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Old 05-22-09, 11:23 PM   #1
rodar y rodar
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Insulated pants/parka rather than sleeping bag?

I`m just considering at this point- maybe somebody else has gone this route?

I can be plenty comfy in a big bag, but tighter ones just don`t cut it even though I`m pretty small. Last year I bought a new midlevel synthetic semi mummy bag for summer use and it`s definitely smaller and lighter than any bag I`ve had before, warm enough for the conditions I`ve tried it in, but still not comfortable for me. I knew I`d never be able to deal with a full mummy style bag, so I went with a half and half solution and it buggs me to no end to not be able to spread my legs apart, even though I never noticed before that I tend to sleep that way. There`s a very limited selection of lightweight rectangular bags and when I got to thinking about all that extra material needed to make a big ol rectangular bag VS a more form fitting one my mind kind of drifted to insulated clothes as an alternative to sleeping bags. It would still require more material than a mummy bag, but considerably less than the square bags that I use for car camping. Just in a quick search, I found Montbell 800 fill down pants- about 7 oz and US$140 MSRP- hmmm... Or maybe insulated snowboard pants with a parka? Anybody else here already solved the problem of legs tied together? Anyone tried clothes instead of a bag for some other reason?
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Old 05-23-09, 12:50 AM   #2
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You're sort of in a pickle. Montbell makes absolutely fanatastic gear (I've used their synthetic jacket and pants to add another full 10 degrees to a sleeping bag). But if you want something more, you're going to have to get a lower temp. rated bag. Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends are the two I trust. FF really has their - deg. stuff down pat. (more so then WM because of the customization fabric options, and use of snaps instead of velcro at the neck/head areas.)
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Old 05-23-09, 01:17 AM   #3
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I can be plenty comfy in a big bag, but...
Consider Nunatak, particularly the Arc Alpinist. Excellent quality, warm and compressible (down), lightweight, fabric choices, interesting design concept that works -- but unfortunately not inexpensive.
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Old 05-23-09, 02:51 AM   #4
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look into quilts, lot of plans for them, Ray Jardine sells a kit.
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Old 05-23-09, 04:30 AM   #5
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Maybe a quilt- I did think about them last year, then nixed the idea and bought my sleeping bag. If nothing else, I think that`s what planted the idea in my head that sleeping bags weren`t the only way to go. I`m still a bit skeptical though.

Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends and Nunatak definitely have some interresting stuff, but it`s all WAY out of my price range. Even the $140 Montbell pants would be tough to explain to my wife- the Ray Way is more my speed. For now, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of pants and parka. I think the best way to find out would be to layer myself up in whatever sweats I can find in our dresser and closets and see how I like it. If it goes well, then think about refining things. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 05-23-09, 05:36 AM   #6
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Just a thought- wouldn't wearing huge pants all night, after riding all day, possibly cause some ill health effects on a long tour?
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Old 05-23-09, 11:43 AM   #7
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I and my friends have tried a variety of schemes in the mountaineering and big wall climbing context. This includes various kinds of warm pants and down jacket/shell combinations, down "elephants foot" (which is just a half sleeping bag), and just suffering out in the open (which can work for one or two nights). In the end, a light down (mummy) bag seems to be the most efficient in terms of warmth for the weight and size.

I know the OP doesn't like mummies but...
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Old 05-23-09, 02:49 PM   #8
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The vapor barrier idea can be useful for this. It is described well by Jack Stephenson; you can probably find it by googling "Warmlite, vapor barriers, Jack Stephenson."

Layering and vapor barriers, good insulation from cold ground -- I don't see why you couldn't do it all without the expensive ready-made stuff.

In moderate temperatures, it wouldn't be too difficult to make this approach work.

