Bivy/ sleeping bag setup for the cold
Any sourdoughs out there have any suggestions for the best bivy, bag, pad set up that would be suitable for carrying on a bike.
Iíve been using a Darkstar -40 synthetic and foam mat for the past few years and never really managed to sleep long when the temps were blow zero. Up until last year most of my campouts have been at above zero for the most part. If I could figure out a set up that would allow 40 min to an hour of sleep at 20 or 30 bellow Iíd be very happy, but as it is I'm luck if I get about 20 minutes when its just a few degrees bellow 0 and wake up with frozen toes.
Thereís gotta be a better system.
Pete, the fill of a Darkstar is polarguard delta which isnt really the greatest for weight and compressability. We dont need synthetic fill for the clear dry cold we get up here.
Go down, lighter more compressable, lighter and more expensive.
I have a Mtn Hardware -20 down bag that works pretty well.
The North Face Solar Flare is a -20 that my girlfriend used on Denali this spring, the shell fabric is great and If I had the same bag I would not use a bivy with it out in the open.
The racing bag setup is hard since you'll be wasted and have no food in you ususally when you sack down, so you'll feel colder than you would normally in the same bag.
If you want to go nuts check out feathered friends.
Is it just your feet that's wakin' you up?
Originally Posted by pbasinger
Some folks (me) carry dry socks, just for sleeping. I take off the wet socks, lay 'em flat against my thighs inside my shell pants (to dry 'em a bit), then put on dry socks to sleep. Only takes a minute to swap 'em.
Agreed with Eric that a -20 down bag is good for what you're lookin' to do. But then there are as many theories on how to sleep good in the cold as there are people trying to do it.
Borrowing a bag and sleeping on your patio is a good start to testing in the limited time you have left.
Beware of Doggerel
I'd vote for down too. I'm not sure on this but I think the darkstars loose warmth with age. Mine was a toasty cocoon the first winter I had it... the second season not so much and this year I haven't used it at all (yet). The first winter I had it I got some of the best nights sleep ever, even at well below 0, the second year I just got little bits of cold uncomfortable "rest". Of course the body changes too so maybe its just me and not the bag. Down is more expensive but lasts forever and can be re-fluffed.
Originally Posted by pbasinger
One thing you can try is to throw a few chemical body warmers in the bag with you, one down by the feet and one on your back should do the trick. This is more of a patch than a real fix but it will work in a pinch.
I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.
Chemical body warmers, or a 4 oz plastic flask of olive oil.. which is heavier?
Intresting observation on how your darkstar lost its loft Adam..
Sleep??? I didn't think you needed sleep...
There's probably as many different ideas on this as there are people out there doing it. I'm not a sourdough and I'm not implying that my setup is "better" than anybody else's. It just works for me and I've got a lot of confidence in it. So take it for what its worth:
I think feathers are the way to go up here becuase of the weight savings and compressibility.
I've tried different setups and have sort of arrived at a layering approach. When I get in my bivy I'm wearing pretty much every piece of clothing I'm carrying...assuming that its cold (< -25F or so). I don't use a particularly warm sleeping bag, but I carry a down mountaineering parka and pants. I've slept in my driveway at -20 with just the parka and pants, no sleeping bag. I've got a german (I think) military sleeping pad that is about 1/8" thick foam and folds (not rolls) to the size of a normal textbook. I usually throw a few spruce boughs under the pad if I can find them.
I like heat packs on my feet but don't usually feel like I need them. Maybe most importantly, before I clock out I always gather a bunch of wood and build a fire that I can light as soon as I get out of my bag. I don't always need to light the fire, but I sure like having the option.
Wood chips are stupid
Big Horn Super
I have a hardcore climber friend who has a Western Mountainering Big Horn Super. -30 and down. He thinks it is the best bag out there. Very very durable. His has been used and severly abused... often. Still like new! The warmest bag/per loft he has ever owned. Not cheap. I am getting one when I can afford it. AMH has them.
"Trust me,you don't want a big baby."
Lots of good advice.
I agree that I just need to experiment. Itís just so hard to sleep outside on the porch when I have a warm bed close by.
Maybe a new bag is in order, unfortunately my budget is about zero at the moment.
What do the hardcore climbers use when they go for a fast, lightweight assault on a peak and may have to spend the night out?
Anybody ever try a vapor barrier system for sleeping?
Again many many different opinions on the VB sleeping system. The theory is like all VB systems to cut Evaporative heat loss and keep your insulation dry and effective, but when sleeping (or trying to sleep) things are different since you are not exerting. Using a VB sleeping bag liner you would have to strip down to base layers then get into the VB and in your bag.. Brr.. no thanks. If you just got into the VB with all your clothes on you would wake up very damp and cold since you are basically putting a non-breathable sack over all your clothes. Another supposed advantage to using VB Sleeping bag liners is on multiday trips to cut condensation and frost build up Inside the baffels of the sleeping bag itself. There are stories of north pole expeditions where sleeping bags gain 20lbs from frost building up inside them.
With a Good down bag this isnt a problem. Reducing your clothing to get into a VB to cut heat loss reduces your insulation as well, so its kinda a mute point.
