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Packing adequately but light for fall / GDMTR

Old 06-04-17, 07:04 AM
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Packing adequately but light for fall / GDMTR

Hey all,

On the GDMTR they recommend a 20/-7c bag, however I'm starting late in the season and my bag is valued at 0c. I could buy something like a -12c bag to be on the safe side, but then I'm going to be going on to Mexico and then Cuba, so I had an idea of keeping my 0c bag, which is fairly flexible, but buying a down quilt. This way I can keep the quilt as a backup, and then once I'm further south mail either the bag or the quilt home. I'm also intending on taking a high-end goosedown gilet and some thermals. Would this setup be suffice for camping out in fall along the GTMBR? If the quilt is rated to say 4c, and the bag 0c, is there any way to predict what temperature they would be good against when used together? Any other suggestions or thoughts are welcome!

Many thanks,
Coldhands
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Old 06-04-17, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Coldhands View Post
Hey all,
\
On the GDMTR they recommend a 20/-7c bag, however I'm starting late in the season and my bag is valued at 0c. I could buy something like a -12c bag to be on the safe side, but then I'm going to be going on to Mexico and then Cuba, so I had an idea of keeping my 0c bag, which is fairly flexible, but buying a down quilt. This way I can keep the quilt as a backup, and then once I'm further south mail either the bag or the quilt home. I'm also intending on taking a high-end goosedown gilet and some thermals. Would this setup be suffice for camping out in fall along the GTMBR? If the quilt is rated to say 4c, and the bag 0c, is there any way to predict what temperature they would be good against when used together? Any other suggestions or thoughts are welcome!

Many thanks,
Coldhands
The general rule of thumb I use for combining bags is (Rating of the heavier bag)- (55 degrees-temperature rating of the lighter bag)

It's just a guideline, and things like drafts and loft compression also factor in, and the added fiddle factor of combining multiple bags.

Don't forget, you can usually add another 5 or 10 degrees to the value of your sleeping bag by using an enclosed tent (or bivy) and maybe another 5 or 10 by sleeping in all your clothes. Your down jacket is going to be key to this. Some people are happy to do it all the time, but I try to keep that option for unexpected extremes.
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Old 06-04-17, 10:10 AM
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I got a triple bag, 2 down tops , zip to down filled air mattress, Light, but it's bulky.

3 season toured the British Isles..





..

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-04-17 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 06-04-17, 01:14 PM
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Sometimes when my bag was at the limit, I drape my down vest over the top of my bag to give me a little more insulation thickness in the torso region. I almost always carry a down vest on bike tours.

A skull type stocking cap works wonders to keep you warmer at night. But one with a tassle does not work so well with sleeping bag hoods.

Some people think that a sleeping bag liner will make a sleeping bag warmer. I do not think they add any temperature, but I use one to keep my sleeping bag cleaner. But if they add even a few degrees, that sounds like what you are trying to add is a few degrees to your existing bag.

Sleeping pads are often rated for how well they insulate. If your bag is not down, then your bag likely provides good insulationunderneath you. But down underneath you provides very little insulation. That is another factor to consider.
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Old 06-04-17, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Coldhands View Post
then I'm going to be going on to Mexico and then Cuba, so I had an idea of keeping my 0c bag, which is fairly flexible, but buying a down quilt. This way I can keep the quilt as a backup, and then once I'm further south mail either the bag or the quilt home.

If it was me, I'd get the more appropriate bag for the colder stretch, mail it back home and grab something cheap for the warmer areas when I get there.
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Old 06-04-17, 01:22 PM
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Consider using a Climashield Apex synthetic quilt with an adjustable foot box over your down bag such as the one I use from MLD. Weighs less than a 16 oz.. Or you can easily make one from a Thru-hiker kit. There are many other manufacturers offering down or synthetic quilts.
My MLD 48*F/9*C Apex quilt alone handles moderate conditions in warmer more humid climates or zones It is also easily washed and dried. Combined with your 32*F/0*C bag it should yield a possible low temperature of 5*F/minus 15*C depending on your shelter and the clothing worn inside the bag/quilt combination. I like the flexibility of these options.
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Old 06-04-17, 02:31 PM
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CH -

You offer very little about yourself or your experience in this environment.
I assume the "GB" means Great Britain - which has a very different September.
Also, you don't say whether you plan to start in Alberta or Montana.
The former is closer to 6 weeks, the latter 4 weeks - big diff in the fall.
Plus, days are shortening rapidly by September.

I have lived in Wyoming and Montana for almost 30 years.
Have cycled in all seasons and all parts - from pavement to remote single-track.
Late Sept I have often encountered -10C - and almost always have heavy ice on my tent fly.
And fast-moving early storms can dump a foot of snow overnight - when a dusting was predicted.
That can close backcountry forest roads for the season -

Although hunters may use snowmobiles or four-wheelers to get back in.
Speaking of hunting - you need to have some highly visible orange.
It will be hunting season - and hunters can be of great help if you encounter difficulties.
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Old 06-04-17, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by manapua_man View Post
If it was me, I'd get the more appropriate bag for the colder stretch, mail it back home and grab something cheap for the warmer areas when I get there.
This is exactly how I'm going to do it.
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Old 06-04-17, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
CH -

You offer very little about yourself or your experience in this environment.
I assume the "GB" means Great Britain - which has a very different September.
Also, you don't say whether you plan to start in Alberta or Montana.
The former is closer to 6 weeks, the latter 4 weeks - big diff in the fall.
Plus, days are shortening rapidly by September.

