3 Season sleepingbag....for the winter?!

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Dec 3, 2018
2
0
34
Norway
Hello everyone.

I have a pickle on my plate and I am looking for some good tips.

You see I have a really nice 3 season sleeping bag that I love. A Western Mountaineering MegaLite.

Ive been using it A LOT and I now want to extend its use to work well as integral part of a winter sleep system.

I have a Thermarest Xlite sleepingpad which i have boosted the R value of by purchasing a Thermarest Zlite Foam Pad to put underneath (or on top??) the Xlite. So I think I have bedding in order. Havent tried it yet, but this should work yes?

Then on to the Sleepingbag System, and this is where I would like some help.

When it is below freezing, inside my sleepingbag I will wear two layers of clothes. One baselayer of merinowool top and bottom, and a onepiece in thick fleece + plus two pairs of socks, one balaclava and an extra wool beanie. In addition I have bought a liner that is supposed to be the warmest on the market. The Thermarest Reactor Extreme. Anyone tried this?

To finish my system off I am thinking is to purchase some kind of wind and waterproof cover for my sleepingbag.

Here I am no sure what to get. I could get a Bivy. And I could get a blanket. The Thermarest Proton Blanket seems cool, and has many potential uses. But a simple, breathable Bivy also could do the trick, and the idea of being able, if I wanted to, to sleep out from under the tarp whenever the weather permits it seems enticing. Maybe I need to get both? If I am to survive and thrive in very cold temperatures? The proton blanket could supplement well inside the bivy, on top of my bag?

So yeah. I dont know, I just kinda summed up what my situation is and what Im thinking about it.

Do you guys think this will work? Or is it useless trying to make seriously lower the comfort level into the freezing cold, im thinking the system should work as low as -15C at least!

Whats cool is that instead of just buying a winter pad and sleepingbag, if I supplement my existing stuff I will end up with an extremely versatile system. That I can add to or subtract from when I want. But I dont know, Is this feasible? Or am I just fighting my own shadow here?
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Had you lived in a warm country like UK you would be fine, but Norway......

IMHO an extra outside layer can help if you are away from any wind.
Also, an inner layer ( inside the sleeping bag) will help, but the negative is that the' inner bag' can rotate so you will have a problem when it is time to get up for a wee in the middle of the night.

Sleeping in two layers? Can be done, but it is not comfortable. Any restriction of the blood flow due to tight clothing is not good.
I sleep on top of the clothes. Extra insulation towards the cold earth.


Personally I would get another, winter rated, sleeping bag. Arctic rated. Easier.
What is your existing bag rated to?
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Another good insulation is spruce branches. But I think you know that already!!
( A thick layer not only insulates against the cold, also even out the ground and shields away from wetness)
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,355
551
Canada
WM are great for sleeping bags, eh? I have a -10C MEC bag and a -20C WM, both downies. I have used the WM in the late summer when the MEC was occupied by others. As a duvet or just unzipped it was fine and I didn't get hot.

You have a good plan there ... I use a bivvy to up the warmth a bit got some bulky tough army goretex and a very light and delicate seeming Rab .

But, at least as important as the thermal capability of your bag is the way you separate yourself from the ground. It is a terrible heat sink in the cold and renders you bag almost useless if you don't keep insulated from it.

So when the temperature gets below -10 it is pretty vital to have a really good thermal mat under you if you hope to sleep through the night. A good mat really does make your bag much more effective. I have done a ton of snow camping in the -10C bag, with a mat and something like a bivvy to keep off the wind and also any snow melt

It depends on your temperatures where you are, but I'd think about a second bag ... maybe a -20C. Also bear in mind that if you put one inside the other you can be really comfortable in really cold conditions.

I have been looking at bivvies with supporting poles quite a bit this year. There's a few to chose from ... the usual failing is condensation
 
Last edited:
Dec 3, 2018
2
0
34
Norway
"IMHO an extra outside layer can help if you are away from any wind.
Also, an inner layer ( inside the sleeping bag) will help, but the negative is that the' inner bag' can rotate so you will have a problem when it is time to get up for a wee in the middle of the night."


Well I already have the Thermarest Reactor Extreme, which im hoping will add a good 5 C. I used two bags on an overnighter the other day, my normal Megalite sleeping bag and a synthetic sleepingbag over it. Worked well for that night. But the synthetic bag is way to heavy to be a part of any permanent system. Its just an old one I have lying around.

"Sleeping in two layers? Can be done, but it is not comfortable. Any restriction of the blood flow due to tight clothing is not good.
I sleep on top of the clothes. Extra insulation towards the cold earth."

Spruce branches yes thats a trick for sure. But im surrounded by 1500m mountains on all sides and often times Im way above the treeline. Im hoping that a combination of the xlite and zlite foam will do the trick in terms of insulation from the ground, even on snow. Remains to be tested though. In regards to the layers. I will wear a pretty loosefitting merino base, and an even looser fitting fleece onepiece. Ive thought about bloodflow, and I think I wont have a problem. Definently something that has to be tested though.

"Personally I would get another, winter rated, sleeping bag. Arctic rated. Easier.
What is your existing bag rated to?"


