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Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 09:31
Sleep system questions. Specifically my potential sleeping bag and liner(s). Background first, question at the bottom. :)


I am child of Southern California. I've only experienced 4 seasons of winter. Three in the backwoods of Arkansas at 14, 15, and 16. (The only practical knowledge I gained is that ice sucks to walk on and stalls are easier to muck. Then a year in Seattle where I discovered ice sucks to drive on.)


I'm scared of winter on the AT.


I'm planing to start March 1st, 2015. Only reason I would start later would be if I were to cut down my thru-hike into two section-hikes.


This is the bag I've taken a liking to: http://www.hikelight.com/montbell-3-super-spiral-down-hugger-bag.html


I originally thought a 30 bag would be plenty low enough. I mean... that's below freezing! But the more research I do the less confident I become.

I plan to sew myself a silk liner. That gives me an extra 10. (Right?) Will 20 be warm enough?

I'm also contemplating several other options to add additional warmth.

1) Crocheting or knitting a merino wool blanket that's sleeping bag shaped. Using it like a quilt inside the bag. I'm not sure how much that'll weigh or how bulky that would be. Probably not the best at either.

2) Sewing a second liner using fleece. I haven't worn fleece since I was a kid. In my memory it's light weight. Would that add an additional 10? Taking it down to 10 all together?

3) A synthetic quilt over my sleeping bag. Preferably sewn by moi. (Though I'm less confident of my skill at this.)

4) Buying a second bag.

My favorite option is #2. Least favorite is #4.

This is is the pad I plan on buying: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/z-lite/product

Any advice is welcomed. :)

Tipi Walter
02-06-2014, 09:52
With the gear you mention you are skirting right at the edge of comfort and joy. A Navy SEAL or an Army Ranger might have fun with your pad and bag, but I sure would not. The Montbell "light and fast" is a 30F bag for March 1st? Re-compute to 45F for actual in-field utility and it just won't work. Go heavier and warmer. Think 0F minimum or go overkill. Be comfortable carrying a 3 lb bag and not a 1 lb 6 oz bag.

The Solar Ridgerest is only 2.6 Rvalue which is too low for March 1st. Minimum for me is 5R in cold conditions, and this can be achieved in various ways. Plus, be wary of a company (like Montbell) which sells a down bag but does not list the amount of down in ounces in each bag. This is the most important number. For instance, it's standard to have 35ozs of goose down in 0F and subzero bags. I doubt the Montbell even comes close.

Ideally, you should get what you want now and sleep out tonight and every night in the backyard or on a porch or on a deck and take the pad and bag back if they do not work.

bfayer
02-06-2014, 10:04
I have that same bag, and I would not use it in march on the AT. Since women generally sleep colder than men, I would suspect you will need something warmer. If I was a women that was not acclimated to the cold, I would take a 15 degree bag and plan on layering with my outerwear when it's really cold. Having said that, a top quilt with sufficient loft should get you by. Take a look at the loft of an EN rated 15 degree bag (use the women's comfort rating), then subtract the loft of the Montbell bag, that is how much loft you should need for your top quilt.

Silk and other thin liners do not add that much to the warmth of the bag, they add a little, but no where near 10 degrees. Insulation is additive, there is no synergistic effect. If it does not add 10 degrees without the bag, it won't with the bag. For example if you can sleep without any covers at 70 degrees, could you sleep with just a silk liner at 60 degrees? Most people would say no. The same is true when you put a liner inside your sleeping bag, it adds no more or less than it does without the bag.

Generally when it's cold you get more bang for your buck with an extra set of base layers to sleep in. They weigh about the same as a bag liner and you can wear them outside of the bag also. When you get to Virginia and the heat is killer, a silk liner is a great thing to have, just to have something to cover up with when it's 80 or 90 degrees at night in the shelter.

Edit: I just saw TW response and agree with him on the PAD. The pad is half your warmth, R5 is a good place to start for cold weather camping.

Damn Yankee
02-06-2014, 10:31
Here is a pad that has won many awards. There is one for sale on the BPL forum.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/backpackinglight/elements/comment.gif
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm - Regular" (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=87155&skip_to_post=743195#743195)

CarlZ993
02-06-2014, 10:46
Winter isn't something to be scared of. It's just cold. If you're prepared for it, it's still cold.

30 deg bag w/ a 2.6R value sleeping pad won't cut in on March 1st. I started 3/21/13 w/ a 15 deg bag & a 3.1R value pad. A couple of nights, I had to wear every stitch of clothing to stay warm enough to sleep (I typically sleep warm). I shared Tray Mountain Shelter w/ 3 other guys who each had 30 deg bag on a night that hit the mid teens (maybe it got that warm). They shivered all night long and got maybe 10-15 min of sleep each hour that night.

If you could afford it, I'd suggest a quality 0 deg bag (down) & the Thermarest X-therm sleeping pad (5.7 R value). You could keep the Xtherm for the entire hike & switch out to the 30 deg bag when it warmed up.

I don't understand why you don't want to start later. Is there an obligation in the fall that you have to be back for? A later start would accommodate your existing gear. Save you some money on gear purchases.

max patch
02-06-2014, 11:05
A 30 degree bag isn't gonna cut it and a silk liner does not add 10 degrees.

Gus9890
02-06-2014, 11:07
A great addition to a sleeping bag, blanket liner, etc. is an Army poncho/shelter half. They keep in the warmth really well until you get up to take a leak, but it doesn't take long to get warmed back up.

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 11:53
God... :/

Okay. I'm just depressed at how expensive bags are. With the addition of sales tax it's looking like I'd have to drop a grand on just my sleeping bags, liner, and pad.

A lot of you seemed surprised at the 10 silk liner thing. I've read that a couple places.... Guess they're wrong?

