Carinthia Tropen vs. British military lightweight sleeping bag?

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Watchmanjimg

New Member
Jan 28, 2021
3
2
53
Orlando, FL USA
Greetings from Orlando, FL USA! This is my first post and I'm looking forward to input from those of you across the pond with presumably greater access to UK military gear (although I'm working on acquiring some). I'm aware that the recent British lightweight bag was apparently inspired by the Carinthia Tropen, but I'm seeking comments on how it compares to the Carinthia in terms of quality and performance. Can anyone weigh in on this? Thanks!
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,129
1,236
Berlin
Greetings from West Berlin, American Sector! ;)

That's what I found about the question written by a well informed surplus shop:


I don't own both and can't tell you so much about it. For sure I also know just the usual descriptions that you surely already could find yourself, but I did read of course a lot about the Carinthia sleep system Tropen / Defence 4, because it is issued to the German Army and used by a lot of German bushcrafters too and heavily discussed in German bushcraft forums.

I give you a surely unexpected answer to your question behind the question you asked here. The question which is the best modular sleeping bag system on the world market for civil use. I assume that is the question of most bushcrafters in temperate countries.

I bought the similar Snugpak Special Forces System, and I will tell you why:

The Asian made SF bivvy bag is outstanding light and compact packing. The flap of the zipper is constructed to sleep on the left side in the open if it's raining, what works very well, by the way and I usually don't set up a military poncho tarp if it isn't already raining in the evening. When I am in my bivvy bag it may rain outside, I don't care!

Because I use it mainly in France and Germany I want a zipper in the bivvy bag for better ventilation in warm and dry conditions, or under the tarp or military poncho and in a tent I can enter my sleep system better if the bivvy bag has a zipper anyway.
Apart from horribly hot summer conditions I always use the bivvy bag around my sleeping bag everywhere in order to keep it dry and clean.

The Carinthia bivvy bag is surely more durable, but far more expensive and constructed to sleep on the right side. I fall asleep better on the left. And I do not hop around in my sleep system, I don't need such a tough bivvy bag like the Carinthia Sleeping bag cover of the German army, or the British Army bivvy bag, which has a very wide entrance but no zipper, by the way.

But I admit, the new Goretex material of the Carinthia bivvy bag that seems to allow you to breath THROUGH the fabric, (the so called GAS PERMEABLE TECHNOLOGY, that is different to the fabric of usual Goretex bivvy bags) of the totally closed bivvy bag looks quiet interesting. That technique doesn't avoid condensation of breath moisture though and is more a military thing than of civil interest. I will always breath out of my bivvy bag anyway, I have no enemy who searches me with a thermographic camera, my only enemy is at the inside of the bivvy bag to water condensating breath moisture, because this can become very unpleasant and even dangerous in cold conditions.

The SF1 sleeping bag with the SF bivvy bag fits without compression bag well into a 7 litres Ortlieb drybag PS10 and this combination is outstanding light. I think it is the lightest sleep system with NATO stock number with this temperature rating. The Ortlieb bag is no military item but a civil high end quality German made dry bag.

The Snugpak Special Forces sleeping bags are made in a very high quality in Britain with a Swiss made filling, incredibly comfortable and well working. The olive green versions are cheaper than the camouflage versions, by the way.

I think the mainly Slovakian but also Moldavian made Carithia products are very well made too of course, as the stuff is issued to most NATO armies in Europe. But as I wrote I don't own current Carinthia sleeping bags.

So, until here you probably understand why I prefere the Snugpak Special Forces System for summer and 3 seasons use.
I carry an additional mosquito head net, the Carinthia Tropen has it built in, but due to this construction it has no central zipper. The zipper is located on the side here, but I prefere by far a central zipper.
Carinthia offers such a summer bag with central zipper too, the Defence 1 and a lot of other versions too of course, but I compare here the usually issued Carinthia system Defence 4 + Tropen + German army bivvy bag.

Now we compare Carinthia Defence 4 and Snugpak SF2.
The Defence 4 is very roomy. It is a very good option for a less sporty big guy. But a thin person or a more athletic build man needs to heat up a lot of air in it, and because it has no warmth collar, he will pump out the air with every motion. If you don't wear a padded suit in it anyway, this sleeping bag alone is relatively fresh inside, regarding volume and weight of it.

