Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
CDT Sleep System Debate!
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jeff Howell
(swimming) - F
CDT Sleep System Debate! on 11/16/2013 19:50:50 MST Print View

I hiked most of the PCT this summer with a 20 degree wide RevelationX quilt with 2 extra oz of down. I sewed a zipper on the back so it was kind of like the zpacks quilt (ie more like a sleeping bag). I also had a down hood and silk liner. The problem was that I was cold when it was below 35, even when wearing my down jacket and two sets of long underwear. I don't think it has anything to do with Tim's bags, more just with the fact that I am an EXTREMELY cold sleeper.

Now I am trying to figure out my sleep system for the CDT this coming year. I swore on those miserable cold nights on the PCT that I would buy a 5-10ish degree, woman-specific bag for the CDT, complete with a hood and draft collar and everything. On the other hand, my boyfriend (who will hike with me) thinks I should just add down pants and possibly a more substantial down jacket (instead of the patagonia ultralight hoody). He also mentioned the possibility of sewing our own VBL clothes and sending the quilt back for more stuffing (which would also help with open baffle down shifting). We have had some success using our two quilts layered sharing a big agnes tent.
Here are the considerations:

1. The CDT is colder at night.

2. I am switching from sleeping solo in a zpacks hexamid to sharing a BearPaw Luna 2 tarp/shelter. I think the tarp will be less drafty, and having a warm body next to me will definitely help us both stay warm!

3. I am switching to an inflatable pad from a ridgerest.

4. I am trying to keep the cost as low as is possible while still buying gear that is light, effective, and lasts!

So what do you recommend? Should I get more stuffing for the quilt? Add down pants? ANyone have experience with thru hiking sleep systems for couples?

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
Down pants on 11/16/2013 20:00:50 MST Print View

I do not have experience with the couples hiking situation, but I do have a pair of WM down pants that I take with me on just about every trip as I am a cold sleeper. I use a 30 degree Revelation with no over fill but when the temp crops I put on the down pants and a GoLite Selkirk 800 fill jacket, Zpacks down hood. I like the ability to always have what I need to sleep comfortably. John over at Borah Gear is now making custom down pants so you could add a ton of down if you think you may need it on really cold nights, and still sleep comfy when the thermometer reads more comfortable.

YMMV but it works well for me.


michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
sleep on 11/16/2013 20:10:45 MST Print View

Definitley build and add layers to boost your sleeping bags warmth. Sleep with extra insulation that you are wearing around camp. Its not cost effective or versitale to buy a brand new heavier bag.

I find that a piece of plastic like a 2oz poncho (or a zpacks cloud kilt) draped over the top of my body does wonders trapping the body heat from rising up and away.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re:CDT Sleep System Debate! on 11/16/2013 20:24:45 MST Print View

If you check sleeping bags with the European ratings, you'll see that in general they think women sleep about 10* colder than men. Get a warmer bag for sure, and bring your down jacket and pants as well! The moer draft-proof tent and warm body will help, but get the basics right, in case you end up by yourself with a lighter weight, less draft-proof tent or tarp.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: CDT Sleep System Debate! on 11/16/2013 20:30:26 MST Print View

I am a cold sleeper too, and I prefer having a lighter sleeping bag with extra clothing over a warmer bag. This allows me more flexibility in temps. I can go from 50 to 30 and adjust. This was very useful for me on a sierra trip this summer where we encountered warm temps in mid elevation canyons and near freezing temps at high lakes.
Down pants and a down jacket combined with a bag would be good.
How heavy/warm is your down jacket? If you really want to avoid getting a new bag I would go straight to a 1 pound winter puffy and some ul down pants. You will be soooo warm in camp, just make sure you have a roomy enough bag/quilt.

Edited by justin_baker on 11/16/2013 20:36:57 MST.

