/ Best synthetic Sleeping Bag
Went down during this winter season, having had synthetic before.
However, after a soggy snowhole experience (despite bivvy bag - long story!), I'm going back.
Any suggestions on what to get - won't be doing much winter stuff, so three season (spring, summer and autumn), as light as possible.
I've heard great things about Vango's ultralite series.
Also, TNF Cat's Meow?
Have a look at the snugpak range.. they're pretty serious about synthetic sleeping bags...
The Snugpack Chrysalis range are pretty good. I bought my other half a Chrysalis 5 for her birthday last week (she really feels the cold). Had to test it before the day, of course - nearly fell asleep in it.
. The 5 would be too warm and bulky for your needs, by the sound of it, but maybe a 3 or 4?
Cheers all so far. Have been impressed with Mountain Equipment as a brand - how do theirs rate?
Think Snugpak are a bit rubbish TBH. Check out the Mountain Hardwear Lamina range, quite a few people I know have them and rate them highly.
Another vote for Snugpac from me. Very well made, hard wearing bags, mostly made in sunny Silsden, not China. OK they are mainly green or brown (but hey you've got your eyes shut), but they do what it says on the tin.
I've got a brand new with tags Mountain Equipment Starlight II for sale, £45 posted.
I have had well over a decade of hard use out of a Softie Kestel 6 and there has been no appreciable loss of performance. For 2-3 season use, I currently use a Merlin 3 which is great down to 5-6 degrees. However I'd take their 'extreme' temperature rating of '0 degrees' with a pinch of salt.
Some other manufacturers may have 'better' bags in terms of features or lower weight but you might be taking a gamble on how their particular insulation will perform after several years.
http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/man_made_sleep is very worth a read.
Don't know if they're available in the UK, but I've been very impressed with the Montbell range of synthetic bags.
The new waterproof treated down may also be worth a look.
Thanks for all the advice.
Snugpack was the first bag I had - found the silky lining would get v.cold if I wasn't on it, so rolling around in the night would mean waking up!
MHW Lamina was the last synthetic I had before I went down - found it pretty good, but went down. Wanted the UKC advice before I bought again - is there a better alternative?
Don't suppose anyone wants to buy a Rab ascent 500 - used twice (with liner) - fully dried in drying room after said incident!
Tell us the story because I'm interested in what went wrong. Of course bags can get a bit damp easily enough; just as you breath out a lot of water vapour can condense on your bag (see this pic of frozen breath on my sleeping last week: https://twitter.com/TobyinHelsinki/status/308487347966734336/photo/1 !) but I've not had a down bag collapse in one night's use. Were you in the snowhole for days? How did your down bag get so wet?
To be honest, a combination of conditions.
5 people in a snowhole on WMF (military winter skills) - I had my Rab Ascent 500 in a gore-tex bivi bag (hooded issue, rather than zip up). Went to sleep toasty and warm.
During the course of the night, I woke up and the air felt very damp, but couldn't really work out what was going on - I presumed condensation from exhalation of 5 people, or even some "melting" of the snow, caused by five people. What had actually happened was that the wind had changed direction and very fine spindrift was blowing in the entrance (despite being reasonably well covered by bags etc.) - by the time we woke up, we had a good 6 inches of fresh powder inside the hole, with the entrance being mostly covered. I say awoke - I hadn't slept much. I think the combination of condensation from my breath and fine spindrift had split between and my body heat melted it, causing a reasonable amount of wetness inside the bag, resulting in clumpy bag in one night - fortunately, we were only out for one night and the drying room back at the centre was ACE - lying it across the racks for a couple of hours made it as good as new (although I was worrying all the way back!).
It was this experience that has caused me to doubt the use of down and revert back to synthetic, despite the space / weight saving - I can deal with that if it results in a reasonable nights' sleep.
So I've used a fair few but I'm happiest with my current one from the Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina series - pricier and thinner fabrics but warmer and lighter than the standard Lamina series (which in my opinion is ok, but not that light).
Found the TNF Cat's Meow and ME Starlight bags to be a bit on the heavy side for their warmth, but I'd give Snugpak with their Thermic Micro fill another consideration next time, or maybe an Ajungilak (if they were easier to get hold of...)
I've been sleeping out quite a lot recently reviewing a Mtn Equipment bag for UKC so have been thinking about this! :) I was discussing it with my friend just on Sunday after we got back to his house after bivvying out the night before at -20, and we noted how the outside of the bags felt damp pulling them out of their stuff sacks. That was frost from the night before that melted once packed I guess, but Dave was saying he had used the same bag on six week trip to Antarctica by yacht from Chile (so plenty of time for dampness to get in!) with out any big problems. I think "management" is where it's at when using down bags. Personally I'm not convinced synthetics are the answer being heavier and not lasting so well, but I've not tried the most recent synth insulations.
For a simple system I use the MHW Ultralamina 32 or 15 (found these to be the best commercial bag) If more warmth is needed I use either an old style Rab top bag with 100 grams of down or 200 grams of down inside temperature dependent.. The dew point is the issue always,..
If I am being ultra safe I use the Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet synthetic quilts with event neck gaiter and foot box which I then have upgraded if needed by using Backpacking light synthetic quilts inside(stopped making them now) ... I can always pretty much get a lightweight modular synth/down system appropriate that won't let me down...
Greater ranges Northwestern mountaineering all the way and down wins:-) ... The UK is a bitch for bags:-)
> Cheers all so far. Have been impressed with Mountain Equipment as a brand - how do theirs rate?
I've had a ME Moonwalker II for years now and love it to bits. Coupled with an army surplus bivvi bag I've never been anything other than warm and toasty in it.
To be the OP: I'd go for down. If it gets wet it's not the end of the world until it gets totally saturated. If it's getting that wet (as in your previous experience) then a bivvy bag will help. If you're sweating enough to saturate a bag from the inside then you're probably at risk of heat exhaustion anyway! Down will last longer, is higher performance on warmth/weight, and generally far more comfortable (less sweaty).
It's a cracker, although having now slept a number of nights out in it at, or a bit below, -20 I can say they still haven't fixed the problem of how to keep your nose warm even when everything else is snuggly! :)
Some in use photos of it in this set: https://plus.google.com/photos/114922424602799039677/albums/5854005134325304417?authkey=COi3k5yi7eTP...
Google photos confuses the hell out of me! Most Google things are pretty straight forward but photos oddly aren't not. Let's try again, does this work? https://plus.google.com/photos/114922424602799039677/albums/5854005134325304417
Thanks for all the advice - have gone back to synthetic, so see how I get on!
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