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Moisture in Caribou MF
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scri bbles
(scribbles) - F

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/18/2011 18:35:34 MDT Print View

Just finished 3 days on the AT and had a lingering moisture issue. My sleep setup is a NeoAir regular, WM Caribou MF Long, and a Cocoon Hyperlite pillow. I've been noticing quite a bit of humidity in my bag as I sleep. From comfortable nights to miserable where (I know...) I cover my face up with my bag.

Temps dropped to what we think were between 34-39F in a shelter on Saturday night. My bag is rated for 35F and I was shivering enough to the point that I couldn't take it anymore and got up at 6am and started making coffee.

I wouldn't say I've put more than 3 weeks of sleeping in this bag. I'm starting to think all sorts of things from overcompression, to ruined down, etc... I have no idea.

Looking for any sorts of comments, insights, etc... Thanks!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/18/2011 18:49:34 MDT Print View

I have a moisture problem sometimes that is quite similar to yours. I've also looked for answers here, and these are my only thoughts:

1. You might be sleeping too warm, making you sweat more.

2. Is the Neoair really warm enough for you at those temps? Having a cool back and warm front may throw your heat production out of whack, again, causing more sweat. Or not. This is just a stab in the dark.

3. Do your feet sweat a lot? Mine seem to put off a lot of moisture at night, so I"m going to try VBL socks to see if that helps.

I think it comes down to two basic things. Having a sufficient pad is crucial. I had a BAIAC, and I would often be cold in the 20's with a 15F bag. I now use a DAM from KookaBay. The other is that you may simply sweat a lot at night for various reasons. Your bag gets damp, and it loses loft.

WM is #1 for quality bags from what I know, so I'd be surprised if the bag itself is underperforming. Look for other causes. You may want to experiment with VBL's, but at near 40* temps, you normally shouldn't need a VBL in those cases.

A properly vented shelter may help as well. Basically, vent your shelter as much as possible.

Good luck. I'm still trying to nail it down as well.

Edited by T.L. on 04/18/2011 18:57:32 MDT.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
is that enough bag ? on 04/18/2011 19:15:25 MDT Print View

not to tell you your business, but i just went and looked at the caribou web page. that ain;t really a lot of bag you got there. sure it's WM and all, and i run one too (several, actually).
maybe try and borrow something (warmer) like a WM ultralight and try again.
if you're better off, and who would not be ? then there is the culprit.
my ultralight is what.. 29oz, and still not awesome near freezing. nice above that though.

you wearing something on top to cover the shoulders ? that makes a huge difference.
anyway, borrow something warmer, (and right there is a good excuse for another trip if there was one.)


loft on 04/18/2011 21:37:03 MDT Print View

WM is known for accurate temp ratings. You might sleep cold? body fat % has a huge effect on how warm or cold you are. I recently lost a lot of fat, taking my bodyfat from ~20% down to ~ under 8%. At the new bodyfat level, I am usually fairly cold in my house at 70F. Never was before.

i have a megalite, I like the room and flexibility of the continuous baffle. Shift most of the down on top when cold out and on a good pad, and minimal down on top in warmer temps, open up and sleep like a quilt when really warm out. With addition of long johns and a patagonia nanopuff jacket and beanie, and in a tent, I can comfortably sleep from ~15F -75F with this one bag.

I know I can lose a tremendous amount of heat easily if my face isnt cinched up good in cold. I mean a lot,maybe most. Theres no baffle across chest/neck to stop air migration. warm air easily escapes thru a big hole.

You can see the loft, if it is lofted up 2" or so on top layer it should be fine Id think.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/19/2011 09:23:38 MDT Print View

I can virtually guarantee that your pad isn't warm enough for you and conditions.

I had the same problem w/a Neo & a Summerlite & a MYOG bag/quilt. The only changed variable was the pad; I normally use ~R-5. Since your pad is ~35% of your insulation, it's gotta be adequate for your bag to reach its rating. IIRC R 2.5 is thermoneutral to ~45*F. In my experience, I was getting myself hot enough to sweat in trying to compensate for the significant heat loss I was experiencing through the pad.

