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  1. #1
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Cocoon/BPL gear arrives!

    Oh boy! As far as I can tell from the return policies, I've got 30 days to figure out if I've spent way too much money, and return some of this gear! And no cold weather to test in. I got my shipment from backpackinglight.com. My initial response was a bit of disappointment, but not so much now as I've come back to reality reminding myself that this stuff is ultralight AND synthetic therefore is obviously going to have much less loft than down. But if you spend this much money, you can't help but expect things to be pretty puffy!

    I think the real winner is the ultralight 60 pants as well as the pro-60 parka. And I have to remind myself that this is all meant to be used together as a sleeping system.

    First impression: cocoon 180 polar guard quilt size LONG. Weight with tags, plastic wrapping and stuff sack equals 21 ounces on my semi-accurate scales. As expected a very fragile seeming piece of equipment. Total loft when measured like a normal sleeping bag (bottom layer plus top layer) appears to equal approximately 3 inches. That's not very much, although I suppose it's a good bit considering it is only a 20 ounce bag insulated with polar guard. I suppose if we looked at that as one top layer of loft, it would be about 1 1/2 inches. Isn't the No Sniveler about 2 inches (or is it 2 1/2 inch?) loft for about the same weight? Either way, that's a lot of loft difference at the same weight, considering that the No Sniveler does not cost that much more than this did, even after my BPL discount.

    The JRB web site is still down. How much is a No Sniv LONG, and what is the weight? This does have a nice large foot box and is closed in back up to about my upper legs/behind. Then it snaps behind my neck. However, the whole variable girth thing is not going to work well for me, because I'm only going to be able to use it in wide open position. Otherwise I feel too restricted. So that's another thing I have to consider. I'm wondering if the No Sniveler would also be roomier.

    Of course, it's the lack of weight combined with the Polarguard and it's wet weather performance that is one of the attractions. I just wish the stuff was not nearly as expensive as down products. I researched at BPL and they did have some good articles comparing wet down to wet polar guard and prima loft. What was absolutely amazing was that even though some of the best performing down garments lost 90+% of their loft when soaked, and the synthetics lost very little, nonetheless within 20 minutes the down had recovered to a point where they were still loftier than these synthetic garments (the down starting with more loft at about the same weight, pre-soaking), and within an hour were mostly dry with most loft recovered. That was a big surprise. However, I'm not sure the practicality of this, even though the news is better than expected. Because this test was in Arizona, don't know where or the altitude or weather, but a state that tends to be very dry and very warm with plenty of sunshine. I'm not sure how that would work out if this down garment was soaked through and it was still either pouring the rain, or very cold or both. But I also found a real world test there that more lived up to expectations regarding synthetics versus down and water. Two BPL folks identically dressed on a mountainside belay ( Montana) climbing a 12000 ft peak during either rain or snow or both. Apparently during the descent the skies really unleashed on them. The only difference was that one had a down vest exposed to the weather and the other had a synthetic prima loft sweater, both about the same weight. Both got soaked. The down wearing fellow ended up nearly hypothermic, while the synthetic wearing person stayed quite warm. I assume the hypothermic climber managed to finally get warm, because they both ended up wearing their wet garments to bed in to 30 down sleeping bags. By morning the prima loft was completely dry, while the down vest had regained very little of its loft. So to me this real world test confirms what I have always heard from experienced outdoors folks, despite a controlled test seeming to say otherwise, which consisted of: soaked garments, after being wrung out, being hung on standard clothes hangers, outdoors in the shade. Loft and weight measurements were repeated every 20 minutes.


    Before I get to the jacket and pants specifically, I need to keep in mind that this whole concept is based on using all three pieces of gear as a sleeping system. So the grand total is 43.5 ounces (2.7 pounds) including stuff sacks and manufacturing tags and a little plastic bags the stuff was shipped in, still on the garments. And of course a hood and waterproof/windproof shell on the jacket. This weight is total sleeping bag as well as insulated hooded parka and pants. I put the jacket and pants inside the sleeping bag, being careful to keep the arms outside so that it would not falsely increase loft. The loft measured 4 to 5 1/2 inches depending on where I measured. Of course, all of this was within 20 minutes of getting the clothing out of the shipping box where it had been stuffed. It's possible it might develop a little more loft after a few hours or days. I measured the loft on my three plus pound polar guard Delta sleeping bag measured about the same loft, maybe a smidgen more.

