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Sleeping Bag Advice
#33379 09/22/13 06:54 AM
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We did Whitney as day hike last year, this year we are staying two nights in late September. Can I get some tips on what rating my bag should be rated? Sleeping pad tip is also welcome. I bought an under 3 pound bag at REI Outlet that is 32f, wondering if it should go back? Camping at trail camp one night.

Last edited by StellaBlue; 09/22/13 06:57 AM.
Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
StellaBlue #33380 09/22/13 07:19 AM
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There is a lot of individual variation. Also, women tend to sleeP much colder than men. And, you cannot really count on the sleeping bag rating -- unless it is a Western Mountaineering bag, I usually add 10-15 degrees (up) to the bag rating (meaning that I would not use a 32 bag, depending on quality and fill, below 42-45).

Here is the forecast for an area near TrailCamp on Whitney. Night time low temps range from 18 to 37 for the next week (elev. 12,182'). That is quite a range.

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php...75#.Uj8HfYl5mc0

Speaking only for myself, I'd want at LEAST a good quality 10 degree bag for a nighttime low of 18, and I'd probably end up sleeping in a down jacket and heavy long johns even then. I'd want at least good quality 25 degree bag for 37. Keep in mind a forecast is just a forecast...it can get colder.

And you'll want a good hat to sleep in.

FYI, my go-to Sierra bag is now a 900-fill Feathered Friends 20 degree bag. Works for most of the year depending where I am. It weighs less than 2 lbs. If it is 35 or above, I just leave it unzipped. It is so good that I would consider using it down to 18 degrees -- with a good quality silk or fleece bag liner plus warm sleeping layers. (I do have warmer bags for winter mountaineering...when temps can dip to 0....or below).

A 32 bag is something I only would find helpful at higher altitudes during the warmest days of summer. And with I 32 rating, I'd be looking to be substantially under 2 lbs, but that is me. If you go for performance, it can get expensive.

I hope this helps.

P.s., any closed cell foam, Thermarest-style, or insulated air pad with should be fine -- look for an r-factor of around 4 or better. I find insulated Big Agnes Aircore pads to work well at a reasonable price (as a side sleeper, I like a 2+ inch pad), but that is personal preference.


Last edited by Akichow; 09/22/13 08:23 AM.
Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Akichow #33381 09/22/13 08:39 AM
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It's a sleep system, not a sleeping bag issue. You can put every stitch of clothing on to make up for higher temperature rated bag and be comfortable or have a zero rated bag and not be able get your feet warm.

A lot depends on the ground. If the ground has been frozen or is frozen, you may need to double pad. Once we near October, I will take Therm-a-Rest Z foam pad to supplement my 3 season Big Agnes Air Core along with a 15* F Marmot Pinnacle bag.

There is more than a few to skin this cat.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
wbtravis #33383 09/22/13 09:32 AM
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Remember that a sleeping bag is a PASSIVE heating device. It does not make heat, it juts traps what your body makes.

Akichows advice sounds very much like what I do. I agree a 32 bag is not likely warm enough, but much depends on age, metabolism, experience, wind, fatigue, altitude, ground temp, etc, etc.


Some other tricks of the trade:

Do not go to bed damp. Always change into dry socks and dry t-shirt before adding my top fleece and/or bottom silk or wool long johns, when needed.

Don't wait until it is dark and you are tired and your metabolism is shutting down. Get in your bag sooner rather than later.

If you have been hanging around camp and cooling down, walk up and down the trail for 10-15 minutes and warm back up (but not enough to sweat) and then get in your bag.

Before bed, throw in a couple of those chemical hand/foot warmer packets and pre-warm your bag. You would be surprised how much this little bit helps. I have had to throw them out.

For really, really cold places....before bed, heat on your stove to near-boiling one (or two) Nalgen bottles of water, cap them tightly, place them in your bag. Serious stuff. (Don't worry, the Nalgen can take it.) Also, you can wrap the hot water bottles in a stuff sack to prevent too-hot surface touching your body. Also, this hot water bottle thing is a good way to keep warm batteries and liquids like lotion, eye drops, saline nasal spray, etc, etc.

Everyone knows to wear hats, balaclava, long sleeves, dry socks, etc in the bag. But wearing gloves is often not done, but is amazingly helpful.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Harvey Lankford #33385 09/22/13 11:00 AM
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And I totally agree with all of Harvey's advice! I've actually done sit ups while inside my bag to accomplish some of that. Also eating a good carb right before bed can help....