You were also pushing the limit of the bag, so even w/an adequate pad you might not have made it through the whole night warm & toasty... but I bet you would've been fine w/more insulation underneath.

The bag is fine. Get a warmer pad & it'll make a world of difference!

EDIT: Just found this on Exped's website, thought it interesting:
"The conclusion is that a warmer mat is more important than a warmer sleeping bag."

Edited by 4quietwoods on 04/19/2011 11:20:05 MDT.

Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/19/2011 10:38:21 MDT Print View

I agree with Brad. I have a Caribou I have been using for many years, and I don't have any issues with it. I sleep cold, so to get it to it's rating I have wear some clothing inside of it. Probably the biggest issue though is what Brad brought up with the pad. An air matress in those temps is gonna probably be cold for most people. Plus it sounds like you were sleeping in a shelter, most of which have a fairly thin wooden floor raised up off the ground (i.e. air is circulating underneath).

As for the moisture I usually only get that from sweating and/or sticking my head inside my bag (condensation from breathing). Sometimes I have gotten some moisture from dew forming on the bag in certain conditions...that could potentially be something that happened to you.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
+1 on Pad on 04/19/2011 11:11:59 MDT Print View

Your pad can make a huge difference on how warm you sleep. I had been cold in a WM Versalite near freezing many times but when I switched to a down insulated mat, I found the bag was too warm. When I had a WM Highlite, I routinely took it down into the 20's with a down vest and a long silk weight base layer, but I was on a down mat. On a Insulmat Max, I was cold in the 40's - similar to your experience and seemed to sweat more as my body tried to warm things up.

Obviously your metabolism will different than mine, and sleeping warm or not is based on many other factors, but I have found that the vast majority of cold sleepers have inadequate insulation below them. If a down mat weight is something you can't get beyond, you may want to look at supplementing your neoair with a cf pad or look at the new Exped UL7 Syn which has been getting good initial reviews from many former neoair owners.

Edited by Servingko on 04/19/2011 11:13:05 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/19/2011 11:27:10 MDT Print View

Your pad is likely the culprit here - the NeoAir has a very optimistic R-value rating....

I recently purchased and used an Exped Synmat 7 UL and was warm at 26F with silweight underwear using a Golite quilt. In fact, I was much too warm at times.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Moisture on 04/19/2011 12:31:38 MDT Print View

The R value of the pad has been mentioned, but something else to consider as well. The fact that you have a lot of moisture in your bag can make a big difference.
Covering your face with your sleeping bag on the AT will surely make your bag wet and a wet bag means it won't insulate as well.

You would be better off with a balaclava and your face outside of the bag.

Also as mentioned, if you go to sleep warm, perspiration early in the night can make the bag damp, reducing the insulation factor, and then as temperatures drop...

I always try to make sure I am cool when I first go to sleep by leaving a small opening. Then as I get cold in the middle of the night, zip up.

What you wear makes a huge difference as well. You can extend the warmth of your bag significantly depending on what clothing you are wearing.

Don't worry about the bag being ruined by dampness, it is only temporary. Hang it in the sun, if you have sun. At least let it air out and loft it up and it will be back to normal.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
my 2 cents on 04/19/2011 17:05:36 MDT Print View


Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/19/2011 17:08:23 MDT.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
my 2 cents on 04/19/2011 17:06:22 MDT Print View

