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View Full Version : 30 degree sleeping bag for whole trail? Late March start.



Pancakes
10-09-2011, 15:04
I'm trying to decide if I need a cold weather bag, or if I can survive just with my 30 degree Marmot Neverwinter and layering of clothes at the front end and then again in the Whites. Using my Marmot the whole trail is my personal preference, mostly because I'm cheap and don't want to buy another bag. I'm leaving in the second half of March (probably closer to April then March 15).

I appreciate any advice!

bigcranky
10-09-2011, 15:13
I switch to my 30-F bag around the middle of March in the Southern Appalachians, but I keep my down jacket until mid-April or so for layering inside it on cold nights. (Had one night of single digit temps in mid April a few years ago. Brr.) Not sure how that would work in New England, but I expect it would be fine for late summer.

Blissful
10-09-2011, 15:25
You're gonna be cold in March with a 30 degree bag. It will likely dip to the teens.
If I were you, I might try to sneak closer to April then for your start. Also need a good insulating layer under you (ie pad) and a tent.

Pancakes
10-09-2011, 15:36
My sleeping system is the REI Quarterdome T1, the Thermarest z-lite, and the Marmot Neverwinter 30 degree bag. I was hoping layering could help me make it through the cold nights. I've used this bag this past summer on some hot nights, and usually just sleep on top of it if it is like that, so I'm not too worried about New England and summer heat.

The Cleaner
10-09-2011, 15:37
I've seen temps in single digits in the Smokies in mid April...bottom line is do you want to save money and be cold?

Del Q
10-09-2011, 16:56
Sleeping bag liners will add (I think) about 10 degrees, sleeping in a tent can also be warmer, many times the cold comes from below so agree on the pad comments for sure.............good news is that you will be up early and hiking where it is nice and warm

I think that you could do with this one bag............a sniper once told me that he always brings a 55 gallon thick trash bag out with him.

mountain squid
10-09-2011, 17:28
Sleeping bag liners will add (I think) about 10 degreesI wouldn't rely on that though . . . .

I also think you'll be cold on some nights. You might 'survive' it though. You have 5 months to figure it out. Pick a cold night or five and sleep outside in your 30F bag.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

MuddyWaters
10-09-2011, 20:28
you are almost guaranteed to have some very cold nights, even starting in april.

Moisture is your enemy. 35F and rain and 100% relative humidity and that 30F down bag may become a 60F down bag.

You really need more for that time of year. Including good insulating layers to sleep in.

map man
10-09-2011, 20:30
Andrew Skurka, who knows a heck of a lot about hiking in very cold climes, regularly backpacks expecting overnight temps to get 30 degrees lower than his bag is rated for. I imagine that part of the reason he does this is because he sleeps warm, but the main thing he does to pull this off is to sleep in all the dry clothes he has with him. Some folks are comfortable sleeping with lots of clothes on, and some aren't. When he expects really frigid temps (below 10 degrees, say) for days on end he employs a vapor barrier strategy but it's never going to get THAT cold for long in the southern Appalachians in late March so that would not be necessary for you. So that is something to think about if you are experienced enough to give it a go.

Here's a link to his website if you want the details. It's a very educational site: http://www.andrewskurka.com/

Papa D
10-09-2011, 21:09
I think you'll be a little cold early on but if you pair it with long johns, a down jacket and (nice tech-tip here) a hot water bottle, I think you'll be fine. I use old Gatoraid bottles in summer, but in winter, go for at least one real Nalgene - boil water, tighten the cap carefully and well and put it in your crotch - when it get's warm, you'll probably end up throwing it over you like a blanket, but this isn't usually too much of a problem - I think you'll be fine -- I would not try this any earlier than a departure the second week of March - assuming you make it to the whites before September, I think you'll be fine

Abner
10-09-2011, 21:35
One thing you might do, you may have already thought of it, is to pair the bag you have with another say a 30 degree bag...but a roomier thirty degree bag for the few weeks you need the extra insulation. I'm surprised this solution isn't mentioned more often in packing literature; it seems a much less expensive option (but of course heavier) It might double the weight and double the space in your pack you'd normally set aside for bags. I've done it myself when conditions warranted it and I didn't have that single expensive winter bag.