Jeff Howell
(swimming) - F
best down jacket? on 11/16/2013 20:39:46 MST Print View

SO what is your opinion of the best down jacket with 5-6 oz down? I have the patagonia ultralight and love it but it isn't quite that warm.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Combine on 11/16/2013 21:06:36 MST Print View

Was just at the Feathered Friends store in Seattle. Their Spoonbill 2 person bag was out on the shop floor and looked great. You and your boyfriend can each sell a bag or quilt on this forum and use the proceeds towards a Spoonbill. Make him carry it, it is still pretty light. You will save weight and be warm and toasty.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
CDT Sleep System Debate! on 11/16/2013 21:21:12 MST Print View

I think you should put more money and ounces into a solid 2-piece sleeping pad system, with a 1/8" CCF pad (or keep your Ridgerest although it will be bulkier) and a full-length (or women-specific 64"-ish) insulated inflatable. You should look at a combination to get to a total R-Value of 5 - 6.

One pad to consider on top would be an Exped DownMat UL, although they are very expensive. Still cheaper than a new quilt, especially since you already have a nice quilt.

Edited by saparisor on 11/16/2013 21:22:50 MST.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
From a CDT thru-hiker on 11/16/2013 21:43:13 MST Print View

I thru-hiked the CDT NOBO this year. If you go NOBO (and you should! Glacier is the best possible finishing point, and NM in the spring is nice), a 20-degree bag should suffice. I used a 15-degree quilt and was warm every night. Our coldest night on the entire trip was maybe 25ish, and I doubt I had more than 5 or 6 nights below freezing the entire trip. I had way more cold nights on the PCT than on the CDT.

Of course, we were really careful about campsite selection (always in trees if possible, always up out of valley bottoms if possible, never above treeline, yadda yadda. Most other thru-hikers seemed to throw down anywhere, and I saw a lot of other hikers' journal entries reporting nights in the low 20s, frozen water bottles, etc. Not us.).

Anyway, if you go north, you should find that the CDT is no colder than the PCT. Maybe even warmer. Now, if you go south, that's a whole different story, and you will probably have many, many cold nights in Colorado and NM.

Edited by sschloss1 on 11/16/2013 21:49:59 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Keep Your Head Warm on 11/16/2013 23:18:04 MST Print View

Make sure you have adequate head insulation, no point in having a 15 degree quilt if your head is cold at 25.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
CDT sleep system on 11/16/2013 23:33:17 MST Print View

I'm a cold sleeper so use silk or wool long undies plus down pants and top puffy if I need it and always have a baklava or fleece hat and possum down gloves and socks. Then I use a quilt or bag rated for the lowest temps I can predict for the trip and a reflective pad or insulated pad.
When I did the CDT SOBO I had a great bag but a terrible pad, had to pick my spots and dig holes for shoulder and hip but I didn't freeze! I was soaked through a lot from the monsoons in the daytime but at least I had a warm place to sleep.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
CDT Sleep System Debate on 11/17/2013 00:54:36 MST Print View

What is under you at night is more important than what's over you.

If your height fits it, the Thermarest Prolite Plus Womens' inflatable pad is the way to go. Makes a great frame sheet for your pack as well.

20 x 66 x 1.5 inches
21 ounces
R = 4.6

Insure your comfort by also carrying:

The Thermarest Fast N Light Repair Kit; $10; 0.38 ounces

20 x 72 x 1/8 inch CCF pad; 3.2 oz.; R = 0.2
Truly multi-purpose, it protects the inflatable from possible punctures (especially in the desert), doubles as a sit pad or for mid-day naps and lunch breaks, eliminates the need for a separate ground cloth, and serves as a cozy to keep rehydrating food warm (why risk spills and/or odors on your insulated jacket, especially in bear country?).

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/17/2013 01:01:35 MST.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Keep Your Head Warm on 11/17/2013 02:25:41 MST Print View

+1 on what Luke said about prioritizing head warmth. I'm not sure why, but this aspect of sleeping warmth seems to be glossed over a lot. You can be losing upwards of 45% of your body heat through your head, since it's really the only area of your body that has lots of blood flow near the skin but doesn't vasoconstrict to preserve warmth (this is also why head wounds bleed so much!).

