- Dec 6, 2017 at 4:16 am #3505800
Adam GBPL Member
I’m trying to sort out my winter sleeping system. I would mostly camp in the Pacific Northwest with temperatures to around 0 F, sometimes lower. Perhaps I would camp in the Sierra Nevada.
I currently have a Thermarest Z Lite Sol with a XTherm on top of that. That seems to insulate me quite well from the bottom. My summer quilt is an Enigma 20F. I tried using the quilt while wearing my Rab Neutrino Endurance jacket (which I love for standing around camp), but I was too cold. I think it was a combination of inadequate insulation when my arms/legs compressed the down when they poked out and also drafts.
I think I need a sleeping bag. I am a side sleeper, but sometimes I end up sleeping on my belly or back. I realize that the down is compressed on the bottom, but I think that may be helpful if I’m thrashing about. I was thinking of the Western Mountaineering Versalite or Antelope or the Feathered Friends Snowbunting. I worry that the Antelope will be too cold. They don’t have hydrophobic down, and I wonder how they would hold up for longer trips (e.g. 7-14 days). A synthetic bag with the quilt may be an option, but I somehow doubt it will provide enough warmth since it won’t overlap with the quilt 100%.Dec 6, 2017 at 6:26 am #3505823
Edward John MBPL Member
Mike has an elephants foot half bag for sale cheap Have you thought about just adding in that as an additional layer in your system?
For general cold I find the boost of a half bag plus a parka is usually more than enoughDec 6, 2017 at 6:48 am #3505824
Ralph BurgessBPL Member
Have you seen that Enlightened Equipment do a bag version of the Enigma, called Conundrum? You can get that rated as warm as you want, and it can still open up and work with the same attachment system as their quilts, which might be nice if that’s what you’re accustomed to using in summer. I think if I were going to splurge on a system for the conditions you’re going out in, the Conundrum with a thin synthetic Enigma quilt (in a wider fitting) over the top would be a nice setup.Dec 7, 2017 at 8:38 am #3506037
Chris CBPL Member
Both Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends the same goose down from Poland and is not hydrophobic because neither brands saw any benefits. I have both their bags and lean towards less added chemicals anyway. Never have had a problem with moisture in the bag. I have a WM Puma in GoreWindstopper with a footbox overfill. If I could do it all over again, I would opt for the -10F Bristlecone Semi Rec or -10 Lynx Mummy in Microfiber. The microfiber they use feels great, is more pliable so it’s easier to stuff, weighs less and costs less–not that I think about the costs anymore. WM’s full collar feels great. My FF Nano Swallow does not have a collar and I miss having one even in 50F weather.
Enlightened Equipment’s Convert can be fully zipped (no hood) and fully opened and can be custom ordered down to -10F with varied lengths and widths. Call them and ask for their recommendations for your height, and sleep style. Their 850fp down is duck; 900 & 950 is goose. All their down is DownTek Treated. Convert’s zipper does not open up if you zip it half way down and move around.
I, too, am a side sleeper and have yet to find the perfect sleep system. Some have recommended sleeping bags that have a middle zipper like Nunatak’s Alpinist and The North Face’s Inferno. I’m getting a FF Winter Wren 25F soon and will see if the center front zipper is more comfortable. I’m pretty sure I’ll like the wider foot portion-50″ width–while I turn to sleep on my side. I wonder if FF would custom make a Winter Wren to a lower rated bag.
What are you using for a pillow? So far, it’s just been my clothing in a soft fabric stuff sack.Dec 7, 2017 at 7:51 pm #3506104
As you said, your mattress system is good. I use a similar two layer setup with a Thermarest Trail Pro mattress over a Ridgerest CFC pad for anything below -10 F.
Last year I bought an LL Bean -20 F. 750 fill goose down bag. (Sold out for this season with only 0 F. bags available.) :o( The good news is that these bags all use down treated with Down Tek DWR.
This bag is the best designed winter bag I’ve seen and I’ve seen many and owned 3 winter bags so far. Plus the price is amazing even at the $419. full retail. (OK, 750 fill isn’t 900 fill but it is still way above the 500 fill “standard”.) I got mine on an amazing one day double sale for about $269. Bean stands behind their gear and clothing 100% and everything I’ve ever bought from them has lasted far longer than I expected.
