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Can a bag/quilt be *too warm*?
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Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Can a bag/quilt be *too warm*? on 08/10/2009 15:00:48 MDT Print View

As opposed to just being heavier than you could get away with, can a fully zippered bag or quilt be too warm?

My vote is no. If you get too warm, you unbuckle/unzip, stick your arms and or feet out, or just lie on top of the thing if it's really hot. Since this is what I do at home (I use the same thick down duvet all year round), it seems perfectly natural and sensible to me. But I see many posts with folks asking if a certain sleep system will be *too warm*. If you are in the *too warm* crowd, then what is it that is too warm? Do you wake up and find you can't get back to sleep if you adjust you bedding? Are you used to sleeping in a temperature controlled environment at home? Or are there other factors that make you feel that some bags/quilts are too warm?

jim draucker
(mtnjim) - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah Valley VA
too warm? on 08/10/2009 15:16:25 MDT Print View

Interesting post. I have been looking for a Marmot Pounder
for one of my scouts. Last night I read a review from a grandmother who uses this bag as the basis of her sleep system to keep from getting too hot? She mixes bag , bivy, silk liner and clothing too regulate overheating. I quess it is a state of mind. Most other posts were about bag not being warm enough. This lady got my gears spinning a little bit. Is the glass half empty/full or just the wrong size.


Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Yes! on 08/10/2009 15:54:04 MDT Print View

I used to live in the Canadian sub-arctic, and have a great down mummy bag rated to -40F. It's kept me warm in many a frigid night up there. Weight aside, this bag just does not work here in the southern California mountains - except maybe on top of Mt. San Antonio in the middle of winter! ;-)

Even unzipped, the parts covered are sweating, and the parts uncovered are shivering - there just isn't any in-between.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Can a bag/quilt be *too warm*? on 08/10/2009 20:13:08 MDT Print View

My vote is no. If you get too warm, you unbuckle/unzip, stick your arms and or feet out, or just lie on top of the thing if it's really hot.

Ha, maybe this is a girl thing because that is what my girlfriend does.

It just doesn't work for me. If I am too hot under a down quilt at home I simply cannot sleep... I wake up every 20 minutes or so. And if I'm under a down quilt it's because it is too cold to not have something covering me.

The idea of sticking an arm or leg out, and it all just "averaging" out to the right temperature is completely foreign to me. I have tried it many times before and it doesn't work for me. I end up with cold feet/hands/knees/legs/whatever whilst the rest of me is still uncomfortably warm. Again, can't sleep.

I suspect some people are able to cope much better with variations in temperature without their sleep being disturbed. I however *need* to be like Goldilocks... not to warm, not too cool, just right. For this reason on my bed at home I have about 4-5 layers and during the night I flip the uppermost ones on/off as necessary. My GF goes the whole night under the same quilt and sleeps fine even when I think she is overheating. Sometimes I'll notice she has a leg out to cool down.

So, to answer your question, there definitely is such a thing as too warm. It's not as bad as too cold, but it still leads to a very bad night's sleep. For hiking I find it better to use a lighter bag and add clothes, because that way I can get the right temperature. But I've also considered taking an extra thin second quilt to put off/on during the night... much easier to deal with than adding/removing clothing at 3am.

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
"Can a bag/quilt be *too warm*?" on 08/10/2009 20:24:24 MDT Print View


If you wake up from being too warm, sweaty and hot....then your bag is too warm and you could be carrying a lighter quilt or bag for the temperature at which you find yourself. This means less weight on your back. Whether you have a better suited sleeping bag/quilt that you could of brought is a different issue :)

Obviously a bag covering a reasonable range of temps is required but that range should be decided based on a reasonable estimate of possible temperature given the elevation, season, your preference, extra clothes that can be layered and core temperature while sleeping.

It sucks to be cold but being to warm is not pleasant either.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Yes! on 08/11/2009 07:26:39 MDT Print View

"Even unzipped, the parts covered are sweating, and the parts uncovered are shivering - there just isn't any in-between."

This. It's best to use a bag that allows your whole body to regulate temperature. Otherwise you could either sweat, shiver, or both. Neither tends to make for a pleasant night's sleep and the former may get your down bag dangerously moist.

A comforter/duvet on your bed at home is not the same as a bag/quilt used outdoors. The temperature in your house might get down to 60 or 65 or so in the winter if you don't like to run the heater. More likely it's going to be well above 70. That's chilly enough to make you shiver when prostrate, but not exactly going to give you hypothermia. On a Fall camping trip in the mountains, the air temperature could well be 20-25 degrees most of the night. That's cold enough to give you hypothermia if you're without a bag and could frostbite any of your extremities in the wrong conditions. I sincerely doubt that laying on top of your too-warm sleeping bag at this temperature would be the same as laying on top of a comforter at home and actually I know I've read about bodies that have been found, of hikers who, in the first stages of hypothermia (feeling hot), have died exactly like this: laying on top of their sleeping bags.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Yes! on 08/11/2009 13:41:40 MDT Print View

Hmmm, interesting to hear how different everyone sleeps. FTR our bedrooms are not heated or cooled, so can get as cool as 4C/39F in winter and as warm as 30C/85F in summer. My only duvet (6 inch of loft) stays on the bed year round. I used the same WM Ultralite bag on trips all year round for over a decade without overheating, but maybe that's because my home sleep environment has taught me how to regulate my temp without loss of sleep??? The trick is to cool small bits of your body as you heat up, rather than wait until you are sweating like a pig and then throwing all the blankets off.

Given that most nights start out warmer and then get cooler (as your core temp also drops), There couldn't really be such a thing as a *just right* bag, surely? Wouldn't you start the night off unzipped, and then gradually rein in the covers as the night cools? With a warmer bag you just have less reining in to do!

Or maybe, like Ashley said, it's a 'guy thing'? After all, males do tend to sleep both hotter and deeper than women, so maybe they are more likely to a) over heat and b) not wake up in time to prevent sweating?

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Rather be cold... on 08/12/2009 21:38:08 MDT Print View

I know this is probably not a popular opinion, but I'd rather sleep cold than hot. I hate to sweat when I'm sleeping and it takes forever for me to get back to sleep and just makes me feel horrible. While waking up cold is no fun it's better to me than waking up sweating. I've slept in a 50 degree cheapo bag in 20 degree weather, it was horrible, and yet I'd still rather do that than wake up sweating. I know I'm wierd.