I also wrap a sweater around my neck. Helps with being warmer, if the bag doesn't have a sufficient draft tube around the collar... Necessity being the mother of invention.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
StellaBlue #33387 09/22/13 11:35 AM
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Hi Stella! We had our first Sierra Nevada snow last night. Snow level was about 9,500 feet in the Bishop Creek area, and it snowed in Mammoth Lakes. Temps in the Whitney area were @ 15F at night. Wind chill made it below zero F. Consider getting a warmer sleeping bag for this time of year.

Another sometimes neglected tip: put your boots in the sleeping bag with you - down in the foot area. Put them in a big stuff sack or inside your sleeping bag container (turned inside out). Leather boots, in particular, left outside in the Fall and Winter often freeze solid...and it takes a long time to thaw them out. That's another good reason for buying a big winter bag.

I start using my North Face 20F bag in the Fall and then the -20F bag in the Winter. Always inside my tent or Gore-Tex bivvy sack.

Last edited by Bob West; 09/22/13 11:43 AM.
Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob West #33414 09/23/13 11:36 PM
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Priceless feedback and responses, thank you! because of these responses I was able to make adjustments to my gear - much appreciated!

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
StellaBlue #33435 09/24/13 04:37 PM
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I'll be up there Fri - Sun, toasty in my 40 degree Marmot Atom, armed with a few tricks to make it work. I doubt many would want to emulate this without knowing the tricks; I'm just throwing it out to show what's possible.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob R #33437 09/24/13 06:16 PM
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Coming from some guy who can sleep anywhere.

Brought home a new Western Mountaineering -10deg bag (Lynx, I think) the other day. Mammoth Mountaineering was running a sale with them at 30% off. Ended up paying $4.54 because of the credit I racked up at the consignment store here in town.

Sell old gear. Buy better gear. Now SNOW DAMMIT SNOW!!


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Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
MooseTracks #33441 09/24/13 06:36 PM
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"Sell old gear????!!!!"

Outrageous suggestion!!!




An old friend at Blayney MeadoWs, Aug 16, '13


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SPOTMe!
Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob R #33442 09/24/13 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bob R
I'll be up there Fri - Sun, toasty in my 40 degree Marmot Atom, armed with a few tricks to make it work. I doubt many would want to emulate this without knowing the tricks; I'm just throwing it out to show what's possible.


Bob, I sure hope you will share those tricks with people here. They can be life savers.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Steve C #33443 09/25/13 05:11 AM
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My sleeping bag collection used to be just two - a 2 pound +25F REI Halo and a 4+ pound -30F Mountain Hardwear Wraith. The MHW bag was an ebay snipe and is fantastic, warm, big, waterproof on top, but it packs very large and is heavy, and in the Sierra it is usually too warm unless it is the coldest part of the winter. My REI isn't warm enough for September in the Sierra, not every night, but higher up on Whitney I was cold in it last time I used that bag in fall.

So last year I finally bought a zero degree bag to fill the gap between the two bags: a Marmot Couloir, half off on Steep an Cheap made up my mind and it is a great bag - plenty warm this April and definitely the bag I'd take in September/October as well. 3 pounds, packs well, and already shows the battle marks with a hole my ice axe ripped into the hood when packing it away grin

For a long time I was hoping to find a Western Mountaineering bag in this class, but those trade like aged fine wine in the used market, while sales on new WM bags are rare. Sleeping bags do last a long time if you take care of them, so spending a little more isn't a bad idea if you keep using the bag frequently over the next decade or more. Or buy one on ebay, use it, sell it again.

Sleeping pad - I love my Exped Downmat 7 UL in the colder seasons, while in the summer I prefer the simple RidgeRest foam pad. I've had 3 inflatable pads before the Exped, and eventually all of them developed slow leaks, so I keep going back to those uncomfortable foam pads when on longer trips. but in terms of comfort there is absolutely no comparison between the two. I sleep a lot better on the Exped.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob R #33446 09/25/13 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bob R
I'll be up there Fri - Sun, toasty in my 40 degree Marmot Atom, armed with a few tricks to make it work. I doubt many would want to emulate this without knowing the tricks; I'm just throwing it out to show what's possible.


I'll bite. Please spill the beans on your tricks, Bob.

