View Full Version : Sleeping comfy, warm, and dry

01-09-2006, 14:39
I'm headed NOBO starting around March 15 and I'm trying to figure out my sleeping gear arrangement, and am looking for suggestions. I've got a 30 degree down bag, with a fleece liner that advertises dropping the rating 15 degrees (how true that is, I can't attest to yet). My shelter set-up is simply the fly of a Sierra Clip Flashlight CD tent, so no bottom. I've got two considerations: keeping my sleeping bag off of any damp ground I come across, and keeping myself warm enough by insulating myself from the ground. Will I be warm enough if I just buy a tarp to go under my bag? Or should I get a tarp and a sleeping pad (cut down to cover just my torso), or can I stay dry enough if I get a sleeping pad that goes the length of my sleeping bag? Thanks for any help ya'll send my way!

01-09-2006, 15:28
Just my personal opinions...

I would count on the liner adding 5-10 degrees giving you a 20-25 degree bag. Starting mid-March you can count on temps, at least part of the time, in the low 20's. It depends on how warm/cold a sleeper you are, but the combination you're looking at wouldn't work for me. I sleep cold. Others have used a 20 degree bag, supplementing it with extra clothes the extend its range.

A sheet of Tyvek cut to the shape of your tent fly is only going to weigh a couple ounces and provide all the protection you need from the gound.

The level of comfort you require is personal taste, as far as sleeping on hard ground is concerned, but you will need a pad of some sort for insulation against the cold in the earlier days of your hike.

01-09-2006, 15:35
You will need a pad as insulation more than comfort., esp for the early start.

If You really want to avoid the wet ground take a good look at hammocking...Dryer..more camp options...many ways to make the warmth issue work.


01-09-2006, 15:44
It is common in the gear industry to assume some sort of ground insulation to achieve the bag's rating. Does your fly reach the ground? Otherwise, the wind will come from underneath, driving away any heat bonuses for using a tent. How does it maintain its shape, the poles? I have a SD tent that omits the tent body and uses the fly, ground cloth, and poles to create a shelter. They called the fast pack option. It is, however, still very heavy compared to my tarp and I never configure the tent this way.

I agree with Kncats, 5-10 degrees from the liner. I have a personal ground cloth for under my tarp, plus sleeping pad. The ground cloth doesn't weigh much, keeps my T-rest cleaner, and provides little protection from punctures.

01-09-2006, 15:58
unless i was carrying a full tent with a floor, i'd worry about getting that down bag wet. it rains a lot in the spring. it would probaby get wet even on a damp, misty evening, which are frequent in the mountains. take it from one who knows -- it's no fun to try to sleep in a wet down bag. i'd trade the down bag and liner for a 20-degree synthetic bag. in virginia, you can swap it for a summer bag. and yes, you need a sleeping pad.

01-09-2006, 17:49
You might consider carrying the full Clip Flashlight tent. A closed tent is generally worth about 10 degrees, and you might appreciate that in the early spring.

01-09-2006, 18:43
Unless one doesn't know how to set up his/her shelter, or about site selection (i.e. don't set up in a hole :) ), I wouldn't worry too much about getting a down sleeping bag wet. The fly for the clip flashlight is fully encolsed and goes all but a couple inches to the ground. It has more than enough coverage for one person, even without the tent. A good groundcloth (2-3mil plastic sheeting) will be all that you need to keep dry with that shelter.

That being said, the point about bringing along the tent body should be considered. If you need warmth, the tent body will add roughly 10 degrees to your comfort rating. That being said, many (if not most) hikers end up sleeping in shelter the vast majority of the time. Considering this, you may be well advised to go with the lightest shelter you can find, and use a warmer sleeping bag. The Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter would be very similar to your current Clip Flashlight, but would drop more than a pound off of its weight (assuming you're carrying trekking poles). It would pack to less than half of the size, and weigh FAR less when wet. At about 10 ounces, you wouldn't even know it was there when you're staying in a shelter. Investing in a light 15*F down bag would mean that you could camp comfortably in the shelters, or use the tarp on extremely cold nights for added warmth. You could send it home in Pearisburg, VA, and get it back in the north for the final few weeks.

