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      Down Bag?     

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12/14/2013 08:13PM
Curious if anyone uses down bags in the winter. I will be double bagging for an upcoming trip, the first of which I need to outfit myself. Thinking about using a down bag as my outer insulation stuffed with a synthetic and would really appreciate any feedback regarding this. Thanks!
 
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PINETREE
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12/14/2013 09:40PM
Interesting combo,somebody much better than me could digest the setup as far as moisture wicking? Innie or outie on the down bag?


I have used a Western Mountaineering Lynx rated to -10 degrees F.. Had it out to about 10 degrees above and no problem.

For years I have a old slumberjack synthetic rated to -30 degrees F.. I have slept in it to a -35 degrees F. but also a a insulated snowmobile suit on also. I stayed nice and warm.

I don't trust the temperature ratings too far. I think the newer ones ratings are a little better,but don't think for most people that rating would not be one your nice and toasty in your bag.

One of the most important things is good insulation pad underneath you in the winter.
Merlin
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12/14/2013 09:58PM
I double bag with a down and synthetic bag. In the morning the outer bag will have frost on it. Because of the frost issue, I think it best to have the synthetic bag on the outside.
Soledad
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12/14/2013 10:23PM
When I used a two bag system, I had down on the inside and a larger synthetic outside. It worked well.

Now I use a -25 Western Mountaineering bag, and have been warm at -30. I do trust their temp ratings.
12/14/2013 10:26PM
I must have the same bag as soledad;). Slept in it last night and was super cozy. western mountaineering makes some awesome bags. One of the few major manufacturers where i would trust their ratings.

Agree with the recommendation for synthetic over/outer bag but it has to be big enough so as not to compress the down inner bag. If you have to unzip it and drape it over top.

A good pad is critical. At minimum a combination of a closed cell foam pad and a thermarest. I rock a downmat 9 over a zrest but any closed cell foam would do. The closed cell pad also serves as insurance incase of puncture.

tg
kanoes
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12/14/2013 10:43PM
wouldnt it be better to have down outside the synthetic? zero chance of down compression there.
12/14/2013 11:25PM
I have used a down Lost Ranger inside a down Yampa with an Exped9 at single digits. Warm enough to vent (wore just wool longies, glove liners, and a balaklava), at 5 degrees. Some frost on outer layer of outer bag, nothing that couldn't be shaken off in the mourning.
Slept in Lean1+

Article on winter sleep systems.

butthead

PS: Only out for 2 nites, but no trouble with bag (down), wetting. Might be a problem over a longer period of use. km
12/14/2013 11:46PM
Unmentioned item, dealing with breathing condensation. When it gets to the point of wetting and frosting the opening I like to drape a microfiber towel bib-like to catch most of it.

butthead
12/15/2013 12:36AM
quote kanoes: "wouldnt it be better to have down outside the synthetic? zero chance of down compression there."
not to dismiss the importance of compression but the primary reasoning for synthetic outside is to prevent wetting of your down bag. the outer layer is going to be where perspired moisture cools enough to freeze. when I use my -25 bag alone I get a frost on the outside of the bag (fortunately I have a hot tent to dry things out and keep me warm if I do lose performance from my bag...but most of my trips are short enough and my bag can afford to lose some degree of performance before it impacts my comfort). its preferable to have that moisture get trapped in your synthetic bag where it doesn't affect loft or performance as opposed to losing the loft in your down. the moisture resistant downs may be game changers in this respect.

tg
12/15/2013 09:13AM
Thanks, folks. We are only going to be out for 4 nights, and you all pretty much addressed my concerns; if I put the down on the inside I am concerned about the compression and on the outside I m concerned about moisture. I like Ken's idea of the bib.

Slept outside last night in my backyard and was certainly warm enough, although there was some frost from my breath. It shook out easy enough as it was cold enough to freeze, but if it is warmer I may be concerned about the moisture part.

The bags are a Nemo Strato Loft (down) and a Big Agnes Whiskey Park. The Nemo has more space in it which is why I want that on the outside. I do have a couple of mummy bags that would probably fit just fine inside the Whiskey, but I do not like mummy bags, especially in the shoulder area as they are way to constricting.
PortageKeeper
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12/15/2013 09:21AM
IMO, the only time that one bag should be used inside another is when It is a system that is made for doing just that. That being said, if a person is to do it, use the synthetic bag on the outside. You are probably not going to get away with it for long though, as the outer bag is eventually going to act as a barrier, keeping moisture in the inner down bag. Most adults are not going to find a bag that fits over the other as loose as it should. Better to use it as a quilt, as TG stated. In winter, I don't even care for a DWR treated bag, as that coating acts as a barrier all by itself. Your best sleep/shelter system will be one that transfers moisture from your body, through your sleeping bag and eventually collect as frost on the underside of your rain fly. In the morning, carefully remove the fly and shake the frost off.
12/15/2013 09:31AM
You should try a mummy as an inner. I like the room and use a semi rectangular most seasons but now go to a mummy when it gets cold. Added a 0 degree Pomer Hoit bag to the pile 2 years ago, with the Exped9 good as low as 0 (my actual use, but single bagged), and I think beyond.

