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View Full Version : What degree bag for 2011 Thru-Hike??



Chrisj
11-08-2010, 02:12
I'm looking to buy a new sleeping bag for my 2011 Thru-Hike. I will be starting around March 1-14, I have been trying to decide between a Western Mountaineering bag or The Mont Bell Super Spiral Down 800.

I'm usually a warm sleeper and will be using patagonia cap. 3 as a baselayer in camp and sleeping.

So that leads to my main question what degree of bag do most people use with a start in early March?
And which brand of bag and which one do you all recommend?

Mountain Wildman
11-08-2010, 07:33
Western Mountaineering Alpinlite - 20 Degree - 1 Lb. 15 oz. Not cheap but worth it.

I have a Feathered Friends Winter Wren - 25 Degree - 2 lbs. 3 oz.
My next bag will be the Alpinlite.
The FF Winter Wren is for my Thru-Hike starting in mid March 2011.

Both are good Down bags.

Maddog
11-08-2010, 07:47
i carried a WM VERSALITE this year and its the best bag ive ever owned. +1 for WM!! maddog

Serial 07
11-08-2010, 08:59
i would recommend between 0* and 15*...

Serial 07
11-08-2010, 09:01
i would recommend between 0* and 15*...

i have a montbell bag 0* (and 40*) and love it! the super stretch is very comfortable...haven't used a WM bag before, but MB is worth the $...

SawnieRobertson
11-08-2010, 09:47
After last year's winter snows, does anyone feel confident about when their start date will be? I am aiming for March 1. That means I KNOW that there are going be some low temps with big winds. I'm planning to place my WM 15-degree bag in my bounce bag and use the Raku that is being made for me. It is rated at 20-degrees. If it is insufficient, I guess I'll be ripping open that bounce box earlier than I expected.--Kinnickinic

RevLee
11-08-2010, 10:25
I used the Montbell Sprial Stretch 15 degree bag this year for a March 1st start and it worked fine. I did use a silk bag liner which adds a few more degrees and makes it more comfortable even into the warmer weather.

10-K
11-08-2010, 10:33
I've got a MB Superstretch 20* bag with the MB silk liner and (also wearing my down jacket and wool cap) have slept comfortably in the single digits.

IMO, if you go below a 20* bag you'll need to buy another bag to switch out to when the weather turns hot.

Blissful
11-08-2010, 12:04
Agree with 10K.
I love my Montbell down hugger 15 degree.

Luddite
11-08-2010, 12:42
I just got a WM Ultralight and love it. I've never owned such a great sleeping bag. Its pretty expensive but worth it.

DapperD
11-08-2010, 13:09
I'm looking to buy a new sleeping bag for my 2011 Thru-Hike. I will be starting around March 1-14, I have been trying to decide between a Western Mountaineering bag or The Mont Bell Super Spiral Down 800.

I'm usually a warm sleeper and will be using patagonia cap. 3 as a baselayer in camp and sleeping.

So that leads to my main question what degree of bag do most people use with a start in early March?
And which brand of bag and which one do you all recommend?There are many good brands around as long as you are willing to part with your cash:D. Starting then it can/will still get very cold. I would say you might be wise to go with a good 0 degree, and while having to make the effort to keep it dry, a good down bag would be best. As far as what most degree bag the majority choose, I would say probably around the 20 degree range, but I am sure it is a grabbag out there when it comes to makes and models and degree ratings that people start out with.

Lone Wolf
11-08-2010, 13:19
20deg. Campmor down bag

Luddite
11-08-2010, 13:21
20deg. Campmor down bag

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40065

Can't beat that price and it looks like a lot of people like 'em. http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=56306

gravityman
11-08-2010, 13:29
I would and did freeze in a 20 degree bag (including the WM ultralight). Go with the WM versalite, and you won't be sorry!

Gravity

Lone Wolf
11-08-2010, 13:31
I would and did freeze in a 20 degree bag (including the WM ultralight). Go with the WM versalite, and you won't be sorry!

Gravity

shoulda been in a tent

Torch09
11-08-2010, 13:35
shoulda been in a tent

shoulda been in a house

gravityman
11-08-2010, 14:57
shoulda been in a tent

But people get upset with me when I set it up in the shelter! :)


Tarptent, which doesn't add much warmth, it's true. I would rather carry a warmer bag though...

slow
11-08-2010, 22:23
Call WM for some help.They will hook you up.

If you buy mb be sure to put on scale and under light to check for underfill in bag.

Chop
11-08-2010, 23:41
Thinking about the same thing, Chris. I have a MB Super Spiral 30 and love it. But even at 34 degrees a couple weeks ago it was slightly cool. I just ordered a Marmot 0 degree bag for the first part of the thru hike:

http://www.backcountrygear.com/catalog/bagdetail.cfm?PRODUCTS__productID=MA18200

Will send it home as soon as temps warm up.

mikecordes
11-09-2010, 00:24
I have a western mountaineering badger 15 degree bag.. It has kept me warm in temps below 10 degrees after march 1..

