Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

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Ashery
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Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by Ashery » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:07 pm

Besides weight, what do high end bags like Western Mountaineering have going for them?

I need a new bag. Period. I'm currently using an REI Flash that I bought on limited knowledge when I first got into the hobby a couple years back, and the faults of that bag have played a large role in my poor sleeping habits. And I've realized that those habits aren't sustainable in the long run. For those that don't know, that bag is a down/synthetic hybrid, with down on top and synthetic on the bottom. Now, this could be workable if you're the type that easily sleeps through the night, but for someone that tosses and turns? It's an absolute pain to work around. And these issues are only compounded by my pad, but more on that later.

So, while returning from a recent trip, I decided to swing by Eastside Sports to see what they had, and their selection is largely limited to two options: Western Mountaineering and Kelty. And the price difference between the two, at least for the 20F bags I was looking at, was over $400. That's not exactly a small amount. The question, however, is whether that's a justifiable amount. I technically have the money to buy one, but a major reason why I have that money to begin with is because I haven't gone and spent it on some similarly expensive toy in the past.

And that's a lot of money just to shave off a few ounces.

Are closed cell pads still viable?

From what I'm seeing, there aren't a whole lot of options here. The only two available, that I can recall from the top of my head, are by Therm-A-Rest: the accordion (Which I have), and the one that rolls up. I may well end up giving in and going with an inflatable, but I've never been comfortable with how they can fail.

I've been considering doubling up on pads in an effort to be comfortable when I'm on my side, but two closed cell pads would become incredibly bulky. Another option would be to do one of each type, as the closed cell could both serve as a way to reduce punctures and as a backup in case the inflatable has a catastrophic failure. Though I also recall many nights, after a day of cross country and a bit of bushwhacking, where I've had numerous thorns and other prickly things stuck in my current pad.

Also not a fan of the potential for having to reinflate during the night. I'm the type of sleeper that's prone to being unable to fall back asleep if I wake up during the night and do anything more than rolling over to a new position.

Seems like my ideal would be a closed cell option that's just a bit thicker than the options offered by Therm-A-Rest.

What are some good wide-ish shoe recommendations?

I've been using Merrel's Moab Ventilators for a bit over two years now, and they're pretty much on death's door. They've been decent to me, with the main issue being persistent blister issues on the outsides of my big and pinkie toes, but I'd like to try to find something that actually fits me well. And if that doesn't sound like a "decent" fit to you, well, it's actually better than most shoes I've tried, backpacking or otherwise.

In terms of the blister issue, the Moab's are 0.5 sizes above my baseline. I've tried using medical tape to prevent blisters before they formed and had had some success...when the tape stayed in place. There've been instances where just putting my sock back on, while trying to not rub it up against the tape, has moved the tape. As a result, I haven't even bothered with it on recent trips. I have not, however, tried that other stuff that's akin to medical tape but with more staying power that I've seen mentioned on these forums.

I've tried Altra Lone Peaks in the past, but the hard band of material on the upper part of the shoe, just behind the toes, was incredibly uncomfortable when I put the shoe on, and outright painful when taking just a few steps around the store.

I used "wide-ish" above because my feet don't appear to be quite as wide as some folks here, but they're definitely wide enough to make regular shoes incredibly uncomfortable for me. And on the flip side of that, I just ordered a pair of Luna's, and my feet had an almost perfect fit on their size eight printout, with my feet only flirting with being too wide for'em. Really hoping those work out, as just getting my feet out of a shoe for a few hours a day will probably help a lot on the blister front.

General preference is to avoid Gore-Tex, but I'm open to everything else.








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rlown
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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by rlown » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:19 pm

WM bags also shed water and condensation better than other bags. Worth every penny.

As the air temp lowers, you do occasionally have to breathe into your pad. PV=nRT.. If you hurt your pad, well, that is what the patch kit and the duct tape are for.

I've had the blister issue as well on both pinky toes; even kicked off my right big toenail. Forgot to wet the toes first before ripping off the socks; amazing how that hurts. All of that magically went away with REI smartwool socks. I used to wear a liner and then the sock. liner gone. It's been smooth sailing after 5 years.

