Down sleeping bag advise please^

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Graham T
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Down sleeping bag advise please^

Post by Graham T » Fri May 14, 2010 11:41 am

Not an easy question as I know we are all physiologicaly different, and I have googled reviews etc first.
I bought a Ray Mears 3 season bag because I trust the quality, like the top zip, and it is a lot cheaper than a Down bag which does the same job, plus I thought it would be better if wet.
In doing this I ignored two respected paddlers on this forum who both use Down bags. Now I expected to be able to pack this bag into my tapered Lomo dry bag WRONG ! itwill go in but doesn't leave enough to turn the top down sufficiently to seal. I fitted it into a compression dry bag, but coiuld not get it through a Valley oval hatch !.
I think if I put it into it's stuff sack, wrap rope around it to compess and then into a dry bag I can fit it into a hatch, however I am now considering a Down bag.
The Marmot Helium has been suggested. It reviews as well thought of, is light etc and three season. I have learnt what I can about bags but temp ratings are subjective rather than uniform. If there are views/opinions which might help I would appreciate it.
I have been looking at Rab and Mountain Equipment as a comparison to the Marmot.
I think a three season bag would be fine for winter use with the addition of a bivvy or liner in the UK as it is not for Mountain use.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Robert Craig » Fri May 14, 2010 12:17 pm

This is not an answer to your question, but it might help.

My 4-season down bag goes inside a 15 litre drybag and fits my (wee) boat no bother.

I use a down bag summer and winter (different ones, obviously)

The bags have occasionally got damp, but only when in the tent, not when packed. They've never got damp enough to affect the warmth

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PeterG
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by PeterG » Fri May 14, 2010 12:23 pm

Down bags last longer, almost forever, but you need a good drying day after you have been lying in slush for the night. Synthetic is more bulky and they don't last very long, even if you treat them gently.

I alternate between an Point Five Orion of 1974 vintage, very like the Mountain Equipment Lightline, weighs about 900g and easily fits into a 5l drybag (my spare thermal layer, undies etc fit in as well), and a Mountain Equipment Sleepwalker synthetic from 2009 which weighs 1.3kg and fits easily into one of the Lomo elongated 12l drybags.

Warmth wise they are similar, the PointFive was warmer when new but has dropped from 4 to 3 season rating over hundreds of nights and 35 years constant use. The Sleepwalker is 3 season and I know will drop to 2 season after 3 years or so and a couple of washes, to be replaced and relegated to kids sleepovers. Temperatures of about 0C are as low as you want to go. Although you would undoubtedly sleep a little at -5 and survive sleepless to greet the dawn at -10C.

A 5l drybag takes up little space and so is the choice where plenty of food needs to be taken on board or the trolley wheels are going to occupy the oval hatch. However, the 12l drybag is not stuffed so tightly that it cannot be wiggled round the corner through a Valley round hatch into the front hatch. Two 12l drybags fit nicely side by side inside my A. acuta oval rear hatch.

EdSmith
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by EdSmith » Fri May 14, 2010 1:03 pm

I guess this follows on from your 'winter' thread. You may wish when choosing your temperature rating to consider a 4 season bag. The best winter paddling weather is generally associated with a high pressure, often a resulting in a significant temperature inversion. With a down bag the extra season rating results in only little more weight and pack size.

In such situations it would be warmer on the mountain top than by the sea loch, and can also be damper at sea level (as witnessed by early morning mists), resulting in it being a bit nippy. Temperatures are often well below freezing, but thats a small price for mirror calm waters. A good bag, results in a decent nights sleep, which while choosing often takes a back seat to the figures on the price tag, but suddenly becomes priceless when shivering through the night.

I have a Rab summit 300, which I don't rate for sea kayaking. Its light and packs small, but is cut too narrow to be comfortable and is only just warm enough at freezing. Fine for a short alpine bivvy with an early morning start. But in scotland I'll actually be in it for four to six hours longer than I would when climbing.

