Hi Steven and Kevin.
First of all, thanks Steven for the link to the explanations about the fabrics used by Nunatak. It has been most helpful. And yes, I do agree with both of you that the best thing to do is getting in contact directly with the manufacturer if there are some questions about their products; especially when talking about a small company where personal input is still appreciated. Well that is exactly what I did. A few weeks ago I sent an E-mail where I explained what I wanted and I was very pleased when I got a very quick answer from Tom telling me that he was happy to help me to build up a set that would suit my needs, so that is not the problem at all.
Where my doubts arose, was when I read that they were “using the Akula Torre setup for MILD winter conditions at altitude”. Since I need the combo for sleeping in winter (on snow) in the Sierra Nevada (Spain), the Pyrenees and the Alps, I was not sure whether this combo would be able to cope with the temperatures I would find there. As I am convinced that it is a good idea to get as much information as possible from different people, especially when one is talking about making a pretty large investment, I decided to launch this thread before making any decision. After having made up my mind about what I really need, I will contact Tom again and I am sure he will be very helpful when it comes to decisions like which fabric to use, size, whether extra down would be needed, etc. (He already told me that he would build the Torre in the Epic shell and the half bag could be Quantum).
Kevin, as said before, I will use the combo in mountains all over Europe and the period of the year would be mainly late autumn, winter and early spring. This means that the average temperatures that I would encounter, would be in between, let’s say, 10 ºC and -15 ºC (50 to 5 ºF), dropping, in the middle of the winter, to about -25 ºC (-13 ºF). I have sometimes been away for a long weekend in the middle of August and seen the thermometer going down to nearly freezing-point, so even then a good sleeping-bag is a must. With these temps., in winter I would still be in need of extra clothing (Nunatak-site specifies a temp. of -7 ºC = 20 ºF) and that is another reason why I seek for advice.
As said in the first post, I use -in the winter- 2 down bags (custom made years ago, when I wasn’t concerned yet about the weight) + a TNF Down Jacket (I forgot the name but it’s about 12 to 15 years old). Total weight: 1524 + 1244 + 710 = 3478 gr (53.76 + 43.88 + 25.04 = 122.68 oz. This system has always kept me comfortable since I’ve been able to use whatever combination has been necessary at any given moment, but the penalty is big; it is far too heavy. As the down jacket wants a well deserved retirement and I have recently read an article (written in 2001 by John Harlin) about the elephant foot (half bag) combined with a parka, I thought this could be the answer to my dilemma.
This is my idea (and I’d like you to correct me if my thinking is wrong): Even though I agree with Kevin that the Torre Parka is not ultra-light, the fact that I do need some sort of extra clothing when not on the move (resting, assuring a partner when climbing or around camp before going to bed), the Torre could double up in function and be used for both applications. For the “price” of 1445 gr (51 oz) I have a full sleeping system AND a very warm down jacket when at rest. From John Harlin’s article: " ...... Of course, if I don't need a warm jacket in camp, the weight savings is debatable. The Akula comes in at a pound and the puffy jacket at around 2 pounds, adding up to roughly 3 pounds for the system. You can find lighter 20° to 30°F bags. But then you don't get the luxury of a fat jacket around camp, unless you carry it extra and add that weight to your load"..... I DO need this warm jacket. Now my remarks: If it really was such a good combination, wouldn’t everybody use it? What’s wrong with this idea? Where do I make a mistake?
For the extreme wintertemps, I’m thinking of adding either a Cocoon Quilt (BPL) or Cocoon clothing. In my opinion, both have some advantages. With the clothing, I could be walking in them at sub-zero temps without bringing a much heavier fleece jacket (which is what I do now). The advantage of a quilt: It could be used on its own, when staying overnight inside a refuge, where temperature is likely to be too warm for the Akula-Torre combo.
Only one more question: Kevin, since you expressed yourself quite clearly (you “dabbled” with elephant's foot/ half bags in the past), I understand that you weren’t happy with this combo. What are, in your opinion, the disadvantages: Lack of comfort, draft coming in because of the system being sectionalized? I'm sure it won't be the quality as Nunatak is known as one of the best manufacturers and you use one of the Nunatak Arc bags. I can’t see where the weight is a disadvantage, even though you’re reasoning "used in conjunction with well chosen clothing that can supplement the warmth of your bag (like lw insulated jackets and pants)", because I can’t find any other bag + lw jacket + pant at a weight of 51 oz.
I did not really want to write such a long post and I apologize for it, but, please, let it not keep you from throwing some light into my dark (and cold) thoughts.