/ Ever tried using down clothing in place of a sleeping bag?

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Arbu - on 13 Jun 2014
I'm going on an expedition to Kamchatka next month, planning to climb Klyuchevskoy (4700m) and camp at up to 3300m. Somebody suggested that I take down clothing to sleep in in place of a sleeping bag. Has anyone ever tried this? I've got a Rab Expedition down jacket and some down salopettes. The advantage would be less weight to carry. We're looking at carrying 30kg and my sleeping bag weighs 2kg so that would be a valuable weight saving. A down jacket will be needed for evenings at altitude anyway, albeit not as heavy a one as my Rab one. But I think it's probably a bit restrictive to try and sleep in your down clothing.

Any views?
marsbar - on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

I have used an oversized down jacket as a blanket sucessfully but never slept in down trousers.

Maybe take a lighter sleeping bag and use the jacket on top?
Carolyn - on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

I'm quite small on the upper body, so often sleep in a down gilet/jacket inside a lighter sleeping bag, as it's both useful in filling up spare space in the bag, and more flexible. But it wouldn't work nearly so well if you're a snug fit in your sleeping bag.
The New NickB - on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

If you are camping for multiple nights it is a no brainer, sleeping bag every time. Bivvying on a route, it is a more questionable what the best approach is.

As others have suggested, taking the heavier down jacket may allow you to take a much lighter bag.
AndyC - on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:
> Any views?

Don't even think about it unless you want a miserable trip!

Do you need such extreme down clothing for under 5000 m?
Post edited at 17:07
Martin not maisie on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Sleeping bag will be worth its weight, as others have said. In terms of bivying, you could look at something like an 'elephant's foot' bag, coupled with a decent jacket. I've got an alpkit PD200, which I picked up second hand in great nick quite cheaply. It lofts well, would go to -5C with a decent sleeping mat and only weighs 460g. But in that case, you'd probably end up taking two sleeping bags anyway.

If funds aren't too much of an issue, check out PHD's range - you'd get something easily good enough for a lot less weight than 2kg. Also, cumulus bags (but unless their policy has changed, they don't post direct to the UK)

What temperatures are you expecting?

purplemonkeyelephant - on 13 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Sounds like a right sufferfest. A sleeping bag is vastly more thermally efficient as the insulation and things like gaskets and face coverage stop all the cold spots you would get with a jacket and trousers. It also circulates heat, whereas tops and bottoms localise it.

I agree with the others, take a lighter sleeping bag and layer your clothing over it. You could risk it, but a good nights sleep might be more important than 1500g.

30kg sounds like a lot. If you post your kit list I'm sure all of us here would enjoy finding ways to shave the weight?
keepguessing - on 14 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

In the end it depends if you are climbing alpine style and do it in 2 or 3 days, it also depends how willing you are to suffer, i personally would just take the down jacket and insulate your legs with either a half bag or some heavy weight base layer trousers and your standard trousers (assuming they have light insulation) you can also use a water resistant bivy bag to capture all that wonderful warm air.
Or you can share a light weight one season if that sounds a little extreme.(spoon with your partner if things get to cold)
Alan Breck on 14 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

We were sleeping three in a two man tent. We put the guy who had forgotten his sleeping bag in the middle. He did have a down suit. He said that it certainly didn't feel as warm as in a bag & he strangely felt that he wasn't "cocooned" as in a nice bag. He didn't sleep well & was pretty tired even after one night. Conclusion: Use a sleeping bag.
Arbu - on 14 Jun 2014
OK, thanks, it doesn't sound like the down clothing idea would work. Too many cold spots plaguing me overnight. Not sure that I want to buy a new lighter sleeping bag for this trip. Temperatures in Petropavlovsk on the coast average 10C at night in July so at 3300m I'm expecting 10C - 3.3*7C = -13C.

We're trekking for 18 days and there's no other way but to carry our food and fuel for this period, so I think you can easily see how it gets up to 30kg. We need to take crampons and helmets (apparently the mountains tend to throw off rocks quite often - they are active volcanoes) but apart from that nothing more than usual trekking gear.

