RICK/A Sea Kayaking Forum

Commerce => Gear Reviews => Topic started by: Tim on December 09, 2007, 11:09:27 AM

Title: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: Tim on December 09, 2007, 11:09:27 AM
Anyone have any advice on sleeping bags and pads for use from late spring to mid-fall?  In particular, input on suggested minimum temperature range, bag composition (i.e. synthetic vs. down), style (i.e. rectangular vs. mummy) and interior lining (i.e. flannel vs. nylon) would be helpful.  Looking for lower end bags for scouting and possible car camping, maybe an odd overnight kayak trip.
Title: Re: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: Eric J. on December 09, 2007, 12:05:54 PM
20 degree seems pretty standard for the 3 season camping range of bags. H and I both have 20 degree bags and never had any issues with them being to warm.
I was a died in the wool believer that synthetic was the only option for kayak camping until very recently. When purchasing my new bag, the sales guy at REI convinced me that down was really the all around better option. Synthetic bags are cheaper and supposedly retain some of their insulating capabilities when wet. Down ones are useless when wet. The rub is that a synthetic bag looses as much as 90% of its insulating capabilities when wet and takes a long time to dry out.
My new down bag is much more comfortable than my synthetic one.
Title: Re: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: GeoAFenleyIII on December 12, 2007, 01:50:50 PM
Hi Tim;  Saw your msg on the board. My personal experiences date back to my Army days, both active duty and National Guard. We used the same mummy style bags summer and winter, in today parlance I guess they would have been rated as three seasons.  One would freeze in the cold because the down  (?) fill would compress, either on the ground or on a cot.    
   However I happened to be reading  a book called “Surviving Coastal and Open Water” by Greg Davenport from Stackpole Books, 2003. And in it he covers sleeping bags, on page 46, he states that down  is not suitable for water sports. Down has a lot of great features but it’s bad points are that  it can’t keep you warm when it is wet, it  loses it loft and insulating  abilities and it is expensive. 
   Your other choice is synthetic which is a good alternative. Bad points are that they are heavier and don’t compress as well as down. On the plus side it will maintain it’s loft and insulation  when wet, this means that one stays warmer even when the bag is wet and it does dry quickly and is less expensive.  Over long term use  it loses loft which again is it‘s ability to keep you warm. He cites that Lite Loft and Polarguard are two good examples of synthetics.   I assume one could shake or throw it in the dryer with sneakers to regain fluff and loft.  Manufacturer’s information should suggest how. 
   He does cover bag construction  of being  three types; slant tube, offset quilt and square box. Each design has it’s benefits, choose what appeals to you. He also suggest  buying the hooded, tapered mummy style bag, here I assume that anticipates using the bag in colder weather. One last thing, bags are rated according to temperature, buy one for the coldest temp rating you think you might use it in.
   In reference to sleeping pads.  One type is closed cell foam, great insulation and durability and bulky. The other type is the open cell foam which may or may not be self inflating, However the ability to compress and rebound  makes them an ideal choice where the lack of space is concerned. 
    Hope this helps. George
Title: Re: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: gerry p on December 14, 2007, 10:52:03 AM
I used to work a little as a mountaineering guid and, in my book, the previous responses are right on.  For north easst conditions, a 20 degree, mummy synthetik bag is best.  It's too warm for summer and too cold for winter-just right for spring and fall.  That's why I have 4 bags. 
Sierra Tading Post always has decent bags on sale.  You can find them online at sierratradingpost.com.  Wait until a bit after x-mas to allow them to restock.  Note:  Not all synthetics are the same.  Some don't compress well and some don't have much longevity.   When you see something that looks good, feel free to contact me at gerryandjoell@yahoo.com and I'll look over your shoulder before you buy.
Concerning pads- I use a combo of inflatables and closed cell.  A z-rest closed cell folds down nice and has a textured surface allowing moisture to get away from you and your bag.  On the bottom, I use a thinner air(1" or 1.25") therma-rest.  They have a lighter weight expedition series which saves in space as well as weight.  I use them together to sleep on.  If the therma rest ever getts a slow leak, you can still get through the night before having to make a repair.  I use the z-rest alone to sit on while cooking, etc... because it's more durable.  Together, they are cushy enough to let old bodies like ours sleep comfortably on pretty lousy ground.
Hope this helps,
Title: Re: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: Peter on December 14, 2007, 04:42:50 PM
One tip about sleeping bags. The good ones come with two sacks - a compression sack for travelling and large bag that looks like a laundry bag. If you keep the sleeping bag in the compression sack to long it get permanaently compressed and losses it's effectiveness - so always make sure you store them loose - in the big sack.

I have a pair of polar fleece bags that zip together for a double - very warm with the right company - otherwise the holofil (sp?) mummy is the best for warmth.

i am still deciding on sleeping pads. Most of my camping these days is car camping. My thick air matress let me down this summer (or was it spring?) - I was car camping so I had extra blankets I could use to soften out the bumps. Now I use a thick thermarest with a blanket or two for extra insulation. I guess that's a bit like Gerry's thermarest/Z rest combo.

So Tim: Do we see an intrepid expidition in your neer future? ...or are you just looking for balast for the Explorer?
Title: Re: sleeping bags & pads
Post by: Tim on December 15, 2007, 03:39:54 PM
Great info. all!  Thanks for the "back-up" on land as well as sea.  No major expeditions currently planned, but you never know...