I also have another down bag rated to -10 DegC (weighing in at under a Kg) which is nice and consider that a good rating for Scotland. Consider that once a shore a good bag is part of your defence if ill, injured, extremely knackared, or stuck. So its worth having a bit of extra 'warmth'. Both these bags fit into the kayak without problems and are a pleasure to pack compared to my synthetic three/four season (now really only a two season).

If using soley for kayaking some extra whistles and bells such as draft collars, and double zip tubes are nice, as weights not really an issue.

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Fri May 14, 2010 1:25 pm

Well first lesson learnt I did not know synthetic bags even if good quality dropped their rating so quickly which does in fact make them more expensive in the long run Grrrrrrrrrrr
Thanks for the input so far one and all and apologies Peter G you are one of the two sages whoes advice should have been taken first time round.
That said the bad I have will be nice for camping in the UK when based not kayak touring
There is a Marmot Helium available at £260 any views if this is a good buy ?

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journeyman
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by journeyman » Fri May 14, 2010 1:52 pm

This company seems to provide value for money for a range of down bags

http://www.alpkit.com/pipedream/

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Fri May 14, 2010 2:05 pm

Thank you for the link Journeyman they look good value indeed, but the one I would most likely go for is out of stock until August.
Does anybody know how EU 750 fill power compares with Marmots 850 ? Does anybody have direct experience with Alpkit bags good or bad ?

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maryinoxford
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by maryinoxford » Fri May 14, 2010 2:07 pm

I used to read a camping forum ("UK Camp Site", I think) and Alpkit were constantly being praised as good kit at moderate prices.
Not in Oxford any more...

johnb
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by johnb » Fri May 14, 2010 2:17 pm

Yep, you just can't beat the titanium rosewood chopsticks on the Alpkit site. How did we live without them?....
http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?tar ... ory_id=253

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri May 14, 2010 2:57 pm

I bought a Marmot Helium in 2006. It packs away so small because of the superior grade down used. Packed it's about a loaf of bread size, so it fits in any hatch. It's actually warmer than many bulkier (when packed) down bags. I paid £299 for it and have never regretted a penny of that. I have multiple synthetic bags and lesser down bags in my garage. I would put them in my optio drawer if the damn things packed small enough.

I also use Lomo tapered bags but put all the odd sized small light things in them, like socks, pants, shirts, warm hats etc.

Douglas

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Jim
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Jim » Fri May 14, 2010 3:31 pm

I have to put the drybag in the hatch first and then stuff my winter sleeping bag into it. It's a real pain. I use a vango Predator 350 which just fits in the lomo tapered drybag but is hard to get a decent closure.
I prefer when I can use my aztec microlight bag - now aztec make cheap and cheerful bags so if you can't afford down maybe consider one of thiers on a basis of replacing every few years. Not very environmentally sound, I really should get a down bag but I already have 4 synthetic ones of various ages.

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Mikebelluk
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Mikebelluk » Fri May 14, 2010 4:15 pm

PHD make excellent sleeping bags and will do made to measure too, but they ain't cheap.
http://www.phdesigns.co.uk
Marmot and Rab bags are very good too.
Alpkit sell good budget ones.

Personally I use a GoLite Feather in the colder months, and a Tesco down bag when its warm; found it very good value.
http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.200-7415.aspx

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Fri May 14, 2010 5:22 pm

Well I have an Aztec bag a Snugpack special forces set up of two bags which can be zipped together etc etc. I was in Washington State and found the Aztec not warm enough so bought the Special Forces but only took the warmer one on my next trip due to weight, also not warm enough. Zip the two bags together and it is very snug and I love it EXCEPT that is now carrying two not very light bags. This is partly I think as there is reinforcement probably for soldgiers to wear boots in the bag ! Hence the Woodlore bag, Don't worry folks I few more bags and I should have it sorted !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you Douglas it was you who kind of recommended the Helium which should have led me to look harder at Down options.

