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Old 01-18-10, 09:47 PM   #1
bgp2
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sleeping bag

So, I am cycling solo, self contained from Washington to Maine in July, 2011. What are your suggestions for a quality, ultra-lightweight, inexpensive, small stuff stack size, durable synthetic or down bag for a 62 yo geezer, 5'5" 170 lbs? Is a 40 degree bag in the mtns and the desert areas doable or what. If down gets wet - I'm screwed. Yet, synthetic is bulky & heavier. I have to keep the costs, weight and pack size down.? What have you long distance touring dudes used?

Also, what kind of sleeping pad would be appropriate for a 4000 mile journey like this - with the above criteria?
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Old 01-18-10, 09:59 PM   #2
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Early or late July? Asking because if your leaving late July you will be getting into October or close to it. Makes quite a difference. When I did mine (left Aug 10th)I was glad I had a 20 degree down bag because it was getting pretty darn brisk towards the end. Was overkill for parts.... but in the end I was happy to have it.
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Old 01-18-10, 10:16 PM   #3
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Haven't toured yet but I have a 35 degree synthetic bag that I got on clearance from REI. I backpack with and it is very light weight and compresses to be quite small. I put it in a compression sack and in the bottom of my backpack. I'm also expecting to use a compression sack for my first tour this summer. The compression sack not only makes it smaller but also keeps it clean and is added security to keep it dry.

I also use a liner which keeps you warmer on cold nights + helps keep the inside of you bag clean. Then on warm nights when it is too hot for the bag I just use the liner by itself
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Old 01-18-10, 10:20 PM   #4
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Use a good stuff sack, line it with a garbage bag and your down bag won't get wet. A silk sleeping bag liner (http://www.rei.com/product/708744) will add a little warmth to your bag and keep it clean, you just have to wash the liner every once in a while instead of the whole bag. A clean sleeping bag is a warm sleeping bag, especially if it's down. For what you describe, I would use a 40 degree bag with a liner, and maybe wear a hat on extra cold nights. Everyone's metabolism is a little different, what works for me might not work for you.

Western Mountaineering and Marmot make beautiful down bags, very well made and they tend to live up to their temperature ratings. Cheap down bags are frequently false economy, they have cold spots or the down doesn't last.

"quality, ultra lightweight, inexpensive": If you get two out of three of those, you've done well.
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Old 01-18-10, 11:15 PM   #5
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Check out Feathered Friends in Seattle. I love the Winter Wren. It is a great all-round bag, very versatile, but not everyone's cup of tea. It meets two of three of Markf's criteria, light and high quality, definitely not cheap, but you get what you pay for. If I had the $$, I would buy a regular 35 degree Rock Wren for warm weather.

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Old 01-18-10, 11:38 PM   #6
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Check out Feathered Friends in Seattle. I love the Winter Wren. It is a great all-round bag, very versitile, but not everone's cup of tea. It meets two of three of Markf's criteria, light and high quality, definitely not cheap, you get what you pay for. If I had the $$, I would buy a regular 35 degree Wren for warm weather.
They are great bags. I have one.... Not that model. Only problem I see is that the OP was looking for non expensive bags. These like you mentioned do not fit that requirement... not even close.

Maybe something like the Marmot Trestles? It's a 30 degree bag that weighs approx 3 lbs and costs $89 at rei full retail. In a few weeks if your a member you should be able to pick it up for that minus 20% when the once yearly thing starts.

http://www.rei.com/product/795912
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Old 01-19-10, 12:09 AM   #7
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FWIW-- New synthetic bags are as warm, comparible to down in compression, dry quickly, and are warm when they are wet. No matter how you protect your bag it will get damp. Mountaineering and climbing are my other vices and I spend a lot of tent time in all kinds of weather. Your foot against a tent wall will pick up condensation from the tent wall. I have a down bag, but it sits in the closet most of the time. I also have an arsenal of synthetic bags ranging from -20 to +45. The +45 is Ok for most short trips when you have an idea of the weather. I agree with Kyakdiver about using a warmer bag for extended trips or times of unpredictable weather. Our main bike bag is a Marmot "Pounder Plus" rated at +25. It is under 2 pounds, uses Primaloft insulation and compresses nicely.

For a cross country trip I used a Themarest ProLite 4 full length. The luxury was worth the extra weigt. The pictures below show the size of the tent, thermarest , and bag compressed. The water bottle is for scale. We use the same tent for bike tours and for late fall and spring ski trips ( a little over 4 lbs.). The yellow/green bag is the sleeping bag, the blue bag is the tent, and the orange is the thermarest. The little red MSR "pocket rocket stove is the same one we use on most bike tours.



