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Summer bag + quilt = max versatility?
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Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Summer bag + quilt = max versatility? on 02/18/2013 14:43:19 MST Print View

Hello all,

I'm plotting my first (previously borrow, rent, cheap, etc) nice sleeping bag purchase. I plan to use it primarily in the spring-early summer, fall, and perhaps growing into a trip or two in the winter.

I tend to try and save up to buy a quality item that i won't "outgrow" and will last with a good warranty, etc. Made in the USA is a bonus i'm willing to pay a little bit extra for.

So along those line, i can probably only buy one bag right now. I was thinking of getting a 25-30F bag, like a WM Summerlite. This will last me for this year. As things get colder, i was wondering if it made any sense to supplement the bag with a quilt. I figure i can MYOG or buy a quilt cheaper than a dedicated winter bag that will see limited use.

Does this make any sense?

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
link for reference on 02/18/2013 15:01:49 MST Print View

Good info here. I swear it wasn't there when i searched a few minutes ago.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

WM on 02/18/2013 15:36:22 MST Print View

I have a friend who routinely takes the WM 30 well below 30. he used a down jacket, some baselayers, a silk liner, and a good pad to take it down to near 0. The craftmanship is without flaw, and the weight is absurd. I would say it is a great purchase.

For temperatures below that, a cheap (140-ish) quilt from Enlightened Equipment or similar would be a great addition for more warmth. Excepting northern canada and summits/high altitude, a good tent and a great pad makes that bag/quilt combination useable for almost all temperatures.

If you want to get the absolute most distance out of a bag, 30 is a good place to start. It's warm enough to use with a clothing system for the average winter day in your area, and it's cool enough to use during all but the midsummer season at high elevation or particularly crummy nights.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/18/2013 16:12:48 MST.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
It depends on 02/18/2013 16:01:36 MST Print View

It all depends on your desired carry system.

The first thing is that it is always lighter to carry one fabric carcass instead of two. So, carrying two bags or bag/quilt is going to be heavier for the amount of down insulation required.

However, versatility might out-weigh this for some people. I use a two bag system, but I do it differently. I have a very light MontBell UL SS Down Hugger "Thermal Sheet"(13 oz) which is basically a hoodless bag good for 50*F that can open up fully like a quilt if you want. I use that for hot summers and part-way into the shoulder seasons until I see night temps below 50*F.
Then, I switch to my WM Alpinlite 20*F(1 lb, 15 oz) bag for anything between 20*F-50*F.
If I need to go out when it will be below 20*F, then I will take both. This way I only carry both in extreme cold situations.

Other people use clothing to push their bag limits down to lower temps. I don't bring the extra coat, and instead I use my sleeping bag as a wrap/cape to keep me warm at camp.

For me, I find that the 30*F bags are neither fish nor fowl, and I want warmer when it's cold, and I want lighter when it's hot.
So, I do what I do.

It is a very personal thing to arrange a sleeping system that suits you. It is very hard to recommend something, considering the individual nature of sleep comfort, carry preferences, and clothing use.

Edited by towaly on 02/18/2013 16:06:00 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Summer bag + quilt = max versatility? on 02/18/2013 16:05:19 MST Print View

To give yourself a bit more margin of safety it might be worth looking at WM's 20f bags like the Ultralite and Alpinelite, one of those with a syntheic quilt would give you good options.

versatility on 02/18/2013 17:09:56 MST Print View

Summerlite is a 35F bag, not a 25-30F bag.

I would say the opposite. Get a WM ultralite for 17-40F conditions. Get a synthetic quilt for 40-70F conditions, and combine the two with synthetic on top for down to 0F.

The problem is , its heavier than just a deep winter bag, so you will never really be satisfied.

And Im a hypocrite, I use a 40F down quilt in summer, simply because its so light that when lying on top of me with feet open, it ventillates so well, even in humid conditions Im pretty comfy.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: versatility on 02/18/2013 23:56:09 MST Print View

what others have said ...

a down bag + light synth quit/bag offers superior moisture resistance ...

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Thanks on 02/20/2013 20:01:46 MST Print View

Thanks all.

Is a 20F down bag still useable in the summer? Now i use a cheap 55F synth REI bag in the summer. Since i have it i guess i can keep using it for the warmest days...

So let me rephrase, is a 20F usable in all but the warmest summer days? I'm not a big fan of the heat so i hope to not be out in it.

20 on 02/20/2013 20:09:25 MST Print View

I wouldnt plan on using a 20F comfortably above about ~55F, even as a quilt,
but a lot depends on humidity.

60 degree summer nights in the appalachians are the reason I bought a 40F quilt. I wanted a 50F one actually.

Edited by livingontheroad on 02/20/2013 20:11:50 MST.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Summer bag + quilt = max versatility? on 02/20/2013 20:19:22 MST Print View

Your approach is precisely what I have thought about doing. I have a 40 degree down quilt I use in Summer. Having a second 20 degree synthetic quilt gives flexibility to go from 0 (both quilts, synthetic on top) 20 (20 degree quilt) > 40 (40 degree quilt). Having a synthetic quilt on top helps ensure that any condensation in really cold weather occurs outside of your down quilt.

This approach is particularly useful in my case because I rarely plan to do an outing that involves a 0-20 degree night and so it doesn't make much sense to have a single piece of gear for that temperature range. Less expensive and better approach to have the primary temps covered with single piece gear and use both to cover the rare outing in really cold temps.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
overbag on 02/21/2013 01:09:49 MST Print View

big agnes has some notes on their bags as overbags

The concept of layering for variable conditions is familiar to outdoor enthusiasts. You wear one garment next to your skin and add layers to obtain the ideal temperature and moisture management system.

Sleeping bags are similar. Combine a sleeping pad, any sleeping bag and a Big Agnes over bag to create a versatile year-round system that you can tailor based on trip and temperature needs.

Advantages of bag layering:
Layering helps transfer moisture away from your body
A Big Agnes over bag system weighs less and packs smaller than many winter bags
Two bags create a versatile layering system for options in all seasons. Use each bag individually in spring, summer and fall or use them together as a winter system
Over bags help reduce costs by eliminating the need for a pricey winter bag
Use two pads for added insulation or winter use
Pads work best when used in inner bag

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re:Fjallraven video on 02/21/2013 06:24:07 MST Print View

Dan D

Locale: Boston, MA
Re: Re:Fjallraven video on 02/23/2013 16:12:17 MST Print View

Good info and advice all, thanks. It sounds like a layered solution can make for a versatile and cost effective solution for varied conditions at slight weight hit.

Since the spring/summer is up first, i'll start researching summer weight bags and quilts. It seems like quilts can be cheaper so that might be a good way to go. I don't need head coverage as much in the summer so it seems to fit.

My only hang up now is all this "dry down" heading our way. It makes me slightly hesitant to make a big bag purchase if i could get dry down in a year. I wonder what the price premium will be.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Mountain Hardwear on 02/23/2013 16:22:43 MST Print View

Mountain Hardwear has bags with Dwr down in them, I know Tim Marshall will be using it soon.