (I use a mummy bag), jogging and general use.  Great beanie.  

I can not speak for head warming solutions for open rectangular bags.  

Why no mummy bag LoneStranger?

11:51 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I combine a merino wool beanie and neck gaiter, then top off with a hat that has ears & a brim that can be adjusted/flipped up. Limitless combinations between each other; this very setup suited me very well on the AT a few days ago, lows of about 20F.

12:55 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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Jason Ruff said:

 Why no mummy bag LoneStranger?

 I really like the freedom to roll around I get under a quilt. I've only had one mummy bag in my life and that was long long ago.  I found it comfy when I was awake but didn't seem to sleep well in it as it felt sort of confining.  After a couple seasons under the quilt I feel the same way about any bag now. 

I will probably upgrade to a 0° quilt eventually but I can't justify the cost for the limited use it would get now.   Really though, my only issue with my current set up seems to be my nose heh.  Once I figure out how to keep that warm w/o cutting off my air supply I'll be ready for at least some stealth camping along the Androscoggin this Winter even if I can't get away for a real trip due to baby daddy duties ;)

1:29 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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LoneStranger...Your approach is completely sound...it is both more heat-efficient and versatile to wear as much of your insulation as possible (puffy jacket and pants)...and then add a light quilt or bag for additional warmth (since you only use your bag while sleeping). The only down-side is that it can get a little expensive to buy two puffies and a quilt...as opposed to a single sleeping-bag (though not by much if you go the Feathered-Friends route). At this time I still use a bag (mostly because I let companions borrow my gear when we go on adventures together...and puffy clothes are more specialized)...but as soon as time and money allows I intend to buy (make?) some puffy pants (to compliment my puffy-jacket)...then use my DIY synthetic quilt for extra warmth in the colder months.

As far as the nose issue...I know what you're talking about...and I can say that there isn't too much that can be done if you (like myself) do not like fabric across your nose and mouth (luckily I sleep on my stomach so this helps). I sleep in a bivy in the winter so I once laid fabric over the mesh window to hold in warmth...it does help keep your nose warm...but I don't recommend it due to the build-up of condensation. The best thing I can suggest is that the winter nights are long enough to make yourself a hot-drink if you find yourself restless in the middle of the night...I find that making myself a warm drink in the middle of the night warms me (my nose) enough to get a few more solid hours of good rest before light. I know this isn't the solution you're looking for...but honestly...if you find a better solution my nose would be greatly appreciative.

2:10 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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My money has other priorities too Joseph, so I try to work with what I already have and what I can find on the cheap.  I'm ok with that as it makes you try to be more creative and put some thought into things rather than just throw money at them.

The quilt is a discontinued TR Ventra that I can only assume they had to stop making because it was too good.  I think I paid less than $150 for it.  It definitely surpasses its 40° rating. I haven't Winter camped in quite a few years unless you count Southern California Winters hehe but finding that '02 Nuptse at the thrift shop for $50 last month got me thinking with a few extra layers I might have enough to pull it off.  Those are the only down items, the rest is fleece or uninsulated synthetics.  I seem to be good in the 20s but I don't think I can push it much into the teens.  Warming up for the weekend they say but I'm sure I'll get a chance to test the limits further soon enough!

4:45 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I wear a silk balaclava to bed on cold nights. I have a hood on my sleeping bag but don't like having it over/around my head at night. I like air to circulate and allow my bag to breathe more. Course most winter camping for me is in the Sonoran Desert around SE Arizona where nights are not so cold.

5:41 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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How much does that impact your breathing Gary assuming you have it up over your nose and mouth?  How would you compare it to a generic bandana?

6:26 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I only wear it over my head and around my chin.  Mainly cause it fogs up my glasses when I wear it over my nose. I sometimes sleep in my glasses with a Crookie strap so I can see when I wake up. I am so blind without them!

I wear bandana's for neck scarfs when cycling,hiking to keep the sun/wind off my neck. Rarely do I wear them over my head like motor bikers. 

7:27 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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I used to wear them in the rain on the motorcycle to keep the raindrops from poking holes in my face at freeway speed. Almost drowned a few times when the things would get totally soaked; sort of like waterboarding but in six lanes of traffic ;)

6:10 a.m. on November 15, 2013 (EST)
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I also use a balaclava, and a smartwool beanie. Depending on the temps i either use a thin merino wool one, or a thicket fleece one.

