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Considering WM but I sleep cold

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Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby nwgarner » Thu May 06, 2010 9:34 pm

Hello,
I've been backpacking for about 4-5 years now. When I was first getting into the hobby I was trying to save money to make sure I really wanted to keep doing it. I bought a $40 Wenger sleeping bag, it must have been about 7 lbs. I used it a couple times and then bought a real bag, a Marmot Sawtooth 15. REI had it on sale for about $160. My problem with the bag is that I seem to be cold most of the time. I live in the SF bay area, south bay, Sunnyvale. Most of my backpacking hasn't been in hot weather. I did 15 miles in Big Sur in November and was shivering most of the time even though the outside temp was probably high-30's-low-40's. In April of this year I did the Ohlone Trail and decided to bring a liner this time and was very impressed with how warm and cozy I was. I was using one of those Thermolite Reactor Extreme's; which supposedly gives 25 degrees of warmth on top of your bag rating...

Well, it's time for a new bag. I'm very interested in getting a Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree bag. I'm hoping to pick it up tomorrow. The sawtooth has 600-fill down, this WM bag has 850 and weighs about half as much (I've been pursuing UL freedom since that Wegner bag 5 years ago).

So, the question for those folks who have gone through multiple bags in their backpacking career, do you feel that paying the money for better craftsmanship and better down, results in a warmer bag? I understand the lack of standards with bag temp ratings in the US at the moment and you shouldn't make a bag decision based on that but I'm curious nonetheless. What can I expect going from 600-fill Marmot 15 to 850-fill WM 20?

On a side note, I've read that what you eat for dinner can influence your warmth while sleeping. What are your recommendations for ensuring you sleep warm?

Thanks Folks!

Nick



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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby hikerduane » Thu May 06, 2010 10:47 pm

The "lite" series has a less robust material, so be careful unstuffing and I imagine any rough handling as they are recommended for experienced outdoor people per WM. I have three bags, ranging from 5-35 degrees. The warmest and closest to its temp rating is the 5 degree bag, otherwise, WM bags are supposed to have a conservative rating. What you eat, your level of hydration all effect how warm you sleep or what you need to stay warm. Items that can help you cheat are socks, wool cap, thermal underwear, sleeping bag liner, even gloves and to even snack during the night if needed.

You need to compare apples to apples with the down fill power. An oz. of 850 will be warmer than an oz. of 600 because it will have more loft. Think of it like house insulation, 10" of insulation is better than 6" of insulation. So you need less 850 to be as warm as 600 resulting in less weight. WM uses lightweight materials and their "lite" series is cut trimmer. Check out the measurements to see if they will work for you.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby homeranch » Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:34 am

in addition, socks flannel "jammies" and a hat help a bunch. If you head is out in the cold and your naked toes are at the end of the bag, you are cooling your self at two ends.

Also a chocolate bar just before bed helps, or hot coco.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby Jedi5150 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:36 pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who sleeps cold! :D

The manufacturer's temperature ratings are never even remotely close for me. I'm going to purchase a Wiggy's "Super Light" bag which is rated at 0 degrees f. I've heard that Wiggy's ratings are more honest than most companies and his bags have a great reputation for working even when you're wet. The bag weighs 4 pounds but I figure I'll make up the difference somewhere else. At least with a 0 degree rated bag I should be comfortable at 30 degrees f. :wink:
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:52 pm

Wiggy's uses a heavy version of Climashield. I've read a lot of good and bad about them....

Higher fill power down has my ongoing vote for the lightest and best insulation. I hate being cold. I went through the same curve of buying various bags and then moved to quilts to avoid the bulk - a 20F down quilt with 800+ fp down weighs less than a similarly (and accurately) rated 20F bag with 600 fp down, by far. And I have yet to be cold with the quilt.

Then I saw a 900+ fp down quilt - even lighter than the 800+ fp quilt I have, and just as warm. Now I have quilt envy....

The other appealing thing about down is it lasts for decades - rather than replacing a synthetic every few years I will not have to spend money on anything but washing the down quilts, which is optional since they are fairly simple to wash by hand, albeit time intensive.

I have looked at the WM bags in a store - if I were going to buy a bag, it would definitely be a WM. I don't doubt they would be adequately warm. They are high quality, worth the money.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby markskor » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:11 pm

Pull the trigger and get a 850 WM bag.

FYI, I am not a big fan of the Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree bag...little flimsy and tight. As long as you are considering spending that coin ($300+) why not get the best they have - something sturdier? I myself (bigger guy) love the next series up - I have the Badger.

The difference between what you now have and what you will buy will be so pronounced that you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. Trouble is, you will never be happy with any lesser bag again.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby freestone » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:50 pm

Trail Camp on the trail to Mount Whitney, August 21, 2010. Pictured is the WM Versalite "long" rated to 10 degrees. I have rocks at the foot and the head of the bag to keep it from blowing way, so please note the divots the rocks make on the loft of the bag. It was cold and windy, and I had no tent, but slept warm. I was amazed at how the wind failed to penetrate the loft. I have another WM bag that is rate to 32 degrees but I would never consider it for alpine settings. The 32 degree rating is okay for the Los Padres NF, but in the Sierra I prefer to err on the side of loft and warmth. We are in tough economic times and these bags are are not cheap, but it will be money wisely spent and will give you years of service. Down sides? The hood and draft collar cords seem to always be in my face.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby Bandito » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:25 am

What's your total sleep system? If I use a tarp or a tent I always sleep colder than when I use my bivy sack. Not exactly sure why, someone once told me that a bivy sack effectively adds 10 degrees to a bag's rating but I haven't independently verified that.
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby oldranger » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:07 am

I, too am a fan of WM. The Badger bag that Mark owns is the most comfortable bag I tried before purchasing the WM Alpinlite. The difference of more than 1/2 lb . and more compact size convinced me to go with the Alpinlite but the Alpinlite is roomier than most light bags. It is not rated as warm as the badger at 20 degrees but for sleeping in colder weather I sleep in 2 pairs of light long underwear and 100 wt fleece top over light silk t-neck with something on my head.

I've used a bivy sack just once and ended up pulling my bag out after a few minutes because the sack made me too warm even though temps got below freezing, this was with my old North Face Unimog in 2005 that I had bought in 1969 and had refurbished by North Face for free in the mid 90s. It is still a good bag to use at Trail heads and car camping and as a quilt, but is 1 1/2 lbs heavier than my WM bag.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Considering WM but I sleep cold

Postby Bandito » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:09 pm

oldranger wrote:I've used a bivy sack just once and ended up pulling my bag out after a few minutes because the sack made me too warm even though temps got below freezing,
No kidding, I always use a goretex bivy sack but I've never zipped up my bag inside of it; I usually leave a leg hanging out into the "sack" as tempeture control.

I've been considering loosing the bag all together in the summer and just taking a bivy and a fleece blanket.
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