down fill power in sleeping bags - worth the $$?

8:26 a.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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had occasion recently to sleep in my 3 season down bag.  marmot sawtooth, 600 fill power down.  weighs a little under 3 pounds.  a very good, very happy sleep.  the bag stuffs into a reasonably small sack and is good to 15 or 20 degrees.  i have had it a while, cost me about $150.  

marmot's high-end 15 degree bag, the plasma, weighs one pound less.  it's good to about the same temperature range.  875 fill power down, ultralight nylon.  it costs 3-4 times as much as the sawtooth (based on a quick look at campmor and REI's websites, anyway).  stuffs into a smaller sack, no doubt.  a fine piece of gear.   

ps - not knocking the brand, but if i were ever inclined to throw north of $500 at a spring/fall sleeping bag with 850 flll power down, it would probably be from feathered friends, western mountaineering, or valandre.  beside the point, because those are also quite expensive.

throwing out the question: is it worth 3x the cost to save one pound and a little space? 

10:34 a.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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That question, in all its forms, is really dependent on how much money you have to spend. If money is plentiful the decision is easy, but for those of us who have to be reasonable in our budgeting, its a lot harder.

For me, the numbers you're talking about don't make sense. Shelling out $500 to save a pound with no other real additional benefit isn't worth it, but I carry heavy loads so a pound isn't going to break my back. For someone with the same economic concerns I have, but an aspiring ultra lighter, dumping a pound might be worth cutting back on food and heat for a few months :)

Since you are looking at your sleep system...have you tried or considered trying using a quilt instead of a bag, at least for three season purposes? The expensive down you do buy stays on top where its useful rather than being crushed under you and doing little. That added utility combined with packing a bit lighter/smaller might be enough to make economic sense even to me. In fact I just priced a 10°F EE Revelation, long/wide with 850 fill at $335 and at only 25oz it would be a nice compromise between what you have and the FF bag of your dreams.

11:16 a.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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I can't help contribute at least part of this question to Marketing and the need by some to have the best, whether perceived or real. Why for instance are there so many brands of toothpaste all professing to be better than the others? Omnia vanitas. I don't consider it worth it to pay an extra few hundred dollars on a sleeping bag just to save a few ounces. I too am accustomed to carrying heavy loads and am not going to keel over just because of a few additional pounds. After all, over time my pack weight will decrease with the consumption of food and fuel giving me something to look forward to. I am also reluctant to believe the claims manufacturers make about fill power. Is there an independent lab that tests these claims? I don't know. But for me the advantage to the consumer in ounces is negated by the inflated cost.

As a kid, I used to camp out with a piece of canvas tarp and a wool blanket. Hardly light weight, state-of-the-art stuff. But I had fun, and after all isn't that what it's all about?

3:20 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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We started with kapok sleeping bags. Chopped chicken feathers were a big improvement that we could get from Army surplus Korean War bags.

I bought  down bags from REI that are mostly duck down in about 1969. They are still serviceable.  I bought a Marmot down bag that is probably in the 600-650 range for fill power and it is the best bag I have ever had.  I saee no need to spend $500 to save a few ounces. Bag construction is very important however, and they need good baffles for cold temperatures.

4:54 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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i'm perfectly happy with the bag i have - i'm not counting ounces.  just intrigued by the disparity in price vs. the relatively small gain in utility.  

4:56 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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is it worth 3x the cost to save one pound and a little space? 

Put it this way, most things we buy we don't really need but we buy them because we can or the CR card allows us to.

Now just as you can buy a bike from KMart for $100 or less, why are there so many shops selling Tour De France capable bikes ?

Are they really 30-100x better ?

Looking at the above maybe spending $500 to save a pound and some space may not be all that bad and that is why those bags do sell.

BTW, less space can mean smaller pack so possibly losing some weight there too.

(I don't own a top of the range Marmot bag and and don't pay interest on my Cr card...)

7:26 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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It depends on the brand and length of trip...It's easy to say I can handle an extra pound when your not carrying it more than 100 miles in a week..It's another when your doing it for months...

8:40 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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I think at BPL there used to be a lot of " dollars per ounce saved" threads.

Certainly it was discussed at length at White Blaze and there were some very interesting opinions there.

