Looking for a new sleepng bag

11:06 a.m. on March 17, 2008 (EDT)
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REI's got a one time 20% discount that I'm itching to take advantage of for a new sleeping bag. I've got a light down bag (30 years old) that doesn't work when wet and a synthetic bag that works, but is big and bulky. I'm looking for one bag to replace both.

I'm in the market for something that's as small and light as possible but good down to at least -20F. I'm assuming that down may be the way to go, but I'm a bit hesitant since I'm trying to get to Alaska a couple of times soon and I've suffered through nights with a wet down bag before. Are the new "waterproof" shell down bags as resistant to getting wet as they claim? Would you trust one in Alaska?

I'm open to any suggestions on light warm waterproof bags. I'd say I'm willing to spend up to $400 or so as long as the bag is good for a lifetime. Paying $400 makes me a bit hesitant about synthetic as I hear they tend to break down with time.

12:55 p.m. on March 17, 2008 (EDT)
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For what you want, I prefer a down bag with a water-proof-breathable shell. I have used these since 1978 with total satisfaction and I also use down bags with bivies made of such material.

I would suggest buying a REALLY GOOD bag and looking after it carefully, it will last you a lifetime. The finest bags I know of are Valandre from France, superb and pricey, Integral Designs from Canada, excellent and a bit more reasonable and Western Mountaineering from Kalifornia, an excellent choice.

I would, in your place, probably choose a WM with a Windstopper shell and in the size best suited to your built. For an over-all bag, I would pick the WM Kodiak, but, the WM Badger is also excellent, these are for big guys. The Apache and Antelope are similar for smaller-framed people.

I would avoid synthetics for a "lifetime" bag, I have three synthetic bags now, but, they are used for special purposes and my Valandre, WM and ID down bags see more use in regular backpacking. HTH.

5:52 p.m. on March 19, 2008 (EDT)
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I would suggest to thee a The Backside X-Fiber mummy bag. Almost as compressable and lightweight as down, while suitable for the type of climate you will be facing: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=339149

I truly believe this just may be the mummy that would serve your needs best. Give it a look over.

I wish you the best! :)

7:47 p.m. on March 19, 2008 (EDT)
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I've got a Backside X fibre bag and really like it
check out the prices at gearforcamping
that's where I got mine from
got a greeat price

10:37 p.m. on March 19, 2008 (EDT)
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The Backside X looks pretty good for the money. Compared to the $300-500 bags of similar temperature ratings, it seems to be as light and pack down equally small. Kind of makes me wonder what the catch is.

What would I be sacrificing with this bag vs a $400 down bag? If the answer is little or nothing, then that's an amazing deal!!

I was pretty amazed when I saw how light this bag was for a synthetic bag rated to -15F and was wondering why this is the only synthetic bag I've seen rated that low that's as small and light as a down bag.

11:41 p.m. on March 19, 2008 (EDT)
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This bag weighs 4 lbs. 10 oz., which is VERY heavy for a backpacking bag. My Valandre Shocking Blue rated to the SAME temp. AND so tested, weighs 3 lbs. 2 oz. My Integral Designs Himalayan OF custom bag weighs 4 lbs. 9 oz and is good to -30*.

Quite honestly and based on a LOT of cold weather experience, I seriously doubt that this bag WILL keep you comfortable at -15 or anywhere close to that. I have found that you get EXACTLY what you pay for in gear and even the really high end synthetic bags like Integral, the best I have used, won't cut it at -15F, I own and use them and this is what I have found.

So, be careful and not "pennywise and pound foolish", a really good down bag WILL work at such temps, done it gazillions of times.

5:16 p.m. on March 20, 2008 (EDT)
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I owned an The Backside Mummy Bag and I know from actual experience they are great bags. Mine was an +20 model but I used mine in the dead of Winter in Wisconsin to the near 0 degree mark...and I was extremely warm.

I must politely disagree with the former poster...I still stick by my advice: Consider the The Backside X-Fiber Bag.

7:58 p.m. on March 20, 2008 (EDT)
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I will tell you that there is a HUGE difference between sleeping out at ...the near 0 degree mark...and -15*F, you are looking at 20* more of frost and it DOES feel MUCH colder.

