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I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution.
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Brandon Dinwiddie

Locale: Midwest
I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution. on 05/02/2012 21:20:59 MDT Print View

So my girlfriend is a vegetarian and has an ethical problem with buying a down sleeping bag. This leaves synthetic as the only option. She's new to backpacking and I told her all the cons associated with synthetic (heavier, more volume, decrease in performance over time, etc.). I just bought her a Gregory Jade 50 small, but with a synthetic bag it would eat up most the volume since they hardly compress.

I'm wondering if someone can recommend a place to see about getting a synthetic quilt for her. Golite had some about a month ago, which were pretty light weight although I'm not sure how well they compressed down, but I imagine considerably more than a sleeping bag would. She's a roller too so a quilt might be a better option for her anyway instead of a mummy bag.

Can anyone help me out here with ideas or possible gear?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Insulation, insulation, insulation on 05/02/2012 21:40:41 MDT Print View

As I posted elsewhere on this page be sure to get GOOD synthetic insulation that will retain its loft fairly well after repeated compressions. Synthetic insulations are notorious for losing loft after several compression and decompression cycles, unlike down.

My first choice is Climashield.

Next is Polarguard Delta (kinda bulky)

Then the British Softie Snugpak bags

Last is Primaloft - unless their new versions are better than my first experience 10 years ago. That bag is FLATTT.

BTW, tell your vegan girlfriend that Good down is harvested from MATURE geese reaching the end of their life cycle and that, though we carnivores eat the foi gras, etc. her use of down is merely "recycling" what would otherwise be thrown away. (heh,heh. "Trust me, I've done this before." nyaaa ha,ha,ha)

Edited by Danepacker on 05/02/2012 22:30:49 MDT.

Michael Mathisen

Locale: Oregon
Re: I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution. on 05/02/2012 21:41:36 MDT Print View

Check out Enlightened equipment. A lot of folks here like Tim's stuff. Mountain Laurel Designs is another good option.

Brandon Dinwiddie

Locale: Midwest
Re: Insulation, insulation, insulation on 05/02/2012 21:45:17 MDT Print View

Eric you are very wise sir. She does love recycling. :P

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solutio on 05/02/2012 21:50:44 MDT Print View

Check Mountain Laurel Designs quilts, which have Climashield insulation:
There are also a number of synthetic sleeping bags. Personally, as a cold sleeper who tosses a lot, I'd much rather have a sleeping bag than a quilt. As you know, we women tend to sleep colder than most men, which is why the EN 13537 sleeping bag ratings have the "comfort" (women's) rating 8*F higher than the men's ("lower limit") rating. You may just have to compress the bag more than you'd want, shortening its useful life, to get it down to a decent size. This one might be a possibility:

There are some down sources (very expensive, of course) which use only the down that is naturally shed by the geese. I don't know if any of the sleeping bag or backpacking quilt manufacturers use this down, though. If you can afford it, it would be the obvious solution for your friend. Most down comes from geese killed for their meat, and I can understand why a strict vegetarian would want to avoid that, although I have no objection. The worst, as far as animal cruelty is concerned, is down plucked from live geese (ouch!), illegal in most countries, but the reason I would be very suspicious of "made in China" down sleeping bags. I think the only way you'll find out for sure is to ask the various down sleeping bag or quilt makers about the source of their down.

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/02/2012 22:04:08 MDT.

Brandon Dinwiddie

Locale: Midwest
Sleeping bag for kids? on 05/03/2012 00:05:41 MDT Print View

Thanks for that information. That Meow 20 might be a good option for her, seems to pack down smaller than some of the other bags I've seen. She does tend to toss and turn in her sleep so maybe a sleeping bag would be a better deal for her.

She's also only 5' so luckily the bag she will be carrying can be small.

Anyone know of any decent kid bags that might work? Shaving off unused inches of a synthetic sleeping bad would definitely minimize the weight for her.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
MHW on 05/03/2012 00:08:50 MDT Print View

The mountain hardwear lamina bags get even smaller & lighter(I believe Lighter off the top of my head) than the cats meow in the same temp rating.

Edited by rcowman on 05/03/2012 00:09:21 MDT.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
TNF Women's Cat's Meow 20F bag on 05/03/2012 03:48:03 MDT Print View


I PM'd you.


Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution. on 05/04/2012 08:53:07 MDT Print View

You could look at these

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
FWIW on 05/04/2012 13:59:54 MDT Print View

The down used in bags is a by-product of the food industry most of the time, which to my mind makes the ethics more complicated. It's probably less wasteful to use a by-product than a synthetic which has to be created whole cloth.

Edited by tekhna on 05/04/2012 14:00:38 MDT.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Share your bag with her? on 05/04/2012 14:32:23 MDT Print View


Maybe get one wide and big enough for you both? So there is no reason to concern vegetarianism and maybe it will be lighter than two separated bags?