Hi Stephen, sorry to hear about your cold nights. Here's my input, having done many sub 32 degree trips, including this past weekend where my girlfriend and I did 2 nights in NH, with lows around 25.
*As others have mentioned, you are pushing the Neoair to its limit...but that's okay in my opinion. My gf used the neoair this past weekend (for comfort) while I used the ridgerest solar. Boost your neoair instead of buying a more expensive mat. Simply add a 1/8" eva foam pad underneath it (10 bucks from prolitegear or gossamergear). This should help you boost the r-value enough to be more comfortable around freezing, and a bit below.
* EAT EAT EAT! I don't know how you're built, or what your body fat % is, but my gf and I are small, lean, folks. (I'm 5'9" 140lbs, shes 5' and ~100lbs). Simply put, we don't have much insulation naturally built into our bodies, so we compensate by eating a lot during our cold weather trips. Your body needs the calories to produce heat. A lot of people don't realize that this is the reason why they are cold at night. Because winter days are shorter, you'll probably find yourself eating dinner anywhere from around 4-6, and hitting the sack between 5-8pm or whenever the sun sets. Than around 3am you wake up shivering your a** off. Well, its probably been 8 hrs since your last meal...and its long been burned off by then. I always keep a couple high-calorie bars in my baselayer pocket (close to my body so they don't freeze). If and when I wake up cold, I eat one quickly and promptly pass out out once the warmth kicks back in. So be sure your dinner is packed with calories, and be prepared for a refresher at some point throughout the night
* Circulation- I get cold feet very easily, to the point where I'm always with my down booties. However, on this past weekend trip, I had cold feet on the 2nd night. Weird part being that the 1st night was much colder than the 2nd, and I was toasty on the first. After careful deduction I realized that the sock I changed into on the 2nd night (smart wool adrenaline's) were a bit too tight around the ankle than the smartwool mountaineering socks I wore the previous night (which were unavailable b/c they were soaked with sweat from 2 days of hiking). I removed my socks, rewarmed my feet with my hands, and stuck each bare foot straight into the down bootie. Problem solved. So check if any of your clothing is inhibiting circulation.
*Vapor Moisture in the bag...not really a problem IMO as long as you take remedial measures. My girlfriend breathes in her bag all night long, regardless of how much I warn her not to. Literally, her head will be turned to the side so far that when you stare into her hood opening, you see the back of her head. We make sure to promptly air out our bags any chance we get. So in the morning, I lay the bags ontop of the ridge of my tent, to air it out
*Compressing the down isn't much of a problem either...your bag is still relatively new and has a lot of life in it. So long as your not stuffing your bag to the point where its as hard as a rock, i'd venture to say that you have little to worry about.
*Wear all your layers to sleep. If you're cold in your bag, layer more. This includes your rainwear. You'd be surprise how much of a temp boost you get when you put on that not-so-breathable hardshell.
*Still cold? Do situps in your bag, wiggle your toes, etc etc...Down only keeps in the warmth you generate--it doesn't produce warmth on its own. So do something and make some heat!
*Fit of the bag: You have a long bag...are you tall enough to fill it up? Excess room is just more dead air you have to fill.
*Shelters/platforms are cold...its the wood/air

Also, if anything, read this post:

You'll probably find it very helpful

Hope you have better luck next time!

Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/19/2011 17:22:33 MDT.

roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
Interesting thread on 04/19/2011 23:40:21 MDT Print View

I too breathe into my wm megalite and have woken up moist. I then air out a bit and when I get cold again my head goes back in. Sometimes I sleep facing the back of my bag and the cinched opening on the back of my head.

I also have a neoair and even though I haven't taken it down to that cold I'll get a thin ccf to make sure I don't run into the problem of being cold.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/20/2011 04:03:31 MDT Print View

Hi Stephen

I would also question whether your bag is really dry when you leave home. Obviously I don't know what state it is in, but 34-39 F isn't that cold really.

As several had suggested, add some foam to the pad. Cheapest and good solution.

> to miserable where (I know...) I cover my face up with my bag.
Hum ... and what else did you have on your head? Just the hood? If that's the case, a good balaclava or head cover should be #1 on your priority list (the foam is then #2).


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Roger... on 04/20/2011 06:24:05 MDT Print View

since you're ever so slightly into the whole science thing, do you have any experience with the claims above (including my own) that an insufficient pad could possibly cause your body to overcompensate for being chilled on the back by over-producing heat elsewhere, leading to moisture?

roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
bump on 04/20/2011 09:31:51 MDT Print View

where did the OP go?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Roger... on 04/20/2011 11:14:26 MDT Print View

I can tell from unscientific experience that the OP was probably cold from insufficient padding. He also stated that his face was in the bag. That probably adds a liter of vapor inside the bag which tends to move to the foot box... experience on my part.

I agree with Roger. I now use a smartwool or insulated balaclava in colder weather (a tip from Roger), and have upped my pad r-value. For a cold sleeper, it works! Keep thy head out of thy bag!!!!