In the lower left picture the compressible pillow and sil-nylon ground cloth are also shown. All this fits easily into a medium sized Ortlieb rack pack.
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Old 01-19-10, 08:13 AM   #8
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I have a 40 degree syn and a 25 degree down and cut the hoods off both to save on bulk. If cold, I use a wool watch cap. Leave in June or early July, and a 40 degree syn should be fine. A liner is a great idea. http://www.rei.com/product/778169

Been using a full length Thermarest for years. http://www.rei.com/product/780995. 8x10" packed. Their newest model is the Neo Air which is lighter, packs smaller, and is thicker when inflated. The older model that I use self inflates in about 10 minutes, and then you finish it off with a few breaths. The Neo Air does not self inflate. Takes some huffing and puffing, but is reportedly more comfortable.

Don't skimp on the pad.
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Old 01-20-10, 03:42 PM   #9
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GearTrade - ALPS Mountaineering - Slick Rock Sleeping Bag: 20 Degree Primaloft Blue
Here you go. 40 bucks for a quality bag with modern lightweight Primaloft Sport insulation.
GearTrade - ALPS Mountaineering - Navajo Sleeping Bag: 20F Degree Down Rust, Reg
Twice as expensive but it's filled with 650+ fill power down so it weighs 4oz less and compresses smaller.

My plan is to buy a bag with quality insulation and cut it down into a quilt. I should end up with a 20 degree quilt which weighs less than 2lbs and costs less than Ray Jardine's kit.
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Old 01-20-10, 04:28 PM   #10
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I just saw the Lafuma Pro 650 fill down bag on Steep and Cheap for $90. I don't have any personal experience, but 650 is a decent down quality. It weights 1 lb 9 oz and is rated down to 30 deg F. It seems like a good deal to me. It will turn up again on Steep and Cheap or you could look around to see if it is at bargain prices somewhere else. Spadout is a great place to check for discounted prices on gear.
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Old 01-20-10, 04:37 PM   #11
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I just saw the Lafuma Pro 650 fill down bag on Steep and Cheap for $90. I don't have any personal experience, but 650 is a decent down quality. It weights 1 lb 9 oz and is rated down to 30 deg F. It seems like a good deal to me. It will turn up again on Steep and Cheap or you could look around to see if it is at bargain prices somewhere else. Spadout is a great place to check for discounted prices on gear.
I saw that too. The description said the down fill was actually 750 (lousy name for sure) That makes it comparable in weight and rating to my Marmot Arroyo 30.

I got my Arroyo on Geartrade.com for about half of retail.
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Old 01-20-10, 04:44 PM   #12
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Use a good stuff sack, line it with a garbage bag and your down bag won't get wet. A silk sleeping bag liner (http://www.rei.com/product/708744) will add a little warmth to your bag and keep it clean, you just have to wash the liner every once in a while instead of the whole bag. A clean sleeping bag is a warm sleeping bag, especially if it's down. For what you describe, I would use a 40 degree bag with a liner, and maybe wear a hat on extra cold nights. Everyone's metabolism is a little different, what works for me might not work for you.

Western Mountaineering and Marmot make beautiful down bags, very well made and they tend to live up to their temperature ratings. Cheap down bags are frequently false economy, they have cold spots or the down doesn't last.

"quality, ultra lightweight, inexpensive": If you get two out of three of those, you've done well.
I agree, with a little bit of gear management a down sleeping bag is not burdensome at all. Here is a great bag by Montbell: http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=795&p_id=1121797
If you are worried about temps, a good sleep system addition is a down vest or lightweight down sweater. This way you can carry a little bit lighter sleeping bag and have something warm to wear around camp.
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Old 01-21-10, 09:02 AM   #14
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I use a 3 season Hudson River quilt by Jacks R Better. Its 20oz and I got velcro on the edges so that I can make a 3/4 bag if it gets really cold. The best thing is that it packs down to a 10"x5" cylinder. Here are a couple of pictures. The dark green rectangle on top of the bag is the stuff sack that I use to pack it.

pack.jpgbag.jpg
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Old 01-21-10, 09:22 AM   #15
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If you can get gear by Mountain Equipment where you are check them out. Serious stuff; I've used their kit on Kilimanjaro and Annapurna in the Himalaya, but you'll find a lightweight one for what you need too.
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Old 01-21-10, 09:39 AM   #16
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I waffle between down and synth bags and have done so since the 1980's.

I love the walkability of the climbers' bivy sleeping bags like the FF rock wren. Had a Marmot version back in the 90's, recently replaced it with an Exped Wallcreeper in primaloft. about $130 bucks on sale if you look for it.

walkable wearable sleeping bag
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Old 01-21-10, 10:18 AM   #17
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I settled on a Western Mountaineering Summerlite down bag. Good to 30 degrees and it is a great bag for bike touring or light backpacking. Packs very small and weighs in at 1.3 lbs. I'd recommend it to anyone. Around 3 bucks—it's not cheap. It is fully baffled and an important feature (for me) was that it has a full length zip. I've been very happy with it.
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Old 01-21-10, 10:30 AM   #18
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I waffle between down and synth bags and have done so since the 1980's.