    Now to the parka and pants. Other than the seemingly excessive expense, it's hard to argue with this approach. The pants weigh all of 8.5 ounces with tags. When I put them on over my blue jeans, it really sort of looks like the Michelin Man. I laid them out on the bed beside an 8 ounce pair of Patagonia Capilene expedition weight longjohns. The polar guard pants had many times more loft, perhaps between five times as much, or more! The Endurance shelled hooded parka with tags and packaging (I haven't taken any of this stuff off in case I have to send it back) weighed 14 ounces. I have an old favorite Patagonia retro pile jacket (very warm but zero windproofing and of course no hood, though almost indestructible) that weighs 24 ounces. The cocoon jacket was significantly- loftier probably twice as lofty or more. I will have to try to compare that some more later and see if I can get a more accurate comparison. It's kind of hard to estimate the loft on the retro pile or fleece, because it will be kind of high on the edges of the sleeves and jacket, a pretty flat in the middle. Then if you open it up to one layer it seems like a very small amount of loft, and if you compare that way the parka seems to have comparatively even more loft than by just laying them side by side with both zipped up.

    Boy I wish I could find some reviews on this stuff under real-world conditions. I don't know why BPL doesn't have a normal review comparing this equipment to the other stuff they like. I know Ryan Jordan used it on his Arctic hike, but he was injured early and had to quit early on, so I don't think he really got too much testing in. And even if he did, I haven't yet been able to find it, but I'm still looking. When/if I find some test results, I'll post it.

    All I can say is that when I put any of it on in my 70 air-conditioned house, I immediately start overheating! So I was unable to keep it on for very long. But what else would I expect in the summertime? I actually got the impression it was a good bit warmer than the loft would indicate. But boy do I wish I had a 30 night to test it in. Right now I'm leaning more towards keeping the jacket and pants than I am the quilt, but I may change my mind on all of it, or I may keep all of it. I think I would be keeping all of it without any 2nd thoughts if I had only paid about 70% of what I did for it!
    Bill

  2. #2
    slowhike's Avatar
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    i sure do wish you lived a little closer so i could see that stuff in person<g>.
    the balaclava i ordered should be here any day.
    i expected the stuff would be surprisingly thin, but i've noticed something the last couple winters as i had to load the box truck outside each morning & work pretty much out side all day.
    unless it gets unnaturally cold for our area(teens maybe) i will over heat quickly if i wear anything heavy.
    i wear a short sleeve wicking shirt, a long sleeve wicking shirt, & an old quilted flannel shirt that's maybe 1/4" thick.
    of course i wear something on my hands & ears, but it has to be pretty cold to wear much of a hat if i'm active. the hat is usually on & off as needed.
    i use similar layers for backpacking & at night when i lay back in my hammock, they are part of my sleep system.
    so i'm hoping the cocoon stuff will serve us well when it gets cold enough to test it.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  3. #3
    Senior Member blackbishop351's Avatar
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    Measure down's insulation value by its loft - it's fairly invariant as long as you stick to high-quality down. The insulation value of synthetic has much less to do with its than with its internal, engineered structure. Thus, different types of synthetic will insulate differently at the same weight and/or loft. Look for clo values.

    You've got a 3" loft quilt? What do you mean by "both layers, top and bottom"? As far as I know, if it has a top and bottom it's a sleeping bag, not a quilt. And you don't think 3" is enough? Depending on the specific type of insulation (as discussed above) a 1.5-2" quilt will give an average temp rating of 30*...

    As far as wet performance with down vs. synthetic, I also read that BPL article about loft retention. The problem with that analysis is that again, the insulation value of synthetic has little to do with loft. Do you have a link to the side-by-side comparison you found? While far from a lab-standard test, it seems more reasonable and I'd like to take a look. That's the first test I've seen that even attempted to look at overall insulation value rather than loft.

    By the way, measuring the total loft (top and bottom) of a sleeping bag is pretty misleading...even on the ground, you're compressing the insulation that's underneath you, and thereby losing a lot of its value.
    "Physics is the only true science. All else is stamp collecting." - J. J. Thompson

  4. #4
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackbishop351 View Post
    You've got a 3" loft quilt? What do you mean by "both layers, top and bottom"? As far as I know, if it has a top and bottom it's a sleeping bag, not a quilt. And you don't think 3" is enough? Depending on the specific type of insulation (as discussed above) a 1.5-2" quilt will give an average temp rating of 30*...

