Reindeer Sleeping bag, a good idea?

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shaneh

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Feb 10, 2009
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I have tried multiple sleeping bags over 30+ odd years camping / survival and although in summer I have liked many of them, I'm still in the pursuit of perfection for winter bag...

I currently like using the American Modular Sleeping Bag (Right hand side opening)

But have considered using a New issue British Army Modular Sleeping Bag (central zip) with an old style Danish Bivvi Bad modded with a Zip!

This Christmas I got a Reindeer Fleece, it's almost better that ever could have imagined, worm, soft and comfortable, i was thinking of using it as a ground mat, but then wondered if you could turn it into the Ultimate Winter bag?

Been on the world wide web. And could only find one example : quote :-

"This line of clothing and sleeping bags was developed for a film company in London for use in Greenland in the filming of a re-creation of the race to the South Pole between Scott and Amundsen. All items are custom made, so please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery"

For only $2250 !!!

https://www.naturalexotics.com/store/p/2561-Amundsen-Style-Reindeer-Sleeping-Bag.aspx

Would this type of bag work better than a synthetic or down bag in lower temperatures?

What do you lot think.
Crazy idea?
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
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It worked OK for Scot and Shackleton - but even they had issues with the hide shedding hair....
I had to bin my Reindeer hides (used as groundmats and hammock liners) due to excessive hair loss - theirs not mine!
 

shaneh

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So they don't last long?

Have been told not to have them on a heated floor, and not to walk in them, but I thought that obvious.
 

shaneh

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Went out for 3 nights last week and even though the American Modular Sleeping Bag says -50 I was moderately cold at -8 (wearing parachute silk top and bottom with arctic socks and hat)

Is the British Modular Sleeping Bag any Better?
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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You can buy reindeer skins and make one for far less than that. It is important that the hides are ‘harvested’ and prepared correctly
They need to be harvested in early or at latest, mid winter, before the reindeer body starts to do the change that makes the hair fall out.
Also the skins need to be well salted and tanned very quickly. Any delay and decomposition starts. This affects the follicles, and the hair can easily be pulled out.

You need to get them from people that know, which means a company in northern Fenno Scandinavia.

Yes they last long. I have two, first they lived on the floor in front of fire places, now they live on the floor in front of a pair of highback chairs!

I got them from a shop in Arvidsjaur.
 
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shaneh

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My wife got mine from Horns and Hides.
They are sourced from the indiginous people of Lapland!

So I'm hoping that they know what they are doing.
Hasn't shed anything since October ish when she got it...
 

Woody girl

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I've always fancied a buffalo skin sleeping bag. It would not be a backpacking item though. Years ago I had a tipi all kitted out and I needed a transit to move it all. It was my dream to have a buffalo skin as the final touch to snuggle up in at night. The cost was prohibitive though. I just made do with a fake fur throw for the look. I still sometimes take it camping to use on the floor of my tent as a carpet. Luxury!
 

oldtimer

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You are going to give yourself a major problem.: Fur inside or outside?

On the outside grows the fur side on the inside grows the skin side
So the fur side is the outside and the skin side is the inside.
As the skin side is the inside and the fur side is the outside;
One side likes the skin side inside and the fur side on the outside.
Others like the skin side outside and the fur side on the inside;
As the skin side is the hard side and the fur side is the soft side.
If you turn the skin side outside thinking you will side with that side
Then the soft side, fur side's inside, which some argue is the wrong side.
If you turn the fur side outside, as you say it grows on that side;
Then your outsides's next the skin side, which for comfort's not the right side;
For the skin side is the cold side, and your outside's not your warm side;
And the two cold sides coming side by side are not right sides one side decides.
If you decide to side with that side, turn the outside, fur side, inside;
Then the hard side, cold side, skins side's, beyond all question, inside outside.

Herbert George Ponting (1911)
 

Woody girl

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Well the solution to that conundrum is simples. One bag with the skin side outside another with the skin side inside put the skinside outside into the skin side inside so you have a bag with the furside inside and the furside outside. Sorted. Or was it the other way round. Confused? Me too!
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Very sorry you have been having such a long search.

Insulation is fairly straight forward physics. To trap heat you need to have pockets of still (trapped) air, this being because air is a poor conductor of heat, small pockets break up the effect of convection currents, and if the air is trapped, still, you don't get it being blown away. The thicker the layer of this trapped air, the warmer you should be. Down and the synthetic batting materials are more efficient at trapping air, for a given material mass, than hair/fur, they are also more scalable in that you can have more thickness for very little weight. Weight isn't just about pack weight, weight also works against maintaining loft.

There is no reason to think that a 2" thick layer of reindeer hair on hide will be warmer than a 2" thickness of good synthetic batting in a windproof shell, assuming you are putting it over the top of you, rather than lying on it.