butthead
Merlin
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12/15/2013 10:09AM
Ive got to disagree with you PortageKeeper. My experience has been as tg describes. The moisture moves out and condenses and freezes in the outer bag. After several days my inner down bag has always been bone dry. My outer bag, not so much. If you are sleeping in an unheated shelter the moisture will always condense and freeze/frost on the outer part of your bag/bags. That's why I suggest a synthetic bag on the outside.

12/15/2013 10:10AM
I have a closed cell pad and an Exped 9 downmat, so I am not worried about the ground; my bottom side was toasty last night and it was 10 degrees pretty much all night. I might try portage keepers suggestion to use the Whisky Park as a quilt over one of my synthetic bags, but that will need to wait until next weekend. Thanks, folks!
PortageKeeper
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12/15/2013 10:39AM
quote Merlin: "Ive got to disagree with you PortageKeeper. My experience has been as tg describes. The moisture moves out and condenses and freezes in the outer bag. After several days my inner down bag has always been bone dry. My outer bag, not so much. If you are sleeping in an unheated shelter the moisture will always condense and freeze/frost on the outer part of your bag/bags. That's why I suggest a synthetic bag on the outside.


"

That is basically what I said...

"That being said, if a person is to do it, use the synthetic bag on the outside. You are probably not going to get away with it for long though, as the outer bag is eventually going to act as a barrier, keeping moisture in the inner down bag"

Once the outer bag has moisture that can freeze, it is no longer allowing as much moisture to escape from the inner bag. Most probably will skate by for a few days, but this is something that will eventually fail unless the outer bag gets a chance to dry out.
12/15/2013 11:30AM
quote Frenchy19: "

The bags are a Nemo Strato Loft (down) and a Big Agnes Whiskey Park. The Nemo has more space in it which is why I want that on the outside. "


Don't forget that big hawg Nemo bag has the new Downtek water resistant down, might give you a little more peace of mind.
12/15/2013 11:55AM
quote Ragged: "quote Frenchy19: "


The bags are a Nemo Strato Loft (down) and a Big Agnes Whiskey Park. The Nemo has more space in it which is why I want that on the outside. "



Don't forget that big hawg Nemo bag has the new Downtek water resistant down, might give you a little more peace of mind."


Good point. We are only out for four nights, so unless it rains I should be okay no matter what I eventually decide.
Merlin
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12/15/2013 12:03PM
quote PortageKeeper: "quote Merlin: "Ive got to disagree with you PortageKeeper. My experience has been as tg describes. The moisture moves out and condenses and freezes in the outer bag. After several days my inner down bag has always been bone dry. My outer bag, not so much. If you are sleeping in an unheated shelter the moisture will always condense and freeze/frost on the outer part of your bag/bags. That's why I suggest a synthetic bag on the outside.



"

That is basically what I said...


"That being said, if a person is to do it, use the synthetic bag on the outside. You are probably not going to get away with it for long though, as the outer bag is eventually going to act as a barrier, keeping moisture in the inner down bag"


Once the outer bag has moisture that can freeze, it is no longer allowing as much moisture to escape from the inner bag. Most probably will skate by for a few days, but this is something that will eventually fail unless the outer bag gets a chance to dry out.
"


Got it. However, that is nothing unique to a double bag system. If you don't get a chance to dry out a single bag it will eventually fail as well. I would argue that a lighter synthetic outer bag would be easier to dry than a winter rated single bag.
Doughboy12
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12/15/2013 03:51PM
My experiance Friday night: -22 degrees at 10pm
My gear: North Face 0 degree Elkhorn mummy INSIDE a 30+ year old off brand 30 degree large mummy. 2 leters of hot water in water bottle parkas in the bottom.
Keep all but my outer wear on. As it warmed through the night I had to keep removing layers after first pulling the water bottles out of the bottom. I was TOO warm as the night went on and the temperature rose. It was -7 and blowing when we got up. I was NEVER cold in my bags.
Edit: I have a thermorest acordian closed cell mat under a REI uninsulated 1" self inflating mat.
12/15/2013 05:44PM
quote Doughboy12: "My experiance Friday night: -22 degrees at 10pm
My gear: North Face 0 degree Elkhorn mummy INSIDE a 30+ year old off brand 30 degree large mummy. 2 leters of hot water in water bottle parkas in the bottom.
Keep all but my outer wear on. As it warmed through the night I had to keep removing layers after first pulling the water bottles out of the bottom. I was TOO warm as the night went on and the temperature rose. It was -7 and blowing when we got up. I was NEVER cold in my bags.
Edit: I have a thermorest acordian closed cell mat under a REI uninsulated 1" self inflating mat. "


