Mar 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm #1300167
My 12 y/o daughter has indicated that she would like to hike the Wonderland Trail with me this summer. To say that I'm overjoyed is the understatement of the century.
She is tall for her age (~5'2") and we expect that she'll be >6' in the next few years. I'd like to buy her a quality three season sleeping bag that she can grow into and use forever.
Even though this bag will rarely see temperates below 40* (32* at the extreme,) is it safe to assume that I should probably shop for something rated to 20* as women seem to sleep cooler than men? If I buy a women's sleeping bag, do I throw that assumption out the window? So far, I'm looking at the Feathered Friends Egret UL 20* and the Grouse UL 30*.
I'm really open for anything but I'm not looking at quilts other than Zpacks which can still zip up like a sleeping bag. I'd like to keep it light so I'm leaning towards down over synthetic bags.
My wife isn't into backpacking and I don't know any women who can weigh in on this so any assistance is greatly appreciated.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm #1962966
"I'm really open for anything but I'm not looking at quilts other than Zpacks which can still zip up like a sleeping bag."
I think Tim Marshall at Enlightened Equipment would be happy to mod his quilt to provide a full zipper if you wanted one, FWIW.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm #1962969
Thanks that's certainly worth checking out as well. I'll send him an email and see if he can add a draft tube also.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm #1962971
@anztLocale: Victoria, Australia
Hi – sounds like she's up for some great adventures! I've just ordered the Egret for myself – it sounded like a good fit and I liked the sound of the specific fill pattern. If in doubt, I'd say buy the 20F bag. Many of us women tend to sleep on the cold side, and if it's too warm you can always open it up.
The other bag which sounded good to me was the Western Mountaineering Ultralight.
(For the record, I also ordered some down booties when I got the Egret – cold feet can be a problem! Also make sure to pay attention to which mat she uses – I have found I lose too much heat to use anything less than a Synmat, even in the height of the Australian summer.) Good luck!Mar 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm #1962980
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
My girlfriend has the Mountain Hardwear Women's UltraLamina 15* bag, and she is only comfortable down to around 25-30. She's a real cold sleeper, and often uses her FF XS Hyperion jacket while in her sleeping bag for temps below 30.
So yeah, go by the EN comfort rating (women) of a bag and go ten lower, or 10 lower whatever reputable brand you buy from.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm #1962982
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I never thought of myself as a cold sleeper, but I found that I need the rating to be about 10-15 degrees colder than what I'm really looking for. For example I used a 15 deg quilt during a 25 deg night and found that was about as low as I wanted to go.
And agreed on the mat…don't overlook that as a major contributor to her comfort temperature wise. I need to get a new mat (long, sad story) and I'm going with the downmat instead of replacing my synmat just because I can feel the heat loss in all but the hottest nights.
What a great trip that's going to be!!!!!
And can I ask why are you so committed to a bag for her? Quilts are pretty sweet, and so much lighter and smaller for the warmth….Mar 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm #1962989
…Mar 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm #1962996
"And can I ask why are you so committed to a bag for her? Quilts are pretty sweet, and so much lighter and smaller for the warmth…."
She's definitely her Daddy's daughter and thrashes around in her sleep. I figure she'll be putting in the miles and the up & downs during the day so I want her to get a good nights sleep without waking up several times because she's kicked the quilt off. I figure since I'm carrying the shelter, cook kit, etc, her base weight should be under 7lbs even with a traditional mummy bag.
I was pondering the pad options as well. Thanks for your input on that.
Based on what I've read here, I think I'm going to focus on a 20* bag and maybe have her pack a puffy mid layer instead of a fleece.
I'm very excited that she's going but this has changed a number of things for this trip (e.g. now looking at a tarp tent instead of a mid.) Still going to keep it as a 7 day UL itinerary though.
Thanks again for the input.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm #1962997
"She's definitely her Daddy's daughter and thrashes around in her sleep."
Okay, sorry to keep throwing different things at you. The nice thing about Katabatic quilts is the way they attach at the sides to some thin cord encircling your sleeping pad. Allows you to thrash about as much as you want without kicking the quilt off you – you're simply thrashing about underneath the quilt as it stays put above you.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm #1963000
I'm actually looking at a Zpacks for myself as well so they are receiving serious consideration. Made in the USA, light, and is a hybrid quilt/bag; it's hard to beat that combination.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm #1963007
Katabatic certainly appears to be the gold standard among quilts. Their attachment system is very intriguing to me and it seems to be one of the best solutions to reduce drafts and dead space in the world of quilts. Great suggestion.
My only concern is that do sleeping bags designed for women make better use of the down, especially when dealing with horizontal baffles? That's kind of why I migrated towards the FF bags to begin but I'll keep an open mind to any suggestion.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:17 pm #1963011
"My only concern is that do sleeping bags designed for women make better use of the down, especially when dealing with horizontal baffles?"
With a quilt: take it out of its stuff sack and shake it a bit to let it begin lofting. Then turn it upside down and hold it by the edges and shake it gently. This should move the down to the top of the quilt (which is hanging down). Now flip it over and fold the edges under as you lay it on the sleeping mat. Folding the edges under will help prevent the down from just migrating back down the edges, and instead keep it on top where it belongs.
