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Thread: New sleeping bag for fall, winter hunting. Any suggestions?

  1. #1
    Member billy jack's Avatar
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    Default New sleeping bag for fall, winter hunting. Any suggestions?

    Well I about froze this week up on the Haul rd 5 miles off the rd. Been using an old Slumberjack for about 9 yrs now and I got rid of her after this last trip north. I'm looking for a new bag for fall and winter hunting. Weight is a big factor, the lighter the better. I've got a Kifaru pack and was leaning on gettin a Kifaru bag, but am comsidering a North Face or a Mountain Hardwear bag too. Bag will be used for sheep, goat, moose and caribou hunting in Aug-Feb.
    Any suggestions and recommendations would be appreciated.

    Thanks Billy
    It's a Jeep thing, you wouldn't understand.

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    Member Trappnguns's Avatar
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    Down or synthetic?
    TrappHouseOutdoors@HuntFishAK

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    marmot or mountain hardwear down bags. i have a marmot hydrogen, 30F, and the 15F bag. Great bags. you will get both down and synthetic supporters. I have never had any issues with my down bags in the alaska wilderness or elsewhere.

    looking for down and synthetic, and how far into the Alaskan fall/winter? if you want a true alaskan winter bag, you're looking at least a 0 bag, and then i would really consider down because of the dry/cold weather.

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Aug to Feb and weight is a concern. You could get a wiggys but weight is an issue. I have a North Face Meow +20 that works through SEP, add a gortex bivy and longer but if you want to stay warm in JAN and FEB you need more like the wiggys bag, warmer than the current 3 layer military system. Kids have Big Agnes bags that work in the North Face range too that we got on Steep and Cheep for less than $100.

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    Member billy jack's Avatar
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    Well I probably won't be using it in Dec-Feb, I've got some USGI Army Extreme cold weather bags for those months when hunting off of a snowmachine. I'd prefer a synthetic instead of down, incase it gets wet and I need to dry it. I'd like a zero degree bag.
    My layer underneath usually consist of 2 ylayers of polypropylene underwear, gloves, watch cap amd heavy wool socks. I'd still like a light and fairly compact bag, for hunting, since weight and size always is a factor.
    It's a Jeep thing, you wouldn't understand.

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    I just got a Wiggy's Glacier Hunter and it looks like a great bag. I'll be testing it in the mountains next week, it's rated at 15 degrees. I think the NF Cat's Meow is a good 20 degree synthetic for the money. Any of the better bags from TNF, Marmot, Mountain Hardware etc are worth a look. I guess the first thing you will want to decide is down or syn.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    If you're looking for a late fall/winter bag for the relatively dry Interior then down would be my first choice for warmth vs weight, particularly for human powered endeavors. I've been using a Western Mountaineering Badger this year and like it quite a bit.

    I also have a synthetic (primaloft I think) Mountain Hardwear that I don't particularly like. It sleeps colder than my WM despite a 20 deg colder rating. It also isn't sized as generously and feels too restrictive despite weighing considerably more.

    I also have a Wiggys that I like lot- it is the warmest but heaviest and bulkiest bag I own and I usually take it if I have vehicle support.

    I guess it boils down to priorities about what features are important. The whole down vs synthetic argument will likely get spun up again in this thread but that's the crux of it IMHO.

  8. #8

    Default Montbell-super spiral

    Check out Montbell. I really like there sleeping bags. They are pretty comfortable for a synethic bag. I have a super spiral in 15 degree.
    http://www.montbell.us/products/disp...8&p_id=2321117

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    There are many good sleeping bags available today as listed above but I'd also include Big Agnes and Integral Designs to that list. For synthetic fill, Primaloft seems to be most effective for me. I do like the Big Agnes system that includes mattress and bivy all sized as a unit.

    I've talked with friends that test gear here at US Army CRTC [cold regions test center] and they are of the opinion that there are no secrets in sleeping bags and no magic wand......look for quality construction and materials especially zippers. Size the bag large enough to allow you to turn over without busting seams and zippers. Look for features like shoulder baffles and zipper guards that prevent zipping thin material into the zipper.

    Two of those testers also stated that there is one popular brand out there that is a functional bag but so much BS and "carnival barker" sales pitches turned them off.

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    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
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    Call me a carnival barker.

    But get yourself a bag that you would use on a goat hunt.

    Set it up in a tent then destroy your tent (as the wind can) and pour water in your bag. Do this a couple times a day for 4 days. In September.
    If you do not succumb to hypothermia by the time the PJ's get to you, you've got a good bag.

    Only a damm fool uses a down bag in Alaska because it is useless in a 5-day storm if it is wet. Just stop thinking like a wuss and you will carry enough bag to save your ***.

    So tired of re-teaching this lesson.

    Taylor

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Forget the web and cabellas go to sportsmans warehouse and get a non-down bag like Taylor suggests!





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  12. #12
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    Forget the web and cabellas go to sportsmans warehouse and get a non-down bag like Taylor suggests!
    Or better yet, go see Taylor

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    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Or better yet, go see Taylor
    Yes, after billy jack reads Taylors reply I'm sure he'll think......"I wanna do business with this guy!"??

    Taylor, lighten up! Jeeeez....

  14. #14
    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
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    Nothing scary about me. Anyone who knows me or has dealt with me knows that.

    Just growing weary of the stories of "nothing has happened to me yet". When it does, YOU MAY NOT COME BACK.

    My buddy who just survived one of these experiences made my toes curl with the story of how he and his tent got TOSSED into the air by a gust of wind. He wound up wrapping himself in his rain fly. Drenched. Day after day for 4 days. Until the PJs came for him.

