Dec 11, 2012 at 8:42 am #1296960
I'm looking for opinions on the best overall sleep system for mountain (Sierra) use.
by sleep system I mean the combination of shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.
to be used in a multi day "speed hike" – mountain, but on trail, situation.
this would be for 2 people (non affiliated males).
Before going further, let me say I am Not a tarp person.
it's either a bivy bag or something that passes for a tent.
Sierra, mid to late summer, travel up to 14,000, all on trail, 45 mile days.
The Criteria (in order of importance)
1. as light as possible overall
2. as warm as possible overall
3. fast, easy, simple
4. protection from wind and rain
My Comments & Questions
1. yes Sierra summers are often mild but I like being prepared for worst case.
2. I realize there is a trade off between light weight and warm & protective
3. the fly and poles of my current 2 person tent weighs 2.3 lbs and can be used as a floorless tent (free standing stetup).
4. but there are 7 oz bivies availble on the market.
5. I tend to get "down" wet from perspiration so typically use synthetics.
6. do synthetic quilts really work well ?
given a set weight we are willing to carry, would that weight best be put toward the sleeping bag(quilt), the shelter, or the pad to meet our criteria ?
thanksDec 11, 2012 at 9:07 am #1934733
I just returned from a fastpack trip with an ultra-runner. We were all off trail though, but doesn't really matter, except that a compact shelter is key in that situation.
Anyway, I use
Shelter: Half-pyramid type full enclosure and skip the bivy. Full protection, good ventilation and easy to set up. Can be set up with just one poll (excluding SoloMid) or hung from a tree etc. So that would be an MLD SoloMid, Oware Alphamid, Gatewood Cape or Zpacks Hexamid with Beak. A Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo will be much warmer, but is heavier and if you don't set it up right you'll have condensation issues if the weather is right for it.
Pad: 1/8" full length closed cell foam, then a short inflatable like an Xlite or NeoAir on top. The foam pad insulates and protects the inflatable from punctures.
Ground Sheet: PolyCryo, Cuben or Tyvek. I use a PolyCryo or our LiteTrail one (prototype) because they are lighter, but a bathtub cuben would be nice.
Sleeping Bag: I plan for temps in the low 20s, and use a Katabatic Alsek bag supplemented with my extra clothing (polartec tights, Cap4 Hoody, UL Down Montbell Parka). 12 oz down in bag minimum is what I bring to Sierras 3 season. Without the bivy, I've never had any serious down wetting issues from my own body moisture using a well-ventilated shelter.
This is all ultralight and light enough for any speed trip, but has a high degree of comfort.
It's such a personal thing that we could all use something totally different and still do the same trip at the same speed and at the same relative comfort/effort level.Dec 11, 2012 at 9:22 am #1934736
Here's my thoughts:
You want your shelter to provide protection from the wind and rain (and bugs?). Don't count on much warmth from your shelter besides wind blocking, because it's far more efficient to put the weight into a warmer bag.
My favorite shelter for this is a cuben pyramid tent (ie. MLD DuoMid). They are extremely light (~14oz) and equally important, they are extremely fast and simple to pitch. It's normally just 4 stakes (one at each corner) and then shove a hiking pole in the middle. Add a 2-3 oz painters cloth groundsheet (maybe) and you're all set, unless it's bug season – in which case bring an inner net tent. Alternatively, grab two solo sized pyramid tents (~11oz ea). Go with silnylon (+5oz) if cost is a factor.
I find that when I'm pushing big mile days, I tend to sleep a lot warmer. Likely because metabolism is boosted and the body is keeping busy at night repairing damaged tissues. The obvious suggestion in this category is a down quilt. You say that you tend to get down wet from perspiration, but perhaps this is because (1) you're using it in bivy with low breathability or (2) you're using too warm of a down bag and/or (3) you're using a bag that doesn't have the same venting flexibility as a quilt. With a down quilt inside of a pyramid tent, it's hard to imagine getting it excessively soaked with soak in short order unless you've choosen one that is way too warm – even then you can open some gaps to let air circulate. So my suggestion is a 30-40F quilt from Zpacks at 12-15oz. It's hard to imagine going wrong with one of those – especially on a few day trip in mid-late summer.
The pad is a tough one. If I was sleeping solo I would bring a torso sized Ridgerest at ~8oz and combine that with my pack under my feet and a well selected spot. To sleep well on one of these, I really need to find soft ground with a nice dip for my hips. If I'm sharing a shelter with a partner, it's not that easy to find a a spot that is naturally landscaped to be comfortable for two (except for sand), so I tend to bring an inflatable pad. Sleeping poorly sucks when every hour of sleep is precious.