[If you already knew this, my apologies.]Mar 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm #1963015
@anztLocale: Victoria, Australia
Have you asked her whether she prefers a quilt or a sleeping bag?
FWIW I chose a sleeping bag for a few reasons:
1) I wanted a long zip, not a 3/4 zip, because when I'm too hot I like slightly unzipping the bottom and poking my feet out as temperature regulators (cf. ZPacks)
2) I prefer not touching my pad when I'm sleeping (cf. quilt without liner – and liner adds a few oz anyway, which pulls the whole weight of the package up to almost bag level)
3) I wanted to be able to layer over a synthetic 30F quilt without dealing with complicated latching systems or drafts
4) I like having a hood (makes it snugglier and makes my pillow feel nicer)
5) I liked the idea of a female-specific design because I often get cold feet in male/general design bags.
6) I'm a unsettled side-sleeper and didn't want to deal with the possibility of drafts.
7) Also, on some fundamental level, I'd feel a bit uncomfortable only taking a quilt at this stage in my progression of backcountry experience. I can't really say why; it just is what it is.
Maybe have a discussion with her about how she likes sleeping – it might turn out she's a quilt person after all! Happy to answer any other questions you may have.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm #1963016
I understand the general concept but I'm not down with down as of this moment so no personal experience to speak of. I'm not sure if a woman's sleeping bag implies that they overstuff the foot box more than a man's or if it is just designed to fit the frame of a woman better and reducing the dead spots.
After reviewing the FF Egret, the length only goes to 5'9" so she would eventually outgrow it. That is now off the list.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm #1963022
"Have you asked her whether she prefers a quilt or a sleeping bag?"
She hasn't used one yet but I'm in the process of myoging a USGI patrol bag into a synthetic quilt so I can let her try that one on for size. I have a few backpacking trips scheduled before the Wonderland so we'll have a few opportunities to shake her gear down before we hit the trail.
Off topic but the three biggest purchases I'm concerned with for her (for the time being) are her ruck, the sleeping pad, and the sleeping bag. I'll probably buy them in that order so I can dial in which sleeping system works best for her.
Thanks again and I've decided on the Exped over a CC pad after the advice you ladies have given me.Mar 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm #1963027
@romonsterLocale: SF Bay Area
I'd say you should regard the temperature ratings on sleeping bags for women as highly optimistic. Mine is rated for minus 5 F, but the actual lower end of its comfort range for me is about 30 F. That's with a couple of layers of clothing as well.Mar 8, 2013 at 5:41 am #1963064
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
That's actually why I finally went with the quilt and won't go back. I quite easily made an attachment system for my quilt much like the kabatic one and so far, in my living room, works like a champ. I felt soooo constricted in my bag without the ability to curl up and twist around and lay on my side and stomach without my face getting stuck in the hood.
As for where the down goes, I don't think it much matters in terms of a dedicated women's bag vs a mans. I've used both, including once trying a women's pad and found it didn't make that much difference. I think they market it such that we need more loft around our mid section (why?? To protect our lady parts??) but honestly I just want it all over me. And as Doug "cuben underpants" mentioned, the quilt actually allows you to move the down to wherever you need it. Again, a huge plus for anyone.
And if you want to actually invest in a bag or quilt she can use for years, I would probably shy away from a women's model simply because I find them to be shorter than the men's versions. If she's going to be that tall anyway, the women's models will probably end up being too short. Not many 6'+ women out there…Mar 8, 2013 at 5:52 am #1963067
"I'd say you should regard the temperature ratings on sleeping bags for women as highly optimistic. Mine is rated for minus 5 F, but the actual lower end of its comfort range for me is about 30 F. That's with a couple of layers of clothing as well."
That really shows how arbitrary some of these temperature ratings can be! After sleeping on it, I've made the following assumptions for my daughter:
1. Overshoot the temperature rating by at least 10-20* and possibly more.
a) I'll bring a nano puff or equiv. in lieu of a fleece to boost the SB's performance
2. While thermoregulation is going to be more challenging for her overall, I should pay extra attention to the feet.
a) Maybe pay for overstuff in the foot box? Look at a myriad of possibilities for feet warmth(e.g. sandwich bags, down booties, etc.) Vertical baffles maybe instead of horizontal?
3. Exped in lieu of Z lite sleeping pad.
4. I'll need to take her on a couple overnighters in temperatures which reach the low range of what I expect to find on this trip (Probably 40* but maybe as low as 32* on the extreme) to better understand her resilience to the cold when sleeping.Mar 8, 2013 at 6:06 am #1963071
"As for where the down goes, I don't think it much matters in terms of a dedicated women's bag vs a mans. I've used both, including once trying a women's pad and found it didn't make that much difference."
Thanks Jennifer that is really enlightening. I didn't see anything on FF's website about their women's bags which would indicate that the down placement is necessarily optimal for women. I think they are simply calling it a woman's SB based on the cut.