Bill Mason, who wrote and produced such wonderful films about living and canoeing in the Canadian Wilderness for weeks at a time would put together three warmer weather (!) sleeping bags for his winter sleeping system. He said it just didn't make sense for him to spend a small fortune on one winter bag when his family owned many other perfectly good summer and fall weight bags that could be combined to give him the insulation he needed.

It might be a worthwhile idea since you say you really don't want to spend the money for an expensive spring bag for just a relative few nights on the trail. another plus: you'd already have your 30 degree bag in the event you got unseasonably warm weather. And when it was time to drop the outer bag you could just send it home at the next post office, or send it on to New Hampshire for use several months later as you finished the trail in the fall.

I've done this myself in the late fall in North Carolina. Yeah it's heavier, but really comfortable, your inner bag can be zipped up tight and the outer bag can be draped over, or half on half off, or zipped up as needed. Lot's of options for getting your insulation just right and much less expensive than buying a dedicated winter bag if you are me and only get out a week or two or three for colder weather.

Papa D
10-09-2011, 22:20
Abner's idea will work - sometimes I lend my 20 degree Western Bag to friends to augment their bags so they can tag along with me but this system is heavy, uncomfortable and not ideal but it could get you through the smokies - you could get a real light bag (slumberjack?) for about $50 - (maybe used) which, if you are on the move is done in 3 weeks from the start - get to about Springs and send it home - you might use it later as a light bag in the mid-atlantic states

SassyWindsor
10-09-2011, 22:29
30 degree sleeping bag for AT? Not me. I used a 15 deg bag the entire trip and still got cold on some nights. If you dress too heavily you may be uncomfortable and not sleep well. Most hikers who travel/hike frequently will have several different temp bags as well as shelters. I have collected 4 nice bags over the past years -20, 0, +15, +30. I use the 15 an 0 deg bags the most.

Papa D
10-09-2011, 22:44
Sassy Windsor is probably very comfortable and from a comfort standpoint, she is probably right -if you could pick the perfect bag each night before you go to sleep based on weather conditions and how you feel, do what she does - I probably own 1/2 dozen sleeping bags but I understand your desire to pick one - one is probably not enough, but you could make it work by adjusting your clothing (or by leaving it un-zipped) - you could also add a light bag or bag liner for the first (coldest) few weeks and just play the white mountains by ear

Hosaphone
10-09-2011, 22:51
Here's a link to his website if you want the details. It's a very educational site: http://www.andrewskurka.com/

Just watched this whole video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hMf7TypZwtc#!

:eek:

Hosaphone
10-09-2011, 23:04
Andrew Skurka, who knows a heck of a lot about hiking in very cold climes, regularly backpacks expecting overnight temps to get 30 degrees lower than his bag is rated for. I imagine that part of the reason he does this is because he sleeps warm, but the main thing he does to pull this off is to sleep in all the dry clothes he has with him. Some folks are comfortable sleeping with lots of clothes on, and some aren't. When he expects really frigid temps (below 10 degrees, say) for days on end he employs a vapor barrier strategy but it's never going to get THAT cold for long in the southern Appalachians in late March so that would not be necessary for you. So that is something to think about if you are experienced enough to give it a go.

