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  1. #1

    Default What's your sleep system and start date?

    I don't have any overnight backpacking experience, just a lot of day hiking and campground camping. I am planning to start my thru sometime between mid-March and the 1st of April, but I am concerned that my sleep system won't be sufficient. I have a 20* Hammock Gear quilt with 2 oz overfill, a neoair xtherm pad, and will be getting a liner (but I'm not sure which one to get?). I also have down booties, and will be sleeping in a midweight base layer. I will be testing it out when colder weather arrives, but I am hoping to be able to use the quilt I already have. I don't sleep well in mummy bags, because I move a lot from my side to my stomach and I get twisted up and frustrated. I am hoping the high R-value of the xtherm will help to keep me warm even though there can be a draft issue with quilts.

    What does your sleep system look like and what is your start date? Are you a cold or warm sleeper? Do you prefer a bag or a quilt?

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    My wife has the X Therm and it's pretty warm if it keeps her warm. A 20 F rated quilt should be okay, but I would bring a hooded down parka to use with the quilt on colder nights. That's my summer sleep system with a 45F quilt and a very light down parka, and it works well.

    If you have a quilt, and hate being cooped up, not sure a liner will help much. A down parka, down booties, and a good hat will add a lot of warmth to your quilt.

    For late March I have an overstuffed Western Mountaineering Megalite, which is a wide mummy bag normally rated to 30F but this one has 2 extra oz of down. The wider mummy is more comfortable, and of course I have my down jacket and booties.

    Being in Maine will give you plenty of opportunity to test your sleeping system this winter
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  3. #3
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    And, your shelter? Sleeping in most AT shelters and enclosed tents(add about 8-10 *) will add warmth to you sleep system and by also including a liner you will do the same(and reduce drafts).

    For you mid Mar start date I will not guarantee it but I'd say the odds of encountering single digit nights is very likely. You'll likely encounter ice, sleet, wind, and possibly some snow too making it seem colder at times at night than those single digit temps.

    I have upwards of 120 trail nights on my 20* down quilt most often under a cat tarp pitched A-frame style and while cowboy camping. I sleep neutral but extremities, particularly hands and feet, are cold susceptible since I've experienced frost nip in those areas previously. Even while adding a MLD Superlight bivy(adds about 6* warmth) and/or Cocoon mummy silk liner(adds about 4* warmth) and/or Goosefeet Down Socks I prefer sleeping in a Feathered Friends 20* Swallow UL, especially under a cat tarp or cowboy camping set up when temps are regularly dipping into the 20's although if sheltering in a fully enclosable tent I would consider quilt use in these temps. I'm a side sleeper tossing from side to side all night. I lose the thermal efficiency, so called warmth to wt advantages of a quilt, and sleep fitfully in temps that dip into 20's because of quilt drafts and a few other factors. I only currently own one 20* quilt but have slept in several different other UL cottage industry manufacturers quilts in various set-ups. I usually save the quilts for ground sleeping in temps at or above freezing or when not regularly dipping below the mid 20*'s, bottom quilts/TQs in hammock set-ups, inside fully enclosed shelters, or in combination with another sleeping bag/quilt.

  4. #4

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    Thanks Big Cranky. You're right about the liner. I should just invest the weight into a warmer hooded parka instead. I'm certainly not wishing the cold weather to arrive any sooner than it has to, but I am looking forward to doing some fall overnights to test my gear

  5. #5

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    Dogwood, I just purchased a TT Notch. It does pitch all the way to the ground if need be for windy/wet weather. But considering the weather concerns, it seems that I might be better off starting nearer the 1st of April, unless I sell my quilt and buy a warmer bag/quilt.

  6. #6
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    That's your call and it's your hike. I'm just telling you about my situation and my thoughts based on how I sleep, set-up, etc. in hopes that maybe it will help to decide what's appropriate for you.

    Your pt is well taken about your shelter. It will be warmer than the shelters I have used with my 20* quilt.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for all of the insight! I am trying to glean all of the wisdom I can from folks who have real life experience, and this is exactly what I'm looking for.

  8. #8
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    I second Dogwood's advice.

    Shelter and sleep choices depend on whether you plan to use shelters primarily, or camp in the woods like a real backpacker .

    Tarps can be drafty, and in a downpour they need to be pitched perfectly. They are obviously the lightest shelter option hence their popularity.

    Hammocks are unrivaled in sleep comfort (for most), but they are a more complex set-up and certainly don't save you any weight compared to an UL tent or tarp.

