Sleeping bag question

Big JJ

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Need help choosing a sleeping bag for spike camp hunting.
I have kind of narrowed it down to 2 bags:
Marmot Never Summer zero degree bag and the North Face Furnace 5 degree bag.
Both are down bags and they seem to be light enough to carry a few miles.
Has anyone here had any experience with either bag, if so please share your thoughts on them.
If you have any other recommendations for this type of hunting please list the bags and why you like them.
 



zavodizhevsk

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I use a NorthFace Blue Kazoo, a 15-degree down bag. I bought this bag 7 years ago and have used it on several dozen trips, including winter ascents of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Whitney. The bag works well for me, though I don't know of the conditions in which you will use your bag. Will you be sleeping in a tent or a bivvy? If a tent, how big is it and will you be alone? Where and when will you be hunting? I found zero degree bags a little bulky when I was shopping for a bag years ago and my 15 degree bag was comfortable during winter nights with the temperature in the teens.


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hks95134

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If you wrap your poncho around the outside of your sleeping bag, and also use a poncho liner inside your bag as well, you can get great results due to layering with a lighter bag which is not rated as cold but which will overall weigh less for backpacking. Bring a 2 man pup tent with you as well for further insulation. Don't forget an air mattress too.
 
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Where's Bruce?

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When contemplating a sleep system it is important to consider your pad (bottom insulation) and total weight. I carry a heavy, wide, long inflatable mattress that's 3.5" thick inflated and has a high R rating. I top it with a UL sleeping bag or quilt as appropriate for the trip. Carry distance is less important than adequate sleep.
 

zavodizhevsk

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A pad and total weight are definitely important considerations. There's a trade-off to be made, I think. I'm not a fan of carrying a heavy pack, so I use a light, cheap roll up blue foam pad I got at Big 5 for 10 bucks in 2006. Not cushy, but I can fall asleep anywhere, so it works well. That pad weighs only a few ounces and is good enough for everything but snow. On snow, I bring a second pad -- a thermarest z-lite foam pad from REI. 2 foam pads weigh about as much as one self inflating pad and work well on snow.

I know there are down-filled self inflating pads in the market, apparently meant for mountaineers. I've never slept on one, but I imagine they're pretty warm. And they're supposed to be fairly light.


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Big JJ

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I hunt the Sierra X10 and D8 zones from Porterville all the way to Hiway 395.
I am a solo deer hunter and I will be using a pad of some type.
The differance between the zero degree bags and the 15 degree bags is only about a pound or less depending on the fill weight of the down.
I am staying away from the synthitic bags because of weight and bulk.
I was thinking about a sil nylon tarp instead of a tent to save weight and keep the water off of the bag in bad weather.
I will not put the tarp up unless there is a chance of rain or snow.
I will also use some type of bivy for additional insulation and sleep under the stars.
 

JohnCo

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Hunting in CA a 15* bag is plenty warm for me, 'too warm' in the early season. It's a blue North Face and I'm happy with it, very lightweight.
 

zavodizhevsk

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I hunt the Sierra X10 and D8 zones from Porterville all the way to Hiway 395.
I am a solo deer hunter and I will be using a pad of some type.
The differance between the zero degree bags and the 15 degree bags is only about a pound or less depending on the fill weight of the down.
I am staying away from the synthitic bags because of weight and bulk.
I was thinking about a sil nylon tarp instead of a tent to save weight and keep the water off of the bag in bad weather.
I will not put the tarp up unless there is a chance of rain or snow.
I will also use some type of bivy for additional insulation and sleep under the stars.
The decision regarding a sleeping bag's temperature rating is a personal one. If you tend to get cold easily, then perhaps a zero degree bag is the way to go. I have a good friend and hiking partner who uses a zero degree bag. He likes it, but it's much bigger and heavier than mine. An extra pound is a huge amount of additional weight to carry around all day up and down mountains. At least for me.

A bivvy will add 10-15 degrees of warmth to your sleeping system, so a 15 degree bag will still be warm, even a bit below 15 degrees, if inside a bivvy. If you're using a zero degree bag and it's in the 30s or above (very likely during most of ca deer season) you'll swelter. You can vent, of course, but it's annoying and will disrupt your sleep.

I'm not trying to sway your decision, though. If you feel more comfortable with a zero degree bag, go with that. An alternative is a lighter bag for 99% of the deer season temps and then a warm bag liner (and snuggling with a canteen full of warm water) on the rare nights when the temps drop below zero.


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hks95134

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A pad and total weight are definitely important considerations. There's a trade-off to be made, I think. I'm not a fan of carrying a heavy pack, so I use a light, cheap roll up blue foam pad I got at Big 5 for 10 bucks in 2006. Not cushy, but I can fall asleep anywhere, so it works well. That pad weighs only a few ounces and is good enough for everything but snow. On snow, I bring a second pad -- a thermarest z-lite foam pad from REI. 2 foam pads weigh about as much as one self inflating pad and work well on snow.

I know there are down-filled self inflating pads in the market, apparently meant for mountaineers. I've never slept on one, but I imagine they're pretty warm. And they're supposed to be fairly light.


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Gotta love BIG 5 !!!

That's where I bought my first Jansport full size frame pack 40 years ago.

I still get a lot of gear there, although REI from Seattle has since come into existence for high end higher performance products.

I still get targets and gun cleaning supplies at BIG 5 though.
 