Just thoughts...

And more fun! :D :p

Chris Scala
(Scalawag) - F
Re: MHW on 05/04/2012 14:52:36 MDT Print View

I would recommend this.. I have a Lamina and it packs really small, like 7L stuff sack small. I've used it when it was ~17 out on a Z-Lite, and granted I was wearing insulation layers but I was fine. Used it last month around ~50 and didn't need any layers.

Erik Hagen
(EWH100) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area
Tundra Ethical Sleeping Bags on 05/04/2012 15:06:36 MDT Print View

Agree with Anna. From Tundra's website:

"So we set out to source our down in a gentler way and discovered a special down in Poland. This is collected from the nests of birds that are kept for breeding and live on rivers, lakes and open farm land, moulting naturally four times a year. This naturally moulted down is then hand collected from the nests without disturbing the birds who are allowed to live to a ripe old age, doing what birds do naturally in the wild.

This last detail is very important for two reasons

•The natural rights of the birds are not challenged in the collection of the down.
•You get a higher fill power and a better quality down from mature birds, which need to be three to four years old to produce fully developed, high quality down clusters.

Our Ethical or compassionate down has a fill power of c.860 Euro standard (see technology) whereas down from birds killed at 406 weeks struggle to better c.400 FP
High Fill Power means a softer fill, lighter weight and smaller packed size for your sleeping bag and the added bonus, you get a clearer conscience!"

Luke H.
(Scraps111) - F
synthetic bag on 05/04/2012 19:25:41 MDT Print View

I have a MH Lamina 20. It's plenty warm and compresses relatively well compared to other synthetics. At 3 lbs. though, it is kind of heavy. One thing I dislike about this bag is the zipper constantly gets stuck, more so than other bags I've owned.

I feel like we should not be concern ourselves with his girlfriends ethical decisions. She's obviously made her own choices on the way she feels about down. Who are we to sit here and try to convince her otherwise. The question wasn't asking for reasons why down might be ok, he was just asking for some synthetic sleeping bag suggestions.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: synthetic bag on 05/04/2012 20:47:10 MDT Print View

Why? Because the ethics are more complicated than she may be aware of, and because synthetic is heavy, compresses poorly, and degrades quickly when compressed. Synthetic is unquestionably the inferior choice.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Ethics and down on 05/04/2012 21:21:30 MDT Print View

Most people think that the major source of down is still plucking it from live birds, which had a lot of publicity in the past. This is generally no longer the case, since most (not all) countries have outlawed the practice. The major source of down now is from birds killed for their meat. That doesn't bother me, but certainly would bother a strict vegetarian. There should be no objections to naturally shed down, except, of course, the price!

If their budget will allow for a frightfully expensive bag shipped from the UK (that might be a big "if"), the OP and his GF should be aware of this ethical alternative, both better quality and better for the environment than insulation made from fossil fuels. I'm sure a lot of people would like to see more choices available with naturally shed down.

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/04/2012 21:27:48 MDT.

(elien310) - F
Re: Tundra Ethical Sleeping Bags on 05/14/2012 13:50:16 MDT Print View

Has somebody any practical experience with the Tundra Ethical Down Sleeping Bag Pure -20 Bag (fill weight: 800g; CUIN 860+, total weight 1200g)?


Locale: South West US
Re: I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution. on 05/14/2012 17:56:06 MDT Print View

You seem pretty concerned about the compressibility of a synthetic bag. True, synthetic won't get as small as down, but they do compress quite a bit. Enough to fit in to her backpack's sleeping bag compartment at least. You could always get a backpack with a larger volume to compensate for a synthetic bag.

If you don't mind sewing, a Ray-way quilt is easy to make and a good value. I made one without a sewing-machine and it worked great.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: I need help finding a lightweight non-down sleeping solution. on 05/14/2012 19:20:26 MDT Print View

Not to be "that guy'

... at least down is natural. IMO its better than wrapping yourself in plastic. Especially since you can get twice the life out of a quality down bag.

...he says, with a (down filled) nylon bag...

Plus- Geese are asholes anyway.

Craig Rowland
(craigr) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Ultralamina on 05/15/2012 05:38:29 MDT Print View

I have been very happy with my Mountain Hardware Ultralamina bags. the 32 degree bag is good to about 40 degrees. The 15 degree bag I've used to 19 degrees comfortably. The 32 degree bag is only 31 ounces and compresses about as small as down. The 15 degree bag is 44 ounces and likewise compresses very well.

Personally, I own a very nice down bag, but normally carry the synthetics due to the wet weather I'm often camping in and don't miss the down bag in the slightest. The weight penalty is typically only 8oz. or so.