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Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation?
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Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 17:07:54 MST Print View

I just got back from a 4 day trip along the Lake Superior Shoreline in Ontario. Freakish weather fluctuations made for some unusual challenges. I'm curious how others would handle this situation.

Day 1. Blizzard conditions, Highs of about 32-34 F, overnight lows in the 20s. Trail involved a good amount of climbing, scrambling, (and falling) with melting snow a problem.
Solution: Managed moisture by hiking in only base layers, shell pants, and wind shirt. Brushed off snow frequently. Cool down period before setting up camp left clothing dry-ish.
Outcome: Slept in pyramid tarp, DWR bivy, 0 F quilt. Wore only baselayers and VBL rainsuit (silnylon). Comfortable night sleep, but found more condensation in bivy than I am used to, particularly between my sleeping pad and sil-nylon floor.

Day 2. 27 F and freezing rain all day long.
Solution: Hiked in only base layers and VBL rain suit, sacrificing these to assure dryness of all other clothing.
Outcome: Kept warm by hiking continuously. Rain suit soaked through, base layers drenched. Put all in plastic bag and changed into dry R1 mid layer and shell pants to sleep in. Unable to use VBL- too wet.
Outcome: Slept blissfully. Quilt shell noticeably more damp by morning, but still warm and lofty.

Day 3. Back to snowing. Temps dropped to single digits. 20 MPH winds
Solution: Put on damp base layer bottoms with shell pants on top. Put soaked base layer top on top of R1 top and hiked until warm and dryish, then flipped them and hiked some more. By 11 am, all clothes felt dry and warm to touch. I had "reclaimed" all clothing except for sock system, which remained persistently wet but warm as long as moving.
Outcome: Slept in baselayers, shell pants, windshirt, and R1. VBL suit was now frozen solid and could not be used. By 3 am, I was noticeably cooler. Over my lower half where the quilt was still in the bivy, ice had formed between the two layers but loft was maintained. Over my torso, where I had pushed back the bivy to promote ventilation, baffles were damp and almost completely collapsed. I fluffed as best I could and slept warmly till morning. I later found out it had dropped to -11 F overnight.

Day 4- All clothing dry and fully functional. Quilt shell frozen in spots, torso loft clearly suffering, but still had maybe one good night left if needed. Temps -2 to 4 F. Finished the trek by evening. Back home, quilt once thawed was very damp. If I had unexpectedly needed to spend additional nights out, things would have gotten challenging in the next couple days without a drying fire.

I think the first two days set me up for a lot of moisture in various layers that lead to a more than expected amount of condensation during the overnights. I'm looking for some experienced perspectives about how you would handle these conditions.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 17:35:27 MST Print View

Hope we'll be getting a full report and pics on this one, Ike, sounds like a badass trip ;) Sounds to me like you managed things pretty well with what you had. One thing that might have helped manage moisture in your sleep system is a bit lighter down quilt + lightweight syn quilt combo (I usually skip a bivy and use a plenty wide 2.5 oz climashield quilt over my 30* quilt). Some hot water bottles in the bag might have helped push out some moisture as well. A fire would have probably dried out the sil VBL pretty quick.

Interesting that you lost more loft on the third night where the bivy wasn't over you on your torso....

Great post, lots to think about.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 17:51:09 MST Print View

youve found out the hard way what happens when there is no opportunity to dry out your gear in the sun/wind

as you noticed

1. a bivy doesnt have the best ventilation, and this itself can result in condensation

2. the flip side is that if you use the quilt as your outer layer, this can also result in dampness as the moisture collects in the last layer

3. you shouldnt have needed to hike in a VBL at those temps ... you likely sweated it out, resulted in it freezing later in the trip ... save the VBL should you use one for sleeping at those temps

4. was you clothing damp at any time when going to sleep? ... the moisture would go directly to your quilt ... did you have any down puffies that you used under the quilt?

solutions

1. a light synth over quilt/bag ... it will add 15-20F to your system, and the dampness will transfer to it rather than stay in your quilt ... as a bonus you use it in the summer, or at rest stops, or in camp ...

2. a hawt nalgene when sleeping will help push the moisture out of the quilt/bag ... this of course requires extra fuel and those darn heavy nalgenes

3. sleep with any damp clothese outside the bag ... also consider drapping any puffies, rain jackets (only breathable ones), etc ... on the outside of the quilt ... you may "sacrifice" tem by getting them damp, but they are easier to dry, especially when active ... you down sleeping gear is the most essential piece of insulation you have, dont get it wet ... period ...

4... ventilation of the tarp and camp location ... that you should be able to judge and manage as best you can

an interesting question would be whether a VBL bag would have been more effective, perhaps the VBL suit holes allowed moisture to escape into your sleeping system ... hmmmm

were you sweating quite a bit in your VBL when sleeping?

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/01/2013 17:58:16 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 18:22:01 MST Print View

Hi Ike,

I encountered similar conditions on a trip in Ireland last year, using a double wall tent with a solid inner (well ventilated) really helped and putting a synthetic jacket over the chest of my down bag helped keep the bag dry at night, during the day I was wearing a event jacket and trousers which kept me fairly dry, the double wall tent, synth jacket and rain gear do add a bit of weight but kept me dry and comfortable.