Here's a link to his website if you want the details. It's a very educational site: http://www.andrewskurka.com/

Also, given this is a gear thread, I found it really interesting to look at the gear lists for his trips and how they evolve over time: http://www.andrewskurka.com/advice/gearlists.php

MuddyWaters
10-09-2011, 23:39
Andrew Skurka, who knows a heck of a lot about hiking in very cold climes, regularly backpacks expecting overnight temps to get 30 degrees lower than his bag is rated for. I imagine that part of the reason he does this is because he sleeps warm, but the main thing he does to pull this off is to sleep in all the dry clothes he has with him. Some folks are comfortable sleeping with lots of clothes on, and some aren't. When he expects really frigid temps (below 10 degrees, say) for days on end he employs a vapor barrier strategy but it's never going to get THAT cold for long in the southern Appalachians in late March so that would not be necessary for you. So that is something to think about if you are experienced enough to give it a go.

Here's a link to his website if you want the details. It's a very educational site: http://www.andrewskurka.com/


Yes. But when Andrew Skurka was asked what he was most afraid of out there by himself his answer was " 33 F and raining ". Sub freezing temps in a down bag are fine for the most part if you arent breathing into it. Cold and dry is great. But I think cold, 100% humidity, near and slightly above freezing is where your moisture management is critical to keep loft in a down bag.

Bronk
10-10-2011, 00:36
I used a $10 Walmart sleeping bag that was rated at 50* and I started in February and wasn't cold. But I had layers and in the early days slept with all my clothes on.

bad marriage
10-12-2011, 11:37
If you are staying in a shelter you could use your quarter-dome as a bag cover...that will stretch the temp rating a bit, and keep moisture off your bag.

Blissful
10-12-2011, 12:03
If you are staying in a shelter you could use your quarter-dome as a bag cover...that will stretch the temp rating a bit, and keep moisture off your bag.

I tried that. The natural condensation from your body building up within the bag caused even greater issues b/c it can't escape. Wet bag on the inside

stranger
10-12-2011, 17:45
I'm trying to decide if I need a cold weather bag, or if I can survive just with my 30 degree Marmot Neverwinter and layering of clothes at the front end and then again in the Whites. Using my Marmot the whole trail is my personal preference, mostly because I'm cheap and don't want to buy another bag. I'm leaving in the second half of March (probably closer to April then March 15).

I appreciate any advice!

For me...a 30 deg bag will be too light for the south and way too warm for the mid-atlantic. I start with a consertative 20 deg Western Mountaineering and switch out to MacPac down travel liner when the weather breaks. One bag will not work well for the whole trail, unless you hike un-traditional, move around, or start real late AND finish early, etc...

stranger
10-12-2011, 17:46
If you are staying in a shelter you could use your quarter-dome as a bag cover...that will stretch the temp rating a bit, and keep moisture off your bag.

A VBL 'inside' the bag would work to some degree, covering the bag with a non-breathable canopy means a wet bag as others have stated

lissersmith
10-12-2011, 17:48
I would want a zero bag for sure.

rdaviskiwi
10-13-2011, 17:55
I had been going back and forth for the last few months about a sleeping bag. I finally decided on a cats meow. It seem like when I talk to folk s that had actually been on the trail and read forums it seemed the cats meow was a good choice for me. I am sure not for everyone but for me, the price, reviews, and for the AT hiking it was the best for me. Thanks

Spokes
10-13-2011, 18:31
There's almost always a "Winter Storm" event in Georgia and North Carolina in March/April. I'd ditch the 30 degree bag idea.

Slo-go'en
10-13-2011, 19:21
I've gotten away with a 30* bag on all the hikes I've done through GA/NC which typically start on or around April 1st. I've sorta lost count, I think I'm up to four times now. I do supplement the bag with a good set of thermal tops and bottoms, along with a silk liner. There have been a couple of really cold nights where comfort was really marginal, but I haven't yet run into two (or more) of those kinds of nights in a row. Lucky I guess.

I wouldn't worry too much about New England either. The trend the last few years has been for a warm fall. This year was a record breaker.

ChinMusic
10-13-2011, 19:48
I'm trying to decide if I need a cold weather bag, or if I can survive just with my 30 degree Marmot Neverwinter and layering of clothes at the front end and then again in the Whites. Using my Marmot the whole trail is my personal preference, mostly because I'm cheap and don't want to buy another bag. I'm leaving in the second half of March (probably closer to April then March 15).