    A fully enclosed tent is probably the warmest and most weather-resistant option, and there are many models from cottage brands that weigh in under 2 lbs.

    Personally I don't know why people mess with quilts for anything other than a 1-3 night outing where weather can be reasonably predicted. Yes you save a few ounces compared to a mummy bag but, IMHO, it is not worth it. Just get a high-quality lightweight down mummy that will handle temps down to 20* F, and maybe a silk liner for hot and muggy nights in the mid-Atlantic and added warmth on that rare sub-20* night.

  9. #9

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    eXPED SYNMAT, MONTBELL DOWN SUPER SPIRAL 900
    Trail Miles: 4,090.3 - AT Trips: 71
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 116.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  10. #10
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    Hi Cassafrass, I'm planning a thru for 2015 too though I haven't settled on a start date yet. I'm thinking probably around the first of April though, give or take a week or two. I'm planning on alternating between a tent and hammock set-up for warm and cold weather.

    I'm going to start out with my Eureka Solitaire, a 20* synthetic bag, sleeping pad (haven't purchased this yet but looking into an ebay-special-therma-rest), and warm clothes (synthetic base-layer, fleece jacket, windbreaker, beanie, smart wool socks)

    As the weather warms, I will send my tent home and have my hammock sent to me. I have a Hennessey Hammock Expedition Asym which I've been slowly modifying over several years. I'm looking into DIY rain fly and under quilt options to try and save money.

  11. #11
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    I'm starting first week of March, will be carrying a Marmot Lithium 0* and a Neoair Xtherm. I don't plan on being cold, I've used that bag with a few additional layers to -15* and I'm sleeping warm and cozy in my underwear by about 25*. It may get a little toasty when I get close to swapping it out for the summer bag but I'd personally rather be hot than freezing. I'm not really sure whether I qualify as a warm or cold sleeper but I've found Marmot's advertised rating reasonably accurate to my needs, for whatever that's worth. I prefer a bag especially for colder temperatures, I'm what you might refer to as an "active" sleeper, never actually tried a quilt but it seems like it would be a disaster for me if I go to bed on my back and wake up on my stomach..

  12. #12
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    Im starting hopefully sometime in March. Ive got a big agnes hog park sleeping bag, kelty three season tent, and a LW exped down sleeping mat which is suppose to be more comfortable than a neo air. I roll around so much that my bed inches off the box springs so I decided get larger sized equipment so I can roll around.
    "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

  13. #13

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    Now I'm looking at Zpacks sleeping bags. They are kind of like a quilt/bag combo. It could give me the roominess I need, and the security of being able to zip up if it is really cold. Hmmmm....

  14. #14

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    Tarp Tent more than likely, 20 degree bag? Not sure on the pad either. Definitely going to be tenting...mice in shelters give me the creeps...lol....Start date is January 1st.
    "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither." - Benjamin Franklin

  15. #15
    Registered User Studlintsean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner1776 View Post
    Tarp Tent more than likely, 20 degree bag? Not sure on the pad either. Definitely going to be tenting...mice in shelters give me the creeps...lol....Start date is January 1st.
    While I have never hiked in GA mountains in GA, I would recommend a warmer sleeping bag.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Studlintsean View Post
    While I have never hiked in GA mountains in GA, I would recommend a warmer sleeping bag.
    Thank you sir.
    "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither." - Benjamin Franklin

  17. #17
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    EE Rev X 25*, neo air X lite regular, silk liner if I need it, heated water bottle if needed, chemical foot warmer if needed, wool watch cap, in my tarp. Mid Aprilish.

  18. #18
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    ***********

  19. #19

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    DIY hammock/down under quilt/down&silk top quilt. Winterbox Tarp. sleeps very well at 10*.
    Planned start: Feb. 19th.
    There are wonders out there, now to find them.

  20. #20
    Registered User Caddywhompus's Avatar
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    I'm leaning towards a hammock setup for my thru. After reading several trail journals and seeing what a hassle finding decent tent sites seems to be it seemed like a logical decision. I got a 20* UQ and a 20* bag that should keep me warm for a early to mid March start. For me comfort outweigh weight every time. A couple extra pounds to have a system that'll keep you warm and help you sleep comfortably is so worth it. I've seen people fuss over pounds only to end up carrying an extra 2 liters because they didnt reference there guide. Find other places to skimp on weight. Make sure you have a system thatll keep you warm no matter what.

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