Dec 12, 2019 at 9:01 pm #3622559
Im interested to see if the following setup could get me down to 0F degrees comfortably. This would not be the norm, but weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Here is my current setup.
- EE Conundrum 20F w/ draft tube (slightly oversized to accommodate clothing below)
- FF Helios down hooded jacket (say 15-20F)
- MLD 4oz insulated Balaclava over fleece (10F)
- WM Flash down pants ( F?)
- GooseFeet down socks +25% (30F)
- Thermasrest All-season (older model) 5 R-Value + GG 1/4″ CCF pad
- Double wall tent
- Boiling hot Nalgene (if needed)
Edit: In 2019, EE chose to increase the amount of down in their quilts, so my bag should run more true to temp.
Thoughts?Dec 13, 2019 at 12:20 am #3622578Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Try a 50F synthetic over-quilt, extra wide and long. That, plus your double balaclava, should get you another 20F of comfort paired with your current 20F Conundrum. YMMV, but I only sleep well down to about 30F with a 20F quilt, but adding some clothing into the mix if needed could still get you down to 0F, depending on how warm or hot you sleep. If you had a big budget, the lightest option for that temperature would be a single 0F (or -10F) down mummy bag.Dec 13, 2019 at 12:57 am #3622584
Id rather use stuff that I’m bringing anyways and incorporate that into my sleeping system. I agree though, a 0F bag would be ideal if money wasn’t an issue. That said, I do like being able to get out of a bag with a jacket already on, instead of a thin base layer.Dec 13, 2019 at 1:12 am #3622585Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I have done this many times, it worked out ok but much prefer having an appropriate bag or as Lester stated a 50f synthetic quilt over your existing setup.
I really like a light bag and quilt setup.Dec 13, 2019 at 3:49 am #3622591lee kingryBPL Member
@leek2Locale: Alabama and GSMNP North Carolina
My cheap 50° really a 60° synthetic does a great job of adding 10° maybe even 15° degrees to my quilt set up whether I’m using my 30 degree or my 10-degree quilt.Dec 13, 2019 at 1:34 pm #3622649dirtbagBPL Member
Depending how you sleep and what your tolerance to cold temperatures is.. I sleep warm and can acclimate to cold temperature ok.. I usually take a quilt and under quilt (sleep in my hammock) for within 10 degrees of the low temp. If it was going to be 0 , I would bring my 10 degree . Here in NY, the weatherman is usually wrong, lol. Also, in the Catskills where I camp often the weather can change instantly for the worse, so I like to be within the 10 – 15 degree mark, and this has worked well for me all these years, even when I was on the ground under my tarp in my bivy, I have yet to be so cold that I was uncomfortable. My clothing system also compliments my quilts, should I ever need .Dec 13, 2019 at 5:39 pm #3622671John VanceBPL Member
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
If you are comfortable in your 20f bag down to 20f in light base layers, you should be close to accomplishing 0f with what you are listing above.
The question is whether it would be cozy uninterrupted sleep or shorter stretches of sleep with repositioning for greater warmth and maybe some crunches to warm up.
The warm bottle for me worked pretty well and was often just too much extra heat to begin with and better in the early morning hours. Unfortunately that required firing up the stove to heat the water up at 3am but I typically slept great after that. If you combine that with a pee break it can be an amazing change for warmth. I sleep much warmer with an empty bladder.Dec 13, 2019 at 7:53 pm #3622695Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I’ve done it easily in my overstuffed (30 F. stuffed to 20 F.) WM Megalite by wearing a synthetic puffy jacket and pants over a heavy weight use layer – and a light fleece balaclava.
For extended trips I may bring along a light synthetic “topper” I have from Thermarest. I’ve sewn on mating snaps to 1″ elastic band ends that will go under my sleeping bag and snap to the topper. This way my body moisture will accumulate and condense in the topper, not my bag. Then the topper dan be unsnapped and air dried. That topper may give me a 10 F. bag with my winter REI FLASH All Season mattress.
Howsomever… if I truly expect 0 F. to subzero temperatures I’ll just take my -20 F. LL Bean down bag and be done with it.Dec 13, 2019 at 9:29 pm #3622727David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Looks like enough to get you that additional temperature rating.
Just be aware that with colder temperatures, condensation (and freezing) of water vapor off your body becomes more of an issue. It doesn’t matter much on a weekend trip, but repeated nights can increasingly wet out the down.