If it is too warm, vapor barriers can be uncomfortable; but partial vapor barriers can still be useful (materials such as thin, uncoated nylon windbreaker fabrics that slow the movement of water vapor, but do not block it entirely).
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Old 05-23-09, 03:53 PM   #9
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A vote for quilts here too. Yet a quilt can be made from a portion of any comforter-down or synthetic that covers you effectively with a suitable pad under you. As temperatures drop you add clothes and VBL and finally put this whole package inside a light weight breathable bivy to retain more heat as needed. Not the prettiest, lightest or least bulky end result but very effective.

After using your inexpensive creation you can then decide if you want to move up the financial and performance scale to Nunatak, Jack'sRBetter or a DIY with better warmer and lighter materials.

Have fun with your experiment!
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Old 05-23-09, 05:47 PM   #10
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Maybe a square bag or quilt wouldn't be such a bad idea. The problem with what you suggest is not so much in getting warm enough, but in cooking yourself on the warmer nights! There seems to be little flexibility with obtaining the sometimes necessary airflow. Unless there's some way of venting the pants and parka without letting all the heat escape, I don't really see how it would work in all but the most narrow of temperature range.

I love the idea of perfectly free movement, though. I like to sleep totally splayed out, and it took a while to get used to the confinement of a mummy bag. It still gets irritating!
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Old 05-23-09, 09:02 PM   #11
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Thanks, everyone- a lot of food for thought here. As it happens, I have the perfect opportunity to experiment comming up in about three weeks. My wife and I are taking my nieces car camping in the Lassen/Burney area for a week and I`m riding home to Reno from there. While we still have the car with us I`ll see how it goes sleeping on top of my air mat in poly long johns and/or sweats, and try the sleeping bag over me, quilt style if neccessary. By the time they leave me on my own, I`ll have a good idea what to keep on the bike and what to send back in the car. I`m looking at altitudes around 6000-7000ft in June. That`s pretty consistant with most of my bike trips, so it should be a good indication of what`s going to work for me.

Raiden, are you talking about jock itch or something similar? I won`t say it`s out of the question but I really can`t see any issue there. We`ll find out.

Vapor bariers- I`ll look into that.

J.C. K Yeah, layering with stuff I already carry would probably be a better way to go than toasty and expensive single piece clothing. Better regulation and no need to buy/tote more crap.
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Old 05-24-09, 12:49 AM   #12
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Here is an option.

Use a tarp to wrap (loosely) around you. I use this method when I hike. On a bike a 4 pound sleeping bag is nothing.


Will you be in a tent? That changes everything. You could get by with a blanket and some clothes on.
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Old 05-24-09, 04:49 AM   #13
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I have seen a military version sleeping bag with both arms and legs (so you can jump up and start fighting without getting out of the bag). The germans used to have one with arms, but not legs... I'll see if I can google up something as I don't remember which country it was. Maybe a local military shop could point you in the right direction if this would be interesting...

just a thought... lightweight survival suit??
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Old 06-14-09, 01:50 AM   #14
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Experiment cancelled. I tried out sweat pants and long johns in conjunction with a small blanket in the backyard and got cold in the wee hours. Temps were down to the mid 40s- unusually cold for this time of year around here, but I`m a few thousand feet lower than I`ll be on next week`s trip. Besides that, my favorite camping is in the Fall and if I can`t be comfortable to at least the freezing point I`m not going to have a very good time. The blanket thing doesn`t work for me- as long as it stayed in place, I was fine but every time I rolled over I lost it. I remember that some of the packing specific quilts have a system to tie it around your back, but then when I roll over the quilt or blanket would roll with me and I`d be stuck with my ***** hanging out- literally. Fortunately, somebody from work expressed interest in a pistol that I offered to sell him a few months ago and this time we worked out a deal that financed a new bag. I went down to REI and rolled around in a few bags from the Big Agnes Classic series- plenty of room. I bought one and it passed the backyard test. Actually I`m thinking I`d have been better off with the 30 deg bag (Fish Hawk) than the 15 deg (Lost Ranger), but REI doesn`t carry the 30 anyway, so that made the decision easy. The field test starts Tues night and I expect it to do fine. Now, what to do with the remaining $150 that I got from the dayshift machinist. Hmmm....