Sounds like I need to buy a lightweight down jacket. I have a ski jacket that I could take but it would probably be a bit heavy and less windproof than a down jacket.
alasdair19 on 14 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

30kg packs are completely brutal I would take a look at your itinerary and decide if it really makes sense. I would strongly suggest getting 30 litres of water and walking up the nearest hill. A friend did serious damage to her knees humping these sort of loads into a base camp past summer.

try and work out where u need to melt water as you'll want to keep fuel weight down too. light sleeping bag down gilet?

have a great time!
keepguessing - on 14 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

you can buy a 1 season snugpak sleeping bag for £28 it's hardly expensive, it also compresses down to nothing.
Arbu - on 14 Jun 2014
I took a 30kg rucksack out this evening and walked a mile, climbing a 30m hill. It wasn't that tiring, but I can feel it in my knees now and am concerned about the potential damage to them on the expedition. As I understand it, our plan is to walk in for about ten miles, climbing about 500m, then dump some food and fuel, and go up to higher altitudes for four days, during which of course we will eat up a fair bit of food. So the 30kg weight shouldn't be for that much of the expedition.

I recall that I did sleep in a very cheap sleeping bag at Everest Base Camp with my down jacket over the top. The expedition leader was aghast, and said that my sleeping bag was only good for Kathmandu, but actually the arrangement worked well. So sebflynn, your idea to buy a cheap lightweight sleeping bag sounds good, thanks.

keepguessing - on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

no problem make sure to wear some expedition weight long johns or your legs will get freezing, i used the system i described here in march in north whales with just a light synthetic jacket (rab xenon X) i was pretty warm and had no trouble sleeping seeing as you have an expedition weight park you should be more than adequately suited for high altitude. One more thing is that you could probably be best sleeping in your jacket with the hood up other wise you will find your head getting far to cold. Dont forget a balaclava in a sleep system like this they add considerable amounts of warmth for how little they weigh.
marsbar - on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

A silk sleeping bag liner weighs next to nothing and does help too.
Somerset swede basher - on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

yes - i was cold!
Dauphin on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Ultralight outdoor gear.com & unless you are mountain warfare cadre which the question about sleeping bags suggests you are not then walking to and from work with 15kg - 25kg on your back might mitagate some of the pain you are going to experience. Sounds a right laugh, enjoy!

AndyC - on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Unless you are a masochist, can only reiterate - don't do it! You will come to hate the thought of every night. I've tried it, I know I don't like it. Ok for a day or two but not a long trip.
keepguessing - on 15 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

may i ask why you aren't going alpine style? after setting up a base camp at the bottom of the mountain. Also why does your sleeping bag weigh 2kg?
TobyA on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to sebflynn:

> may i ask why you aren't going alpine style?

<sigh> He said he's going trekking. Do you even know where Kamchatka is Seb?

Your puppy-dog enthusiasm for gear discussions was vaguely endearing at first but at least try reading what the guy asks before telling him what you read on Andy Kirpatrick.com last night.
Arbu - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to sebflynn:

We're planning to climb several volcanoes, all a bit spread out. My sleeping bag is something like this http://marmot.com/products/details/cwm-membrain though a little bit lighter (1950g).

I shall be sure to take a balaclava and something warm for my legs.
Carolyn - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

That does seem a fairly substantial bag for the temperatures you're expecting - and I'm not one to skimp on insulation! Personally, I'd probably take a rather lighter one and a down jacket, but I have the advantage that that doesn't mean having to buy anything.
keepguessing - on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

That's one hell of a sleeping bag for a summer trip, put up your kit list i'm sure everybody wouldn't mind helping you cut down some of that heavy weight.
Damo on 16 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

I'd agree with most above that a light-medium sleeping bag + down jacket is better for what you want. Down salopettes are rarely used anywhere and would be useless to you on the rest of your trip, whereas just one suitable sleeping bag could be used on all nights, with the addition of the down jacket at your high camp.

I've slept in just a down suit at C1 on Gasherbrum 1 and also on the summit of Vinson in Antarctica. The latter was measured at -46C. It was a right shiverfest and we didn't really sleep much over the 6-8hrs. Not recommended. I did it on another high peak in Antarctica, in a down jacket and Primaloft pants, but wedged between two others who were in big bags. It was OK, but still not great. It can be a suitable tactic for some climbs in certain areas, but I don't think your situation is one.

Your Rab Expedition parka probably is overkill, with the caveat that Klyuch has a monster summit day - around 1400m? - and a prolonged descent or exhausted bivi might be nicer with a big jacket. Watch those lava bombs, someone was killed 10 years or so ago struck by a flying lump.
Arbu - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Damo:

Thanks. Yes I agree that my jacket is probably overkill. But given that taking it saves me from buying a new, lighter one, it will allow me to take a lighter sleeping bag, and as you say, it would be good for emergencies, I think I'll take it.
JXM - on 17 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu: I did pretty much what you are planning to do back in 2002. Walked in to set up a camp at approx. 3600 m below Kluychevskaya and climbed Kluychevskaya and Kamen (failed on Bezymianny on the way in) before walking back out to the road again. I started carrying 37 kg but day by day the pack got lighter as we ate the food. We were not very experienced and not very focussed on light weight gear.

