thinking of making the switch to a down sleeping bag. Couple of questions

8:18 a.m. on October 8, 2004 (EDT)
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1,261 forum posts

I'm thinking of getting a 20 degree down bag to drop some pack weight. This will be my most used sleeping bag for temps of 40 degree and above (I also have a Marmot Merlin 0 degree 3D polarguard bag for colder temps).


1. Sometimes I sweat when sleeping. Not sure what causes this - whether it's biological or a result of equipment, but I often wake up completely soaked. It seems as if the colder it is, the more I sweat. I sleep in polypropolene when the temps are below 40.

Am I inviting an unpleasant nocturnal experience by going with down because of the occasional sweating? Naturally, it's not an isssue with the synthetic bag. The syhthetic will keep me warm when wet.

2. Insulation. Is there much difference between a 20 degree bag filled with 600+ fill power goose down and a 20 degree bag filled with 550 high loft goose down?

bags are only $10 difference in price (550 = $120, 600 = $130) and only 2 oz difference in total carrying weight 600 being the heavier).

My present synthetic 20 degree bag is about eight years old and a pound heavier. I'm thinking it may be time to replace the 'ole geezer (the bag, not OGBO).

The bags I am thinking of (and can be found at Campmor):

Slumberjack Baffin 20 (item no. 68541)
Campmor goose down 20 (item no. 40066)

Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions.

7:27 p.m. on October 8, 2004 (EDT)

the best bag i have used is the slumberjack big timber filled with 606 hollofill it works well below its rating. we have used them for 3 years now at the top of the mountain we camp and hunt on with temps at 0 degrees or below with the wind blowing no need to sleep with polypropaline on the hollofil is lighter then down and works just as good and it can be found at bass proshops for about 100.00 or they sell their brand thats almost the same as the big timber for about 80.00

8:44 p.m. on October 8, 2004 (EDT)
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Replacing the old geezer!!! I'm insulted!!!

Eddie boy -

An 8-yr old synth bag, as much as you go camping, is likely to be getting long in the tooth, so thinking of replacing it is a good idea. In the last 8 years, there have been a lot of advances in synth, too. For example, I just got an Integral Designs Renaissance 20F Primaloft bag that weighs 2p14 in its stuff sack, which is almost a pound lighter than my Marmot 15F bag (12 yrs old, subjected to a lot of hard usage. The weight reduction is due to use of a microfiber outer shell and the more efficient insulating of the current version of Primaloft.

As for your sweating in the bag, for some reason, a lot of people seem to have more problem sweating in synth bags than in down. I am just guessing on the temperature effect, but it might be due to the older synth materials not wicking as well as down and the newer synth. Some of the materials tended to gather some condensation from sweat, which might block the breathability. Primaloft, LiteLoft, and the newest versions of Polargard are much better at "breathing". Hollofill has improved, but not as much as Polargard. Primaloft is the most like down of the synthetics. I have a jacket with Primaloft, and find it works very well.

As for the down, why is the 600 fill bag heavier? It should be lighter by about 9 percent, especially if it is "600+". These days, 550 or 600 fill is pretty low grade down. I know you know, Ed, but some readers of this forum might not know that the fill rating is measured as the volume filled by 1 ounce of the down in a specific standard cylinder with a lid of a specific weight. Since 600 is about 1.09x 550, the 600 fill bag should either have 9 percent more loft (hence warmer) or you can use 9 percent less of the down. Yeah, the outer and inner shells and zippers add weight, but if the construction is comparable, the 600 should be lighter and compress smaller. I don't have a Campmor catalog handy to look at the specific bags. Not knowing the details, I would tend to choose the Campmor over the Slumberjack because of my observations of the quality of the two in other gear. But in a sleeping bag, frankly I would choose neither.

You put enough use on a bag to spend the extra to get a top quality bag. If you are really wanting down, I would go for Feathered Friends, Integral Designs, Western, or Marmot, or maybe Mountain Hardwear or Sierra Designs, or even TNF. These all produce bags with microfiber outer shells (my FF is Pertex, as is my new ID synth), and all use at least 700 fill down, some offering 800 or 850. Down is indeed much lighter, and it breathes well, so you shouldn't have the sweat problem (do you open the hood and zippers to regulate the temperature?).