If you went the over-quilt route, that quilt could be synthetic and therefore faster-drying the next day in (hopefully) the sun.Dec 17, 2019 at 10:08 am #3623179wiiawiwbBPL Member
I agree with David. If I’m going on an overnight, then I’ll bring a down top bag. If I’m going for more than one night, my top layer is going to be synthetic as it will retain moisture from the down bag below it. With a synthetic top layer you have a fighting chance of getting it dry.Dec 18, 2019 at 3:53 am #3623258Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
What is the lowest temperature you have slept warm with the gear you describe. Are you sleeping on snow? if so, I think you might need at least 1/2 inch of CCF.
Are you by yourself in this double walled tent? I have found that the greater the surface area of the floor of the tent (not to mention the volume of the tent), the greater the challenge of keeping warm when you are going solo.
How many nights are you going to be camping? While you might get by with an augmented 20 degree bag for one night at zero degrees in winter, if you are out for two or three nights why not borrow or or rent or buy a warmer bag?
When I expect a cold front that will take the temps into the low teens or single digits, I put more than one hot water bottle into my bag. If you stuff one into an sock, you can mitigate the risk of burning yourself and keep the water warmer longer. Plus you wake up with 2 or 3 liters of unfrozen water ready to go for breakfast.Dec 18, 2019 at 4:19 am #3623260Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
Put a full length ccf pad under your thermarestDec 18, 2019 at 4:57 am #3623263
Lots of good advice, which is much appreciated. After doing a little bit of digging, Im starting to get an idea that I still have a lot more learn when it comes to winter camping. That said, the weather ”now” looks like 0F will be quite common in the area i’m interested in (Lincoln NF & Aldo Leopold, NM). Sometimes even -10F in the higher elevations.
20F (down) and 40F (synthetic) quilt is supposed to be sufficient down to -10F (not including my down clothing). Im aware of the 2 layer system to help compensate for the down loss. Seems like a good system overall.
Eric – I see you referenced the -20F bag, does temperature fluctuation ever cause you to overheat? I ask because it does seem like a simpler option, but I wonder if overheating is an issue. The temperatures fluctuate from -10F to 30F. Also, do you use a vapor barrier since you don’t have a synthetic top bag?
At what point does a vapor liner come into play? I feel pretty confident in the 2 bag layering system, but will it protect the down bag enough to not use a vapor barrier? I don’t believe drying out a 40F synthetic bag will be an issue, but down not so much.
Bruce – the coldest I have slept in was 20F, which was in an older EE ”synthetic” 20F bag wearing 150g base layers only. I was comfortable, as I tend to run hot and consume plenty of fatty foods at night. I was thinking of adding 1/4” CCF under AND over my inflatable pad. You think that would be enough for -10F? The inflatable has an R-value of 5. I plan on being out 4+ nights (maybe more).
I should note that I plan of using a hot tent, Seek Outside Silvertip + LO Stove, to help dry out my gear and really just warm up come night (if the opportunity presents itself). I haven’t used a hot tent before, so still not sure if you can even light wood whenever snow is present. Anyone have any experience with this?Dec 18, 2019 at 5:07 am #3623265
Jeff – Looks like you commented while I was posting. I think that would be wise, as the weight would be similar to two 1/4” ccf pads, more durable, and a higher R-value overall.Dec 18, 2019 at 5:14 am #3623266Edward John MBPL Member
Sure you can use a stove when there is snow on the ground, it’s a matter of finding firewood. If you are taking along a pack stove for warmth take along some extra kindling and firestarters to make things easier.
I don’t have a lot of UL hot tenting experience, my own hot tent is a Helsport Varanger Camp, and it is for my skiing base camp and I use a pulk train to haul that monster in.Dec 18, 2019 at 5:16 am #3623267Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
RE: Hot tent and fire
I am sure our AK colleagues wil chime it. But it seems that if it is legal to have a fire in the wilderness where you are camping, AND you have the skill to gather and/or create your own dry tinder, you should have no problem starting a fire.
Even if the wood on the ground is wet, you can use a knife to create dry tinder. You might want to pack a candle and some squares of waxed paper or some other commercial fire starter aid.Dec 18, 2019 at 7:52 am #3623274David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
“You might want to pack a candle and some squares of waxed paper or some other commercial fire starter aid.”
Or even some self-light charcoal briquets (in a well-sealed container). Then you have an instant, ensured beds of coals onto which to add wet and frozen wood to thaw, dry, and burn.
