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Breathing in sleeping bag?
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Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 14:10:07 MDT Print View

Some say that stuffing yourself completely in the sleeping bag and breathing in there is bad for the bag because of the extra condensation. I've heard others say "meh". Me? I get cold, for psychological reasons I'm sure, if my face is sticking out of the bag.

What's the truth? Is it ok to cocoon up?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Breathing in sleeping bag on 04/26/2012 14:28:55 MDT Print View

Obviously it would be worse in a down bag. I haven't used a mummy bag in a long time and I never tried it. I did sleep with my head on my down jacket one night (in 18 degree weather) and the next morning it was moist enough to seriously compromise the insulation. I can't say that was all my breath but I'd kept the jacket dry during the day. The only other way it could have got damp would have been from humidity in the air.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 14:36:40 MDT Print View

I've done that before in synthetic bag and when it's cold, everything gets wet, and thus less warm.

Better to have proper head wear - like a balaclava - fleece is okay but not that warm for the weight - synthetic or down hat would be better if it's really cold - has to cover up your neck too

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 14:40:11 MDT Print View

If it's cold enough to bother me in the winter, I bring an acrylic knit balaclava or fleece neck gaiter to wear covering my face.

Richard Fischel
when fully cinched down on 04/26/2012 14:46:27 MDT Print View

there's a hole just big enough for my lips and nose to breath outside of the hood of my sleeping bag. if it's truly brutal i can wear a face mask that covers my mouth and nose but has holes to breath through. i cannot think of a good reason to ever breath into my sleeping bag. the volume of water vapor exhaled in a night would degrade the loft of my down sleeping bag and that would be bad.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 15:22:29 MDT Print View

I cinch the collar down tight but make sure my nose and mouth are sticking out. If it's cold, I wear a balaclava. If it's really cold, I pull the balaclava over my nose and mouth. There's a lot of condensation in the balaclava in the morning, but it's polypro fleece so nearly all of the moisture shakes out. It takes a lot longer to dry out the sleeping bag.

I'm still working on my 12 year old grandson not to breathe into his down bag at night!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: when fully cinched down on 04/26/2012 15:56:36 MDT Print View

> I cannot think of a good reason to ever breath into my sleeping bag. The volume of water
> vapor exhaled in a night would degrade the loft of my down sleeping bag

Exactly. Head gear is needed.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
A chemical engineer chimes in on 04/26/2012 16:07:35 MDT Print View

>Head gear is needed.

Unless you exhaust your breath outside the bag. For instance, a swim snorkel in your mouth - which would take a little training to use, but people with sleep apnea learn to use a CPAP machine all through the night. Ideally, there'd be two check valves so you breathed out one tube and in through another.

If you take that step, you've got the possibility of saving even more heat. Because typically we breath in ambient, cold, dry air and exhale warm, moist air. The breathing passages in your nose help to retain heat and moisture but an external heat exchanger could do even more.

Aside: absolutely try to train yourself to nose breath instead of mouth breath - you'll retain more heat and moisture (and moisture in air IS heat).

There are heat exchangers and difusers sold for skiiers and mountaineers. They each want them for the larger surface area in the event of being buried in an avalanche. Additional, the HX function retains more heat and moisture - a big issue at 25,000 feet where you're always dehaydrated and liquid water is hard to carry or melt.

For BPing, the added surface area doesn't help, but the HX and moisture retention would. Simplest would be exactly a swimmers snorkel with some sorbant packed in it to capture heat and moisture from the exhaled breath and transfer it to the inhaled breath.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Thanks! on 04/26/2012 16:55:57 MDT Print View

Well I guess that one's settled pretty unanimously lol. Thanks for the feedback. And good thinking on the HX, but I think I'll keep it simple and just go with the balaclava. I think keeping my head out of the bag will be the hardest thing to change honestly.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 18:05:30 MDT Print View

You don't have to keep your whole head out, just your face!

Ryan Nakahara
(kife42) - F

Locale: Hawaii
cocooning on 04/26/2012 18:05:38 MDT Print View

my bag has some netting in the footbox and is a little long for me. when i go tarping, sometimes i forget my bug net. so if there are lots of things flying around, i go into my bag head first, tighten the drawstring under my feet, and breathe close to the netting. honestly i think they should make all bags like this. ^_^

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 18:56:22 MDT Print View

In the 1970's, when temperatures got below -10F, we just cinched the bag until only a small opening remained, then stuck a wool sock or mitten into the hole on the inside and breathed through it. The thick fabric warmed the air as it came through, the wool never seemed to get very wet, and it dried quickly after wearing it a while.

I haven't tried this with fleece, it probably should work.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/26/2012 19:14:41 MDT Print View

I have never owned a down sleeping bag and I always do this. I sleep with my sleeping bag backwards and the hood directly over my face. I haven't had problems and I generally feel warmer. I have done in 15-25 degree weather as well, sometimes I end up with a small cold spot but it didn't bother me, but those times were all with keeping a large fire going all night... so that might make a difference. Keep in mind I am talking about a synthetic bag.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 04/26/2012 19:54:37 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:48:42 MDT.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Just on 04/26/2012 20:53:59 MDT Print View

put your mouth near the where fresh air enters the bag. I usually cinch down to a small hole left in the hood or top bag and I've never had a problem. Just expel outside the bag and you should be just fine. Give it a shot.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Breathing in sleeping bag? on 04/27/2012 06:36:04 MDT Print View

The few times I've winter camped so far, I just leave a hole over my face and parts of the edge of that hole have been wet/frozen in the morning. I use a down bag.

bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Frosty nose at 0F on 04/28/2012 15:27:33 MDT Print View

Out this Feb and temp dropped from 32F to 0F. fortunately we were expecting mid-teens so we were prepared. Found tossing my fleece over the head of my bag kept the moisture to a very low level and allowed a bigger breathing space so I didn't feel confined. Done it without the fleece many times and the bag edge usually gets damp. But it drys fast at that temp too. R.H. is about 10%.