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View Full Version : Mid February Thru Hike Start Date '14 Sleeping Bag



michaelosborne
08-26-2013, 02:50
How do you think I would fair starting my thru hike around February 16/17 with a Feathered Friends Hummingbird Nano 20' sleeping bag. While it's cold out I'll be staying in a double wall tent, with a NeoAir sleeping pad, have a silk liner, down jacket, wool mid weight long sleeve, silk lightweight long johns top and bottoms, wool beanie, gloves, and a balaclava. Do you figure this will be sufficient for this start date? Thanks!:)

Dogwood
08-26-2013, 03:07
Have you checked out the historical monthly temp avgs, both highs and lows, for say GSMNP for Feb/Mar? Add in about 8* of warmth for sleeping in an enclosed tent and another 8-10* or so based on your DRY sleeping clothing that you've given. So, BTW, you're going to sleep in a beanie, baclava and a hooded sleeping bag? It's my guess just by what you've posted so far you'll have some cold nights sleeping with that set-up but check the weather.

Firefighter503
08-26-2013, 05:19
I agree with Dogwood. I started in mid March in 2011 with a 15* Montbell and had 1-2 nights in GSMNP at the end of March that were downright cold with my insulation jacket, beanie, and gloves on as well. It will depend on the weather next year, but I would go with a 10-15* at least starting in mid February.

Rocket Jones
08-26-2013, 05:54
At the very least, consider adding a closed cell foam pad. Putting that extra layer of insulation on top of my NeoAir made a huge amount of difference in warmth and comfort. Wally World has the blue ones, they're cheap and very lightweight, although bulky. Nice to sit on too, keeps you from freezing your butt off when it's cold out.

stranger
08-26-2013, 06:58
You will be cold, I've seen 12 degrees in late April in the Smokies

RED-DOG
08-26-2013, 09:06
I started each of my Thru-hikes in mid February with a 32 degree bag and i was fine, but expect deep snow and really cold temps in the Smokies, it doesn't matter what you take i promise you, that you will use everything you got.

Malto
08-26-2013, 09:26
If that Neoair was a xtherm then I would be quite happy with that setup with the only addition being my cuben rain suit and booties. With those I would be quite confident but I also have spent many nights perfecting that system so I wouldn't be going into it blind. Will you be able to do it? Who knows but there's an easy way to find out. Take the coldest night in December and sleep outside. You will find out real quick. If you get cold adjust. There is so much more to staying warm than just gear. I believe knowing how to use that gear to its maximum is as important as what you take. That is called experience.

BrianLe
08-26-2013, 12:04
I agree with Rocket Jones --- add some sort of ccf to put on top of the Neo Air. Your setup is similar to what I used with a late Feb start in 2010, and it did indeed get down into the teens a few nights.
Gossamer Gear sells 1/8" and 1/4" ccf --- one of those could make a substantial difference in how warm you sleep.

Venchka
08-26-2013, 12:25
1. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the NeoAir Xtherm construction benefits most by having a foam pad under the Xtherm. Experiment to find the best solution. The Xtherm (R = 5.7) would be my minimum R-Value choice for that time of year.
2. December may not always provide the lowest temperatures for testing. December will be close, but January & February are usually colder. 2013 was a bad year (cold & snow) until May. Then it rained from May to July. Every year is different. In east Texas, the week between Christmas, 2012 & New Years, 2013 didn't get above freezing. I can't imagine what it was like around Roan High Knob or the Smokies.
3. Do you already own the Hummingbird? Or are you still shopping? A Western Mountaineering VistaLite (10, 2 pounds, cut full for extra clothes) might be a better choice for February & March. However, the VistaLite may get a bit warm sooner than the Hummingbird. Flip a coin if you are still shopping.
4. Add hot bottles as needed.
Have fun!

Wayne

michaelosborne
08-26-2013, 17:33
I think I may change out my bag to a Zpacks 10 degree down bag:-? the warmer rating, lighter weight, and cheaper price than WM and FF is very appealing. And I'm definitely going to get a CCF to put with my inflatable. Thanks for all the suggestion guys!