On the trip on Denali in the spring two other guys in our team were using VB liners and the only advantage I saw is they smelled worse upon waking up, thus making the whole get gearing up process much faster.
Hardcore climbers skip the bag and just suffer as the saying goes, if you bring bivy gear on a climb... you will bivy.
Last edited by Bearbait; 02-07-2007 at 10:44 AM.
All those others are good suggestions, but rather than carry the extra weight, I just kill a moose and crawl up inside the carcass. It keeps you really warm and if you start to cool off just kill another moose. The horrible smell will keep other riders from passing you and may attract wolves or other critters that will chase thus making you go faster.
Jeez...I thought at least Leonard would know that old trick...
Wood chips are stupid
not new to me
I know the moose trick. But instead of a moose,I have always just used someone from the green party.
"Trust me,you don't want a big baby."
Do you use a vapor barrier inside the moose?
Good discussion...some folks noting what should be the prime concern when considering your bivy scenario...MOISTURE MANAGEMENT. IMAO, you're comfort level is directly proportional to how dry you can keep ALL your gear. You mentioned Alpinists...every one I've climbed with are anal when it comes to keeping moisture out of and off of their gear....especially the sleeping systems of those who are in the field for extended periods...theirs are good systems to model.
Two engineering concepts that really form the basis for keeping your stuff dry: 1) keep the the moisture from entering clothing and sleeping items all together (VBL), 2) you can move the moisture through the objects and collect it somewhere else.
This is how I apply the concepts:
When exerting...I VBL my feet, torso with a vest, and hands when its super cold. When stopping to bivy I remove VBLs and replace with same dry socks on the feet and a sythetic camp over bootie - exp weight capilene top on the torso - the same dry gloves on the hands. Air dry and then stuff the VBL gloves and socks somewhere warm...in my shirt or pants. Just let the unzipped vest hang around my torso to air-out and will sleep with it.
[ I've used Stephanson's VBL's and SealSkinz type socks and gloves for years...trying the RBH products this season and they look really good so far. Camp bootie is my own - make sure the footbed is closed cell foam.]
Your scenario...I would use my down jacket and pants along with a synthetic helmet style hood as the primary insulation for the bivy...the garmets can have double use at standing stops as well.
SOP...we all know you're passing vapor / moisture when ur sleeping...which for some with high metabolisms can be significant, esp if you get into a heavy sleep. Moisture will collect on the inside of the coldest layer (ie the story of the 15lb Steger N. Pole expedition bags - FYI, they switched to Stephanson Triple Bags and Warmlite tents after...won't see that in their sponsor photos).
So collect moisture where it can't hurt you...carry a lightweight synthetic overbag. The overbag will enable you to to extend the use of your down garments by moving the moisture through your down insulation and into the light synthetic bag which, if made properly, will dry quickly and efficiently as well as add insulation.
The pad of your choice - hundreds out there....I use a Pac Outoor Max Thermo which is the lightest / 'highest' off the ground!
[ Be careful with down garments for sleeping...many of the products are using fancy fabrics that claim vapor transport...which many folks have learned the hard way is a fallacy esp if you're static and sleeping in them...my favorite parka is a 1960s polish down filled mountaineering parka that I got at the salvation army 20 years ago...quality down and the outer and inner fabrics are plain jane 2.0 ounce nylon - no coatings or fancy impregnation...it passes vapor as well if not better than anything...I also use Feathered Friends products because they are the only company I know that will custom option your garments with standard lightweight nylon shell fabric.
I'm using a lightweight Lamilite overbag that I made myself from an old Wiggy's original summerbag...cutting down one of Wiggy's newer summertime bags now as well as trying some Big Agnes overbags. ]
Down Jacket: 15oz
Down Pants: 15oz
70oz cold weather bivy system
If you want to cut weight...start with the pants...and add down booties!
You can also see some ideas on the fatbike blog:
Scroll down and READ the comment on the 'camping nugget' post.
'hey I don't race..lol, I just live here'
Last edited by qayaq_alaska; 02-08-2007 at 01:15 AM.
Good info Martin!
The synthetic over bag system is exactally what I use too when I want to sleep all night in really cold. How do you like the big Agnes overbag? I have an old bulky moonstone synthetic but I want to sew up a new one out of primaloft. The thing I really like about the overbag is that when using a tent, all the hoar frost inside the tent gets dumped on the synthetic bag rather than my down bag.
Ok this one's a little different but it works for me, I used it last year in the Ultra Sport. Works best where's there's trees though:
Outer layer: Lightweight synthetic overbag midified by cutting a slit across the foot area and then sewing on 2" velcro on each side of the opening.
Mid layer: Crazy Creek lightweight hammock tied between two convenient trees. If there's no trees you can use the hammock as a bivy bag. The hammock foot straps go through the foot area of the outer bag and the velcro seals off the rest of the opening. Also great as an easy chair for camp lounging.
Thin foam pad inside hammock.
Inner layer: Lightweight down 30 degree mummy bag.
Bike pogies worn on feet as footwarmers.
