Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
975 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I came from a mountaineering background so almost my entire fleet of sleeping bags are down. The more serious bags are gore-dryloft.

What is the going theory on using down vs. synthetic for trips?

Cascade just sent out a deal on a kelty bag that actually has treated down (dridown)- which I haven't seen before.

-Andrew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
I use down all the time. Spring, summer, fall trips. I like the warmth, lighter weight, and packability of down. I do know that I need to take extra care to keep it dry. I use waterproof stuff sacks, and keep it in a Watershed dry bag. For spring & fall I use a regular down bag. In summer I use a light weight down top quilt. A top quilt has a cinched footbox and snaps up to about the knees. The top portion is open and doesn't go all the way underneath you. Keeps my feet warm, but offers better ventilation for my top half when it's warm. You can also open it up all or part way as a simple cover.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,261 Posts
Always comes down to intended use and abuse.

I backpack as much as I raft so down is still the best solution for the environments and intended uses. Its lighter, more compact and if treated properly will last longer. That was important for me as I try to decrease pack weight and volume for trips.

I bought a Sea to Summit Traverse II last year and love it. I have used it for more than 40 bag nights in less than a year and have no complaints. The dry down and Waterproof/Breathable membrane they use have both proven indispensable and completely functional. Its the first bag I have owned where the water beads on the surface in the morning from my body's "sweating" at night. I used it in the Uintas this past September during record breaking rains and it never seemed to get the down wet. I am talking 3 continuous days of rain, hail, frost and fog at elevation. I spent one day in a tent from 11 am onward through 10 different hail storms and near continuous fog and never got damp in my bag. It was one of the most challenging environments I have experienced for a sleeping bag since laying over for 3 days along the AT in a adirondack shelter during Hurricane Floyd. The bag continued to perform above temperature rating for the remainder of the trip when temperatures dropped precipitously after the storm clouds disappated.

The technology has seemed to come a long way in the last decade and doesn't seem to be just hype.

Best of luck.

Phillip
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
522 Posts
I use the same crappy old nylon/down bag 25 degree for almost every river trip. It packs up tiny and I always line the stuff sack with a trash bag. But, I think the type of bag you want depends on the weather and your camping set up. On hot trips I just bring sheets, blanket, bug net, and a tarp. In fact, I really like having a bottom sheet on the paco pads no matter the weather - because they are sticky. No tent? That makes down riskier if it rains/snows/dews.

My husband also has a collection of extra warm, big, mountaineering bags - but on every river trip he uses one of my lighter down bags. The bag he uses is slightly newer, warmer, and longer than the one I use. I bought it so I could layer the two together for colder situations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Sounds like your sleeping bag situation is good, I'd put your money into a quality outfitter dry bag. I've got the NRS Bill's Bag, and it's never let me down. It's gone through a couple flips over 6 years of expedition use and nothing inside has ever been wet/ruined. Jack's Plastic Welding makes a good outfitter bag too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,013 Posts
If a person takes proper care of the bag, I think down bags work just fine on river trips. IE waterproof bag and proper time in the sun ever so often.

I have a Marmot Helium with their version of GoreTex outer covering. My bag of choice when self support out of a kayak. Packs up small, I have one of the compression bags with the gore tex type bottom and I can get this bag down really small. I also keep this bag inside another light weight roll top bag and after several years have had no problem. Marmot bags are expensive, but my experience with them has been really good better than most. I think they are assembled in CA which is a good thing.

For the summer time I have a Marmot summer bag synthetic that works just fine but it does go into a water proof bag on the raft or canoe. I have gotten synthetic bags wet several times and they do dry out fairly fast.

When it really gets cold (these days I rarely go out if nights are going to be below freezing) I have one of the Wiggy's synthetic bags. It supposedly goes down to close to zero. I have had it out down just below freezing and was super warm and wore just a tee shirt and light weight pants with my usual wool sox. In the past I have had on hats and a bunch of fleece in other zero bags and froze. That was some time ago. Wiggy's bags come in really wide and really long sizes. Which is great for me as I like the extra space. I also have the overbag from Wiggy's that is supposed to take my regular bag way down. I doubt if I will ever use it. These Wiggy bags are not for back packing as they are heavy and do not compress much. But for warmth and comfort if you are truck, canoe or raft camping - this is the best bag I have found. A plus is the CEO told me just toss the bag into a commercial washer anytime as washing helps the bag out. Plus these bags are made in Grand Junction CO by Americans which is a plus for me. The CEO, Jerry, is a controversial figure on some message boards, but has answered several questions for me in person and easy to work with.

Bottom line keep your sleeping bag aired out and stored in a dry bag and I do not think it matters down or synthetic. Except some designs are more comfortable, warmer and compress more than others. If your bag is a bit light weight for cool weather add a cap, fleece tops, fleece bottoms and thick wool sox to be comfortable. A nice thick pad will help keep you warm as well.