The weight of your bag is also VERY important in serious cold weather camping, probably my all-time favourite winter bag was an original Marmot Mtn. custom GT-down one I had made by Eric Reynolds in Jan. 1978. I was doing a LOT of solo winter skiing into glaciers near my hometown in the Kootenays of B.C. and this bag, rated to -25F, actually kept me reasonably warm at a measured -41F on the toe of Kokanee Glacier, it weighed 4 lbs. 4 oz.

If, you carry a heavier bag, or anything else that weighs more than it must, you diminish your energy reserves and thus limit your ability to traverse whatever terrain you are in. You ALSO seriously lower your ability to withstand cold and this can creep up on you and kill you, a lot more quickly than many think it can.

Temps. below 0F are NOT to be taken lightly, I have lived in northern B.C, AB, the NWT and know what cold is though long experience. So, while I respect the gentleman's opinion, I do think that there are better choices for your posted needs. No offence to anyone intended.

Look at what high altitude mountaineers are using, there is a good indication of what you need.

6:59 a.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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I went back and re-read the original post and for the uses required I would recommend the following bags, almost all of which I have direct personal experience with at the temps. mentioned. I have lived, solo, in the mountains on the B.C.-AK border for three months at a time without a break, so, speak from personal experience in the region mentioned.

1. Western Mountaineering Puma-the new version-Windstopper shell with Hotsack VBL

2. Integral Designs XPD2 Himalayan with ID VBL-Endurance shell

3. Valandre Freya or Odin with VBL and ID or Rab eVent bivy

4. Peter Hutchinson Designs-England-Xero 1000 or Diamer of same temp. rating plus VBL of your choice, I would pick WM-Hotsack


These are the top bags available AND they are NOT cheap, BUT, if you truely are going into ...at least... -20F, you NEED a bag like this and, having done lots of this, I will bluntly say that buying such as bag is money well-spent as you first -20F night WILL teach you. Until you have been alone far from help at -20F, you have not idea what cold really is.

10:53 a.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks, I've done nights at -15F in the UP, but I needed to add a fleece liner to my synthetic bag to be comfortable.

The big problem is that a big bulky synthetic bag along with an extra fleece liner is heavy and takes up quite a bit of space. Not to mention that my synthetic bag is getting close to 9 years old and doesn't seem as warm as it used to.

4:30 p.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Re: Looking for a new sleeping bag

Allow me to share with you the first winter campout I had in the State of Wisconsin was at Devil's Lake State Park. The temps dipped to -25 below. At the time all I had was my Downright Ltd. Tundra 0 degree mummy bag. Needless to say, I was warm, even in those extreme temperatures. My bag weighed 5lb 8ozs. Granted, it may not of been as light as some would prefer, but it still did the job: keeping me warm thru that very frigid weekend.

You are free to do as you wish: I'm just offering some feedback to your original question.

I for one do not believe one needs some BIG name brand name (unless your name happens to be Bob Collins) in order to get a decent sleeping bag. I try and own many bags, with many different types of fills. I test all these in the most brutal extremes nature can dish out. I only speak from actual experience, that's all.

4:39 p.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Re: Looking for a new sleeping bag

Kutenay, seems like they use only BIG name brands, something I tend to avoid.

I know Chinook makes some excellent bags too. Of course they would not be "Bob Collins approved" seeing they are not some BIG name brand.

For serious cold I like my ALPS Mountaineering -20 Blue Ridge mummy bag. I was never cold in that bag, no, not once in all the years I have been Winter camping (something I am really into).

When I first started out I had an LL Bean High Camp mummy (long size) which was rated at -20. I used that bag extensively Winter camping at West Branch State Park, in northeast Ohio. That was a decent bag too. Now my friend owns it since I got my ALPS bag.

All I'm getting at there are so many good alternatives to those overpriced, BIG name brands, which are well worth looking into. I realize Backpacker magazine of late gives the false impression one needs an Sierra Designs bag, or something from Mountain Hardware, or perhaps some other BIG name brand bag. I look past the "hype" and find gear that functions as well or even better than those BIG name brands out there, all for a fraction of the cost. :)

6:27 p.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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I don't really know as I seldom read Backpacker or any other magazine, although I DID buy this year's "Gear Guide", largely a waste of money.

So, I have no idea WHO Bob Collins is, was or may become, you have me completely baffled here....no pun intended.

However, I was born, raised, went to work in and have lived in mountains all of my life, including being in Alaska. A 5.5 lb. bag that is rated to 0F simply will NOT meet the weather conditions there and it is TOO HEAVY to backpack in steep country on skis or snowshoes.