The Defence 4 is so big, that an athletic man in padded clothing and boots and in the Carinthia Tropen sleeping bag fits into the Defence 4.

The Snugpak SF system is constructed different: The man in boots and padded suit goes into the SF2, the warmer bag, and the SF1 goes over that. The sleeping bags on theyr own aren't really tight like a civil mountaineering sleeping bag, but tighter than the Carinthia bags, because the Snugpak System has an additional adapter, that belongs in between the zippers and makes them a few centimetres wider.
So without adapter the SF sleeping bags are tighter than with it, what makes sense, because we assume that the man will wear less on the person if he uses just the SF1 or just the SF2, but if he connects them both to reach a comfort temperature rating of -20*C he surely will wear a padded suit in it if he is a soldier in the field or a comfort orientated experienced civil outdoorsman.

Different to the Carinthia Defence 4, which is the outer layer in the combined system, the Snugpak SF2, which is the inner layer in the combined system, has a warmth collar! That is a very light but very effective part of the usual winter sleeping bag construction and this is missing totally in the Carinthia system Defence 4 + Tropen.

That's why I prefere the SF2 over the Defence 4, the Snugpak SF system over the issued modular Carinthia system.

But there is also a downside of the Snugpak system:
I need a rain or snow protected space to put the adapter into the both sleeping g bags. I need to pull them out of the bivvy bag to attach the 4 zippers to the adapter. In the end I just have to open only one zipper in order to enter or leave both sleeping bags. The bivvy bag has it's own zipper of course.

In the Carinthia system I just put the Tropen into the Defence 4 and that's it!
In this case the Defence 4 may stay in its bivvy bag while I am doing that.

I can keep the adapter in the SF2 or SF1 though, speed up the connection. But I have to pull the sleeping bags out to connect them anyway.
The point is, that one uses the warmer SF2 before one adds the SF1, but this goes between SF2 and bivvy.

So the Carinthia system is by far more handy to put together. But in every other point the Snugpak system is superior in my opinion.

Because both bivvy bags function very well you usually don't need to dry the sleeping bags separately. (Sometimes you need to shake ice out of the bivvy bag though.) But in some conditions, especially if you did breath by accident into the bivvy bag, moisture can build up in the outer layer of the sleeping bag insulation. You could avoid that with a vapour liner, regarding usual sweating, but that's surely not the most pleasant idea for normal use.
So, there is a risk to get a whet outer insulation layer. The thinner SF1 will dry faster than the thicker Defence 4 of course. If you can't dry it, you keep the relatively dry SF2 winter sleeping bag. That is another reason to choose the Snugpak system.

Who wants the Carinthia bivvy bag can combine it of course with the Snugpak SF system. The bivvy bags are too different to decide generally which is better than the other. It depends on the personal preferences and intended use.

The very warm Carinthia Defence 6 has a warmth collar, by the way, and others of their models too. But they don't really belong into the issued modular system.

I hope that helps.





 
Last edited:

Watchmanjimg

New Member
Jan 28, 2021
3
2
53
Orlando, FL USA
Greetings from West Berlin, American Sector! ;)

That's what I found about the question written by a well informed surplus shop:


I don't own both and can't tell you so much about it. For sure I also know just the usual descriptions that you surely already could find yourself, but I did read of course a lot about the Carinthia sleep system Tropen / Defence 4, because it is issued to the German Army and used by a lot of German bushcrafters too and heavily discussed in German bushcraft forums.

I give you a surely unexpected answer to your question behind the question you asked here. The question which is the best modular sleeping bag system on the world market for civil use. I assume that is the question of most bushcrafters in temperate countries.

I bought the similar Snugpak Special Forces System, and I will tell you why:

The Asian made SF bivvy bag is outstanding light and compact packing. The flap of the zipper is constructed to sleep on the left side in the open if it's raining, what works very well, by the way and I usually don't set up a military poncho tarp if it isn't already raining in the evening. When I am in my bivvy bag it may rain outside, I don't care!