I love the walkability of the climbers' bivy sleeping bags like the FF rock wren. Had a Marmot version back in the 90's, recently replaced it with an Exped Wallcreeper in primaloft. about $130 bucks on sale if you look for it.

walkable wearable sleeping bag
I'd like the wearable sleeping bag idea, if it wasn't so dorky. Seriously it's the way the ultralight folks deal with cold weather expeditions and I've thought about it myself. Again, Jacks R Better do a series of wearable quilts with a hole in the center so that the quilt can be worn like a poncho and tied around the waist.

http://www.jacksrbetter.com/Wearable%20Quilts.htm

However, I'd find riding in such a setup very difficult.

For summer trips I use a Shenandoah (16 oz) quilt, but if I expect it to be cold I pack the Hudson River and for sub freezing I also pack a Montbell Thermawrap jacket. A baselayer, the Thermawarp and a rain shell keep me warm well below freezing.
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Old 01-21-10, 01:11 PM   #19
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I settled on a Western Mountaineering Summerlite down bag. Good to 30 degrees and it is a great bag for bike touring or light backpacking. Packs very small and weighs in at 1.3 lbs. I'd recommend it to anyone. Around 3 bucks—it's not cheap. It is fully baffled and an important feature (for me) was that it has a full length zip. I've been very happy with it.
If you hold out for a dollar store clearance you could probably pick it up for $0.99 at the end of the season.
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Old 01-21-10, 03:18 PM   #20
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If you hold out for a dollar store clearance you could probably pick it up for $0.99 at the end of the season.
I keep telling myself that, but doggone if I've run across one
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Old 01-21-10, 06:21 PM   #21
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I'd like the wearable sleeping bag idea, if it wasn't so dorky. Seriously it's the way the ultralight folks deal with cold weather expeditions and I've thought about it myself. Again, Jacks R Better do a series of wearable quilts with a hole in the center so that the quilt can be worn like a poncho and tied around the waist.

http://www.jacksrbetter.com/Wearable%20Quilts.htm

However, I'd find riding in such a setup very difficult.

For summer trips I use a Shenandoah (16 oz) quilt, but if I expect it to be cold I pack the Hudson River and for sub freezing I also pack a Montbell Thermawrap jacket. A baselayer, the Thermawarp and a rain shell keep me warm well below freezing.
I'm thinking of leaving my down vest behind with the wallcreeper as my bag. I've never found myself riding in my puffies, even snow touring, so not worried about it on the bike.

Primaloft IS pretty compressible but it does permanently compact after several hundred days of use.I have an old, early primaloft parka of mine that is kind of like baseball mitt hard now.... maybe it can be relofted.

I wind up grovelling in a tarp situation a lot in the damp northwest. This type of bag is choice for grovelling. up and walking around for a late nite cup of tea is very rewarding inside the warmth of a sleeping bag. and midnight calls of nature? never easier.
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Old 01-21-10, 06:38 PM   #22
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Western Makes great bags from what I've seen. No personal experience but I have a few climbing friends who use them with success. Have to be on a par with Feathered Friends.

Neither are cheap though. Great quality though.
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Old 01-21-10, 10:21 PM   #23
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Down is great. It's not the end of the world if it gets wet, and the warmth/lightness are well worth it. I toured the Pacific Northwest with a heavy down bag in rainy October. Didn't have a problem with rain, but it was damp and a little smelly each day from condensation while I slept.

But if down gets wet quickly, it also dries quickly. If you have 20 minutes a day of sunshine to stop in a park, eat a snack and lay your bag out on the table, you'll be cozy as can be when nighttime falls. In a pinch, stop at at a Laundromat and throw it in a dryer with your sneakers.
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Old 01-22-10, 07:28 AM   #24
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I recently bought a Mont Bell down bag that was rated to 30F. I found that at 38F I was uncomfortably cold (wearing polypropylene pants, T neck, down jacket, wool hat and socks). I subsequently returned the bag for a 15F bag which is toasty warm.

The story has three morals:

1. Even a reputable company's temperature ratings can be "optimistic"...I'd be conservative until you can verify that the ratings are right for you.
2. Try out a bag in weather conditions that are as close to its limit as you can BEFORE you commit to it.
3. Buy from a source that will allow you to return it (REI is famous for allowing this, but I suspect many small shops will also- ask before you buy it.)

Although I am a relative newbie to camping I firmly believe that the sleeping pad has as much to do with staying warm as the bag does. I think the pad is a relatively inexpensive way to boost your comfort level. There are some really luxurious down filled pads available (See: Exped) that when coupled with a marginal bag might be OK.

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Old 01-22-10, 11:26 AM   #25
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REI has a bunch of nice Lafuma bags on at a deep discount right now.
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