Its rated to -2 C. I get what youre saying about buying a winter bag. But I also want to see if I can work something out first. I want to buy a bivy I think, because this would be cool to have in the summer also. But I hear that a good bivy can easily add five C on your system. So with just the thermolite line and the bivybag I can maybe go as far down as -10. With the added fleece onepiece and a wool blanket I could maybe do -15. Thats pushing it, but its possible maybe. The only thing I would have to get then is a bivy, and that is a piece of gear I can use year round. Unlike the winterbag that I will use on the handfull of times I go winter camping.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Just a tip: remove the trouser belt and open the fly. Much more comfortable that way!

Also no shoes or boots on. Those I use as a pillow base.

In tree less environment I have been known to gather the reindeer lichen and crowberry bushes as a layer.
In Norwegian reinlav and krekebaer?

There is a product made by Hillebergs called Bivanorak. I have never tried it, but it certsinly looks very interesting!
https://bushcraftuk.com/community/index.php?threads/hilleberg-bivanorak-any-views.151139/
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,355
551
Canada
The other thing to think about is a down jacket, pants and bootees as one's sleepwear if you want to stick to a lower-rated bag but still sleep above the treeline in winter :)
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,355
551
Canada
Advantage wit the down being that it squishes a lot smaller than fleece

BTW: Houdini make the good fleece nowadays :) Top prize stays in Sweden though. Difficult to get current year's ranges outside of Sweden. I got mine a year or two out of date from Bike24
 
Jan 13, 2018
358
250
63
Rural Lincolnshire
The other thing to think about is a down jacket, pants and bootees as one's sleepwear if you want to stick to a lower-rated bag but still sleep above the treeline in winter :)
The problem I have found with Down sleep wear (even Down sleeping bags) is that Down acts as an insulator ONLY when it is 'fluffed up' with air, as soon as you lie on it, it simply becomes a very thin layer of Nylon and flattened feathers giving very little insulation.
The most heat loss occurs from beneath you (drawn out by the cold ground) so having a 'squashed' down sleeping bag and squashed down sleep-wear is actually giving very little benefit. This is why the sleep-system beneath you sleeping bag is of primary importance - you need something giving a high R-Factor, be it a good sleeping mat, fir branches or Reindeer hides.
 

Tonyuk

Settler
Nov 30, 2011
882
50
Scotland
What is your current bag rated for? And what temperatures will you be expecting?

The warmth of a bag can be increased with a better mat, a liner and a bivvy bag, as well as sleeping in a shelter such as a tent etc..

However, by the time you add in those, plus any blankets etc.. You might be better off just carrying a proper 4 season bag.

Army surplus bags are cheap, durable and warm. The old issue bag with a great piece of kit and i was never cold in it even in Norway and Canada, the new system is made up of 3 bags (Inner, outer, bivvy) and is just as warm but a bit more packable. Should be able to get the whole thing basically new for £70. I'm sure the Norwegian army will have excellent kit.

Be careful about sleeping in too many clothes, you want the heat from your body to fill the bag and use its insulation to keep you warm, the more you wear the slower this will happen. I sleep in thermals, socks, microfleece and hat in winter. Have a pee bottle in the bag, a bottle of hot water wrapped in a sock will warm the bag up before you get in it, try to avoid putting your head in the bag, and change into dry clothes if possible. I keep my clothes for sleeping in the bag itself.

The Lamina range by mountain equipment is very good and pack down small. Buffalo do a great pile sleeping bag liner as part of their complete sleep system, can be had separately and will add 8 odd degrees to a bag easily, but its tight fitting imo.

http://www.buffalosystems.co.uk/products/4s-inner/
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,355
551
Canada
The most heat loss occurs from beneath you (drawn out by the cold ground) so having a 'squashed' down sleeping bag and squashed down sleep-wear is actually giving very little benefit. This is why the sleep-system beneath you sleeping bag is of primary importance - you need something giving a high R-Factor, be it a good sleeping mat, fir branches or Reindeer hides.
:) Which is exactly what I said in the post above, Alan :lol:

The further added advantage is that down sleepers fit close to your body, avoiding those aggravating puddles of cold you find if your bag is too big.
 
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Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
The main think is to keep the sleeping bag dry. The clothes that you take into the bag should be dry too. Plus snow free.

Even a sweaty shirt for a couple of nights can lower the efficiency.
 

Old Bones

Settler
Oct 14, 2009
740
63
East Anglia
Agree with everyone who advises 'get another bag'.

You can add extra layers, but ultimately your throwing extra money and weight at a bag which isn't really designed for the temperature. I have a ME Classic 500, which is probably fine even beyond the minus 6 it's officially rated at. But it's a 3 season bag. Trying to add extra warmth only gets you so far. And that extra cash is better spent on a warmer bag.

A four season plus down bag might be a pickup on Ebay, if you keep an eye out. And it's going to be winter sales soon.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,665
1,626
McBride, BC
It's always winter when you go 'up.' Always. Here, about 2C per 1,000 feet. Nothing at all grows there.

Winter climbing to the Bogong High Plains in Victoria, I didn't have very good kit.
But, I had 2 fairly good phart-sacks, one inside the other = worked quite well.
And a tent with a floor to get out of the wind.
 
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