BTW, My 3 season bag is a WM Megalite so I do have a high bar for quality in my sleeping bags and the LL Bean winter bag easily meets it.Dec 7, 2017 at 11:19 pm #3506126
I love quilts and own several, but purchased a 0 quilt a couple of seasons ago and while I think the loft was adequate to 0, drafts were an issue in the cold. I’ve gone back to a sleeping bag- I went with a FF UL Lark w/ 3 oz of overfill, which should put in the 0-ish range. I went back and forth between the Lark and Snowbunting and decided to save a little weight with the Lark (even with the overfill).
Comparable bags from WM will serve you just as well; it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow $ wise, but I know of several FF and WM bags still on the job 20 years later.
I use the same pad system and agree you’re good to go there.Dec 10, 2017 at 10:24 am #3506627
Seth DBPL Member
You could get a wide width synthetic or down 40* quilt to layer over your 20*. You should hit 0 no problem with that.Dec 11, 2017 at 3:14 am #3506771
Your idea of a synthetic over quilt is good. Most of us know that our perspiration migrates as vapor out through our sleeping bags and condenses in the colder outer layers. And, like you, we know a synthetic overbag would be the best way to capture most of that moisture (unless we use a VBL bag inside our down bag).
So In guess I could use my overstuffed WM 20 F. Megalite bag with a synthetic overbag to get to -20 F. The problem is the weight and bulk.
That said I’m now having my tailor sew up a silnylon VBL with a shock corded drawstring top opening and maybe later add a 24″ Velcro closure on my bag’s zipper side if I can’t stand getting in and out of the VBL drawstring top.
BTW, before I sold it, I had a Mountain Hardwear -20 F. synthetic (Polarguard Delta) bag that had a full length side expandable zippered gore. With it open I could get my WM down bag inside and zip the MH bag up without compressing the down bag. THAT combo would have been good to at least -40 F. But I’d need a sled and dog team to haul both bags.Dec 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm #3506869
Edward BartonBPL Member
Eric and others, for a VBL, I would consider going with a sil nylon jacket and pants/socks instead of a VBL bag. You want to have the option to keep your insulated jacket and pants on while you sleep in that environment, and you can’t do that effectively with a VBL bag layer because your body moisture would become trapped in those layers. VBL clothing worn over base layers mitigates this, and you can continue to wear the system during the day if temps are cold enough, or change them out inside your bag. Skurka wore this type of setup during his Northern Midwest long hike, including during the day, and reported it worked well.Dec 12, 2017 at 5:28 am #3507032
Very good point on the option to add extra insulation over a jacket & pants VBL suit. I was about to begin cutting my silnylon for a VBL bag. Now I’ll buy a pattern for pajamas from a fabric shop and get to work. Looks like there is enough material for a suit with an odd bit of piecing here and there. I realize it means more seam sealing but hey, I’m retired and have the time.
Still even a VBL suit requires a dedicated base layer. I’m looking for polyethelene so it will dry fast (or freeze fast!).Dec 12, 2017 at 6:41 am #3507046
Ralph BurgessBPL Member
Would Tyvek overalls work for a VBL suit?Dec 13, 2017 at 12:27 am #3507170
I don’t think Tyvek has a high enough hydrostatic head to keep my sweat inside a suit when I am laying on it.. Plus it’s heavier and bulkier although better feeling against the skin than silnylon.Dec 16, 2017 at 12:08 am #3507721
Seth DBPL Member
I Use a Stephenson warmlite vb suit. Super comfortable. It’s made from the material they use to make hospital sheets out of like 50 or more years ago I think. Either way deffinatly go suit and not vbl bag. FWIW last winter I didn’t wear a base layer under my suit. Just light and baggy base layer above it then fleece and down. I’d like to try wearing my heavy weight layer during the day and making sure it drys so at night I can throw the vb suit over it then insulation.Dec 17, 2017 at 10:04 pm #3508026
Bruce KolkebeckBPL Member
@cjcanoeLocale: Uhwarrie National Forest
Do you not get damp in the VBL suit or bag?
BKDec 17, 2017 at 10:29 pm #3508030
yes you will usually get a little damp, the idea is that moisture trapped isn’t degrading the loft of sleeping bag/quilt and while a little damp- it’s a warm damp :)Dec 18, 2017 at 12:32 am #3508053
Edward John MBPL Member
There is usually so little real water that if you have worn an appropriate base layer [either polyester or polypropylene not wool] you dry off very quickly, It feels very chilly but only for a very short time when using a VB bag if wearing a VB suit there should be no feeling cold at all as you will not be exposing any naked skin to the air and you will already have a layer of clothing on [ the VB plus a base layer] and it was either cold enough to wear insulated clothing or you will have a parka close by and ready to put on.