Your winter camping is in regions of dense human population where rescue is immediately available if you get into trouble. This is not the case in much of Alaska and even less so in northern Canada; you CANNOT compromise on your gear in order to save money or indulge a personal philosophy about gear makers, costs, or whatever your issue is.

In Alaska or northern Canada, even where I grew up, temps to -40F are commonplace and one is often camping in such conditions fot 2-3 weeks on end. When you have done this, it becomes obvious that certain sleeping bags ARE superior to others.

I have lived in mountain tents, in the snow, over 100 miles from the nearest town for periods of 4-6 weeks at a time and often solo; this gives you an appreciation of cold, gear and weight as you backpack it all in on snowshoes in VERY rugged mountains that is why I choose the bags I do...and recommend them for others going into the same areas.

My first solo winter camp, on a Kootenay Glacier, was in 1970, late January and my next purchase was another, heavier down bag, this one a "Fairydown" from New Zealand.

As to fleece inner bags, blankets, etc., I don't like them as they are too bulky and heavy for the weight you are going to carry. If, you go with the right bag, VBL, bivy or tent, you will be warmer and able to travel farther in mountain country.

Weight is CRUCIAL when going into remote wilderness as you need certain items that campground camping does not require. Anyway, I hope you can find what you need.

8:48 p.m. on March 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Your grace, who, pray tell, is B ... oh, never mind, I don't care anyway.

Like kutenay, I use what works. WISam is worried about the bag getting wet, and he wants it compressible and light. At the temperatures you are talking about, Sam, you don't have to worry about down getting wet. As long as you are below about +10F, a quality bag with a microfiber outer will be water-repellent enough to allow you to brush off any spills of your tent-mate's soup or coffee without it getting to the down. And a microfiber outer will breathe well enough so that the approx 1 liter you sweat off during the night won't condense in the down. Waterproof shells, such as Goretex or Gore's Driloft, don't breathe well enough, as Will Steiger and his crew found out on their North Pole trek - their bags weighed 75 pounds by the time they got to the Pole and were not stuffable, thanks to the condensation and freezing from body perspiration condensing on the inside of the waterproof/"breathable" shell.

Synthetics in general, will not meet your light/small criteria, and they don't have much lifetime compared to down. The one exception at present is Primaloft, which is about equivalent to 500 fill down in its latest form. Still, it seems to be limited to a 15 year lifetime, compared to 30 or 40 years of hard use for down (I still use my 1960 Karakoram from time to time).

The companies that kutenay mentions are NOT big companies. I would add to the 4 he listed, Feathered Friends, which is based in Seattle (and makes its bags in Seattle). They are one of the few companies around that will customize their bags (Western, located about 10 miles from me here in the SFBay Area, stopped doing customization several years ago). Barb and I have -40 bags from them. I have had my current one for about 8 years, during which I have used it for at least one 20+ day expedition and several backcountry ski tours each year for the last 8 years (my previous one had a slight problem with the Gore Driloft in the hood area delaminating, so FF replaced the bag under their lifetime warranty, using another waterproof product in the hood for the breathing tunnel - keeps your exhaled, very moist breath out of the down, something most companies don't even think of).

Kutenay's suggestion of a VBL is an excellent one. The one I use is the Integral Design 4 ounce VBL/emergency bivy. The VBL will keep the moisture from your perspiration from condensing in the insulating down. I will note that some people do not like VBLs, feeling they are "clammy". So you need to try it to see if you can get used to it, or if your body adjusts its perspiration rate to the humidity in the bag.

The one place you might have problems with wet bags if you do not learn the simple precautions is if you are sleeping in a snow cave, quinzhee, or igloo. These will get up to within a few degrees above or below the freezing point inside, and you can have dripping from the roof of the shelter if you have not properly shaped it. In this case, a bivy sack will suffice to keep the down bag protected.

I have a -10F synthetic bag that is not Primaloft, and it is way too heavy for any distance into the backcountry - 5.5 pounds, and requires an XL stuff sack. My -40 FF bag (and Barb's, too) is about 3.7 pounds and stuffs easily into a medium ID Silcoat stuff bag, which I then compress.

Yes, these bags are fairly expensive. But they last for decades of hard use, and they WILL keep you warm.