Also I was on a trip in Canada recently in the similar conditions and I was the only person in the group using a double wall tent and my bag stayed nice and dry where as the guys using floor less shelters for soaked, I suspect as they did not have ground sheets any moisture on the ground condensed on the tent walls and droplets came back down and soaked their down bags.

Cheers,

Stephen

Edited by stephenm on 02/01/2013 18:24:28 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 18:28:38 MST Print View

Never underestimate the utility of a nice warm fire. On really cold nights, I have sat there and dried out my wet clothes by the fire just to give me a little more warmth. It also gives you chance to dry out your bag or even keep it going all night long if necessary.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/01/2013 18:34:58 MST Print View

Day 1. Blizzard conditions, Highs of about 32-34 F, overnight lows in the 20s. Trail involved a good amount of climbing, scrambling, (and falling) with melting snow a problem.
Solution: Managed moisture by hiking in only base layers, shell pants, and wind shirt. Brushed off snow frequently. Cool down period before setting up camp left clothing dry-ish.
Outcome: Slept in pyramid tarp, DWR bivy, 0 F quilt. Wore only baselayers and VBL rainsuit (silnylon). Comfortable night sleep, but found more condensation in bivy than I am used to, particularly between my sleeping pad and sil-nylon floor.

---------------------------

Hard to say there are so many variables. However you state you slept in your VBL rain suit and there was condensation in bivy. This really can't happen unless you are breathing into the bivy.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: on 02/01/2013 18:36:08 MST Print View

Brandon,
Thanks for your comments. I will definitely put together a trip report, though this was one better lived than photographed.

Eric,
Thank you for weighing in. I know this is an area of interest for you. For clarification, I never hike in VBL. In this case, I was hiking in pouring rain at 27 F in 1 1/2 feet of snow, wearing only capilene 1 baselayers and the only rain suit I had, a silnylon suit I had brought for the purpose of sleeping in at sub zero temperatures.

I was not overly warm (or cold) on any night. The first two nights I simply kept the quilt loosely draped over me, venting as needed.

A point for discussion- bivys get a bad rap for condensation, but it has been my experience that in winter, the dew point is usually between the quilt and the bivy. Moisture that condenses in this area freezes quickly and is easily brushed off. Without the bivy, condensation develops beneath the quilt shell, within the insulation. On this trip, I don't think the bivy worked in my favor on the first couple nights, but I'm not ready to write them off yet, given years of otherwise positive experience.

Nick,
The silnylon suit functioned poorly enough as a rain suit that I now question how well it did as a VBL. Especially after it froze solid. This made me think it had absorbed water or at least allowed strike through. Contrast this to a truly waterproof material like my cuben duomid. This too got very wet, but when temps dropped below freezing, the ice crystals easily shook right off of it.
On a similar note, the bivy I was using was new, purchased in a size wide enough to allow my quilt and pad combo to fully loft. Because the first sign of condensation was between floor and pad, I again questioned the possibility of strikethrough under contact.

Edited by Ike on 02/01/2013 18:55:04 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Pyramid tarps on 02/02/2013 19:14:52 MST Print View

Pyramid tent/tarp designs ain't my fav.

Unles you dig down at least 1 ft. into snow to give it "walls" you lose floorspace all around the edges.

Then too, most pyramids don't vent well.

And there's that pesky center pole...

Try a nice, double wall winter tent, dome, tunnel or a hybrid like the TT Scarp. Get one with good venting.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Dri Down", et al. on 02/02/2013 19:22:39 MST Print View

Your situation(s) are why the new DWR treated downs are going to be popular. Much less moisture absorbed and better lofting when dampish.

But Climashield synthetic insulation is still (IMO) the best bet for the conditions you experienced. It will maintain loft over time better than any of the Primalofts.

As for clothes, I still feel synthetics for every layer is best, with merino wool next best. The newer polyester long johns with the fleece lining gridded into tiny squares seems to have the best warnth-to-weight ratio - for now, at least.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Dew point and layering strategies on 02/03/2013 09:10:46 MST Print View

Thank you for the replies. I'm actually quite happy with my gear and am not looking to purchase anything new. Double wall tents certainly will provide a warmer local climate and help to shift dew point outward. However, I used a double wall tent for 20 years and discovering the freedom of tarps and other minimal gear has led to significant improvements in hiking style and accomplishments. Hopefully this satisfaction comes across in my trip reports.

I was hoping to shift this discussion more towards techniques for moisture management in challenging conditions. I should point out that the conditions I encountered, (day 1) warm wet snow, (day 2) freezing rain, (days 3 and 4) sub-zero are fairly uncommon in the frozen north and consequently not something I have to deal with regularly. I'd expect many of you in other parts of the country (pacific northwest) see these conditions routinely.

Some things I have been thinking about in particular (thanks Eric) have been:

1. Ways I allowed moisture into my system. Slipping and sliding through warm wet snow probably allowed for more moisture in my clothing system than I expected. Though I limited the amount of clothes I brought into my quilt, I probably underestimated this effect. This was compounded on day 2 when continuous rain, soaking wet base layers, and compromised VBL/rainsuit led to my sleeping in damp clothes inside the quilt.