And also +1 on what Bob said about the importance of sleeping pad warmth. I've always found inflatable pads warmer than closed cell foam pads, even when they are specified at similar R values. I'm not sure why this is, but it's just my experience. You might try boosting your warmth (and comfort) with an inflatable. I'd definitely try that first before giving up on your current bag.

Edited by dmusashe on 11/17/2013 02:27:23 MST.

Josiah Vandervelde

Locale: Florida
XTherm on 11/17/2013 06:16:42 MST Print View

For me I've always been a cold sleeper I'd get cold with a BA insulated air core and a 15 degree sleeping bag in 35 degree weather. Then I got an xtherm.... I have never been cold since. This weekend it was in the 20s and I had my RevX quilt and my xtherm and I I stayed toasty.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yeah downmat!! on 11/17/2013 07:04:30 MST Print View

I also found that I was cold at night pretty much all the time in my 20 deg bag, then in my 20 deg quilt. But one mid-20s night, bundled in all my gear, down booties, down hat with my cap 4 hoodie on, montbell alpine light puffy on with the hood up, etc etc, I really felt like I could feel the cold air coming up from underneath me (synmat UL 7).

About two weeks later my dog literally exploded my I bought the downmat UL7. I'm 5'7" so I got the short one (60" long) and fits me pretty much perfectly. Wow what a difference! The short one weighs the same as my regular length synmat, so now I just carry the downmat all the time.

It made a HUGE difference in my warmth at night.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Downmat on 11/17/2013 07:48:56 MST Print View

From years of use I believe that using a downmat adds 10-15 F degrees to a sleeping bag. The only synthetic I've tried that's close is a Big Agnes Q Core, which I tested for The Q Core is much easier to use but if it's going to be really cold I'll take my downmat.

Will Govus
(willgovus) - F
CDT on 11/17/2013 07:48:59 MST Print View

I thru hiked southbound this year. I think I am a neutral sleeper.

Starting at Glacier on June 15th I used a golite 1 season quilt (~40*), a GG nightlight pad, and a Montbell Alpinelight when needed and was fine - I don't think it got below freezing once until Southern Colorado. I switched to a western mountaineering apache (15*) in Steamboat Springs on August 24. This bag was too warm for all of Colorado surprisingly - the San Juans were cold but mainly because of all the rain.

For me, New Mexico had a few cold nights but nothing below the mid 20's probably. I think it largely depends on your pace, the San Juans and northern New Mexico could be brutally cold depending on when you get there. At the same time, it is entirely possible to stay ahead of the cold and have fairly mild temps the whole hike. Don't buy into the whole "Every night on the CDT is a cold night!" thing. A large chunk of your nights will be quite warm.

Edited by willgovus on 11/17/2013 07:50:51 MST.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Camp Clothes on 11/17/2013 08:29:36 MST Print View

Are you cold when you are around camp?

If so add to your down jacket layers and down pants. If you are comfortable around camp at the lowestvpossible temp add down to the sleeping bag. I would just add down to your existing bag rather than get a new one as it will be more economical and compressed down does no suffer from inefficiency at low to moderate levels of compreession.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: CDT Sleep System Debate! on 11/17/2013 10:44:10 MST Print View

I agree with Will and I've also soboed the CDT.

It was generally mild to warm at night until mid-Colorado. From there, I'd prepare for some dang cold nights.

In 2010, I was definitely happy to have a normal 15 degree sleeping bag and not my quilt.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Try a Katabatic quilt on 11/17/2013 18:23:59 MST Print View

I've had a similar experience with the Revelation X quilt and believe it is due to a large amount of down shifting during the night. Several folks here have said they just simply re=shake the quilt 2-3 times during the night to keep the down in place but who wants to do that? I have a Katabatic quilt with the same temperature rating, although I did add overstuff with 3 oz of down, and absolutely love it! It is very lofted, stays lofted during the night, and I never get cold with it, provided I keep my head warm and have a good pad, as others have noted here. They are expensive but along with my Western Mountaineering bag, my favorite piece of equipment. and worth every penny. Good luck!