Dec 23, 2012 at 4:49 am #1297297
I plan to go on backpacking 1 or 2 nights in -4 ~ 14 F in mountains where it gets pretty choppy.
I don't think I will be hiking in the snow or through water.
Could anyone tell me what I need to add or whether this works in terms of protection?
I have never hiked below 30F weather,and I am not sure about top and bottom layering.
Columbia Fleece hat.
Fleece Neck gaiter (which i can pull up to cover the lower face).
REI lightweight base layer long sleeve shirts.
Sleeveless synthetic shirt.
Northface 1/4 Microfleece
The North Face Redpoint Insulated Jacket (synthetic, not down)
The North Face: Men's Varius Guide Jacket
Underarmour compression shorts.
Northface convertible pants.
REI lightweight base layer.
Oboz Yellowstone 2
Synthetic socks. (Considering lightweight wool)
Northface Apex gloves.
Considering getting lightweight wool gloves when walking.
North Face cat's meow (25F) + Liner (+15)
3-sease tent (Double walled)Dec 23, 2012 at 5:03 am #1937588
For hiking and being on the move, I think you will be fine.
But the min you stay still and hit camp, and when it's time to sleep…I honestly think you are going to suffer if it gets to your predicted 4 degrees.
Here are the things I noted:
You don't have any leg insulation
Your bag is not warm enough, and a liner (I'm assuming you're talking about a silk liner or similar) realistically adds about 3-5 degrees, not the 15degrees advertising would have you believe.
I would chatter the teeth out of my skull if I had to stand around camp in only a red point primaloft jacket as my own form of insulation.
For comparison, I've slept in 7 degree weather wearing ALL these layers, and still woke up cold at times:
Top: Wool t-shirt, Patagonia R1 powerdry hoodie, Marmot essence rain jacket, First Ascent Peak XV (13oz of down)
Bottoms: wool leggings, unlined soft shell pants, down pants (3.5oz of down), down booties
Sleeping Bag: EN rated 15 degree Sierra design nitro 15
Tent: Single Wall Black Diamond Firstlight (single wall is warmer than double wall)
Do you have softshells? I would consider dropping your hardshells and replacing with softshells…it's too cold for rain in those temps. Consider getting mittens, even simple fleece mittens will give a lot of warmth. You're probably going to want a warmer hat. Def go with the wool socks.
You can also cheat a bit, and toss some nalgene bottles filled with boiling water into the bottom of your sleeping bag at night…should be good for a 3-4 hour boost in warmth.
What kind of sleeping mat are your using?
Personally, I can't tell too much of a difference when the weather is between 20 and 30 degrees, but the min it gets around 15 and under, I personally find it a pretty big perceivable leap. It's pretty crazy experience when your eyelashes start to freeze shut. I don't know how people in the midwest live with all that below 0 madness.Dec 23, 2012 at 6:32 am #1937610
Thanks for the information. I am quite apprehensive about the trip..
I am going to use Thermolite Reactor Extreme Liner, which supposedly add about +25F
For sleeping mat, I am using the army sleeping mat, which I think is like standard foam pad.
Leg insulation is going to be a problem…Can fleece pants and/or polyester (climacool) pants work instead of down pants?
It looks like I need to bring a mid weight base layer for the bottom.
For the top, I will throw in a mid weight fleece, which I can wear on top of the micro fleece and underneath the red point and various guide jacket.Dec 23, 2012 at 7:01 am #1937616
Fleece pants will work well. They aren't as efficient in terms of warmth to weight, but it's better than nothing. I'm a bit worried about your mat. In winter, most people need an r-value between 4 to 6. I've used an old army surplus mat before, and although not all are made equal, I can almost guarantee that it not sufficient by itself. Consider renting a pad from REI, or going to walmart and buying a $6 blue foam pad (maybe 2) and layering everything together.