So overall, I think a great combo is: cuben MLD SoloMid (11oz) + 30F Zpacks Quilt (16oz) + torso Ridgerest (8oz). That's ~2 lbs for all the main components and it's quite a capable setup. You'd still need to factor in stakes and perhaps a groundsheet (2-3oz). I think a pyramid tarp is worth the extra 4oz over a bivy – it's so much nicer for riding out foul weather in.
If you want to share a shelter with your hiking partner, then a cuben MLD DuoMid (14oz) + 30F Zpacks Quilt (12oz) + torso sized inflating pad (ie. NeoAir @ 9oz) is a nice combo. Overall you're lighter per person, but the inflatable pad takes away from the simplicity and ease of the Ridgerest. You also really need the groundsheet with an inflatable pad to add some protection/safety margin.
So to actually answer your main question about allotting a set weight, the pad options don't vary much in weight, so count on 7-10oz there. Then put enough weight towards your sleeping quilt/bag to ensure you'll be warm enough to sleep, and then put the remainder towards the robust-ness of your shelter.Dec 11, 2012 at 9:25 am #1934738
"Don't count on much warmth from your shelter besides wind blocking, because it's far more efficient to put the weight into a warmer bag."
Unless you are completely exposed to the wind and then a warmer bag will lose heat through convection.
Both shelter and insulation work as a system. I remember spending the night in a Hilleberg Akto where it was 12C warmer inside the tent than outside.Dec 11, 2012 at 9:44 am #1934741
"I remember spending the night in a Hilleberg Akto where it was 12C warmer inside…"
So a 42oz tent added 12 C of warmth. How much warmer would an 11oz pyramid tent + 31oz extra in a sleeping bag be? I could swap out my +5C quilt (15oz) for my -20 C bag (38oz) for 23oz, which would theoretically add 25 C of capability. Reality isn't quite this simple, but the underlying point is. Once you've blocked the wind, putting weight into your sleeping bag (and in some circumstances the pad) is the most weight efficient path to warmth.Dec 11, 2012 at 10:06 am #1934745
I know they don't get much play in this forum, but a WPB bivy-
1-Is about as simple as they come to "set up"
2-Can be had for around the same weight as a pyramid/groundcloth combo
3-Are relative in cost, some cheaper
4-Would certainly add significant warmth to a sleep system
5-Require no stakes or poles
I wouldn't want to have to hang out in one for extended periods, but in fastpacking I don't think that's the point.Dec 11, 2012 at 10:08 am #1934746
For fast hiking, I dig a hammock, since it ties up about the same speed as a tent (10 minutes) but completely eliminates the problem of clearing ground or finding suitable spots that are free of rocks, sticks, etc.
And before you say "You need to find suitable trees!" I've lived out of my hennessy hammock for about 80 days this year and have never spent even minutes finding suitable trees when I'm in the woods. It's a non-issue, significantly easier than finding a clear spot for a thermarest.
As for the pad, closed-cell foam is fast and inflatables aren't. I would always choose closed-cell for moving quickly. With a hammock, sleep comfort is guaranteed- see how many problems that solves?
As for rain and bugs, my hennessy hammock prevents both. Boo-yah!
Hammock camping. The ultimate sleep system.
-MDec 11, 2012 at 10:13 am #1934748
I would likely use Dans setup that he describe with the Neoair. The last thing I want to do after a long day is toss and turn on an uncomfortable pad. I personally would take a tarp knowing full well that I would probably not set it up. As you have probably experienced the blood suckers go away just after dark and since you are doing a long day I would ask if you need anything more than a tarp as an emergency shelter only. This would also allow you to throw down wherever you are ready to drop from exhaustion.
I smell a four day JMT attempt. :)Dec 11, 2012 at 10:25 am #1934754
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
If you want to actually sleep for 4-8 hours, a mid, down bag/quilt, and pad of your choice is best. For race pace in the Sierra, a torso foam mat, light puffy coat, and a dry pair of socks are all you need. Sleep until you wake up shivering, then get moving. ;)Dec 11, 2012 at 10:29 am #1934756
I like that. I want to try it ;)Dec 11, 2012 at 11:26 am #1934767
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Try adding insulating pants & jacket to your sleeping bag. The pants and jacket are use durig the day (if necessary) and permit a lighter bag.
Then at least you have the insulated pants and jacket for bad weather/emergency use.Dec 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm #1934788
"Once you've blocked the wind, putting weight into your sleeping bag (and in some circumstances the pad) is the most weight efficient path to warmth."
