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  1. #1
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    Help with sleeping gear

    Hello all,

    I'm trying to do some backpacking in Mexico, so the lowest temperature I will probably get is about 35 F at night. So here come the questions.

    1. I'm looking for a light sleeping bag than can take that temperature or close to it.
    2. I'm wondering whether I should get a tent or just a bivy.
    3. What's your opinion on sleeping pads. Necessary?

    I'm trying to fit all of this and most of my gear in a 55 Liter backpack and maybe a seat bag.

    Oh, also I'm kind of on a tight budget, so being able to get all of the gear for as little money as possible would be great.

    Thanks a lot for your help guys.
    Last edited by jojemoruga; 12-23-2014 at 12:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Positively negative
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    Sleeping pads are a necessity. You will stay much warmer with one. On a very tight budget you may look in foil window shades, like http://www.amazon.com/Insulated-Foil.../dp/B004R72OE2, they are commonly used by budgetpackers.

    Also, you can make a passable bar roll with a simple dry sack and some straps. Some will even use this method for a simple seatbag. That will help you get some weight off your back.

  3. #3
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    If, by Bivy, you mean the sleeping bags designed to be used without a tent, I'd say no, bivy bags are not as great as they seem when you're sleeping in one with no overhead shelter. If, however, you mean the ultra small tents, no problem as long as you can fit all your gear inside.

    Few 10F sleeping bags are truly good for 10F. If you are going to take a low-end lightweight bag ($100-200) and "make it work", you're going to want a bit of regular tent around you to capture some of your heat output. If you are going to be where winds can be strong when it's 10F, you are also going to want a windproof shell for your tent. Lightweight poly ground tarps work well for this. Shelling out for a four season tent probably works as well, don't know, can't afford.

    Making a cheap(ish) bag work can be simple. I like to bring an emergency reflective blanket that I can wrap around my sleeping bag. A few thicknesses of thick wool socks to help moderate temp and I'm good to go.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jojemoruga View Post
    Hello all,

    1. I'm looking for a light sleeping bag than can take that temperature or close to it.
    2. I'm wondering whether I should get a tent or just a bivy.
    3. What's your opinion on sleeping pads. Necessary?
    1. 10 F or -12 C seems pretty cold to me; I would be surprised if you can get a light/not bulky bag to cope with those temperatures.

    2. However if you can cope with a bivy you might be able to get a warmer bag as the bivy will help with the cold.

    3. Sleeping mat is a must for this old man ... I am reasonably happy with my Exped Synmat UL 7 and it packs down pretty small.

    Andrew

  5. #5
    The devil is an angel too
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post
    1. 10 F or -12 C seems pretty cold to me; I would be surprised if you can get a light/not bulky bag to cope with those temperatures.

    2. However if you can cope with a bivy you might be able to get a warmer bag as the bivy will help with the cold.

    3. Sleeping mat is a must for this old man ... I am reasonably happy with my Exped Synmat UL 7 and it packs down pretty small.

    Andrew
    I would also recommend the Exped Downmat Lite 5 as a slightly bulkier but cheaper option to the Synmat UL 7. The downmat weighs 200 grams more, but it also has a higher R value.

    And with regards to the sleeping bag, it seems like 10F is really cold for Mexico. As in, record cold temperatures. Certainly possible in places, but I would really check into how often you really expect to encounter those temperatures. Because if you are looking at maybe one night or two at 10F and the rest at +30F, you are going to roast on that heavy bag. I'd carry a lighter bag and some insulated clothes (down sweater and pants) to boost the bag. You are going to want to have the insulated/warmer clothes to have around camp anyways.

  6. #6
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    Thanks a lot for your help so far, very useful advise.

    On the temperature, I hadn't noticed until now that I put it wrong the first time, my minimum temperatures will be around 35 F (already edited on the original post).

    Thanks again for your ongoing advise.

  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    Just an idea but how about a hammock? After I got one I'm not going back to sleeping in tents. They are lightweight, easy to set up and gets you off the ground. I've got the jungle hammock and I've been really happy with it here in tropics. They say you can put a sleeping pad inside to add comfort and warmth but I've never tried. Downside is that you need trees or something to attach it to.

    http://mosquitohammock.com/

  9. #9
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    Sleeping pad: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
    Sleeping pad is more important than you think. The cheapest blue pad is not good enough at 35. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOlite Sleeping Pad is 29.99 at REI

    Bivy/Tent: Amazon.com : Wenzel Star lite Hiker 1 Person Tent : Backpacking Tents : Sports & Outdoors =? Do you think it will rain where you are going? The cheapest tent is not water tight most likely. The cheapest fix is a plastic tarp to cover the tent with. 1 $200 tent does last longer than 10 $20 tents

    30 bag means you can stay alive at 30 with a cheap blue thing. If you want comfort go 10 or 15 below what you expect.

    55 Liter backpack
    have you ever riden your bike a long ways with a large backpack before? Try it first before you set out on the main journey.