2. Using a standard silnylon rainsuit may not be the optimal VBL due to excessive venting through the arm, leg, and neck holes. A designated smaller suit with closures at wrist, ankles, and neck might do better. The VBL sack would probably be more effective, but would limit two uses of the VBL- wearing insulation over the suit if needed, and putting on the VBL at rest stops to limit moisture transfer to my insulation layers.

3. One big question I had wanted to talk about was whether layering techniques (ie bivy) improve or worsen moisture control. In this excellent discussion by Gordon Giesbrecht, he suggests that the use of layers increases the likelihood that moisture will condense between layers where it freezes and can be shaken out (see diagram below) rather than condensing within the insulation. This has been my experience in colder conditions, but unfortunately, it was not cold enough on the first two days to allow this, so the condensation soaked back through the shell.

dew

Does the decrease in ventilation from a thin, breathable bivy offset this potential advantage, or would the condensation just form beneath the shell layer of the quilt? When right at the danger zone for condensation (just below to just above freezing, omitting the bivy may make the most sense.

@Justin- no doubt the time spent drying gear can be time well spent. On this trip, it was always raining or snowing hard enough that sitting out by a fire would have led to additional precipitation on the quilt that would have been hard to avoid.

Edited by Ike on 04/03/2013 12:26:09 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Dew point and layering strategies on 02/03/2013 09:17:21 MST Print View

I was using a 3 person double wall tent last night with 2 buddies in minus 13f and it ws snowing inside the tent this morning as we got no airflow at all as it was a still night.

Edited by stephenm on 02/03/2013 09:17:56 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/03/2013 09:44:26 MST Print View

Sounds like a spare set of base layers would have helped. If the temps dropped that low, I would have gone for a fire too.

Regarding the condensation under your pad: did you have a ground sheet too? Covering the whole floor area can keep the inside of a tarp shelter drier and it seems that the bottom of the bivy was allowing some moisture to seep through. Some polycryo would be light and effective.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
bivy on 02/03/2013 11:05:25 MST Print View

in theory the moisture should collect in the bivy, freeze and you should be able to shake it out ... but that assumes that everything isnt wet and damp, typical PNW conditions, and much colder .... and at more moderate temps IMO it may make things worse with less ventilation, and the moisture can soak back into the quilt ... at least one BPLer had this type of issue before

i think its fairly significant that when the temperatures dropped, and things were allowed to freeze, the bivy became more effective for you and you saw the difference between having a bivy vs. the quilt as your last layer

the "band aid" (i wont call it a solution) is of course a hawt nalgene to push the moisture out ... and a light synthetic overquilt/bag .... or putting your synth/fleece jacket over the bag at night (or between the quilt and the bivy) ... that way the moisture gets absorbed into the synth, which basically dries out with body heat and a nalgene

if your clothes are damp (not wet) you can drape em over your quilt

as you can tell im a big fan of nalgenes and synth over down ... ive dried out quite damp down jackets that way ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/03/2013 11:07:32 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation?" on 02/03/2013 13:22:35 MST Print View

I don't think you could have done all that much differently with the gear you had. However, a set of dry sleep clothes and a set of waterproofs (allowing the VBL suit to be used every night)would have helped.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Dew point and layering strategies on 02/03/2013 13:46:26 MST Print View

> discovering the freedom of tarps and other minimal gear has led to significant
> improvements in hiking style and accomplishments.
Maybe so, but the margin for error shrinks a bit. What you have really found is that tarps are not a solution for all conditions. This is especially true for cold wet conditions. Nice idea, but ...

> Slipping and sliding through warm wet snow in a pair of insulated pants and fleece
> top on day 1
This sounds like excess clothing being worn. A common mistake. You should try to wear the absolute minimum of clothing while travelling, so that what gets wet is not critical. I know the usual reply is 'but I will get cold', but we don't: we generate enough heat from within. When you stop, then the extra clothing goes on (pretty quickly).

> my sleeping in damp clothes inside the quilt.
Never do this, at least not in cold conditions! Big mistake. Do not put moisture into your quilt! And this means sleeping a little cool, not hot and sweaty.

The illustration was a bit misleading. The idea in the right-hand bit ONLY works in above-freezing conditions. When it is below freezing, trying to pump moisture thru a quilt into air which is below freezing does not work the way shown.

> would the condensation just form beneath the shell layer of the quilt?
Sure can. Using a bivy over a quilt in sub-freezing conditions can be risky.

> techniques for moisture management in challenging conditions.
Leave your wet clothing outside your quilt: do not ever risk getting the quilt damp! Yeah, pain and suffering in the morning when you get dressed in your wet clothing at the last minute, but so what? If it is still wet weather, you will be wet soon enough. If it has cleared up, your clothing will dry soon. Drying clothing overnight is really a bit of a waste of time.

A good trick is to carry a couple of large plastic bags. Put your wet shoes and your wet clothing in plastic bags, seal them up, and stick them at the foot of your quilt on insulation. Under your feet if you like. They should stay at least a little 'warm' overnight, so the shock in the morning is not too great.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 02/04/2013 16:07:38 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Dew point and layering strategies on 02/03/2013 14:08:34 MST Print View

?The illustration is basically fraudulent advertising, probably by Gore.

the illustration is from http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/research/media/Cold_Weather_Clothing.pdf

by ...