Just to review synth vs down - even though Primaloft and Liteloft are getting close to down in insulating quality and compressibility, synth is somewhat heavier for the same temperature rating from a given company (can't really compare between companies, since they all use different methods). Primaloft is getting closer to down in durability, but still isn't there (my oldest down bag still in use is 45 years old, the longest I have used a synth is the Marmot at 12 years, but it has been 4 or 5 years since it has been a real 15F bag). Although I use my bags a lot (probably 20-30 nights a year in both the FF and the Marmot), I do take care of them by washing with the sleeping bag detergents every 10 nights or so of use (ok, ok, I went something like 25 nights on the Denali climbs between washings of the Feathered Friends bag, but at least I didn't get in with crampons on, like some people). I would say that a quality bag from one of the manufacturers I listed should easily go 20 years for a down bag or 5-8 years for a Primaloft, Liteloft, or newest version of Polargard (the only Hollofill bag I had lasted only 3 years before most of the loft was gone).

Anyhow, the short version is - if you want down, given your amount of camping, forget Slumberjack and Campmor, get a top quality bag. It will be far more satisfactory and cheaper in the long run. I also think you could get a synthetic bag from one of the manufacturers I named and would find it far more satisfactory than the Slumberjack, Campmor, or any of the other mass market down or synthetic bags (FF doesn't make synth bags).

-- The Old Greybearded One

9:20 a.m. on October 11, 2004 (EDT)
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1,142 forum posts

I just ordered this bag on Friday and am anxious to try it out.

This is obviously not rated to 20, but it might work for you, especially if you are a warm sleeper as I am. My guess is I can use this down to freezing if I'm in a tent.

Another bag to look at from Campmor is this one

The Kelty also comes in a 25 degree model. The 45 degree Kelty was my runner up to the Marmot.

It wasn't that long ago that 600 fill down was exotic and 550 was the norm. Now they are both old hat. The good news is that down bags keep getting lighter, and relatively speaking, cheaper.

My switch to a down bag is simply to get my pack weight down. My trusty, old REI synthetic bag had 5 pounds of polarguard fill. It weighs a ton and fills a HUGE stuffsack. Summer or winter, I've never had a cold night in the bag. Now it's just gotten too heavy, or maybe I've just gotten too old to carry it.

5:58 a.m. on October 14, 2004 (EDT)
28 reviewer rep
1,261 forum posts
any suggestions for a bag costing $200 or less?

I have to many other expensive hobbies to justify spending more than $200.

One of my hobbies caused me to buy a new boat and new house.

4:24 p.m. on October 17, 2004 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
60 forum posts
Just did the same thing last year- TNF Blue Kazoo works well for me

Campmor is selling these for $149 right now- w/ the pertex shell-
Word of caution- I'm 5'10", 190 lbs, and if I was much wider or taller this bag would be too small- definitely on the small side, but it fits me perfect- the long version is also on sale for $159.
I LOVE the built in pillow pocket (how did I ever sleep w/o one?)that you can stuff w/ clothes and it stays put all night- no more waking up w/ your head on a rock.
The 20 deg rating is about right, though I usually have it only half zipped even in the 30s (my feet get hot).
One of the best down bags I've seen for under $150.

10:16 p.m. on October 25, 2004 (EDT)

Re: any suggestions for a bag costing $200 or less?

The Marmot Sawtooth will probably be your best bet. It's versatile and very durable to almost any environment. I have had a Sawtooth for about 4 yrs and other bags have joined the collection due to extreme need (-15 degree temps) but for 15 to 20 degree bag the Sawtooth will keep you warm to 0 degree temps and comfort you to 40 and 50 degree cool nights. and the biggest plus is it retails for about $150. Always buy down bags new and from a respected dealer that knows what they are talking about!!

Vote the Environment!! Good Luck

June 23, 2018
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