May 15, 2009 at 11:20 am #1236335
@trtlrockLocale: Blue Ridge
Can any New Zealanders comment on the suitability of our current sleeping bags for an extended NZ trip?
Things you'll need to know…
1) Wife & I each have a FF Swallow (30 degrees), which we zip together.
2) We have had the bags for a while, and like them. I think I might call it a 40-degree bag instead of 30, but in low 20s in Big Bend Nat'l Park we survived many nights quite well with some layering of clothing
3) Tent (for NZ trip) is a MacPac Celeste w/10k HH floor. Inner portion of tent has virtually no mesh so condensation shouldn't be an issue.
4) Will be sleeping on dual TR Neo-Air mattresses (short 47" versions). Thinking something like small portions of a chopped Z-Rest for under the sleeping bags below the knees.
5) Bags will be carried in bottom of packs, enclosed in a STS SilNylon stuff sack, which in turn will be enclosed in a sealed garbage bag.
6) We'll be doing about 30 assorted tracks from 11/09 thru mid-March 2010. As few nights in huts as possible — we prefer to tent. No mountaineering, no crampons, no ice axes — don't ever envision camping on snow. Mueller Hut is probably one of the few nights we would be tenting at high altitude. Entire itinerary listed here, if that helps…
I think I have 3 primary questions:
1) I know that NZ weather is completely unpredictable. But I would like some feedback on TYPICAL nighttime low temps, given our itinerary & the time of year. i.e. are our bags going to be warm enough?
2) We are going to take EVERY OPPORTUNITY to avoid any river crossings where the water would come up to our packs. If we have to hike an extra hour or two to cross in a shallower spot we will do it. So, having said that…can we still pack our bags in the bottom of our packs & count on them remaining dry? We will have pack covers, fwiw.
3) Given the precautions we're taking to keep the bags dry, any reason to switch away from down for these notoriously wet NZ environs?
Thanks for any advice…May 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm #1501572
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
http://cliflo.niwa.co.nz/ will give you some detailed temp data that you may help. My gut feel is that you will be absolutely fine temp wise.
In terms of keeping your bags dry sea to summit make actual silnylon drybags that I would look at.
Finally I would stick with down, given you are using a tent and are aware of the need to keep your bag dry. I would only consider synthetic for long trips where I would have no chance of drying my bag once it started to suffer from loft degradation.May 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm #1501595
@monstertruck-2Locale: Almost Yosemite
I have done extended trips in both Patagonia and NZ using a 30 degree down bag (Mountainsmith Wisp) very similar to yours. Both these trips were very wet at times and I never had a problem with the down bag. My trip to NZ was in Feb and March. Areas were Mt. Cook (Ball Pass and Mueller Hut), Routeburn, Milford, and Dusky Tracks and car camping all around the southern South Island. I only saw temps down into the upper 20's on a few nights.
I was worried about flooding and potentially wading/swimming on the Dusky Track so I came up with a solution that worked quite well. For very wet trips or trips with big river crossings I use the Pacific Outdoor Equipment LW Pnuemo Dry Bag in the 50 Liter size. These are the dry bags used in the Arctic Packs seen on this site. They are on sale at Sierra Trading Post and are available in 60, 50, and 25 liter size. The weight of a bunch of dry bags and stuff sacks add up fast and this bag weighs about 8 or 9 oz and is very durable. Packing everything into a separate bag also gets old on an extended trip.
With this dry bag I can fit a food sack, sleeping pad, and then throw the sleeping bag and extra clothing in loose and compress the whole load using the purge valve to fit in the pack. I can pack everything I won't need for the day into the one bag and then chuck it out the door of the tent into the rain. After pulling the tent down I can pack the tent (dry bag it if you want) in the bottom of the pack put the big dry bag in the pack and be ready to go. With this system I wouldn't be worried even if I had to drop the pack and go for a swim on a gnarly river crossing.May 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm #1501596
You will be fine if you put your sleeping bag and clothing in proper waterproof dry bags. Make sure you test the bags before leaving home by submerging them in the bath with some t-shirts inside. Proper drybags will keep gear dry even when they are sitting in water, so if your pack falls in a river or floats off down the stream there should be no problem (assuming you can get it back!).May 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm #1501614
Not from New Zealand originally, but I've been here since Christmas.
IMO Kiwis seem to talk up how crazy, unpredictable, deadly, whatever, their weather is, but it's really not _that_ different from anywhere else. If you've got a good head on your soldiers and pack appropriately, you'll be just fine. Sounds you know what you're getting yourself into.
This year we hardly had a summer at all. The only place that stayed dry for the most part was the east coast (certain areas were just recently granted drought status). So expect to hike all day in the rain on occasion. Depending on where you are, the wind can be a nightmare at night. I experienced from 80kmh+ nights.
Ultralight backpacking here is sorta unheard of. It's hard to get any info from the locals because they all carry 50lb+ weekend packs and wear combat boots. So come with all the UL gear you plan on using.
River crossings are no worries typically, unless after high rain. Most of the tracks are real touristy so they make em as easy as possible. I only had to swim across once, and that was by choice.
Figure out a solid footwear solution as well. I came very unprepared in that regard. Trail runners just don't cut it! Some tracks you'll be walking through mud for miles at times..
Your bags should be plenty warm. It's only now starting to drop into freezing in likely camping locations. Getting off high ground and out of the wind would be a good idea.
Have fun! You're gonna love it down here. I've found 6 months isn't enough time to do all I want to doMay 16, 2009 at 10:36 am #1501651
@trtlrockLocale: Blue Ridge
Thanks everybody for the feedback. Jason — that's a very cool link, can't believe I haven't stumbled over that in my research.
Now, if they would just do farenheit! Grrr…May 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm #1501688
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
"IMO Kiwis seem to talk up how crazy, unpredictable, deadly, whatever, their weather is, but it's really not _that_ different from anywhere else. If you've got a good head on your soldiers and pack appropriately, you'll be just fine". There is some truth in this. However, the weather is different from many other places and may well be different from where you usually hike.
"This year we hardly had a summer at all." This was actually a petty good summer I am afraid.
"River crossings are no worries typically, unless after high rain." Please exercise great caution with river crossings. They can be a real issue in the New Zealand bush.
"Most of the tracks are real touristy so they make em as easy as possible." There is a massive range of hiking in New Zealand from the touristy Great Walks to large areas of wild untracked wilderness.
"Trail runners just don't cut it! Some tracks you'll be walking through mud for miles at times" I have found trail runners to work well much of the time for me.
With the climate database, if you can't find data on mountain areas, generally air temps drop by 6.5 c per 1000 meters.
You will have a great time here.May 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm #1501692
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
I thought all real Kiwi's just used sheep-skins wrapped around themselves?May 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm #1502940
Sorry I will comment on things other than you sleeping bag.
Rain cover: Don't bother it will get blown off. Get a water proof pack or use a heavy pack liner that seconds as a survival shelter. All the shops and DOC offices have them for about $10.
Rain Coat: Get a rain coat that covers your rump.
Rivers: You will be getting your feet wet! And you are wise to not attempt to cross in any deep or swift spot. Review river crossing on the DOC web. In the morning put on your wet sox and save the dry ones for camp.
Bag: I use a bag rated for -5°C and in most cases it is too warm.
Sand Fly: At lower elevations you will have issues with sand flys!!! Ware sox and leggings (thermal) to protect your self from the sand-fly.
Wind: If wind is from the W the rain will be on the W side of the island and VV for easterly. So watch the wind direction and adjust your tramps.
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