About the sleeping bag liner. I have my doubts, and others seem to say that that particular model also does not add much warmth. You may want to read this thread: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=70946
I'm sure the trip will be awesome and you don't want to miss it. But I would encourage you to rent gear that you need. REI even rents 0 degree bags.Dec 23, 2012 at 8:43 am #1937642
@mammomanLocale: NE AL
That mat/sleeping bag/liner phppttt combo is dangerous if it gets down below 5 degrees, and will be uncomfortable probably at or below 20 degrees. Get an R5 mat, a 0 -10 degree down sleeping bag and ditch the liner. Also, you need some puffy lightweight insulation for upper AND lower body. Montbell Thermawrap pants and parka as an example, possibly adding a down jacket as well. To supplement, not replace, any fleece.Dec 23, 2012 at 9:51 am #1937667
Konrad is 100% right. I own the 25º Reactor Extreme; it's useless. Might as well read 5º, barely adds any warmth. Ignore the warmth rating.
Ideally, you would replace a lot of that gear. Since you're leaving soon, I'll assume you can't and I'll give you the cheap solutions:
As for sleeping bags, take the lowest temperature you expect and get a bag that is a few degrees lower, if you can. If you can't, two sleeping bags is almost just as good. if you supplement your 25º bag with another cheapo summer sleeping bag, you'll be much better off. Wear the higher rated one inside the lower rated one for best warmth.
For your sleeping pad, bring a $1.00 Mylar emergency blanket and put it underneath the pad, or on top of the pad and underneath your sleeping bag. The reflective surface will increase your warmth and it costs nothing to do.
For your body, rain pants and a raincoat will create more airspace if you wear them over your baselayer inside your sleeping bag. I wear rain pants all winter.
Heating a Nalgene bottle full of water and placing it in the foot of your sleeping bag will keep you much warmer.
Bring heavyweight Merino Wool socks, not lightweight- you'll thank me.
I guide winter camping trips for novices at my college, and following these cheap steps has never let one of my mates down.Dec 23, 2012 at 10:13 am #1937673
What I have figured out myself is that if your sleeping bag is overrated by 10*F its still fine. On my first winter camping trip, I took my 30* bag since the predicted lows were around 25-27F, I slept in Cap1 silk weight, Cap 3 for upper body and REI power stretch pants for the lower. I was warm and toasty and cozy for 5-6 hours after getting inside the bag,and I believe that was because of the hot and spicy chilli I had eaten for the dinner but sometime at around 11PM I had come outside my tent to clear the snow and pee and I didn't reaally warm up very well after that, my legs were cold and I had to wear my soft shell hiking pants to stay warm.
Lesson learnt, and I've ordered a 0Deg bag for my next trip.Dec 23, 2012 at 10:54 am #1937682
Would you recommend using a fleece blanket inside the sleeping bag? My bag is rated at 25F and I am hoping a fleece blanket would add 10~15…
For now, I am most worried about pad from my past experience where the cold coming up from the ground was unbearable…
This is going to be A LOT of gear…I might have to resort to using the camp ground and just do several day hikes…Dec 23, 2012 at 11:01 am #1937684
You can get a sleeping pad from Wal-Mart for not too much money, and one good sleeping pad or two bad sleeping pads will be enough to keep warm. Use the reflective space blanket underneath you. The fleece blanket is probably a good idea.
25º Sleeping Bag
1 Thermolite Reactor Bivy
1 Fleece Blanket
2 Sleeping pads
not too much gear.
Where are you camping? The temperatures you listed are pretty extreme. -14ºF is VERY cold, and that gear there is not enough for it. -14ºC is not as cold, and that gear will be just fine.
Also, in just about every area I can think of where the temperature is -14, there IS snow on the ground already, and there'll be more later in the season. If I were you I would expect to be hiking in snow.
If you're going into -14ºF, you need to follow the advice of some posters here and spend money on a down jacket and pants, or buy a second sleeping bag.Dec 23, 2012 at 11:18 am #1937689
I am planing to backpack some mountains in S.Korea. Temperature ranges from -22C to -5C. This is the temperature on the mountain top..
