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Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

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Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby OzSwaggie » Wed May 14, 2014 1:04 am

Hi All

We are counting grams again, and my 1600gram 15 degree sleeping bag is annoying me. We carry a good, warm 4 season tent with no permanent mesh (so, no draughts). I carry a downmat 5.9 R-value, with a thin closed cell foam underneath. Most of the time, in the Sierra in July-August, I don't need this much sleeping bag, find it too hot, zip it open and use it as a quilt with arms and legs out... BUT (here's the thing) - sometimes I do need it. Sometimes, I zip it right up and wear warm clothes inside it! I am, actually, a cold sleeper, and a side sleeper.

So, I'm looking at big bucks to buy a lighter weight sleeping bag with the same warmth rating.

What about just buying a really nice warm goosedown hooded jacket and a short down bag for my legs which could be unzipped and used as a quilt? More versatile, and the hooded jacket could be my warm layer in the evening/morning. I'm thinking - multipurpose, just as warm. ??

Has anyone else tried this? What do people think?



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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed May 14, 2014 6:28 am

The elephant foot bag exists. For the money I much prefer an actual quilt.

Here is the sale on one at STP:
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/brooks ... essed=true

With a deal flyer coupon subscription you could get another discount on it - quite a deal. But my zero degree 24 oz quilt (tailor made with a couple ounces of overstuff and in my preferred length for my height) cost just about the same, and my 20 degree 3 season quilt was cheaper... and no need for the puffy jacket for sleeping with either.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby longri » Wed May 14, 2014 9:23 am

An elephant foot is less warmth for the weight than a good down bag/quilt unless you're using the jacket on its own a lot. Look at the one linked above, it's 1.2 lbs. At that weight you can get a full length 30° bag instead. And you could still carry an ultralight down jacket if you want.

I know what you mean about being cold sometimes though. On those nights I wear all of my clothes and cinch everything tight around me. You have to decide if you're going to take equipment to stay toasty warm 100% of the time or 95% of the time. The second choice is usually quite a bit lighter in weight than the first. And you aren't going to die being chilly once in a while.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby BrianF » Wed May 14, 2014 12:12 pm

Back in the day I used a half bag with down jacket combo for bivvies on climbing trips and occasional backpack trips. This was before the advent of ultralight bags and quilts. It worked and saved weight compared to the bags of the time but I never found it all that comfortable in that I missed the sensation of having a "blanket" to pull around me: even with a hood I just felt kind of exposed even when I was adequately warm. I use a very light 40 degree mummy in the tent in the Sierra summer with a puffy jacket to augment on cold night and find that much more comfortable than a half-sack
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby jimmeans » Thu May 15, 2014 7:54 am

I've been using a Zpacks quilt for 2 years now, and it has worked well. I have a 20 degree long wide version that weighs about 560g, roughly the same as the Elephant Foot bag cited in this thread. This quilt has zipper options, but I choose the option with a set of straps that can be used to strap the quilt underneath you if you need it.

I've used this quilt on a couple of snow camping trips, and I supplement the quilt by wearing my down clothing to sleep along with a closed cell foam pad to supplement my air mattress. I've used this setup in temperatures down to about 10 (I carry a Kestrel weather tracker) and have never had a problem sleeping.

During summer trips I don't need to wear my down clothing nor do I even carry the closed cell foam pad.

Not part of your question, but you could also save a lot of weight by using a 3-season tent instead of a 4-season tent during spring/summer trips.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby OzSwaggie » Fri May 16, 2014 11:53 pm

Thanks for all that info. Why on earth is it called an elephant's foot???? (Maybe I don't want to know ...) It's good to hear that people have used this system and were warm enough, I'm hearing (here and elsewhere) that the main thing that puts people off this system is not having cosy covers to pull over them. I reckon I'll get used to that feeling, so long as I'm warm, but I'll try it out here at home first, to be sure. I've shivered through some nights camping and it was a miserable experience - while it didn't kill me, it's not something I will plan to experience! So I've decided to go with a Western Mountaineering Tamarak 3/4 bag which is 5 foot long, weighs less than a pound and can be unzipped to a quilt - paired with a warm down jacket and wool baselayer on legs when it gets cold. This will save me about 1.2 kg (nearly 3lbs) over my current setup. (PS - Yes, I know our tent is heavy, but it has so many advantages and we feel safe and snug in it. It also adds a lot to our warmth. I know others would prefer to carry less tent and more sleeping bag. We are all different :) )
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby Rockchucker » Sat May 17, 2014 6:35 am

I'm a huge fan of quilts, my 30* quilt is an ounce under a pound and oh so warm. I too like to pull something over my shoulders, even if it's just a sheet.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby Tom_H » Sun May 18, 2014 12:12 pm

I remember in the spring of '79 doing a 26 mile one day scouting trip while everything was still covered with snowpack. I knew I needed to be prepared to bivouac if we had any problem. Since I already had a parka rated for around -30, I simply added powder pants (snow camping style, not downhill skiing style) and booties. The powder pants weighed more than a half bag, but if a blizzard came up or I needed to move around in the night, the powder pants would keep me warm walking while the half bag couldn't. Also took a very thin, short, narrow Ensolite pad.