Because I use it mainly in France and Germany I want a zipper in the bivvy bag for better ventilation in warm and dry conditions, or under the tarp or military poncho and in a tent I can enter my sleep system better if the bivvy bag has a zipper anyway.
Apart from horribly hot summer conditions I always use the bivvy bag around my sleeping bag everywhere in order to keep it dry and clean.

The Carinthia bivvy bag is surely more durable, but far more expensive and constructed to sleep on the right side. I fall asleep better on the left. And I do not hop around in my sleep system, I don't need such a tough bivvy bag like the Carinthia Sleeping bag cover of the German army, or the British Army bivvy bag, which has a very wide entrance but no zipper, by the way.

But I admit, the new Goretex material of the Carinthia bivvy bag that seems to allow you to breath THROUGH the fabric, (the so called GAS PERMEABLE TECHNOLOGY, that is different to the fabric of usual Goretex bivvy bags) of the totally closed bivvy bag looks quiet interesting. That technique doesn't avoid condensation of breath moisture though and is more a military thing than of civil interest. I will always breath out of my bivvy bag anyway, I have no enemy who searches me with a thermographic camera, my only enemy is at the inside of the bivvy bag to water condensating breath moisture, because this can become very unpleasant and even dangerous in cold conditions.

The SF1 sleeping bag with the SF bivvy bag fits without compression bag well into a 7 litres Ortlieb drybag PS10 and this combination is outstanding light. I think it is the lightest sleep system with NATO stock number with this temperature rating. The Ortlieb bag is no military item but a civil high end quality German made dry bag.

The Snugpak Special Forces sleeping bags are made in a very high quality in Britain with a Swiss made filling, incredibly comfortable and well working. The olive green versions are cheaper than the camouflage versions, by the way.

I think the mainly Slovakian but also Moldavian made Carithia products are very well made too of course, as the stuff is issued to most NATO armies in Europe. But as I wrote I don't own current Carinthia sleeping bags.

So, until here you probably understand why I prefere the Snugpak Special Forces System for summer and 3 seasons use.
I carry an additional mosquito head net, the Carinthia Tropen has it built in, but due to this construction it has no central zipper. The zipper is located on the side here, but I prefere by far a central zipper.
Carinthia offers such a summer bag with central zipper too, the Defence 1 and a lot of other versions too of course, but I compare here the usually issued Carinthia system Defence 4 + Tropen + German army bivvy bag.

Now we compare Carinthia Defence 4 and Snugpak SF2.
The Defence 4 is very roomy. It is a very good option for a less sporty big guy. But a thin person or a more athletic build man needs to heat up a lot of air in it, and because it has no warmth collar, he will pump out the air with every motion. If you don't wear a padded suit in it anyway, this sleeping bag alone is relatively fresh inside, regarding volume and weight of it.

The Defence 4 is so big, that an athletic man in padded clothing and boots and in the Carinthia Tropen sleeping bag fits into the Defence 4.

The Snugpak SF system is constructed different: The man in boots and padded suit goes into the SF2, the warmer bag, and the SF1 goes over that. The sleeping bags on theyr own aren't really tight like a civil mountaineering sleeping bag, but tighter than the Carinthia bags, because the Snugpak System has an additional adapter, that belongs in between the zippers and makes them a few centimetres wider.
So without adapter the SF sleeping bags are tighter than with it, what makes sense, because we assume that the man will wear less on the person if he uses just the SF1 or just the SF2, but if he connects them both to reach a comfort temperature rating of -20*C he surely will wear a padded suit in it if he is a soldier in the field or a comfort orientated experienced civil outdoorsman.

Different to the Carinthia Defence 4, which is the outer layer in the combined system, the Snugpak SF2, which is the inner layer in the combined system, has a warmth collar! That is a very light but very effective part of the usual winter sleeping bag construction and this is missing totally in the Carinthia system Defence 4 + Tropen.

That's why I prefere the SF2 over the Defence 4, the Snugpak SF system over the issued modular Carinthia system.

But there is also a downside of the Snugpak system:
I need a rain or snow protected space to put the adapter into the both sleeping g bags. I need to pull them out of the bivvy bag to attach the 4 zippers to the adapter. In the end I just have to open only one zipper in order to enter or leave both sleeping bags. The bivvy bag has it's own zipper of course.