What other insulation have you tried? To have tried winter rated down and many synthetic bags, and to be cold so far above a military bag's rating...something somewhere doesn't compute.

If you are cold in your bag, when are you cold? Straight away, or in the early hours? Do you get into your bag thoroughly warmed up, as in, have you done press ups or other physical activity to get all your blood moving and muscles warm, or do you get in after having sat next to a camp fire for an hour or more? What do you eat/drink just before going to bed, are you hydrated enough and have you had a good bit of fat to eat? How much room do you have in that sleep system, do you fill it and press the insulation against the shell? Are you sleeping out in the open, in a Hammock, in a fully enclosed tent?


Chris
 

shaneh

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Feb 10, 2009
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Hi Chris.

I think I'm doing everything as per the book.
I'm certainly not a cold morsel. Generally.

As said above I'm dressed in parachute silk top and bottom arctic socks and hat.

Have a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Max underneath.

Using a USMC Modular Sleeping Bag (right size) including Bivvi bag. At the moment.

Last week used my new tentsmiths - Pathfinder Scout Tarp certainly no insulating properties, Definatly windproof and waterproof.

Eat plenty of army rations

Usually an open fire in front of the tent. Certainly go to bed hot...


I have a hammock. "Partially" / fully enclosed tarp (with door ends) Use over and under blankets from UKhammocks dressed the same as above with one of the pillows... Probably some of the best nights sleep ever!

But on the floor, I just never get the same sleep!
Always in the middle of the night, where I don't sleep well for the rest of the night.
 

Erbswurst

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I think that will be very heavy and if it becomes whet, you will get a problem.

But of course that would work.
The first sleeping bags used in the German army had been from Finland and made from reindeer fur.

In my opinion the Snugpack Special Forces Sleeping bag System works very well.
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
i was commissioned to make a sheepskin sleeping bag last year, but i ended up talking the client out of it as it didnt seem practical when considering the ultimate weight and bulk of it, and the issues if it does get wet etc.

Some reindeer/sheepskin and then a couple of wool blankets works a treat for less weight/bulk :)
 

Erbswurst

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Yes, sheepskin an woolen blanket work.

But modern stuff works better!

If you have the old stuff you should use it. It is interesting to learn how it was in the past.

But do not believe that it would work better than one or two sleeping bags from Aldi!
 
Tansi
I don't know what all this modular this and thermo that stuff is but I've used fur many times. But not too often now.

Reindeer is our Caribou - the great wanderer, Atihk, has good fur to keep him warm but it is far too short fur to make good cover to keep you warm in winter. Too much air, too little fur length. It is also heavy and needs much care. But we do use the hides on our bed floors to sleep on. If we are out for winter camp we make the floor from cedar fronds/leaves and cover these with caribou hides.
In the old days depending where you were buffalo calf hide was used to cover you up if you could get it as it was lighter and the hair was longer. Likewise musk oxen if you lived or hunted further north. They too have long hair. Problem with all hides with hair depends on the season you get it. If its in the spring moult then you're going to have hair in your tea and food and if it gets damp then you'll get even more hair. Hide needs work and dry to keep in good condition. Hides stink if they are get damp when not in use.

So I use ex Canadian army sleeping bag as does my hunting partner. If it gets cold then I maybe use hare skin cover which my wife made a couple of winters gone by. Light and warm. But sleeping bags need looking after too. Sparks from fire don't bother hide but don't go with fancy clothing or cover of sleeping bags... Good if your wife comes with you on hunting camps and it is much warmer if both can sleep together.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Reindeer fur will leave you covered in hair/fur. Much better as an insulator under your body. Chair or campbed.
No it will not if good quality furs are used. Read my previous post.

If you want to go Paleo it is a good idea. Gets super heavy when wet. But works well when it is dry/minus.

The Same used them up until the 50's. As soon as they could, they started using down filled bags.
In fact, Fjallraven was started by a Swede, but most of the products were field tested by his Same friends.
A better option is to make an underlay, to be used on snow only, as it does not get wet them.
In UK? No.
 
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Janne

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Joes points I agree with 110%.

Wen I went out trekking with friends, we always had sleeping bags with left side and right side zips.
Same in the Army. We worked in minimum two man teams, your team mate had the zip on the other side from your sleeping bag.

My team mate ( my sparky) possibly saved my life once.
 

Erbswurst

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Does that really make such a difference?

So far I am informed, the whole NATO uses sleeping bag systems with central zippers, but the Swedish army uses that Ajungilak Tyn Winter sleeping bag.

Am I right?

I find that very interesting, but never connected myself a sleeping bag in really cold conditions.

I thought the side zippers are mainly sold, because people love to connect theyr sleeping bags with theyr girl friends, more an emotional thing than a good reason, but found it very stressy in my camping holidays.

(But OK, it would have been the best for a good nights sleep to fix that special girl somehow with strong pegs to the ground during the night...)
 
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