How about buying something like this: http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/shop/product_Deuter-DreamLite-500-Sleeping-Bag_10119193_10208_10000001_-1_

Then using it outside of a 30 down bag? Then shipping out the Deuter when it's a littler warmer, then exchanging the two bags when it's hot, and so on.

The reason I'm hesitant to buy a heavy duty 0 bag is I'm worried about the usefulness after the trail. I don't foresee myself going winter camping a lot and I'd hate to spend $500 and then have it sit in the closet for the rest of my life.

BrianLe
02-06-2014, 12:20
Agree with the majority. I started in late Feb in 2010 with a 20F rated bag, and a "good" quality bag of that rating (Western Mountaineering). Wearing all my puffy clothing inside it was enough, but only just as temps got down a few nights into the teens.

The padding under you is important too or you'll be cold. The r-value of the pad you mention is 2.6 (look under the little "specs" tab). You almost certainly need more than that for a March 1st start. I personally combine an inflatable with a ccf pad (the one you list is just a slightly sexed-up ccf pad), with the pad on top of the inflatable when it's cold.

If your plan is to wear clothing inside the bag as part of the overall "warm enough" plan, make sure the bag isn't a tight fit --- the clothing has to be able to 'loft'.

I'd drop the more exotic plans about overquilts or various liners, and I would frankly count on not getting any significant warmth boost from a liner. The liner can feel like it adds 10 degrees when it's warm outside; less so when it's cold. Put another way, you'll get a much more reliable boost to warmth relative to weight and bulk carried by getting a bag that has more down in it.

The 30 degree bag isn't wasted, however; have it mailed to Pearisburg and swap at that point.

What bag you get for the start --- depends on the quality of the bag. If a less known-for-quality bag I might go for a 10F or even 0F bag, but blah --- by far the best is a 10F or at most 20F rated bag of decent quality. WM, Feathered Friends, but sadly these are also the most expensive. Sorry, I can't think of a good way to suggest cheaping out here, other than indeed being aggressive in layering truly warm clothing inside the bag, but there's a limit on what you can get out of that too. The moosejaw link you last posted is to a 27F synthetic bag --- I've not the least idea how it would layer outside of a 30F down bag, but similar to wearing clothing inside, it's only effective if it's fairly huge and can thus allow the inner down bag to loft.

The final suggestion I can think of is to test out what you're going with, but ... oh crap, I just reviewed and you're talking about 2015. So you have plenty of time to work (and robustly test) this out ... Never mind!

Slo-go'en
02-06-2014, 12:33
I would buy the 30* bag and the silk liner and start April 1st. You will save a ton of money that way and at least have a chance of making it out of the state of North Carloina.

Starting March 1st doesn't do much except add another layer of difficulty right at the start to something which is already difficult. The expense of extra gear and more days in town due to bad weather rachet up the cost right at the start significantly. It sounds like you will also be hiking with a dog, which adds yet another layer of complications. It will be easier on both you and the dog if you start in April. The amount of forward progress you loose by starting a month later is easily made up due to better weather and longer days.

BTW, I used a 30* Montbell bag (synthetic) and silk liner for an April 1st start and was fine. One morning I was suprised to wake up and find ice on my tent. I thought it had gotten a little chilly that night...

Venchka
02-06-2014, 12:48
1. Do your homework. Search this Forum (WhiteBlaze) and the Trial Journal Forum ( http://www.trailjournals.com/journals/appalachian_trail/ ) for reports from 2013. Particularly the LAST week of March and the FIRST week of April, 2013. Will 2015 be the same? Nobody knows. But it COULD be the same. It COULD be better. It COULD be worse. Be prepared.
2. You will need 2 bags. One WARM cold weather bag early and late. One SUMMER weather bag in the middle. Swap them with a mail drop when the time is right.
3. Liners will help keep the interior of your bag clean. Adding 10F to the bag's comfort zone? Maybe. I doubt it. Be prepared to wear ALL of your clothes inside your cold weather bag. Said another way: Don't carry more clothes than you can wear inside your sleeping bag if needed for a good night's sleep.
4. You don't need to spend $500 for a premium quality bag brand new. I have seen numerous 0F to 10F high quality bags for sale at this forum in the = or - #300 range. I have seen closeout deals on Western Mountaineering bags online at places like Backcountry Gear, Moosejaw, etc. If a maker doesn't list the down fill power (800 and up is best), weight of down & total weight of the back, stop looking at that bag. Move on. Same goes for temperature ratings. If owner's say that a particular brand of bag is accurately rated, you can trust that brand. If NOBODY is saying anything about a certain brand, move on.
5. There are a few constants in the backpacking industry. Companies that have been around since forever. Companies that have a good reputation and repeat customers. In sleeping bags a few of those companies that I know about are: Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Marmot, The North Face, probably a few more that others will vouch for.
6. A conservative rated 10F down bag should have 20 ounces of the best down on the planet. A well designed hood & foot box. A quality shell with flawless stitching. Roomy enough for you to sleep comfortably without wasted space. Weigh 2 pounds, + or - a few ounces. The Western Mountaineering Vistalite (10F) and the Antelope MF (5F) fall into this category. I own the Antelope. It was comfortable for me on the lower slopes of Mt. Rainier the first week of March few years ago.
7. A Therma-A-Rest Ridgerest and Prolite Plus used together will provide an R-value of 6.6. This is a very versatile solution. You always have a bullet proof backup in the Ridgerest. You can use just one of the pads when the weather warms up. Places like Campmor discount them. REI offers at least (2) 20% coupons per year to help save some money. Win. Win. Win.
8. Yes, a quality down bag will last you most of your lifetime. Find reasons to use it after your thru-hike. Or sell it for 50%-75% of your purchase price. You didn't think of that? You're welcome.
9. Properly prepared, you will breeze through GA-TN-NC-VA before summer arrives. Unprepared, you might not make it out of GA.
Have fun!