Is there a big difference between synthetic vs down insulator? I have a down liner, which I can bring along.Dec 23, 2012 at 11:29 am #1937696
With the equipment you listed above, if it gets to -22C (-7F) where you are sleeping, you are going to be in trouble. I won't make any conclusions, but you have very little margin of error right now.
Synthetic will retain some warmth when wet but is heavy/bulky.
Down is warmer for the weight, very light and easily packable, but useless when fully wet (your body sweat and vapor will make the down collapse a bit every night).
What is your down liner?Dec 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #1937698
Jun, your questions lead me to believe you don't have much experience, so I will try and give you as much good information as I can.
Sleeping bag ratings are based on one thing: Survival. Comfort is very different. At 20ºF in a 20ºF bag, with no clothes on, you will be very cold and you may not be able to sleep. However, you will be alive- you will not get hypothermia unless your bag gets wet or there's a really high wind.
Your 25º bag is inadequate for -14ºF temperatures. You will have to buy a second sleeping bag around 20º to be comfortable (and alive) in that temperature. You will need to use both bags at once, one inside another. That is going to make your pack heavy, but carrying light weight in -14ºF temperatures means spending a LOT of money on very good materials. A Sleeping bag made for those conditions that weighs little will be over $400.
Down and Synthetic are different, but the warmth is relative to how much there is. Synthetic is warmer than down when it is wet, but it usually weighs a little bit more. The difference is slight. The only way to tell if your down liner will be enough is to know how thick it is. Look for a weight on the tag, or a fill count (my down jacket is 650 Fill, most sleeping bags are 800-900 fill).
If you use a good down liner, your 25º bag, a fleece blanket, two pads, and a liner, you will most likely live. I would try to read some articles on winter camping so you know what to expect. This trip may not be easy to do with your current gear, but it is likely possible.
If you can spend some money, you can get winter gear that weighs little and will keep you warm> But, you have to spend the money… Do not go into -14ºF temperatures without a heavily insulated jacket and pants, plus waterproof boots, thick gloves, a thick hat, and many layers of clothing.
DO NOT risk your life. Keep asking questions!Dec 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm #1937735
Is the minus 4 the coldest you expect it to be at night?
If so, as others say you need to seriously augment your cats meow with a summer bag or over quilt.
I use two summer pads for snow camping, one closed cell foam and a Thermarest. If you are not sleeping on snow you still might appreciate the extra insulation between you and the ground.
Adding an extra nalgene or three as hot water bottles can help immensely. One one three night trip I discovered that the zero degree rating on my rented bag was seriously optimistic. It was too late to build a snow cave but three hot water bottles did the trick.
Use the Boil the water, make sure the seal is tight, and insert the bottle in a wool sock. The wide mouth Nalgenes work best.Dec 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm #1937754
You will be too cold, possibly dangerously cold. Read up on hypothermia.
Sleeping: add another sleeping bag roomy enough to go over your present bag. Add another pad (i.e., 2 pads), it can be 2/3 (torso) length. Use your backpack underneath your feet or head. If you're counting on wearing clothes inside your sleeping bag, make sure it all fits without compressing the insulation or restricting circulation.
Head: for -22C, take at least two hats or a hat + balaclava (things get wet in the snow). If it's a very windy place, bring extra hats.
Hands: Your gloves look from the ads like they are good liner gloves, but inadequate for -22C. Bring at least two pairs of wool or fleece mittens and if you can waterproof breathable overmitts.
Top: That NF jacket looks to be about the same insulation as my Patagonia nanopuff pullover. I was getting cold standing around at 0C; maybe when I was young it would have been good to 20F when I was young. Add several medium weight fleece jackets sized to fit over each other. If you're in the US now, you can get these very cheap at Walmart, etc., or thrift shops.