BrianLe
11-09-2010, 03:09
"... and will be using patagonia cap. 3 as a baselayer in camp and sleeping"

Is that really all the clothing you would have available to sleep in, a cap 3 baselayer?

Unlike some others, I was happy in a 20F bag with an early start, but (a) it was a WM bag (Ultralite), and (b) I had a warm down parka and down booties to wear inside of it, effectively increasing the overall temperature rating.

I suggest that you think carefully about whatever warm clothing layers you have and factor those in with your bag when trying to guesstimate what will be warm enough (always assuming the bag has enough space inside that any down clothing layers can loft somewhat).

Then try to find somewhere this winter that's about as cold as you want to be able to get down to, and definitely do a field test with exactly the same clothing, pad(s), bag, whatever. In this scenario, if you have all the other pieces in place perhaps you could borrow or rent a bag of about the type you're guessing would be appropriate and find out ahead of time whether in fact such a bag would be a good choice for you.

buz
11-09-2010, 11:23
I think Brian's post is right on, practice temp wise. Depending on where you live, you've got time to figure this out with practice. Kinda tricky to get the bag thou, and return it if you don't like it for whatever reason. Make sure you understand return policies.

But figuring out what you need by sleeping out is a great choice, IMO. Also, depends on the weather. This year was really cold, and you would have wanted a 15 degree bag for sure, IMO. But I am a "never want to be cold at night" guy, so I will always vote for more insulation when there is a real possibility of very cold weather.

No way is the Campmor 20 bag enough, IMO. I own one and it is a nice 30 degree bag, for me, anyway. Maybe the campmor 0 to start out with if you want to save some dough. But if you buy a great 800 fp warm bag, and want to sell it later, you can, no problems, if it turns out to be more than you need.

swjohnsey
11-09-2010, 13:41
I'm taking a 40 degree Kelty Lightyear. I can stay pretty comfortable in it down to freezing if I wear hat, gloves and down booties. I plan on leaving 1 April so I won't likely see as much cold weather. I used the same setup last year on a long kayak trip and saw tempertures in the 20s. Can't say I was real comfortable but I got to sleep. How many really cold nights will you see? How many days will you carry the bag? When it gets really cold put everything you have on (except shoes) and get in the bag.

DapperD
11-09-2010, 20:28
I'm taking a 40 degree Kelty Lightyear. I can stay pretty comfortable in it down to freezing if I wear hat, gloves and down booties. I plan on leaving 1 April so I won't likely see as much cold weather. How many really cold nights will you see? How many days will you carry the bag? When it gets really cold put everything you have on (except shoes) and get in the bag.He may wind up seeing a few. He says he may begin March 1st or within the beginning of the month of March timeframe. I personally would not want to be out there when the temperature drops and the wind begins to howl and it gets down to the single digits or worse and my bag won't keep me warm. I don't think going with a good quality bag rated to around 0 degrees or so at least to start out with is a bad idea. You can always replace it later with a cheaper "summer" bag, but at least starting out you will be properly equipped for those nights when the temperature falls:-?.

swjohnsey
11-09-2010, 22:34
I've been looking at weather almanac data from the last couple of years and don't come up with anything close to that for April 1 for Suches. Is there any accurate almanac data available for towns along the south end of the trail?

DapperD
11-09-2010, 23:37
I've been looking at weather almanac data from the last couple of years and don't come up with anything close to that for April 1 for Suches. Is there any accurate almanac data available for towns along the south end of the trail?I found some data for the town of Cherokee, NC located on the eastern border of the GSMNP. The average low temps for the month of March aren't too bad, but the record low temps are pretty cold:http://www.intellicast.com/Local/History.aspx?month=3 And I think you would be higher up on the AT while passing thru the Smokie Mountains:-?

slow
11-09-2010, 23:50
WM,FF..brings -40-30 f in to the market for over 20 yrs,you will not see that in a mb.bag hands down.So why even think of a low rate product like mb for a 20?.Not even close in the game.

Chrisj
11-10-2010, 01:46
I made my choice with The Western Mountaineering Versalite. It's a 10 degree bag and is only 2 pounds!!!! It seems to be a very good bag so far. I'm taking it out for an overnight at Mt. Rogers this weekend. After the trip I will give an update.
Thanks for all the help.

swjohnsey
11-10-2010, 04:30
I found some data for the town of Cherokee, NC located on the eastern border of the GSMNP. The average low temps for the month of March aren't too bad, but the record low temps are pretty cold:http://www.intellicast.com/Local/History.aspx?month=3 And I think you would be higher up on the AT while passing thru the Smokie Mountains:-?

