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Sleeping Bag Dilemma
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Joe Hoover
(joehoover) - F

Locale: New England
Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 03/27/2007 16:19:56 MDT Print View

I'm hitchinghiking around the U.S. this summer, and probobly spending a few weeks on the PCT.

I've concluded that I will probobly be better off with a synthetic bag, due to the amount of time that I will be out on the road.

I'm going to be using a tarp and a bivy to deal with rain and other "undesirable" weather conditions.

I sleep reletively warm and with the addition of a bivy sack i'm not sure what temp. rating I should go for. Additionally, I know that it can get reletively cold on the PCT, so I wouldn't want to get caught without enough warmth. I'm definitely willing to where extra clothes if nessecary (to adjust for lower temps.). I also wouldn't want to be to warm, because it is summer.

Any advice regarding my leaning towards synthetic fill, and any tips on a temperature rating would be great.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 03/27/2007 22:23:18 MDT Print View

I've been happy with my 20 degree Cat's Meow (North Face). It is insulated with Polarguard Delta (the best of the Polarguard line). The Lightweight Backpacking and Camping book (Beartooth Mountain Press) has a section comparing Polarguard to Primaloft. They give a slight edge to Polarguard (Delta) because of a little better loft/weight ratio and better durability. I found my bag to be quite durable (although bulky). Personally, I think the stuff sack that comes with it is a bit too small. You should be able to get this bag on sale somewhere (it is sold in a lot of places).

All that being said, the bag is not exactly ultralight. It will serve you well if things turn wet and cold in the Cascades (as they often do) but it isn't the lightest option out there. One option would be to get a lighter bag (synthetic or down) and combine it with some nice synthetic clothing (like the Cocoon jackets and pants if they sell them in time or maybe the Patagonia Micropuff or something similar). That would give you a lot more flexibility. There is a big tradeoff here (as you pointed out) between a really light sleeping bag and one with more fill. Once you have built a sleeping bag, it doesn't add much weight to it to increase it's loft (the shell, zippers and stitching are a constant). Thus a heavier bag (of the same type) is more efficient. However, if you are on the move a lot and have fairly warm clothes anyway, you can probably get by with less of a bag (just sleep in all your clothes when needed). Personally, I would err on the side of bringing a bit too much gear, but others on this forum may disagree.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 04/02/2007 22:37:16 MDT Print View

Hey Joe,
Hopefully you are still following this thread. Better yet, I hope you are following this thread:

In there, you will see that I stand corrected. My knowledge of synthetic insulation is out of date. Polarguard Delta is not the warmest per ounce. I can attest to its durability, but some of the lighter stuff may be durable as well. Anyway, most of the relevant information is on that thread (including the fact that the Fission by North Face makes more sense than the Cat's Meow).

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 04/02/2007 23:32:17 MDT Print View

Polarguard Delta has qualities that the other insulation can only wish for:


"Polarguard® Delta has a super void hollow construction. The larger void creates higher loft with less weight, making it warmer, yet lighter. That results in superior loft and resiliency, for a warmer and more compressible insulation.

Polarguard® Delta retains the high–performance characteristics of continuous filament, including durability, dimensional stability, superior loft retention and unsurpassed warmth, even when wet. Unlike cut staple insulation, Polarguard® will not mat, clump or pull apart, which can cause cold spots to form."

The clo value is only a guide to the performance of what you might expect from a given insulation. Many other things are in play to determine the warmth of the insulated item. The material used, type of construction are what makes an insulated item a really great product or just a so so product.

When the BMW Cocoon Sleeping Bags come out you will have a bag that is very light using great material. Very light shell material and a bag weigh that is the dream of most ultra light backpackers.

Take any Sleeping Bag on the market and look at the insulation fill weight. Then look at the bag weight. Calculate the insulation vs material ratio and asked yourself why the material has to weigh so much. Sleeping Bags are heavy because they use heavy zippers and other stuff so the typical customer can treat them rough and they survive. Cheap bags use cheaper and heavier shell material and hardware so they weigh more. You get what you pay for.

If you are into Ultra Light you should know that most of us take really good care of our gear.

The last sleeping bag I made uses Polarguard Delta and very light Silk.
The bag is made to slip into so it has no zipper. It is 72" long and has a opening circumference of 71". The PG Delta weighs 5.15 ounces and the Silk material weighs 3.65 ounces.

I would say it is full size and still weighs less than 9 ounces.

Edited by bfornshell on 04/02/2007 23:33:39 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Bill, your 9 oz bag rating? on 04/02/2007 23:58:55 MDT Print View

Of course you are correct, ULers take better care of their gear. So a delicate, even zipperless bag would be nice.
What would you estimate is the temperature rating of your 9oz bag? And will you sell them on ebay?
Thank you.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
9 oz bag rating on 04/03/2007 01:15:10 MDT Print View


That is a hard question to answer. I have been to 40 degrees F with my one layer Climashield Combat Quilt inside my Bivy. I was only wearing a set of Patagonia #2 wool top and bottom along with a pair of lightweight liner gloves, a wool cap and a clean pair of my regular hiking socks. I got down to 26 degrees with my 2 layer CS-Combat Sleeping Bag and was not at the bottom of what it should go to.

A Sleeping Bag should hold heat better than my quilt and inside my Bivy I think I could get to 32 degrees. It needs to be used inside a Bivy of some sort because of the Silk if it is damp out. We all know that a lot of the bottom temperature we get with a sleeping bag comes from what we wear in it and what kind of sleeping pad we are using, eating a little etc.