So you get in the inner bag, then pull the outer bag over the whole set up like a cocoon, tighten the neck cord, and stay warm (unweighted insulation underneath you) and dry (nothing in contact with the snow). Not to mention very comfortable. Beats sleeping on the cold ground.
Lightweight 5 X 9 nylon tarp over that if it snows.
Anyway, weird but works great. I am not making this up.
Few things to try:
1. The vapor barrier bag idea works really well in my experience. I'm a cheap scottish bastard so instead of buying nice Stevenson ones...I use the bagel bag trick. And I carry mulitples b/c you do wear through them if your pushing. The weight of the extras isn't too bad especially if you pack food in them (before using them on the feet-ses!) I've never used more than 3 per foot even in 2000 when it was a big push-a-bike.
I layer with a poly-pro sock only, then the VB, then a neoprene sock, then a -40 baffin liner inside the Lake shoe. This way all my insulation is always dry. At camp, I take off all but the polypro. Cause they dry quickly. Then I have my sleeping socks like Mike. I only use them to sleep in. Fleece works well cause they dry in the sleeping bag that they are kept in and are light and warm for the weight. I dry the neo-s on my chest for the next day...buy unless there was some catastrophic event they stay dry all the time.
If you do use VB, definately get used to them! Many find problems with Trench foot and other problems. Take them off every night and dry your feet!
2 other tips that might help:
1. Warm water bottle in the bag. Hurts on fuel and time spent awake not moving, but works well. But if you make pasta use the water from that. Then drop a tea bag in it in the morning, little powdered milk, white chocolate and sugar and oh yeah, we were talking about socks, not chai
(You could always keep a small bladder in your jacket before camp and use that bag...won't be too warm, but a few degrees might make the difference you are looking for.)
2. Ok, here's my kicker...cheap, light and folds up. The bubble/foil insulation that you can get at Homey-D's or Load's. Look for it near the water heaters, it's got an R value of 14, (most sleeping mats are about an R-1 to R-4). It's super light and can be cut into pannels, taped together well, and could be kept at the bottom of the bag. Make one that fits just inside the foot area of the bag, and keep your feet in there. I made one a few years ago that I actually ran the mat up the length of my back.
It might have been too good cause I over slept!
Keep experimenting and best to everyone racing this year...
do this, Pete
just use the bag you have and fart alot. Works for my wife....
if you have an older, original Darkstar, you can send it back for a new one that's actually a 40 below bag.
This has been incredibly helpful. Wish I had more time to experiment.
Courtesy of Mike Morganson, I know have a -20 down bag to experiment with.
Too bad we arenít getting colder temps right now.
I like the idea of using the poggies or gloves to double as booties and from what I gather it sound like most people do take the time to put on some dry socks at least before crawling in bed.
Iíve been trying to skip this step the past few bivys thinking it would only be a short nap and all that was just too much time wasted, but I think taking a few minutes to remove the boots and put on some dry socks is going to be necessary for any kind of quality sleep.
Iím going to spend the weekend messing with a combination of down bags, my puffy jacket and pants and a light over bag to collect the moisture.
Going to look into sending back the Darkstar too.
Let ya know how it goes.
Down is where it is at for the winter. I have a couple of down bags I use for clmbing and for work. If you are biking in the interior and expect temps in excess of -20 then I would bring along a -20/-30 bag, but for most conditions (especially in sc AK), a overstuffed 0/-5 with a dryloft shell shell and a bivy is a pefect combo. Remember all those other layers you packed along will add extra warmth and wearing them at night will keep them dry. The dryloft shell/ bivy sack combo can be a pain in some circumstances (moisture trapped between layers). I have a Western mountaineering Puma SDL -20 (for big climbs) and a Feathered Friends Ibis (-5/0) for everthing else. I would use the wieght savings from synthetic to down and bring an extra pair of socks. You will still be lighter and more flexible.
I have always used Republicans their slimey layer lets you slip in easier. The only problem is the smell attracts wolverines and ravens in the winter and prevents a goodnight's sleep.
Originally Posted by akdeluxe
Well, I was able to get lots of good advice, at least I hope its good, from this board and some emails.
One little challenge was that I donít have a lot of cash at the moment to blow on new stuff, but luckily Mike M has given me his wifeís - 20 down bag. I found a basic blue closed cell foam, full length pad kicking around my parents garage and bought a lightweight bivy shell online, (I tried to buy it at AMH, but as usual nobody there said a word to me after wandering around for 15 minutes).
I think the full length pad will make a big difference and the down bag couldnít be any worse than the Darkstar and it is significantly smaller. Iíve got some mixed information on whether or not to use the bivy, but Iím going to try it. I like that it covers my head, but there is some concern that it will cause problems by collecting too much moisture. Guess Iíll have to see. Iím also carrying a down jacket I always take and a pair of puffy pants that Iíve owned for some time but never used.
I havenít been able to put anything to the test before the race, but I feel pretty confidant it canít be worse than my precious setup.
I also added a pair of big puffy compressible mitts (also tried to buy at AMH, but online is faster than waiting for employees there to finish talking to their buds) that fit nicely over my feet for sleeping.