Right now I'm giving the Zpacks (with zip and draft tube) serious consideration due to its hybrid design and very low weight. In close second is the Katabatic Alsek or Sawatch based on reputation and the proprietary pad attachment system. Katabatic systems also look great from a weight to performance perspective.
Not sure how it will work out for her but if my synthetic quilt keeps her warm enough, I can always reproduce it for $30. After custom fitting it to her current height, I’m optimistic that I could get the weight close to 24ozs. Not betting the farm on that one but we’ll see.
Thanks again for all the feedback.
Edit: Jennifer, I didn't want to derail the thread re: Tent for hippy dad but I just wanted to say that he sounds like quite a hoot!Mar 8, 2013 at 6:16 am #1963073
@sckuhnLocale: Mountainous Ohio
Another consideration on 'female' specific sleeping bags is the cut. Too many manufactures (big box companies) assume that we woman are all skinny 'North Face' models. Take a close look at the dimensions of the bags you are considering and how your daughter sleeps/lays – many of them don't tend to have the extra room for some of our more 'womanly' dimensions….
Have your daughter try on her bags long before you expect to use them!
I tend to sprawl out when I sleep so the extra room my RevX quilt has accommodates me better… my daughter balls up when she sleeps when we are backpacking, so a trimmer bag works for her. We all sleep different and many sleep different on the trail than at home….
Enjoy!Mar 8, 2013 at 7:28 am #1963089
I have both a Zpacks 20deg in regular/wide, and an EE 40 deg quilt in regular/wide.
I have used the Zpacks down to about 20 degrees, but it was pretty cool, and I wished I had more insulation (like a nice down jacket). On the other hand, unless it's down in the 30s, I was was too hot. My version is the full side zip version, but I too use my feet poked out for air conditioning, and that isn't really an option with this bag. I'm also a side sleeper, which makes a traditional bag harder to get along with.
I got the EE for warmer weather, and I found that I LOVED that it's a quilt. I can still cinch up the foot box & lower part of the bag if I need more heat, but it's so much more versatile in different situations. I'm seriously tempted to get a 10 or 20 deg quilt & sell the Zpacks just for that reason. I didn't have any problems with the quilt coming off, even when I had it fully open in "quilt mode". The other thing I really liked about the EE quilt is that I could un-cinch the foot box, but leave the lower part of it snapped closed to help hold it in place.
Anyhoo, YMMV.Mar 8, 2013 at 8:01 am #1963105
"so I want her to get a good nights sleep without waking up several times because she's kicked the quilt off."
I've found that quilts are considerably better if you sleep on the side or thrash around (take a wider one then) in your sleep. Why? Because modern mummy bags are way to tight for me and I don't turn in them but with them. That combined with less insulation on your back leads to quite cold mornings and a freezing back.Mar 8, 2013 at 8:45 am #1963122
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
I've done both the Wonderland Trail and the Northern Loop. I'm a side/stomach sleeper and a thrasher. Here's what I found for myself. On the Wonderland Trail I used a Neoair pad and a Big Agnes Peggy SL, rated to 15 F. Way too much for the east side of the mountain, where the temps were 80-90 F during the day. Ok for the cooler west side of the mountain. Last summer, I did the Northern Loop with a EE quilt–perfect. I do wear sleeping clothes–light merino long-sleeve shirt and Capilene long-johns, plus socks. I did have down booties with me, but find in the quilt, didn't need them. The last night we were out it was cold and raining, was never cold at all. The quilt allows me to regulate temperature much better, and with Tim's modified attachment system I think it will be easier to keep the quilt tucked around one if wanted.
Down works perfectly well on the Wonderland Trail. I will add the caveat that I carry mine in a cuben dry sack, and have never had more than a day or two of rainy drizzle on the trail–lucky!Mar 8, 2013 at 10:28 am #1963153
@rustybLocale: Rocky Mountains
"Right now I'm giving the Zpacks (with zip and draft tube) serious consideration due to its hybrid design and very low weight."
Just a word of caution here. I had a Zpacks bag with draft tube. Unlike other bag makers, Zpacks does not take any measures to minimize zipper snags. The first time I unzipped mine, it snagged 3 times. With extreme cognizance, out of the bag and in my living room with great lighting, I could unzip it with no snags. I doubt I could have that success in a small tent, in the dark. Factor in the ultra thin liner too. A snag, or series, could easily damage it, I'm guessing.
IMHO, the Zpacks bag is best used as originally designed: no draft tube. It's a unique bag that has a good combination of very favorable features. I hope to see them refine their draft tube though and add a foot box.
Good luck with whatever decision you come to. I'm envious that your daughter wants to join you. I can only hope my daughter will ask to join me when she's that age and older. For now, at 9, she wants little to do with backpacking. I love her the same though.Mar 8, 2013 at 11:38 am #1963173
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
I am a cold sleeper and have found I need a bag to be rated for significantly (at least 20 degrees) colder than the temperature I'm going to be sleeping in. I also wear a balaclava to help prevent heat loss at my head and to prevent burrowing into my bag and getting it wet with breath vapor while sleeping. I am often cold but rarely overheat. But everyone is different. I'd probably go with the warmer bag and she can unzip it a bit if she starts to overheat.
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