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Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
Winter Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/07/2012 08:53:51 MDT Print View

I'm starting to plan ahead for the coming winter and I really want to start doing some winter bivies. This will be in the White Mountains and I would like to do some above treeline. I'm eying the Marmot Col as I've always had good luck and been very happy with Marmot bags. Anyone have any thoughts on this bag or something comparable in the -20F rating range?

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Winter Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/07/2012 09:33:52 MDT Print View

I've used an earlier version of the MontBell UL Down Super Spiral Thingy, or whatever it's called these days. It's reasonably light for the warmth, and the ability for it to stretch a bit makes it more comfortable for me.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
RE: Winter Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/07/2012 10:10:48 MDT Print View

The EMS Mountain Light -20 is decent and is on sale now for $321.

Robert Kieschke
(rrkieschke) - F
Re: Winter Sleeping Bag Recommendations on 07/07/2012 18:45:56 MDT Print View

I have several Marmot sleeping bags (Hydrogen, Helium and Couloir) and I was a similar position; looking at the Col for MN winter camping. I ended up getting the WM Puma (MF) for a couple of reasons:
1. I did not like the idea of the Membrane outer fabric as in I rarely encounter liquid water in cold conditions, it seemed to add some unnecessary weight, even the Couloir does not breath well enough and I did not like the idea of having to turn it inside out every time I wanted to pack it up.
2. The Puma was 10% off (before the recent price increase) and I liked the idea of having a lighter 850 fill down bag with the WM mystique. The sales person seemed very keen to point out how overstuffed the neck baffle is on the Puma compared to the Col. Not sure how much difference that really makes if all you're trying to do is stop air movement.
I do think the Marmot products some features that are overlooked by some in this forum; I think the hood area is really nice and the face cushion makes it comfortable to have the hood fully closed. Details like the terminations of the zipper at both ends is better designed on the Marmot. In addition, the snap attachment of the draft tube is preferable to the velcro used on the Puma.
I do however prefer the outer shell of the Puma and really like the interlocking draft tubes for the main zipper.
At the end of the day there are some trade offs and since the price was the same I am happy with the purchase.

Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
Thanks everyone! on 07/07/2012 19:00:44 MDT Print View

Don - Thank you for recommendation, I will have to check out the Montbell :)

Walter - I had checked out the EMS offerings as I saw a 0 degree when I was there last week and it seemed like nice construction. My only hesitancy was that I see a lot of mixed reviews on their bags. While I obviously try to save money wherever I can, I don't mind paying extra for quality, especially with such a critical piece of gear as a sleeping bag for sub zero temps.

Robert - Thank you for the recommendation. The Puma had come up quite frequently in my research. Right now it is a close second for me. I'm leaning toward the Marmot though, not only because of my history with their products, but also because of the Membrane fabric as I'm worried about condensation in a bivy. While I am very experienced at summits and day hikes in the Whites in sub-zero temps, I have never slept out below zero. I have definitely pushed that mark, but never really ventured into winter alpine sleeping conditions. If I want to dry out socks, base layers, etc in my bag overnight, I worry about condensation in the reduced volume of a bivy. Have you had any issues with this in the Puma?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
sleep system on 07/07/2012 19:12:39 MDT Print View

You really need to consider your entire sleep system. Do you want breathability - to use your body heat to dry out items? should you nest a sleeping bag with a quilt? do you want total moisture protection for your bag - a vbl ? what pad - what bivy - a tarp - a tent? What will you wear to bed? Where will you be pushing the condensation layer to? how many nights? how cold?

Check out some of the older threads in the winter hiking section - there are many ideas there. There are many styles of winter hiking.

I'll try to find some and edit my post.

Good luck,

Dave

Link:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=57205

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=57668

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=57728

Edited by dmgoody on 07/07/2012 20:04:20 MDT.

Robert Kieschke
(rrkieschke) - F
Re: Thanks everyone! on 07/07/2012 19:13:13 MDT Print View

I have not slept in a bivy in the Puma but I did in the Couloir (REI minimalist bivy) and experienced ice crystals trapped below the outer (DWR) fabric but no liquid condensation. I only bought the Puma early this year and since the winter was somewhat pathetic I have not tried it in any challenging conditions yet.

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Thanks everyone! on 07/07/2012 19:34:36 MDT Print View

Should also mention, my hiking partner also uses the MontBell -20 down bag and has had good luck with it.

As far as water condensing inside your outer layer of your sleeping bag, that sounds like it's your perspiration doing it. The cure for that is either a VBL liner or VBL clothing. I personally use a VBL jacket with hood from RBH Designs. It's very light, and keeps you from sweating into your bag or down jacket.

Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
system on 07/07/2012 19:35:23 MDT Print View

Dave, this will be in a Bibler Big Wall Bivy and I will be picking up an Exped Downmat 9 for my winter sleeping pad. I will be wearing Icebreaker base layers. I always bring a spare set to change into when in camp and then dry the other set over night when I go on any trip. I plan to do the same in this case. With time constraints between work, school, and life, this will only be for overnight trips, MAYBE two. The main reason for wanting to do this is I've always wanted to sleep out on the summits in the Whites, which are my home away from home. However, due to regulations, no camping is allowed above treeline except on snow pack so as to save the alpine vegetation. I'll have to give a better look through that forum rather than just searching based upon the bags I'm looking at.

Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
VBL on 07/07/2012 19:40:34 MDT Print View

Thanks Don for the VBL recommendation. I will have a look into it. Again, this is somewhat new territory for me. While I have hiked at temps down to roughly -15F, and feel comfortable with doing so and have all of the appropriate gear, I have never slept out overnight in this temp range. I know, not the thing you want to be venturing into without guided experience. I may just look into the EMS mountaineering overnight trips to brush up on old skills and gain experience in new ones. My soon to be wife and I want to plan a few mountaineering trips in the future as she had a failed Rainier attempt in the past, so the EMS school will be invaluable experience.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Winter down bag = "Dri Down" on 07/08/2012 15:03:10 MDT Print View

I have a VERY heavy MH Polarguard Delta filled -20 F. bag. Can't wait to sell it and buy a new -20 F. down bag.

WINTER DOWN BAG> A bag with Dri Down treated fill (800 fill).

BIVY> Urethane coated bottom, eVent top W/room for my mattress.

With this combo you will keep outside moisture out, let a lot of inside moisture out and be able to dry your down bag much faster. This means a lighter bag to carry.
Plus the ability to safely utitlize snow trenches, caves, igloos and quinzhees.

P.S. As of now it appears that only Sierra Designs and Brooks Range have bags with Dri Down. Can't wait for WM to get it.

Edited by Danepacker on 07/08/2012 15:08:16 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: Winter down bag = "Dri Down" on 07/08/2012 15:22:40 MDT Print View

Hi Eric,

Dri down does look like it will be a game changer, Imwomder how long it will be before it readily available, I know of 3 cottage quilt manufactures who will be using it.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Winter down bag = "Dri Down" on 07/08/2012 15:33:55 MDT Print View

I am skeptical of Dri-Down

First, if you're careful, you can keep your down dry. And the down has natural oil to help protect it.

Second, "there's no such thing as a free lunch". It will probably have negative charcteristics like it's warmth per weight will be less, or it won't last as long.

Third, it will probably be expensive.

But, prove me wrong. It will be interesting to see how well it works.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: Re: Winter down bag = "Dri Down" on 07/08/2012 15:54:48 MDT Print View

That's why I am not going to go near it until folk on Bpl give it all the all clear :-)

Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
+1 on 07/08/2012 16:00:30 MDT Print View

I too am skeptical. It sounds great, but I'm just curious what the trade-offs will be. As a slight side note, I was looking up reviews on the new SD bags using DriDown and I have to wonder about any 0F bag that is described as comfortable in the mid-40s.

http://www.rei.com/product/836216/sierra-designs-zissou-hi-dridown-sleeping-bag

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: +1 on 07/08/2012 16:07:46 MDT Print View

There seems to both Downtek and Dridown in this market, I wonder if the likes of Western Mountaineering and Feathered friends will be using it.

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: VBL on 07/08/2012 16:11:50 MDT Print View

"I know, not the thing you want to be venturing into without guided experience."

Actually, all you need to do is camp within walking distance of your car so that, if disaster strikes, you can just bail out. Or try camping out at a campground you can drive to. Or, hell, even your own backyard.

There really isn't any huge issue with winter camping. Of course, winter travel, with either snowshoes or crampons, can be a bit of an adjustment. :-)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: VBL on 07/08/2012 16:15:11 MDT Print View

"Actually, all you need to do is camp within walking distance of your car..."

The only problem is, walking distance can be 10 miles, or whatever, but then if you hurt yourself or the weather turns bad, walking distance can be much reduced.

Aaron Lehoux
(aaronjayl)

Locale: Southern Maine
Not really an option. on 07/08/2012 16:34:00 MDT Print View

I now live in South Portland, ME. I highly doubt I will ever see sub-zero temps here, so there goes the backyard warm-ups. I want to do some above treeline winter camping which for the Whites means high winds and sub-zero temps. It also means 4+ miles back to the car. Not exactly a hop skip and a jump in the middle of the night should I ever find myself beyond my means. Again, I have plenty of experience day-hiking solo in these conditions and I also know how to build snow caves/shelters, just never ventured out solo overnight in those conditions. Fiancee doesn't really like me going out solo period as she is more from the regimented hikers code background where you never venture solo, but what can I say, I like to push my limits and get away from people sometimes. Nothing like having a summit sunrise all to yourself. Want to experience that in the winter and also as I'm climbing out of my bag, rather than having to get up early and hoof it to the summit in the dark :)

Mark Montag
(mMontag) - F
Another Marmot vote! on 07/08/2012 16:35:56 MDT Print View

I use a Marmot Lithium 0* - the older 900d w/pertex - 40oz - fabulous bag with a fabulous hood - I did add 1-2oz of 900 down to the collar - pulled it in nice & tight for my smaller profile. It gets complaints from some about the larger girth which I find that to be an advantage - more comfortable space to move around in, in warmer temps and adding layers in colder temps is a win / win from my experience.

Curious about the wanting and willingness of the use of a bivy sack - snow cave? - the added wind protection and useful space of a small 4s, 1p tent or bivy-tent is a huge mental comfort for the long dark winter nights - especially when ducking out of bad weather - a few ounces more for the tent/bivy a few ounces less to use a zero degree bag w/ additional layers for x-cold.

For winter camping, I do find VBL an advantage especially for feet and keeping dry boots - I didn't find it necessary if sleeping in the same bag for 1-2-3 nights - however I'm in the dry Rocky Mtns - the VBL will have an advantage for longer durations. That is another reason for using a lighter warmth bag when conditions allow - less uncontrolled middle of the night, heating-up too much / sweating.