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bstach

Sleeping Bag for Summer Mountaineering

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I recently humped my 10 degree 3 season sleeping bag to Colchuck Lake and it was way overkill. I decided it is time to get a summer bag.

 

What do you all use for light-weight summer alpine climbing? Would a 55 degree bag be warm enough?

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Guess it depends on how warm you sleep...and budget of course. Mtn Hardwear makes the super light ultralamina 32 and 45. Synthetic, but compressible and under 1.5lbs for the 45. I'm currently checking those out to replace an old mil surplus summer weight bag. You could always go with a warmer bag if you're bringing a warm puffy jacket along.

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I just got the Mountain Hardware Ultralamina 15 degree. I like it a lot. Compresses much smaller and weighs less than the old 20 degree synthetics that I have used in years past.

 

I also have a 30 degree down which I usually bring for quick overnights on mountaineering trips in the summer. From the standpoint of temperature, it is almost always sufficient for summer mountaineering.

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It depends on how warm you sleep, how many clothes you wear to bed, and the manufacturer of the bag. A 45 degree Western Mountaineering or Feathered Friends bag is likely warmer than a cheaper bag. The FF Vireo looks awesome.

 

I recently picked up a Stoic Somnus (30 degree) on sale from Department of Goods (Backcountry.com) and am liking it a lot. It has 850+ down, Pertex Quantum shell, weighs < 1.5 lbs and seems to be plenty warm so far this summer.

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I use the Western Mountaineering Caribou (35* down) for mid Spring to mid Fall, which weighs 18 oz for the short size. I wear extra clothes to bed in the shoulder seasons and sometimes I'm a bit cold but I think that's a fair trade for such a light bag. If I had to do it again, I'd probably opt for the WM Highlite, which is also a 35* down bag and weighs 16 oz, though it's cut a bit slimmer than the Caribou. Pro Mountain Sports carries both (shop local!) and Jim Nelson has a wealth of knowledge about all things Cascades.

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+1 for the FF Vireo

 

Rated 25F for the lower and 45F(?) for the upper - it's made to use with a big puffy in cold conditions and sans when it's warmer. Opposed to a 1/2 bag, it actually comes up and slightly over my shoulders (if you get it long enough - check dimensions) so I sleep better than in other minimalist bags.

 

I think 1.0lbs and it only takes up 1/2 of an OR dry stuff sack - puffy, etc goes in other half. A better visualization would be to imagine your sleeping bag packed down to the size of a large grapefruit.

 

I actually use this bag on winter multi day ski trips with a phat puffy - just eat lots of butter before you nod off and sleep in a snow shelter . .

 

Only downfall is no zipper - when it's truly warm out (like 60F nights in Boston Basin) you can't unzip and drape it over you. It's in or out.

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I use the Western Mountaineering Caribou (35* down) for mid Spring to mid Fall

Same with me, and have been very happy. Can push it to low 30's with a bivy sack.

 

Regarding the 55-degree bag option, I've got a crappy 40-rated (50 in reality) synthetic bag which I don't carry in the back country because I sometimes get cold just family camping with it. On very mild nights it would be great, but it's too hard to predict when it will be inadequate.

 

Given how light a nice 30-degree down bag is, not much reason to go thinner, IMO. Would not sacrifice a zipper though.

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Just like skies, it's always best to have a "quiver" of bags, depending on conditions and terrain. IMHO

 

There are some very nice "pounders" available for light weight summer trips. Down fill and about a pound, pick you a brand that is quality.

 

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We used Marmot Plasma 40 degree bags (http://marmot.com/products/plasma_40) on Baker and Rainier this season, in good weather of course. They weigh barely over a pound and did OK sleeping in our down jackets and with a hot water bottle thrown in the bag.

 

That said, if I were to make the purchase again I would get a 30 degree to sleep a bit more comfortably with less waking up. At least sleeping on snow with thin z-lite mats, the 40 bordered on diminishing returns from the "light is right" philosophy. It's probably perfect if you are sleeping on dirt in the summer at lower elevation though.

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Thanks for all the input. Cost really isn't the biggest consideration for me. What I was looking to get out of this thread is:

1) What is the minimum temperature rating I should be considering (yes, I know it depends on how warm I sleep and if I wear a puffy jacket). I already have a 10 degree bag, so would err on the side of a slightly higher temp rated bag - if the forcast is dodgy or for cooler temps, i can always bring my 10 degree bag

2) Specific recommendations for uber light / good weight to warmth ratio bags

 

Right now I am thinking a 40 degree down bag sounds perfect. I can always wear my puffy jacket with it and use it with a bivy sack in colder temps. Probably the 55 degree bag i was looking at will be too warm and at 670grams (~1.5 lbs), probably better weight to warmth options oput there.

 

 

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I know I said price wasn't the biggest consideration...but $419 for that Marmot bag!!! Sweet Jesus!!

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Yes, the Marmot Plasma bags are very expensive. I got a deal on it.

 

Feathered Friends has 900 fill bags and is usually cheaper with more fill weight than the bigger brands for their down products, but it looks like they only go as light as 30 degrees for their ultralight options.

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I also used the same Marmot Plasma 40 degree bag Jake uses on the same climbs with him. I found it to be not warm enough to be comfortable at all. I often wake up at night somewhat cold but it is warm enough to sleep through most of the night.

 

I did bring the same 40 degree bag to Rainier in the dead of winter in 0 degree temps. I shivered my ass off and hardly slept but I was able to get some rest and climb the next day.