Doughboy-Is this a down in a synthetic setup?
PortageKeeper
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12/15/2013 11:29PM
quote Merlin: "quote PortageKeeper: "quote Merlin: "Ive got to disagree with you PortageKeeper. My experience has been as tg describes. The moisture moves out and condenses and freezes in the outer bag. After several days my inner down bag has always been bone dry. My outer bag, not so much. If you are sleeping in an unheated shelter the moisture will always condense and freeze/frost on the outer part of your bag/bags. That's why I suggest a synthetic bag on the outside.



"

That is basically what I said...



"That being said, if a person is to do it, use the synthetic bag on the outside. You are probably not going to get away with it for long though, as the outer bag is eventually going to act as a barrier, keeping moisture in the inner down bag"



Once the outer bag has moisture that can freeze, it is no longer allowing as much moisture to escape from the inner bag. Most probably will skate by for a few days, but this is something that will eventually fail unless the outer bag gets a chance to dry out.
"



Got it. However, that is nothing unique to a double bag system. If you don't get a chance to dry out a single bag it will eventually fail as well. I would argue that a lighter synthetic outer bag would be easier to dry than a winter rated single bag."


Right, but the whole idea is for body heat to transfer moisture out beyond the surface of the bag. This is less likely to happen with a two bag system. A system that works as it should will not gain moisture, unless it is damp weather.
Merlin
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12/16/2013 06:13AM
PortagKeeper...

Why is this less likely with a two bag system? The only difference I see between a one and two bag systems is the ability to separate the bags. Both systems should function the same way in shedding (or not) shedding moisture.

Doughboy12
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12/16/2013 09:35AM
quote Frenchy19: "quote Doughboy12: "My experiance Friday night: -22 degrees at 10pm
My gear: North Face 0 degree Elkhorn mummy INSIDE a 30+ year old off brand 30 degree large mummy. 2 leters of hot water in water bottle parkas in the bottom.
Keep all but my outer wear on. As it warmed through the night I had to keep removing layers after first pulling the water bottles out of the bottom. I was TOO warm as the night went on and the temperature rose. It was -7 and blowing when we got up. I was NEVER cold in my bags.
Edit: I have a thermorest acordian closed cell mat under a REI uninsulated 1" self inflating mat. "



Doughboy-Is this a down in a synthetic setup? "

Nope both are Synthetic...I am "allergic" to down. it makes me wake up all stuffed up so I don't buy down bags nor coats. It sucks for packing size but not if your gear gets wet.
Papinator
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12/16/2013 11:33AM
We've done reflectix under our sleeping pads, in the sleeping bags with a large down blanket over the top - worked really well. I didn't have too much moisture issues as it was mostly trapped around the opening of my sleeping bag.
Papinator
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12/16/2013 11:35AM
While we use a hot tent, we don't keep the fire going through the night so it's bone cold in the morning, hence the moisture.
Arlo Pankook
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12/16/2013 11:42AM
I started using a 30 deg. down for my outer bag instead of my old synthetic and I feel I have more moisture issues now.

I think you have to go with whichever bag fits inside the other best.

Anyone ever use an old sleeping bag around a pad for extra insulation?
PortageKeeper
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12/16/2013 12:02PM
quote Merlin: "PortagKeeper...


Why is this less likely with a two bag system? The only difference I see between a one and two bag systems is the ability to separate the bags. Both systems should function the same way in shedding (or not) shedding moisture.

"

Well, you said it yourself... "My experience has been as tg describes. The moisture moves out and condenses and freezes in the outer bag."

I have never had this problem with a single bag system. The moisture continues up to the rain fly. This especially holds true if you leave a candle lantern burn through the night (a whole new can of worms).
Let's just say that 'it is my opinion' that the difference lies in the two added layers of rip-stop nylon, Pertex or whatever outer layers the second bag has. IMO, those two layers are a hindrance to the moisture that is trying to escape.