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MikeB
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by MikeB » Fri May 14, 2010 5:45 pm

Well, I've had a RAB down bag now for something like 20 years I think. It's been washed (professionally) a couple of times and been back to RAB for re-downing. It's perfect - unlike the numerous synthetic bags I've gone thro in the same time, and those ones were only used during the warmer months. So, for me, it's down all the way.

That said, getting anything into a small, round hatch is challenging and even in a taper bag, the down bag didnt go into the Nordkapp front hatch without a struggle. The larger hatch on the Quest takes it - just.

Mike

Sprucey
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Sprucey » Fri May 14, 2010 6:05 pm

I've used a lot of Alpkit stuff and will continue to buy more - it's very good value. I have the Filo down jacket and so does my GF' -hers took her to Everest Base camp & up Kala Patar and up Jebel Toubkal in Morocco this Jan. I also have the inflatable mattress which I am very pleased with. Why pay extra for a "Brand name" when it's probaly made in the same factories?

Sprucey

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Fri May 14, 2010 6:21 pm

It looks as though European down of 750 is the same as the US 850, just so I can compare apples with apples.
Mike what do you mean by redowning ? if it is a refill shouldn't that be the end of the life of the bag as such ?
I see RAB doa down bag with some sort of synthetic included but would this not have a short life the same as a synthetic bag ?
Is the Helium EQ version better than the standard one. I have seen it £10 cheaper and has a water proof membran but is approx 200 gms heavier ?

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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Owen » Fri May 14, 2010 7:04 pm

MikeB wrote:That said, getting anything into a small, round hatch is challenging and even in a taper bag, the down bag didnt go into the Nordkapp front hatch without a struggle. The larger hatch on the Quest takes it - just.

Mike
URL=http://img20.imageshack.us/i/img0432kk.jpg/]Image[/URL]
URL=http://img203.imageshack.us/i/img0433ne.jpg/]Image[/URL]

An old Rab 300 bag, which I don't think is the same as the newer summit 300. Next to a half empty bottle of Cape red, for size comprasion. No trouble getting that through a small valley hatch. My snug pac fleece liner rolls up to about the same size.

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Jurassic
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Jurassic » Fri May 14, 2010 9:49 pm

I have an old Diamor four season downy bag that I bought in 1989 to replace my previous Point Five four season synthetic bag. I bought it as a budget option (I couldn't afford a big brand bag at the time) and it's given fantastic service in Scotland and the Alps since. It just fits in a Lomo tapered dry bag. I also have a Mountain Equipment Marathon 300 down bag which packs up very small (I could probably fit three of them in the Lomo dry bag) and is surprisingly warm. I've slept in this in an igloo on a Scottish Munro in full winter conditions (I wasn't boiling and I did have all my spare clothes on but I was comfortable). I've bought quite a few bits of gear from Alpkit recently and without exception been impressed by the quality and price and their service is very good. I intend to replace my old Diamor bag before next winter and am going to look very seriously at buying an Alpkit bag (I figure that their top of the line bag will come in at the same price as a "branded" midrange bag and I have no reason to think it'd be anything other than excellent).

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Wenley
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Wenley » Fri May 14, 2010 11:45 pm

uksailor asked:
There is a Marmot Helium available at £260 any views if this is a good buy ?
The price is very good. The bag is just superb: Very comfortable cut and it packs down to nothing I've seen. My advice is to go for it.
http://www.onkayaks.squarespace.com/
The weather is like the government, always in the wrong.

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Sat May 15, 2010 9:52 am

Too late I decided to go for it but now cant find the bag at that price again. It would be much easier for me if I could actualy walk into a shop and look touch the bags in question but there are no places to do this localy.
I am considering a trip to Lulworth Cove and will look how far this is from Taunton Leisure.
The Alpkit is no doubt good value, but i'm not 100% sure and would prefer to pay more for a bag that is great and will last, which of course an Alpkit might but there is limited feedback on the bags compared with the Helium. The Helium does seem to come up as being very light with a very small pack size.

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MePower
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by MePower » Sat May 15, 2010 11:28 am

Alpkit must be ok, mostly sold out. I have a coleman down bag, packs nicely and rated at -6, but it coughs feathers all over the tent! Its pretty rubbish. Saving/ begging / borrowing for a helium.

