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Sleep systems with clothes
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jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Sleep systems with clothes on 06/05/2012 01:07:05 MDT Print View

Hi everyone

Perhaps this has been discussed to death, and if so, ...I'm happy to snoop around some more. :-)

Anyways, I am soon to purchase another sleeping bag, with the intention of sleeping in clothes to compliment and boost the bags warmth etc. etc.

I totally, totally understand the amount of variables involved in bag warmth (and individual warmth for that matter), however, generally speaking....

If I wish to purchase a bag to compliment a clothing system that sees me down to freezing temperatures (lower end Australian 3 season), what bag rating and down jacket would work best without ending up with a system that is too warm? I am concerned about overdoing it, rendering the combination useless for its intended purpose.

Perhaps I am simply wondering what combinations other people have, instead of a definitive answer here. Oh yeah, and lightweight is paramount of course.

Thanks for your time


Edited by jase on 06/05/2012 01:16:30 MDT.

jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
one more thing.... on 06/05/2012 01:30:32 MDT Print View I intend on layering with any spare base layers etc. to maximise the utility and warmth from those clothes too.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: Sleep systems with clothes on 06/05/2012 09:09:51 MDT Print View

I've gotten down to -4 or -5C in a 0C bag combined with wool socks, silkweight baselayers top and bottom (like Patagonia Cap 1) my hiking pants, a Mont-Bell UL Down Inner and a fleece beanie hat.
I was under a low tarp, on a ground cloth and an insulated inflatable mat.

You could probably deal with temps at or near freezing with a +5C bag if coupled with good baselayers, thick wool socks, and a down sweater. I've been known to toss a bottle filled with hot water wrapped in a shirt in the bag shortly before bed and leave it at my feet.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Sleep systems with clothes on 06/05/2012 10:24:38 MDT Print View

As you say-lots of variables. I live in Calif. so our local weather is close to yours.
I use a GoLite 20 degree quilt on a short NeoAir pad with a GG 1/8" foam pad as a base. If I expect cold temps I'll wear my Montbell EX jacket, Cap 2 bottoms with a balaclava head covering and fleece socks. I can't say for sure at the lowest temps I've been in since I'm usually sleeping but I've woken up to iced over water and shelter numerous times. I think the most important layers are the pads and the balaclava. I used to think I was a cold sleeper but I guess with age I've changed. I've never had the problem of getting too hot--that's the advantage of a quilt.
I'm thinking of another quilt rated at 30 or even 40. I just picked up a pair of the Montbell UL down pants and will be experimenting with perhaps a 40 bag combined with the jacket and pants. The idea of a sub-16oz. quilt is grabbing my gram strings.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Clothing as part of sleep system on 06/05/2012 13:17:17 MDT Print View

I'm a big believer in the principle that your quilt or sleeping bag is just the last layer you put on when sleeping. So if it's cold, I'm often wearing all of my camp clothes under the quilt. If this is too warm, I'll take some off, at least until the temperature falls further in the wee hours of the morning.

A caveat is to make sure that you are not compressing your quilt or bag insulation from within; it needs to be roomy enough for the clothes you are wearing, which might include puffy down or synthetics. For bags, I have used the oversized WM Megalite and Badger down bags for this very reason. This is less of a problem with a quilt, but you still need to make sure it is adequately sized for what you'll wear underneath it.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
My approach on 06/05/2012 13:41:17 MDT Print View

Extra layers of clothing will generally weigh more than the amount of down it would take to lower the temperature rating on your bag by a similar amount. My approach has therefore been to bring the absolute minimum amount of clothing needed to get by while on the move or for brief rest stops and a quilt geared toward the average anticipated nighttime temperature.

For trips anticipated to average 30F at night, I would bring:
Clothing: hiking pants, merino baselayer top, windshirt, light puffy layer (eg. nanopuff), wool hat
Sleep system: Cutdown foam pad, 30 F quilt (12.5 oz), DWR bivy

Wearing all of my clothing to bed provides an additional 8-10 degree buffer. Because weather forecasts have a way of being off by 10 degrees or more around here, this system would provide safety down to the low 20s if needed. For me, the strategy of trying to get away with a 40 F quilt and making up the difference with more clothing layers would end up being heavier and less functional as I would be bringing clothing layers that would only get worn while sleeping.

