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Thinking a downfilled jacket question
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mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
Thinking a downfilled jacket question on 03/09/2013 19:04:07 MST Print View

Have been camping only a handful times in overnight temps close to zero celcius (32F) and I have always struggled with getting a warm night sleep. I first changed to a down sleeping bag (WM Megalite) but still not good. Changed to an Exped synth sleeping mat but still no good. Boiught thermal undergarments, I tried cotton, merino, poly, windproof merino AND then out of frustration tried all of them on at the same time but sleep not entirely comfy. Got reflective material (like an emergancy blanket) to reflect heat back away from the ground but still no good.

This is frustrating as my camping buddies all don't feel the cold anywhere near as much as I do and are happy multiday campers where as I am struggling to get a good night sleep!!

I know one thing for sure, I feel the cold throught the chest area. And am down to the option of trying on a down filled vest or jacket for campsight warmth and in sleeping bag overnight warmth.

I do not know a thing about the down jackets or what to look out for. Can I get a few pointers please.

Thank you.


Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Approach to sleep system on 03/09/2013 19:53:52 MST Print View

It sounds like you are a cold sleeper especially if you are cold in the chest The solution is more insulation. The question is where to add it and what kind to add.

So starting from when you are moving so if you are cold while moving then you want to increase base layer thickness or add fleece type garmets which are good active layers.

If you are cold in camp then adding a down jacket will work well

If you are cold while sleeping first put on all of the clothes you were using while hiking and at camp. If you are still cold than adding down to your sleeping bag makes the most sense.

If the down jacket you want to add is just for sleeping it is far more efficient to just add down to the sleeping bag which WM will do for you. If you need more camp warmth than get a jacket. As for jackets themselves I have a patti down sweater with 3 oz of down and a Montbell exlite with 1.8 oz. The patty is good for me down to about -5 and the ex lite down to zero with base layer and rainshell. Since you appear to need a little more insulation I would bump those temps up. Warmth of these jackets are based on fill power and amount of down with lots of good options from patti, montbell and eddie bauer.

Other questions for sleeping in general are you keeping your head warm? Are you full when going to sleep, does your tent /tarp protect you from wind.

Edited by GregF on 03/09/2013 20:15:46 MST.

(JRinGeorgia) - F
socks and hat on 03/09/2013 20:01:35 MST Print View

Are you wearing warm socks and a hat as well?

Jan S
Where does it come from? on 03/09/2013 20:07:21 MST Print View

I've spend some miserable nights outside mainly due to wrong sleeping pads. Trouble with them is that you can have as much sleeping bag as you want it won't get better, because you compress the insulation.

The Exped synth mat has an r-value of 3.1 which might not be enough on snow or frozen ground. Best sleep I've ever had outside was with a NeoAir X-Therm and it was freezing. High insulation from below really, really helps.

Edit: Letters do strange things and go away or slip in.

Edit again: Forgot to mention that you can easily test this by adding a cheap foam pad under the synth mat. R-values just stack up, so if you take a fairly decent one you should feel a difference.

Edited by karl-ton on 03/09/2013 20:56:23 MST.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Thinking a downfilled jacket question on 03/09/2013 20:09:31 MST Print View

WM Megalite is a very roomy bag -- that's alot of extra space to warm up and keep warm. A down vest or light down jacket would reduce some of that space and add insulation. At that temperature, you should have the hood of the bag closed down, and have a hat on...

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Gear Trade on 03/09/2013 20:36:45 MST Print View

Check out They sell used gear (like REI garage sale), and its where sells their returns. I bought my Stoic Hadron down Anorak there and it has been great. They have lots of really cheap down jackets, so take a look.

S-XL above, not sure what size you are. But you get the idea.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 03/09/2013 20:41:26 MST.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Where does it come from? on 03/09/2013 20:39:41 MST Print View

Correct, a Synmat UL7 is not enough for snow. I've tried it once and you can still feel some cold coming through. Getting the total R-value above 5 is generally recommended.

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
Answering some questions on 03/09/2013 23:40:30 MST Print View

Yes I keep my head warm, always wear a beanie and am in the sleeping bag with the hood on and drawstring pulled. Only face is open to the cool air. Sleeping in a TarpTent Rainbow so I am out of the wind. Warm socks? Yes, usually have all the pairs of socks on I take. In fact I have gone by the rule of wearing every piece of clothing I take overnight, I even have worn my non breathable rain pants. The only thing I haven't tried yet is wearing my non breathable hooded rain jacket inside the sleeping bag. I have gone to bed with all my available clothing minus the rainjacket so I guess I have 1 more option before buying a down vest.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
eating on 03/10/2013 00:09:34 MST Print View

Remember, a nice warm meal/snack before sleeping will keep you warm. Also, before bed, boil up some water, put it in Nalgene bottle, and throw it in your sleeping bag to warm it up. You can also keep it in there with you while you sleep for warmth.

