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sleep system advice
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douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 05:51:24 MDT Print View

I'm looking for a jacket / bag (or quilt) combo that would work well as a 3 season sleep system. My principle area of play is the Adirondacks - it can get wet at times lows expected 20 deg or so.

I suppose there is no right or wrong here, but advice would be appreciated.

Should I focus on a good down jacket (eg Nunatak or western mountaineering) and supplement this with a lighter quilt - maybe something from MLD) or do you recommend a lighter weight jacket such as Montbell with a heavier bag or quilt?

what would you do if you could start afresh?


Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 09:19:11 MDT Print View

I hike in similar conditions (wet cold) and have been toasty at 20f using a Nunatak Arc Specialist and hooded Skaha combo. The Skaha has an ounce overfill, and i chose Epic as the outer fabric for the Specialist, to cope with any moisture.
I've been very happy with both.

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 09:32:05 MDT Print View

feathered friends has a combo, the vario half bag and volant jacket. i believe if you buy both you get a discount, but not sure.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 10:33:32 MDT Print View

edit spelling

If I was starting from scratch, and I wanted a 3 season system that could handle lows down to 20 but also temps up into the 50-60s on warm summer nights, my personal preference would be a quilt that handles 30 35 degree temps, so I wouldn't be too warm in the higher temps, but warm enough to be boosted into the 20s by the addition of a hooded parka. The ones you mentioned or a Montbell Inner Down for 25 degrees or an Alpine Down for colder.

In other words, the Nunatak Arc at 32* would be my ideal bag + a skaha. Throw in a MLD or TiGoat bivy for wet conditions, or to boost the warmth a couple more degrees, and you're set. (I already own the MB jackets, but if I was starting from scratch. . . ) But that's a pricey system.

A more economical, but still quality system could be a Jacks R Better No Sniveler, which is a bit warmer than I'd want at 25-30 degree, (but it's a quilt, so easy venting) + the MB jackets I mentioned.

The thing about the JRB quilt is that with the head hole, you can buy the down hood and down sleeves separately, and for cool but not cold conditions have an all in one quilt + jacket system.

Right now I have a WM Summerlite + the MB jackets + Tigoat bivy for the conditions you mentioned. The Summerlite is a full zip bag so easily quilted. I'v only used it in the mid-40s (I had to unzip and quilt it) and mid-30s so far, so can't fully review it's capabilities.

Edited by jrmacd on 06/18/2009 10:35:57 MDT.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 12:34:53 MDT Print View


I hike in your conditions and am very pleased with my JRB No Sniveller (for the reasons mentioned above), and if I expect temps below freezing I take the down hood, otherwise my cheap beanie works for me.

My Montbell Thermawrap Parka completes my system down to about 19* ( at least that's the lowest I have taken it; but I believe I could make it a little lower).

I do include a very thin polyester balaclava to keep my nose, etc warm when it's that cold, as well.


Edited by funnymoney on 06/18/2009 15:02:45 MDT.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 13:59:05 MDT Print View

It's really hard to get a single system that will really work for anything from hot summer nights to winter temps down to 20 F. The best I've found so far is the Montbell Down Inner Parka and a Nunatak Ghost (custom with a bit less down) for temps down to 40. I like the same jacket for winter, but pair it with a WM Ultralite.

One thing to consider is that if your quilt is light, even with a heavy jacket your legs and feet may get cold, so I would probably go with the heavier quilt & the lighter jacket if I had to choose one system. Then again, you can always add insulated pants, which are great in the cooler weather. It makes getting up in the mornings SO much easier if you can still wear part of your warmth!

douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
sleep system advice on 06/18/2009 19:50:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice. It's good to see that there generally people don't have any problems using down systems in wetter weather. The Nunatak stuff definitely looks nice -seems like I need to pay the JRB site a visit too.

James Byrnes
(backfeets1) - M

Locale: Midwest.... Missouri
sleep system on 06/19/2009 01:47:43 MDT Print View

I recently upgraded my gear for the same concerns as you. Temp range flexibility, low 20's. I settled on WM summer light bag (so I could shift down as needed + full zip I can experiment with quilt concept :) and also added a WM Flash jacket (parka, has hood). The Flash has noticeably more loft than the Montbell but weights about 1.3 oz more.(cost more too) I usually Carry a fleece layer (top and bottom R1) also, for trail use and occasional standing around a fire. Pack straps are hard on down and the stray sparks worry me. My old kit: WM highlight + fleece proved good to 30*. I've been caught in early snow in Wyo Winds before, real cold real fast, hence the fleece insurance.
I'm trying to extend my 3 season range.

The nice thing about old gear is that your friends have no excuse for not going anymore.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Quilt combo on 06/19/2009 02:21:58 MDT Print View

A lot of factors can determine how warm a sleep system is e.g. individual physiology, how tired you are, how well fed and watered you are, what mat you are using, are you using bivy, are you in an enclosed tent or in a tarp etc. Because of this you usually end up having to do some in field trial and error to get it right. At the start it is usually best to assume that your system isn't going to be as warm as you planned, rather than the other way round :)

A few things I would consider are:

Using a synthetic jacket if you are going to be using a down quilt. This could give you a bit more versatility in damp conditions.

Combining two lighter quilts e.g. one down and one synthetic. This can allow you to cover a wide range of temps more comfortably, but wont be the lightest solution.

Using insulated pants.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: sleep system advice on 06/19/2009 08:53:51 MDT Print View

>> Thanks for the advice. It's good to see that there generally people don't have any problems using down systems in wetter weather.

Keep in mind that those posters, along with myself, live in Calif or the Southwest.

I use down almost exclusively, but our weather is not a wet as other areas. Down requires careful packing and attention to detail in wet conditions. So choose accordingly.

douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
sleep system advice on 06/19/2009 13:32:19 MDT Print View

Good point Nick. Although Oor Wullie seems to like the down gear in Scotland (probably the Gold standard for wet weather)

Does anyone have opinions / experience with down jacket in epic material - eg Skaha vs synthetic jacket suitability in wet?


Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
Re:sleep system advice on 06/20/2009 11:39:47 MDT Print View

I gotta agree with Todd and say the NO Sniveller is a versitile, great, multifunctional piece of gear. You can add the hood and omni tape like i did+an UL insulated jacket(Montbell UL Down Inner) and push this quilt into the low 20's-and even further if you add a bivy. The Jack's were a pleasure to do buisness with, they ship incredibly fast, reasonable prices, and IMO have created an amazingly versitile sleep system. Give JRB 's quilts a look; you'll be glad you did=)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Wet conditions on 06/20/2009 17:14:02 MDT Print View

We used down sleeping bags in France in 2007, when we had quite bad wet weather for the first month or more. No trouble - but we used a tent.