Wayne

Tipi Walter
02-06-2014, 12:53
God... :/

Okay. I'm just depressed at how expensive bags are. With the addition of sales tax it's looking like I'd have to drop a grand on just my sleeping bags, liner, and pad.

A lot of you seemed surprised at the 10 silk liner thing. I've read that a couple places.... Guess they're wrong?

How about buying something like this: http://www.moosejaw.com/moosejaw/shop/product_Deuter-DreamLite-500-Sleeping-Bag_10119193_10208_10000001_-1_

Then using it outside of a 30 down bag? Then shipping out the Deuter when it's a littler warmer, then exchanging the two bags when it's hot, and so on.

The reason I'm hesitant to buy a heavy duty 0 bag is I'm worried about the usefulness after the trail. I don't foresee myself going winter camping a lot and I'd hate to spend $500 and then have it sit in the closet for the rest of my life.

Don't despair. A person can stay warm in the winter and still live in "poverty". The solution is weight and bulk. Get your Montbell bag and then find an old Army feather bag and throw that on top like a blanket. Weight and bulk. Or get the Montbell and find a used bag to double up. There are easy ways to stay warm in the winter and not spend a thousand dollars.

Affirmative
02-06-2014, 13:39
Hey guys, I'm testing something that may be ridiculous and stupid. However I'm starting in April and I'm not too concerned because I'm willing to spend a few cold nights up & about to keep warm if I have to.

When the temperature drops - my plan A will be using a hypothermia package. I have a 3 season single person tent, 45 degree down bag, a thermal liner, a thermarest z lite, a space blanket, tarp, and a SOL emergency escape bivvy. Along with all my clothes.

The space blanket goes first inside the tent. I let it wrap up the sides/pocket the feet area. Then goes the tarp. Next is putting my sleep pad inside the emergency bivvy (which btw is not bad for protecting you from wind/weather, but I already have the tarp, space blanket, tent anyway). Finally comes burrowing my way into all of that with my sleeping bag + liner inside while wearing all my clothes. Package yourself up from the inside with the tarp, cinch down the bivvy, and zip up the bag.

It's obviously not for everybody, it's a lot of work, its claustrophobic, and not an ideal thing to do. The ideal thing is investing in a good sleeping bag. Because on top of all that work, you have to make sure it's done right and you have to sleep light anyway to make sure you don't sweat. Otherwise you could be in a lot of trouble.

So far I've never had to resort to plan B which involves incorporating garbage bags and VBLs. I hope I don't have to. Plan C is just put on all your clothes and keep moving which actually has always been more appealing than plan B. If I get stuck in a storm - I'm just stupid and deserve it. I'm ready to pull a Bear Grylls and hide in a hotel when I see bad weather coming.

bfayer
02-06-2014, 13:46
Hey guys, I'm testing something that may be ridiculous and stupid. However I'm starting in April and I'm not too concerned because I'm willing to spend a few cold nights up & about to keep warm if I have to.

When the temperature drops - my plan A will be using a hypothermia package. I have a 3 season single person tent, 45 degree down bag, a thermal liner, a thermarest z lite, a space blanket, tarp, and a SOL emergency escape bivvy. Along with all my clothes.

The space blanket goes first inside the tent. I let it wrap up the sides/pocket the feet area. Then goes the tarp. Next is putting my sleep pad inside the emergency bivvy (which btw is not bad for protecting you from wind/weather, but I already have the tarp, space blanket, tent anyway). Finally comes burrowing my way into all of that with my sleeping bag + liner inside while wearing all my clothes. Package yourself up from the inside with the tarp, cinch down the bivvy, and zip up the bag.

It's obviously not for everybody, it's a lot of work, its claustrophobic, and not an ideal thing to do. The ideal thing is investing in a good sleeping bag. Because on top of all that work, you have to make sure it's done right and you have to sleep light anyway to make sure you don't sweat. Otherwise you could be in a lot of trouble.

So far I've never had to resort to plan B which involves incorporating garbage bags and VBLs. I hope I don't have to. Plan C is just put on all your clothes and keep moving which actually has always been more appealing than plan B. If I get stuck in a storm - I'm just stupid and deserve it. I'm ready to pull a Bear Grylls and hide in a hotel when I see bad weather coming.

Have you tied this for more than a night or two in below freezing weather?

You are creating a moisture trap that will saturate your sleeping bag. After a few days your bag will most likely next to useless. Your plan is not bad for emergency situations where you have no other choice, but for a long hike you might want to rethink it a little.

slbirdnerd
02-06-2014, 14:21
Sounds like you need a Thermolite Reactor Extreme bag liner. I have a 20 degree down bag and froze my butt off on a January overnight. I started looking at new bags but my local outfitter suggested the liner (this was a pleasant surprise when they could have sold me a $400 sleeping bag...). Unlike some liners, this one is made to add warmth (25 degrees). Something to look at--then you can send it home when you are done with it and be fine with your bag until fall. Or, send the bag home and sleep in the liner.

4eyedbuzzard
02-06-2014, 14:36
Sounds like you need a Thermolite Reactor Extreme bag liner. I have a 20 degree down bag and froze my butt off on a January overnight. I started looking at new bags but my local outfitter suggested the liner (this was a pleasant surprise when they could have sold me a $400 sleeping bag...). Unlike some liners, this one is made to add warmth (25 degrees). Something to look at--then you can send it home when you are done with it and be fine with your bag until fall. Or, send the bag home and sleep in the liner.Didn't get very good reviews here - http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32928

slbirdnerd
02-06-2014, 14:44
Didn't get very good reviews here - http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32928 I get that. The tangled mess is a concern of mine with any liner, but I'd be willing to try this one before shelling out for a new bag. Normally I wouldn't believe an employee, but I've seen the guy's gear during a presentation somewhere else and he actually does use it.

bfayer
02-06-2014, 14:58
Didn't get very good reviews here - http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32928


Sad but true.