Bottom: Thick fleece pants would work fine if they fit under your shell pants.
Wet: This is all assuming it's really that cold. If it sometimes gets warmer, that makes it harder not easier. At -22C, the snow is very dry. Warmer and you have to worry about getting wet. Carry clothes that will be dry at all times.Dec 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm #1937800
I'd guess that you'd need to be wearing at least two pairs of thick wool socks for those temps. You probably need larger boots if those are your summer boots, as wearing more socks will make the fit too tight and restrict blood circulation, making your feet colder. Read up on using vapor barriers in your footwear system. You can probably get by (I did) with using durable plastic bags, such as these:Dec 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm #1937841
@skomaeLocale: northeastern US
For hiking, your clothes sound adequate. Your body will be able to generate enough heat. However, you will not be happy if you have to stop at all.
Carry multiple pairs of socks and gloves. They don't all have to be high quality, or even super thick, but covering skin at these temps is vital. Be able to cover every inch of skin: consider ski goggles and a true balaclava as highly recommended.
Finally, your sleeping system is so unsafe you shouldn't even go out without making a major overhaul to this system. You would be in serious danger of becoming a human popsicle. Like others have said, your sleeping pad is inadequate and you can never count on liners to add any real warmth. You need to either layer a larger, similarly rated sleeping bag over your Cat's Meow. If I were expecting -14F I would plunk down for a -20F bag. That would at least buy you some margin of error and a good night's sleep. As it stands, your sleep and clothing system combined just might keep you alive at 0F. Alive, but incredibly miserable.Dec 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm #1937849
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
The North Face Cat's Meow is not a conservatively rated bag, it falls under the same marketing hype of labeling stuff lower than it really is. Those liners DO NOT add 15-25 degrees of warm, it's a lie. What you are suggesting is crazy man.
I have pushed a 35-40 degree bag down to 13 degrees but that was only possible with a stack of dry firewood (cold, but no snow), a shelter set up with a mylar blanket as a fire reflector, and carrying a lot of weight in clothes.
Yes, it's a lot of gear. Winter camping takes more gear, more insulation weight. If you don't want to carry that much weight, invest in a high quality down sleeping bag. Or get a bigger pack and carry massive amounts of clothing. Also, stack up some firewood and kindling before bed… just in case.Dec 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm #1937852
I would say you are not ready to do this in the temperatures you expect to encounter.
-4F is not 3 season backpacking.
You do not have the gear or the know-how for the min. expected low.Dec 24, 2012 at 6:15 am #1937878
Thanks for all the information, I am going to look into warmer gloves, socks, and hats.
It looks like the priority is to secure warmer sleeping bag. How would 0F bag work (Marmot Never Summer)?
Just to clarify, my 20F bag in 15F would not be comfortable, but OK to use if I am bundled up from top to bottom?
For the top, my down liner jacket is about 550 fill, which I can layer with the NF redpoint and the NF various guide jacket (hardshell with light insulation).
I think -5F is about the worst. On average, it gets as low as 5F.Dec 24, 2012 at 10:59 am #1937958
Yes get a warmer bag. I hesitate to recommend a purchase because a lot of people quickly decide that winter camping is not fun.
A zero degree bag might still require you to wear clothes at while inside the bag night depending on circumstances: wind and wind chill, relative humidity, number of occupants in the tent, whether you are sleeping on snow or barren ground, etc.
Marmot does use the EU EN system of testing which as one poster observed above, zero degrees mean that you will not get hypothermia in the bag.
I own an older TNF Cat's Meow and have found its 20 degree rating a bit optimistic. I have found the ratings on the Marmot down bags to be accurate.