Dr. Gordon Geisbrecht, PH.D

Dr Gordon Giesbrecht is a professor of thermophysiology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg where he runs the Laboratory for Excercise and Environmental Medicine, and studies human responses to excercise and work in extreme environments.

Gordon combines practical experiences as a wilderness instructor with 20 years of human cold research, conducting hundreds of lab and field trials which have led to the publication of more than 100 articles about cold physiology and pre-hospital care for human hypothermia. In 2006, Gordon teamed up with outdoors expert Jim Wilkerson to publish 'Hypothermia Frostbite and Other Cold Injuries'.

Gordon has been featured on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and a number of television networks including David Lettermen's Late Show where he actually immersed himself in ice water on live TV to demonstrate the effects of Cold Water Immersion. He has also popularized the effective slogans 'one minute-ten minutes-one hour or 1/10/60' for immersion in icy water and 'Seatbelts-Children-Windows-Out' for escaping vehicles in water.


this fraudulent bum TEACHES our local SAR teams ...

http://www.coquitlam-sar.bc.ca/2011/10/coquitlam-sar-and-dr-gordon-giesbrecht/

hes even in yuppie mags ...

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/outdoor-skills/survival/Meet-Prof--Popsicle.html?page=all

TO GORDON GIESBRECHT, the world's leading authority on freezing to death, a midwinter dip is just another day at the office. Believing that the best way to study the effects of cold on the human body is to get intimate with the elements, this 45-year-old physiologist and director of the University of Manitoba's Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine has lowered his body temperature below 95 degrees, the threshold of hypothermia, a mind- and body-numbing 33 times.

The masochism doesn't stop there. In March 2001, to learn more about how the body metabolizes various energy sources in subfreezing temperatures, Giesbrecht and four other men each dragged 180 pounds of gear across the frozen surface of Lake Winnipeg, a body of water roughly the size of New Hampshire, for 19 days. Then there was that winter 1999 experiment during which, in an effort to cool his body core while keeping his skin temperature constant, he had a colleague inject, over a one-hour period, more than a gallon of nearly frozen saline directly into his bloodstream. "He's a risk taker," says William Forgey, a 60-year-old physician who is the past president of the Colorado Springs-based Wilderness Medical Society. "If he needs to take it to the edge, he does it himself. While the expertise is there and the risk is controlled, it's still dangerous stuff. He's like a race-car driver."

There is, of course, a very good reason why Giesbrecht keeps getting behind the wheel: This winter, like every winter, athletes, adventurers, and hapless innocents will get themselves into trouble in the cold. While no organization keeps detailed statistics on cold-related deaths in the outdoors, each year hypothermia kills an estimated 700 Americans. An additional 1,800 or so are thought to perish in cold-water drownings.

Giesbrecht has devoted his academic career to improving the odds for such victims of exposure. He is Professor Popsicle, the King of Chill. He may have a cliché for every occasion—"Keep cool, but don't freeze," he'll say, smirking like Mister Rogers—but he is one of a kind. Or at least a few: There are roughly a dozen scientists worldwide who specialize in human thermoregulation, the study of how the body responds to temperature changes. Only a handful undertake human experiments, and no one goes as far as Giesbrecht, who has intentionally taken his core temp lower—down to 88.2 degrees—than any other researcher. "I'm the scientist who does things for real," he says, "to make sure I really know what I'm talking about."



;)

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/03/2013 14:27:01 MST.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/03/2013 14:52:58 MST Print View

Hope this is not straying far from Ike's questions:

Just for clarification, is there a consensus on the ideal temperature and precipitation range of a water-resistant breathable silnylon-type bivy?

When does it make the most sense? Under what shelter?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: on 02/03/2013 15:11:30 MST Print View

Thanks Eric,
You've given me some simple stuff to think about.

Roger,
The diagram I was calling attention to is the one on the left. The text for the diagram on the right was stating that the only way to actually push water vapor through goretex in cold weather was to greatly increase body temperature (e.g.. through exertion).

I also apologize for mis-speaking in the last post (slipping and sliding in fleece). As per the original post, I was only in my baselayer and shell pants on day 1- fleece didn't come on till subzero F temps on day 3.

Jason and Dale,agreed. An extra baselayer would have been nice. I actually had a spare cap 4 top I had thrown in my pack when I knew rain was a possibility. Because I don't normally bring it and because I was never in immediate distress, I elected to leave it in my pack unused to see how things unfolded. Would have loved to have a spare pair of bottoms on the second night.

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
armchair quaterbacking on 02/03/2013 21:07:28 MST Print View

I've never been in quite these conditions so, this is mostly a thought expirement for me.

I have a fleece vest for when I expect cold and wet. I think it is impossible to stay dry hiking in continuous rain (either leaking raingear or condensing sweat). The vest is part of my warm when wet strategy -- never used it below high 30sF. But I probably would have first tried baselayer + vest + wind jacket and just gotten wet and saved the vbl for night.