    As far as wet performance with down vs. synthetic, I also read that BPL article about loft retention. The problem with that analysis is that again, the insulation value of synthetic has little to do with loft. Do you have a link to the side-by-side comparison you found? While far from a lab-standard test, it seems more reasonable and I'd like to take a look. That's the first test I've seen that even attempted to look at overall insulation value rather than loft.

    By the way, measuring the total loft (top and bottom) of a sleeping bag is pretty misleading...even on the ground, you're compressing the insulation that's underneath you, and thereby losing a lot of its value.
    Well the back is normally open except under the lower legs and feet. It won't open flat though, the bottom is permanently closed. So since I am used to sleeping bags any way, and since it is hard to get it to lay flat since you can not fully open the foot box, I just layed it on its side so that each back edge was touching, as it would be if I pulled the draw string and pulled the open back all the way closed. That equalled 3", and is similar to trying to measure a sleeping bag which you can not open. I'm going to see later if I can lay it flatter and just measure the thickness of one (the top) layer. I guess quilt is not the correct term since you can't lay it completely, only almost, flat. I guess it wuold be more of a semi-rectangular bag. One in which you can open the back (above the hips) up almost completely if desired, or cinch it almost closed. There is also a draw cord around the neck to cinch that closed. My guess right now is that the layer of loft that will be over me is about 1.5".



    I guess the "clo" would be whatever PG delta is. Although this is PG 180, while the clothing is PG 60, whatever that is?

    The links:
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...nth_vests.html

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...ght/00092.html

    BTW, the "lab" comparison was limited to loft before and after saoking, measured every 20 minutes. The real life test was sinply who was cold or not cold with wet insulation.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 06-27-2007 at 23:34.

  5. #5
    Senior Member blackbishop351's Avatar
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    Sounds like it's definitely a quilt. The sewn-together section you're talking about is generally termed the "footbox," and it sounds like yours might be a bit longer than most - but still a quilt nonetheless.

    Thanks for the link!
    "Physics is the only true science. All else is stamp collecting." - J. J. Thompson

  6. #6
    Member DawgU's Avatar
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    For me the question is what's the best combination for a sleeping system. I'm certainly no expert, but I'm going for down and synthetic. I've ordered the Cocoon pullover and pants to use in tandem with a JRB down quilt. The No Sniveler weighs 20 oz and has 2 1/2" of loft. I like the ability to compress the down more, and think it gives better warmth for the loft/weight. Of course I hope I can keep everything dry - but I have proved unable to do that a time or two in the past!
    Last edited by DawgU; 06-28-2007 at 04:55.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Fiddleback's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DawgU View Post
    For me the question is what's the best combination for a sleeping system. I'm certainly no expert, but I'm going for down and synthetic. I've ordered the Cocoon pullover and pants to use in tandem with a JRB down quilt. The No Sniveler weighs 20 oz and has 2 1/2" of loft. I like the ability to compress the down more, and think it gives better warmth for the loft/weight. Of course I hope I can keep everything dry - but I have proved unable to do that a time or two in the past!
    This is very similar to what I've been using the past few years. I have the older Cocoon pants which replaced the more rugged and heavier ID Denali pants, an ID Dolomitti jacket w/hood, and an Nunatak Arc Alpinist quilt. The rest of my sleep system is the regular collection of long underwear, fleece balaclava and gloves, fresh socks and booties. I have yet to use the quilt in cold weather. The rest of the system did just fine into the mid-20s with a " pad in the Hennessy.

    The jacket, and usually the pants, are carried May-Oct because of our cool nighttime temps. It gives me a great opportunity to put 'em to dual use and leave the sleeping bag at home. The quilt will no doubt expand my lower temp range (with an upgraded pad) and it's been great in warmer temps allowing me to leave the insulated pants behind.

    I've envious of that new Cocoon jacket... But I am deeply in love with my Dolomitti even though she's a little bit heavier.

    FB

  8. #8
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiddleback View Post
    This is very similar to what I've been using the past few years. I have the older Cocoon pants which replaced the more rugged and heavier ID Denali pants, an ID Dolomitti jacket w/hood, and an Nunatak Arc Alpinist quilt. The rest of my sleep system is the regular collection of long underwear, fleece balaclava and gloves, fresh socks and booties. I have yet to use the quilt in cold weather. The rest of the system did just fine into the mid-20s with a &#188;" pad in the Hennessy.