This clarifies your earlier remark and no one will disagree. But you did not clarify that preventing convective heat loss is number one, with conductive issues easily remedied with insulation.Dec 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm #1934790
this probably gets to the gist of my main question …
whether to allocate weight to the sleeping bag/quilt, or to allocate weight to an increased air space in a small 2 person tent v.s. 2 separate UL bivies with minimal trapped air space.
the discussion seems to be leaning toward putting the weight in the bag.
given that this is summer, can I assume minimal weight for the pad too ?
I can see something for the pad, like a really cut down 3/8 standard closed cell.Dec 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm #1934794
Art, I think as long as you can minimize drafts from your shelter in the wind, be it a mid or bivy (if you can pitch the mid close to the ground, I would think a bivy would not be necessary), then the focus should be maximizing warmth through insulation. My earlier point is that if you can't minimize the wind factor through shelter (or bivy) then your sleeping bag / insulation can collapse and you may find it very difficult to retain warmth.
With respect to the pad, will the ground be cold? If not, then you can probably get away with a shorter closed cell pad without any conductive heat loss. So Mid, warm bag, cut down closed cell foam would be my preference.Dec 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm #1934795
Dave's point is very relevant. The ground will likely be warm even on nights when a cold breeze runs through, so weight in the sleeping bag seems a lot more useful than weight in the pad(s).Dec 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm #1934821
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Hammock camping. The ultimate sleep system."
Not above treeline, which is where it seems Art will be spending considerable time.
Hammocks are not generally a good option in the Sierra.Dec 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm #1934823
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"I would likely use Dans setup that he describe with the Neoair. The last thing I want to do after a long day is toss and turn on an uncomfortable pad."
+2Dec 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm #1934828
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
I think what this thread boils down to is how fast OP wants to run or hike. A sub 5 pound baseweight seems realistic without additional information. Obviously if you running the whole time you want like half that.Dec 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm #1934833
"The last thing I want to do after a long day is toss and turn on an uncomfortable pad."
After a long day of speed hiking, being sufficiently exhausted, one should sleep just fine. At least this has been my experience.Dec 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm #1934837
My ideal for this scenario would currently be the following:
MLD Cuben poncho tarp as shelter (with polycro for groundsheet): about as minimal as you can go for rain/wind protection but doubles as part of raingear, allowing a windshirt instead of rain jacket and possibly ditching rain pants as well.
Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad: foolproof and failproof and very light.
Any decent 6-7 oz. bivy.
MLD Spirit synthetic quilt in 38 degree (or similar): 17 ounces. Combines with clothes and a bivy, you could push this to freezing or below.
This whole setup would be compact, and in the ballpark of only 2 pounds total.
Only swap I would make, if money were no object, would be a cuben solomid in place of the poncho tarp and bivy.
You taking trekking poles?
Sounds a bit like someone is gearing up for a JMT speed attempt…?Dec 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm #1934897
I've got a Hexamid Solo with beak, and a cuben groundsheet to go with it, that you can borrow for your trek if you'd like. I used it when I did my Sierra trip and it worked great. What's nice about the cuben groundsheet is that it's actually a 1.5 (wide) groundsheet, so it blocks more wind than the single-wide groundsheet. Takes one trekking pole to set up (or pole, if no trekking pole used).
Let me know.Dec 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm #1934909
There are fine Gentlemen and then there is Doug. The former can't hold a candle to the latter. Amazing offer.Dec 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm #1934912
I imagine that the less complicated the shelter, the better? Seems like a Bivy Bag trip. No setup means minutes saved each night and morning, which means more miles.
Add a few ounces to simplify the sleep system, bring a non-inflatable closed-cell foam pad, and add miles.Dec 12, 2012 at 8:25 am #1934990
thanks for the gear loan offer, but whatever we settle on we'll cough up the cash so we can practice ahead of time and destroy it without feelings of guilt.
what I'm looking for in a shelter is something no more than one step more complicated than a bivy, but something that can hold 2 people.
I seem to have the idea that 2 people in single shelter would trap more warmth than 2 separate bivy bags.
How accurate is this assumption ?Dec 12, 2012 at 8:34 am #1934992
Accurate, but not a lot of speed systems are built for two. There's the zpacks Hexamid, that holds two tightly and staking out every night will take a lot of time unless you really practice. Hammocks are pretty fast, I love them for this kind of thing, especially if you use a Hennessy Hammock with snakeskins and master the knots.
Two bivies will probably be the best thing you can do. You could also rig up a very basic rectangular tarp and both of you can use bug bivies and sleep next to each other.
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