I think without a bivy you would have been worse off. I think its an easy call once shelter inside temp is ~30F as the quilt/bag shell will be too cold to pass any meaningfull moisture anyway (therefore decrease in ventilation doesn't really hurt).

If possible its a big plus if you can elevate the a breathable bivy slightly above you quilt/bag - this helps to keep condensation from being pressed back into the quilt.

Avoid breathing ANY air in to the bivy. Id rather leave my entire head out of the bivy than than send 5% of my exhaled breath into the bivy. Thick fleece over you mouth helps to capture exhailed moisture.

Echoing eric, I would also have tried keeping the dampish clothes on top of the quilt vs inside and worried about drying them while moving.

A wpb bivy may have performed better here as they tend to pull moisure through them.

All of these may have bought another day or two. To be honest I think you managed pretty well. Double wall tent and other trad get would have likely met a similar fate -- cold and wet weather with wet snow is hell on equipment/bpackers.

Keep up the good work.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/03/2013 22:25:57 MST Print View

More armchair (or rather, computer chair) quarterbacking:

My thoughts on reading about your adventure were much the same as Roger's. In wet, cold weather (our PNW winter is mostly like your first two days!), it's really good to have a dry layer to wear to bed, even if it means carrying a second baselayer. I always put the wet stuff in a sealed plastic bag inside my sleeping bag so that it's relatively warm in the morning when I put it on. Of course if you don't do that, you will wake up in a great hurry when you put the cold wet clothes back on! And you'll want to get out on the trail moving really fast!

I've always used my silnylon rain gear as a VBL in the sleeping bag but I don't go out in below zero weather. Despite the extra weight, it would probably be worth having a separate VBL from your rain gear. You could make the VBL suit a lot snugger which would make both it less permeable and lighter.

As Roger said, it's vital to keep moisture out of the sleeping bag and your puffy insulating clothing!

The combination of wet, slushy, soggy weather followed by a couple days of below zero could have had nasty consequences, far worse than if you'd started in below-freezing weather. I'm glad you avoided those!

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/03/2013 22:29:15 MST.

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 02/03/2013 23:29:19 MST Print View

"Kept warm by hiking continuously. Rain suit soaked through"
"the only rain suit I had, a silnylon suit "


This was a big mistake. In those conditions you need to stay as dry as possible during the day. There are 3 ways for your rain suit to fail

1. the suit had a leak.
2. The suit didn't breath enough and condensation occurred.
3. It leaked and didn't breath enough.

Silnylon doesn't breath. Yes you can open up vents to get the moisture out. But you need to make sure rain doesn't get past the vents and get you wet. Check your suit carefully for leaks and repair or replace the suit.

My experience growing up in the PNW was that it can be very difficult to vent a waterproof jacket enough to avoid condensation. While event or Polartec Neo Shell would have performed a lot better in terms of condensation. Under heavy exertion there still will be some condensation but that can be managed by slowing down so that the waterproof brathable material catches up, venting the jacket, and or by stoping in a sheltered spot to get out of the rain and dry off.

If you don't want to get a waterproof breathable suit, get a poncho. They breath very well and will prevent the rain from getting though your suit.

"Comfortable night sleep, but found more condensation in bivy than I am used to, particularly between my sleeping pad and sil-nylon floor."

If your pad was inside the bivy, what was between the bottom of the bivy and snow? If the bivy was touching the snow it will be a cold spot in the bivy and condensation is more likely to occur in cold spots. You might have been better off if you pad was between the bivy and the snow. That would provide a thermal brake and hopefully would allow the bivy fabric to stay a bit warmer and reduced the condensation somewhat.

Condensation inside a tent or bivy will occure then the inside temperature reaches the dew point. there are several ways to reduce condensation in a tent or bivy.

1. reduce internal humidity. You can do this by keeping wet items out of the bivy. but you can't tell your body to to stop releasing water. Also venting also carrys away a lot of heat meaning the inside will be colder than it would be if you didn't vent.

2. Vent the tent or bivy so that any excess humidity is swept out quickly. Unfortunately humidity levels cannot drop below the levels outside the ten. So if outside air temperature drops to the dew point air inside the tent or bivy will also drop to the dew point and condensation will occur.

3. increase the inside temperature. If you can keep the inside temperature high enough condensation will be reduced because the warmer air can hold more water vapor. However to do this you need to you need to reduce airflow in and out of the tent. That means closing the vents as much as possible without completely stoping airflow (you still need to get the excess humidity out). Another way to do this is to use hot water bottles or chemical hand warmers inside your bivy to stay warmer.

Edited by Surf on 02/03/2013 23:33:33 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: re: on 02/04/2013 02:16:13 MST Print View

> The diagram I was calling attention to is the one on the left. The text for the
> diagram on the right was stating that the only way to actually push water vapor
> through goretex in cold weather was to greatly increase body temperature (e.g..
> through exertion).
Confusing.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Dew point and layering strategies on 02/04/2013 02:21:37 MST Print View

Hi Eric

> the illustration is from http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/research/media/Cold_Weather_Clothing.pdf
Turns out diagram was being seriously misrepresented. Ah well.