Brent

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
MooseTracks #33447 09/25/13 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
Brought home a new Western Mountaineering -10deg bag (Lynx, I think) the other day.


Laura, where around here are you going to use a -10 degree bag? That's Fahrenheit, right?

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Brent N #33449 09/25/13 11:59 AM
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Laura will probably give her own answer, but it does get rather nippy at night in the Sierras. Maybe not in the San Gabriel Mountains or at Laguna Beach...LOL.

I recall one night on the South Fork of Bishop Creek when it was -20F at South Lake.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob West #33450 09/25/13 12:45 PM
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I have never spent time in the Sierras in the winter. I had no idea. Brrrrr..

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Brent N #33454 09/25/13 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted By: Brent N
Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
Brought home a new Western Mountaineering -10deg bag (Lynx, I think) the other day.


Laura, where around here are you going to use a -10 degree bag? That's Fahrenheit, right?


Well, winter is a-comin' (even last year we had a run of -20 or so and we were camped north of Mammoth in January). Actually, I was looking for a -5 or so, since I sleep cold, and the warmth is really nice after a long day of touring. The WM bag is top-notch (it's my third one, as I have a -25deg and a 10deg) and makes just as nice a blanket in summer (10deg) as in sheltered in my tent in winter (-25deg). I do hope that the next few years might bring a little more travel to colder places (fingers, toes, legs, and eyes crossed!).

I sleep cold: once I stop moving my metabolism drops to nothing and I chill extremely easily. I also tend to sweat quite a bit, so my hair and clothing are all quite wet by the end of the day. I've learned on overnights (year-round, mind you) that the first thing i have to do upon choosing camp is to pull out my dry clothes and layers (no wonder why my pack is so heavy!), take my hair down and put it into a buff to dry a bit then mash a hat over it, and change out of everything down to the sports bra. Actually, in winter, sports bras are the bane of my existence, keeping the moisture and sweat right next to my heart. I counter this by usually tossing a chem warmer down there, being careful not to burn myself.

Other tricks I also use: chem warmers, hot water bottles, drinking hot tea or chocolate right before bed, a little chocolate munchie right before bed to kick start the metabolism, and peeing before I get settled for the night so I can try and make it all the way through without having to get up. I also don't like to have something over my face, so while I can pull the hood tight around my head, I need to have my nose and mouth out.

-L


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Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
MooseTracks #33457 09/25/13 07:45 PM
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Brrrrr, Laura. Thanks for all of the tips, including the indelicate one. I can't tell you how many times I have debated with myself while shivering in my bag--whether to get up and pee or just wait until the morning. I know I will freeze to death in the act but will warm up after the fact. It works every time, but I can be a stubborn wimp in the cold on occasion, and was last Friday night.

I have thought about drinking hot chocolate right before going to bed, but inevitably the stuff wants to come back out before the sun comes up. Chem warmers have done wonders for me before but completely failed me last Friday night when the wind was howling.

thanks again for all the tips.

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Brent N #33463 09/26/13 06:57 AM
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My reference for sleeping bag selection is to use one that is rated at least 10F lower than the temperature in which you expect to be sleeping. So...if you think it will be 30F, use a sleeping bag (or bag + tent/bivvy) that is rated at 20F.

During the Summer in the Sierras (not So. California) I use a Marmot 40F bag, plus bivvy sack or tent as a backup so I can sleep comfortably at 30F. In the Fall, a 20F bag. In the Winter a -20F bag, etc.

The peeing problem can be helped (at least for guys) by sleeping with an empty bottle (wide mouth!). Then you can pee into it without getting out of your sleeping bag. However, make sure the pee bottle can be easily identified by touch, so that you don't make a mistake in the dark...

There is really no excuse being too cold when having ample time to plan ahead for whatever might come your way.

But if you get into a forced bivvy, where it is not possible to safely descend, then, as I heard from an Austrian mountain guide: "Suck it up, princess..."

Re: Sleeping Bag Advice
Bob West #33465 09/26/13 08:24 AM
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The one thing that I have learned from paling around with Special Forces members (with earned Arctic Expedition Badge) is that they don't aim for "ultra light" when it comes to packing -- they go for preparedness.

Laura is ready to sign up, as her approach is very much like the military folk I have learned from (better to have MORE than LESS)(realizing that what you bring is important, as inexperience may load up the pack with useless items)


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
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