Big JJ

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I do love Big 5 and Dicks and every other sporting goods store( big boys toys).
So sleeping outside without a tent in a 15 degree bag with a bivy and/ or a few layers should be a better choice than a zero degree bag?
I have ask a couple of buddies and they seem to going that way also and just adding layers to up the indulation.
So next question, do you guys use merino wool as a layer for sleeping in or do you use another type of material?
If so what do you recommend for sleep layers?
 

DaVe.

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I found a 15* down bag to be the best balance of weight/warmth for the sierras during our deer season.
I also have three diffrent sleeping pads, self inflating, built in hand pump, and just a foam mat type. I haven't decided which one I like the best.
 

DaVe.

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I just sleep in whatever I'm hunting in, unless its wet or muddy.
 

zavodizhevsk

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A bivvy is essentially a tent. A tiny, cramped tent. A regular backpacking tent will trap enough heat from your body to raise the temperature inside about 10 degrees above the temperature outside. But the volume of air in a tent is many times the volume of air in a bivvy. You'll heat up your bivvy much faster and, with most bivvies, have less warm air escaping than in a 3-season tent. It feels more like sleeping "outside" in a bivvy than in a tent, but there really isn't much actual difference. It's mostly perception, since you can look out.

Adding layers to a lighter bag works, but make sure you test them at home for fit. A bag that's filled with you and layers to the point of stretching won't be as effective at retaining dead air. And it won't be comfortable to sleep in.

Merino wool is phenomenal. I always have a set of sleeping clothes as part of my sleep system. For winter, I go with warm long-johns, a heavyweight merino or synthetic thermal shirt, heavy wool socks and my polartec fleece beanie. Those clothes don't weigh much and they'll really help keep you warm and dry. Synthetic is fine, too. Another upside to this outfit is that when you get up at 4am to head out for the day's hunt, you can put your clothes on top of that merino layer and feel warm. It's always super cold when you get out of your bag.

One winter tip I learned from a friend who is an avid mountaineer and trained with NOLS in the chugach mountains -- if it's below freezing, any of your clothes that are sweaty or wet need to go inside your sleeping bag. Otherwise, they'll be full of ice in the morning. I made the mistake of leaving my slightly damp boots in my tent vestibule during a winter Mt Whitney trip and the boots froze solid. Not only were they super hard to get into, and ice cold, but they soaked my feet as they melted. From then on, when snow camping, I stick my boots in a plastic trash bag and put then into the foot of my sleeping bag. Frozen boots are awful.




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JohnCo

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Same here, I'll generally sleep in whatever I'm wearing. I don't backpack with complete changes of clothing when it's only a 2-4 day trip(usually). This last year I starting bringing a cold-weather moisture-wicking shirt, and a warm-weather wicking shirt. The extra undershirt weighs just a few ounces and I'll wear one when it's cold/I'm sleeping and the other while I'm hiking. Sleeping in clothes that I have anyways means a lighter sleeping bag is plenty warm. My pack is heavy enough and I really don't want to add to it. Except maybe a bear canister, that's on my wishlist for Christmas!
 

Big JJ

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OK so now I am getting a much better understanding of what is need and what is extra for comfort.
So now I am asking where you guys buy your stuff to get the best price?
I have seen a lot of internet site that have much better prices than the brick and mortar stores.
I think you guys have been very helpful and you have steered me towards the 15 degree bag as the target temp.
Thank you for the info.
I 'will watch this thread so if you guys can think of anything more please post it or PM me.
 

Where's Bruce?

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rokslide.com classified for the smart guys who dislike paying retail. Check it daily.
 

Wild1

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You simply can't beat a Marmot, Big Agnes or Western Mountaineering bag - which model is up to your fit, needs and system.

+1 on merino wool.
 

CHAD PEZZLE

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I tried the bivy thing and just couldn't get used to it. I've only used the REI minimalist bivy, it's essentially just a goretex shell for your bag. It didn't breath well at all, in the hot months I'd sweat and end up damp. And in the cold months it would build up condensation from the coastal weather I mostly hunt in. I ditched it and got a light weight tent, it only weighs about 1.5 lbs more and I sleep tremendously better.

I use a 15 degree bag when it's cold and a 40 degree bag for the hotter months, both are down. I usually end up with an A and B Zone tag in California so I could be hunting in July for archery all the way until the end of October so there is a big variation in temp and weather, and even colder when I bear hunt late in the season. I sleep pretty comfortable, but when it gets down to the teens or twenties I have to add extra layers, but the 15 degree bag does well, I don't think I would use a 0° bag often enough to want to carry the extra weight.
 

zavodizhevsk

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I tried the bivy thing and just couldn't get used to it. I've only used the REI minimalist bivy, it's essentially just a goretex shell for your bag. It didn't breath well at all, in the hot months I'd sweat and end up damp. And in the cold months it would build up condensation from the coastal weather I mostly hunt in. I ditched it and got a light weight tent, it only weighs about 1.5 lbs more and I sleep tremendously better.

I use a 15 degree bag when it's cold and a 40 degree bag for the hotter months, both are down. I usually end up with an A and B Zone tag in California so I could be hunting in July for archery all the way until the end of October so there is a big variation in temp and weather, and even colder when I bear hunt late in the season. I sleep pretty comfortable, but when it gets down to the teens or twenties I have to add extra layers, but the 15 degree bag does well, I don't think I would use a 0° bag often enough to want to carry the extra weight.
That's the exact bivvy I use. Definitely takes some effort to get used to and it's not very breathable. Or very comfortable. But it weighs less than a pound!


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