> Giesbrecht, who has intentionally taken his core temp lower—down to 88.2 degrees
Risky. A few can do this, but it is a very good example of "Don't try this at home folks".
I have gone low, but I doubt it was that low. I was carried out as I was a bit rigid.

Cheers

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Dew point and layering strategies on 02/04/2013 02:42:22 MST Print View

It's amazing how tiny a sliver of temperature range the human body can function well in. It also highlights the amazing capacity for our bodies to regulate it so well.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: wet and cold trip dissection on 02/04/2013 10:56:38 MST Print View

Great post Ike, provides lots of good food for thought. I've been out in mixed rain/snow plenty of times, but never had freezing rain and -11F within 48 hours. To be blunt, I doubt many/any of the respondents have. Very challenging conditions, not something to be armchair'd on lightly, and I think you did exceptionally well to have been as comfortable as you were.

I've never experimented with sleeping in VBL clothing. It just never seemed appealing. I have been using a 100 g/m Primalift 1 quilt with good DWR fabric as an overbag this winter, with great success. It seems to prevent the accumulation of moisture within the inner, down bag to a substantial degree, and if used properly totally prevents condensation from getting the bag wet. I built mine so I can use it as an insulated poncho, which makes it more multi-use and better justifies the weight and bulk. Moisture inside your sleep system and condensation inside your shelter are going to happen in winter. This overbag system is a lot less fiddly way to deal with these issues than the ideas suggested above.

The other piece of gear which would have been a game changer for you is a wood stove inside the shelter. You'd need a bigger mid, but you could have dried most everything out at night, each night. Seek Outside is working on a heat-only ti wood stove which they claim will be less than a pound all in. If it weighs that much it will, for me, be an always-have item in winter and shoulder seasons.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
My two cents on 02/04/2013 12:20:39 MST Print View

I had several days last December that were Similiar to your experience though the low temperature was in the teens vs below zero. Echoing what others have said.
1) When it's above freezing reduce the amount of clothing potentially getting wet. I now have a complete lightweight base layer, cap1 that I will wear with a cuben rain suit. Will the base layer be damp, yes. Does it hold much water, no. Also, I agree with Rogers comments about hiking warm. I can go down to freezing with base layer plus cuben. If I stop, then I have to quickly put on insulation.
2) Just below freezing and dry conditions are very straight-forward. Again, I dress cool so that I don't sweat and moderate ins entity to reduce getting moisture.
3) Still colder then I go back to wearing the rain suit as a VBL over base layer and then minimal insulation as need outside.
4) I don't dry anything inside my bivy. No reason to introduce moisture into sleep system.
5) VBL at night. I have had great luck with VBL even when used above freezing. I have found that I sleep much warmer and it has completely eliminated moisture in my quilt. I am still playing to see the warmest temperatures that I can wear a VBL with only a base layer. I suspect that it will be as high as 40-45.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: Challenging weather on 02/04/2013 17:35:19 MST Print View

Dave,
I appreciate your suggestions, and even more importantly, the manner in which they were offered.
Thanks

Greg,
I suspect you and I have very similar styles. Thank you for the comments.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
challenging stuff on 02/04/2013 18:57:47 MST Print View

+1 Dave

Ike, you did well to make it 4 days through conditions like that without any more damage than a somewhat damp quilt. I imagine that on an hourly basis you were making adjustments and gear/travel decisions that largely worked out great. You seem to be developing solid winter skills and I admire the way you're willing to get out and go for it, even solo in winter. Experience and experimentation go a long way in figuring out how to be comfortable in these conditions.

I have been spending time traveling on the SHT in winter (Minnesota's North Shore, presumed to be similar conditions). Since any given week can have temperature swings like you described (though I haven't seen those swings in a 48-hour period, either), I've decided I need to be prepared to travel in rain as well as frigid cold. For me, this means bringing at least light WPB rain gear along. I've experimented with traveling while wearing VBLs and never found the sweet spot. A base layer, possibly wind shirt and light rain shell is a bit easier for me to figure out: I'm warm enough when i travel, and though I do get damp from sweat, i typically can dry from the inside while i'm on the move. I felt like i would get drenched in VBLs, but that might just be lack of practice. Some of my best practice for cold rain was actually a week in scotland a couple years ago with highs in the 30s-40s and lots of wind/rain. Making sure I was on the cold side while moving kept me from sweating too much. I used an eVent shell for that trip which impressed me.

As you alluded to, a drying fire (or nalgene filled with boiled water) probably could have extended your trip without making any gear changes. That said, I'd be looking for ways to avoid holding my expensive winter bag up to a fire! It seems you bring a remarkably light kit for the conditions you face, so you probably could add back a bit of weight without issue. Most of my trips are 2-3 days, but if/when i do a 4 or 5 night trip i think i'll still bring WPB shells but also bring a 4 oz sil VB sleeping bag liner to prevent loss of loft/weight gain of my bag.

Finally, some conditions are just tough. There are times when there is no shame in just setting up your shelter for an hour or two: make hot drinks, listen to your ipod and let the worst of it pass. I used to guide long paddling trips and judicious use of breaks for bad weather were great for morale without slowing our pace overall. Knowing when to take cover is important.

thanks for all your contributions,

Matt

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"body frost", GTX and eVent in very cold weather on 02/04/2013 21:43:44 MST Print View

Of the two WPB laminates I've found eVent is easier to clean the "body frost" off of the back after use. Once the frost is shaken off well the REI Kimtah parka again breathes fairly well.

