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Doug's Sub-4 Gear List
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Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Doug's Sub 4 SUL Gear List on 04/16/2007 21:36:23 MDT Print View

The sub 4lbs gear list is great but a 5lbs gearlist that is much more versatile is far better. Seems silly to be skimping on sunscreen and base layers just to cut that one pound out. I'd much sooner drop the electronics (camera and mp3) personally if I was just trying to reach an imaginary weight goal.

I've gone SUL light before and will again but I'll also take my heavier, warmer clothes when I'm going out in colder weather. Just keep the eye on the prize, enjoying the experience, not saying you did it with X lbs of gear.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Cocoon combos on 04/16/2007 21:54:28 MDT Print View

This list looks great. I'm putting together a sub-4 list for Yellowstone NP and the surrounding area–I'll be working there from June until late September–and have found yours very inspiring.

I just spent way too much money ordering a cocoon hoody, pants, and PRO 90 quilt. My only question/concern for your list is that the 60 quilt plus the pullover, pants, and balaclava means that you'll have approximately 1.2 inches of loft in your sleep system. Now, I know that some synthetics offer more warmth for the same loft than down, etc. etc. So I'll be very generous and say it would be equivalent to 1.5 inches of down. Even with all your clothing on, good caloric intake, etc., I'd think you'd have to be a very warm sleeper to be comfortable in that system at freezing. And you say that you sleep cold, right?

I say this not at all to criticize or call you out, just to see what your rationale about the whole system is and to plan ahead for that oh-so-glorious day when all my prepurchased Cocoon gear comes rolling into the tiny post office at Canyon and I get to integrate it into my kit.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Doug's Sub 4 SUL Gear List on 04/16/2007 21:56:28 MDT Print View

Hey Christopher-

you certainly have a right to your opinions but don't knock mine. I enjoy the challenge of sub 4 at home and enjoy the non-existent pack and simplified experience on the trail. It is about the experience for me- and this is part of my home experience.

And I understand that it's not always the best call- heck I just got back from backpacking with my family where I carried about 4 pounds just in diapers, baby blankets, toys and other baby stuff. I also do winter mountaineering, kayak and canoe camping, car camping and just about every other type of trip. With this pack, though, I can sneak out for a night or two (baby at home) and get deep into the backcountry very easily and have a wonderful, simple experience by my lonesome.

For me this isn't bragging rights- it's a personal challenge. Sure, it's silly and anal but it's fun for's what I do as I dream about getting out.

And my 6oz of elctronics is my choice. Having music centers me and keeps me rolling and having images helps me to relive the experience.


William Kline
(BillyBob58) - F

Locale: SE US
cocoon 180 loft? on 04/16/2007 21:59:26 MDT Print View

Is the loft of the various cocoon products listed anywhere?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Cocoon combos on 04/16/2007 21:59:48 MDT Print View

Hey Miles,

Yeah, freezing is probably outside of the limit- I'm not sure! The bivy will help a lot and the truth is that it'll probably be mid-40's at night which is typical for spring Washington.

But when I've spent a few nights, I'll certainly let everyone know!

I looked hard at that Cocoon hard to decide!


Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Cocoon combos on 04/17/2007 07:29:51 MDT Print View

Doug and others, here's a point of reference.

Last week, I spent three night's in Wyoming's Red Desert and Wind Rivers hiking and packrafting.

Nights were 22 - 25 deg F.

I had the Cocoon Hoody, Cocoon Pants, and UL 180 Quilt.

The first night (25 deg F), I slept "comfortable but cool". I don't think my body had quite acclimated to the cold yet. It was also windy - a continuous wind blowing through my Wild Oasis tarp of about 5-10 mph, and I didn't have a bivy.

The second night (22 deg F), I slept "comfortable" and had a much better night's sleep. Same wind, but I had the tarp battened down to the ground.

The third night (24 deg F) with a little (2-3 mph) wind, and the tarp pitched "high", was great, and I slept "comfortable and warm".

Part of this increasing comfort comes from increasing nights out on the trail. I seldom sleep as cool later in a trip as I do on the first night. I really do believe that adaptive physiology plays a role.

I didn't have a bivy sack, which begs the question, how about a bivy + UL 60 quilt? I don't think that combo would have been as warm as the UL 180 quilt without the bivy

-- BUT --

The wind made such a big difference in my comfort on the first and second nights that I can't emphasize the importance of staying out of it when you sleep. These were not exactly big winds.

For *** me *** <== key point here

I think the Hoody+Pant+180 combo will be a pretty solid 20 degree system if I can stay out of the wind.

I haven't had the chance to take the Hoody+Pant+60 or +90 combo to its limits, so I won't venture to guess what the "temp rating for me" is going to be for that system. Doug, you seem to think it's somewhere near freezing. That may be accurate, but if I had to extrapolate my own experience, I'm going to say it's somewhere around the 32-40 range.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Doug's Sub 4 SUL Gear List on 04/17/2007 08:07:50 MDT Print View


No one is knocking you including me. It's constructive criticism just the same as if someone else posted a gearlist with a reason to make other readers go "hmmm". My pack is just as non-existant when I'm carrying 5lbs vs carrying 4lbs baseweight so to me at least, that's not really a justification.

Making light gearlists is fun. I do it myself. Heck most of us here at BPL do it and it's how we push the envelope to get lighter and better at it. Carrying the camera and MP3 is fun. I carry the camera 80% of the time and the MP3 maybe 50% of the time too.