Yes, no, maybe all applied to the same item, just different ways of looking at it. (and different disposable incomes I suppose)

10:05 p.m. on March 16, 2016 (EDT)
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leadbelly2550 said:

i'm not counting ounces.  just intrigued by the disparity in price vs. the relatively small gain in utility.  

Some people would call shaving a pound a huge gain in utility.

But I would never pay $500 for the opportunity when there are alternatives to gain the same utility for much less. The REI Igneo is under 2 lbs, rated 19F, and costs about $300 before using the 20% discount they have going now, which brings it to about half of that $500 price tag for the same weight savings (though I'm sure it doesn't pack as small).

Having said that, even at $500 that bag could be justified if you have the disposable income and you look at it as an investment that you can milk for value over many years.

7:06 a.m. on March 17, 2016 (EDT)
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Franco said:

I think at BPL there used to be a lot of " dollars per ounce saved" threads.

Certainly it was discussed at length at White Blaze and there were some very interesting opinions there.

Yes, no, maybe all applied to the same item, just different ways of looking at it. (and different disposable incomes I suppose)

 True I forgot about those threads since I tend to only look things up...But it still comes out to what are you willing to sacrifice..

6:28 p.m. on March 17, 2016 (EDT)
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Yesterday I saw a comment from someone that has used $10 tarps for years.

Not uncommon now for people to buy a single or 2 person tent for $500 and even $800 or more.

Is that $500 tent worth 50 times the $10 tarp ?

9:38 p.m. on March 17, 2016 (EDT)
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If you areon the West Buttress of Denali, that 500 dollar tent will be definitely worth it.  It all depends on your t.rip and environment.

It seems that these days there is a continuum from cheap and shoddy to value to way over priced.

9:52 p.m. on March 17, 2016 (EDT)
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There is plenty of durable equipment out there that is not expensive. If you are using stuff all the time it is going to wear out or not perform as well as when it was new.  If I was using a down bag every night for 8 months a year I still would not spend $500. I would rather have two $250 bags.

10:16 p.m. on March 17, 2016 (EDT)
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I go through this mental gyration every year, especially when I pack for winter trips where I could save several pounds if I spent about $700 on a bag.  Just can't myself to do it.  There is nothing wrong with the gear I have, it is just heavy by modern standards.  If I were to go on a longer, more difficult trip I probably would shell out the cash as I would need to get my weight down.

11:13 a.m. on March 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Alan's comment reminds me - my winter bag, good to 30-40 below, was about the same price on sale as the plasma's retail price.  mountain hardwear ghost.  weighs about 5 pounds, pretty good for a winter bag.  worth every penny. 

1:31 p.m. on March 18, 2016 (EDT)
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My advice: Buy the cheaper bag, wear the down jacket to bed that you probably brought along anyway and skip lunch three times a week to lose three extra pounds and you're lighter and have more money for gas to get to the trail-head. 

3:05 p.m. on March 18, 2016 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

My advice: Buy the cheaper bag, wear the down jacket to bed that you probably brought along anyway and skip lunch three times a week to lose three extra pounds and you're lighter and have more money for gas to get to the trail-head. 

 LOL I am light enough to run through the rain drops....:)

10:16 p.m. on March 19, 2016 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

My advice: Buy the cheaper bag, wear the down jacket to bed that you probably brought along anyway and skip lunch three times a week to lose three extra pounds and you're lighter and have more money for gas to get to the trail-head. 

I give an opposite advice. Gain a few extra pounds prior to your trip. You would feel much warmer in the same sleeping bag. :)

11:13 a.m. on March 20, 2016 (EDT)
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It is quality, not price that ultimately matters.  Way back (1962), I forked out $100 for a 3 lb Gerry sleeping bag, an astronomical sum for me in those days.  I had been using an army surplus down and feathers bag that was a couple of pounds heavier, but still quite warm.

I used that bag for the next seventeen years in all kinds of situations, until it was stolen.  Best bag I ever had, and worth every penny. it didn't come with a temperature rating, but I used it in sub zero conditions several times.

This doesn't mean that everything that is expensive is a good value, but simply that one must look at the overall product, consider its intended use, and then decide.