    The jacket, and usually the pants, are carried May-Oct because of our cool nighttime temps. It gives me a great opportunity to put 'em to dual use and leave the sleeping bag at home. The quilt will no doubt expand my lower temp range (with an upgraded pad) and it's been great in warmer temps allowing me to leave the insulated pants behind.

    I've envious of that new Cocoon jacket... But I am deeply in love with my Dolomitti even though she's a little bit heavier.

    FB
    Do I understand you to be saying you were warm into mid 20s using JUST the Cocoon pants and the Dolomitti jacket and 1/4" pad? You did not need your quilt in these conditions? FB, are you the one I have previously accused of having antifreeze for blood?

    Do you then suppose you could accomplish the same thing with the Cocoon pants/parka? Or is the Dolamatti a much warmer jacket?

    BTW, I saw a real good review of the ID Dolamatti on BPL. They really put it to the test.
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 06-28-2007 at 12:58.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Fiddleback's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyBob58 View Post
    Do I understand you to be saying you were warm into mid 20s using JUST the Cocoon pants and the Dolomitti jacket and 1/4" pad? You did not need your quilt in these conditions? FB, are you the one I have previously accused of having antifreeze for blood?

    Do you then suppose you could accomplish the same thing with the Cocoon pants/parka? Or is the Dolamatti a much warmer jacket?

    BTW, I saw a real good review of the ID Dolamatti on BPL. They really put it to the test.
    That'd be me.

    Clarifications:
    - The insulated clothing and the other stuff; long underware, balaclava, fleece gloves, socks and booties. But even before my days of hammocking and insulated clothing, I used the 'other stuff' in my sleeping bag depending on the conditions.

    - My lowest low was hit wearing ID Denali pants. They've been replaced by the much lighter Cocoons (old model). I believe the Cocoons are as warm but I haven't tried them out in cold weather yet.

    My biggest issue is the under insulation, i.e., the " pad. I've been fine at 26 (on the trail), and felt uncomfortable cold coming through at 22 (backyard test). I didn't have any problems with the clothing or lack of cover at those temps. To be sure, it was good weather (dry and still) and, with the system as described and the pad as is, I believe I've hit the lower limit.

    It's easy and just four or five ounces to boost the pad's capacity but 25 is a good safety margin for my three-season bp'ing so I haven't pursued it. I have an oversized sit-pad cut from blue foam that will rescue my cold back should the need arise.

    No doubt adding the quilt will make things even more toasty and/or make up for less favorable weather. I've used it on the ground in high-30s/low-40s (no insulated clothing) and was really impressed...it's got a great footbox -- no booties needed then! I also think I find a psychological comfort in cuddling up under a blankie. It'll be nice to have something to snuggle under in the hammock and the quilt's added weight will be partially mitigated by the weight savings from the Cocoon pants.

    As for the Dolomitti jacket...it is warm. I sometimes think it is too warm for hiking. My three-season bp'ing is filled with warm to hot days and cool to cold nights (my place @~3600' hit 28 Monday morning and 100 Thursday afternoon ). Therefore, the jacket hasn't been used while hiking or moving actively...but for hanging around camp and as part of a sleep system. With its hood, it's toasty! I warm up rapidly when hiking and if I ever find myself in weather cold enough to be wearing the Dolomitti while hiking/bp'ing I'll be trying desperately to get back to the trailhead. But in western MT, particularly at elevation, that day is probably coming for me and I'll be singing love songs to the Dolomitti...I dedicate its extra weight to preparedness and safety.

    We're all different and our 'personal bests' will be different. But I really like the concept of using clothing as part of a sleep system. For my home area it works out great...I can use the cold weather clothing that I always carry just in case and leave the sleeping bag at home. Besides, I've read it's a real pain to put that bag on in the hammock.

    FB

  10. #10
    slowhike's Avatar
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    the BPL pro balaclava came this week! i like it!
    the only real concern i had about it was that there was no way to vent, so any activity would cause me to over heat. then i would simply have to take it off.
    sometimes it's better to have options... so i customized it w/ a zipper.
    it's not the prettiest sewing job, but it works like a charm!

    here's the way it came...
    http://www.hammockforums.net/gallery...5/P7010087.JPG

    here it is w/ the new zipper...
    http://www.hammockforums.net/gallery...5/P7010102.JPG

    and here it is zipped open
    http://www.hammockforums.net/gallery...5/P7010103.JPG

    there are pictures of the process in the "gear not listed" gallery.
    Last edited by slowhike; 07-01-2007 at 22:27.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

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