In the Carinthia system I just put the Tropen into the Defence 4 and that's it!
In this case the Defence 4 may stay in its bivvy bag while I am doing that.

I can keep the adapter in the SF2 or SF1 though, speed up the connection. But I have to pull the sleeping bags out to connect them anyway.
The point is, that one uses the warmer SF2 before one adds the SF1, but this goes between SF2 and bivvy.

So the Carinthia system is by far more handy to put together. But in every other point the Snugpak system is superior in my opinion.

Because both bivvy bags function very well you usually don't need to dry the sleeping bags separately. (Sometimes you need to shake ice out of the bivvy bag though.) But in some conditions, especially if you did breath by accident into the bivvy bag, moisture can build up in the outer layer of the sleeping bag insulation. You could avoid that with a vapour liner, regarding usual sweating, but that's surely not the most pleasant idea for normal use.
So, there is a risk to get a whet outer insulation layer. The thinner SF1 will dry faster than the thicker Defence 4 of course. If you can't dry it, you keep the relatively dry SF2 winter sleeping bag. That is another reason to choose the Snugpak system.

Who wants the Carinthia bivvy bag can combine it of course with the Snugpak SF system. The bivvy bags are too different to decide generally which is better than the other. It depends on the personal preferences and intended use.

The very warm Carinthia Defence 6 has a warmth collar, by the way, and others of their models too. But they don't really belong into the issued modular system.

I hope that helps.





Thank you for your very informative reply. I am actually a fan of Snugpak and already own the SF Bivvi as well as the Antarctica and Jungle Bag. Based in part on your suggestion I have purchased a Special Forces 1 and will see how it compares overall to my other similarly rated bags.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,129
1,236
Berlin
With pleasure, my dear!

SF1 and SF bivvy are the by far better combination than SF bivvy and Snugpak Jungle Bag, which aren't made to go together.
The SF bivvy is a second skin for the SF1 and that functions perfectly.

I did sleep on a very touristic German island during a whole week every night in light rain in the open without any additional roof, and instead of drying the SF1+ SF bivvy bag sleep system I put it each morning immediately into the dry bag, due to the special circumstances there. Understand me right: I just left the SF1 in the bivvy bag, closed the bivvy bag and stuffed it -whet how the bivvy bag was outside- immediatly after awaking into the 100 % air tight Ortlieb PS10 dry bag.

I did wear in the sleeping bag cotton breefs, cotton T-shirt, and relatively thin trousers with field shirt, that's approximately like the US Army BDU, but a 35 % polyester and 65% cotton material, what means this material tends to suck moisture and to keep it.

During the day my clothing ventilated and dried of course. But I didn't dry my sleep system.
And I was very surprised, that it didn't build up moisture from night to night.
No, the sleeping bag stood dry inside during the whole time!
That is a really wonderful set!

The temperatures during the night had been around 8 *C if I remember right.

I like the Jungle Bag too, for really hot weather. But the SF1 plays in a different league.
 
Last edited:
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Watchmanjimg

New Member
Jan 28, 2021
3
2
53
Orlando, FL USA
The Jungle Bag is an interesting item but I think overall the Tropen offers superior quality and performance. I have several examples of the British copy on order and am curious to see how they compare to the original, but I’m also excited to see the SF1.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,129
1,236
Berlin
I think the Tropen is so called to point out that it is a summer bag, at home the German soldier gets only the Defence 4, if he leaves to warmer countries he gets additional the Tropen. But the Jungle bag seems to be a copy of an old British army pattern that was really made for equatorial conditions.

What I forgot to write above:
I recommend to see the SF bivvy bag really as a part of the sleeping bag and to keep them usually together and to put the insulation mat under both, and not the mat in between sleeping bag and bivvy bag. Like this it's more comfortable to stow, to use and it surely works technically better, I mean as well the fit as the moisture transport through the fabric of the bivvy bag.

After coming home and before putting it away one should of course dry both parts separately, sleeping bag(s) and bivvy bag inside out too, as usual.
 
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