    Similar tales come out of Unit 9 every year. Just ask around.

    Yeah, save yourself a few ounces and take a down bag. GREAT idea.

    Taylor

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    Member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Default I hope you're not calling me a fool or a wuss, Marc...

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Taylor View Post

    Only a damm fool uses a down bag in Alaska because it is useless in a 5-day storm if it is wet. Just stop thinking like a wuss and you will carry enough bag to save your ***.
    Because I usually use down bags in Alaska, and everywhere else.

    Down bags aren't for everyone in every place. Neither are synthetics. Keeping a tent from blowing away and a bag dry are learned skills. People should decide for themselves what gear is appropriate. The answers aren't the same for everyone.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    I appreciate the input, Buck. Another good 'side of the story' from someone who truly has been there, done that...

  17. #17
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Hello folks, for a fall sleeping bag, I just can't seem to get away from a 3 piece army sleeping bag for all season. Here is my usual yearly schedule:

    In the spring/summer I camp on the Yukon river and other rivers of the Yukon for about 60 days. I only bring the lightweight layer and gore tex bivvy

    In the fall, I camp for moose caribou and bear in the interior.

    Carbibou....I only pack the mid weight layer and the gore tex bivvy

    Moose/bear/late fall......I usually bring all thee layers.

    October.......I hike to my remote property because the ground starts to freeze and makes for easier hiking. I use all three layers. Sometimes in my "stupid" years, I slept right on the ground. I now realize that although I stayed warm, I had no cover and I was alone miles from the road.....what the fck would I have done if a bear ram-sacked me in my sleep and I was all zipped up like this? That .45 sig in my sleeping bag would have been useless.

    December-April...... I use all three layers and spend a week at a time Ice fishing from a tent or an ice house on remote lakes in combination with hunting for fur.

    The gore tex bivvy has helped when setting up in a torrential down pour. You just shake it off once the tent is set up in the rain, and then wipe the gore tex dry. It keeps the bag dry and breathes just fine. I once got too drunk to drive home from a party on the lake. I ended up pulling out the sleeping bag and slept through an a torrential all-night down pour of rain. I learned that this type of versatility would be of great bennefit if my tent got damaged, or all I had was a sleeping bag with gore-tex bivvy.

    The next-gen three layer is not heavy at all. We have slept in below zero weather when the wood stove has gone out in the tent and the ice shack.

    Complaints:
    At 220lbs and six foot tall, my shoulders don't have much room and I can't sprawl out like I wish I could. The toe box sometimes gets chilly. It aint a fancy expensive sleeping bag like some folks want. The zippers of the three combined layers gets annoying sometimes.

  18. #18
    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
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    Well, maybe I need to be taught how to keep a tent from being blown away in a hurricane that sits over my tent for 5 days.

    Do I think ANYONE should walk from Canada to Kotzebue with a down bag? NOPE. I would advise no one, not even Buck Nelson to do that. Sorry, but we both know YOU may get away with it, with your level of experience, but not everyone will. Again, until it happens...

    Nor are you saying that you could not have done that walk with ONE more pound on your back, Buck. Right?

    New hunters come here to learn what others are doing. Sometimes what they learn may get them in trouble because they are not so experienced.

    That will not be on my account, as I do not like feathers stitched into polyester. Nor will I bet the success of my hunt on my hunting buddy's down sleeping bag.

    Taylor

  19. #19
    Member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Taylor View Post
    Do I think ANYONE should walk from Canada to Kotzebue with a down bag? NOPE. I would advise no one, not even Buck Nelson to do that.
    Please note that I didn't ask your advice.

    I don't think we should always or never use down. They each have their place. I have been known to occasionally use synthetics where there is the most risk of getting wet.

    Regardless of what we carry, keeping our bags dry is essential. Most of you know this stuff but here some things I do:

    • I line my pack with a trash compactor bag.
    • I line my sleeping bag stuff sack with another plastic bag. I can fall in a creek with that set-up and come out with a dry bag.
    • I choose shelter sites out of the wind. On mountains I have spent hours building snow block walls or even digging snow caves. In the low country I might set up in thick willows or trees or other spots protected from the wind. The more exposed or windy and rainy the area it is, the more carefully I choose site location and shelter type.
    • I picture what will happen if the area is hammered by a hard rain. I want a spot where the water will drain away.
    • I set up, guy, and stake my shelter carefully.
    • I have a dry set of sleeping clothes: long underwear, socks, balaclava. I don't wear soaked clothing into my bag.

  20. #20

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    Having been in this discussion before, I don't believe in absolutes. Neither insulation is the do-all, be-all to all hunters. It's a matter of choice, and that choice depends on so many variables. Season, climate, precip, winds, temps, shelter, experience, and related gear. If either insulation was the clear, accepted winner in the field, this discussion would likely never take place. I'm pretty sure that for every guy who says "my way only", there's a grizzled veteran who'll point to 50 years of doing it his way. That doesn't mean down is better, but it IS better for some, in their circumstances. I happen to disagree with those who say ONLY down or ONLY synthetics are worthwhile. They each have a place on the gear list.

    Though sleeping bags get a lot of attention, I think a man's shelter is far more important to dryness and survival. Keep the weather out and use any bag you please. If that is unlikely, then go with total survival gear in mind. My current bag of choice is a Western Mountaineering Sequoia GWS. The Gore outer fabric is waterproof and slick. I just came off a 12 day moose hunt in a very wet environ. I never took the time to air out my bag (something I usually try to do when possible) and I could not detect any loss of loft in that time.

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