But even in winter, I find the dead branches still on the trunks of spruce trees to be dry, protected by all the live branches above them. I find it is easiest to cut them into stove-sized pieces while they’re still on the tree: keep some tension on the branch and cut off each piece as you work your way back to the trunk.Dec 18, 2019 at 12:11 pm #3623285Richard FischelBPL Member
Here’s a trick with the Helios (or any jacket with a removable hood). Unsnap the hood from the jacket and wear it on your head. Then take the jacket and slip it on backwards or pull the arms inside out and drape the jacket over your shoulders and over the front of you. Also, something like a snickers bar is good to eat right before you go to sleep.Dec 18, 2019 at 3:32 pm #3623300
Being able to use the stove in partially wet conditions is a huge relief and reassuring. I was planning on feathering sticks like Bruce suggested along with some charcloth from some of my older jeans.
David – Charcoal briquets is a good alternative to the former fatwood. Big help on the spruce tree recommendation along with tensioning the branch while cutting. I’ll have to be on the look out for that.Dec 18, 2019 at 9:22 pm #3623333
Lots of discussion about quilts and double quilts and hot tents …. and almost no discussion of the layer underneath you (except for Jeff).
Your greatest gain will be from switching to a GOOD airmat, maybe a Down Air Mat (DAM) if planning a lot of very cold stuff. Don’t blow it up too hard though. You will sleep better, and your load will be lighter.
Your next greatest gain will be from having two people in the tent instead of one. Nothing quite like having a warm body next to you helping to warm up the tent.
CheersDec 18, 2019 at 10:28 pm #3623340
Roger – Any particular pad you recommend? I’ve heard some pretty negative feedback on Exped’s durability. X-therm is a no-go for me, as the crinkling noise drove me crazy at night. The All-Seasons pad has a pretty high R-value for air mats. Are you simply saying insulated > air mats?Dec 18, 2019 at 11:29 pm #3623345
We did a survey of airmats some time ago.
Each air mat also has its own URL. You might find the survey useful.
At the time we (my wife and I) were using some old Thermarest Deluxe mats – self-inflating foam, and good enough for sleeping on the snow. After the survey I switched to an Exped Synmat UL 7 as it was more comfortable and a fair bit lighter. It has some very effective internal insulation for warmth, and I use an Exped pillow pump to inflate it – not my moisture-laden breath. (Then I use the Pillow pump as a pillow.)
But my wife Sue pinched it off me after trying it out one night, so I had to BUY a second one for myself. Actually buying gear is not something I do very often. That was in 2011, and the mats are still going strong. We have used them in the shoulder seasons as well – one night got down to -17 C, but we were OK. Bottom line: we find the Exped brand excellent.
So why did some Exped mats fail? Well, it could have been a batch problem, but I suspect that some people have over-inflated their mats and then ‘jumped’ on them. They are UL after all, and you need to treat UL gear gently if you want it to last.
Actual DAMs – they are more expensive. I have one 3/4 Exped DAM and one full-length Mammut Light Pump (not a DAM): both are pumped airmats with serious internal insulation. They are both marginally lighter than the quite old Deluxes, and possibly a bit warmer and more comfortable. But there are other brands of DAMs as well.
You are asleep (one hopes) for 8+ hours per night, after a day’s walking. Buy a good mat!
Foam is NOT enough – although we do put very light 1/8″ foam mats under the airmats. That is for protection against sharp things, and to keep the mats off the floor where there may be condensation in winter.
CheersDec 19, 2019 at 3:53 pm #3623482
Interesting… Im glad to see Exped worked out for you. Now I find myself leaning in that direction. Down or synthetic hmmm…
Dec 19, 2019 at 8:19 pm #3623520
- Anyone have their down compromised by the humidity in the air (not inflating by mouth)? Particularly over a week long trip.
- Synthetic lifespan in the pad. Anyone notice their R-value degrading overtime from the synthetic losing loft?
We have not noticed any problems from moisture when using the Exped Pillow Pump. We most certainly have seen condensation inside other mats when blowing up by mouth. And our mats continue to be warm for us. Note: at home we store our mats semi-inflated, with the valves open.
There are some air mats which are little more than pool toys: zero insulation inside. Such mats can be seriously cold. Their insulation values were measured in the articles cited above.
CheersDec 28, 2019 at 1:45 am #3624385Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I usually bring a 20 degree and a 45 degree quilt and with the two I have been comfortable down to temperatures cold enough to freeze water inside my tent vestibule.
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