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6/18/2014 1:34 PM
 

Lets get a discussion going on sleeping bags. Likes, dislikes, preferences, brands, fills, fill weights, etc.

Down vs. synthetic?  When would you want one over the other?

What weight down?
What type of synthetic insulation?
What type of quilting or batting?
Temperature ratings and preferences?
Full vs ¾ Zipper?
What type of cut do you prefer?  Sleek weight saving size or roomier?
What brands have you had good luck with? What brands would you avoid?
If you were limited to two bags for most backcountry uses what two bags would you choose?

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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6/18/2014 1:50 PM
 

 

Has anyone had any real world sleeping bag failures that they can share?
Has a down bag getting wet or soaked ever been life threatening or a real pisser?
I have rarely wished the bag had less insulation…but frequently wished it has more. I can always just sleep on top of it. 
How important is durability? Fabric, insulation, zippers, etc?  Can’t somebody make a zipper that won’t jam up?
Are snow collars really needed or a gimick? 
I’m only 6’0 185lbs and I struggle to fit into some of the sleeker ultralight bags. Maybe they should come up with a “vegetarian cut” and “carnivore cut”.
On average how many nights per year do you spend in a sleeping bag per year? Tipi, tent, or sleeping out under the stars?  25, 50, +75?

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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6/18/2014 4:11 PM
 
I messed around with several lesser brands until I finally got my head screwed on straight and started buying Western Mountaineering bags. I'm a warm sleeper that likes wiggle room and WM has several bags cut on the large side to suit those preferences. I had a Caribou, a Megalite (with 2oz of OVF) and an Alpinlite. I pushed the Megalite to the limits one night when temps bottomed out in the high single-digits. I was sleeping under a tarp and didn't even have a base-layer on if that gives you any idea of how warm I sleep. WM stuff is at the top in my book.With a polar bear metabolism, zippers just don't regulate temperature very well and my thermostat eventually just couldn't stand it anymore and I converted to quilt use. I was simply draping my bags over me most of time anyway and a sleeping bag just doesn't work well as a quilt. My sleep gear now consist of an older Golite 40 Degree quilt for milder weather and a 15 Deg Katabatic Gear quilt for cooler temps.I always opt for the highest (verifiable) fill-power down available and I'm not personally convinced that the new down "treatments" have any real merit.As a point of context, my outdoor sleeping pursuits only involve cool weather backpacking (October thru March) so weight is always an issue. I spend about 80% of my nights under a rectangular tarp and the remaining 20% in an ultralight FS tent. The only moisture issues I've had (very minor) involved body evaporation which quickly dissipates with a modicum of airing out. If I slept under different conditions where body evaporation was freezing in the bag night after night I'd use a Wiggy bag. In fact, if it weren't for weight and compressibility I'd probably still be using a *Wiggy bag.

*Wiggy's Lamilite product has been around for decades. The newer, rebranded insulation made from an unbounded, silicone-coated continuous filament fiber is nothing new.
 
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6/19/2014 2:14 PM
 

Quick hit for now, because I'm headed up to take possession of next weekend's site this afternoon -

Down doesn't pencil out weight wise unless you go with very expensive high fill power down like WM uses. Someday I might have one of those. Particularly now that shell materials are good enough to prevent a down bag from getting wet. In the meantime, every time I look at sleeping bags, I end up buying a North Face synthetic. Almost always get last year's model for 25% or more off. When you look at girth specs, they are the best combination of weight, size, price, and warmth. Heck, most bag companies don't even make bags as big as TNF. I've got a 40 (don't remember name), 20 (cat's meow), and 0 (snowshoe). I think I paid $70, $50, and $140 for them. I use a Mountain Serape as an overbag in all cases. If I could have only one, it would be the cat's meow. If I could have 2, it would be cat's meow and snowshoe.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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6/20/2014 10:03 AM
 