I have lived in Wyoming and Montana for almost 30 years.
Have cycled in all seasons and all parts - from pavement to remote single-track.
Late Sept I have often encountered -10C - and almost always have heavy ice on my tent fly.
And fast-moving early storms can dump a foot of snow overnight - when a dusting was predicted.
That can close backcountry forest roads for the season -

Although hunters may use snowmobiles or four-wheelers to get back in.
Speaking of hunting - you need to have some highly visible orange.
It will be hunting season - and hunters can be of great help if you encounter difficulties.
Starting in Banff around the 8th of September. Will be (should be) riding fast/light so hopefully will take me around 40 to 50 days to complete. I suppose once down in NM the temperatures will not be so severe? I'm going on rigid MTB with the 27.5 plus tires.

Experience in cold weather - not much really accept for high-altitude stuff in the high-Andes in fall/spring. But worst temperatures I encountered I'll never know as my thermometer broke. Definitely somewhere below freezing as all my water froze solid even inside the tent and even the oil in my motorcycle congealed. I suppose it was around -10c.

I'm hoping I'll be lucky with the weather but guess it's best to prepare for the worst. If you were heading out for a long-distance off-pavement tour in September, what sort of cold weather equipment would you take?

Thanks
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Old 06-04-17, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Coldhands View Post
If you were heading out for a long-distance off-pavement tour in September, what sort of cold weather equipment would you take?
Add + October.

a. Awareness - You need to be aware of the weather at all times. Conditions can change rapidly from 25C to 0C within hours. Fall in the Rockies is delightful, but it can be dangerous because you have a week of glorious days - then get slammed. The GDMBR tends to alternate between extremely remote sections, then sections that are lower and less remote. Each time you head back up, make sure you know what may be coming - and plan for the worst, not the best possibility.

b. Willingness - You need to be willing to drop to lower elevations even if that means stopping or riding sections that are not "officially" GDMBR. The single most important factor in avoiding dangerous fall storms is elevation - what is a blizzard in the high country is likely to be rain in the valley.

c. Flexibility - You can have a far better and safer trip by being flexible. Fall storms tend to be fast moving and short-lived. Take a day or two off. The blue skies return like magic. Although with each storm, the temperatures move downwards - starting off even hot, then warm, then pleasant, then crisp. And by the way, by the time you are in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico those crisp, clear days will produce cold nights.

3 small, but important items
1. Ski liner gloves
2. Turtle fur earband
3. Wool socks
I also like those tubular pullovers that can be neck or head warmth.

40 to 50 days will mean 3 or 4 bad weather episodes.
Early Sept. snows are minor, but the first big snow can be in late Sept. or early Oct.
You won't get into a more southerly climate until Cuba, NM.

And it will be mid-October by then.

In southern BC you can ride you bike thru Akamina-Kishinena into Waterton NP and then to Glacier NP.
Before 9-11, you could cross the border on the North Fork dirt road - which was sweet.
In Montana, the east side is usually warmer and drier in the fall.
If you haven't been to Yellowstone, consider it - the GDMBR bypass is kinda meh.
If you are not fixated on a single line, there are way better routes than thru Frisco/Breck in Colorado.
Chaco Canyon in New Mexico is definitely worth a detour.

Safe riding! - - J
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Old 06-04-17, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Coldhands View Post
...If you were heading out for a long-distance off-pavement tour in September, what sort of cold weather equipment would you take?

Thanks
Canister type stoves work poorly the closer you get to freezing, and really poor much below that. If you want your morning coffee, keep your canister in your sleeping bag at night so it is warm in the morning. Or, you can put some warm water in a pan and set the canister in the water to keep the canister from getting too cold while you cook. If your lighter is butane fueled, it works better if it is warm, like it would be in your pants pocket. If it was me, I would be using a liquid fuel stove run on coleman fuel or equivalent.

If there is snow, make sure your feet stay dry and you avoid getting frostbite. But if you motorcycled below freezing, you already have a pretty good idea of what to wear.

In USA, I like wunderground.com best for weather forecasts. It can consume some of your data plan on your phone. Type in a community and state to get the forecast. Small communities without an airport might not be recognized, if that happens try another community nearby.

This radar loop consumes a bit over 2 meg of a data plan each time you use it. If you are trying to decide if you want to push through the rain or make camp, this might help you decide.
https://radar.weather.gov/Conus/full_loop.php
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Old 06-05-17, 02:00 AM
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i had the opportunity to camp at the top of Togwotee pass in late September, or early October in the early '80s. there was 10" of snow at the top, and 12" a week earlier while i was camping near Yellowstone lake.
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Old 06-05-17, 04:14 AM
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Jamawani and others, thanks for the information! I'm definitely not a newbie to 'adventuring' but I have to say grizzly bears and heavy snowstorms are not something I had to worry about previously throughout my trips in Latin America & Mexico!