My GTX PacLite parka just won't release the frost on the back very well and breathes less well in any situation, cold or warm. Both parkas have good DWR, FYI.

Thus, for very cold weather (10 F. of lower) the use of WPB laminates may not be the way to go.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "body frost", GTX and eVent in very cold weather on 02/04/2013 22:36:38 MST Print View

> Thus, for very cold weather (10 F. of lower) the use of WPB laminates may not be
> the way to go.

Agree. I use EPIC (Malibu) fabric for that. Can be very UL.

Cheers

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 02/05/2013 06:12:26 MST Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 19:49:59 MDT.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
hot water bottles on 02/05/2013 17:20:48 MST Print View

I was thinking about your trip comments today at work, and realized that being an old timer, we used to use the hot water bottle trick regularly on winter climbing trips. We were always wet, cold, and out for days on end trying to climb something. The best part of our nights was melting snow, and filling nalgene bottles with almost boiling hot water. Two bottles, one at your feet, and one either in your groin, or on your chest, would raise your body core, and about blow you right out of your sleeping bag. We would move them around to warm whatever needed warming. They would literally stay hot until the next morning.
You did really well it sounds like, and with the ability to have a fire, the hot water bottle might help with heat and drying within your sleeping system. I've used VBLs to sleep in in the past, but it was usually in very cold sub zero temps, and your body went thru a sweat, then cool, then regulate kind of phase while wearing them.
Sounds like a killer trip with plenty of great stories for later!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Hot bottles on 02/05/2013 18:34:15 MST Print View

One lesson I learned long ago was to go to sleep slightly cool. Even if I thought it would get cold I would add layers later rather than overheat early. This reduced condensation in my quilt. So...... If you have hot water bottles, won't that increase the amount of perspiration you give off pushing moisture into your sleep system. Seems like it would help early but possibly hurt later. Thoughts?

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Hot bottles on 02/05/2013 22:45:56 MST Print View

youre right that you dont want to sweat more ...

the hawt nalgenes assume that your bag is already a bit damp and losing insulative value anyways, and you need to start drying it out ... or you need more heat ... also the more you wrap the nalgene in, the longer it will last and the less immediate heat there will be

which is why its more a bandaid than a solution ... but IMO better than a fire unless you are in a rescue situation ... you dont risk burning the bag

putting a synth layer over the down is the way to go IMO ... as i indicated this would ideally be a synth overbag/quilt ... or even a synth/fleece jacket over the bag ...

i think the main lesson isnt just how to prevent your down from getting wet ... because some experienced people have ended up with damp down regardless of the cause ... but also how to salvage and deal with it once it happens

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Hot bottles on 02/06/2013 19:46:53 MST Print View

Greg,
I don't think that the hot water bottles readily pushed clean thru to persperation, but more so they were an avenue to up core temps. While climbing all day, even with paying attention to liquid intake and calorie intake, one typically ends up with a deficit. Couple that with a stop of effort, ie the camp scene, and the temp drop in extremities, and the onset of hypothermia is a given. By boosting the core, it just helped to regulate the energy you were still using to get your body warmed up for the long night ahead. Also, the overall warmth within the clothing shell, and sleep system "shell" helped to push dampness out. I can't remember the technical term for moving the moisture. Isn't there a term for moisture taking the path of easiest movement etc? Using the heat helped facilitate this. We were able to dry out a lot of layers using this kind of heat. It could have been a very viable method if another day, or even two was needed before it was imperative to dry something completely saturated and unable to insulate.
Hard conditions regardless. Many of us old guys still suffer from cold feet from our not the greatest but it was what we had footwear of old! Gives us the chance to tell lies about the good old days! :)

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
Hot bottles on 02/07/2013 13:23:55 MST Print View

I'm not sure if a nalgene full of boiled water would lead to net removal of moisture from a bag while you are sleeping, but it would if you placed it in the bag for an hour or two before you go to bed. For example, arrive at camp, set up your 'mid and boil your first batch of water. Put the hot water in a nalgene and then place that (possibly inside a dry sack) in your quilt wherever it seems to have lost the most loft. While you are making dinner, taking photos around your campsite, fiddling with the bushbuddy or enjoying a Superior Jack the heat will force some moisture out, hopefully leaving the down quilt dryer/loftier by the time you're ready for bed.

Leaving the hot water in your footbox overnight while you sleep probably won't do more harm than good as long as you remove enough layers elsewhere that you're not sweating more than you need. Plus, there is the added bonus of having lukewarm water to drink in the morning.