That is what I was curious about. Do the temperatures in the adjoining towns reflect temperatures on the trail? The trail generally runs the ridges and is higher

buz
11-10-2010, 10:32
Wise choice. I would be shocked if you don't love it.

pyroman53
11-10-2010, 16:12
That is what I was curious about. Do the temperatures in the adjoining towns reflect temperatures on the trail? The trail generally runs the ridges and is higher

Trail is 1,000 to 4,000 feet higher than most towns and, while science is somewhat ambiguous on the actual change of temp with change of elevation, I figure 2-3 degrees colder per 1,000 feet. Sometimes, with temp inversions, it can actually be warmer on the mtn, but don't count on it.

You have a good chance of low 20's or even lower no matter when your Spring start. Maybe just a few. Maybe quite a few. What's YOUR tolerance for cold?

swjohnsey
11-10-2010, 20:25
Good. Ranger motto, travel light, freeze at night.

swjohnsey
11-10-2010, 20:28
Trail is 1,000 to 4,000 feet higher than most towns and, while science is somewhat ambiguous on the actual change of temp with change of elevation, I figure 2-3 degrees colder per 1,000 feet. Sometimes, with temp inversions, it can actually be warmer on the mtn, but don't count on it.

You have a good chance of low 20's or even lower no matter when your Spring start. Maybe just a few. Maybe quite a few. What's YOUR tolerance for cold?

That's the information I was looking for. Lapse rate is 3 1/2 F/thousand feet.

StormBird
11-11-2010, 02:29
I used a Montbell Down Hugger bag (15 degree)

Razor
11-11-2010, 15:10
Also do not forget the varience in years. Last year was a very cold start but it was warmer in Georgia by the end of April. Some years it can be warm early in March but turn cold later. As all sections , be versatile and adaptable, Know the tide is going to be cold and prepare for it and then adapt as the next 5-6 weeks develope.Just be prepared for the coldest 4 weeks in your life and then thank the weather if it is any thing else and do not shed the cold weather gear until after Roan Mountain.

Spokes
11-11-2010, 19:22
Started w/ a Helium 15 deg down bag w/silk liner then switched out to a LaFuma 40 deg bag for summer in Waynesboro, VA. Got the Helium back in Glencliff, NH

Side note: The LaFuma zipper stitching (along the baffle) shredded not 4 weeks after I started using it. The bag was still usable just not pretty to look at. I called LaFuma customer service and they quickly sent me a replacement bag no questions asked. Cool!

willbump
11-13-2010, 04:39
20deg. Campmor down bag


Whats the bulk factor on this bag? Bulk bothers me but this price is tempting. :-?

4eyedbuzzard
11-13-2010, 09:03
Just if you're interested, REI has a 30% off sale on one REI Outlet item right now for members and free shipping over $75 total - I think you can join ($25) and get this deal immediately if your not a member.

They've got some of the REI Sub Kilo bags on sale as well as a few others. The '09 model 20 deg Sub Kilo reg, and the women's model 15 deg (both of which were "$250 bags") net out at $119 with free shipping for members.

Not a bad deal on a quality down bag.

leaftye
11-13-2010, 14:29
Would you consider a quilt? A quilt can allow you to get a warmer sleeping solution for the same weight and bulk as a less capable sleeping bag. I'm so glad I went with a quilt. Mine is rated to 0F. The coldest I slept in it was probably last Tuesday. At roughly 1300 feet below where I slept it got down to 22F. I didn't check the temperature at my campsite, but using the standard shift, 19F is likely. I was comfortable, but would have been more comfortable if I hadn't gained weight....the quilt didn't tuck under and reduce drafts as well as when I was 40 pounds skinnier. A 0F quilt is usually overkill, but it packs to nothing and weighs less than 21 ounces. When the weather is warm I can open the quilt all the way and still be comfortable.

Driver8
11-14-2010, 13:06
IMO, if you go below a 20* bag you'll need to buy another bag to switch out to when the weather turns hot.

Dumb question from a newbie: do these bags zip open? Is that a way to get the best of warm (0* protection) and not-too warm on a 60+ degree night? The bags I had as a kid all unzipped, just wondering. ...

Luddite
11-14-2010, 13:34
Dumb question from a newbie: do these bags zip open? Is that a way to get the best of warm (0* protection) and not-too warm on a 60+ degree night? The bags I had as a kid all unzipped, just wondering. ...

You mean regular sleeping bags? Yes they all zip open, but some only zip part way. Just unzip it and use it as a quilt when its too warm.

Driver8
11-15-2010, 11:43
Just unzip it and use it as a quilt when its too warm.

My thoughts exactly.