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Rockies sleep system?
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nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Rockies sleep system? on 12/29/2008 18:32:18 MST Print View

Hi all, I was wondering what people thought of my sleep system for ski touring and climbing basecamps in the northern Canadian Rockies Jan-April. This will be my first time in the range in winter.

Right now I have a WM Puma SMF, WT eVent bivy, MEC overbag, BMW Toroslite and MEC yellow bivy pad.

I'm wondering about sleeping pads, I had been planning to use a 1 cm yellow foamie (or two of the MEC 1/2 cm 'bivy' pads, layered) with the BMW but now I'm wondering if that will be warm enough?

Also I'm thinking of useing one full length bivy pad and the BMW for my torso, and another cut down bivy pad for my hips to feet. Weight and bulk wise that's my preference but I'm wondering if that will be warm enough on the Icefields in -20C and lower weather.

Most of the time we will be tenting but probably in a bivy tent.
I had been planning to just use the WM Puma and layer with DAS parka and micropuff pants, but I wonder about bringing along the overbag in addition?

Is this needed? What are peoples experience?

Also wondering about the value of a lighter bag (say WM Apache +-20F) with bivy, DAS and puffpants for weather down to about -15, -20 C

Paul Davis
(pdavis) - M

Locale: Yukon, 60N 135W
Rockies sleep system on 02/23/2009 23:22:15 MST Print View

Robert: It all depends on your metabolism. Fortunately I am amongst the worst-heated in the world, so if you take what I pack, you won't freeze!

So, for me, I use a full-length Thermarest LE with 18mm CCF MEC purple Evazolite pad under that. I take the summer weight -5C Kluane down bag, with a snythetic overbag, wearing balaclava, pile long underwear and socks, and contact gloves. That takes me to -10C in still air inside a tent. I have been known to lay down a permanent aluminized space blanket ('all weather blanket') under the tent to keep it from freezing into the snow under body heat.

I once left the T-rest LE behind and froze!

In similar conditions (-12C) I have used a Bibler I-tent, same down bag, LE, foam sitz pad layed wide so my hands don't freeze when they fall off the LE, dual layer down pants, down jacket, MEC backcountry quallofil booties, balaclava, contact gloves. This system is more compact. However, if you get the down jacket damp during day use you are in trouble! So, I mostly use it if I am camping out at something really tame, like an arts festival with heated buildings around.

Last fall (August!) I bought a Thermarest Ultralight Women's Extra Long 4 pad, 740gr, which is R4.1, so in theory as warm as the 2001 1300gr LE, and the Women's pad is trimmed narrower at the feet so it will fit inside my bivisac for 'camping' on the back deck of Alaska ferries!

Try your gear outside in the same conditions as you expect on your trip. We all try out our stuff in our back yards at -40C to see if it really works.

If you don't have cold weather, ask to get access to a walk-in freezer at a big grocery store. Make sure they show you how to open the door from the inside! Then try out your gear. I would skip lunch or dinner before doing the test to simulate low blood sugar if you are in an emergency situation. As well, 'cold soak' your gear by leaving it in the freezer overnight so it is at -25C, which is about as cold as industrial freezers get---that is what MEC does in Vancouver.

My ration for winter eating is 350gr of cookies per day, first ingredient 'chocolate'!

I am only just experimenting with vapour barrier clothes and can't reccommend them as of yet. They show some promise as they do keep your insulation dry. See BPL's articles on I think Ryan Jordan's Icebox hike and see what he used. Your MEC overbag if it has the XCR membrane in it, is practically an insulated VB already, so you could try that. I have had down bags collapse due to body vapour overnight at -12C in August, I had on primaloft clothing inside the down bag....

We use the 'Mickey Mouse' Vapour Barrier boots here for dog-mushing and winter-biking, but I don't like wearing them all day if I can avoid it as my feet feel vulnerably damp-saturated...

Bonne voyage!
Paul Davis

PS: Designate a 'pee bottle' which must feel different in the dark from your water bottle. This saves enormous energy lost getting out of your bag....

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Deep Winter sleep system on 02/24/2009 11:36:00 MST Print View

Thanks, what I'm struggling with is wheather to get a full length or 3/4 length Prolight 4, or if the BMW and 1cm of foam for the legs will be enought. In another thread Rodgre mentions R3.5+ or R4 as a good number to aim for for your sleeping system. I am most worried about my legs, feet and heat loss from my torso through my femoral artory. Sounds like you guys have simaler conditions but you go heavy mushing. My list is for ski touring or alpine climbing/mounteneering, so I'm trying to minamize the weight and maxamize my rest.

