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Winter Sleeping System?
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Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 10:53:43 MST Print View

I am currently working on my gear list for a winter though hike of the Superior Hiking trail in northern Minnesota. I am new to winter backpacking and would appreciate some feedback and tips of my proposed sleeping system. I am expecting temperatures to be in the 0-15 degree range for my trip next February (averages are in the 5-10 degree range).

Montbell-U.L. Super Stretch Down Hugger #1, Long. 15 degrees, 2 lbs. 7 oz.

Jacks 'R' Better Shennandoah Summer Quilt, Long. 45 degrees, 1 lbs. 0 oz.

Integral Designs, Buagaboo Bivy. eVent, 1 lbs. 1 oz.

Therm-a-Rest Pro Light 4 Sleeping Pad, large, 2 lbs. 1 oz.

Edited by chadnsc on 02/15/2007 10:55:33 MST.

Diana L
(mysticmoose) - F

Locale: Great Lakes region
Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 13:06:22 MST Print View

Instead of the Prolite 3 large, I'd consider using a "short" length pad with a smaller sit pad to cushion/insulate your legs. Personally, I use an Exped Downmat 7 short combined with a 10" x 20" blue foam sit pad and my empty pack under my legs. There are lighter options than mine, but it's extremely comfortable and warm. It also weighs right around 28 oz. A lighter option would be a TorsoLight pad with a full-length GG Thinlite underneath.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 14:33:46 MST Print View

Ah, I wish I could use the short pads but they are too narrow for my shoulders. I need a pad that is at least 22" wide or my shoulder blades are on the ground. I wish someone made a 24" wide short pad.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 15:04:03 MST Print View

Chadn, I agree with you on pad width. I have the same pad as you for that reason. I understand that you have the Prolite 4 and not the Prolite 3, is that correct? In either case I think you will need to combine it with another pad to give you the insulation you will need for winter use. A closed cell pad on top of your Prolite will work the best. Convection currents within an air mattress can still be a problem with the air mattress on top. Gossamer Gear sells wide versions of their pads.

Edited by ericnoble on 02/15/2007 15:05:39 MST.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 15:32:04 MST Print View

Yes I have a ProLight 4. Thanks for the tip about G.G. I'll have to check them out.

By the way dose anyone have any recommendations on a good set of Vapor Barrier clothing?

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 15:54:02 MST Print View

Mark Verber has a discussion of Vapor Barrier clothing on his website.

Edited by pappekak on 02/15/2007 15:54:40 MST.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 02/15/2007 16:47:45 MST Print View

If you haven't already, definitely check out Andrew Skurka's latest bit of insanity...he hiked the SHT and further just a few weeks ago. Two podcasts and member's article on this site (Ultralight in the Icebox) and lots of stuff on his own site (

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
VB Clothing on 02/15/2007 17:11:01 MST Print View

I have both the RBH Designs NTS Shirt and Pants. I also use their VB socks. I have a thread here someplace about wearing the RBH VB gear. This is on-going and should last well into spring. It is 42 degrees where I am and I am about to wear them for a 2 mile walk.

Randy Zaddach
(wyoguy2004) - F

Locale: Southwest
Winter packing on 01/14/2009 15:14:51 MST Print View

Chad, i agree with the closed cell pad, I have an ancient one that I've used for years that has always worked great in winter. Unfortunately I was out in the tetons a few years ago in 40 below and it cracked. Your right on with the bivy too, i have a small one person north face bivy tent..people say butane is bad with cold, but my little butane ultralight stove did fine at 40 below, just warmed the cannister in my bag or in my clothes. Good luck! I'm trying to get someone to go on weekend trips this winter in MInnesota and its hard to find anyone, I live near the cities and am laid off and have time on my hands. Randy

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Winter Sleeping System? on 01/15/2009 07:44:00 MST Print View

Hi Chad, you should contact Matt Lutz (you'll find him on these forums) as he just attempted a winter thru of the SHT a few weeks ago. I believe deep snow became an issue, but his gear list was well put together and could give you some insight...just a thought.

I haven't found any VB clothing (pants or shirt) that is an exceptable weight ("IMO"), so a VBL for your bag is probably the lightest option for sleeping, unless of course you plan on wearing the VB's during the day in which case you would sleep in them.

P.S. Downmat 7 (Short), GG 1/8" thinlite...killer combo. Bags look good.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 01/15/2009 07:46:06 MST.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Pad width on 01/15/2009 07:53:35 MST Print View

Hey Chad, I believe the width of the short Exped downmat 7 is 22". It's listed as 20" on the website, but it's actually 22".

I've been thinking about getting one, but haven't done so yet. Maybe someone who has one already can verify?

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
Winter Sleeping System?" on 01/15/2009 07:59:03 MST Print View

I have one. When inflated it is around 20", depends whether you measure sticky out uninflated edges. When deflated it may well stretch out to 22"

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
My system on 01/19/2009 08:16:04 MST Print View

My sleep system consisted of the following:

-20 down bag
2x 57" CCF pads (one Ridgerest, one generic blue foamer)
Stephenson VBL clothes

I was also in a tent and used my GG Vapor Trail under my feet. I could supplement the system with any of my clothes - Montbell Thermawrap pants and TNF Nupste jacket. Everything was a system that worked together, both while the gear was in use and when it was packed on my back.

Like Skurka, I took what I had. I thought about using a two bag system (also have a 30 degree down bag), but I trust the -20 down bag to its rated temp and I didn't want to get an overquilt with little time to test the system.

I anticipated temps colder than what you have stated. I expected lows around -30 and highs in the mid 20s. The record low in Grand Marais for the first two weeks of January is -35, and it is colder up on the ridges. Given the weather over the last two weeks, my estimates were on spot. (On another note, my mother called me last Thursday when northern Minnesota was registering temps in the -30s to state that she was happy that I was at home and not hiking).

In the initial thoughts on the trip, I thought about going with a a wp/b bivy with a head hoop - I eventually purchased an OR Alpine Bivy, but later returned it in favor of a shelter I could sit up in - an Integral Designs MK1. Because it snowed 8"-16" the the first night, I was glad that I was in a tent - I could sit up, move around, keep snow out of the shelter easier, etc. If (and when) I do it again, I think I would seriously look at a bivy and floorless shelter setup. My current thoughts is MLD Superlight bivy and DuoMid for a shelter system.

Are you using an overhead shelter? I know you have a DuoMid, and when I initially read this thread I read that into your stated system. Can your bags fully loft inside the bivy with you in it? It is a bummer that you need wider pads - you should be able to get an appropriate pad at - you can customize length, width and thickness.

My full gear and reviews is here:

Randy also has a PM.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 01/19/2009 08:19:25 MST.