Best option for upgrading winter sleeping arrangements?

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Paul_B

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Jul 14, 2008
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We've all got good, 3 season bags, I have a zero comfort rated and -7C rated quilt. Both in XL. My partner has one lightweight at + a few degrees and be a big, down winter bag used in Eastern Europe in winter conditions, but it's lost its performance somewhat after 20 years use.

So, not much money means synthetic, but what about using one bag inside another? I'm thinking that mine could easily be used with the quilt inside because it's way too big for me in girth. It could be that getting a new +5 or 7 rated and use doubled up might be ok with the big bag I have.

This is for van sleeping so bulky bags aren't an issue. Is it better option for year round use to have cold rated for cold weather then warm rated for warmer conditions. Or two warmer rated bags that can fit inside each other for winter and on their own for other times. Say spring and autumn bag with a summer bag inside??
 

Van-Wild

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You would be more comfortable if you layered both the quilts like duvets and wore some decent bed clothes. Sharing body warmth with your wife will keep you both warmer as well. I sleep like a human radiator and my wife sleeps cold, so we just cuddle up in the van under a duvet.

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Paul_B

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You would be more comfortable if you layered both the quilts like duvets and wore some decent bed clothes. Sharing body warmth with your wife will keep you both warmer as well. I sleep like a human radiator and my wife sleeps cold, so we just cuddle up in the van under a duvet.

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I'm downstairs with the dog!! Until the dog whines to be let up top!!! I can't think why. It's not like I snore or anything.

One quilt and one XL bag together makes sense but should we get be another XL bag to act as an over bag for £50 to put over another we own or just get say a £75 snugpak winter bag to -10°C or colder. Do two bags together work cumulatively? For example Alpkit pipedream bags come in standard and XL sizes. They also come in 200, 400, 600 weight each warmer than the other. Would say a standard inside XL 200 version be be as warm as the 400 if they had basically the same amount of insulation, in this case down. Top rated brands like PHD do over bags so I'm guessing it can work, but they're designed to be used with other bags in their range as a system. Not so with what we might end up.
 

punkrockcaveman

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I think if I remember right Wayland uses a down bag inside a synthetic for sub zero camping, from another thread so it can definitely work.

A straight up 4 season bag would maybe be easier? Did you manage to upgrade your insulation underneath? That will count for a lot
 

Paul_B

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Upstairs we have a memory foam mattress topper following recommendations. Just need to chop off a couple of inches so it can't be seen when left up there with the top down. Downstairs I'll use the mattress that was used upstairs. An alpkit one that's nice and thick.

Actually that extra insulation underneath might be enough for coping with a night like a week ago which got me looking for options.
 

punkrockcaveman

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If my hammock has taught me anything it's how important insulation underneath is :)

I think the extra bag will definitely help though. I wonder if condensation on the colder nights is directly affecting your bags insulation properties?
 

Paul_B

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There wasn't much condensation that night considering. Perhaps our early night and not using the heater helped. Got tucked up before air got close to dew point I suppose.
 

cipherdias

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Jan 1, 2014
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Don’t underestimate the value of good sleeping clothes. I have a set of thermals complete with hat and socks that are only used for sleeping in and have never been cold. Also handy if you need to pop out for a wee in the night as u can just throw your boots on :)


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SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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We've all got good, 3 season bags, I have a zero comfort rated and -7C rated quilt. Both in XL. My partner has one lightweight at + a few degrees and be a big, down winter bag used in Eastern Europe in winter conditions, but it's lost its performance somewhat after 20 years use.

So, not much money means synthetic, but what about using one bag inside another? I'm thinking that mine could easily be used with the quilt inside because it's way too big for me in girth. It could be that getting a new +5 or 7 rated and use doubled up might be ok with the big bag I have.

This is for van sleeping so bulky bags aren't an issue. Is it better option for year round use to have cold rated for cold weather then warm rated for warmer conditions. Or two warmer rated bags that can fit inside each other for winter and on their own for other times. Say spring and autumn bag with a summer bag inside??
You can double up on sleeping bags, as long as they (and you) fit comfortably inside each other without compressing the loft.

I often use my synthetic summer sleeping bag as a blanket over the top while in my 3/4-season down sleeping bag. That way I can regulate the temperature more easily and it's easier to move around. I just put the foot box of the thinner bag over the foot box of the other bag and that is enough to keep it in place.