I appreciate any advice!

First you have to know yourself. Are you a warm or cold sleeper? If you are chilled/cold near your bag's rating.........forget it. I know for myself that I have fine down to 20 in my 30 bag if I am wearing my down jacket. Been there, done that, don't have to guess anymore. I am prob fine down to maybe 15 but have not experienced it. I just know I was comfy at 20.

Many of my hiking partners would be incredibly uncomfortable under those conditions. One of the biggest variables is the person themselves.

You will need to tent on the cold nights as the tent will feel maybe 10 degrees warmer than the shelter. You can also have a Nalgene with you and go to bed with a hot water bottle on the worst nights.

Would I be comfortable taking a 30 bag starting in late March? Most definitely yes. I would be watching the forecasts and if it called for record lows, I would be prepared to wait it out.

daddytwosticks
10-14-2011, 07:31
You will spend money to combat the cold...either in the purchase of a warmer bag or money spent in a hostel/motel waiting out cold weather. Just my opinion. Have a great hike. :)

swjohnsey
10-18-2011, 17:31
Use the 30 degree bag. I used a 40 degree bag. If the temperatures drops into the teens put on some clothes.

Smooth & Wasabi
10-19-2011, 14:53
I say you are fine if:

Your bag is in good shape and is still really a 30
You are not a "Cold" sleeper
You have plenty of warm clothes(hooded puffy,puffy pants, booties would be ideal)
You can keep your bag dry

Monday night I slept in my 30 MB ss in the Adirondacks in a lean-to, temp was probably mid-upper 30s as we had snow and sleet/rain. I went to bed in a puffy and mid weight merino bottoms and I was awake too hot 45 minuts later. Slept the rest of the night in just a base layer with the bag hood uncinched and was toasty as can be. I am a warm sleeper and the bag is spot on but I know I would be comfy down to 20 with above clothing system and cooler with puffy pants and booties. A tent will help even more.

Tinker
10-19-2011, 15:54
Good answers. If you decide to supplement your sleeping bag with clothing, make sure your bag has the internal volume so as to not compress the clothing you wear (or vice-versa - the clothing can compress the down from the inside - it can be counterproductive).
I have a bag rated to 40 degrees, which is zipperless, weighs 1-1/2 lb, and has some room inside. When it's cold I supplement it with a down liner made by Montbell (ULAP down liner) which weighs one pound. Together they keep me warm to 5 degrees or so, which is very reasonable for a 2-1/2 lb. bag system. For more warmth I can wear fleece inside. I often use a down hooded jacket, since the bags don't have hoods, but find that the fit is snug and doesn't really add much to the warmth of the bag.
Also: In cold weather you might want to get in the practice of heating water before you go to bed, putting it in a water bottle (a bladder is too risky), stuffing it inside a sock, and taking it to bed with you. It adds an amazing amount of warmth. I have used vapor barriers inside a sleeping bag for additional warmth, but they trap moisture, which will soak any clothing that you might wear. If you decide to experiment with a VB liner, don't sleep in anything more than long underwear or a very thin fleece or wool.

Scorpion
10-19-2011, 21:02
I used a 30 degree bag my entire thru, and it was fine. I started March 10th.

Scorpion

clsvideo
10-19-2011, 21:30
I've been in the teens with my 35 degree MH Lamina teamed with a BA Aircore pad. The trick is to layer up early so you never get cold. I went to bed with most of my layers on and ended up sheding them through the night. When I woke up it was 19 degrees and I was snug and warm.

stranger
10-20-2011, 01:31
In any event...having something like a Black Rock Hat will go a loooooong way when it gets cold, especially sleeping. Adding more clothing does not work for me, I'm unable to heat up the air inside the bag and I get cold, I sleep far warmer in just shorts and tshirt than in a down jacket, all things equal.