To put it in perspective I have an Eddie Bauer down liner bag I got back in 77 or 78, it is rated as a 50F stand alone bag, or +20 degree as a liner. It has about 2.5 inches of loft, and does add +20 to your sleeping bag, but not much more.

George
02-06-2014, 15:32
Sad but true.

To put it in perspective I have an Eddie Bauer down liner bag I got back in 77 or 78, it is rated as a 50F stand alone bag, or +20 degree as a liner. It has about 2.5 inches of loft, and does add +20 to your sleeping bag, but not much more.

it will only add temp if it has room to loft - if crushed inside the outer bag it will add squat - listen to Tipi, he is the one who does this for months, drape another bag / quilt over the top

Kc Fiedler
02-06-2014, 15:36
Sleep system questions. Specifically my potential sleeping bag and liner(s). Background first, question at the bottom. :)


I am child of Southern California. I've only experienced 4 seasons of winter. Three in the backwoods of Arkansas at 14, 15, and 16. (The only practical knowledge I gained is that ice sucks to walk on and stalls are easier to muck. Then a year in Seattle where I discovered ice sucks to drive on.)


I'm scared of winter on the AT.


I'm planing to start March 1st, 2015. Only reason I would start later would be if I were to cut down my thru-hike into two section-hikes.


This is the bag I've taken a liking to: http://www.hikelight.com/montbell-3-super-spiral-down-hugger-bag.html


I originally thought a 30 bag would be plenty low enough. I mean... that's below freezing! But the more research I do the less confident I become.

I plan to sew myself a silk liner. That gives me an extra 10. (Right?) Will 20 be warm enough?

I'm also contemplating several other options to add additional warmth.

1) Crocheting or knitting a merino wool blanket that's sleeping bag shaped. Using it like a quilt inside the bag. I'm not sure how much that'll weigh or how bulky that would be. Probably not the best at either.

2) Sewing a second liner using fleece. I haven't worn fleece since I was a kid. In my memory it's light weight. Would that add an additional 10? Taking it down to 10 all together?

3) A synthetic quilt over my sleeping bag. Preferably sewn by moi. (Though I'm less confident of my skill at this.)

4) Buying a second bag.

My favorite option is #2. Least favorite is #4.

This is is the pad I plan on buying: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/z-lite/product

Any advice is welcomed. :)

The Z-lite will probably leave you feeling cold at the beginning of March. A silk liner will definitely not add 10 degrees, maybe 2-3 degrees. A thick fleece liner might add 10 degrees. I think if your bag/liner together are good down to 20 and you're not a cold sleeper you'll be fine. I'd consider the neoair Xtherm for pad.

bfayer
02-06-2014, 15:54
it will only add temp if it has room to loft - if crushed inside the outer bag it will add squat - listen to Tipi, he is the one who does this for months, drape another bag / quilt over the top

Which will only work if the heavy bag on top does not crush the loft of the inner bag. It does not matter what is on top or inside if you lose loft. If you read my posts you will see that my point has been that loft IS the important thing. which is why thin liners don't add 25 degrees.

Double bags are pretty standard fare for winter camping (In fact that is exactly what Tipi recommended when he said "find a used bag to double up".) and her Montbell bag she has plenty of interior room to preserve loft if she goes that route. If she goes with an outer bag to double up, it better be pretty big and very light, because the MB bag's 800 fill will not support much more than the material it is made out of. All that said, I was not recommending a down inner bag, I actually recommend a top quilt, just like you.

Affirmative
02-06-2014, 15:58
Have you tied this for more than a night or two in below freezing weather?

You are creating a moisture trap that will saturate your sleeping bag. After a few days your bag will most likely next to useless. Your plan is not bad for emergency situations where you have no other choice, but for a long hike you might want to rethink it a little.

I've actually gotten up in the morning to find everything outside my tent frosted over when I was only in my 45 bag with a fleece and rain gear on. I've never had to fully bundle up because I can handle 30 degrees if there are no other complications - I just curl up in a ball and try to get some shut eye with such a light sleeping bag. Adding the tarp and space blanket has made 30 degree nights pretty comfortable for me because I guess it helped retain heat from escaping and neutralized the winds from stealing my warmth.

However, I do worry about testing out the SOL emer bivvy for exactly the reason you stated: creating a moisture trap. With the tarp I can just open it up a little bit. The bivvy makes it a little more complicated. I'm hoping to test it out and see what I can do about it on the Pacific Crest Trail. I've got a long time to prepare for the AT.

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 16:08
So good to see you're persuing more relevant questions pertaining to wanting to do an AT thru-hike.:)

Seems you want to be a fair weather hiker or hike comfortably warm. That's fine. Two Options 1) hike during a fairer weather window, perhaps by cherry picking where and when you hike the AT, perhaps, by considering section hiking the AT 2) expand what you are comfortable with.

If you're seeking to start Mar 1 on a northbound(NOBO) AT thru-hike, uhh, you need greater warmth(*especially based on all that you've said) than a 30* bag regardless if having a liner or sleeping clothing and sleeping in an enclosed shelter(tent). If you were asking me these questions as an outfitter I would say strongly consider a 10 *- 15* bag, prolly synthetic, or at the least, a 20* rated bag w/ a liner AND sleeping layers while sleeping largely in an enclosed tent or AT lean-to. This is what I would advise you stick with up until about May 1. I suggest also getting out into the San Bernardinos during the coldest nights for overnights pre AT attempt. If you don't do these things IMHO the odds will be extremely high you're supposed AT thru-hike will turn into an unenjoyable abbreviated AT section hike. Enjoy your adventure.

bfayer
02-06-2014, 16:18
I've actually gotten up in the morning to find everything outside my tent frosted over when I was only in my 45 bag with a fleece and rain gear on. I've never had to fully bundle up because I can handle 30 degrees if there are no other complications - I just curl up in a ball and try to get some shut eye with such a light sleeping bag. Adding the tarp and space blanket has made 30 degree nights pretty comfortable for me because I guess it helped retain heat from escaping and neutralized the winds from stealing my warmth.