Food wise I'm good - lol, my faverate is sticks of butter covered in brown sugure, but mostly I worry about my pads.
A 3/4 length untralight or prolight and 1cm or .5 cm foam pad is as light as most people go, I worry that I'm trying to go too light.

Thanks for the warning about the overbag, thats exactly my concern. VBL's look nice but I am looking for an economical set of Silinylon clothing.
I think they are calling for -30 weather tomorow night, so I think I'll give the gear I have a test.

I have a large flexable nalgene as a pee-bottle and that seems to be working OK, lol waiting for it to spring a leak though...

lol, MEC makes some great gear eh? I think I'm on my secound pair of those booties.

Edited by nanookofthenorth on 02/24/2009 11:47:07 MST.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Womans Prolight on 02/24/2009 11:37:30 MST Print View

I was looking at that one, too bad they dont make it in a 3/4 length!

Paul Davis
(pdavis) - M

Locale: Yukon, 60N 135W
women's prolite 4 on 03/04/2009 23:05:18 MST Print View

Robert: Best of luck! I am pulling strongly for you to take a full-length Women's Prolite 4 as otherwise your feet will freeze. I looked at velcro-ing two Torsolites together with a T-rest sitz pad, but the Women's Prolite 4 was warmer than that and had no cold-spots where the pads would be velocro'd together...

I carry 2 orange trash bags taped together, bottom cut out of one, to make a lightweight vapour barrier that I keep in the bottom of my sleeping bag compression sac. But you can never have too much sleeping pad insulation!

Here, for pulk-camping in an MEC Snowfield fitted with a Kifaru woodstove, I lay 2 CCF pads on the floor just to keep from punching holes in the packed snow floor. Ie: 18mm just to be comfortable sitting on while running the wood stove. Full-length Thermarest on top of that for sleeping. Your sleeping bag will inevitably end up with body vapour in it, particularly on the hood, so don't skimp on the pad!

Some sort of a breathing face-mask + tube to get your exhalation out of the bag system is not so outlandish---a guy in town does just that under his full-face winter bike helmet to keep from icing his glasses up. Try it all at home before you leave!

Most postings on this site are from climate zones 3 to 5 zones warmer than the Rockies, so be cautious!

The one area I have had some luck with, is a Primaloft over-bag, which can be worn like a greatcoat with uninsulated arms---a Wallcreeper I got on sale from MEC. This can take the place of overpants and a jacket in non-biking situations. Here, the heat you have in the overbag, when you peel the inner bag out of it, without taking the overbag off of you as you untie the foot to turn it into a greatcoat, in the very cold mornings, has to be seen to be believed! Highly civilized! So, unless I am bike touring, that is what I pack now---bike touring you need separate legs which a Walldreeper can't do...

The -40C Arctic standard is actually one vapour barrier inside the sleeping bag to keep body vapour out of insulation, and one on the outside to keep condensed breath vapour frozen inside the tent off the outside of the bag.

Pack an insulated mug or even a thermos mug to eat out of, with a Lexan spoon so your tongue won't stick to it! White Lexan is impossible to see on the snow...

Bonne voyage!
Paul Davis

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
real winter camping :P on 03/04/2009 23:42:48 MST Print View

Thanks Paul - thats good advice!
I'm a climber so what I've been useing is my belay parka layed overtop my torso - that seems to help, like the Wallcreaper.
Also useing the two .5cm sheats I have taken to laying a rope between them - seems to be doing OK, that and resting my feet ontop of my boots.
Not super comfortable, but OK.
lol, would love to have your guys weight allowences!

Thats one area that I think BPL could improve upon, there is little to no real info on the site for truly artic tempratures and going light. I'm looking forward to that pad artical that is souposed to be in the works.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
freazer bag cooking on 03/04/2009 23:46:07 MST Print View

I've had great luck with the ziplock bags that dehydrated dinners come in. I but them in a reflex cozy and then inside the pockets of my DAS.
Keeps me warm while its rehydrating

martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
One more little item on 03/05/2009 12:01:23 MST Print View

In really cold weather (15F and below) I take a fleece neck gaiter, made by my wife. It traps heat from the neck and can be used over your mouth to trap breath. Very nice. Very light.
Marty Cooperman