Matt

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Key error? on 02/08/2013 10:08:04 MST Print View

Ike said… “Put on damp base layer bottoms with shell pants on top. Put soaked base layer top on top of R1 top and hiked until warm and dryish, then flipped them and hiked some more. By 11 am, all clothes felt dry and warm to touch…. Slept in baselayers, shell pants, windshirt, and R1. By 3 am, I was noticeably cooler. Over my lower half where the quilt was still in the bivy, ice had formed between the two layers but loft was maintained. Over my torso, where I had pushed back the bivy to promote ventilation, baffles were damp and almost completely collapsed… Back home, quilt once thawed was very damp.”
I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that this is the point of major error. The “baselayers, shell pants, windshirt, and R1” had all been soaked at one time or another, and even though they “felt dry” they almost certainly had lots of moisture still inside them. As bearbreader said: “3. sleep with any damp clothes OUTSIDE the bag.” [BB, do you get inside a pen with bears then breed with them?] You THOUGHT you were following this rule, I think, but the fact your clothes “felt” dry might have fooled you, and this might be the key error.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - M

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Bivy on 02/08/2013 10:47:57 MST Print View

I have a light layer of insulation in my bivy to help move moisture. It also adds 15 - 20 degrees of warmth. Condensation is less of an issue with this approach. A wood stove in a pyramid does wonders for drying out gear and making you feel warmer. It does add weight but is often worth it. Alternatively, a second skin in a pyramid often adds about 10 degrees and minimizes any condensation problems.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Conclusions on 04/03/2013 13:12:45 MDT Print View

I had an awesome winter season, getting out for trips at least every two weeks. We had some unusual weather this year, with a fairly high percentage of days in the 25-35 F range with mixed precipitation. This gave me ample opportunity to tweak my system, one variable at a time.

At the end of this, I came to a number of conclusions:
1. Condensation is inevitable in cold, high humidity situations (temps 27-35 F with snow on the ground and mixed precipitation).
2. The single most effective management strategy for me was a light synthetic overquilt. Although I've been a happy bivy user (in floorless shelters) for the past 5 years, I have adequately proven to myself that a synthetic overquilt will do a far better job of preserving loft and minimizing moisture in my down than a bivy would under similar conditions. Weighing the down quilt before and after each trip, I was able to limit water weight gain to less than two oz. The shell of the down quilt was never even slightly damp as when using a bivy, and any dampness in the synthetic was far more likely to dry in a breeze, even in subfreezing temperatures. If not, it was easy to isolate from the main quilt when packing.

A few less important observations
3. Lighter quilts and 900 fill down very quickly reveal weaknesses in technique compared to the monster -20F WM bag I used to use.
4. I am very sensitive to people snoring nearby. Snores carry well over snow and ice.
5. Gaps at neck and sleeves on a typical silnylon raincoat diminish its effectiveness as a VBL. Some cinching mechanism is required.
6. If using a bivy, pad on the outside does decrease condensation on the bivy floor compared to pad on the inside.
7. For a tossing and turning sleeper, getting clothing to stay put on top of your quilt is an exercise in frustration, particularly when all your insulation pieces are pullovers.
8. Hot water bottles might help in a crisis, but shouldn't be needed if you have a sleep system that works well.
9. Using the synthetic overquilt over a down quilt inside a bivy protected the quilt but still resulted in more condensation than when no bivy was used.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. The overquilt idea was a simple, practical, and lightweight solution to my problem. Hopefully this will contribute a very small piece to the Steven's question "Is there a consensus on the ideal temperature and precipitation range of a water-resistant breathable silnylon-type bivy?" I'll continue to use mine for 3 season use, particularly when opportunity for drying during the day is likely, but can not justify bringing it on multiday winter trips anymore.

Edited by Ike on 04/03/2013 13:16:47 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Conclusions on 04/03/2013 13:24:19 MDT Print View

Hey Ike,

I was toying with the idea of a synthetic overquilt myself this year, do you take ear plugs on your trips?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: synthetic quilt on 04/03/2013 13:33:32 MDT Print View

I couldn't be happier with the MLD spirit quilt 48 I ended up getting.

Earplugs- no. I wouldn't want to drown out the night time noises (coyotes, falling rain, insects, tree frogs, etc). It is very much a part of the experience for me, and I've come to accept the fact that I'm going to be awake for some part of every night. Usually, when I am awake, I'm content to snuggle in my quilt, just grateful to be out. Besides, I'm usually not around people.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: re: synthetic quilt on 04/03/2013 14:38:48 MDT Print View

It is is nice to fall asleep listening to ambient noises, I got in to the habit of using them back home if camped in exposed spots where the wind striking the tent fly can be very noisy.

Sounds like you have your winter kit dialled in :-)

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
synthetic over-quilt on 04/03/2013 15:03:10 MDT Print View

I recently purchased a 50* Synthetic quilt from EE for these same purposes. It arrived a couple of weeks ago but our (rare) cold winter storms are already done until next winter, so I won't get to try it out coupled with my Katabatic quilt(s) for about 8 or 9 months. Oh well, it will work well as a warm weather summertime quilt by itself too.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Challenging weather- how would you handle this situation? on 04/03/2013 16:30:07 MDT Print View

> some experienced perspectives about how you would handle these conditions.
IF you can't get/keep your sleep gear dry, things are grim. Short answer: go home, or at least retreat to dry warm shelter. You are not fighting WW III.

Some people have suggested that you MUST stay dry. Nice idea, but fairyland. Sometimes you can't do that. Just not possible. Accept that and move on.

Cheers