I was just saying that you yourself acknowledged the holes in your system so why not fix them? I can go out with a sub 1 pound baseweight any night of the week for the challenge but I'm not going to sleep or eat all that well, right? :)

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Cocoon gear and volume displacement on 04/17/2007 08:24:06 MDT Print View

One thing I do wonder about using a prepoderance of Cocoon synthetic insulated gear in the lighter end of the SUL gearlist spectrum is---- considering the need to not overstuff the Cocoon's Polarguard Delta (which effects it's loft recovery and indeed the longevity of the insulation)---- can you get a Cocoon quilt(s) and Jacket along with everything else into a pack as small as the MLD Revelation (or Prophet, for that matter) or will one need to actually look for a larger pack? Maybe this isn't an issue if using the 2 lighter Cocoon quilts, but...

I speak as one who uses a Cocoon pullover and down quilt combo----see my gearlist on my profile. I'm pretty confident that my 16oz. Nunatak down quilt will compress smaller than the 11 oz. Cocoon 60 quilt---at least non-destructively.

Yes, I understand the attraction of using a synthetic sleeping system in the wetter parts of the PNW.

Edited by kdesign on 04/17/2007 08:32:28 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Cocoon gear and volume displacement on 04/17/2007 08:37:29 MDT Print View

That's a valid point, Kevin, and I can't answer it, because I haven't had much chance to use tiny packs with an all-synthetic Cocoon system yet. However, I'm not even using stuff sacks with my clothes and quilt, so ... I'm pretty cautious by default about overstuffing my puffies.

David Chan
(iamthechan) - F

Locale: Southern California
SUB-4 on 04/17/2007 16:29:46 MDT Print View


Awesome list. I'm a fan of pushing quilt based sleep systems well below freezing, your cocoon setup is really cool.

Going cookless is clutch, and I don't know if I could do it for more than an overnight...

I can't believe you got a camera and mp3 player in there and stayed sub-4!


Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Sub-4 easy on 04/17/2007 17:44:50 MDT Print View

I have found that with a heavy dose of Cuben, Sub-4 was easy, Sub 3 is do-able even in early spring or early fall with my 5.5 ounce camera set-up, and Sub 2 was easiest from about 35 degrees to 50 degrees and from about 45 degrees on up, but no camera.

It also helps if you are making a lot of your own gear.

I am also not cooking as my food is Dry Ensure and Hammer Perpetuem. The Hammer Perpetuem is added to all my drinking water at half (serving) strength.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
SUB 4 on 04/17/2007 17:59:27 MDT Print View

Re: "But when it gets really cool- especially when hiking at night, I'll have to rely on that Cocoon pullover. I have hiked in it but never for long periods...I might have a hard time finding that middle ground. I'm set for breaks but less so when it's too cold for my shirt/windshirt and too warm for the Cocoon." Since I am not an expert, my ideas tend to be way off the mark, but I'm thinking a full zip vest plus Jacks-R-Better down sleeves lets you hike with (1) just the vest wide open, (2) the vest zipped any of the way up, (3) the vest in any mode plus the sleeves. That covers more of that middle ground than a pullover that doesn't zip all the way, I would think.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: SUB 4 on 04/17/2007 18:18:41 MDT Print View

I haven't had much time for gearmaking lately, but when I get a chance I'm going to try and build a sub-4 list around a hooded insulated vest. Anyone have experience with hooded vests?

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: SUB 4 on 04/17/2007 18:39:07 MDT Print View

I think a hooded/insulated vest is a great idea. The only commercial one I know of is the Nunatak down one and since I just bought a Shaka Plus I don't think i can spring for the hooded vest too. One at a cheaper price in synthetic form would be really neat for summer use here in the rockies. I've more than once wore my Micropuff vest first thing on early mornings until I'd warm up. Plus now that I've switched to using a jacket/vest as part of my sleep system, getting up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning sounds terrible without one :)

Antonio Abad
(tonyabad) - F
Re: Re: Cocoon gear and volume displacement on 04/17/2007 19:18:20 MDT Print View

"I'm not even using stuff sacks with my clothes and quilt"

Ryan, others: how do you pack your puffy stuff if you're not using a stuff sack? For example, is your sleeping bag stored at the bottom of your pack? Where are your insulation layers stored? What about the danger of imparting food odors from your kitchen and food stores onto your puffy stuff? Finally, is there an increased risk of wetting your insulation layers sans stuff sacks?

Thanks in advance for relaying your experiences and advice. I want to ditch the stuff sacks, but I'm still paranoid about the odor, punctures and moisture issues.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Cocoon gear and volume displacement on 04/17/2007 19:36:14 MDT Print View

Tony - in a "regular" pack I use a poly bag liner. In goes the sleeping bag, then food, cook kit, and around it all, puffy clothes, extra socks. Shelter and other essentials on top. Roll top the poly bag and close the pack. Same strategy with the Arctic Dry Pack, but sans the poly bag. When I have a wet shelter, it gets stored on top of the poly bag, or with the Dry Pack, between the dry bag and the beavertail flap.

Foods are stored in odorproof bags (my favorites are the 7x8 O.P Sak and the 12x20 O.P. Sak), mostly, so not a huge issue.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Cocoon gear and volume displacement on 04/18/2007 21:10:37 MDT Print View

Hi Tony,

I'm the same- I use a very large stuff sack or pack liner for all my insulation so it remains uncompressed. In this case it's a garbage bag but other times I use a BMW Poly liner or a huge Golite silnylon stuff sack. Either way, I never pack my insulation down.

Thanks everyone for your feedback and great ideas! I'll let you know how it works out!