 

I recommend you do something similar where you try out some bags in way colder temps than you expect to find. Obviously do this somewhere very safe where not sleeping and then retreating is not a concern. I found that knowing what a truly cold night is like took a lot of the fear out of light shivering. Before I had the confidence builder of a really cold night I would often worry about hypothermia and frostbite and those worries interrupted my sleep as much as the real cold.

 

I also have a Marmot 0 degree down bag that I basically never use anymore now that I have gotten used to shivering in a 40 degree bag.

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In the end I think I should mention I own 0 degree and 40 degree bags but I would be happier with a single 20 or 30 degree bag. I suppose the 0 will be nice someday for other climbs but I feel for spring and summer it is not needed for myself.

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Thanks for all the input. Cost really isn't the biggest consideration for me. What I was looking to get out of this thread is:

1) What is the minimum temperature rating I should be considering (yes, I know it depends on how warm I sleep and if I wear a puffy jacket). I already have a 10 degree bag, so would err on the side of a slightly higher temp rated bag - if the forcast is dodgy or for cooler temps, i can always bring my 10 degree bag

2) Specific recommendations for uber light / good weight to warmth ratio bags

 

Right now I am thinking a 40 degree down bag sounds perfect. I can always wear my puffy jacket with it and use it with a bivy sack in colder temps. Probably the 55 degree bag i was looking at will be too warm and at 670grams (~1.5 lbs), probably better weight to warmth options oput there.

 

 

I'd go for the 40 or 32 degree bags. Perfect for summer and fall use. Check out these bags from Western Mountaineering:

 

http://www.prolitegear.com/western-mountaineeing-summerlite-sleeping-bag.html

 

http://www.prolitegear.com/western-mountaineeing-highlite-sleeping-bag.html

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I've never used a quilt, but I'm considering for my next purchase...

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Ultralight-Sleeping-Bag-Reviews

 

I've used an alpinist (older design) from Nunatak. 20 degrees; 25 ounces; zipperless. A little warm for summer in the cascades but perfect for winter in the cascades or spring in Alaska on route. Made in Washington (Twisp!) and worth every penny IMO

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Would a 55 degree bag be warm enough?

 

It would be for me. I run pretty hot naturally though... My wife purchased a 55deg liner for her 35deg bag because she just couldn't get warm enough in that...

 

I use both (much to her chagrin) now way more than my down bag. Used the 35deg in the open on Granite Peak a few years ago at 12,100 and did ok with clothes on... Used it up on the Eldorado Glacier this year tented with a partner and was real comfy...

 

That 55 deg liner is real light, and should be good for warm nights up high if need be...

 

d

 

 

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the unpleasant answer is that you will have to try the bag and see if it works for you. Some people sleep "hot". Luckily, I can get by with one of those liner bags (50 degree) for most of the non winter times. No way to know till you try and succeed or shiver.

 

the 40 degree bag sounds like a good option though. I have a FF lightweight something bag (non vero) and I like it alot too.

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For summer and ultralight I use an old (vintage 1989) NF "Lightrider" -- it was a forerunner of today's "pounders" - a one pound down bag with no side block baffle opposite the zipper, so that you can shake all the down to the top side of the bag for cooler nights, or to the bottom side when you really don't even need a bag... I don't even remember its temp rating, but it couldn't be lower than about forty. You want an ultralight summer bag? FF, WM, Marmot, and others all offer something in 800+ goose down at about a pound. Choose the one with the features you want.

 

Then consider pairing it with a wide-body three season bag for extreme cold. Back in 1991 I ordered a fifteen-degree bag from FF with their "extra-girth-option". It makes a luxuriously comfortable three-season bag with room for the lightrider to fully loft when used as a liner inside it. I've used the pair ski-touring in the Alaska Range in February. The FF bag, at two-pounds-plus, is my "three-season" bag, though I routinely use it by itself for winter trips in the Cascades. And the Lightrider is my ultralight workhorse - its one-pound total has pulled duty for desert trips, Rainier climbs, and even as a half-bag paired with an expedition-weight down jacket on the South Face of Aconcagua in 1990.

 

 

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Like ARBrandon and genepires have wisely stated, it depends on how warm you sleep and the conditions you are in. Another brand to consider is Montbell. They make a UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 bag for $299 that might work for you. My own search brought me to the Feathered Friends Merlin UL. 30 degree rating. 900+ fill, 1 lb. 7 oz. for $385. Best summer bag I've ever used. Good luck with your choice!

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I have used a Marmot 15 degree bag for years with good success except for the 3-pound weight. With this in mind I'm in the market for a lighter summer bag. I rented a rented FF Vireo for 5 nights last week at elevations of 5-7K most nights. I wanted to try before buying due to the minimalist design (no zipper or hood). I wore a medium weight down jacket (FF hyperion) and a fairly thin hat. It probably got down to the high 30's most nights and I was not in either a tent or a bivy sack. I was actually a bit warm in the legs and a fairly cold in the body so you would probably want to pair it with a heavier down jacket (FF recommends the helios or heavier) and warmer headgear. The tent or bivy sack might have solved the cold issues at these temps but probably wouldn't provide enough warmth once you get below freezing, which often happens in early summer and early fall. The 16 oz weight is great but I missed not having a zipper to let my legs cool during the beginning of the night when it was warm. If I were to buy one I'd add a couple oz of down and a down hood, which would get the weight up to about 20 oz. The FF Merlin (rated to 30 degrees) weights 24 oz and I think the zipper and build-in hood is worth the extra 4 oz. This experience with the Vireo indicated that a 40 degree bag is not warm enough for most of the stuff that I do. I really don't sleep well when I'm cold.

Edited by scottk

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