2:15 p.m. on March 22, 2008 (EDT)
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I will clarify my earlier point concerning WPB shells on bags of which I have now owned/used three, the original Marmot Mtn., my Feathered Friends u/l bag from 1989 and my five year old ID custom cold weather bag.

Based on the strong recommendation of Eric Reynolds, the manager of Marmot in 1978, I also bought a VBL and I found that I can easily do 3-5 nights in damp B.C. snowcamping without it,before any problems with condensation, etc. arise. HOWEVER, if you intend to do longterm cold weather camping with ANY down bag, a VBL is really worth using and WILL prevent dmping of your down, regardless of shell material.

My latest bag is a Valandre Shocking Blue and it has a special "polyanimide" (WeverTF THAT is!) fabric that is incredibly downproof and water resistant. I now will go with this bag by choice as it is superior to ANYTHING I have ever used and I sleep in it like a baby. BUT, I DO use an eVent bivy plus a VBL with it, in cold weather-long term situations.

To offset discomfort in a VBL, I always wear a set of synthetic longjohns, the "silk weight" ones from M.E.C., cheap and easy to launder. I wear liner socks and sometimes a watchcap and sleep VERY well like this. I do not like my elderly hide on the VBL, but, one could get used to it, if necessary. USE a VBL, it REALLY makes a down bag work better.

5:11 p.m. on March 22, 2008 (EDT)
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Thank You for the reply.

Who is Bob Collins? He is the former owner and founder of Appalachian Outfitters in Peninsula Ohio. This guy (along with his employees/cronies) pushed on people the idea the only good gear out there was either from Sierra Designs or Mountain Hardware or MSR. I think you get the point.

I do understand what Mr. Kutenay saith. Out in the wilderness literally hundreds of miles from the nearest "civilization" one has to have the proper gear to stay alive. No dispute with that. I fully agree.

That is exactly the reason why I do test gear-to see what works and what doesn't. I put to test (spending whole Winters camped outdoors) testing various tents and sleeping bags. What I post comes from actual useage.

My only "sin" (according to Mr. Collins and like-minded individuals who post on backpacker.com) is the fact I don't believe in or use those BIG name brands.

So far I used gear from Diamond Brand, LL Bean, REI, ALPS Mountaineering, Chinook, The Backside, SunnyRec, Trekk, Campmor, Cabela's, etc. I will confess I once did own an Sierra Designs tent (the Cosmos). The tent was ok (no real gripes with the weatherproofness) but to be perfectly honest I could not see how it was in any way superior to any of my other smaller-brand tents I own. Maybe it's all in the brand name or something. Just ask Bob-I did purchase it from his trendy backpacking shop when my Diamond Brand tent was being repaired at the DB factory in North Carolina. Here's my review on this SD's tent: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/sierra-designs/cosmos/review/4869/

As for me, I started out backpacking and Winter camping in Ohio, my home State. I did many backpacking trips down in the Wayne National Forest, in the hilly Appalachian Plateau region of southeast Ohio. Wonderful place I might add. Then in 2004 I moved to Wisconsin (for work). I continued this excellent ourdoors lifestyle. My first year in Wisconsin I camped in the dead of Winter at Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge S.P's and at the Black River State Forest, plus in the pine woods directly behind my house. I spent literally whole Winters in my tent as I already made mention. All men know this. I can tell you the former landlord (Randy Wruck and one of his church friends Phil Shadler) made fun of me at one of his church functions only because I was sleeping in my tent in the middle of Winter, in the coldest of months. Apparently they did not approve of my "activities".

Now again this year I have been invited back to work for the State of Wisconsin-DNR at Devil's Lake State Park. My real goal however is to work in Ohio's Wayne National Forest as an Laborer. I simply love the Forest.

5:48 p.m. on March 22, 2008 (EDT)
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The minister said

Quote:

So far I used gear from Diamond Brand, LL Bean, REI, ALPS Mountaineering, Chinook, The Backside, SunnyRec, Trekk, Campmor, Cabela's, etc.

Hmmmm, five of those 10 are REALLY BIG names, with 3 of them selling over half the outdoor gear sold in the US, much of it with their own labels, and a fourth, which has its own label on virtually everything it sells, being pretty close behind. So I guess I don't know what you mean by BIG names.