9:11 a.m. on November 15, 2013 (EST)
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In the early 80's I used to wear a wool one lined with nylon which made it non itchy, especially around the unshaven face. Back then I lived in Yosemite backpacking and winter camping the high Sierra from Jan-May and used a -30 degree EMS down mummy bag. Never got cold! I now have a Campmor 0 degree down bag for my desert bicycle tour this winter.

A tent around you also helps keep the face/head warmer blocking the wind or at least a full cover bivy bag.

12:33 p.m. on November 15, 2013 (EST)
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I really like the rabbit fur Mad Bomber with a silk scarf around the neck.

12:21 a.m. on November 20, 2013 (EST)
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I have used a synthetic knit cap that's long enough I can pull it down over my eyes and nose and leave my mouth exposed.  I'm able to breath just fine through my nose.  In the morning I just fold the extra length up out of the way. 

I suppose wool could work too if it's not too itchy.

8:21 a.m. on November 20, 2013 (EST)
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The nose has always been a problem for me too.  Contrary to what the OP implies in some of his comments, sleeping bags of any kind are not better suited to keeping your nose any warmer than a quilt, as you must keep your mouth and nose out from under these covers, else experience that suffocating sensation (not to mention the your moist breath will condense in the bag and sodden the insulation materials).

In extreme cold temps some trekkers resort to snorkel like devices that pre-warm intake air.  They usually have a nose/mouth piece that covers that portion of the face.  I find snorkels to be uncomfortable while up and about, and an unacceptable distraction when worn to bed.  I have tried all manner of nose protection, but found if it was effective at keeping my snoot warm it also ended up effectively trapping my stale exhaled air.  The Inuit and other indigenous societies of the far north sleep in a fashion similar to your method, if that is an indicator of anything.  I wear two balaclavas to bed, augmented by an alpaca scarf.  I use climate matched mummy bags, and always sleep under the stars, except when it storms.  I have never frost nipped my nose, but I get the cold runny nose thing going, which carries its own set of discomforts.

Ed

1:55 p.m. on November 20, 2013 (EST)
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the other issue with covering your face in freezing weather is that the balaclava or equivalent eventually ices up quite a bit as you breathe through it.  there really isn't a perfect solution. 

10:41 p.m. on November 20, 2013 (EST)
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I have never used a quilt to sleep in during the winter, but then the winters up here are perhaps a little more extreme (Dawson is -43C as I write this). I can, however, relate to your predicament. When I close the hood around my sleeping bag only my nose sticks out, and that is fine for me but in extreme cold my nose will still get frost bit. I have solved the problem by using a down filled face mask with nose protection. This allows me to breathe freely while still staying warm and the down feels weightless against my face. There is a bit of frost build up outside the mask but that can be brushed off in the morning.

I have also used the OR Gorilla with good results.

7:42 a.m. on November 21, 2013 (EST)
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After discussing my predicament with Mrs Stranger she did a little crochet work last night and created a prototype nose hood for me.  Being relatively open stitched it is much easier to breath through but I'm not sure if it will be warm enough.  Looks like we're dipping into the teens this weekend so good testing weather to find out.

12:48 p.m. on November 21, 2013 (EST)
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If crochet proves too open...you could always try the same idea with a loose-knitted option...just don't tell mrs. stranger that I suggested it:-)

4:17 p.m. on November 21, 2013 (EST)
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I had my wife make me a Ray Way insulated hat just for sleeping in -

http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Insulated-Hat-Kit/index.htm

She calls it my smerf hat...

 

It is the lightest, warmest and goofiest looking hat around.

At just over an ounce of weight it is lighter than anything else out there, it does compact to a tiny size, and it has great coverage.

 

My wife and I use a double quilt for sleeping so I really did need something for my balding head. My wife needs nothing with her long, thick hair!

For the face and nose, my wife is fond of simply pulling the quilt up over her head. Our quilt is a large synthetic Ray Way quilt, and it isn't apparently bothered by the added moisture. With two bodies tucked under there the heat is sufficient to drive off any moisture.

After she warms up, it gets pulled away from her face. I'll generally just leave my nose uncovered. If truly cold or going to bed cold I may also pull the quilt over my head, but I soon warm up. I find that as long as the rest of me is toasty warm, my nose is OK.  

 

Big homemade Ray Way two person quilt -


SAM_1849.jpg

 

This is a 20 degree synthetic quilt which we use all year long.