5:32 p.m. on March 20, 2016 (EDT)
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"Way back (1962), I forked out $100 for a 3 lb Gerry sleeping bag'

A refreshing comment compared to the ones I often see , like "I only paid..." forgetting inflation.

$100 then is about $800 now...

8:17 p.m. on March 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Enjoying this discussion...this was a very difficult decision for me but I ended up spending almost $400 for a bag a couple of years ago, against my better judgement but have had no regrets. I bought for four reasons: 

1. Sold off a bunch of old gear over a six month process and was sitting on a pile of cash dedicated to backpacking.

2. Decided losing almost 2 lbs off my 3 season kit was worth the cash. Had recurrences of knee and back injuries over the last couple of years (sitting on a heating pad on meds now just from picking up my boots today - not sure what happened) so thought it was worth the money compared to physical therapy.

3. The reduced volume of my new bag also allowed me to downsize my pack for the majority of my trips, so led to an overall savings of 4 lbs. I can really feel the difference.

4. Using TS reviews and detailed analysis of specs vs price (a really nerdy spreadsheet approach) I figured I was spending about 100 more at most than the next best choice for me.

I don't usually spend this kind of money and still have a lot of equipment from the last three decades that I will gradually replace as they break or wear out. Any purchase for this hobby I try to rationalize, and consider the additional advantages beyond the weight. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here...a very personal decision. However, I think my decision would have been different with the price differential you are talking about.

9:41 p.m. on March 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Andrew- it is if you want it. Since it is obviously not a need. And I suspect just about all on here are probably in good enough shape to handle most anything in the needs department It really comes down to justifing it to yourself. Let me help you.

1 how happy are you going to be if you dont get it

2 Its your money will it put you in the poorhouse if you do waste a buck or two on yourself

3 treat yourself good, no one else will

4 no one wants to feel like they are the poor country cousin, make the Jones keep up with you

5 I really like what (hikemor) said its about quality. If you believe it is better quality you owe it to yourself to get it.

6 your friend (all of us) think your worth it

7 sometimes you just gotta say what the hey

looking forward to seeing what you deside. 

11:03 p.m. on March 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Phil I like what you said and agree alot with that reasoning...I came to TS was to update and learn new things..Friends who were backpackers told me where to look and I did I own 2 WM bags and both I didn't pay retail at all. One I paid 100 dollars for...

John I never looked at it that way..

12:06 a.m. on March 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I think it is worth the money if you are looking to go lighter. First off, don't pay retail, you can snag great light bags when they go on sale. So you can probably get that ultralight bag for say $200 more than a good "regular" weight one. That will save you a significant amount of weight right off the bat. 

To gain that kind of weight savings from other items, you will ultimately end up spending a lot more money for incremental gains.

Tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad can cut a lot of weight, and space for the least amount of money/oz. 

My two main sleeping bags are light, but not ultralight and for the moment I have no desire to upgrade them, but if I had some extra money kicking around, that would be my next big buy. 

8:55 a.m. on March 21, 2016 (EDT)
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Can't argue with that, John.  No new bag for me, though.  

12:04 p.m. on March 21, 2016 (EDT)
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Andrew were you just doing a ounce verse cost analysis to see of you needed a new bag? I haven't seen a thread like this before here...

8:43 p.m. on March 21, 2016 (EDT)
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leadbelly2550 said:

Can't argue with that, John.  No new bag for me, though.  

 Well if it was an argument you wanted I've got plenty why didn't you say soooo. I was trying to help you slip it by the wife. JUST KIDDING. sometimes it is better to wait, as something new and better comes along every day.  

9:52 a.m. on March 22, 2016 (EDT)
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no analysis intended, and i'm not shopping for a new sleeping bag.  i have one bag that is use most of the year, and a winter bag for new england in the winter. i was reading one of those 'gear of the year' lists and ruminating about a marmot bag that's about as warm as what i'm using, just retailing for a whole lot more.  

6:53 p.m. on March 22, 2016 (EDT)
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BTW, I bought one of my WM bags "second hand" (at almost half price) but was in fact new.

The guy that sold it to me used bonus points to buy something that could easily be sold.

So keep an eye out for "used" deals .

9:50 p.m. on March 22, 2016 (EDT)
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Ahhh Outside and Backpacker always try and sell you on the gear that they think you need..Gotcha...

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