The 5 brands that kutenay and I have mentioned are small specialty manufacturers, not major conglomerates or part of a major conglomerate. Also, all of those manufacture all their products in their home country (Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering here on the West Coast, Integral Designs in Alberta, ...) None are manufactured in China, Bengladesh, or other South or SouthEastern Asian countries. If you look on products labeled by Cabela, Campmor, REI, and LL Bean (at least the last LLBean item I handled), they all are manufactured in China or other Asian countries. Not that the Asian countries make inherently bad products, but quality control is an issue, and you aren't dealing directly with the manufacturer if there is a problem. And yes, I do own a number of Asian-made products. But mostly I prefer to deal with local companies when possible.

"polyamide" is a form of microfiber, kutenay.

I will second kutenay's comments on VBLs and bivy sacks, and the use of synthetic long johns inside the VBL - they make VBLs a lot more comfortable. I also agree that for short term (2 or 3 days) use, condensation is a minimal problem in down bags. If you use care (like not dragging wet snow into the tent with you, venting the tent rather than sealing it up tightly and getting lots of condensation that drips on you, and little things like squeezing the humid air out of your bag first thing in the morning when you get out of the bag, hence preventing further condensation) you won't have problems with soggy, wet down bags.

7:54 a.m. on March 23, 2008 (EDT)
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I "think" that Valandre has outsourced it's bag shell sewing to Tunisia, of all places, but filling and final assembly are still done in France where a lot of the FINEST mountain gear is/has been made. No other bag I have ever used/seen is equal to this Shocking Blue, it is an amazing piece of kit, a real work of art.

I am becoming more "microfiber" friendly recently, but, for real B.C. type wet, Im still a big fan of Endurance shells a la ID and Rab. I had mine running wet for almost a week four years ago and the down/inner bag stayed bonedry all that time. This was due to a North Face VE something tent and I never did like that p.o.s, gave it to my nephew.

MC has a point here, no question, the attitude he describes is commonplace in gear stores here in BC/AB and it often seems that the most obnoxious-know it all types are also those with little or no bush experience. I avoid gear stores because of this and only shop at one here, "Mountain Magic" in Surrey, B.C., where the staff actually DO what they talk about.

But, for Alaska, etc., one cannot go wrong by buying "carriage trade" gear, this is one place where what seems most costly is often the cheapest in the long run.

3:42 p.m. on March 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Kutenay, I'm glad you can see my point about certain "attitudes" in various gear shops. That is my point exactly! That is why I do most of my shopping online-to avoid these types of "attitudes" I described in my previous post.

Don't worry-you will find these same "attitudes" with many of the posters on backpacker.com, on their forums that is. I had my share of "run-ins" with these type of people, one person in particular.

At any rate, in response to Bill's post, perhaps REI is becoming a "BIG name brand" (I'm starting to see that myself). However I only own an two-person (in reality though it's an one person tent) Quarter Dome. Other than that I don't own any other REI brand gear, save it be for some hiking socks. To be frank, most of their brand gear doth not appeal to me.

You really think Diamond Brand is BIG name brand? They don't even manufacture tents for the general public anymore, sad :( to say. They have gone to Government contract work, under the new owner Will Gay. It is true when the company was under the Kemps they did manufacture backpacking tents. I owned several. In fact, my very first "real" tent was an standard 2 person Free Spirit model. My first true 4 season tent was their Mountain Home model. http://www.trailspace.com/gear/diamond-brand/mountain-home-2/review/4868/ Excellent tents, though a little "old school" when compared to todays high-tech models. All of my Diamond Brand tents were made in South Korea, though they did continue to manufacture the Free Spirit Heavy Duty models in their North Carolina factory. Plus I would hardly consider ALPS Mountaineering to be BIG name.

No, I am not an minister. My user name came from the Minister Creek Trail I hiked in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest. That's the inside scoop regarding that Bill.

6:25 p.m. on March 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Oh, here is the history of the imfamous Appalachian Outfitters:

http://www.appalachianoutfitters.com/ao/history.asp

This business was founded by Bob Collins.

Now if you look further on this website, you can see Appalachian Outfitter only carries the BIG name brands I made mention of.

What a boring world it would be if people only used Sierra Designs or Mountain Hardware brand gear.

I thank God I did not fall prey to Mr. Collins "brainwashing" for a lack of better word. However my friend Scott almost did, when he purchased that Sierra Designs bag, which it turned out he was not happy with. Finally I went with him to return it. After an unsuccessful attempt on the part of Appalachian Outfitters to change my friend's mind, he managed to get a full refund and ordered the bag he was happy with-an Coleman Peak 1 Grey Fox from Campmor.