I may have a chance to travel to some cooler weather the end of April so I can do some testing of the last three sleeping bags I have made.

As for trying to sell a few things on ebay in the future, that is a "maybe" but I need to do a lot of cold weather testing before I would try it.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
9oz sleeing bag on 04/03/2007 02:46:21 MDT Print View

Bill, that's excellent. You could certainly advertise it as a 50' summer bag or emergency insulation.
Many climbers/mountaineers don't carry a bag during some phases of the climb due to the weight, and are not aware of UL principles. I read about their exposre related injuries frequently in 'Accidents in North American Mountaineering'. Your bag would be a great survival bag for this target audience.
Thanks for explaining the limitations of the silk material; certainly there had to be some trade off.. Maybe pertex would be acceptably light and water resistant for a survival bivy. Just a thought.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 04/03/2007 05:33:23 MDT Print View


My MYOG Bivy is made with a Pertex Quantum top and Cuben bottom. It is full size and weighs 3 ounces.

If I used Pertex Quantum instead of Silk the Sleeping Bag would have weighed about 12 ounces.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Sleeping Bag Dilemma on 04/03/2007 10:28:16 MDT Print View

>>When the BMW Cocoon Sleeping Bags come out you will have a bag that is very light using great material. Very light shell material and a bag weigh that is the dream of most ultra light backpackers.

Bill, keep in mind that that upcoming Cocoons are quilts not bags. While they seem to be very high quality, quilts don't work for all of us. Anyone looking for a quality Polarguard Delta bag can find the 2006 TNF Fission on sale for about $150.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
UL climbing gear on 04/03/2007 11:16:42 MDT Print View

Re: "Many climbers/mountaineers don't carry a bag during some phases of the climb due to the weight, and are not aware of UL principles." I have a very minor nit to pick with that statement. In 1980 Reinhold Messner went on a little backpacking trip up Mt. Everest, solo and without supplemental oxygen. He used custom made crampons made out of titanium, custom ice axe (titanium), and an eider-down suit because eider is lighter than goose down, and because a tailored suit is a bit lighter than pants and jacket. He used a custom Gore-Tex tent so tiny he couldn’t stretch out fully, and an eider-down bag. Also, take a look at Mark Twight's book, "Extreme Alpinism, Climbing Light, Fast and High."

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: UL climbing gear on 04/05/2007 00:41:53 MDT Print View

I agree with the "many" in the statement. Messner and twight are the exceptions to the rule.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
UL climbing gear on 04/05/2007 21:05:08 MDT Print View

I'm not an expert, but I have a collection of 'Accidents in North American Mountaineering' and you don't hear about the thousands of safe climbs. I would say only a "few," not "many," climbers don't understand UL principles, but I'm not aware of a statistical study. You get the occassionaly half-wit that gets stuck half-way up a big wall without rain protection when a big storm blows in, but I say, "Stupid people shouldn't breed." They wouldn't buy or use Cuben brand sailcloth bivies anyway (they're available from Ryan Jordan).

Antonio Abad
(tonyabad) - F
Re: UL climbing gear on 04/05/2007 22:30:28 MDT Print View

There are some whom properly preach the virtues of UL principles in mountaineering and climbing. Pro Mountain Sports in Seattle, WA comes to mind.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Re: UL climbing gear on 04/05/2007 23:18:12 MDT Print View

Oh please all wise overseers of things light, do not allow this to become insulation war 4.0. I will be forced to post the wiggy name again just to stir the synthetic insulation god's rancor.[not of course refering to that cute little guy who sat by Jabba the Hutt]

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
1000 FP eider down? on 04/06/2007 00:41:29 MDT Print View

That post was the first I had heard of "eider", which I promptly researched on google. Is it possible to reach new heights of Fill Power using eider down? Anyone know authoritatively?

Jeremy McDaniel
(jerm409) - F

Locale: highest privy in the lower 48
Re: 1000 FP eider down? on 04/06/2007 03:38:08 MDT Print View

it will also be possible to reach new heights in price. it is about three times the price. below taken from nunatak:

Listen up, all you ultra gear heads. You thought you had everything? Well, Nunatak can now bring to market, on a limited basis, the ultimate fill for any of our down products. But it comes at a price. Read on...

Think Classic Eider Down. The revered, the rare. A unique wild down. Grown under Arctic tundra conditions. Down so fine, so incredibly light, that loft and volume and fill weight have a new standard, an eider down benchmark... The quality is top notch, the loft is amazing as time has tested, and the finished bag or jacket is a one of a kind.

Our supplier gently hand collects this amazing product in the wild, directly from the nest, without disturbing the bird, in portions so small that it takes weeks to get enough to fill a bag. Certified genuine Eider Down from extreme Northern Canada, minimally processed, very unique.

Why would you want Eider? Warmth, loft, lightest possible weight, durability, and yes, prestige, are just a few of the reasons that comes to mind. Make up more yourself. Because certain things in life can't be logically justified.

Should you get it? Well, can you afford it? Because of its rare nature and painstaking collection process, the price of this stuff is extraordinary. We add a $125.00 surcharge per ounce of down for the exclusive privilege to own this one of a kind sleeping bag or jacket. Per ounce, remember?. That means, for example, the humble Ghost in size medium will go from $307.00 to $1187.00. Perfectly reasonable.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: 1000 FP eider down? on 04/06/2007 05:22:37 MDT Print View

I've heard that while you can get higher FP-values with Eider-down, it also has some properties which make it less suitable for use in down bags and clothing. Don't ask what those proerties could be because I'm not a down expert but perhaps others know.