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Synthetic vs. Down Quilt for High Altitude
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Andrew Urlacher
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Synthetic vs. Down Quilt for High Altitude on 02/10/2013 08:26:16 MST Print View

I'm finally wanting to retire my 3 pound Kelty down bag and upgrade to a quilt. I live in Colorado and most of my campsites tend to be between 9k and 12k feet (3 season). I run cold and sleep cold, but I still generate enough condensation to make my bag slightly annoying. I don't feel like the down has ever become burdensome, but I'm concerned about build up over time on a longer trip.

I've searched the forums, I know the basic merits of both synthetic and down quilts. What I'm not sure on is whether or not the high altitude combined with the arid climate of Colorado would negate all the problems of down, especially considering a quilt's ability to vent so much better than a mummy bag.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
In the rockies go with down on 02/10/2013 08:31:49 MST Print View

I hike in the Canadian rockies but conditions are similar. The answer is go with down. You rarely will have days without time to dry gear if neccessary and given the low humidity your gear shouldnt get damp. The weight savings in a 20F bag vs synthetic is substantial. I have never noticed a loss of loft in non winter in up to 1 week duration. Most through hikers use down as well.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: Synthetic vs. Down Quilt for High Altitude on 02/10/2013 08:43:07 MST Print View

Judging only by my experience, there shouldn't be a problem with using down. I've almost never has a problem with my down bag, and for years I've camped at altitudes similar to those you mention. The only time I've had any difficulties with condensation was when I camped in a narrow valley less than 200 feet from an active stream-- and then the condensation was on my tent's fly. My bag was perfectly dry.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Synthetic vs. Down Quilt for High Altitude on 02/10/2013 15:05:34 MST Print View

I agree that down is not perfect. However, down is still the best insulation if you know how to take care of it, and sleeping bags tend to be warmer than quilts. Most of the old 3- or 4-pound down bags are made with a pretty rugged outer shell, so you can manhandle it without fear. When I use my heaviest down bag overnight, I just try to get it opened up into some sunlight as soon as I can in the morning. After hanging it on a tree branch or rock, it is not unusual to see steam rising from it (from the sunlight). If I do that every morning long before it gets stuffed for transport, it stays good.