For van use though, I would get more insulation underneath with a fitted fleece or flannel bedsheet to make it warm and comfortable and then use the open sleeping bag or bags as duvets on top. Tuck your feet into the footbox to keep them warm. Also wearing a buff will help!
 
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Erbswurst

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I think in the van it's the best to wear warm underwear, each in its sleeping bag and a large blanket over both.

Such problems one can avoid if one gets from the beginning a 2 bag military sleep system like Snugpak Special Forces 1+2, Carinthia Defence 4+ Tropen, or a similar constructed combination that simply fits well because its constructed to fit.

Light 2 season sleeping bag + winter sleeping bag creates a double sleeping bag for temperatures down to -20 *C, with warm clothing inside -25*C and a good quality bivvy bag with zipper fits as well.

You buy 2 sleeping bags and 1 bivvy bag and are perfectly equipped for everything.

Because its quality stuff it lasts very long, and that's all together why this is in my opinion the only way which really can be recommended to normal users.

And professionals as well of course.
The whole NATO issues such stuff.

I really don't understand why the other models, which don't offer this option, are still offered, recommended, bought and discussed.

I recommend to beginners usually to get 1 part of a 2 bags military sleep system and to upgrade later the rest of it. In the long term that's the best and cheapest option anyway.
 
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SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Also, it's easy to get cold while getting ready for bed and if you've been relaxing for a while before that too, you can get quite chilled and then it's very hard to warm up the sleeping bag. When camping, I try to get ready a little bit earlier than I otherwise would and then sit in my sleeping bag for a while to generate some warmth. If you're running cold like me, moving your legs as if walking uphill for a bit can help get things going. A Nalgene hot water bottle can also be quite nice!

You often read that you should eat before going to bed as digesting food will warm you up, but I get very cold just after meals, so I need to eat a little earlier in the evening for that to work.
 

Paul_B

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Oh I know all the tricks from years of wildcamping with tarp and bivvy. A little walk around then straight into your bag. A bag of plain peanuts for that high fat and protein slow burn food that's perfect for maintaining warmth. Then after about half an hour you get that heat generation from your food digestion. That's my cue for lights out, glasses in a case next to the light and sleepy sleepy time.

My issue is I know my tent and other sleeping places are like in various weather conditions and locations. I've only used a van twice in different conditions despite only 2 weeks apart. I've yet to learn about best van practise across the seasons.

I learnt the other weekend that it cools down almost as much as a tent, possibly the same as. In a tent that night I'd have used something like the quilt or a jacket. Certainly early morning which is the cold time. I also learnt my sleeping bag used to be ok in those conditions but it's lost performance.

Both my quilt and this sleeping bag are large enough to fit a standard bag inside without any compression or loss of performance. I'm aware of down clothing inside a standard down sleeping bag can result in compression of both such that it's worse than using just one.

I think I could get an xl snugpak inside my Marmot XL bag. It's supposedly the same size as the xl snugpak but it's not. It's bigger than claimed. Two normal build people can fit inside it. I can fold my arns above my head and still very them inside tyre hood and not even find the foot compressed by my pressing down on them. It's up to 6'6" but I'm only an inch shorter than that and it's bigger by some way than that!
 

SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
Oh I know all the tricks from years of wildcamping with tarp and bivvy. A little walk around then straight into your bag. A bag of plain peanuts for that high fat and protein slow burn food that's perfect for maintaining warmth. Then after about half an hour you get that heat generation from your food digestion. That's my cue for lights out, glasses in a case next to the light and sleepy sleepy time.

My issue is I know my tent and other sleeping places are like in various weather conditions and locations. I've only used a van twice in different conditions despite only 2 weeks apart. I've yet to learn about best van practise across the seasons.

I learnt the other weekend that it cools down almost as much as a tent, possibly the same as. In a tent that night I'd have used something like the quilt or a jacket. Certainly early morning which is the cold time. I also learnt my sleeping bag used to be ok in those conditions but it's lost performance.

Both my quilt and this sleeping bag are large enough to fit a standard bag inside without any compression or loss of performance. I'm aware of down clothing inside a standard down sleeping bag can result in compression of both such that it's worse than using just one.

I think I could get an xl snugpak inside my Marmot XL bag. It's supposedly the same size as the xl snugpak but it's not. It's bigger than claimed. Two normal build people can fit inside it. I can fold my arns above my head and still very them inside tyre hood and not even find the foot compressed by my pressing down on them. It's up to 6'6" but I'm only an inch shorter than that and it's bigger by some way than that!
Sleeping in (unheated) vehicles are very much like tents - only colder! You also risk loosing a lot more heat when opening the doors to go out that last time, compared to a tent.

