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Thread: Sleeping Bag, Down fill or Synthetic?

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    Default Sleeping Bag, Down fill or Synthetic?

    Looking at all the new options with sleeping bags, What's everyone's experience with either a down bag or synthetic. Primary use for me will be in Southeast so wet weather is always a factor and it will primarily be used for backpacking. Any one have any good recomendations. Looking primarily at North Face, Kelty, Marmot, and Big Agnes

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Pros and cons either way. Folks say synthetic as it dries faster. Down are warm and light. Blah blah. My opinion, if you can't keep a sleeping bag dry you got bigger issues to ponder. A little double redundancy is in order. Good tough dry bag a must. I then store it in a slightly larger dry bag. On some float trips, that outer bag has been nothing but a trash bag. Keeping a bag dry isn't difficult. If you agree, and sleep inside a tent, get whatever you want. I have been happy with both.

    Used a Cabelas boundary waters 0 degree synthetic bag for years. Under $150 on sale as I recall. Looking at some $500+ down bags lately. Lots of choices out there, that's for sure. Keeping it dry is really the main thing to thnk about. And getting a bag rated about 20-30 degrees warmer than you think you need. Can always unzip it a bit, which is my preference anyway if getting up quickly and grabbing my gun is a possibility. Can't imagine being all cocooned up to the neck and trying to grab a flash light and a gun.



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    Quote Originally Posted by a_arneson View Post
    Looking at all the new options with sleeping bags, What's everyone's experience with either a down bag or synthetic. Primary use for me will be in Southeast so wet weather is always a factor and it will primarily be used for backpacking. Any one have any good recomendations. Looking primarily at North Face, Kelty, Marmot, and Big Agnes
    I own a few different kelty bags. 20 and 0 degree bags. All are fairly warm. The 0 nah was to warm for me on a below freezing night. I believe it is the cosmic bag. All my bags are synthetic. My next bag will be down.

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    I highly recommend the Mountain Hardware Ultralamina. I don't think you can beat it's compressability in a synthetic.

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    Down a poor selection if wet weather is in play. Todays Synthetic is the way to go.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sav .250 View Post
    Down a poor selection if wet weather is in play. Todays Synthetic is the way to go.
    With treated down, this is no longer nearly the concern that it once was. I only use down any longer. This year on my sheep hunt I was wet for days at temperatures between 25-35, and my bag was always plenty warm. It would wick moisture away from my body at night just as well as any synthetic bag I've used.

    I'm sold on treated down.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    With treated down, this is no longer nearly the concern that it once was. I only use down any longer. This year on my sheep hunt I was wet for days at temperatures between 25-35, and my bag was always plenty warm. It would wick moisture away from my body at night just as well as any synthetic bag I've used.

    I'm sold on treated down.
    I remember you talking about this before and have mentioned it at talks around the campfire but haven't researched it myself. Do you have a couple good links that explains the treating process?
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I did an over night -38 in a synthetic Sunshine Mountaineering bag that was rated -35. I was impressed, it easily beat out my Eskimo and is warmer than a Chinook that is in the same rating range.

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    Backpacker's gear review included the Kelty Dualist 22, Marmot Scandium 20, which would probably fit your performance requirements.
    Are you planning on mailorder? REI's return policy might give you more options unless you have a local store that meets your needs.

    Agree with others that the fill material matters less these days. I like Brian M's comments - that treated down is for real, "watering down" the case for buying synthetics (). Your performance requirements (need a lightweight, compressible bag?) or body size/build (long bag, zipper) are key factors.
    The differences are small anymore with great gear in either fill if the ounces don't matter. Tony Russ commented in one of his books that if you store packs compressed and do several trips a year, your bags will lose insulation value each year - he estimated 5 degrees per year, but he did a lot of trips too. I own several bags in different temp ranges, but down is hard to beat - and is getting better.

    What matters more to me are how well does the zipper function - without snagging or grabbing? Man, a zipper that's a hassle in the middle of the night... just don't do it! The hood's function matters to me too. Some like a snug-fitting bag b/c it's easier to keep warm. Others like room to move around. I think Big Agnes has "system" bags built with a sleeve for inserting a sleeping pad, saving on weight too. Good luck.

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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    Keeping the bag dry is the most important, but if you do get it wet the synthetic can keep you warmer than the down. I was on Adak Island for a hunt, I did not realize that the wind can blow in so many directions at the same time, it blew our tent flat to the ground, and the rain soaked everything. I was using a Wiggy's bag, it let me continue the hunt. I spent a very thrilling night on the side of the island, wondering if I would end up on the other side of the mountain, carried by the wind.

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    Member SteveAK's Avatar
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    Wiggys is a great choice if wetness is concern. Not most packable but claims to be able to keep stored compressed for long time. I have several and have slept soundly. Being a big guy, like their size selections also. Down in Gortex bag may be another option, compress better.

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    Member wiiawiwb's Avatar
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    If you'll be in conditions below freezing at night, I would suggest getting both a down bag and a synthetic quilt. The down bag will keep you warm but if it goes below freezing the moisture from your body will freeze on the inside of the down bag. That's a problem.

    With a synthetic quilt on top of a down bag your moisture travels through the down bag and into the synthetic quilt. If any freezing occurs on the inside of the synthetic quilt, the downsides are significantly less.

    With two bags you can calculate the combined rating by using this formula:

    x -(70 - y)/2 = z

    x is the lowest rated bag and y is the higher rated bag.

    So, if you have a 15F down bag and a 40F quilt you're good to go to 0F.

    15 - (70-40)/2 = 0

    I would look at Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends for the down bag and Enlighted Equipment for the synthetic quilt.

    http://www.enlightenedequipment.com/prodigy/

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    I've used my Marmot Plasma 30 deg bag for years. It has kept me very warm and comfortable in freezing temps. As well as kept me dry in damp rainy conditions. They use a down defender to improve water resistance to help keep the bag dry. Its a spendy bag but overall very lightweight and good quality product.

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    As you can see there will be a million opinions on this subject but one thing I have found by being a bigger guy I how much more comfortable quilts are. Check these out. http://www.enlightenedequipment.com/

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