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Thread: Zero rated sleeping bag - zero what?

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    Default Zero rated sleeping bag - zero what?

    Hi

    I'm preparing for a hunting trip to Alaska in first half September and on the gear list from the US outfitter is mentioned a sleeping bag "zero rated or lower".

    Now what exactly is "zero rated"? I assume it is about the lowest temperature you can be comfortable in, but is it zero degrees Fahrenheit (- 17 degree Celcius) or zero degree Celcius (freezing point of water)?

    AFAIK you US'ians usualy count in Fahrenheit, but a sleeping bag rated for zero degree F or lower would appear rather bulky to bring all the way to Alaska for early September, when the temperature rarely go under zero degrees C.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    It almost certainly is referring to Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that the temperature ratings are often overstated. A zero degree bag will keep most folks comfortable down to 15 degrees or so depending on the temperature at which you sleep. While true that the temperature in September likely won't approach 0 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the area of the state and elevation, it's entirely possible that you'll see overnight temperatures dipping well below freezing - possibly down around 10-20 degrees. If you're in a 20 degree bag in those temperatures you will certainly survive, but a cold night makes for a less rested, and thus a less productive hunter. I use a 0 degree bag in the fall and sleep quite comfortably.

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    agreed, a 0 f bag won't be warm at 0 you''ll surivive in it but will probably be chilly. your odds of being in temps that cold in sept are pretty slim even up here in the arctic last september the coldest i found myself in was probably 15-25 above and that was around the last few days of the month. If you are worried about bulk get a down bag over synthetic they pack up alot smaller or just use a high temp bag and get a light bivy they add a few degrees. with a 0 f bag you'll be more than fine in september unless your on top of denali.

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    Does your outfitter supply a sleep pad to go under the bag?
    You can usually increase the temperature comfort rating with the addition of a good pad - Thermorest - is the one that stands out (in my mind), but I know there are others equally good.
    I agree with the others, your outfitter is referencing 0 degrees F. Check the archives - ratings are variable from manufacturer to manufacturer. There have been discussions on this board about what constitutes a comfortable sleeping bag - this is the main reason for the 0 degree recommendation. Its better to be too warm, than too cold.

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    Don't quote me on this, but I've heard that sleeping bags are rated, based on sleeping on the ground, along with a pad between you and the ground.
    You might consider the Wiggy's line of bags. I've got a few, along with an "overbag" and I've never been cold in them. Check out this site. http://wiggys.com/category.cfm?category=27
    Furthermore, there's a lot that goes into choosing a bag, along with a multitude of variables that you must consider, from your personal habits, the shelter you're in, and several others that are exlpained at the site below.
    http://www.gorp.com/hiking-guide/tra...ev_053425.html
    Don't skimp on getting a quality bag. It'll serve you well and last for a long time.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    A sleeping bag rated for *0 F is perfect for September in Alaska. Your outfitter knows what he's talking about.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjustinm View Post
    agreed, a 0 f bag won't be warm at 0 you''ll surivive in it but will probably be chilly. your odds of being in temps that cold in sept are pretty slim even up here in the arctic last september the coldest i found myself in was probably 15-25 above and that was around the last few days of the month. If you are worried about bulk get a down bag over synthetic they pack up alot smaller or just use a high temp bag and get a light bivy they add a few degrees. with a 0 f bag you'll be more than fine in september unless your on top of denali.
    Sorry, but I just wouldn't ever recommend a down bag to somebody coming up here to hunt in AK. As I said in the other "sleeping bag" thread, I'm sure nobody will dispute the fact that using a down bag "can" be done up here, but to me it's just too risky. On a fly in hunt, or anything that has water involved, all it takes is that one small little mishap.....a fall getting off the floats, a leak in the tent, etc.... and a person could be miserable for days. At least with synthetic you can dry the thing fairly easily. Why take the chance with down?

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    4mer - The debate has been had at length on other threads, so I won't go into great detail - but to answer your two "what if" scenarios: A down bag can be carried in a waterproof bag of some sort when traveling, so falling into the water isn't going to get the bag wet at all. (Been there, done that.) As for the tent, a lot of down bag users sleep with it inside of a lightweight bivy, so even a leak in the tent wouldn't be an issue. (In over 20+ years of hunting, though, I've never had a seriously wet tent. Some dampness, perhaps, but never a truly wet floor where it would be an issue for my bag - and yes, I've been in hurricane force winds with sideways rain.) The "risks" that come with a down bag can be absolutely, 100% mitigated with some foresight and planning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    The "risks" that come with a down bag can be absolutely, 100% mitigated with some foresight and planning.
    Indeed.....but mitigation and foresight is something a lot of first timers to AK. are lacking. Even when told what to bring or have, a lot of them still seem to do, and bring, what they want. Thus no dry bag for your sleeping bag. Or once I found out returning to caribou camp that one of the guys didn't zip up the tent (what I can't say enough to these people) and it had started pouring down rain. It's those "little" things that some of these people do that can really create the classic "hunt from hell" scenario. As a 4mer guide, I've just seen it too often.....

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    The first first timers would have loved down bags but they made it with a bed roll.Get one for -40 and it won't matter F or C
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Steffen- yes, your outiftter is talking about 0F. It rarely gets that cold in Sept. but a little additional warmth is often a good thing after a long day in chilly conditions.