The Tyvek suit option will be worth experimenting with the next Southern white season in 6 months time because I have had reasonable outcomes using a Tyvek cover as a partial VB linerDec 18, 2017 at 2:45 am #3508074
A scary cautionary tale of down bags getting progressively damper is the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole. When they finally got there they found Roald Amundsen had been there ahead of them.
Amundsen’s team had a lot of Arctic experience and used reindeer sleeping robes and XC skis for faster traveling. The British down “robes” got damper and more frozen every day. Often toward the fatal end they spent an hour literally melting their way into the bags. Eventually they all died of hypothermia before getting back to their base. Their base stands today, with all the supplies still there.
So, yes, VBL suits would have saved them. Even the best laid plans of mice and men…
As for my VBL suit, I would carry light polypro long johns for sleeping only. To be sure getting nude inside a tent, if only 1/2 my body at a time, would be chilly but far better than dressing over very damp underwear. Letting the sleeping base layer and VBL suit freeze and beating the frost off would become a morning ritual. Polypropylene is more hydrophobic than polyester so should be easier to get the frost to fall off.
Dec 18, 2017 at 7:56 am #3508098
- This reply was modified 7 months ago by Eric Blumensaadt.
Edward BartonBPL Member
Anyone have experience using WPB jacket/pants as a VB? I find the pants are useful around camp or at stops for sitting or kneeling on snow, but otherwise in real cold I haven’t had much use for them, and the jacket stays in my bag most trips, though I haven’t been out in extended heavy snow storms either. I’m wondering:
Dec 18, 2017 at 10:58 am #3508115
- If WPB could be made more useful by doubling as a VB, or
- If it might work better in real cold (below 20F daytime temps?) to switch to a more traditional VB that could be used as an outer layer in a pinch in a serious storm.
- Does anyone not bring a WPB jacket in winter? In what kinds of scenarios is it better to bring one?
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I do not carry a WPB jacket any more. Skiing, I use an Epic jacket (MYOG). In reserve in my pack is my (MYOG) silnylon poncho – because we can get even rain in our snow country sometimes. Makes like complicated.
CheersDec 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm #3508123
3. I don’t in cold weather- expected highs teens to low 20’s and below; I have a water resistant windshirt with all the time that doesn’t have any trouble with cold snowDec 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm #3508153
Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
“The Tyvek suit option will be worth experimenting with the next Southern white season in 6 months time because I have had reasonable outcomes using a Tyvek cover as a partial VB liner”
Regardless of it’s HH, I really don’t believe Tyvek would ever be a good option to replace a true VBL, since it’s rather vapor permeable as far as materials go. (It’s considered a Class III vapor retarder in the building industry.)
Materials that make up a genuine VBL should really be a “lot less breathable” as the saying goes.
I know in the kayaking world, there are many brands & models of drysuits out there. I suppose there might be some decent lightweight suits on the market that might work marvelously well as a vbl suit. Even an older/used drysuit (with a few micro holes in it), that would fail as a drysuit could still work adequately as a vbl.
I think the true success of a vbl suit would be in it’s ability to block any air gaps as much as possible. Since drysuits seal up any exposed appendages, that measure would go a long way to reducing any form of vapor transmission. Even a tiny air gap will carry a lot more vapor than any wpb material out there, and the greater the difference (in pressure & wet/dry bulb temp.), the more vapor will want to migrate.
MattDec 18, 2017 at 8:28 pm #3508196
I have a Stohlquist dry suit for sea kayaking and it is extremely heavy. I’d never consider using it for winter camping.
A silnylon VBL suit is my goal. I may even buy one from Stephenson’s Warmlite. But if I make one it will have elastic at waist, cuffs and neck. I doubt much vapor will escape from the suit, maybe 10% of the total. We’ll see.Dec 31, 2017 at 4:24 pm #3510174
Christoph BlankBPL Member
I’m also wondering about my winter setup. I’ve got a Neo Air Xlite and I’m unsure if I should use it together with a CCF pad – or stay lighter with a TAR Xtherm or Exped Doublemat UL.
The threads about this topic support both options and I did not really find a conclusion.Dec 31, 2017 at 5:05 pm #3510184
really depends on temps- I use an Xtherm AND a thinner ccf pad for winter- the ccf pad doubles as sit/knee pad which is handy in the snow :)Dec 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm #3510195
Dan YBPL Member
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