Last edited by rodar y rodar; 06-14-09 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 06-14-09, 10:57 AM   #15
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What about this http://www.altrec.com/lippi/selk-bag-1?
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Old 06-14-09, 03:06 PM   #16
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I remember one moutaineer I spent a night with on some rocky ledge in Yosemite Valley took aspirin to keep warm. Far as I can make out it didn't really work.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:50 PM   #17
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I and my friends have tried a variety of schemes in the mountaineering and big wall climbing context. This includes various kinds of warm pants and down jacket/shell combinations, down "elephants foot" (which is just a half sleeping bag), and just suffering out in the open (which can work for one or two nights). In the end, a light down (mummy) bag seems to be the most efficient in terms of warmth for the weight and size.

I know the OP doesn't like mummies but...
This is my background as well. Why would you want anything less than a comfy bag for sleeping. Always keep in mind that they are designed that way to keep you warm and not designed this way to be a torture device. Learn to roll over with the bag instead of trying to roll around in it.

Learn to embrace the mummy
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Old 06-14-09, 06:31 PM   #18
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That's the key; allow the bag to move with you.

An additional element, get a bag with a full length, double pull, zipper that can be unzipped from the bottom so that a leg can be put outside the bag. It helps provide ventilation on warm nights, but permits being closed to the outside when temperatures drop, so you're not constantly heating ambient air.

Vapor barriers are great for extending the temperature range of sleeping bags, but aren't necessary above freezing temps, and can be like spending the night in a sauna if the perspiration rate can't be balanced with body temp.
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Old 06-14-09, 08:41 PM   #19
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Thank you- THAT`s what I was looking for, though it didn`t come up in my searching. Anyway, I think the B.A. Classic series is going to be dandy. If it doesn`t work out for some unforseen reason, I`ll probably give the suit from Altrec a shot.

Thanks for the other tips too, but you guys seem to be missing the point. A mummy bag is exactly what I don`t want- the one I was trying to get away from was a semi mummy style and even that was way too restrictive for me. Cold isn`t an issue with most of my bags either- I just didn`t stay warm when I kept uncovering myself with the clothes+quilt experiment. Maybe clothes+quilt+aspirin would have worked Anyway, I really think Big Agnes is going to be my personal fit. I bought one of their air mats and tried it out on my last trip and it was awesome! Might as well go full scale Aggie. Well, I don`t need the Seedhouse since it`s pretty much the same thing as my Quarterdome.
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Old 06-15-09, 12:48 AM   #20
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I've worn clothing in lieu of a sleeping bag on numerous occasions. It works fine for me but took getting used to as my body is so accustomed to either a bag or a blanket on top of me.

I also found that I got a lot of zits on my neck from the collar so I'd avoid this option if you are prone to acne at all or if you can't wash both yourself and your clothes often.

I don't recall who makes it, probably Integral Designs, but theres a jacket and 3/4 length bag combo for alpinists which you might want to look at.
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Old 06-15-09, 05:45 AM   #21
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I have seen a military version sleeping bag with both arms and legs (so you can jump up and start fighting without getting out of the bag). The germans used to have one with arms, but not legs... I'll see if I can google up something as I don't remember which country it was. Maybe a local military shop could point you in the right direction if this would be interesting...

just a thought... lightweight survival suit??
This should be similar to what you have in mind. It's a modular sleeping bag from Kifaru with several options for temperature rating (-20, 0, 20, 40 degrees) and size (regular, large). It's expensive-- the cheapest combination of upper, middle and lower sections goes for about $500.

Modular Over Bag Regulator

The upper and middle sections can be worn as clothing of sorts. You'd have to buy the arms separately (and they cost $80+!!!).

Last edited by 5b00; 06-15-09 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Typo
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