For me a sleeping bag is the last line of staying alive. If all else fails I want a bag I can crawl into and be warm even if I am wet.  For that reason I am not sure I will ever be able to get on the down bandwagon.  I just don't trust it.  Perhaps my experiences have shaped that, but I have crawled into a bag borderline hypothermic, rode out a bad storm under a tarp high up in the rocks in the summer. Had one completely soaked due to a poor shelter design back in my early BSA days.  Slept through a mist because I wasn't worried my bag would fail (I didn't put up a shelter because I believed the forecast of no rain).  I also know a guy who accidently  knocked a pot of water off the woodstove and into his bag in the middle of the night during a gnarly freezing rain storm. Wiped the worst water out and went to sleep and woke up dry.  Perhaps a down bag would have been fine under all those conditions due to the new outer layers, but well I am just leery of them. I have also been cold all night because I was trying to cut weight and run a lighter weight setup.  Most recently with a Big Agnes a month or so ago. Luckily I was on my motorcycle so I had some layers I could put on to get through the night. Not sure I would have slept otherwise. To be fair it is rated at 40 or 45 (I forget which), but realistically I think a Serape is warmer.  

No surprise I run NF bags too for the same reason as Evan. I hate mummy bags and need a bit of room to move.

My go to is a Big B which is a 20 degree bag. For colder weather I use a Goliath which is a 0 degree.  Before those I ran the same -20 bag from NF for over 20 years pretty much exclusively.  Including living in it straight for about 5 years (sleeping bag style back country and comforter on my bed). I just got in the habit during my FS seasons and it stuck. I am sure by the time I stopped using it, that it was no longer -20.  I think one of Evan's girls is still using it. I would like to add a 35 degree bag to my quiver to cut some weight  and bulk, and because I carry a Serape, which pluses things up. That is why I got the Big Agnes as it was really the only one that fit my girth requirements. However, after a couple of uses I have decided it makes a nice couch bag for guests crashing and maybe a very hot weather bag, but I won't be using it for more anytime soon. My Big B doesn't have what I think of as a hood and I don't really miss it.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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6/20/2014 11:29 AM
 

 If it's a cold-wet environment and in the teens to 30's, my go-to bag is a Marmot Pounder Plus Primaloft insulated bag.  I've used it on several climbing trips, including Mt. Kenya years ago.  Packs small and has a decent warmth to weight ratio.  If it's cold-wet and steadily in the teens down to zero, then I use a Snugpak Special Forces II bag, also synthetic insulated.  For cold-dry trips...it's a Marmot Never Summer 0 degree down bag.  For super cold-dry environments, I have a The North Face Darkstar -40 degree.  It's synthetic insulated and bulky, but I slept so well in it during a winter warfare exercise in Canada that I dreamt.  It never got above -30 degrees for a full week that year!  For shoulder seasons in warmer temps, the go-to then is my Wild Things EP Half Bag (Primaloft), with a Mountain Serape overtop.  I used that set-up this past winter during the HPG Gathering and it worked out pretty well.  Anything in the 30's or above, the go-to is my Mountain Serape in sleeping bag mode, with extra clothing on, as needed.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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6/23/2014 12:28 AM
 

I'm back on the sleeping bag hunt, my biggest hurdle is erratic sleeping positions, I think I'm a side sleeper more then not but I sleep in just about every position so hooded sleeping bags give me fits. most of the time I can't get the hood cinched right or I move in the night and let a lot of cold air into the bag through the opening. A really good neck baffle might solve this, but I've only used one a few times.

I tried the top quilt thing and really like the idea but I just move around too much, so without a really good way to secure it to the pad (I'd love to try a Katabatic) I'm sticking with a full bag next time.

I've never had a moisture problem with a down bag, but do have a friend that will describe in glowing detail the night he almost died in a down bag so that does weigh into my thought process somewhat. Part of me is tempted to buy a crazy nice down bag (like Western Mount. or Feathered Friends) just for the heirloom aspect to see if I can get as many years out of one as some claim, but the other part of me just wants to drop $100 on another cheap synthetic and spend the giant pile of money left over on something less useful, like rent or food.

 
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6/23/2014 11:57 AM
 

Thank you for the detailed replies!

I guess I will just keep looking for a higher end synthetic from NF, Wiggy’s, or Marmot.
 
