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Colorado Trail in June sleep system
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Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Colorado Trail in June sleep system on 02/09/2011 01:20:02 MST Print View

First, thanks to everyone who makes these forums such a great resource. Were it not for the collective advice of BPL readers, backpacking would be far more a burden than a blessing.

I'm planning to hike the CT starting from Denver in late June, and I need some feedback on possible sleep systems. Items marked with an asterisk are ones that I currently own; everything else is in the exploratory stage. Feel free to suggest mix-and-matches or any other items.

Option A
- Golite Adrenaline 20 down*
- Rab Superlight eVent bivy
- Golite poncho tarp

Option B
- A 40F down quilt
- Rab Infinity 850-fill hooded down jacket*
- VBL rainsuit
- Silnylon or Heatsheets bivy
- Silnylon ground cloth/tarp

Option C
- 40F down quilt
- Rab down jacket*
- Rab eVent bivy
- Golite poncho tarp

Option D
- Replacing bivy and tarp systems with a tent.

If possible, I'd like to bring the down jacket, but sleeping in that plus a 20F bag seems like overkill. Regarding Option B, I've never used full-body VBL, but I like the idea of keeping my bag dry from the inside and being able to use a cheap, light, non-W/B bivy. Do you think that would be appropriate for temps on the early-season CT?

By way of background, I'm a wilderness guide in the San Juans, and I've been sleeping under a bivy and tarp/spruce since last April. (I have cheated a bit this winter and moved in under an abandoned truck topper in a junkyard, which made the -28F nights we had last week barely even stoic). While I much prefer a tarp/bivy, I could learn to enjoy a tent given the right weight or protection incentive.

Thanks in advance for your help. Here's a shot of my current living arrangements:The Domicile

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
re: on 02/09/2011 02:47:04 MST Print View

Bold! I'm liking your living arrangements!
In light of where you've been sleeping, I think you could go with any variety of options. That infinity is a great jacket, but I wonder if its a bit overkill for what you would need in late june. Not sure the weight of your adrenaline, but having extra down weight in your sleeping bag will go further than carrying a heavy coat. I carried a 4 oz down vest that time in the CO rockies last year, and that was enough around camp. Nothing wrong with carrying the infinity though if you love wearing it ;) I bet you'd be more than OK in a 40 deg quilt and the infinity. VB's are a cool idea, but I don't think you'd need them that time of year esp. with the infinity with you. Tarp/bivy sounds good.

What were you sleeping in at -28?

Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Re: on 02/09/2011 09:37:55 MST Print View

Thanks for the input. My thoughts with the down jacket were to use it to get away with a lighter sleeping bag. All things equal, I'd like to have the versatility of the jacket for camp and emergencies where I needed to keep moving. That jacket adds ten degrees to my sleep system; a bivy and layers would add an extra five apiece, so I'm wondering if that would be roughly equivalent.

Here's my current winter sleep system. Since it doesn't have to be mobile, I could afford to lavish comfort after comfort upon it.

- Four 3/8" closed-cell foam pads
- Golite Adrenaline 20F down
- OR Aurora bivy
- Very old Wiggy's 15F synthetic (more like 25F now), pulled over the bivy if I need it.
- Merino base layer, nylon hiking pants
- Merino base, 100wt fleece, Rab Infinity
- Breadbag VBL socks, merino glove liners
- Fleece balaclava, fleece hat, Rab Infinity hood
- A hearty diet of cayenne pepper throughout the day

I leave the gear out under the truck topper during the day. On average I sleep inside one night a week, so I bring everything in to thaw out and reloft then. It takes me about fifteen minutes to get in bed; my bag has a sternum zip, my bivy has a shoulder-to-shoulder, and the truck topper has maybe two feet of headroom!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Uh Huh! on 02/09/2011 11:11:57 MST Print View

Yer takin' this here guide profession fairly seriously for the off-season.

Mebbe ya kin guide ski trips too so's ya kin afford better winter digs.

Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Re: on 02/09/2011 11:54:04 MST Print View

Yeah, well, I've been working as the secretary for the winter, so I figured I needed to do something to keep from getting soft ;-)

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Man Up on 02/10/2011 18:16:09 MST Print View

Mr Fritz:
You just need to man up. Buffalo robe, bowie knife, flint, water skin, then trail run it unsupported. Less analyzing, more testing.
Or just go to REI and ask a sales associate.
[I kinda like getting soft sometimes, its so much more comfortable....]

Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Re: on 02/10/2011 22:26:04 MST Print View

Fair enough. At first I thought the leather water skin was a bit heavy compared to synthetic hydration reservoirs, but I managed to shave 25 grams by drilling holes in it.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: CT on 02/11/2011 01:14:45 MST Print View

After this winter I think you could get by with a trash bag for shelter/warmth.

I am will also be on the CT late June and I will be carrying a 2.25" quilt + bivy and a tarp. I think a 40* bag is definitely a viable option with some extra clothing.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Colorado Trail in June sleep system on 02/11/2011 02:24:06 MST Print View

My experience in colorado has been from the later summer and fall. It's not a place that I want a 40 degree bag in. Actually, I wouldn't want any of that gear that you list. Just goes to show how personal these choices are.

Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Re: on 02/11/2011 08:37:05 MST Print View

Matthew: Sweet! Maybe we'll cross paths at some point. Who made your quilt, and what is it rated to?

Jack: Agreed; sleep systems are very subjective, which is why I'll be spending the entire spring testing out whatever I'm going to take on the trail.

On another note, I like the idea of using a non-breathable bivy for weight and cost savings. Condensation is the biggest drawback, of course. Would it be possible to put a thin layer of fabric (like a bag liner) between the quilt and bivy so that the moisture settles there? Then in the morning you could hang it to dry, either in camp or on the outside of your pack while hiking? Would that prevent condensation-induced loss of loft with a down quilt, or am I missing something?

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Quilt on 02/11/2011 09:43:39 MST Print View


The quilt I'll be using is a Palisade from Katabatic Gear. Made here in CO and its rated for 30*.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: Quilt on 02/11/2011 12:38:39 MST Print View

I'd also recommend katabatic. I've got a sawatch which I love. Quality is as good or better than WM IMO & temp rating is conservative. someone mentioned a 40 katabatic coming out this spring.

I wouldn't use a waterproof bivy. I think it'd only make sense on like a fastpacking overnight or weekend with favorable forcast where your bivy is just a minimalist emergency shelter. Although drying down out in CO summer wouldnt be hard, no need to create condensation problems for yourself on a long trip like that.

I say 1) 40 deg quilt with the infinity and down booties or vb's for your feet or 2) 30 deg quilt with ul down jacket or vest like an ex light. I think the second option would be lighter and better suited for the trip though...

Let me know if you need any tips for winter hunting with your bare hands.. ;)

Fritz Nuffer
(fredbill222) - F

Locale: San Juan Range
Post-hike on 07/27/2011 16:53:35 MDT Print View

Just to wrap things up:

This is what I ended up using on my hike:

- Golite 3-Season (20F) down quilt
- TiGoat Ptarmigan bivy
- Golite poncho tarp
- Two-thirds Ridgerest, the extra third under my hips (doubled as a frame for my Jam)
- Pack as a pillow

Most nights I slept in wool baselayers and a 100-weight fleece without a hat and was perfectly warm and dry.

9.4lb base weight, 24 days including Hope Pass and summits of Missouri, Belford and Oxford. Way more trees than I expected, but still a fantastic experience.


Edited by fredbill222 on 07/27/2011 16:57:33 MDT.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
CT sleep system on 07/31/2011 09:27:02 MDT Print View

Sup Fritz!

I'll chime in here as I was on the CT too this summer

I used my worn out REI Sub kilo which has lost about half its loft. It was rated to 20* with 14 oz of 750 fill which might be optimistic. Now, its pitiful but kept me plenty warm. I often kept it unzipped all night and it was too warm to wear my silk weight tights, just shorts and cap 2 ls.

This is inside a hexamid twin with my girlfriend who stayed just warm enough in her Cats Meow.

I'd say a 30* quilt would be perfect for me with just my baselayers.