Motorcycling through cold weather is quite different to cycling, as you are not able to generate heat, but then are able to wear heavy suits and boots which would otherwise be restrictive for the cyclist. Freezing nights on the altiplano can be as cold as minus 20, or even down into the minus thirties or forties, but normally with zero humidity and always clear sunny skies the following day - being dry and cold is far preferable to wet and cold.

Jamawani, given your long experience of living out there in all seasons, would it be sensible then to pack for nightly lows of say 10/15c below zero, and daily riding conditions of anywhere from 25c above zero, to freezing? One thing which will be easier for me compared to touring in Mexico, etc, is having some of the best and well stocked outdoor stores in practically every medium sized town and the fantastic and reliable US postal service to bring me new equipment if not =)
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Old 06-05-17, 12:51 PM
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I've camped in the snow in New Hampshire when the temperature was colder than the freezer compartment of a fridge. One tip, passed on to me by the Appalachian Mountain club was to keep your head warm. Your head can be a great source of heat loss so keep it warm.
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Old 06-05-17, 01:16 PM
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If you click on interactive map in upper right hand corner, you can then click on a location to find weather averages and records, sunlight, average windage, etc. This is my go-to website for planning trips where I have not been before.
https://weatherspark.com/y/2340/Aver...-United-States
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Old 06-06-17, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Canister type stoves work poorly the closer you get to freezing, and really poor much below that. If you want your morning coffee, keep your canister in your sleeping bag at night so it is warm in the morning. Or, you can put some warm water in a pan and set the canister in the water to keep the canister from getting too cold while you cook. If your lighter is butane fueled, it works better if it is warm, like it would be in your pants pocket. If it was me, I would be using a liquid fuel stove run on coleman fuel or equivalent.
Not entirely wrong, but there are other options. If you're using a classic upright canister stove, they really do start to have problems below freezing. Especially with a less than full canister, you can have a lot of problems actually cooking. However, you can use a canister stove designed to work in liquid feed mode, something like the MSR Windpro or the Kovea Spider.

I've had problems with my upright stoves below 30 degrees or so. But I've taken my remote canister Kovea Spider down to the single digits without problems. It's personal preference, but I think remote canister stoves are so good at the moment that there isn't much reason to use a white gas stove in the states. Unless you're burning gasoline because it's the only fuel source, or melting tons of snow on a mountaineering expedition, canisters just work so well.
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Old 06-06-17, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Coldhands View Post
Hey all,

On the GDMTR they recommend a 20/-7c bag, however I'm starting late in the season and my bag is valued at 0c. I could buy something like a -12c bag to be on the safe side, but then I'm going to be going on to Mexico and then Cuba, so I had an idea of keeping my 0c bag, which is fairly flexible, but buying a down quilt. This way I can keep the quilt as a backup, and then once I'm further south mail either the bag or the quilt home. I'm also intending on taking a high-end goosedown gilet and some thermals. Would this setup be suffice for camping out in fall along the GTMBR? If the quilt is rated to say 4c, and the bag 0c, is there any way to predict what temperature they would be good against when used together? Any other suggestions or thoughts are welcome!

Many thanks,
Coldhands
Assuming comfort ratings are accurate for you, Enlightened Equip's formula for combining is: Rating1 - (70-Rating2).

https://support.enlightenedequipment...Quilt-Layering

I would suggest a JacksRBetter Sierra Stealth or Sierra Sniveller (with optional down hood) to combine with your existing bag, assuming it's a mummy. In addition to a sleeping quilt, these have Velcro head holes to multi-task as down ponchos for the cold evenings and mornings while idle at your campsite (don't ride in it though). Of course we lose a lot of heat through our head/necks, and their hood works well in either poncho or sleeping quilt mode. Lastly, I find it a lot warmer than an equivalent weigh down jacket since it can fully cover your legs and feet (sitting cross-legged on an insulated groundpad), and you can pull your arms inside for a full body-mitten effect.

If you really want some luxury for 3-6oz, add a UCO Candle Lantern in the protected triangle of your folded legs for a Palmer Survival Furnance that's nicer than a hot tent. I can only use it for ~1 hr at a time (can't sit in the same position too long), but it's a heck of a nice deep soak warm-up before bed and when you wake for B'fast.
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Old 06-06-17, 07:16 PM
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Quilt Layering Temperature Formula
The formula I have always used and found pretty reliable is:

x -(70 – y)/2 = z

x = higher rated/lower degree bag/quilt
y = lower rated/higher degree bag/quilt
z = combined rating
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Old 06-07-17, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by arctos View Post
Quilt Layering Temperature Formula
The formula I have always used and found pretty reliable is:

x -(70 y)/2 = z

x = higher rated/lower degree bag/quilt
y = lower rated/higher degree bag/quilt
z = combined rating
So for example if my sleeping bag is rated 32F and my quilt is rated 35F, that would be -33f?

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Old 06-07-17, 11:43 AM
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32F - (70-35F) equals -3F then divided by 2 equals -1.5*F
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