Venchka
08-26-2013, 17:47
You are only 20 years old. You will learn.
Buy quality once.
Good luck!

Wayne

Venchka
08-26-2013, 17:48
4. Add hot bottles as needed.
Have fun!

Wayne

Should say: Hot WATER bottles as needed.

Wayne

Rocket Jones
08-26-2013, 18:11
Someone suggested putting the CCF under your NeoAir. I tested both ways, and with my Neo Trekker the CCF on top was significantly warmer. Definitely test for yourself.

stranger
08-26-2013, 20:37
No debate...insulate yourself from the freezing cold air in the Neoair, foam on top, I've used a standard Ridge Rest foam pad below zero and slept like a baby

Venchka
08-26-2013, 23:42
I will try to find the report I read about foam under the Xtherm.
In the meantime, OP: Why start so early? Do you like snow?

Wayne

BrianLe
08-27-2013, 12:03
In terms of reading reports --- both from some personal experiences and talking to a number of experienced folks I respect, just empirically the "foam on top" approach seems to be the clear consensus. All things being equal, empirical (including trying it both ways myself) trumps theoretical.

That said, I've not used the Xtherm and I'd still be interested to read such a report, so I don't mean this as any sort of hostile response, just sharing thoughts.

And --- the great thing is that it's an easy thing for anyone to try for themselves. You're unlikely to exactly duplicate conditions night-to-night, but nevertheless, I think in this case you'll come away with a clear feel for this if the nights get cold enough.

Malto
08-27-2013, 14:27
In terms of reading reports --- both from some personal experiences and talking to a number of experienced folks I respect, just empirically the "foam on top" approach seems to be the clear consensus. All things being equal, empirical (including trying it both ways myself) trumps theoretical.

That said, I've not used the Xtherm and I'd still be interested to read such a report, so I don't mean this as any sort of hostile response, just sharing thoughts.

And --- the great thing is that it's an easy thing for anyone to try for themselves. You're unlikely to exactly duplicate conditions night-to-night, but nevertheless, I think in this case you'll come away with a clear feel for this if the nights get cold enough.

I have yet to need CCF under my xtherm. 5.7R is pretty impressive. I used to do a Prolite 3 with CCF beneath on snowshoe trips in the Sierra. CCF was needed in those conditions with that pad.

Venchka
08-27-2013, 15:46
I can't find the post. Never mind. I was never here.
It's easy enough to experiment. Somebody may prove that under beats over.

Wayne

stranger
09-17-2013, 18:02
How do you think I would fair starting my thru hike around February 16/17 with a Feathered Friends Hummingbird Nano 20' sleeping bag. While it's cold out I'll be staying in a double wall tent, with a NeoAir sleeping pad, have a silk liner, down jacket, wool mid weight long sleeve, silk lightweight long johns top and bottoms, wool beanie, gloves, and a balaclava. Do you figure this will be sufficient for this start date? Thanks!:)

I say you will have many sleepless nights, remember adding clothing does not work for everyone, meaning its possible to add clothing in a bag and actually be colder...not for everyone, but it happens.

If I left mid feb I would take a zero rated bag.

swonut
09-17-2013, 18:33
I'm looking at an earlier start date, and I'm considering just paying a heavy weight penalty to carry two bags. Just can't seem to fork out for a 0 deg bag, a 20 deg bag and then a summer bag. I figure it'll be slower going, but the days will be shorter and all that. Haven't quite figured it all out, but like my GI issued gear, there was a system: patrol bag inside the midweight bag inside the bivy bag, while wearing polypros = very heavy but warm. Maybe instead of a liner, you spend the extra weight on an external bag. (You know, chopping firewood warms you twice sort of thing.)