To each their own. My choice is a one bag system.
tonyyarusso
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12/16/2013 12:49PM
I use down for everything, even when double-bagging. I just brush any frost off in the morning and everything's fine. Anything frozen is on the surface, not in the down, so it doesn't matter. Having a "bib" of some sort for your breath helps a lot in that spot.
Doughboy12
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12/16/2013 01:31PM
quote tonyyarusso: "I use down for everything, even when double-bagging. I just brush any frost off in the morning and everything's fine. Anything frozen is on the surface, not in the down, so it doesn't matter. Having a "bib" of some sort for your breath helps a lot in that spot."
...And if you plan on being out for an extended period you would be surprised at how well direct sunlight will let things "dry" durring the day.
PINETREE
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12/16/2013 02:08PM
quote Doughboy12: "quote tonyyarusso: "I use down for everything, even when double-bagging. I just brush any frost off in the morning and everything's fine. Anything frozen is on the surface, not in the down, so it doesn't matter. Having a "bib" of some sort for your breath helps a lot in that spot."
...And if you plan on being out for an extended period you would be surprised at how well direct sunlight will let things "dry" durring the day."


That's what we do,hang them out if the sun is out,even if cold they will dry pretty good,just make sure your close by if it starts to snow or something so you don't end up worse than when you started.
01/02/2014 10:46AM
Also, make sure they are tied to something if it the littlest bit windy. Down bags can go a long way in the wind, trust me on this.
01/02/2014 11:22AM
quote buz: "Also, make sure they are tied to something if it the littlest bit windy. Down bags can go a long way in the wind, trust me on this."
sounds like a good story:)
Lonelake
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01/02/2014 08:54PM
I have always used a two bag system. I have stayed for extended periods(5 days or more) with temps varying from 10 above to 30below F. I have never had a compression, or moisture issue at all. 5degree mummy (down), as the inner. 30 degree rectangular (synthetic), as the outer. 2 bag camping has been happening in my circles since my father's time......has never failed me.

LL
Dances with Sheep
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01/04/2014 05:57PM
quote tonyyarusso: " Having a "bib" of some sort for your breath helps a lot in that spot."

+1
DanCooke
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01/04/2014 06:01PM
I have used a 2 bag system for over 40years. For me I have found that moisture will condense in the outer bag, usually just below cover materiel. It usually is no problem that an hour in the sun does not solve, unless you bury your head down into the bag.

I use a Big Agnes Encampment15° as my inner and a Big Agnes Park series 15°. I would say synthetic outside and down inside. I wish i had planned better and had my zippers on the same side. I use a Exped Downmat 9 on the inner bag sleeve and a 1/2" closed cell foam pad in the outer bags sleeve. I use a fleece neck gaiter to cover my lower face and a fleece stocking hat on my head. I usually sleep in my base layer long underwear and socks with my Muckkmates over my socks. I made a supplex nylon top / sil nylon lower over bag, that is large enough to keep all my clothes in the over bag for quick retrieval. This past Wednesday 1/1/2014 I was sleeping on the ground with no overhead shelter at -35°.

My first choice would be down inside synthetic on the outside, the other way works, as well from my experience, it just would not be my preference.
01/06/2014 09:36AM
TG,

The down bag story is actually a summer one. Buddy put the bag out to dry, was breezy, we got doing other things, look over, bag goooone.

WTF, we see it floating in lake at least 250 + yards away, heading away from our spot, fast. Hop in canoe, took about 10 minute paddle to catch up with it. Was a little wetter then when we started, but actually not tooo bad. Luckily nice breezy sunny day that day dried it out. Tie in or weigh down for me from that day on.
01/06/2014 12:05PM
quote buz: "TG,


The down bag story is actually a summer one. Buddy put the bag out to dry, was breezy, we got doing other things, look over, bag goooone.


WTF, we see it floating in lake at least 250 + yards away, heading away from our spot, fast. Hop in canoe, took about 10 minute paddle to catch up with it. Was a little wetter then when we started, but actually not tooo bad. Luckily nice breezy sunny day that day dried it out. Tie in or weigh down for me from that day on."


Nice, glad no down was harmed:)
Moss Tent
Guest Paddler
 
01/07/2014 09:46AM
Some observations from many nights of cold camping--

A VBL can be used to good effect to keep moisture out of the bag. IMO if your body is producing enough moisture through sweat to ice up your bag, you are sleeping too hot--and if it's unavoidable, a VBL with a thinner bag can be the ticket.

Also, when I had the privilege of using a friend's FF Snowy Owl bag in the -30's, there was no icing or condensation. Had merino underlayer on, it was a dream.

I think the vast majority of moisture in the tent comes from breathing, and it piles up in an enclosed space. I always make sure to have good ventilation--usually when it's really cold, the air is so dry that if you vent the tent well, any ice tending to form will just sublimate.

BTW I'm talking exclusively about cold camping in a tent. In snow shelters I have used mostly synthetics, because I usually find them damp--and warmer, so for the same weight bag you can get away with synthetic rather than warmer down.

My 2 cents.
 
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