View Full Version : Synthetic sleeping bags

12-31-2005, 16:10
Ok so theres probably at least 1-zillion threads on down sleeping bags or synth bag threads that get hijacked into a discussion on down bags, but I am fairly paranoid about getting down wet, so down is out of the question.

I'm hoping to do a NOBO early april start this year and i'm looking to reduce the sleeping bag weight somewhat. In the past i had an old school 0 llbean bag, and 2 years ago went to a 0 marmot bag. The marmot bag is very nice and useful when i go camping in some of the colder months, but its right at 4#, which seems very much overkill for an AT hike.

Mostly what I'm hoping for is some reviews/feedback on a few specific bags (there seem to be not so many synth bags made "lightweight") and recommendations on whether the bags would be sufficient for the entirety of an april NOBO hike. Also note that my paranoia also dictactes that i always sleep in a tent, so thats also a factor. And yes i've been backpacking for years with tent/synth bag so i'm fairly set in my ways.

Anyways heres what i've found so far ->

TNF fission 20 - http://www.thenorthface.com/opencms/opencms/tnf/gear.jsp?site=NA&model=APF8

pros - "warmest" of the 3, cons - 1/2 zip and less compressable from what i've read

marmot pounder plus 25 - http://www.marmot.com/products/product.php?cat=bags&subcat=23&style_id=G2304

pros - full zip, probbly most compressable, cons - mixed reviews on rated warmth(?), also shortened and rated regular size for up to 5'10 not usual 6' (i'm 5'11)

kelty light year 25 - http://www.kelty.com/Kelty/index.cfm?fuseaction=SleepingBags.ShowProduct&type=sleepingBag&ID=92

pros - cheapest(not so much an issue), packs smaller than TNF, cons - 1/2 zip, also mixed reviews on warmth

So all things being as advertised i'd probbly just go with the marmot for the full zip and previous good experience with their bags, but i'm a little worried about a few people talking about the regular pounder being alot overly optimistic about its warmth rating. Sorry for the length, but its saturday and i'm bored.


12-31-2005, 17:25
First, there is nothing wrong with using a synthetic bag. They certainly are cheaper than a down bag.

I haven't seen a recent survey, so I don't know how many people carry down and how many people carry synthetic.

I wouldn't fuss too much about the bulk. It's weight that is the issue.

If you have a 20 degree bag, and are starting around April 1, then that should be adequate. Hard to justify buying another bag when you have one that works for you. However, I think you will find that by summer the 20 degree bag will be too warm. My advice is to invest in a synthetic summer bag for Pearisburg to Hanover. The weight difference between synthetic and down in a summer bag isn't much.

12-31-2005, 17:38
I use a synthetic because of the same concerns about wetness. Last summer I switched from a Sierra Designs 3+ pounds to the Marmot Pounder Plus - the Marmot is lighter than what I had (2 lbs., 2 oz.) and is rated down to a lower temp (25 degrees). I'm 67" tall and 150 pounds so I had lots of room and no problems staying warm in my hammock (the coldest night on the trail for me was probably in the upper 40's). The Pounder Plus compresses very well and I'm quite satisfied.

max patch
12-31-2005, 18:27
I used a syn bag on my thru -- TNF Cats Meow rated 20 degrees -- although when I finished the first equipment upgrade I made was to get a Western Mountaineering down bag.

I left 5/1 and had several cold nites where I wore all my clothes to bed and was still uncomfortable so I certainly wouldn't suggest using anything rated any lower than that.

In Gettysburg in the middle of the hot summer I got the bright idea of buying a bed sheet from a dollar store and mailing my bag ahead a couple of weeks. It worked great until a cold snap came through. When I caught up to my bag I gladly carried the weight. I personally wouldn't get another lighter weight bag. Just sleep on top of it or use it as a quilt. IF I were to use 2 bags I'd opt for a 0 degree bag for use at the start rather than going with a 40 or 50 degree bag later.

I wouldn't worry about your bag getting wet. I used an external frame pack which meant that my sleeping bag was attached to the frame outside of the pack bag. Use a trash bag inside your stuff sack and your bag won't get wet.

