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Flat foot box on Zpacks bags compared to other types. Thoughts?
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Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Flat foot box on Zpacks bags compared to other types. Thoughts? on 11/26/2012 09:04:31 MST Print View

I brought this up in another thread and a poster there thought, that in theory, that type of flat foot box may not be as thermally efficient as the contoured foot boxes seen on bags such as Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, etc.

For those of you who have used both types of foot boxes, what are your thoughts?

Mole J
(MoleJ) - F

Locale: UK
the footbox is the only fly in the ointment on 11/26/2012 10:19:46 MST Print View

According to this review

I have US Size 13 feet and have 2 quilts - one MYOG climashield and a Golite ultra 20 - they both have a footbox with a circular 'panel' at the foot to allows good toe room.
As a back sleeperI don't think a flat footbox like the Zpacks would be great for me.

The MYOG was initially made with a drawstring foot but didn't allow enough room as I had tapered the width a little, so I made it like the Rayway quilt - still not to my liking. In the end I made the circular panel and retrofitted it - much better - also enabling the quilt to be used over a light down bag in winter.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: the footbox is the only fly in the ointment on 11/26/2012 13:34:14 MST Print View

Thanks, J! That is exactly what I was thinking just based on looking at the photos. Why then, outside of one other thread where I had to ask, hasn't anyone else mentioned this?

Joe has been stellar to work with which, besides making some incredible stuff, makes Zpacks my favorite company to support. So, I certainly mean no harm whatsoever. Just trying to figure out if it's a real problem that people are overlooking for some reason or if it's only an issue for some...perhaps those with larger than "average" shoe size.

Anyone else have an opinion or real life experience?

Edited by rustyb on 11/27/2012 09:30:10 MST.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: Flat foot box on Zpacks bags compared to other types. Thoughts? on 11/26/2012 14:17:24 MST Print View

I think it depends on the length of the bag relative to how tall you are, and your sleeping style. I sleep on my stomach, with my feet pointing down like I'm on tiptoe, so I don't think a shaped foot box is necessary for me. However, I've only used a ZPacks twin quilt, and I don't suffer much from cold feet anyway so this information perhaps isn't so useful for you.
However, my wife has used the 20 degree single bag quite a bit, including down below freezing. She sleeps cold and suffers badly from cold in her extremities even in relatively mild weather, but she has never complained of cold feet sleeping in the ZPacks bag. She has a mixed sleeping style and does spend some of the night on her back. The reason that the lack of a foot box hasn't bothered her may be that she is about 5'5 but was using a 5'10 bag and perhaps the bag was shaping around her feet without compressing the down.
Incidentally, the tramplite review linked to in a post above says that the bag has a sewn through seam at the foot; this is baffled on our twin quilt. My wife no longer has her bag to check (we sold it on when we got the twin) but ZPacks website says "There are no "sewn through" cold spots, including in the foot area." Joe seems to tweak his designs regularly, so maybe this is something he improved since traplite's review?

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
zpacks on 11/26/2012 15:08:09 MST Print View

So I got a zpacks bag a while back that was in his bargin bin that was one of his first line of production. The footslot was tiny! I couldn't move my feet or put them up. SO I sent it back and had him make me a new one. He did say that that first run did have a smaller footbox than the newer ones but I didnt' want to take any chances and had him make mine even bigger. This is what i had him make.

-20* Long 6'2" Regular width
-EightD inside and out
-1/2 grosgrain straps with center release buckle
-Neck drawstring off to side with non-elastic cord
-38-40" circumference footbox
-footbox sewed up 8" more than standard

The new bag is great. plenty of room for my feet to move around. I would definitely still prefer a trapezoidal footbox like Katabatic's just to utilize the entire length of bag
Ill post some pix later

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: zpacks on 11/27/2012 09:33:30 MST Print View

Thanks, William and Jason.

Jason, not sure I understand when you say "footbox sewed up 8" more than standard". Could you clarify, please?

Also, what size are your feet and how tall are you?

I'm in need of a new bag and if I go with Zpacks, would like to get it sorted out soon to take advantage of their $25 off sale. Thanks!

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
Re: Re: zpacks on 11/27/2012 14:32:27 MST Print View

I wanted it sewn up length-wise 8" more than they usually do..

Im 6"3 185, size 11 shoe

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 11/27/2012 15:34:03 MST Print View

Do you mean width wise? Top to bottom side to side? To the OP I would contact zpacks and just tell him to make something and I'm sure he will know what your talking about.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
foot box on 11/27/2012 17:50:55 MST Print View

I sleep on my side and find the contoured foot box just adds a dead air space above my feet. On cold nights, I tuck the bag between my feet to reduce the dead air space. So I'd prefer a flat foot box.

jason quick

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Sleeping bag toe boxes...good in theory...IMO. on 11/27/2012 22:39:57 MST Print View

What I really enjoy about BPL is the depth of investigations carried out by members - this is what makes this site so rich in value, knowledge and entertainment.

There is also another part of me that thinks that a great many of these sorts of enquiries are purely academic. They're an important component in product process, leading to further R&D and innovation and perhaps marketing edge, but sometimes they confuse me and stifle my decision making process...cause at the end of the day, they don't make much real difference. I do acknowledge that the OP referred to 'theory', and I think this is the operative word. But, the OP did ask for opinions regarding different foot here is mine.

I personally believe that the shape of the footbox doesn't make much difference in real world conditions. Whilst the concepts and their arguments are sound on paper, I feel that once applied in practice, the intricacies of many of these issues fall by the way side.