Boots are a personal choice and you need to try them on. I do Vasque asolos. I've heard Zamberlan are good as well. A friend bought some when he had a delamination issue. Goretex never bugged me.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by rayfound » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:11 pm

Never used a WM bag, but also consider the Enlightened Equipment quits. Just got mine (maiden night tomorrow) but it is just 26oz for a 10F rating, Long/Wide configuration and I think it will actually be better for side/stomach sleeping.

I have very wide feet also - have been happy with my altra Lone peak trail runners. They run wide in the toe area.

I can't sleep on a foam pad. If you can, I think your idea of pairing a foam pad with a super light (maybe even uninsulated, since the foam will give you insulation) inflatable for comfort is about perfect. That said, I have had an inflatable fail on me once due to external carry and snagging it, and it really sucked, but was repairable and one bad night isn't the end of the world. The smaller, non-self-inflating styles pack much smaller.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by paul » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:20 pm

Thermarest makes one closed cell pad that is a bit thicker and warmer than the basic ridgerest or the z-rest. Bulkier and heavier, of course, but not so much as two pads would be.

https://www.thermarest.com/mattresses/c ... st-solar-1

You might also consider a combination of full length z-rest or ridgerest, and half length of the other type. With the different configuration of convolutions stacked, you should get as much cushion as possible, while the short pad gives you cushion where you need it under the torso and the full length gives you insulation where you don't need so much cushioning.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by The Other Tom » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:02 pm

Keen shoes tend to have a wider toe box than other brands.
Ditto what Russ said about wool socks. I wear Darn Tough brand of socks and they fit like gloves, thus reducing rubbing which causes blisters.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by maverick » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:15 pm

And that's a lot of money just to shave off a few ounces.
Sting won't be as bad, if you consider this Ashery: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... 10&t=11017

La Sportiva, Keen, Altra, New Balance in E's, some Lowa and Oboz models.
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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by Dave_Ayers » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:21 pm

I've had very good results with Saucony Excursion trail runners the past two years. Two other folks I know are wearing them with good results. The men's models can be had in EE width. I've had TR8's, TR9', and am now wearing TR10's. I haven't yet tried the latest TR11's. Very comfy and they last about 500 miles or so before the sole gets slippy. Plus they can be had at DSW for only $60. About 24 ounces in size 11.5 EE. See http://www.saucony.com/en/excursion-tr1 ... 2jmi91zhlo and https://www.dsw.com/en/us/product/sauco ... width=Wide .

NB Fresh Foam trail runners fit well but were a disaster for me back in '15. Though I did have great fun stitching and patching them so I could finish the JMT. The uppers simply aren't up to snuff and the soles get slippery in only about 250 miles.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:22 pm

I have used a WM 5-degree Super Antelope since 2002. It still has the same loft, zipper never stuck (and I zip up and down a lot!), very few feathers lost, washed it twice and and it still looks nearly new. The water resistent outer fabric (which I paid an extra $100 for) is now broken down enough (due to repeated stuffing) that I am not sure, long term, if it is worth the cost. If you special order the bag they will make it any length, either side zipper, and you have a choice of several outer fabrics. WM bags are also conservatively rated for temperature and use the EN rating. My bag is 750 down- which at that time was the highest rating down. Now most of their bags are 800 down. Much of the extra cost is the quality of the GOOSE down. Cheaper down bags are often made of duck down. My old WM bag is heavier than the same new bag, due to the higher rating down. But a new bag would cost nearly $800 which is not worth the half pound. Great that the bag is so well made that it really "lasts a lifetime". The other side of that coin is that technology progresses so in about 10 years you can get the same temperature rated bag for less weight. The only thing I do not like about my bag is it does not have a true draft collar but a cinch system that mimics a draft collar. Women's bags were not available at that time, so the shoulder girth is way too big for me.

I cannot say much about the new "dry" duck down. It is supposed to be water resistant (the down itself, not the bag material). I am still skeptical. You really need some long term use data to evaluate it.

