Aug 21, 2011 at 7:30 am #1278336
I have read many posts on here but it seems like a bit of a minefield.
The reason I ask is I am moving to the great Lakes area in January (from Europe) and would like to keep hiking and wild camping in Winter.
StephenAug 21, 2011 at 7:48 am #1771572
I have heard VBL is valuable for trips of many nights at temperatures well below freezing – like artic explorations.
I made a long sleeve shirt and pants out of "fuzzy stuff" from Stephenson's. I only did trips up to 6 nights with temps down to 20F. It seemed like regular warm shirt and pants were a little warmer and were a little lighter than the VBL ones – so my conclusion is VBL isn't good for short trips with just cool temps.
VBL sleeping bags don't make sense to me from an ultralight viewpoint, in that I always wear my warm clothes inside my sleeping bag. I need the warm clothes to stay warm before going to bed. If I take off my warm clothes, then I need a heavier bag to stay warm. With a VBL bag, you can't wear anything inside the VBL liner.Aug 21, 2011 at 8:00 am #1771575
Thanks for the information.
My winter trips are normally not any longer than 3 nights or so.
StephenAug 21, 2011 at 8:48 am #1771587
Of course, "your mileage may vary"
Try taking a garbage bag, poke holes for head and arms, wear it like a vest, that makes a pretty good VBL for your torso, the most important areaAug 21, 2011 at 9:02 am #1771592
That's interesting Jerry.
Out of interest when you have worn your VBL clothing did you feel clammy?Aug 21, 2011 at 10:05 am #1771602
Link .BPL Member
@annapurnaAug 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm #1771634
Ike JutkowitzBPL Member
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
You can easily get by for 3-4 nights in Michigan without VBL. By layering effectively at rest and shedding layers during exertion, you should be able to keep your base layers relatively dry, or have them dry through body heat before you go to sleep. For short trips like that, I find condensation in my sleeping bag to only be a problem right around the face. With longer trips, loss of insulation may become more of a problem and VBL becomes extremely helpful. Conditions in MI are definitely amenable to experimenting with VBL regardless of trip length. The article Anna cited (as always, Thanks Anna) is the best one I have read.
Pros: protects your insulation from moisture released from your body. May keep you warmer, effective wind blocker. Less tangible benefit of decreasing evaporative fluid losses.
Cons: After 3 days of VBL, you will have some serious funk. I mean really stinky. Can be difficult to regulate body temperature and sweating during heavy exertion like breaking trail or digging snow caves.
I usually just use a bread bag worn over my sock liners and under my thick wool socks. The liners stay damp, but the wool socks are bone dry, maintaining their insulative properties and keeping my feet warmer at rest. I reserve the VBL jacket for longer trips as I don't love the clamminess.Aug 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm #1771648
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
VBL has its uses in various "modes". I always use VBL in my boots for winter, esp. for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. My favorite is a thin diver's sock of closed cell neoprene over a thin polypro sock liner. The sock liner gets replaced with a clean one before bedtime. There is no other way to keep the insulated layers of your footwear dry from inside dampness. The cheapest warm footwear is feltpacs, but from Cabela's or Gander Mountain or Bass Pro Shops, NOT Walmart or K Mart. Military "Mickey Mouse " winter boots are very good and have their own built in VBL sealing the felt insulation. The military knows about VBL for footwear.
All this footwear info seems heavy and it can be conpared to light summer shoes or boots. But winter camping itself means moer weight for clothes, fuel and even food. Winter is no time to skimp on safety items such as food and clothing.
For sleeping bags, as mentioned, a VBL is worse than useless if you plan to wear extra clothes to bed. It will wet them out. Where a sleeping bag VBL liner IS good would be on a week long winter trip where you want to keep the bag (esp. down bags) from accumulating moisture. Accumulating moisture in the bag's insulation is unavoidable W/O a VBL, regardless of how often you air out the bag in the morning. Most of the accumulated moisture freezes when the bag is aired out. (Remember the frozen down bags of Scott's tragic South Pole expedition for a cautionary tale.)
A VBL bag liner can be made from light urethane coated ripstop from, say, Seattle Fabrics who has a nice aluminized WP ripstop. You then seam seal it at home. Be sure to make a drawstring W/ cordlock at the top shoulder area for the VBL to keep moisture from your bag. A warm balaclava is a must for winter camping, both for sleeping and general use.
VBL clothing, such as a VBL shirt, is good for keeping down garments dry if they must be worn while travelling. But remember, waterproof breathable garments are not VBL and can't be used as such.
*** I recommend you wear a layer of light polyester or polyurethane long johns whenever you use any VBL so it can be dried quickly. That layer will keep you from feeling the clamminess of the VBL layer against your wet skin.
BTW, don't forget to contact me. I left my info at OM.Aug 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm #1771656
deletedAug 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm #1771745
VBL makes me feel clammy but I didn't mind it too much.Aug 22, 2011 at 4:45 am #1771832
Thansk for that, I will have a look at it tonight.
Thanks for explaining the downsides :-)
I have replied to your PM.
My Winter bag is from PHD and has Drishell which is fialry breathabale but it only has a half lenght hip so this woudl hinder the method you mention.
I will send you an email on those Wild cmaping location you mention.
I think I should give it a go on feet once it gets cold enough here as I did have issues last weinter with my feet getting cold.
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