01-01-2006, 10:22
It's easy to keep your bag dry during the day. Just stow it inside a heavy duty plastic bag, or waterproof stuff sack. However, the times my bag got wet were: First, when the wind blows snow or fog into the shelter, when I set up my tent in a low spot, and it rains, or when a shelter leaks in the wrong place.

And, down or synthetic, a wet bag is miserable.

01-01-2006, 10:28
okay, okay, okay....go get your DOWN bag....keep it in a BIG trash sack...
but, the first time it gets WET...you'll kick yourself for not purchasing the SYNTHETIC!

i got a SIERRA DESIGNS WILD BILL 2.0 Synthetic (20 degree) bag about 3 years ago...still holding up...i love it!:D :D

01-06-2006, 14:41
I only use synthetic. It definitely works better when wet, but Peaks is totally right in that any wet bag sucks.

I've had a Cat's Meow for a long time and love it. I haven't thru-hiked yet, but I've done week+ trips really cold and really hot and it's served me well.

I considered the Fission when it came out, but that half-zip scared me off. I use a quilt now, but when I still used my bag, I left it unzipped on top of me like a quilt at least half the time and that half-zip looks to make that difficult.

Something to consider is a silk liner. You can get one from New Zealand Nature Company for $29 shipped. I got mine in literally a week. They're 5 oz, but you can do a little sew and trim to get it to a mummy shape and get it to less than 4 oz. The liner will give you a few extra degrees in the winter and will keep your bag much cleaner. You can chuck the liner in any old washing machine to clean it. What I liked best about mine, though, was using it by itself in the summer. I can't sleep without something over me and it was comfortable on even the grossest, muggiest nights.

01-06-2006, 19:22
I started out with a Cat Meow on my thru hike, intending to go the whole way with it. Somewhere around Hot Springs the bag was just too warm and I bought a 1 lb 2 ounce summer bag, getting the Cat back in New England as the weather cooled. I can remember climbing into a damp bag several times. Not that I got it wet, just that I used it while it rained for three or more days in a row and the bag never could dry out fully. The damp poly fill bag warms up pritty good, and when the rain stopped the poly bag dries in a flash (well...ok...faster than down). Now I have two WM down bags and They are hands down the best bags I own. I take them on every non-raining three day trip or non-hiking-intense trip I go on (except car camping). If my fine down bag gets so much as damp it sucks! And takes forever to dry. Poly is king on long distance hiking where you will not be spending your time sitting around camp. MANY do fine with down, hey, it weighs less and fluffs around you nicer. I am going to buy the Marmot pounder plus next.

01-06-2006, 22:26
I have a Kelty Light Year 3D 30* bag (predecessor of the 25). I have been at Mt. Rogers in temps estimated in low 20's (the ground frozen as hard as concrete and frost heaves in the moist soil). Inside a tent with a liner, and wearing fleece pants and top I was quite warm and comfortable. I found it on sale for about $75, and have been very happy with it. I have not found the 1/2 zipper to be a problem- you can unzip the foot if too warm.

I'm too cheap to spend money on a bag every few years, so I plan to use this one for a while.

map man
01-25-2006, 18:32
I'm six feet even so I was a little worried about sizing, like you mentioned, when I recently bought the Pounder Plus "regular" size. It turns out it fits me fine. I definitely fill it up, but I'm not cramped in any way. And it's always good to have as little extra space in the bag as possible so your body does a better job of warming it up. If you are 5'11" it should be long enough for you.

I haven't had it long enough to be able to talk in depth about its performance, but I'm a cold sleeper and I have been out in it on one 27 degree night, and it kept me warm (I was wearing light stocking cap, light gloves, thin longsleeve crewneck shirt, lightweight long undearwear and liner socks) except for my feet. I just know now to wear warmer socks next time.

01-25-2006, 18:48
.......Mostly what I'm hoping for is some reviews/feedback on a few specific bags.........

Marmot equipment is tops, I use the Precip top/bottom rain wear, love it. I have the extreme weather gear also, would take it to the top of Everest. I, unfortunantly, know nothing about their sleeping bags. I can tell you that I use the North Face Cat's Meow (long), the latest one with the high tech synthetic fill. Rated at 15 degs but at 3.5 lbs. It will work the entire trail.