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Thread: The Sleeping Bag Dilemna....Down vs Synthetic

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    Default The Sleeping Bag Dilemna....Down vs Synthetic

    You know it appears more and more that the quality down bags are coming out with super duper waterproof shells and they weigh much less than synthetics and are ohhhhh so much more comfy. So my question is this, how many of us are just plain terrified (I know I am) to make the switch to a down bag because of all the what if's? I can say that to this day I have only climbed into a sleeping wet once time and it was much more so due to my perspiration (hiking back to the tent in the pouring rain and in a rush) but cant say that I have ever had to really get into a wet sleeping bag per say. Interested to hear your opinions on this topic. How many of you have either used or pondered the use of a down bag in the mountains? I had my hands on some of the Western Mountaineering down bags this past week and all I can say is Wow! They are super light and so darn comfy!

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    My attitude is that when going into conditions where good gear matters, take your best gear. In my case that includes a down bag, no question. Since I usually take a GoreTex bivy bag along, the wet bag syndrome has never concerned me.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I just bought a wiggys bag. Guess that tells you where I stand. If I fall through floating tundra with my gear on my back I still want to be able to get warm!

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    My rule of thumb has always been if sleeping bag or outerwear is going to be used in below zero dry cold weather (as in winter) go with down. Above freezing possibly wet weather or high exertion go with synthetic. Now, these days with all the new fabrics and combo down and synthetics maybe someone has built a better mousetrap, I don't know. I do know that my synthetic bags have always kept me warm. Starting with my first REI synthetic bag I got in the 70's. I used that bag backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula in the rain forest on the coast in Washington, Glacier Park and the Missions Mtns in Montana and a few other places. I remember just before I bought that bag being in a tent in the Mission Mountains on a backpacking trip and one night a horrendous storm dumped a TON of water on us, filled up the tent with water and, well, I was in a down bag. We were soaked to the bone. It was pack up and bug out time. I remember humping it down the mountain with HEAVY pack. Not sure how much that down bag weighed but sponge ball of down and water is no fun to pack!. That was my last down bag.

    I don't look at it as IF everything gets soaked, it's WHEN everything gets soaked.

    Just my .02
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Your analysis of every ounce of a tent and your attitude towards sleeping bags seems contradictory to me.

    The development of improved sleeping bag fabrics that protect the fill is probably the most significant improvement in sleeping bag technology in the past 10-15 years.

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    Thats the view of the lightweight mountaineering crowd too. I think for many hunters its an old school thought process that down is bad as is cotton in wet weather but then again who would have ever thought 10-15 years ago that you could have a bombproof expedition grade tent for two come in at a whopping 5.5 lbs too? Some of the materials used to make outdoor equipment these days are pretty impressive. I am just curious how many times a sleeping bag getting wet, ruined a guys hunt and or put him in a bad situation. Properly packed I cant think of a single incident of the guys I know. Even in a bad mishap when a few buddies of mine flipped their raft in a gorge up the Ivishak some years ago the sleeping bags were in dry bags and didnt get a drop of water on em.

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Default the big debate!

    I spent a considerable amount of time looking into down bags last winter and, I have ot tell you, I was oh so impressed with them...the size, weight, comfort just about had me sold...but I just couldn't bring myself to do it yet.

    My biggest fear is not being stuck in a storm where my gear would get wet...for me it is the fact that I perspire always, even in my sleep and I couldn't find enough information to prove to me that the down would release that moisture from the inside out. I haven't done the 'bathtub test' with my synthetic bag in freezing temps, but I dunked it in the river last summer and I woke up dry in the morning...I'm not convinced a down bag will do that yet. I'd be glad to have someone prove me wrong though

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    Mr P and Cub you guys make great points and just may convert me.

    Like I said, there may be a better mousetrap now. My 20 degree (or is it 15?) tnf cat's meow in it's stuff sack weighs in at 3lbs 4.7ozs weighed on a digital scale. I could probably go to a high tech down bag and shave a pound. That would be significant but I would like to see actual scale weight, not brochure weight. Now, I would need to justify the cost for a pound and then have the POTENTIAL of a bad situation. Am I willing to take that chance for a pound and not gain anything else really? hhmmmmm, not so sure. I paid less than a 100 bucks for my cat's meow. A high tech down bag would probably run what, about 3 bills? A tent is different story. To me it's worth 5-600 bucks for a 4 season tent. I could by a VE-25 or other 4 season tent for less money, or a 3 season tent that would work but why buy a 8-12lb tent when I can buy a 6 lb tent? HUGE difference.

    I would be kind of fun to be able to take a high tech down bag and a synthetic and do some tests. Spray them down with a hose and then sleep in them in the yard or something.

    There used to be a pic around here of a guy with a down bag with a puddle of water on it and he said he left it for a half hour and NO seepage. That's impressive if it's true.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Its not just the weight savings Perry, them babies are unbelievably comfortable. Next time your in Beaver Sports take one of them Western Mountaineering bags off the hangar and lay it on the ground and give her a spin.

  10. #10

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    Can you leave the down bags in a compression bag for an extended amount of time like you can with a lot of synthetic bags?

  11. #11

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    The same or longer. Though one of the big pluses to down bags is that the down retains loft much better than synthetics do and for many more years. Synthetic breaks down much quicker than down. Thats why they say it is so critical to store a synth bag uncompressed.

    Heres a pretty good comparison

    http://www.alpineer.com/html/info_down-v-synth.html

    http://www.sierratradingpost.com/lp2...tic-guide.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaCub View Post
    Its not just the weight savings Perry, them babies are unbelievably comfortable. Next time your in Beaver Sports take one of them Western Mountaineering bags off the hangar and lay it on the ground and give her a spin.