One way to test your sleeping system to to watch the local weather forecast and try your backyard on the coldest night. Where I live an average winter night in the Sierra Nevada can range from 15 to 25 degree F while every now and then the San Francisco Bay Area can drop to under 40 at night If your are sleeping cold in your back yard at 39 degrees then you know the system will not work up in the mountains.Dec 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm #1938049
@redpointLocale: British Columbia
If you live in an area with a big outdoor store – try renting a winter bag. Before I could afford the proper winter gear, I used to rent a winter sleeping bag. I assume this is your first real winter trip, so before you invest, try renting a sleeping bag. A proper winter bag is one of the most expensive items you'll need for winter camping. Even a lightweight sleeping bag can be perfectly fine if you wear a bit of extra clothes. That said, I would try renting – that will give you peace-of-mind. You'll need to find a decent pad, but even a dirty 'ol used Therm-a-rest will be fine – that's what I used for many, many years.
Fleece pants will be fine, but make sure you have a windproof layer over top.
Often times people shoot-down beginners for their "lack of gear" etc. Back in the mid 1990s [when I was getting into winter backpacking and climbing in a big way], I couldn't afford anything. I didn't have base layers . I didn't have synthetic underwear – I wore a speedo. I used a Therm-a-rest. I wore PU coated rain pants. I layered everything I had b/c I didn't have a belay parka. My pack would be heavier and I wasn't always comfortable, but I was able to get out there and I was camping in temps as low as -30C. I'm not condoning under-preparedness, and I'm not any tougher than anyone else, but if it comes down to stay or go, I say go and make what you have work.
IF this is your first winter trip and you're questioning your gear set-up + experience, insure that the trip is occurring in a reasonable location and not too ambitious i.e. you can bail easily if you're really uncomfortable.Dec 25, 2012 at 11:23 am #1938144
+1 to everything Mike said
Rent a winter bag
You can borrow or improvise other items. For example, wear a wool sweater with your REI puffy rather than go out and buy some new Belay Jacket
Also have a back up and or self rescue plan, especially if you are camping by yourself.Dec 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm #1938184
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Only a heavy fleece liner will give you the warmth you need so just forget the liner and take insulated pants and jacket for both camp and sleeping uses. Consider them safety items for use during the day if it STAYS under 10 F. all day.
Be sure your fleece hat ties under the chin so it stays on all night AND wear your neck gaiter at night, over your nose if it's really cold. Be sure it is not to tight to do that comfortably.
I recommend light polypropelene sock liners under light neoprene,seam-sealed diver's sox to keep your boots dry (IF they are Gore-Tex lined).
That way you won't have "sweat wet" boots in the morning. Put yer boots in an inside-out stuff sack and then in the foot of yer sleeping bag overnight. Cold boots in the morning are miserably painful and dangerous.
You will need to turn the diver's sox inside out to dry them in yer bag and have spare liner sox for each day.Dec 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm #1938196
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
I have a Never Summer – it is comfortable to the EN rating, not the 0 degree on the tag. That is to say, at 5F you will likely feel a bit cold. But it would be better than a 20F bag.
There are good articles here at Backpacking Light about winter backpacking. I also suggest that you read up on hypothermia and frostbite, and trench foot. http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/hypocold.shtml is a good general article on this.
If you are spending all your energy at night trying to be warm, and not sleeping, exhaustion becomes a problem the following day. I concur with renting a good winter bag and focusing on layering to stay warm and dry. Have dry clothing dedicated to sleeping; no bag will be warm enough if the clothes you're wearing are damp, and that includes the socks. Calorie intake needs to increase in the cold because your body has to work a lot harder to stay active as well as warm. You'll also need to work on drinking enough water – it becomes difficult for many people in the cold because you tend to not get as thirsty but it is vitally important to stay hydrated. Food and water contribute to staying warm at night. It makes a huge difference – I know when I am eating and drinking enough when I am able to stay warm.
A good insulated sleeping pad coupled with a CCF pad works well – pad R value is additive. R value of five is good to about 15F, add a foam pad and it'll easily go lower.
The Thermolite Reactor doesn't live up to the claim – no liner does.
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