As for sleeping pads, I cut a closed cell pad (the REI blue pad) into two approx. 3x3 pieces. Depending on conditions, I take one or two. For hip and shoulder comfort I add the thinnest 8-oz Thermarest (Prolite) x-small inflatable. The blue pad(s) are the backupu. One blue square (foot area) always comes with me, and I use it as a camp sit-pad too. Summer the second pad is added under hips. Cold weather I have another blue pad cut to exactly fit me (I am short) that goes from foot to top of shoulder. I use my pack as my pillow. Each blue square is 2.5 oz. So total pad weight is from 10.5-15 oz. My husband has the small Thremarest Pro-lite (11 oz). Sometimes I use his wiht just one blue square. I like the REI blue pad because it is cheap and you can cut it to exactly fit. They squish down after a while, but then only is about $20 to replace.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by Ashery » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:36 pm

@rlown

It's still a lot of pennies, :D

And thanks for further convincing me to stick to closed cell, :p

Been using Darn Toughs since I started, so I've already got that side covered. I actually need to send one of my pairs back as they've developed some minor holes recently, but I'll likely wait until the end of the season.

Definitely agree on needing to try shoes on, but you need to start somewhere. Some brands also aren't as readily available, and even when there is a store listed nearby or on the way to somewhere, it's not uncommon for the store to have gone out of business or just no longer carry the product.

Not a big fan of Gore-Tex because it makes "failure" worse. Sure, your feet will stay drier under a number of conditions, but when they do get wet, they also take substantially longer to dry. I'd rather frequently deal with a few hours of wet feet than have to put on cold, wet boots even on just one or two mornings. Though you could make an argument that my new sandals should be worn whenever I expect my feet to get wet.

@rayfound

Hadn't considered going with a quilt. Let me know how your experience is with it.

As mentioned, Lone Peak's don't work for me due to the hard band of material above and behind the toes.

One bad night's definitely not the end of the world. If it were, I would've given up this hobby a couple months after I got into it, :p

@paul

Hah! Hadn't thought of looking at Thermarest's main site directly. Thanks for the link; that looks right up my alley.

Also like the idea of going with one full and one partial pad.

@The Other Tom

Will keep Keen's in mind. They're readily available in a number of places, but sadly none are currently on sale at REI.

@maverick

PM sent, <3

Will keep those brands in mind.

@Dave_Ayers

How slippy is slippy at 500mi? Pretty sure my Merrel's are a little bit beyond that, though it definitely felt like the traction wasn't quite what it had been in the past on my recent trips.

Regardless, though, it looks like there's a bunch of retailers that carry them around the LA area, so it'll be pretty easy for me to try a pair on in a physical store.

@Wandering Daisy

Seems like my Flash sheds a bit of down every time I use it, :/

Thanks for the input, and I'm in complete agreement that half a pound isn't worth $800. A high quality bag, however, definitely could be.

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Re: Assorted questions (Sleep, wide feet)

Post by Hobbes » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:10 am

Jeff, volumes have been written about "buy cheap, buy twice" on may different subjects. You're around 30, right? If treated correctly (stored open, hand washed, etc), a WM bag will literally last you the rest of your life. Unlike synthetic fill, poor quality down or cheap construction, a high quality bag pays for itself over time.

The question of pads always come down to one essential question: are you a side or back sleeper? Side sleepers tend to need air mattresses to get a good night's sleep (because of shoulder/hip points). I'm a side sleeper, but usually took a CCF (closed cell foam eg Z Lite or plain old Wally blue CCF) because I didn't care; I was more concerned about simplicity & durability, rather than comfort. If you're already a back sleeper, then you don't even have to make concessions.

The other issue is whether you are a cold sleeper. This gets back to your bag and sleep clothes, as well as the ground temperature. A fly weight top + bottom goes a long way towards helping sleep warmer. Once you're on snow or the weather is actually beginning to get cold, then you can elect to double up your pads. A combination of an air mattress (eg Neo Xlite) + CCF will provide more than enough insulation from ground chill.

Lastly, Altra seems to bring out a new model of their Altra every 9 months or so. While they keep the same essential wide toe-box & zero heel drop, they do change up other dimensions/materials/fit. I've been wearing them since version 1, and they're now up to 3.0. Some of the others from the meet-up wear them as well - all tend to agree they're the best shoes they've ever worn. You might also be aware that you can't get a PCT permit without wearing a pair. (Just kidding, but it seems like around 90% of the hikers this year wore the Lone Peaks.)

Here's one of many reviews, with a nice click bait lede, that still ends with a positive conclusion:
https://runrepeat.com/altra-lone-peak-3-0

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