8:16 p.m. on March 24, 2008 (EDT)
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MC, note that I said "*5* of the ten". REI, which you say you have noticed is "becoming" a BIG name has been very big nationally for many years now. When I joined The Co-op, as we old greybeards knew it, they had one small store on Pike Street in Seattle plus a warehouse. Most of what they sold was climbing gear imported from Europe. They have had a dozen stores, just in Calif, for a couple decades (11 currently in the SFBay area alone), as well as being spread across the continent for at least that long. EMS has been working on becoming that big as well, but has the disadvantage of being a commercial outfit (REI is still a "cooperative"), so they are still trying to cross the Rockies (got a bunch of stores along the Front Range, though). It's getting hard to find much climbing gear in the REIs though, mostly just yuppie clothing for wannabes (or maybe its just "wannalooklikes"). Barb's parents had a 4 digit membership number, and I have a 5 digit number. I was told by an REI clerk that new members are getting a 7-digit number. I think that's REALLY BIG!

As kutenay pointed out, though, there are places and times where gear from some of the companies you are famously avoiding is the only thing that satisfies the requirements. I have used Mountain Hardwear's tents on high altitude extended expeditions for a number of years now (please note the correct spelling), and occasionally North Face's tents as well. Marmot (the manufacturing company, which at one time owned the Marmot retail stores, of which I believe there are only 2 left) is one of only a handful of companies that make expedition-quality clothing, though I use Wild Things (a small New Hampshire company) for my waterproof/breathable shells (they are one of the few US companies that use eVent). I also use a Bibler tent for a lot of my solo treks in winter (Bibler is part of Black Diamond, one of the BIG names, though it is an employee-owned company - unfortunately they have started out-sourcing some of their gear).

Hmmm, your friend was happy with his Coleman bag (a BIG name, part of Johnson Worldwide Associates, another BIG name), bought from Campmor, one of the largest retailers, with most of their business conducted on-line, though they do have a brick and mortar store. I thought you were against all BIG names.

Somehow, I am confused by your anti-Big statements, mixed with praise of some of the biggest companies in the outdoor world.

I think what kutenay and I are saying is that what matters basically is the quality of the individual item and suitability for the purpose, regardless of the name on the label, and the demonstrated willingness of the manufacturer to stand behind their product (a part of which has to do with the company using their home country's facilities and workers).

6:04 a.m. on March 25, 2008 (EDT)
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I don't have a problem with anyone on backpacker.com, there ARE a few who post snotty comments, especially on threads concerning bears, however, I just consider the source and ignore the BS, works for me. One can get too worked-up over what some person you have never met or will never meet posts on the 'net and we have recently experienced that here and I doubt any of us want a repeat of this.

Bill is righton in his final paragraph, that sums up what I think on this issue very well. I have learned to go with small specialty companies due to superior design, better quality in manufacture and generally superior serice.

WildThings made me a pair of tights to MY specs., not what some tiny Asian lassy thinks I should have, Mystery Ranch packs do their utmost to meet my needs and Western Mountaineering, Integral Designs and Valandre sleeping bags have to be used to believe the difference between them and even the relatively OK bags like Sierra Designs, Mountain Hardwear and so forth. You DO get what you pay for, but, I do agree that using inexpensive gear, IF TESTED, to YOUR NEEDS is a good idea. I have a LOT of fine gear, am not wealthy and have no problem with being frugal.....my wife thinks that I should be, as well!

5:00 p.m. on March 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Kutenay, I think we are on the same page...perhaps I do not explain my point(s) clear enough.

I fully agree...personally I don't care what brand gear people choose to use. I simply use what is tried and proved with my high standards in mind.

If you have some links for the gear you use, please by all means do post them. I will take a look.

In any case, go out and enjoy the Great Outdoors! There is nothing quite like spending quality time in the Forest or one's favorite Park.

10:06 p.m. on March 30, 2008 (EDT)
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You might try something in Mammut Ajungilak.

They manufacture excellent bags for the price.

1:40 p.m. on May 5, 2008 (EDT)
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We use Marmot, A16 and Mountain Hardwear down bags, some are GoreTex and others microfiber covered, and all are fine bags and worth every penny, certainly more cost-effective than synthetic bags. Keep in mind that bear meat is very greasy and you have to be patient, keeping a low boil and skimming off the fat as it rises to the top of the kettle. :-)

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