I have been using JPW dry bags for many years. Never had a leak and other than getting a few outside stains, I don't see any wear. It does not matter how good a sleeping bag you have, if you let the bag get wet in transit - probably going to be a cold sleep that night.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
975 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
My husband also has a collection of extra warm, big, mountaineering bags - but on every river trip he uses one of my lighter down bags. The bag he uses is slightly newer, warmer, and longer than the one I use. I bought it so I could layer the two together for colder situations.
Hmmmm, odd...you husband sounds like he has a very similar background and equipment store as me. I'd like to meet him :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
I use a down bag, but I carry it in a waterproof stuff sack (with a roll-down top) inside my larger dry bag. Extra protection for a critical piece of equipment. I also own a synthetic bag and can say from experience it will keep me going when wet (not necessarily comfortable), whereas down is pretty useless and slower to dry when wet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,261 Posts
Wiggy's, the scariest most homemade catalog in the industry.

Not many people know about 'em. We used them in wilderness therapy for their durability. They are bricks but they do keep you warm. We used one of the bags all season and then an outer bag when it dropped below zero in the Uinta Basin, which was common. Never got cold in them down to -20F that way. Granted, they took up half of a 6000 cu in pack for the limited time I was willing to use them.

I would never use them again but fully understand why people do.

Phillip
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
373 Posts
Wiggy,a are awesome and if you know someone in gj that can pick them up at the factory you get 40% off retail. They garentee zipper and loft for life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,013 Posts
Phillip,

Agreed on durability, weight and warmth for wiggies!

I love mine when it is cold outside and I am in the truck camper shell or outside on my silver back JPW pad. This is not a back pack sleeping bag unless you are super strong. I carry mine in a small size JPW outfitter dry bag when I am on a river. It fills up that dry bag for sure.

Used to live in Park City UT and hiked and fished a lot in the High Uintas summer and fall. Beautiful country but I never had the guts to camp out there in the winter time. Just a few cross country day light ski trips. I admire anyone who can handle that country in the winter time.

dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
2nd vote for a quilt over a bag- Switched to a down quilt with an adjustable foot box. Much more comfortable and flexible than my old mummy bag- I use a waterproof compression sack inside a Watershed dry duffel- no worries.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
2nd vote for a quilt over a bag- Switched to a down quilt with an adjustable foot box. Much more comfortable and flexible than my old mummy bag- I use a waterproof compression sack inside a Watershed dry duffel- no worries.
I'm a restless sleeper, so mummy bags are too much like a wrestling match to me. My regular down bag is a semi-rectangular bag, but the top quilt is hands "down" my favorite. I sleep on a thermarest, so no issues with a sticky, hot Pavo pad in summer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,385 Posts
I came to a quilt from hammock camping- but now I'm adding one to a thermarest/cot combo like yours. I may add a Paco for raft padding- but not just yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,619 Posts
I use synthetic. Things just seem to get damp and wet on river trips. I do a lot more spring and fall trips though, when it tends to be wetter or less opportunity to dry out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
I came to a quilt from hammock camping- but now I'm adding one to a thermarest/cot combo like yours. I may add a Paco for raft padding- but not just yet.
Wow, another hammock hanger. That's how I got mine as well. I use an REI brand thermarest on the cot, and it has a nice fabric-like top that's comfy. I tried a top sheet on it, and quickly found that I don't need it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
555 Posts
Wiggy,a are awesome and if you know someone in gj that can pick them up at the factory you get 40% off retail. They garentee zipper and loft for life.
I can't legitimately compare Wiggy's to anything else right now because I've been using mine for nearly ten (10) years without any complaints!

But, as I recall when I discovered and switched to Wiggy's, I did so because they were (1) warmer, (2) wider/roomier (3) guaranteed, (4) made in the good ol' USA, and (5) same price as foreign-produced stuff like North Face, Slumberjack, etc. And I've never gone back - - I LOVE my WIGGYS bags (I own 4!) and have no reason to change nor any reason to think I will ever have to change since they are built to last forever!!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,836 Posts
My camping gear tends to be rather damp in the morning pretty much anytime I'm not camping in the desert, especially when on the banks of a river. I tend to rise extremely early (by 5 am) and like to have my camp broke down and packed before others wake that way I can go explore and take photographs. I try to wipe stuff down and shake it off as best I can, but when the morning dew is still forming it's tough.... and with these conditions I would rather use a quality, but much cheaper synthetic bag and inexpensive, but quality tent.

(5) same price as foreign-produced stuff like North Face, Slumberjack, etc.
Is Slumberjack manufactured overseas? I just sent one of my older bags bag to what I thought was their factory on the Colorado front range to have a tear and failed zipper replaced. The bag was 10 years old and they repaired it with just over a week turnaround and no charge to me!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,191 Posts
My camping gear tends to be rather damp in the morning pretty much anytime I'm not camping in the desert, especially when on the banks of a river. I tend to rise extremely early (by 5 am) and like to have my camp broke down and packed before others wake that way I can go explore and take photographs. I try to wipe stuff down and shake it off as best I can, but when the morning dew is still forming it's tough.... and with these conditions I would rather use a quality, but much cheaper synthetic bag and inexpensive, but quality tent.

Is Slumberjack manufactured overseas? I just sent one of my older bags bag to what I thought was their factory on the Colorado front range to have a tear and failed zipper replaced. The bag was 10 years old and they repaired it with just over a week turnaround and no charge to me!
+1. My stuff never seems to dry out unless of course we are either leaving far after sunrise or we are getting to camp way before sunset, otherwise no chance to dry. I guess I gotta stop sweating so much at night.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top