    The "down vs. synthetic" debate is ongoing here, don't let that distract you from your initial question.

    Expect rainy, wet, windy conditions and prepare appropriately based on your skill level. I've camped in both down and synthetic bags quite comfortably and a wet bag is miserable no matter what it's made of- bring a selection of lightweight dry bags if they're not on your outfitter's list.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Your outfitter will have you in a nice dry tent so down is a good choice. You can avoid the bulk of a big syn bag by going with a nice down bag rated to either 0 or -20F.
    September is usually not that cold but one night not to many years ago when we were moose hunting between Glennallen and Tok it dropped down to -12F on the 12th of Sept. ALWAYS error on a bag that is rated lower than what you need, you can always un zip it if you are to warm.

    Check out some online web sites such as LL Bean, Cabelas, REI, and Amazon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Your outfitter will have you in a nice dry tent
    And you know this how....???

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    actually i don't use a down bag, i like synthetic. i was just saying he could use a down bag if he was worried about a bulky bag. Either bag is good and the best bag is one that is kept dry anyways. i wouldn't like a wet synthetic bag either. 0 f will be great. as far as wiggy's they make some great multiple layer systems that work from well above zero to way below, they just seemed to have forgotten to put draft collars in any of them.....

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    Here I go again. I always seem to have a litttle extra hot air left to throw my "2" cents in. I too have spent years and years overnite in tents , under tarps , under rock ledges , yes sometimes due to piss poor planning on my part, and have had both down and synthc bags and for Ak. I have to throw in with the synthc due to the fact I dont care how carefull you are, one way or another your opt to get your bag wet. Try this some time . Soak the end of a synthc bag and a down bag the bottom half completley wet and see witch one you get a half way nites sleep in. No more down for me. Thank, Ron.

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    OK so yes this has been an interesting discussion and I seem to remember reading it before,I personally use synthetic but I am not against my hunters bringing down provided they do as recommended and have a dry bag. From a guide stand point there are times we move camp in the rain or snow or any conditions you can throw out there... this is what we do to get what we are after.with that said I have spent more then one night in a completely soaking dripping wet tent so I do understand the argument against down.If you do decide to go with down just know the limitations and take precautions
    dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    OK so yes this has been an interesting discussion and I seem to remember reading it before,I personally use synthetic but I am not against my hunters bringing down provided they do as recommended and have a dry bag. From a guide stand point there are times we move camp in the rain or snow or any conditions you can throw out there... this is what we do to get what we are after.with that said I have spent more then one night in a completely soaking dripping wet tent so I do understand the argument against down.If you do decide to go with down just know the limitations and take precautions
    dave
    Like I said before...."down can be done". But I feel that is in darn near ideal situations. And how often do we have ideal situations here in AK on a fall hunt...???

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    a few years back, we were camped out on baker creek near manley....first week of september....it was cold....period....temp never got above 30-40 the first few days in camp......two mornings stick out in my mind on that hunt....woke up to heavy heavy frost.....checked the thermometer and it read 8......seems like it took till well after noon to get warm.....next morning it read -15......and i remember everything was frozen....even the creek had a good skim of ice, so we werent even able to catch fresh grayling for breakfast, at least we found some grouse nearby....all our water and food was frozen solid....next day it was 55 by noon......pretty unexpected, but it happened...tell ya what though it never hurts to be prepared....



    Release Lake Trout

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteffenBJ View Post
    Hi

    I'm preparing for a hunting trip to Alaska in first half September and on the gear list from the US outfitter is mentioned a sleeping bag "zero rated or lower".

    Now what exactly is "zero rated"? I assume it is about the lowest temperature you can be comfortable in, but is it zero degrees Fahrenheit (- 17 degree Celcius) or zero degree Celcius (freezing point of water)?

    AFAIK you US'ians usualy count in Fahrenheit, but a sleeping bag rated for zero degree F or lower would appear rather bulky to bring all the way to Alaska for early September, when the temperature rarely go under zero degrees C.
    Your presumption is correct that both the guide and U.S. bag rating are referencing Fahrenheit degrees. The reality is that in many areas of Alaska it is not uncommon to experience temperatures of zero degrees Fahrenheit (-17 C.) or colder. That time of year (as any time year in Alaska) can be highly variable, and it is very possible you could experience warmer temperatures. You are well advised however to plan on the colder end of the spectrum to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. If it were me, I would pack a -17 to -25 C. range bag.

    The down vs. synthetic debate is a separate issue, and is really a matter of personal preference. Choose what you're accustomed to, employ it appropriately, and all will be well. Have a great trip.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Thanks for a lot of informative replies. I have a (synthetic) sleeping bag rated at -3 C for comfort and somewhat lower for emergency, but I've been very comfortable at -10C when keeping on the wollen underwear. We will indeed be on cots in tents (making day trips on foot from there) but I guess I will get a bag rated for 0 degree F, after all saving those last pennies to freeze my a.. off and not be 100 % alert the next morning when the game is there will simply be too silly.

    Had it been a winter tour with temperatures constantly under 0 degree C I would consider down, but in rainy weather just above 0 degree C emphasis IMHO must be on insensivity to water.

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