I haven't looked at powder pant construction in years. They used to have full side zippers so you could put them on and off easily, as well as a full crotch zipper that allowed bowel discharge while they were still on (god that was a blessing in -30 degrees with wind blowing). IDK for sure, but there may be some modern versions that use zippers allowing them to transform back and forth between powder pants and half bag. Sometimes you have to look in small specialty mom and pop places for stuff like this. The market is small and the only people who need it are those who do winter trips or climbing at extreme altitude.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun May 18, 2014 3:21 pm

If your purpose is to reduce weight for trips in typical 3-season Sierra backpacking conditions, a new high quality 20-30 degree sleeping bag (or equivalent blanket) is more efficient than clothes that double for sleeping. Because I do a lot of shoulder season backpacking and can afford only one sleeping bag, I use a 10-degree bag. In the summer I take minimal clothing. This means I am committed to tolerating cold mornings (gets me on the trail quickly!) and hunkering down in poor weather, fine with me since I hate to walk in rain and snow anyway. With the new 800-900 down, you can get a similar temperature rated bag for around 2 pounds or less. The good ones are expensive!

The clothing method, although versatile, in the end, weighs more for the same warmth. More nylon and zippers are needed to contain the same fill of down in a parka and insulated pants than a sleeping bag. My husband uses the clothing method because he is extremely claustrophobic and cannot tolerate a mummy bag. He is toasty warm in the mornings; does not even have to get out of his sleeping get-up. I am briefly envious! The flip side, is that his system weighs considerably more than mine. He had his elephant's foot custom made (Feathered Friends, in Seattle) and this item is very light. His top layer is a North Face Expedition parka (not light). He then has to also bring insulated gloves. And to stay warm his fleece layer is heavier than mine (200 wt fleece vs my 100-wt fleece).

If you are doing serious mountaineering, you have the expedition parka anyway but it is really overkill for general backpacking. In some mountaineering situations you have to be able to keep going in poor weather and if rope work is involved, the belayer is not able to keep moving to stay warm and you also have to be prepared to bivouac. People who use the clothing system have some very specific reasons they choose it, and reducing weight usually is not a criteria.
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Quilts

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon May 19, 2014 4:44 pm

Thanks Wandering Daisy, that's really helpful. I too suffer from sleeping bag claustrophobia, which means I can't zip up my bag, and can't bear the hood. (I have woken up facing the wrong way in my hood, unable to find the zipper, overheating. Horrible.) It's not a problem on less cold nights, I just use the bag as a quilt (a 1.6kg quilt!) but on cold nights it is an issue. I thought clothes would allow me to move about more and throw my arms and legs wherever I like etc (eg I often sleep on my back with my hands behind my head and elbows above my head, like I'm lying on a sunlounger! I don't do this deliberately, it just happens!) Most often, I sleep on my stomach with one leg bent out to the side. This is why my current sleeping bag is so wide (and therefore heavy!) - it has to accommodate this posture! I thought clothes would suit my sleeping style (!) better, as they would move with me. I don't think I'd go with the down pants though - I think I'd get too hot in those. But thanks for the suggestion Tom_H .

I really like the idea of a quilt, thanks to all who have suggested it.I'll look into the specific ones people have mentioned but any other suggestions very welcome! I do have a tight budget, but maybe can pick something up secondhand. Nice to have options anyway. :) I still think I'm going to factor warm clothes into the system, as I like to sit about camp a lot in the mornings and evenings (my favourite parts, often!) watching the sunrise etc, and clothes are more practical for this than a sleeping bag. And I really feel the cold (not used to it, coming from where i come from)!
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby Rockchucker » Mon May 19, 2014 4:56 pm

Enlightened Equipment hands down is a great quilt at a great price.
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Re: Sleeping Bag vs. Sleeping Clothes ?

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon May 19, 2014 4:59 pm

OK Great, and I love the name Enlightened Equipment. :) Thank you.
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