If you're not keen on spending money, I'd just pile on what you've got already and regulate the temperature much like you might at home (duvet on/off/partially on, hotwater bottle, window open and so on). With your old sleeping bags, have you tried reviving them by fluffling them up a bit? I've done that with down jackets and it really helped redistribute the filling again.

When it comes to sleeping bag ratings, it's worth keeping in mind that they usually quote the "you will probably survive" ones, and not the "you'll be comfortable and sleep like a baby" ones in the blurbs. And only you know what normally works for you. I've got a women's down sleeping bag that I think is rated at -9*C and I use that during spring-summer-autumn. It's perfect for me in all but the hottest weather...
 

punkrockcaveman

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I think I could get an xl snugpak inside my Marmot XL bag. It's supposedly the same size as the xl snugpak but it's not. It's bigger than claimed. Two normal build people can fit inside it. I can fold my arns above my head and still very them inside tyre hood and not even find the foot compressed by my pressing down on them. It's up to 6'6" but I'm only an inch shorter than that and it's bigger by some way than that!

If it really is that big then no worries getting another bag to go inside, a bag that big on it's own probably isn't very thermally efficient
 
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Paul_B

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No, it's a bit of a bellows effect with it until you pull the cords in. No neck baffle neither. It used to be warm despite that. I've slept ok below zero before. My quilt replaced it though as that's very warm compared to the bag. Also do but it's designed to pull around your body and doesn't have a hood. It can cope better with someone my height and slimmer build but also the same wide girth as the bag. In some ways bags aren't as good as quilts IMHO.

There's usually three temperatures quoted somewhere in sleeping bag ratings, some more prominent than others. The good brands I have, marmot and the now defunct golite, give all three prominently in their tags. Comfort (aka average women's long temperature for a night's sleep), limit (men's or warm sleeping woman's sleep limit) and extreme for that no sleep/survival/just make it through the night rating. The middle one is very much dependent on being fit, food intake, sleeping warm, etc. More realistic and safer to quote comfort. Also if women's specific the good brands adjust the temperatures up a bit because on average women sleep cooler than men apparently.

With all this you get brands adjusting up or down as they feel fit. Brands like PHD adjust to safety, cheaper brands will try to adjust the other way. I guess it's down to whether you are buying quality or not. Quality brands are generally playing safe IME.

Then, as I've just found, bags become less thermally efficient or effective with the years. Obviously store in the larger storage sack and don't be tempted to pack it stuffed into a small space as that's defeating the lofting from the large storage bag.

I did wash one bag. I think the quilt but possibly the bag as well. Despite what the manufacturers say it's not hard washing bags even down filled ones. Wash on a gentle cycle, preferably with specialist outdoor detergents. Dry with some type of light balls in it. We use one tennis ball. Also dry in a large dryer preferably at a launderette. It really helps to return the rating towards original performance.

In our case I think the bags just aren't good enough now even with the wash.
 

Erbswurst

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I think it's better if the inner wall of the outer bag is just a bit larger than the outer wall of the inner bag.
I think like this the transport of moisture works better.

And your risk is lower to get the 0*C / condensation point somewhere in the inner bag.

By the way:
In my opinion it's usually better if the thinner bag is outside, because like this you usually get the condensation point in the outer bag which dries faster than the warmer inner one.
 
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Having warm feet when you first go to bed helps enormously. Hence some of the "take a walk first" comments above.

Thick wool socks or, in my case, a pair of Rab down bootees, are great for keeping the feet warm in the bag. I have been known to use them in the house when I first go to bed on a particularly cold night. Not that I'd ever admit to that.

If your bag is not a mummy bag, a woollen hat will also help at first. (And sometimes again, just before dawn.)
 
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Paul_B

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I find that thick socks actually make my feet feel colder. I guess there's some compression of the down going on. The idea being the insulation in the bag is more efficient than clothing so if the clothing causes the insulation to compress it becomes less efficient and cooler than without the extra clothing.
 
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Van-Wild

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Silly question maybe but.......

Is your van properly insulated and carpet lined? Correct insulation and sound deadening has a huge effect on warmth inside your van. I've seen an unscrupulous van converter refit internal panels with carpet but not put correct insulation between the panels and the metalwork! He used cheap as ** synthetic fibre that wasn't even secured!

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