However, I do worry about testing out the SOL emer bivvy for exactly the reason you stated: creating a moisture trap. With the tarp I can just open it up a little bit. The bivvy makes it a little more complicated. I'm hoping to test it out and see what I can do about it on the Pacific Crest Trail. I've got a long time to prepare for the AT.

Just want to point the AT is a little wetter than CA. Things out here get wet and stay wet. Keeping your sleeping bag dry is priority number one. I think your experimenting is a great idea, but I highly recommend you hit the AT with something you know will work out here.

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 16:20
I'm honestly relieved at how knowledgable you guys are. I'm so glad I joined and asked this question. Special thanks to Tipi since he got me looking for that "old army feather bag" and that lead me down an interesting path of DIY.


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32521


http://thru-hiker.com/projects/down_quilt.php


And a couple other sites too.

I own a sewing machine and I'm skilled enough to do straight lines.

I'm wondering about the lack of a hood.... Is that concerning?

Also... could it really be as straight forward as this seems?? If it is, then why isn't everyone doing this? Am I missing a catch?

Any advice about making my own down sleeping bag will be greatly appreciated.

And you all have convinced me to sink a couple hundred into a pad. (Or hopefully find something used.)

I don't plan to buy my expensive gear until after I move to Nashville. Necessities first, then luxuries.

(Oh! And I seriously wish I could edit my posts. Ahh the misshtakes. :p)

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 16:34
So good to see you're persuing more relevant questions pertaining to wanting to do an AT thru-hike.:)1

Omg. I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

Affirmative
02-06-2014, 16:34
Just want to point the AT is a little wetter than CA. Things out here get wet and stay wet. Keeping your sleeping bag dry is priority number one. I think your experimenting is a great idea, but I highly recommend you hit the AT with something you know will work out here.

Copy that. What has me checking out synthetic bags is not the worry about rain. It's the humidity. I'm just being stubborn because I want to be able to use the same bag the whole way. And I'm hoping I can find a way to do it with just my 45 down. Thanks for the input!

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 16:38
Just want to point the AT is a little wetter than CA. Things out here get wet and stay wet.... I highly recommend you hit the AT with something you know will work out here.

Uhh, you betcha. She's in LA. It's more than a little wetter on the east coast than in LA, around 3 times + as wetter on the AT than in LA. Some of it falling as snow. She better make the necessary adjustments in mentality, gear selection, hiking conditions, weather, ups/downs, etc

Annual rainfall:

LA - 15"/yr
Hot Springs - 45"
On the AT in GSMNP - 80"
Harpers Ferry - 45"
Hanover - 40-45"
etc etc etc

bfayer
02-06-2014, 16:41
I'm honestly relieved at how knowledgable you guys are. I'm so glad I joined and asked this question. Special thanks to Tipi since he got me looking for that "old army feather bag" and that lead me down an interesting path of DIY.


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32521


http://thru-hiker.com/projects/down_quilt.php


And a couple other sites too.

I own a sewing machine and I'm skilled enough to do straight lines.

I'm wondering about the lack of a hood.... Is that concerning?

Also... could it really be as straight forward as this seems?? If it is, then why isn't everyone doing this? Am I missing a catch?

Any advice about making my own down sleeping bag will be greatly appreciated.

And you all have convinced me to sink a couple hundred into a pad. (Or hopefully find something used.)

I don't plan to buy my expensive gear until after I move to Nashville. Necessities first, then luxuries.

(Oh! And I seriously wish I could edit my posts. Ahh the misshtakes. :p)

Head over to the DIY forum, lots of folks there to help. Your Montbell has a hood so you should be fine in that area. make sure you take a wool or fleece hat. Lots of folk use just a quilt (no hood) down to the teens with just a balaclava.

Good luck on your endeavor!

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 16:47
Omg. I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

With that comment you might get me to buy you a drink. :D I really want to see you enjoy your hike however you choose to hike. That's all. I know how it can be in my early twenties plugged into the college scene(can only imagine living in LA like that as a women). I know it both as someone who's pissed away far more money buying "stuff" for women and having "stuff" bought for me too. :D

Venchka
02-06-2014, 17:07
Sounds like you need a Thermolite Reactor Extreme bag liner. I have a 20 degree down bag and froze my butt off on a January overnight. I started looking at new bags but my local outfitter suggested the liner (this was a pleasant surprise when they could have sold me a $400 sleeping bag...). Unlike some liners, this one is made to add warmth (25 degrees). Something to look at--then you can send it home when you are done with it and be fine with your bag until fall. Or, send the bag home and sleep in the liner.

Unless it is on fire, how does a liner "add heat" inside your bag?

Another version of the liner story...
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32928

Wayne

Venchka
02-06-2014, 17:10
Already mentioned. Sorry. I should read everything first.
By the way, I also have a liner. Different brand. Similar concept. I have used it once or twice. More trouble than it is worth.


Unless it is on fire, how does a liner "add heat" inside your bag?

Another version of the liner story...
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=32928

Wayne

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 17:16
Unless it is on fire, how does a liner "add heat" inside your bag

Wayne

One of the same ways a sleeping bag does it - reducing convective heat transfer.