I have several bags with all types of toe-box configurations (WM, ZPacks, Marmot, MacPac), and I can't really find a preference or value in any shape at all. They are all comfortable and warm (when I personally create the conditions for whole-of-body warmth while in a sleeping bag), and serve their purpose well.

As soon as I decide to.....

1. curl on my side and shorten my overall body length
2. wriggle my feet and alter the configuration of my toe-box
3. cross my legs and place pressure in alternate locations
4. have a stretch (see point 2 & 3)
5. wear socks...or not
6. wear thermals...or not
7. eat a proper meal and remain hydrated...or not
8. wriggle down the bag a little too much
9. wriggle out of my bag a little too much
10. decide to sleep with a make-shift hot water bottle
12. reposition/reloft/relocate the down in my bag
13. position myself appropriately on my mat, in my tent and environment (not in a valley that traps condensation etc.)....or not

...the shape of the toe-box becomes a moot point.... for me anyways.

Notwithstanding the importance of a properly fitted bag (which is why my last bag was customised from a wide 62" Zpacks bag down to 59"), I think some of the finer nuances such as the toe box configuration/profile become superfluous.

So I personally don't have a preference - however I most certainly respect the thoughts and preferences of others based on their own real world experiences and knowledge.

...just saying.

Edit: I'm only a size 10 US shoe, so not overly large feet...which most probably influences my opinion.

Edited by jase on 11/27/2012 22:55:00 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Flat foot box on Zpacks bags compared to other types. Thoughts? on 11/27/2012 23:39:41 MST Print View

I use an older nuntak ghost quilt most of the time which has a flat footbox. I sleep either on my stomach, with my feet pointed out, or on my side, with my feet pointed to the side. The flat footbox has worked fine for me.


Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Flat foot box thoughts on 11/28/2012 17:09:22 MST Print View

Michael W, what Jason is referring to is the depth of the footbox. He had it sewn 8" further up the quilt towards the head creating a deeper pocket.

Up until a couple weeks ago every quilt I have ever owned (or still do own) have anatomical footboxes, or panels at the end. I just got a Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Stealth and it has a flat sewn footbox. At first it kinda threw me, but as I thought about it I realized that as a side-sleeper my feet are usually sideways so the lack of vertical room does not affect me really. But someone like my brother-in-law and regular hiking partner Dave is a back sleeper, and he would be stretching the material if he were jammed right down at the bottom.

As I am in northern MN full-time now it goes without saying that it will be a while before I see the temps to actually use the Stealth by itself, but I may try it layered with my Nunatak Arc Expedition.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Well..... on 11/28/2012 18:21:11 MST Print View

Thanks, everyone. Seems the general consensus, based on private emails, reviews, and what I'm reading here, to some degree, is that the lack of foot box is fine for most people. At the same time, I'm gathering that, even for those who say it works, they'd like to see a real foot box.

That said, I'm going to order one and see for myself. Zpacks has a great return policy so if I feel it's not going to work for me, I'll return it and go from there. Sure as poop though, Zpacks will start making them with foot boxes right after I use mine in the field a few times.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
footbox on 11/28/2012 18:55:25 MST Print View

There is a footbox, it is just flat, instead of anatomical. Don't want to mislead anyone.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Well..... on 11/28/2012 22:21:18 MST Print View

> I'm gathering that, even for those who say it works, they'd like to see a real foot box.

For three seasons, I actually prefer a more minimalist footbox because it's easier to ventilate. In winter, give more a more substantial footbox,or a full bag (my default).


Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Re: ZPacks Footbox on 11/28/2012 22:32:05 MST Print View

I used my ZPacks 30 deg quilt for the first time in Sept on a 5day GTW backpack. I was amazed at the light weight of this quilt and had no problem fitting my feet (size 8) into the footbox. In fact it was such a non issue for me that I'm surprized at this whole discussion about proper footboxes. For me (a side sleeper who tosses and turns a lot), the footbox on my ZPacks quilt worked well and my feet kept warm and I had no issue whatever with the fit. Even had room down there for my Sawyer Squeeze Filter on the nights that threatened to reach freezing temps. I'm very happy with this addition to my backpacking equipment.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Flat foot box on Zpacks bags compared to other types. Thoughts? on 12/01/2012 20:57:50 MST Print View

Just got back from my first trip with my 30 degree Zpacks quilt. Temps were very mild so can't say much, but in terms of fit I found it to be excellent and the foot box no problem at all. I am side or stomach sleeper.

The review linked to above is based on 60 nights of use and identifies the foot box design as not being as thermally efficient as the rest of the bag, but of course it does save weight. I always have either possum down socks or goosefeet booties with me, so I am happy with the foot box design.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Done! on 12/02/2012 09:53:29 MST Print View

Thanks for the replies, everyone! I ordered one on Fri. 20 deg, long, reg width with black 10D inside & out, cord by the zipper, and draft tube. Hope it works for me.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
lets push Joe on 12/02/2012 11:02:34 MST Print View


although anecdotal evidence that the zpacks footbox is fine - is good to hear - i think we all agree that the footbox design is sub optimal theoretically(btw - @verber - i didnt get how a flat stitched footbox as opposed to an oval one vents better..?)

Joe is a great guy with great designs and good price point and I know from talking to him he has thought about upgrading the design...maybe if we all write in to tell him we would like it he will (right after he and sheryl come back from the thru hike)