    Amazon.com: Adventure Medical Kits Sol Emergency Blanket, One Person, 2.9 Ozs.: Health & Personal Care
    $4.50 99 grams, exactly what it says it is an emergency blanket. If you find yourself shivering in the night, you open it and stop shivering.

    At night, zip your coat and pull it over the out side of your bag, Dont wear clothes or socks in your bag. When you reach the outer limit of your sleep gear try it with out clothes, this is not a guess!

    You did not say where in Mexico. Are you talking January and mountains? The coldest temp I have seen is 22f. That was at 8pm, a crawled in my bag early that day. That was at 6,000 feet in northern baja. It got colder through the night. I have seen freezing temps in the mountains of Chiaps also.

    REi garage sale is good to a carefull shopper

  10. #10
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    Personally, I wouldn't skimp on a sleeping bag or a sleeping pad for that matter. If sleeping is a priority to you on your trip, being comfortable at night is well worth the expense.

    I'm using a Feathered Friends Winter Wren and an Exped sleeping pad. It doesn't get much more comfy than this. Plenty of leg room to move around in the Rock Wren and it's easily good into the teens with extra layers.

    My go to tent is an older model Montbell that is surprisingly light and has held up well for the amount of time my wife and I have spent in it.

    Also, an ultralight pillow is nice too.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  11. #11
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    Sleeping pads are definitely necessary, as people have said. If you're lucky enough to be the kind of person who can sleep comfortably on one, a roll-up foam mat (not a yoga mat; they don't insulate - get one from an outdoors store) can do the job just fine. Their advantages are in price, but most importantly in reliability - they won't get a puncture out there in the desert. Punctures often aren't field repairable, because if they're very small, you can't find the puncture except by dipping the pad in a bathtub!

    Inflatable mats are really comfy though, and they also roll up more compact. I love having one, even though I really had to splurge to get one that's durable and very warm (the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm). Due to paranoia about leaks as mentioned above (which I had a lot of with my previous pad, the NeoAir XLite), I like to use something underneath the pad inside the tent, for extra protection. If car camping that'll just be a thick foam mat, but it can also just be a thin sheet of plastic or even some garbage bags. Anything to keep jagged little rocks or sharp desert plants from somehow working their way through the groundsheet and tent floor, as must have been happening before.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThaiMTB View Post
    Just an idea but how about a hammock?
    Hammocks are cold in cool weather. You can try to sleep on a pad in a hammock, but I have not had that be successful. The dedicated cold weather hammock users hang insulation outside and under the hammock to keep the bottom of the shelter warm, but it's a bunch extra to carry and setup each time.

    I think a small tent, sleeping bag and pad is a lighter and more compact option for cold weather use.

    This "problem" with hammocks being cooler is an advantage in hot weather where a tent/sleeping pad would be too hot.
    Safe riding,

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jojemoruga View Post
    So far I'm thinking of getting the following gear:

    What's your opinion on those?
    My main concern will be that the sleeping bag won't be comfortable down to 35F with that sleeping pad.

    Virtually every cold weather trip I've been on with folks that are not used to those temps [usually summer campers] they have been cold and miserable all night because the sleeping bag + pad they brought did not do what they expected.

    Make sure you test drive whatever you buy in as similar conditions as you have available to you where you live so you can confirm down to what temps you can sleep comfortably before you are on your trip.

    I've camped throughout Baja in winer and 35F isn't uncommon in the desert at night. The coast will be warmer.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  14. #14
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    I'll second the REI garage sale. I've picked up a 20* down bag for $50 and a Black Diamond tent for $113.

    To a certain extent, you get what you pay for with backpacking gear.

    A $20 sleeping bag may get you through the trip, but it may not. The seams may split. The insulation may clump. The zipper may snag and break. And, the temperature rating may be generous. While there are some standardized tests for bag ratings, most companies don't use them. I'd guess that bag is more a 45-50* bag than a 30* bag.

    I'm not advocating that you spend $600+ on a ultralight down bag. But, with your possible survival on the line, you have to be able to trust that your gear will function as needed.

    Also, to the idea that you should be naked in your bag, bollocks. More insulation equals more warmth. I wear a down jacket inside my bag on especially cold nights. So long as the bag isn't so tight that it compresses the insulation, you'll be warmer with more clothing than with less.

    I like my inflatable sleeping pad. You can survive without one, given good site selection, but take the comment about insulation to heart. When you lay down in your bag, your body compresses the insulation on the bottom of the bag, reducing its effectiveness. The pad makes up for that.

    Unless you expect torrential rain, you can pare your shelter down to a tarp and bug net. Better to get a decent tarp than a cheap tent. Cheap tents suffer from the same defects as cheap bags. They split, break, tear, and are generally fragile. The one you selected is not free standing and won't survive much wind.

    $100 is a reasonable amount to spend on a new bag. You can also find nice, used bags for that amount. You can find a new, quality, inflatable pad for $50 or less. Used pads are tough because of the pinhole factor. Pick up an army poncho for dual purpose rain gear/shelter.

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