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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by PeteW » Sat May 15, 2010 11:47 am


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Jurassic
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Jurassic » Sat May 15, 2010 11:54 am

uksailor wrote: The Alpkit is no doubt good value, but I'm not 100% sure and would prefer to pay more for a bag that is great and will last, which of course an Alpkit might but there is limited feedback on the bags compared with the Helium. The Helium does seem to come up as being very light with a very small pack size.
It's a tough call. I'm sure if you can afford it and justify it then the Helium will be a fantastic bag to own. Whichever one you decise on I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the warmth, comfort and durability of a down bag in comparison to your previous synthetic. For me there was no going back and even my budget four season bag has provided sterling service for twenty plus years.

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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by GrahamKing » Sat May 15, 2010 11:54 am

Whatever sleeping bag you decide on, I can heartily recommend the 12 litre version of Ortlieb's compression drybag for storing it. I took this on a long trip last year and it proved its worth. Its diameter is perfect to fit through the forehatch of an Alaw Bach, and it stows just forward of the bulkhead.

Graham T
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Graham T » Sat May 15, 2010 2:55 pm

Does any one have advise as to whether the EQ verion of the Helium bag ? I have seen this cheaper than the standard bag but it is a fair bit heavier
Thanks for the link Pete that was the place

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MikeB
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by MikeB » Sun May 16, 2010 4:02 pm

uks - the hood had compacted or lost filling, and some of the pockets around the chest had done the same, so RAB topped up those compartments for me. It's a bag I'm very fond of as it was made extra long, and extra wide for someone in Glasgow who then compalined that they hadn't used the inner material he's specified and rejected it. Being both tall and wide, I jumped at the chance for a lovely bit of high-spec kit at very much a bargin price at the time! Given its age and the use its had, it has turned out to be a superb bargain!

Owen - nice - mine certaily doesnt go down that small, even in it's original stuff sack, or a compression sac. Much tho I like tapered bags, they can be a bit of a pita to pack the bag into and I do sometimes wonder whether it's worth the hassle when compared to usnig a compression sac.

Mike.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun May 16, 2010 4:49 pm

Image
The Marmot Helium in its storage bag and in its stuff sack which also contains a a silk liner! The ratio of compressed to uncompressed volume is superb.

Douglas

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Jim
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Jim » Mon May 17, 2010 11:15 am

Surely now is not the time of year to be worrying about a down bag?

I will probably be using a 1 season synthetic bag with a silk liner for the next few months, at times maybe just the liner.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon May 17, 2010 11:20 am

Hi Jim I have used the Helium for the last 4 Scottish summers, never been too hot and because it's down it packs small which is an advantage what ever time of year.
Douglas

Big Ade
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Re: Down sleeping bag advise please

Post by Big Ade » Mon May 17, 2010 12:58 pm

Sorry for the hijack, but does anyone know of a v shaped fillet to make a Rab bag bigger?

In mitigation, have you considered a custom dry bag?
I seem to remember seeing ones open at both ends, sealed with a 4-5 inch peg/ratchet peg (like you often see sealing breakfast cereals,etc).
People used to stuff big sleeping bags in by pushing and pulling and then seal both ends.
Not sure where you'd get one these days, but some waterproof Ripstop nylon, sewn, then sealed with spinnaker tape over black witch and the ends sorted by having the ends 12 inches overlength, twisting them like a boiled sweet wraper, doubled back over and tied with string should get you a custom sausage.
If your problem is the sheer size it takes up, then sorry, wallet time.

But before wallet time, how about spending the weekend somewhere with loads of gear shops?
Its light until faily late on at the moment, so you could go shopping and still get a reasonable walk done prior to a B&B/pub.
You can look on day 1, buy on day 2.
Snowdonia is where I do things like that.
Maybe not ideal, but the Mk1 eyeball and fingers 1a are the most trusted and individually customised quality control tools yet devised.

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