Edited by Ike on 06/05/2012 13:42:33 MDT.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: My approach on 06/05/2012 14:28:51 MDT Print View

In the OP you didn't mention what your shelter is. I use a 40 degree quilt. If I was expecting 30F (-1C) temps my normal sleep system would include

1] Ultralight Bivy (cuts wind, probably adds 8-10 degrees of functional warmth)
2] Down Sweater
3] Fleece Balaclava
4] Fleece Gloves
5] Higher R value sleep pad. I own the Big Agnes IAC, but the new xtherm is lighter and better.

You always hear the discussion of the fact that additional 10-15 degrees of warmth in bag is more efficient than additional clothes. However, my response is that the additional clothes are things I will want around camp, rest stops, getting started in the morning etc.. so in my opinion are not really additional. All of the items in my list above are things I would have whether I had a 40 degree bag or a 20 or 30F bag.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Sleep systems with clothes on 06/05/2012 16:54:34 MDT Print View

I have used clothes for 2 years to up rate bags and quilts with mixed results and have put a bit of thought into the topic lately.

My conclusion is for Winter I am going to carry a sleeping bag more than good enough for the minimum expected temperate and have enough clothing to keep me warm at breaks and in Camp.

For 3 season use I will carry a bag that's good enough for the forecasted temp and update with a light puffy if needs be.

I just moved from Europe where I took a bit more of a traditional approach to sleep gear but I am still learning.

I do sleep cold though.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Too Warm on 06/05/2012 18:10:54 MDT Print View

Hi Jase,

You commented that you don't want to be too warm.......I never worry too much about this, as I can always either shed some clothes, or else push the the bag down off my chest or stick my feet out the bottom.

I had a brief flirtation with trying to run my sleep system as light as possible, but gave it up on trips that I want to enjoy the travel and sleeping, as opposed to trips I just want to push through. ie for a 24 hour rogaine, my sleeping bag is a wheely bin liner and my hat and jacket. But for a weekend out in the snow at St Gwinear with the kids, I'll take a WM Summerlite and team this up with a lightweight down puffy (First Ascent) and maybe a pair of MB puffy pants if I envisage an outdoor snow kitchen.

If I'm pushing up Feathertop or Bogong, on a long day with sh*tty weather, I'll take the WM Apache for an extra 350g, with similar clothing. It's worth it to me, to be sure that I'll get a good night's sleep and enjoy the next day.

So for three season I'd be inclined to go WM Summerlite or similar, or a similar quilt. This works for me, with clothes for a hard frost or with dry base layers for cold hard rain. I could maybe try to go lighter, but I'm not sure why. There may be a seriously good 10 degree celsius option out there, but unless it's under 360g (12oz) and under $300, I'll take my weight savings somewhere else.

I've also found that a very big contributor to overnight comfort is dry sleep socks. I HATE socks in bed at home, but when I'm pushing the limit of my bag, I find dry socks a huge help. Thickness isn't important, as my dry woollen running socks are much warmer than slightly sweat damp, thick woollen hiking socks.


jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Re: Re: My approach on 06/08/2012 00:13:21 MDT Print View

You're right, I forgot. So my shelter is a z-packs hexamid solo.

I would have to agree, I tend to enjoy the 'stop and relax at camp' thing too, so the extra clothes are a bit of a must for me also.

Thanks Randy.

jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Re: Too Warm on 06/08/2012 00:17:08 MDT Print View

Great advice Rod, thanks.

Yeah, Feathertop is a favourite of mine also...and I too love dry sleep socks.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
note on 06/08/2012 00:24:19 MDT Print View

one thing to note is that if you are building yr sleep system with clothes to the temperature you expect, you have no margin of error, especially with down

ex. you use a 40F quilt + light down jacket/pants to get to 30F ... should you be on a longer trip in damper weather where the down degrades, or the temperature drops below forecast, youll end up cold ...

the difference between 40F bag and a 30F bag is a few oz ...

on colder wetter days, a bit of a safety margin is worth a few oz IMO

jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
safety margin on 06/10/2012 23:21:56 MDT Print View

totally agreed Eric. Thanks.