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Micro Grid Hooded Fleece on 04/20/2011 11:37:53 MDT Print View

I have found that my Melenzana fleece has a hood that is perfect for this kind of thing.
When you cinch the hood almost all the way closed, it leaves an opening just big enough for nose and mouth.

If its cold, I'll put an additional beanie or two under the hood.

The hooded fleece helps with any drafts that should sneak in through the top of the bag, keeping neck and shoulder warm.

I will also usually wear some kind of a vest. They say that it is more important to keep the core warm.

Of course, I'll wear my base layers as well and more if it is really cold.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
odd on 04/20/2011 11:53:55 MDT Print View

i find it quite odd that youd sweat by having insufficient ground insulation ...

by the same logic, one would sweat by have a downmat, but a 45F rated bag at 30F ...

i always thought that one sweating is something that happens in response to a rise in core temperature ... as your core is on a pad that is "cold" ... i dont see the core temperature rising at all

who knows .... im definately not any kind of doctor or medical expert

however i WILL say that when i used a single neo air down to 15F with my 20F cats meow and regular clothes ... sweating was the last thing that was happening

the most likely scenario for the moisture is that you were breathing in the bag ... did you sun dry the bag every morning?

were you overly warm in the bag the first night and sweat in it?

also is that bag fairly snug on you, or does it fit as many BPLers recommend "loosely" so you can wear more clothes inside ... the les snug the bag, the cooler it will feel unless you wear sufficient clothes inside to fill the dead air gaps ... which is why i dont agree with that option personally

scri bbles
(scribbles) - F

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: Moisture in Caribou MF on 04/20/2011 13:42:36 MDT Print View

Wow so many insightful replies... Not sure where to begin.

It seems to be the general consensus that the NeoAir is the culprit here. Living in the Southeastern US, and with summer approaching, for a couple of months at least I should be fine. What I'm wondering now is whether or not I should consider swapping the NeoAir for the Synmat UL 7 permanently. Will this pad burn me up during summer?

Also, I do own a beanie/facemask, I'm just ashamed to admit that I didn't bring them due to weather forecasts... Next time I'm packing I know I'll think of this thread and that night.

EDIT: If I purchase a CCF pad to put under the NeoAir, can you just simply add the R-values together to see where you're at, or is it not quite that simple?

EDIT AGAIN: The night before it rained for 12 hours, while I was not in danger of receiving mist/spray, it was obviously very humid. We packed up and left the shelter immediately after breakfast and it did not have much time to air dry much less get sun...

Edited by scribbles on 04/20/2011 13:54:21 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
hmmm on 04/20/2011 17:17:01 MDT Print View

not to overly comment on here ....

but maybe im brain dead (always a good possibility in the afternoon) ... but i really dont see how having too little insulation would cause you to sweat profusely

i can understand if the pad was cold and you pulled the bag over yr head and breathed in it ... you did indicate shivering, and im pretty sure that unless you have some medical condition, shivering people dont sweat enough to matter ...

with the new indication about the moisture and not drying out ... heres what i suspect happened

- the pad/bag may not have been warm enough and you covered your head as a result, breathing into the bag and introducing moisture
- the humid environment did not help and contributed to the moisture especially if its in a tent ...
- the moisture accumulated over the nights as you did not have the ability to dry it out
- that additional moisture in a down sleeping bag means that your 30 something bag is no longer a 30 something bag ...

soluiton ...
- IF the pad was insufficient get a foamy to put under the neo air ... but dont assume that is the problem automatically because people here say it is ... you can easily test this with a cheap walmart blue pad
- dont breath into the bag ... simple .. get a baclava or scarf
- dry out the bag every opportunity you get ... rule #1 about down .. never ever get it damp/wet ... rule #2 ... worship the sun or wind gods with it whenever you can
- ventilate yr shelter as much as possible in humid environments
- IF you end up with a damp bag and need to dry it out overnight use a hawt nalgene or two and the heat will push the moisture out a tad faster and keep you warm ... its not UL, but its better than shivering

hope that helps

Edited by bearbreeder on 04/20/2011 17:21:06 MDT.