Sep 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm #1225198
I recently decided I'm going to do a thru-hike of the AT in 2008. Currently I have a WM Caribou which is a 35 degree bag. I was thinking I could put a silk liner with that to push it down to 25 and maybe 15 if I wear my warmer clothing. Is that going to be good enough or should I look for a warmer bag? And if so, should I be looking at synthetic in light of the recent down vs syn conversations going on? Bag/quilt suggestions are of course welcome.Sep 25, 2007 at 5:55 pm #1403588
on your start date. Many thru hikers that start in Feb. or even March will experience some 0 degree weather and wind can be signifant.
A lot of them start with winter bags and then have a 3-season bag shipped to them after the Smoky Mountains (assuming you are going NOBO.)
A friend of mine used a Marmot 20 degree synthetic bag on his attempted thru this year, with a coolmax liner, a fleece shirt, and a down vest. I think only you can really tell what temperatures you would be comfortable with as everyone sleeps differently. If you can do some winter testing of your bag with liner and clothes you might get a better idea.
Another idea might be an overbag or quilt to go over the Caribou, which could become your 'summer bag', later when you go through the mid-Atlantic areas.
PamSep 25, 2007 at 5:59 pm #1403591
Going NOBO. No definite start date though, could be anywhere from mid Feb to first of April. I spent the night a couple of years ago in Western NC next to a river around Feb and only had a fleece blanket inside a double-wall tent and didn't freeze to death. It wasn't the best night of sleep I've gotten but I never felt at risk of hypothermia either. I'm sure that helps none.Sep 25, 2007 at 7:57 pm #1403609
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I'd take light synthetic long johns instead. That way you will not only be warmer but you'll have clothes for emergency snow/bitter cold days on the trail. Silk is a moisture absorbing material. Period.
"Multiple Use" is the main idea on AT items. You eventually will want to do 15 mile days regularly. Multiple use items get you to be light enough to do that.
Don't worry that very light items like UL rain chaps wear out too fast. Just replace 'em once or twice on the thru hike. It's money WELL spent. Virtually all gear on a thru hike must be seen as "expendable". Over 2,000 mi. of backpacking will wear out most stuff.
BTW, for REALLY lightweight cooking consider using FireLite or ESBIT fuel tabs, a BPL Ti folding "wing" burner & a REI foil windscreen. Works great for week-long sections. But fuel tabs may be hard to find SO…ya just mail tabs ahead to yer general delivery pickups.
EricSep 26, 2007 at 2:51 am #1403633
Already got the base layer pants.. My mostly correct gear list is posted on my profile if you want to see it. I've ordered a few things recently I'm waiting to arrive so I can weigh them before they replace other things on the list.Sep 26, 2007 at 6:34 am #1403643
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I would start the AT with a 20* (or warmer) such as the WM Ultralite, but it depends on what you feel comfortable with. You could then switch to your Caribou in May or June when the temperatures rise. I would recommend going over to Whiteblaze.net for this and other specific AT questions.Sep 26, 2007 at 6:52 am #1403645
I'm already on whiteblaze but most of the crowd there are traditional backpackers and don't look at things as a system. They just carry a bag and don't think about carrying a lighter bag and pairing that with their insulated clothing.Sep 26, 2007 at 10:16 am #1403675
Mike FeldmanBPL Member
@harpinLocale: SE USA
You might make it work starting in April with the 35 degree down bag w/bivy,tarp/tarptent and good clothing insulation, AT in spring IMO YMMV would look at synthetic. Have done GA-NC AT section hikes in March, have done 15 degrees w/wind in 30 degree synthetic bag, under floorless tarp w/socks, johns, Patagonia Puff vest in reasonable comfort. Maybee look at light quilt w/your bag.Sep 26, 2007 at 10:42 am #1403686
"No definite start date though, could be anywhere from mid Feb to first of April."
I'm going to come right out and say it. You'll want a warmer bag if you start in this time frame. Period.
I started March 24, 1999 with a 20 degree bag and left a touch cold a couple of nights. And I'm a warm sleeper. And 99 is remembered as a hot dry year. I got my 45 degree bag in early May and had a couple of cold nights in central Virginia in Mid May. And central Virginia is considerably lower in elevation than most of the more southern portions of the trail.
Thru-hiking is not so much about second guessing every 1/8th of an ounce as choosing carefully beforehand, and then working out what works well along the way. Those 15-mile days don't happen because every one has pared their load down to a UL base weight (this is actually pretty rare). They happen because hikers have gotten into better shape, and they have refined to kit to the lightest kit that truly WORKS for their needs.
Sleeping cold and suffering all night long is NOT a sustainable strategy for a long-distance hike. It leads to more fatigue than the extra pound of proper sleeping bag likely ever would. Look at two sleeping bags because experimenting with other clothing is a stop-gap to get you through the occasional unusually cold night. You'll spend MOST nights early on below 35 if you start in February or early March. This is a setting for a 20-degree bag.Sep 26, 2007 at 10:54 am #1403690
That's what I was looking for. So something more like a WM Ultralite/Alpinlite (both 20) or maybe even the Antelope (5) if using a bag? Will I be ok with down?Sep 26, 2007 at 1:58 pm #1403721
More than likely, you will be ok with down, though you will need to be prudent. The southern AT in late winter/early spring offers a damp cold which over the course of several days can basically seep into your bag and cause a minor loss of loft. This is not the catastrophic loss caused by immersion, but it IS a factor.
However, since most thru-hikers normally hit an outpost of civilization once a week or so, airing the bag out in a warm dry place overnight generally solves this problem. To avoid the danger of full immersion, I use a trash compactor bag on the inside of my pack ALWAYS. For the AT in Spring, I would also recommend either a poncho or pack cover.
Rain can be continuously drizzly for days. Use of shelters generally means a dry place to sleep BUT I only got space in a shelter maybe half the time my first few weeks out due to heavy hiker traffic. I used synthetic on my thru-hike eight years ago, but I would use down now, and simply be careful with it.Sep 26, 2007 at 2:12 pm #1403722
Gracias.Sep 29, 2007 at 4:41 pm #1404048
In case anyone is interested I went up to Mountain Crossings today and after speaking with some previous thru-hikers decided to go with a 10 degree WM Versalite Super.Oct 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm #1404213
@hellbillylarryLocale: southern appalachians
If it were me I would go with a WM highlite and a thermawrap or something like it. possibly even some thermawrap pants. it all depends on when you start if you wait til may you can get away with a much lighter sleep system.Oct 1, 2007 at 6:15 pm #1404244
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I have a Summerlite (32*) and a Thermawrap jacket and I know I wouldn't be comfortable in the teens with that set up. I would be fine in my Ultralite and Thermawrap down into the teens. I am a cold sleeper so your mileage may vary.
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