Does anyone have any experience zipping two bags together? I figure if I have to feed her I might as well benefit from it…
 
 

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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6/23/2014 1:50 PM
 

I use quilts down into the twenties, a DIY Jardine kit and a 900fill JRB No Sniveler.  If I'm using a bag, I want a center-zip.  I have a FF Rock Wren and a Winter Wren.  Both can be used in a hammock, as the drawstring foot facilitates entry and exit from a Hennessy Hammock.  I also have a center-zip 0F Golite Adrenalin that I'll probably sell as the Winter Wren has been plenty warm enough for anywhere I've been or plan to go.  If I were looking for a synthetic bag, I'd give Kifaru's new bag a hard look, as they just changed to a center zip.  That makes venting a LOT easier, IMO.

 
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6/23/2014 6:09 PM
 

Wiggy's makes a nice durable car bag, but you don't want to carry one on your own back.

Zipping two bags together works great. Actually a huge warmth and space multiplier. You can get away with lighter bags than normal when zipped together. Buy "her" a nice warm bag and buy yourself a lighter bag. When zipped together, you can either put her on the warm side or put the warm side beneath you both for warmer weather or above you both for cooler weather. Then if you happen to be out without her you have a choice of a lighter bag or "borrowing" her warmer bag. The big thing to remember is sleeping pads of equal height that are kept together somehow like thermarest's coupler kit.

Stay away from the Kifaru synthetic bags unless they're quilting them now. With use, the insulation will pull loose from the side (or top now I guess) seam where it is sewn and leave you a nice big strip insulated by nothing but two thicknesses of nylon fabric. Not ideal.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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6/25/2014 1:34 PM
 

For a two-person setup I've been looking to recreate the Feathered Friend's penguin system. One semi-rectangular bag that opens flat and mates to groundsheet/pad sleeve.

http://featheredfriends.com/penguin-20-nano-down-sleeping-bag.html

http://featheredfriends.com/penguin-groundsheet.html

I figured I could make my own pad sleeve but I haven't found the right sleeping bag yet. I'd even considered how the Mountain Serape would work in this role, it's big enough for two when opened flat isn't it? Most of the bags that open completely ftat either have a hood or are just car-camping bags (barring $300+ bags).

My wife and I don't really like most mattresses so whenever we housesit or stay at someones house we are usually camped out on the floor and our current costco/coleman double bag setup is due for an update, something that would do double duty on a backpacking trip would be nice.

 

I'm very curious about center-zip bags, I've never used one but I'm looking at a few. what is everyone else's opinion of them? we already have one fan of them in this thread.

 
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6/26/2014 8:48 PM
 

evanhill 

Stay away from the Kifaru synthetic bags unless they're quilting them now. With use, the insulation will pull loose from the side (or top now I guess) seam where it is sewn and leave you a nice big strip insulated by nothing but two thicknesses of nylon fabric. Not ideal.

I am also looking for a bag and was really close to pulling the trigger on a kifaru bag. Evans input here carries a lot of weight in my book considering his experience with kifaru. Has anyone else had any experience with them or heard anything? I've heard almost nothing but positive reviews on the slick bag but to be honest I trust input/feedback on this forum more than most other places. Thanks for the info on this topic so far!

 
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6/26/2014 9:38 PM
 

The Kifaru 0 degree wide slick “regulator” bag is my current go to bag.  I have less than 50 nights in it but it seems to be holding up ok.  I have not and will not wash it though do to the lack of quilting.  The fact that it is also a “wide” bag with extra internal volume really hurts the temperature value.  I do like the extra wiggle room of the widder bag though.  If I could do it again and had to go with the Kifaru I would get a warmer bag.  But I sleep pretty cold and rarely sleep in a tent or shelter.  I am also NOT a fan of the ¾ zipper.  A real PITA in my opinion.  The storage sack is somewhat flimsy and prone to tearing.  The stuff sack has held up but does not look “Tongan proof”. 

Again it has been an ok bag but I am looking for a warmer bag with the option of zipping two together with full length zippers and quilting or baffling.


Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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6/29/2014 8:44 PM
 

so the only source I could find said the 20* kifaru slick bag has 5.4oz of climashield (so more of a 30* bag by most ratings) anyone know for sure how many ouces are in the 0* bag?

I found 6oz climashield locally dirt cheap so I might have to make an over quilt or poncho or something. They also have eVent and Epic yardage so my hair-brained quilt schemes are getting out of hand.

 
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6/30/2014 9:52 AM
 

Great thread! When strow started it I was hoping it would get lots of responses.

I've used a Kifaru  20 degree modular bag now for 5 years or so in warm to cool weather (I quit using it in the fall when it hits the teens). In that time it has probably been on the trail 50 nights or so. I never did buy any of the modular panels for the bag. In fact when I found Kifaru no longer offered that option I had them remove the modular attachement zippers from my bag.

What I like most about my Kifaru is the roominess. I also like the the hood as it allows me to push the limits of the bag's warmth.

What I dislike about my Kifaru is the 3/4 side zipper. It just always seems inconvenient.

I like the drape of my Kifaru but have always wondered over time how the insulation would stay in place without any quilting. According to experiences outlined in this thread, not too good.

I'm not a fan of mummy bags, but appreciate their warmth and weight savings. As already stated, roominess is what I like most about my Kifaru. Other than TNF are their other brands of mummy bags that are known for their roominess? I need to get another, warmer bag for use during the winter.

Thanks to all who have shared thus far. Keep the info coming! 

 
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7/2/2014 8:46 PM
 

Climashield's warmth to weight isn't quite as good as primaloft, and it's warmth when wet is closer to down than it is to primaloft (saw that data on backpackinglight). Wouldn't be my first choice in insulation. Integral Design used to have very high quality bags in wide sizes in both primaloft and down. Not sure if they're still in that business or not.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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7/2/2014 9:23 PM
 

 +2 on Integral Designs, Evan!  I have an Integral Designs Primaliner (inner bag liner), and that little bag is pretty warm, allowing it to be used as a lightweight summer bag.  That said, because it's a liner bag, there is not much wiggle room and it does not have a full length zipper.  Still, I could envision using it as additional insulation under a Mountain Serape to extend it into cooler weather.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
7/5/2014 8:22 PM
 

I found one BPL memeber quoting the insulation value loss when wet at 60% for down, 40% for CS and 10% for PL1, does anyone have a link to the original test, I've had a heck of a time finding any 3rd party insulations tests at all (guess not everyone has a copper manequin in their garage). If those are in fact the numbers I'm quite surprised, I'd really like to know were the difference comes from, differant fiber coatings? different denier fibers?

Same member said that PL and CS (mixed or small denier insulations) lose about 30% of their insulation value over time and then stabalize while heavier denier insualtions (like Polargaurd classic and Lamalite) only lose about 10% before they stabilze.

Evan, you said your Cat's Meow hasn't suffered much from living compressed, it wouldn't happen to be a Polargaurd version would it? my wife's uses climashield prism and it hasn't fared so well.

 
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7/7/2014 11:15 AM
 

 I believe I quoted the same numbers before. The member that posted is very credible so I would consider it accurate, and given nothing substansive has really changed with synthetics in recent years, I would consider it mostly an accurate state of the current market. The only thing not mentioned is the water resistant downs, and those seem to be all over the board currently and it will take a few years to shake out what is a benefit vs what is not. 

Lamalite is CS, just a heavier denier version, and the bonding probably helps keep it in shape as well. I know from my experience with MYOG quilts, I would think CS is best if it is bonded , and then quilting would be second. I personally dont think the non quilted / bonded variations will stand the test of time, but I could be wrong. 

 


http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
 
New Post
7/7/2014 12:48 PM
 

kevin_t wrote

 

Lamalite is CS, just a heavier denier version, and the bonding probably helps keep it in shape as well. I know from my experience with MYOG quilts, I would think CS is best if it is bonded , and then quilting would be second. I personally dont think the non quilted / bonded variations will stand the test of time, but I could be wrong. 

 

 

How is it bonded?  Sonic/hi-freq sound waves?

 
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