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 17:17
With that comment you might get me to buy you a drink. :D I really want to see you enjoy your hike however you choose to hike. That's all. I know how it can be in my early twenties plugged into the college scene(can only imagine living in LA like that as a women). I know it both as someone who's pissed away far more money buying "stuff" for women and having "stuff" bought for me too. :D
Aww, there's no need to get you to buy me a drink. I'll buy YOU a drink.

... Then steal a few sips. Friendly sips. :D

You'll get dinner right?

Slo-go'en
02-06-2014, 17:22
Also... could it really be as straight forward as this seems?? If it is, then why isn't everyone doing this? Am I missing a catch?


Since I'm a side/stomac sleeper, I find the hood on a mummy bag on the wrong side. I'd rather have it over my head then under, but that makes the zipper baffle fall the wrong way inside the bag.

In any event, keeping the bag chinched up around your face to keep cold drafts out is a problem, at least for me. That's where I find the liner helpfull, it's easier to pull up around my neck and head. Of course, you want a good hat and a fleece neck wrap helps a whole lot. It's usually a mistake to sleep with too many clothes on - the inside of your bag never really warms up. Just keeping most of your skin covered with long underware and long sleeve thermal top is all that's needed unless your really pushing the limits of your bag.


Any advice about making my own down sleeping bag will be greatly appreciated.

The trick is getting the feathers into the baffles and not all over the room. I tried to restuff a baffle in an old bag and what I mess I made. Feathers everywhere. I guess there is a way to use a vacum cleaner to suck the feathers in to the tube and then blow them out into the baffles in the bag. Or you could wet them down which will make them bunch up into clumps or do the process inside a tent to contain the feathers.

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 17:31
Since I'm a side/stomach sleeper, I find the hood on a mummy bag on the wrong side. I'd rather have it over my head then under, but that makes the zipper baffle fall the wrong way inside the bag.
Hmm, I sleep on my sides and stomach too.

In any event, keeping the bag chinched up around your face to keep cold drafts out is a problem, at least for me. That's where I find the liner helpfull, it's easier to pull up around my neck and head. Of course, you want a good hat and a fleece neck wrap helps a whole lot. It's usually a mistake to sleep with too many clothes on - the inside of your bag never really warms up. Just keeping most of your skin covered with long underware and long sleeve thermal top is all that's needed unless your really pushing the limits of your bag.

Extremely helpful!


The trick is getting the feathers into the baffles and not all over the room. I tried to restuff a baffle in an old bag and what I mess I made. Feathers everywhere. I guess there is a way to use a vacum cleaner to suck the feathers in to the tube and then blow them out into the baffles in the bag. Or you could wet them down which will make them bunch up into clumps or do the process inside a tent to contain the feathers.
I think I'll do it in a contained space. Like a shower stall or an enclosed bathtub. Funnel it in like I'm decorating a cake.

Venchka
02-06-2014, 18:04
One of the same ways a sleeping bag does it - reducing convective heat transfer.

Neither adds heat. They merely slow down the loss of heat.
We digress.
A decent sleeping system, adequate bag-supplementary clothing-sufficient ground insulation, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Sierra2015,
Have you given any thought to shelter and a decent backpack to tote all of your stuff?

In addition to using the twice yearly REI 20% discount coupons, I found these at Campmor right now:

Thermarest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad Irregular
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___11718

Thermarest 40th Anniversary Edition Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40089

Total R value: 6.8
Total price: $100 plus shipping.

Shop the For Sale Forum here. I saw two Western Mountaineering bags listed today. They may not be right for you, but it proves that they do come up for sale.
Have fun!

Wayne

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 18:33
Aww, there's no need to get you to buy me a drink. I'll buy YOU a drink.

... Then steal a few sips. Friendly sips. :D

You'll get dinner right?

LOL. Only if you agree I can steal a few friendly forkfuls of your dinner. You LA types - always negotiating.

Dogwood
02-06-2014, 18:42
PLEASE explain how reducing convective heat transfer.... is ANY different than.... slowing down the loss of heat in that you felt the need to reword what I said. :-?

Drybones
02-06-2014, 18:52
You just never know. March of 2012 you could have made it with your set up, a few cold nights here and there but nothing brutal. 2013, you'd be frozen to a shelter floor and they'd have to scrape you off (just kiddin, but you'd have been a miserable puppy). I'd want a true 20 degree bag that early at the minimum, you can survive with less, but you may not be a happy camper, if you can't enjoy it there's no reason to be there.

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 18:52
Neither adds heat. They merely slow down the loss of heat.
We digress.
A decent sleeping system, adequate bag-supplementary clothing-sufficient ground insulation, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Sierra2015,
Have you given any thought to shelter and a decent backpack to tote all of your stuff?


In addition to using the twice yearly REI 20% discount coupons, I found these at Campmor right now:


Thermarest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad Irregular




http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___11718


Thermarest 40th Anniversary Edition Self Inflating Sleeping Pad




http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40089


Total R value: 6.8
Total price: $100 plus shipping.


Shop the For Sale Forum here. I saw two Western Mountaineering bags listed today. They may not be right for you, but it proves that they do come up for sale.
Have fun!


Wayne
A solo tent from Six Moon Designs. (Depends on what's in stock when I'm ready to buy.)


As for a bag... I think I'm going to do that last. I have several bookmarked, but in the end my base weight is going to determine if I can get a pack that carries 30 pounds or less. I might need a heavier pack to accommodate some excess things my dog needs. She's 65 pounds and while she's kind of shaggy she just has a single coat.

For her I'm going to get a Ruff Wear detachable pack, a rain jacket that covers her and her pack, a little bed for when it's cold (I'm thinking a simple fleece square with an emergency blanket underneath), and some nutrient dense good quality food. Booties too... Though she hates them. And a few other things.