My favorite system, though, is one mentioned by Peter Pan: Hammocking. One of the reasons I tended to stay in shelters was because it was easier than finding a tent site (which could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on how picky you are, and the area you're in. Finding a place to string a hammock along the appalachian trial is much easier. Snakeskins make deployment much faster as well (think 2-3 minutes rather than 5-10 minutes). You're up off of the ground (so the bottom of your tent doesn't get all wet and nasty, nor do you in a really bad storm), and they're just the most comfortable thing I've ever slept in.


01-09-2006, 18:56
0 degree down for those cold march nights. the degree rating for sleeping bags isn't a comfort rating. i usually find that my 0 is damn cold in the mid teens, but with a layer of long johns and fleece uppers and lowers it's nice and toasty down to around -5 or so. that fly is fine. true a tarp would accomplish the same thing and add some versatility, but i guess you already have the fly. i like the big agnes air core pad. it definantly adds warmth and much comfort.

01-09-2006, 19:58
Your concern of keeping your down bag dry is why I favor the gor-tex bivy sac (9oz) and small tarp (12oz) combo system. can't rool off a bivy like you can a ground cloth, also the bivy does add about 10* to the sleep system. For me I find that the down gets damp from use unless you can air out the bag for a couple of dry hours each day.

01-09-2006, 21:15
this is how i sleep warm,comfy,and dry:cool: neo




hammock engineer
01-10-2006, 00:15
Is the tarp the only shelter you are going to bring. You may want to consider at least a bug bivy. Bugs shouldn't be a problem early on, but later on the might be.

Just guessing here, this summer will be my first time on the AT.

01-10-2006, 20:08
I left my nice thick comfy thermarest at home so as to save on weight. NEVER AGAIN! First off, I felt like my shoulders and hips digging into the ground (and I have never had trouble sleeping outdoors). Second,,,even though I wore my fleece to bed under down sleeping bag,,,still got cold (could be a female thing tho) in certain areas. Anyway,,,,it was my own personal learning experience and I will not scrimp on sleep comfort again. I used an MSR Hubba tent and loved it.

01-17-2006, 18:04
in my sleep system i use a bivi instead of a ground cloth and also as a sleepind bag stuff.it packs rite into the bottom of my pack and never gets dirty on the outside cause its in the bivi.i sleep under my megamid lite with no floor.bombproof ,room for four, standing room,only one pole,or a stick can be used. and deadmen made from rocks ,sticks or bags of dirt if you dont carry stakes.and my foam pad goes in the black diamond bivi too. so you cant slip off it or the bivi.ive slept on the A T in all weather and down to 6 degrees for 25 years. its my second megamid only cause they made a lite one .i have never seen another mid on the trail or anywhere else but i also never saw anyone with more room in a lightweight tarptent.ps my old mid is for sale.

the goat
01-17-2006, 18:20
IMO, you'll be fine with what you've got sleeping bag-wise. get a piece of tyvek, and a sleeping pad though.

01-17-2006, 18:30
Thanks everyone for their replies. Tyvek is on its way and a sleeping pad will soon follow. I think I'm going to have to work with that for now, and if my pack weight is low enough then I'll end up bringing the whole tent for additional warmth. Mostly I'm sticking with this system because I already have most of it, and don't want to spend any more $$ than I really need. Ahh that universal limiter of dreams: cash.

01-18-2006, 11:19
What would you guys use to up warmth in a hammock? (just bought one off ebay yesterday).

01-18-2006, 11:30
What would you guys use to up warmth in a hammock? (just bought one off ebay yesterday).

Closed cell foam pad or an underquilt. I still have yet to get an underquilt, but it's on my list of "needs". What I use now is my tyvek groundcloth inside the hammock with the CCF pad on top of that. Works pretty well to keep warm, but is a pain to get situated on.

01-18-2006, 11:46
You will need a pad as insulation more than comfort., esp for the early start.

If You really want to avoid the wet ground take a good look at hammocking...Dryer..more camp options...many ways to make the warmth issue work.


Down to what temperature is hammock camping comfortable and at what cost and weight?

01-18-2006, 12:01
Down to what temperature is hammock camping comfortable and at what cost and weight?

me and my youngest son camped at 23 degrees saturday night with ultra lite 3/4 therma rest 2 lb sleepings bags and 1 lb summer bag liners we were snug and warm:cool: neo

01-18-2006, 16:36
i've hammocked down into the low 30s with a JRB underquilt and a foam pad under me, and a 35* bag on top. wore longjohn top and bottom, and a fleece hat.