As for down jacket, lots of good articles here about them. You want high fill power (amount of space an ounce of down fills) and high fill weight to total weight ratio. Some manufacturers list fill amount, but most don't so it takes some snooping around to find out. Montbell Alpine Light is a really good one that many people here love. It's really puffy and warm. It was too warm for me so I sold mine and got the Stoic Hadron Anorak instead (half the down, but higher fill power).

Also, if possible, shift the down that would normally be squished under you up to your chest.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: eating on 03/10/2013 00:13:21 MST Print View

"Also, before bed, boil up some water, put it in Nalgene bottle, and throw it in your sleeping bag to warm it up."

You might amend that: "Also, before bed, boil up some water, put it in Nalgene bottle, Screw The Cap On Tight, and throw it in your sleeping bag to warm it up."


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: eating on 03/10/2013 00:16:25 MST Print View

...Screw The Cap On Tight,...



And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
amendment on 03/10/2013 00:18:59 MST Print View

Ahhhh, too true. Even with treated down, screwing on the cap would be most advisable.

Also, hand warming packs are always good too.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 03/10/2013 00:19:57 MST.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Add more down on 03/10/2013 10:08:36 MDT Print View

If you arent cold around camp I would get WM to add another 3 ounces of down to the megalite rather than a down jacket. That way you only add 3 oz of weight instead of 10 to get te warmth of 3 oz of down.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Thinking a downfilled jacket question on 03/10/2013 10:24:59 MDT Print View

I definitely agree that R3 is not enough.

Your torso is the heaviest part so you are compressing the insulation AND the pad there more than your legs. If your pad Starts at R3 (when fully inflated) and then you put weight on it I bet it goes down to at least R2.5 if not lower.

If you use a sit pad try putting it under your torso. (personally I'd put it on TOP of my pad because foam never "feels" cold because it does not accept air- others put it under) but if its just a sit pad it'll be more likely to migrate out from under you.

If you don't use a sit pad- just get a zlite or something and you'll be doubling your Rvalue for ~$30.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Thinking a downfilled jacket question on 03/10/2013 11:08:29 MDT Print View

Adding a Ridge rest or zlite to your pas would really help.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Technology's answer for down on 03/10/2013 14:40:42 MDT Print View

Because we now have the technology to produce a good DWR coating on sown (Dri-Down and Down Tech, for ex.)I would buy a light down jacket with DWR treated down. Look at LL Bean and Sierra Designs).

The Eddie Bauer Down Sweater in my avatar is about the weight you'd want for 3 season backpacking/sleeping.

BTW, I too have a WM Megalite. I had them overfill it and it cost me about $38. with return shipping. My Megalite now resembles the Michelin Man with just that 1 oz. overfill and I think it will be good to about 20 F. with just light long johns and stocking cap.

Edited by Danepacker on 03/10/2013 14:43:57 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Dont think its the pad on 03/10/2013 14:44:55 MDT Print View

I disagree that the pad is the problem. The OP is camping above freezing with night time lows approaching 32. Not on or around snow. An R3 pad should be fine in these conditions. It's probably worth buying a CCF pad to put under as a test from REI which if you don't need can take back afterwards.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Dont think its the pad on 03/10/2013 15:05:11 MDT Print View

So its not the pad, but he should buy another pad?

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
shake on 03/10/2013 15:45:33 MDT Print View

The Megalite is a full-baffle bag.
It's possible to shake more of that down up to the top, and get better results.
Perhaps much of the down has migrated to the back of the bag, and is getting compressed and not doing much.
It's warmer to shake the down around to the top of the baffles in the bag.

Hot water bottle and eating before bed are good ideas, as others recommended.
Warmer pad woudldn't hurt, if you can carry it.

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
Pad on 03/10/2013 16:10:56 MDT Print View

Don't buy any additional garments for sleeping until you try what several posters have recommended above, namely put a pad such as a z-rest under you current pad. At temps around 32F- if you sleep kinda cold- what you have probably isn't enough.

Also, if you're cold in the chest, can you tell if it's from below or not? If it is, adding a down jacket, or adding more down to your sleeping bag isn't going to help. A fleece top or a Thermawrap jacket would.

Test the pad idea first. It's a cheap fix if that's your answer.