I did a simple spreadsheet and it looks like I'll be okay.... But I still don't want to have to take a loss on a backpack.


I'm completely worried about hiking boots/shoes. My toes always get cramped and my heel ends up having too much room. And the arch is never high enough. And the roof of the shoe is never high enough.

I bought some cork hiking poles a couple months back. Nice things. Too short for me. -_- I got the woman's version and I should have gotten a mans. I'm taller than most girls. :/

Sierra2015
02-06-2014, 18:57
LOL. Only if you agree I can steal a few friendly forkfuls of your dinner. You LA types - always negotiating.
Compromising, Dogwood. Compromising.

SOBO_Pace
02-06-2014, 19:15
The trick is getting the feathers into the baffles and not all over the room. I tried to restuff a baffle in an old bag and what I mess I made. Feathers everywhere. I guess there is a way to use a vacum cleaner to suck the feathers in to the tube and then blow them out into the baffles in the bag. Or you could wet them down which will make them bunch up into clumps or do the process inside a tent to contain the feathers.
I think I'll do it in a contained space. Like a shower stall or an enclosed bathtub. Funnel it in like I'm decorating a cake.[/QUOTE]

I used a shop vac and put a coffee filter on the back end of the hose to keep from sucking the down through.
First I weighed out the amount of down I wanted per baffle. Then sucked it up, reversed the pipe and blew it in.
Of course I figured this out on my second attempt but worked very well.

Drybones
02-06-2014, 19:19
The trick is getting the feathers into the baffles and not all over the room. I tried to restuff a baffle in an old bag and what I mess I made. Feathers everywhere. I guess there is a way to use a vacum cleaner to suck the feathers in to the tube and then blow them out into the baffles in the bag. Or you could wet them down which will make them bunch up into clumps or do the process inside a tent to contain the feathers.

I had a 20 degree REI bag that I wanted to get to a true 20 degree rating. I cut a small slit in each baffle and used a small piece of PVC pipe to squash down into and insert into the babble and then patched the hole with Kenyon tape. Worked well, I've tested it to 19 degrees. Dont recommend this for a new bag. BTW, watch for sales, got the wife a good 15 degree, 750 down, 2 lb bag for $134 a while back.

Venchka
02-06-2014, 19:34
PLEASE explain how reducing convective heat transfer.... is ANY different than.... slowing down the loss of heat in that you felt the need to reword what I said. :-?

The word "add" implies that an inert object, in this case a liner, generates (adds) heat. Not my words.
No worries. I'll quit. It's all good.

Wayne

George
02-07-2014, 02:14
However, I do worry about testing out the SOL emer bivvy for exactly the reason you stated: creating a moisture trap. With the tarp I can just open it up a little bit. The bivvy makes it a little more complicated. I'm hoping to test it out and see what I can do about it on the Pacific Crest Trail. I've got a long time to prepare for the AT.

what you do is pull the flap of the bivy inside the face hole of the mummy bag and tuck it under your chin - that way the moisture from respiration stays outside

Venchka
02-08-2014, 11:58
An overlooked idea for extending the comfort rating of any sleep system:
Hot water bottles. Common 1 liter water bottles filled with hot (not boiling-home water heater hot) water and placed inside the sleeping bag. 1 at the feet and another at the upper torso. Old school. Simple. Cheap. Easy.
Be warm.

Wayne

RedBeerd
02-08-2014, 13:19
Why not just buy a bulky, heavy, and cheap 0 degree synthetic bag? You don't need to hold onto it for long then swap out for your 30. Spend the $160 on an xtherm or buy a, once again, bulky, heavy, and cheap 5R rated pad. You don't want to skimp on these things keeping you warm. If you're gonna do it, do it right, IMO.

Snowleopard
02-08-2014, 17:19
If money is tight don't spend a $1000 on sleeping bags and pads!
Check out sales, especially as spring approaches. Add EMS.com and REI to places to look for sales (EMS mountainlight bags are pretty good and a bargain only when they're on sale; I got a -20F bag for a little over $200 on sale). Check out Craigslist and ebay (be careful though) and used stuff on the forums.

A double bag or quilt over a bag can work at the cost of bulk and weight. If you get that 30F bag, a somewhat oversized synthetic quilt over the bag would work but could be drafty if you're not careful. If you can sew at all, a DIY synthetic quilt is easy but a down quilt is a lot harder. You could also get a 0F synthetic bag (cheaper, heavy, BULKY).

A cheap blue foam pad from Walmart over your zlite would be warm enough; if you can find a cheap thermarest air mattress to put on top of the zlite, it would be more comfortable.

Del Q
02-09-2014, 10:21
Lots of great input...........I have a 25 degree Mont Bell and a thermarest, bought a Western Mountaineering liner, light, like sleeping in an oven bag, definitely makes a significant difference. I also sleep with a merino wool balaclava which also helps, both in keeping with goal for light pack.

I tent, what I try to find is a spot where I can pile up 1 foot or more of leaves (or pine needles), provides a good amount of insulation, in the morning LNT, spresad them back out making the area look as if nobody was there.

My legs tent to stay warm with icebreaker 200 merino wool long johns, I wear several layers up top, icebreaker merino wool tee shirt, Go Lite wind shirt also helps to retain heat and is very light.

Prime Time
02-09-2014, 20:52
I started my hike on March 27 last year with a 30 degree bag and a silk liner and a Therm-o-rest neoair pad and it was fine down to about 26 degrees if I wrapped my down jacket around my torso while I slept and wore my capeline base layer, wool socks and a fleece layer. On nights that went below that I was uncomfortaby cold but not in danger. Under 20 degrees would have been a big problem but it never got that cold. Starting March 1, you might have that. What I'd do if I didn't want to buy an expensive second bag is buy a $150 Jacks-are-better 45 degree down quilt (14 oz.) and wrap it around your down bag on really cold nights. After Pearisburg VA, you can send home your 30 degree bag and just keep your quilt and liner from Pearisburg to Glenncliff, NH. Then send for your 30 degree bag and send home your quilt.