 

 

11:09 a.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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Here is a photo of me in my down face mask. There is an opening for the mouth to breathe which may not be too visible in the picture. There is also a wide collar which can be tucked in to what ever I am wearing at the time to prevent cold from entering in. It is very warm and feels weightless so there is no suffocating affect.


IMGP0108.jpg

Wearing this to bed at night means I don't even have to draw the hood of the sleeping bag around me.

11:38 a.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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That face mask looks wonderful, North.  Who makes it, or where can it be purchased?

11:53 a.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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gonzan said:

That face mask looks wonderful, North.  Who makes it, or where can it be purchased?

 Yeah, that.  My googles are not finding much in the way of down masks so we'll have to rely on the old school method of asking you for more details.

5:36 p.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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I like North's mask (want one!)


To keep my nose warm, I bought a cheap fleece beanie with ear flaps. I turn this 90-degrees, resulting in the ear flap being over my nose. I'm not sold on it, but it's what I've done to get by.

5:45 p.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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North...is that a mask you can buy?

7:20 p.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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Take this with a grain of salt as I neither own, nor have ever used one of these but this is the first thing that came to mind in reading the OP......

http://shop.coldavenger.com/half-mask/coldavenger-classic-fleece/

My concern would be with the mask freezing up overnight, although I'm not sure how valid that concern is.

2:14 p.m. on November 23, 2013 (EST)
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I purchased this face mask a few years ago from a small online store called The Parka Shop. It was a limited run model with only 100 produced. It’s far more than a face mask though; my head is completely encased in down, sides, top and back along with my neck and top of shoulders. The weight is only a few ounces and well worth it for the amount of warmth it gives. I wouldn’t wear it for any high output activities unless it is extremely cold out, but find it works great for when I stop skiing and have to set up camp in bitter cold, windy conditions, and of course for sleeping. Sadly, The Parka Shop seems to have gone out of business because I can’t seem to find it online anymore. Too bad, they had some interesting gear.

10:47 p.m. on November 23, 2013 (EST)
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For what it's worth, I use a Patagonia R1 Balaclava and a light, hooded down anorak (Stoic Hadron) with my quilt for temps down to about 25F. Below that, I bring a hooded bag, while still wearing the Balaclava...it can cover the nose while still being very easy to breathe through.

For those wanting a mask like North's, send a copy of that picture over to Ben at Goosefeet.com, Joe over at Zpacks.com, or Evan at Blackrockgear.com, and any of them can make that for you...

7:41 a.m. on November 24, 2013 (EST)
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Partly cloudy, with a low around 10. Wind chill values as low as -1. Blustery, with a northwest wind 20 to 25 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 50 mph.

Looks like good testing weather tonight.  8p

11:07 a.m. on November 24, 2013 (EST)
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I have a windproof fleece balaclava from the Amazon Sports store and my new zero degree Campmor sleeping bag which I will be testing in the field for the next four months (Dec 2nd to Mar 31st) on my bicycle tour through the southwest from where I am now 20 miles northeast of Zion, down through Zion UT, Mesquite and the Valley of Fire NV, to the northern shores of Lake Mead, along the Colorado River basin of eastern California, to Joshua Tree National Park, to the western shore of the Salton Sea, Slab City on its southeastern shore to Yuma, and eventually southeastern Arizona from Tucson to Nogales, Patagonia/Sonoita, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Bisbee, Douglas and up into the Chiricahua Mtns, Wilcox,etc.

I hope to be able to give a great gear review of the stuff I have bought this past summer but have not barely used yet. The balaclava and down hoody jacket I bought work excellent when riding at 20 mph to work every morning a 6 am when its in the freezing digits plus wind chill. 

3:42 a.m. on November 29, 2013 (EST)
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Ppine,how is the build quality on the Mad Bomber hat? I have a similar hat but different brand, probably from China. For sleeping I've tried a fleece beanie and balaclava but find them both a bit confining especially the balaclava.

7:02 a.m. on November 29, 2013 (EST)
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Tom D said:

Ppine,how is the build quality on the Mad Bomber hat? I have a similar hat but different brand, probably from China. For sleeping I've tried a fleece beanie and balaclava but find them both a bit confining especially the balaclava.

 I can't tell you how his is but I've had mine for years and have nothing but nice things to say.  The materials and stitching have held up great including the fur lining and the chin strap. 

The only issue I have with it is that it is too hot (for me) to wear while working even in below zero temps.  I use it for casual activities and for sleeping but more than that I start sweating.

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