Venchka
09-17-2013, 18:52
I think I may change out my bag to a Zpacks 10 degree down bag:-? the warmer rating, lighter weight, and cheaper price than WM and FF is very appealing. And I'm definitely going to get a CCF to put with my inflatable. Thanks for all the suggestion guys!

Willing to swear on a stack of Bibles:
The foot box, full collar and full hood on a Western Mountaineering bag will provide significantly greater comfort than the hood less, collar less Zpacks so called 10 degree wannabe sleeping bag.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Have fun!

Wayne

max patch
09-17-2013, 19:22
I wouldn't start a thru in Feb but if I did it would be with a 0 degree bag.

You don't need a summer bag. Keep the 20, sleep on top of it, and use it like a blanket if necessary.

steve0423
09-18-2013, 15:05
I left Feb 17th this year. My understanding is we had historically crappy weather. Your asking about a topic that usually has very different answers depending on the individual. I used a 15 degree down bag with a liner and a neoair xlite. There were a few nights that I wore everything I had with me, nights that i used hot water bottles, or even a hot hands brand body warmer. But I was fine in temps down to 7 degrees and wind chills of -14. I also saw a lot of colder sleepers freeze their cans off. Saw a guy have a miserable night in a 20 degree western mountaineering bag while wearing a full down suit. I saw only a handful of zero degree bags, but I also saw a LOT of folks leave the trail because of the weather.
The best advise anybody can give you on here is to take your setup out in the cold this winter and try it out.

stranger
09-21-2013, 10:44
That guy probably had a miserable night BECAUSE he wore a down suit in a sleeping bag, he wouldn't of been able to heat up the air in the bag if he was wearing a down suit.

Adding clothing doesn't work in my experience, it's best to provide good insulation from the ground, minimize wind, eat before bed, wear dry socks and keep your head covered and minimize any air from escaping outside the bag.

GoodGerman
09-21-2013, 14:51
It's a gamble.

In a warm year, you might get away with it. Though in a colder year, you might regret it.

I checked the data provided by the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis Project, goofed around a bit and came up with the charts below (i'm not a weather student/guy tho - so no guarantees.)
They show the temperatures in Feb/March 2010/2011/2012 and 2013 for Chattanooga, which is next to the Smokies. (Couldn't get any closer to the Smokies, doh :/)

Temperatures are in Kelvin, so you'll have to substract 273,15 to get the temperatures in Celsius.

24138241392414024141

Temperatures are measured 4 times a day. Lows are the night temperatures.
Keep in mind that Chattanooga is lower on Elevation than the GSMNP. So the temperatures in the mountains will be even lower. Esp. when you think about wind exposure and elevation up there.

You can see that it really depends on the time you'll be out in the Smokies. You might hike the Smokies in moderate temperatures, but you can also end up there in a period of severe cold and be trapped in a Shelter due to heavy snowfall.
Most of the time a 20F bag will make for a couple of very cold nights though - plan accordingly and be save :)

Regards
Philipp

Slo-go'en
09-21-2013, 17:40
Adding clothing doesn't work in my experience, it's best to provide good insulation from the ground, minimize wind, eat before bed, wear dry socks and keep your head covered and minimize any air from escaping outside the bag.

Yea, just wear minimual clothing like thermal top and bottom just to cover the skin. That helps a lot. Much more than that and it is counter productive.

A 20 degree bag is marginal up till early April. You really have to look close at the way the bag is rated. There is the comfort rating, the "you might be a little chilly" rating and the "it will barely keep you alive for a night" rating. The "barely keep you alive" is often the advertised rating.

Remember, your going to be tired, chilled and some what (or a lot) starved for calories most of the time and that makes it harder to get and stay warm. The humidity can also often be high which makes it feel even colder. Your classic "raw" weather. Therefore you want a significant margin of error on your bag. Your sleeping bag is the most important piece of equipment in the winter and if you go cheap your not going to last long.

In the winter I actually prefer a two bag system instead of one heavy bag. The second bag could just be a quilt to pull over you. You have a bit more flexability with this system and don't need to get another bag just for summer.