Bronk
02-10-2014, 10:56
I have slept in my 30 degree bag down to 5 degrees and been warm if I slept with all of my layers on:

short sleeved tshirt
long sleeved tshirt
long sleeved fleece
fleece vest
knit hat
gloves
wool socks

kennyxedge
02-12-2014, 18:00
You can definitely make it work if you sleep with layers. I started on April 1 a couple years ago, and we had a few nights below freezing and my 35 degree bag was plenty warm enough while I was wearing my fleece and baselayer.

Another Kevin
02-12-2014, 20:38
I'm of the opinion that you really need two pads in the winter, and at least one has to be foam. The other can be inflatable - ideally self-inflating so that it has at least some loft if it springs a leak. I sleep comfortably in near-zero with a blue foam under my ProLite. I've even been known to layer a piece of Reflectix with all that. The blue foam is light and cheap. It's bulky, but on the A-T it can ride lashed outside the pack. The high-R-value pads all seem to be inflatable, and an inflatable pad needs a backup in the winter.

BarFight
02-13-2014, 13:04
looks like you have a good solution with sewing your own quilt, but I want to chime in that 1000 bucks for a new sleeping set up seems really steep. I'd say 500 if you bought a really nice synthetic bag. Sure they weigh more, but you wouldn't be using it for the whole hike and it wouldn't get damp as easily as a down bag. When I hiked I started mid-march, had to get off for two weeks in Franklin so it was more like an April start. It was freezing in the mountains in March, if I did it again I would start with a 10 degree bag and/or bring a down jacket and pants for night. I replaced my crappy 3/4 pad for a Big Agnes full-length one right away, I'm a side sleeper so I was in hell with the thin pad anyway. The full length pad, 20 degree bag and sleeping in every layer I had got me through the first months.

Sierra2015
02-14-2014, 02:48
I was talking about a summer bag, a winter bag, and a high R rated pad. Plus tax.

That's 300+400+200 and then like a hundred in tax.

I'm not doing that... Haha. That's what I don't wan to do!

Sierra2015
02-14-2014, 02:50
How likely is it that a pad will spring a leak?

lonehiker
02-14-2014, 05:07
How likely is it that a pad will spring a leak?

I carry a cheap Walmart closed cell pad (cut to fit) that I use under my Neo Air. Have never had a leak but always carry the repair kit. If you don't want to carry extra pad just be careful with your site selection. After laying down ground cloth feel for sharp objects. I do this even though I use the second pad. Helps prevent holes in tent floor.

Abner
02-14-2014, 23:05
Sierra, do not worry...there are plenty of places you can get a warm bag for less...check out this link to backpackinglight.com gear swap. Every day hundreds of used pieces of top of the line hiking equipment are put up for sale. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=87622 The link I just shared is typical. Great 15 degree sleeping bags---two of them for 250 apiece. There are better deals out there, too. I've been wanting to get into winter camping lately and just purchased a -40 degree Gerry down filled sleeping bag on EBAY for 93 dollars. Any bag that is currently -30 degrees and new is at least 650 or 700 dollars. So you can find what you are looking for, but I would seriously start on Backpackinglight.com the "gear swap" and watch what comes up there for several days. It is truly remarkable. Best wishes. Additionally, don't worry about 30 degrees at night in the woods. It's really quite wonderful. Beautiful really. Just keep those hands, head, ears, warm!

bpowell1014
02-15-2014, 16:25
I'm wondering if you could use the 30 degree bag but sleep with the bag itself inside an emergency bivvy sack. Does anyone here think that would get you an extra 10 degrees in warmth? Bivvy sacks are comparatively cheaper than buying a new sleeping bag. Anyone ever tried this?

bfayer
02-15-2014, 17:03
I'm wondering if you could use the 30 degree bag but sleep with the bag itself inside an emergency bivvy sack. Does anyone here think that would get you an extra 10 degrees in warmth? Bivvy sacks are comparatively cheaper than buying a new sleeping bag. Anyone ever tried this?

Putting a sleeping bag inside an emergency bivy will create a moisture trap and in a few nights the sleeping bag will be soaking wet and unusable.

Sarcasm the elf
02-15-2014, 19:43
I'm wondering if you could use the 30 degree bag but sleep with the bag itself inside an emergency bivvy sack. Does anyone here think that would get you an extra 10 degrees in warmth? Bivvy sacks are comparatively cheaper than buying a new sleeping bag. Anyone ever tried this?


Putting a sleeping bag inside an emergency bivy will create a moisture trap and in a few nights the sleeping bag will be soaking wet and unusable.

Bfayer is correct, I have made the mistake of tightly wrapping myself and my bag inside a tarp while cowboy camping and after a night or two your sleeping bag is practically soaked through from moisture/condensation.

lemon b
02-16-2014, 10:34
Being a yankee we define winter differently. First time out in the winter up here go with an experienced winter hiker, first thing they will do is check equipment. One thing I learned early from my Dad who was a southern Army Ranger (thrown into Europe) is its what under you that counts most. Up here I double pad, & sleep in shelter since they are empty. So for sleeping its more whats under than over And of course your feet.

lemon b
02-16-2014, 10:37
Being a yankee we define winter differently. First time out in the winter up here go with an experienced winter hiker, first thing they will do is check equipment. One thing I learned early from my Dad who was a southern Army Ranger (thrown into Europe) is its what under you that counts most. Up here I double pad, & sleep in shelter since they are empty. So for sleeping its more whats under than over And of course your feet. Down south a 20 degree bag. Do not skimp on the pad.