PaddleWise Discussion on Sleeping Bags

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 20:05:43 -0800
From: Wes Boyd 
Subject: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking

OK, gearheads, here's something else to jabber about:

I recently decided that I needed to break down and get a new sleeping
bag for kayaking; the old one I backpacked and car camped with for
years has seen too many better days.

I'm undecided over whether to get a high-end synthetic bag, or a down
bag. I know down goes away and hides when it gets wet, but it packs so
much tighter than synthetic that it should be able to live in a drybag
that will still go down the hatch of the boat. 

On the other hand, a high-end bag out of something like Quallofill will
stay warm to some degree if it gets wet, and will dry more easily than
down, but a Quallofill bag will take a huge drybag, and that drybag will
be a bear in a small hatch.

The issue is nicely balanced in my own mind, but does anyone else have
any ideas?

- -- Wes Boyd

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 20:45:49 EST From: Blankibr Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking Depending on where you live and how cold you are talking about, you can get a synthetic bag that will compress quite small. I use a compression sack on a tall, thin stuff sack and can really get that baby small. I own three high quality synthetic bags of differing temps and a huge down bag. I prefer to know my bag will work even if my dry bag does not. Your call.
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 18:21:34 -0800 From: Rob Gendreau Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking You've hit all the salient points, but we'd need to know what temperatures you usually encounter. Another problem with a down bag is that it may be too hot for your applications. Nevertheless, if I was to have only one bag it would be down. I would think that you'd probably be sea kayaking in situations where a wet bag would not be life-threatening. The nice thing about down is the compressibility, as you mentioned, but more importantly, IMHO, is its longevity. A down bag will last a very long time. I'm not aware of the situation with some of the newer synthetics, but down can last decades. So it's a great value although more expensive initially. Rob Gendreau Oakland, California
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 21:19:21 EST From: Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking Take a look at Wiggy's stuff before you decide. He works out of Colorado, builds and sells excellent bags, and puts out one of the wildest newsletters imaginable. Ed Gillet uses and sells them --- my intro to them was on a trip with Ed --- and my longest use, a two week whitewater trip in northwest Canada and Alaska, was totally uneventful in a mid-weight bag. They get wet --- they stay warm. Wiggy can explain why --- and he ! Standard stuff --- no affiliation, happy user of products. See him at his web site, . Jack Martin
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 18:57:06 -0800 From: Dave Kruger Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking If stuffed (in its own nylon bag) into the bottom (but to one side) of a conventional drybag, you can get pretty good "compression" by stuffing other clothing items (etc.) to the other side of the sleeping bag, and on top of it. The friction of the other goodies will hold the "compression" pretty well. That said, a Quallofill (or similar) bag good to 20 F will still be pretty bulky. Unless your trips include way-under-freezing conditions, I bet most adult males will be comfy in a "35 F" synthetic bag, which is not bulky at all. That has served me well here, with the occasional winter trip thrown in. Others will disagree, but I would never trust a down bag in a marine environment. Aside from the chance of a leak when it's in the yak, there are just too many other ways for it to get wet when camping in wet, temperate climates, sometimes barely above tidewater. I think everyone I know who has paddled multi-day trips for more than 2 - 3 years out here on the West Coast has had his/her gear get thoroughly soaked, one time or another. Then, you're screwed. - -- Dave Kruger Astoria, OR
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 21:31:53 -0600 From: Whiterabbit Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking I use a NorthFace Cats Meow. It is Hollofill II (now replaced by Hollofill 3D). It does not pack down quite as small as a down bag but it comes within 20% and fits into the rear hatch easily. I use a trash sack inside a water resistant compression bag. The compression bag gets it down to a small package a lot easier than trying to cram it into a small stuff sack. I like the extra security of knowing that even if it gets wet, it will keep me warm. It hasn't gotten soaked, but the peace of mind is still there. On an extended trip in cool/cold weather the quicker drying of the synthetic keeps the bag from accumulating water. A bag gets moisture from breathing and perspiration, a synthetic can be left in the sun for a couple of hours every couple of days and will lose most of this moisture, a down bag will not. One thing I see frequently that applies to both down and synthetic bags. People with -20F bags who won't go out when it gets below 50F. The ratings are a guide of course, and some people need a colder rating to sleep comfortable. But too much bag: costs more, weighs more, doesn't pack as small, and IMO is a waste.
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 21:46:39 -0600 From: "Robert C. Cline" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sleeping bags for kayaking How about summertime Southeast Alaska? >Depending on where you live and how cold you are talking about, you can get a >synthetic bag that will compress quite small. I use a compression sack on a >tall, thin stuff sack and can really get that baby small.