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Old 10-19-2015   #1
Shingle Springs, California
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 100
Sleeping Bags - Synthetic "vs" Down

I am in the market for a new sleeping bag. I know that down loses a lot of its performance if it gets wet.
What are people using? I would really like to have one Down do it all down bag for overnighting on the river / back packing but don’t want to freeze my ass of or ruin a trip due to a wet bag.
Input / opinions requested.

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Old 10-19-2015   #2
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,403
Goose down inside eVacâ„¢ Dry Sack | Sea to Summit
then stored in a Watershed bag. I have a cold weather bag and a summer backpacking bag, both are high quality goose down and both have stayed dry hundreds of nights on and off the river. You just have to "double bag" and not climb in/on them with wet clothes.

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Old 10-19-2015   #3
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
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I only use down bags. Like Randaddy, I use a water resistant compression stuff sack and pack them in my Watershed dry bag. The only issue I have ever had with them is dampness from dew when I sleep without a tent on certain trips. If you protect them, you should be good. If you like to sleep without a tent, then you may have issues.
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Old 10-19-2015   #4
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Silt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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synthetic or down both suck if they get wet...I always worried about my sleeping bag if I flipped. I invested in a Watershed bag, and now I'll never have to worry about a wet sleeping bag again. So my advice is get what ever you like, then get a Watershed bag.
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Old 10-19-2015   #5
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 224
Agreed with relying on a drybag to keep your sleeping bag dry instead of counting on it to stay warm when wet.

I recently purchased a marmot bag with "down defender" treatment which is supposed to help with loft when it gets wet. I wouldn't rely on that though.

After lugging around a big heavy synthetic bag on backpacking trips and having it take up a ton of room in my kayak on overnighters I would never recommend going synthetic for a winter bag unless your budget is under $100. The smaller lighter fluffier down bag is worth every penny. And if you hunt around on the internet enough you can come across some pretty good deals.
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Old 10-19-2015   #6
Shingle Springs, California
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 100
That's what I needed to hear. I always double bag my sleeping bag and other items that are key for comfort just for ease of packing and keeping the sand and dirt that goes with the river off them. Thanks
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Old 10-19-2015   #7
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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The behavior of wet down vs wet synthetic fill is a myth that needs to die. Neither will keep you warm as all of your body heat will be absorbed by the water due to basic chemistry and physics (specific heat capacity). The only real difference will be between post-dryng behavior of lower quality down, as it doesn't loft as well once its wetted out then been dried without work at home, versus synthetic which doesn't rely upon loft for warmth.

"Dry Down" in its various manufacturers forms has come a long way in the last 5-10 years as is relatively good at staying dry in "average" wet conditions. Sustained submersion is not average though. The dry down will do great for short exposures to rain and longer exposure to fog, mist and body perspiration. Bivy bags can alter that equation as you need to move the moisture away from the down eventually and they all trap some moisture.

One Bag to Rule Them All? Hard approach unless your only boat during limited seasons. Know your body type (hot or cold sleeper) as it affects what temperature rating you need. Research the EN standards as they are the best in the industry and often misunderstood. Its gonna be difficult to find a single bag though that will get you through boating April to October but a single bag say for the summer season is a great goal.

What I know to be the best manufacturers of down sleeping bags: Marmot, Sea to Summit, Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering. They will cost a pretty penny but will last you a lifetime if treated with some simple care.
My Sea to Summit Traverse XT II sustained four days of straight post-tropical storm rains at elevation in the Uintas with no loss to loft and I stayed plenty warm. I also have a Marmot ultralight bag that is rated to 32F with a dry down and it has been stellar for most trips. I haven't yet been able to afford FF or WM.

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Old 10-19-2015   #8
Shingle Springs, California
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 100
I am looking at a Downworks bags out of Santa Cruz or a Feathered Friends. Right now leaning toward the Downworks just to support the locals and try something diffrent. Does anyone have anything to say or a review on the Downworks bags. 70" is pretty wide and comfy for a simi-mummy.
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Old 10-19-2015   #9
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Posts: 4,207
I recently (last season) switched from synthetic to down and I have been very happy with the REI Igneo 700 fill duck down bag. It's feels pretty much right on with its 29 degree rating and packs much smaller and lighter than anything I have owned before. Plus the person I bought it from on EBay included a Sea to Summit dry stuff sack for it....

REI Igneo Sleeping Bag -
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Old 10-19-2015   #10
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
I picked up a couple of these earlier this year: Marmot 20°F Kenosha Down Sleeping Bag - 650 Fill Power, Mummy

Combined with a discount code for ordering with the app, I got two 20 degree down bags for less than $400. They are very comfortable and soft and pack up great. I probably won't really use it alone below 30 degrees but it seems to be well made. I just recently washed them and they came out like new.

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