    Oh man, that just might end up costing me! Don't get me started, I'm trying to talk myself into saving some money ! I gotta buy that Hilleberg this year!
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Oh man, that just might end up costing me! Don't get me started, I'm trying to talk myself into saving some money ! I gotta buy that Hilleberg this year!
    Poetic justice. I wasn't in the market for a tent, either, but your Hilleburg thread changed all that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaCub View Post
    The same or longer. Though one of the big pluses to down bags is that the down retains loft much better than synthetics do and for many more years. Synthetic breaks down much quicker than down. Thats why they say it is so critical to store a synth bag uncompressed.

    Heres a pretty good comparison

    http://www.alpineer.com/html/info_down-v-synth.html

    http://www.sierratradingpost.com/lp2...tic-guide.html
    I believe with the Wiggys bags the opposite applies and I'm pretty sure Taylor told to leave it in the bag. I never take mine out of it's stuff sack and the loft is just as good as the day I bought it. One would think that over time the down would eventually have cold spots created by the down loosing it's loft. With the synthetic bags that are laminated they cannot seperate. Interesting stuff.

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    Yeah that Lamalite (I think thats what its called) is one of the few synthetics that actually prides itself on long lasting loft but its not generally the rule of thumb. I have never used a Wiggys and only because they are heavy, even their lightest bag is heavier than most decent synth 20 degree bags. And theres lots of warm synthetic bags that weigh 4lbs made by a lot of good companies for when I dont care what the bag weighs (4wheeler type hunts). The thought of having a 1 1/2 lb 20 degree comfy azz down bag with a Pertex shell that compresses to the size of a youth football is appealing as heck though. Momma spent some big bucks on a really lofty down comforter for our bed last year and though I was like holy crap that thing is expensive at first, once in it I was like mannnnn this thing is awesome! Nothing softer, cozier or warmer than Down!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    Poetic justice. I wasn't in the market for a tent, either, but your Hilleburg thread changed all that!
    That's good
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Member Alasken's Avatar
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    Default i'm still waiting

    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    I don't look at it as IF everything gets soaked, it's WHEN everything gets soaked.

    Just my .02
    I've been using down bags for about 30 years now and have never had one get wet, so I guess I'm still waiting for the "when".
    Waterproof stuff sacks and quality tents go a long way.
    Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
    - Frank Zappa

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    You guys just won't quit will ya... man, this forum thing is gonna cost me a ton.....you mean I can shave over a pound and have a nice warm comfy small waterproof bag?? oh boy .... I think it was AlaskaCub one time around here told a guy he could help him shave some weight off his sheep hunting gear but he was gonna have to get out his checkbook! Looks like it might be coming. hmmm wonder if I can get a pro deal somewhere.... I'm cheap you know
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Dont even start Perry , you were the one who started the post with the new Hilleberg tents, and now I have bad boy lightweight 4season bombproof tentitus! grin

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Perry: I've been using this bag and bivy down in rainy Ketchikan for 3 hunting seasons which included 3 goat hunts. I was snug and warm. Check out the unbelievable weights. Quality gear.

    kingfisherktn

    MontBell America, Inc. U.L. Super Stretch Hugger #1 Sleeping Bag: 15 Degree Down
    Technical Features:

    Material: 15-D Ballistic Airlight Nylon
    Insulation: 800-Fill down
    Shape: Mummy
    Draft Collar: Yes
    Max User Height: [Regular] 5ft 10in (174.8cm); [Long] 6ft 4in (193.1cm)
    Shoulder/knee Circumference: [Regular] 45-59 / 34-45in (113-151 / 86-115cm); [Long] 48-64 / 38-51in (122-163 / 98-130cm)
    Stuff Size: [Reg] 6.8 x 13.5in (42.7 x 34.3cm); [Long] 7 x 13.8in (17.8 x 35.1cm)
    Stuff or Storage sack: Stuff
    Degree: 15 (-9C)
    Weight: [Reg] 2lb 2oz (963.6g); [Long] 2lb 5oz (1048g)
    Recommended Use: Backpacking, climbing, camping
    Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime

    DESCRIPTION:

    Stretch seams and ultralight 15D Airlight nylon help the MontBell U.L. Super Stretch Hugger #1 15-Degree Down Sleeping Bag weigh only 2lb 2oz, which helps you hike faster and longer on 3-season backpacking trips. This 15 down sleeping bag's stretch seams mold to your body to reduce dead space and increase warmth. Multi-Box baffle construction ensures the Super Stretch Hugger has no cold spots, and the sealable eight-inch baffle at the feet lets you shorten it for smaller users. You'll be happy to have this ultra-light bag whether you're on a spring mountaineering trip or camping in the winter.

    Bottom Line:
    Shave weight and stay warm with the MontBell Super Stretch Hugger #1 Sleeping Bag.




    The Montbell Ultralight Bivy sack is the lightest Gore-Tex bivy on the market! It weighs only 7.2 ounces and stuffs down to the size of a pop can.

    Keep yourself and your sleeping bag protected from moisture, dirt and the elements with this great ultralight bivy sack. Seams are fully taped to ensure waterproofness. Draw cord with cordlock allows you to quickly tighten the bivy sack around your face.

    2 layer Gore-Tex keeps water and moisture out, yet breathes to let internal moisure escape. The Gore-Tex is laminated to a durable 30 denier Ballastic rip-stop nylon.

    This 7 ounce wonder can be a life safer in cold and wet conditions! Use it in a tent in extreme wet weather, or as an emergency or minimalist shelter.

    Regular: 7.2 ounces, Stuff Size: 3.1" x 3.1" x 5.9"
    Max Dimensions: 88.6" x 33.5"

    Long: 9.4 ounces, Stuff Size: 3.3" x 3.3" x 6.5"
    Max Dimensions: 98.5" x 37"

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