I appreciated having a good sleeping bag but in terms of clothing I got away fine with thermals, a mediumweight fleece jacket, a thin polartec fleece and (too heavy) goretex shells. Down pants would be overkill but some sort of a lightweight synthetic belay jacket would be nice, but not an absolute must, for the evenings. It rained and snowed quite a lot when we were there in August. Remember that Kluychevskaya is only almost as high as Mt. Blanc - it is just a bit more remote.

Make sure that you get off Kluychevskaya early in the morning. We were bombarded with rocks when the sun hit the slopes on our descent. The descent is fortunately pretty quick as you can bum slide most of the way. Bring a helmet.

Kamen is a much more interesting climb.

ged3000 on 19 Jun 2014
Good knowledge, JXM - useful to know! (I'm going on the same trip). Aiming to avoid a 37kg pack though - was there anything you forgot!?
Dtharme on 19 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Tried it once, down jacket and salopettes. Pretty grim in all, especially if a rope is used instead of a sleeping mat. The weight saving was good, but not worth it in the end!

Take the sleeping bag and a good mat. Your trip sounds great, it would be a shame to spend the nights chilly and be miserable through lack of sleep!
JXM - on 19 Jun 2014
In reply to ged3000: Another 500 mL of fuel would have been handy at the end of the trip. We did see a few bears at close range which made things a bit exciting. If I was only planning to climb Kluychevskaya I would not bring rope, stakes, screws, harness and probably not even an axe (but walking poles).

Did I mention that Kamen is a much more interesting climb?

Arbu - on 20 Jun 2014
In reply to JXM:

Thanks for posting that. I'm not too worried about the bears - I think as a group we're reasonably safe. I've hiked with them alone in Alaska (OK that was a bit scary at times).

We're doing pretty much as you suggest in terms of climbing equipment.

We have two rest days planned at the saddle with the possibility of a hike up the northern ridge of Kamen. But is sounds from the trip notes as if the higher part of the ridge might be too technical for the gear we'll be carrying.
Arbu - on 22 Jun 2014
In reply to JXM:

JXM, did you find any food off the land? If there are any berries or mushrooms around we ought to think about it before we go - it would be a terrible shame to be living off dehydrated food and walking past loads of wild food which we'd love to eat but can't because we're not sure if it's safe.
PN82 - on 22 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Hi Arbu, I have used down clothing in place of a sleeping bag but that was for a short hut stay before whizzing up an alpine summit and back.

For what you are doing and particularly because of the remoteness I would take your sleeping bag. Ok it may be a bag of sugar heavier than some of the rab down bags, but for getting a good nights sleep and should there be a storm or emergency situation then the extra wamrth and comfort could be life saving. Personally I would ditch the large down clothing and get a lighter down jacket or synthetic, so many facebook gear swap pages/ebay means you can get a good second jacket £40/£50 - mountain equipment lightline, rab neutrino are good down jackets/warmth for where you are going.

To maximise the success of your expedition you need to get plenty of food, fluids and rest as you acclimatise and out of all the pieces of kit you will take, a warm sleeping bag could be one of the most important. When your body is fatigued it can struggle to provide warmth so an extra thick warm bag could be spot on. As per other posts, see if there are other areas to save weight and best of luck to you, im kind of jealous that I can't join you ;)
uphillnow on 22 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

People have been doing this for years! Some Alaskan climbers take very light sleeping bags + down "clothing" on quite extreme ventures. Its a matter of on what, and how much comfort do you want.Sleeping bags generally give the most comfort but you cant wear them. Big down bag + big down jacket? Hardly necessary on many modest ventures.
Lion Bakes on 22 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

Mate tried this on Cuillin Ridge and woke us up every hour to ask if it was time to get going. They were freezing
JXM - on 23 Jun 2014
In reply to Arbu:

We only found some berries on the last day before reaching Kozyrevsk, just above the tree line IIRC. We only had freeze dried food and very little fuel left so we rock-scissor-paper'ed, and waited for a reaction before the other two started eating the berries. I don't know what kind they were but they were red. As I said in a previous post we were not experienced at all but we were keen...

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